UND Hockey; The Sun Came up on Sunday

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.

After 17 games, the University of North Dakota hockey team is in first place, three points clear of Western Michigan. Entering the season, I wonder how many people would’ve predicted that? In the preseason, I tweeted: I think that UND will fly under the radar this season. I also wrote: I don’t know what to expect from this year’s team. I think they will be in the top four (NCHC) and compete for a berth in the NCAA tourney.

Looking at the KRACH rankings, UND has played the third-hardest schedule. Only Minnesota 1st and Minnesota-Duluth 2nd have played a more difficult schedule. During the past three weeks, UND has played UMD, UMN, and SCSU. There are only three non-ranked teams on UND’s schedule during the first half of the season, Colorado College, Miami, and Niagara. *While Bemidji State isn’t currently ranked, they have been this season. 

Their record to date, UND is 11-6-0, 6-2-0 NCHC.

Mass Exodos After 2020-21 Season

After the 2020-21 season, UND lost 13 players and (73g-125a—198pts). Breaking it down further, UND lost 198 of 308 points or 64.2 percent of their offense. Moreover, UND lost seven of their top 10 scorers. During the offseason, UND brought 14 new players. That’s a lot of new faces and personalities to manage.

All you have to do is look at the list of the players that left. UND lost a lot of firepower: Jordan Kawaguchi, Collin Adams, Shane Pinto, Jasper Weatherby, Matt Kierstad, Grant Mismash, and Jacob Bernard-Docker. The lineup sheet now reads: Jake Sanderson, Riese Gaber, Ashton Calder, Connor Ford, Jake Schmaltz, Matteo Costantini, Louis Jamernik, Mark Senden, Judd Caulfield, Ethan Frisch and Gavin Hain. That’s the top 11 players in points from this year’s roster.

One of the 13 departures was 2020-21 NCHC Goaltender of the Year goalie Adam Scheel. His departure left a huge void in the UND goaltending core. In three seasons at UND, the Lakewood, Ohio Native was 52-18-5, 1.95 GAA and a .916 save percentage and 7 shutouts.

The Zach Driscoll File

Graduate goalie Zach Driscoll came to UND with a 52-35-12 (.585) record. Since joining UND he’s 11-6-0, 2.62 GAA and .889 save percentage, he also has one shutout. His NCAA career numbers (all three collegiate teams combined) are 63-41-12, 2.25 GAA and .916 save percentage. He has recorded 11 shutouts.

I would imagine that Driscoll isn’t satisfied with a .889 save percentage. His play has also mirrored his team in front of him. Through 17 games, the Apple Valley, Minnesota Native has given up 42 goals. In 11 wins, he’s given up 19 goals. Eight of those wins, he’s given up two goal or less. In his six loses, he’s given up 32 goals. In five of those loses, he’s given up four or more goals.

UND vs. SCSU Last 12 Games

The Huskies are one of UND’s top rivals and over the last 12 games, the series has been pretty even. In the five loses to the Huskies, UND has been outscored 8-21. In UND’s six wins against the Huskies, UND has won by 25-13 margin. For those keeping track, that’s a 33-34 goal margin. Pretty even numbers. At home, UND has a 4-1 record against the Huskie at the Ralph and a 1-2-1 record against the Huskies at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

3-16-18 St. Paul L, 2-3 (OT) NCHC FF
1-25-19 Grand Forks L, 1-3
1-26-19 Grand Forks W, 5-1
11-22-19 Grand Forks W, 4-2
11-23-19 Grand Forks W, 2-1 (OT) Kawaguchi OT winner
2-21-20 St. Cloud T, 3-3
2-22-20 St. Cloud L, 1-2
12-12-20 Omaha L, 3-5 NCHC pod
12-16-20 Omaha W, 4-3 (OT) NCHC pod/Kawaguchi OT
3-16-21 Grand Forks W, 5-3 NCHC FF
12-3-21 St. Cloud L, 1-8
12-4-21 St. Cloud W, 5-3
UND’s record against the Huskies last 12 games 6-5-1 (.541)