The University of North Dakota hockey team has been waiting for a goalie to emerge and take the net. To date, three goalies have started in the net for the Fighting Hawks. Team defense and goaltending have been an area where UND has struggled. Looking at the national statistics, UND is tied for 48th place in goals against, and 60th place for save percentage.
One goalie would play well for a game or two then have an off night. There’s been no consistency between the pipes. Finally, 26 games into the season, it appears a starting goalie is beginning to emerge. Last weekend, Drew DeRidder started both games for UND stopping 23-of-27 shots and leading them to a series split against the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Goaltending wasn’t the problem in Saturday’s loss. You need to score goals to win hockey games, and UND didn’t score enough goals to win the series finale.
“The mindset is keeping the puck out of your net because defense wins games, and for offense, you have to score goals. We didn’t score enough on Saturday night,” head coach Brad Berry said during the Wednesday press conference.
Moving forward, one game at a time, UND has a tall order to climb up the NCHC standings. Currently, the Fighting Hawks sit in seventh place in the NCHC standings and if the playoffs started today, they would face the second-place St. Cloud State Huskies in St. Cloud. That’s not the most favorable matchup. Nothing like the present. If UND is going to move up in the standing, they need to play solid defensive hockey. Playing one game at a time and sticking to the fundamentals. They need someone to take the net and lead the team. Yes, this is a small sample size, but there is a glimmer of hope. With that said, if UND is going to make a second-half run, they need to start winning hockey games or they’re going to be on the road for the first round of the NCHC playoffs. The time for talking is over, they need results over platitudes.
“(I am) excited about his body of work in the 120 minutes he played,” Berry said. “It started with practice, preparation, and his focus leading into Friday. He gave up two goals each night. He gave us a chance to win both nights. That’s what you need, especially when you’re playing NCHC hockey. The focus is for him and our group here to play to that level again, going into Miami and giving us a chance to be solid defensively and win.”
The DeRidder Line
It hasn’t been a great season for Graduate Student Drew DeRidder. The Fenton, Michigan Native has played in 17 games going 6-5-2, with a 2.81 GAA and a .894 save percentage, he also has 2 shutouts. Following last Friday’s win against the Bulldogs, I asked DeRidder about his psyche and mental game.
“It’s just part of being a goalie,” DeRidder said. “It’s the same whether you’re looking at a period, game, season, or whatever it is. You have to be ready for the next shot — the next game — no matter what happened before. This season hasn’t gone my way or the team’s way. You have to look past that, keep working, and take advantage of your next chance.”
In the last six games, Deridder is 3-1-1, he’s stopped 117-of-127 shots he’s faced, and has a .921 save percentage. Most nights, you need your goalie to stop 90 percent of the shots they face. UND needs to keep this up to remain in the hunt for home ice.
Following Friday’s win against Miami, DeRidder had this to say, “It’s easier when you play a couple of games in a row and just get that rhythm going, so it’s nice to have that, I’m feeling good.”