As I mentioned earlier: the University of North Dakota hockey team headed to Omaha minus 72 points (Shane Pinto 28 pts, Jordan Kawaguchi 26 points, and Grant Mismash 18 pts) from their lineup. The three high-end players from UND’s top-six forward positions didn’t even make the trip. They sat this one out.
With clinching the Penrose Cup, UND had the luxury of resting some of their players that were banged up. Make no mistake about it, if this had been an NCHC or an NCAA playoff game they would’ve played tonight. On Friday night, shorthanded or not, it didn’t seem to matter.
In reading Mitch Wigness’s post-game story on the UND webpage, a couple of things stuck out.
First, UND played has 13 games in Baxter Arena this season 9-3-1, (.730). UND was also 7-2-1, (.750) during the NCHC pod. Away from the friendly confines of Ralph Engelstad Arena UND is 12-4-1 (.735). During those games, they are outscoring the opposition 64-39. That is a goal margin of +25, tops in the NCHC.
UND’s record at home this season is 6-0-0 (.1000). During those six games, the Hawks have outscored the opposition 28-5, that’s a goal margin of +23. They are 24-for-24 on the penalty kill. That’s tops in the NCHC. The Hawks are 8-for-30 on the man advantage, that’s good for fourth in the NCHC.
Enter Jasper Weatherby
Junior forward Jasper Weatherby has been on fire. Against the Mavericks, he extended his goal streak to seven straight games, scoring the game-winner and adding a pair of assists. Weatherby now has (11g-7a—18pts), and a plus-2. He’s also scored four goals on the power play, that’s third on the team behind Shane Pinto and Collin Adams.
During January, the puck wasn’t going in junior forward Jasper Weatherby. He went scoreless in six games the Hawks played in January. During the last seven games, the Ashland, Oregon native has been on a torrid pace scoring (8g-4a–12pts), in the last seven games. During those seven games, he’s also had three multi-point games. On Friday, he surpassed his career-high in goals. Weatherby is also tied for 13th in NCHC scoring.
So what is going on with Weatherby?
“He exudes confidence, head coach Brad Berry said. “There’s a maturity process. Having a letter. Being a leader on our team, one of the leaders on our team. And now, he’s had some success offensively, and I think it’s one of those things for him and Juddy Caulfield. To be specific, they’re playing with a lot of confidence, and they’re not worried about making a mistake. They just play it free, but you know committed to what our structure is and that’s good to see.”
On special teams, UND’s power play (27/103) is now tops in the NCHC and fifth in the country (26.2 %). Their penalty kill (87/99) ranked eighth in the nation. UND’s combined special teams is ranked third in the nation 114/202 56.4.
During UND’s current five-game winning streak, UND is 10-for-29 on the power play and 100 percent on the penalty kill (21-for-21) on the kill. During the five-game winning streak UND leads the nation in Power play goals. Moreover, during that same period, the Hawks lead the NCAA in goals.
UND junior goalie Adam Scheel (16-3-1, 1.80 GAA and .929 save percentage) leads the NCHC in wins, winning percentage, GAA. On Friday, he recorded his 48th win of his three-year career. That is good for 10th place all-time at UND.
Gabinet Unhappy With Officiating
In the post-game press conference, Omaha head coach Mike Gabinet expressed his displeasure with the penalty at the end of the game.
“It’s disappointing,” Gabinet said. “I think that close in the game, you’d always like to see the players dictate the outcome of the game. I feel for our guys, that’s a tough way to lose the hockey game, but at the end of the day, nobody cares about it and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”
In the end, the game came down to special teams.
“You got to give their power play credit,” Gabinent said. They got one of the top power plays in the country and they’re capitalizing on it.”
Bottom line, don’t put the on-ice officials in a situation where they have to call a penalty. Especially, in a close game.