On Saturday night, the University of North Dakota hockey team entertained the University of Omaha in the final home game of the 2018-19 season. When the game was over, the University honored five seniors from the class of 2019. The 5-4 OT win over the Mavericks set the mood.
When the final horn sounded those five seniors had played their final game at Ralph Engelstad Arena. From here on out, there will be no more home games for the class of 2019.
Next weekend, UND is headed to Denver, Colorado, to take on the Denver Pioneers in the first round of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs. This will be the first time in 17 seasons, UND has played on the road for the first round of the conference playoffs.
There’s no time like the present. The Fighting Hawks need wins or their season is over. You can’t get anymore cut and dried than that.
Next weekend, they need two wins in Denver to advance to the Frozen Faceoff. To advance, they’ll need to win a game or two at the Frozen Faceoff to advance to the NCAA West regional they’re hosting in Fargo, ND.
Eleven to Four
To start the 2015-16 season, 11 players began their journey at UND. In the fall of 2015 Mike Gornall, Brock Boeser, Shane Gersich, Joel Janatuinen, Hayden Shaw, Matej Tomek, Ryan Anderson, Christian Wolanin, Rhett Gardner Danys Chartrand, Chris Wilkie arrived on campus. Today, four of those 11 players remain (Anderson, Gardner, Janatuinen, Shaw). Senior Nick Jones transferred in from Ohio State two seasons ago and is the fifth member of this season’s senior class.
A New Line Combination?
On Saturday night, to honor the senior class, UND head coach Brad Berry put all of the seniors on the ice for the game’s opening faceoff. Thirty-seven seconds later, senior Nick Jones scored the game’s first goal. It didn’t take long for the Jones, Gardner, and Jackson Keane line to develop some chemistry. After their opening shift, the coaching staff kept that line together until the overtime period when sophomore forward Jodan Kawaguchi replaced Keane.
“It was one of those things where, initially we were going to roll four lines, and they were each on a different line,” Berry said. “Rhett, he had a lot of pace tonight. I think he was feeling it from last night. Jonesy knew it was the last game here, and Jackson Keane brings a lot of speed to that line. So, they had chemistry together.”
Stats of Interest
Grand Forks Herald hockey beat writer Brad Schlossman had an interesting tidbit in his Saturday morning blog post. UND has scored in the opening four minutes in 6 of the last 18 games (a third of them). The Fighting Hawks are 6-0 in those games. After Saturday’s quick start, you can make that 7-0.
Since taking the net on February 22, 2019, sophomore goalie Peter Thome is (4-2-0, 2.02 GAA and a .915 save percentage). With the win, Thome is (5-5, 2.74 GAA and .884 save percentage). Saturday night, was the first time in five games that Thome has given up more than three goals during a game.
During the second half of the 2018-19 season, UND was 9-8-1. The Fighting Hawks were 4-4-0 in January, 2-3-1 in February and are 3-1-0 in March. UND is 5-3-0 in the last eight games.