First things first. We know the University of North Dakota hockey team is going to be playing the first round of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs on the road. The question is where? That will be decided later this evening. Second, UND got the win when they needed it.
Moving forward, it’s just win baby!
Before they took the ice in the third period, the UND players already knew they were going to be on the road for the first round of the NCHC playoffs. There was no quit.
“We knew (about the score of the game between Western and Miami) going into the third period,” sophomore defenseman Gabe Bast said. “It was on TV just outside our locker room. That doesn’t change anything we have to do. If we got to win a series on the road, we’re going to go do that.”
This season, UND has taken their fair share of undisciplined, untimely penalties at key points in the games. Last night, with Zach Yon already sitting in the penalty box for a roughing minor, senior forward Rhett Gardner took a two-minute minor for goalie interference. The Mavericks would score on the ensuing 5-on-3 power play. Gardner would take another minor penalty in the second period. Coach Berry had seen enough. During the third period, Gardner didn’t see the ice except during the post-game handshake. Message sent.
“Taking a penalty to go down 5-on-3 and they score and then taking another one,” Berry said. “Everybody’s accountable here. Again, I love Rhett to death, but it’s more than that it’s a team-first mentality and he’ll be ready to go tomorrow.
No Quit in this Team
With the 2-1 win, UND improves to 17-15-2, 11-11-1 NCHC. More importantly, the Hawks also improved to 18th in the Pairwise Rankings. With the loss, the Mavericks fall to 9-20-3, 5-15-2 NCHC.
While this season might not have gone as planned, the UND hockey team has stayed in the fight. They could’ve given up, but they haven’t. The Hawks have taken their lumps but haven’t packed it in. They’re still coming to the rink trying to gut out wins. No matter who they play, the Fighting Hawks will be a tough out for their opponent. Through all of the adversity, head coach Brad Berry has kept the team together.
“First of all, it’s the way we recruit,” Berry said. “When you when you look at it, you check the boxes – skilled players or players that need to come to North Dakota – on-ice ability. But the off-ice ability is a huge thing for us. And that’s a staple here at North Dakota. That’s been here for years, as far as recruiting guys with character. And that character starts with first-year guys coming in here and believing in what we do. And then it transforms into the upperclassmen or your leaders on the team that send that message on a daily basis in the good times in the not so good time. So that’s something that you recruit to.”
Thome Shines in Net for UND
On February 16, 2019, against the Western Michigan Broncos, UND starting goalie Adam Scheel went down with a lower-body injury. Sophomore goalie Peter Thome returned from an undisclosed injury to retake the net. Since taking the net on February 22, 2019, Peter Thome has played well. During that time, Thome has been one of the top goaltenders in the NCHC. In five games, the Minneapolis, Minnesota Native is 3-2-0, 1.62 GAA and .934 save percentage. With the win, Thome improves to 4-5, 2.61 GAA and a .891 save percentage.