On Saturday night, the University of North Dakota took on the Michigan Tech Huskies in the Hall of Fame game. The Fighting Hawks won the game 3-1 to improve to 5-1-1. With the win, UND is 3-1-1 (.700) against the WCHA. Next weekend, the Fighting Hawks open conference play against the Miami RedHawks 2-3-2 (.427).
UND Leads NCAA in Defense
We knew entering the 2019-20 season that UND was going to be very good on defense. During the offseason, the Hawks only lost one d-man, Hayden Shaw. The Hawks replaced Shaw with freshman Ethan Frisch, Moorhead, MN.
In five games at home, UND has given up 75 shots on goal. That’s an average of 15 shots per game. Moreover, in seven games, UND has given up 121 shots averaging 17.29 shots per game. That leads the NCAA.
It doesn’t hurt to have great goaltending backing up your top-ranked defense. After seven games, sophomore goalie Adam Scheel has an NCAA leading 1.42 GAA. Scheel is ranked 27th in save percentage, 917. (Link to Stats)
Special Teams, UND’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
During the 2019-20 season, UND has struggled with the man advantage. On Saturday, UND was 0-5 on the power play. In seven games, UND is 2-25 (.08) on the man advantage and ranked 50th in the nation. (Link to Stats)
One has to wonder if the Hawks scored one power play goal; would it start an avalanche of goals?
“We need to get better on (the power play) and I think once we do get one they’ll start coming,” Kawaguchi said.
“I think we were a little methodical, UND head coach Brad Berry said. “I think we were pretty predictable as far as moving the puck around and getting shots blocked. They blocked a lot of shots. They’re a good defensive team. There’s a reason why they’re seventh in the country in defense, and they did a good job.”
On the flip side, UND has killed 20 of 21 (.95) of the opponent’s power plays and is ranked 5th in the nation.
UND Embraces Next Man Up
Over the past four seasons, UND has suffered a fair amount of injuries. Saturday, UND played without d-men Gabe Bast (upper-body injury) and Colton Poolman (lower-body injury). UND inserted little-used defenseman, Josh Rieger, 23 games, (0g-3a–3pts).
After Saturday’s game, Berry said that Poolman had been evaluated that afternoon, but he didn’t know the results of the evaluation. Berry also didn’t say how long Poolman would be out.
“We talk about it all the time,” Kiersted said. “(After the game) Bubs was saying, It’s the next-man-up mentality.”