GRAND FORKS, ND– Coming off a loss on Friday night, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks wanted to make sure they didn’t get swept in their own arena; especially not against a heated rival like the Duluth Bulldogs. Even with key players being out, the mindset seemed to change and the Fighting Hawks secured a split on the weekend with a 2-1 victory on Saturday.
North Dakota could have gotten off to another quick start, as Duluth was faced with a five-minute major to Carter Loney for boarding. However, Duluth’s penalty kill was a big factor in keeping the Fighting Hawks off the board with crucial blocks and the ability to keep North Dakota on the perimeter and not get much inside to challenge Ryan Fanti. The period ended scoreless with North Dakota leading in shots, 11-7.
“We didn’t score on it,” head coach Brad Berry said post-game, “but I thought the power play gave us momentum for the rest of the period and the rest of the game. That was the message to our guys was the discipline side of it. That’s so key, if you’re on a power play and you get all that momentum. We were killing all day yesterday in that game and gave that team momentum.”
With shots ringing off the pipe at both ends, Duluth started to gain plenty of momentum throughout the period not only offensively, but holding the UND offense to only two shots through 15 minutes of the second. Duluth was able to break the stalemate with Blake Biondi finding a seam in the defense, receiving a solid dish from Dominic James, with Biondi then beating Zach Driscoll on the blocker side to make it 1-0 Duluth. North Dakota would tie it up late in the second, with Ethan Frisch going five-hole on Fanti with 5.4 seconds left in the period on the power play after Frisch was set up by Chris Jandric.
North Dakota broke the tie 5:05 into the third after a wonderful pass from Ashton Calder found a streaking Brendan Budy who jammed it under Fanti to make it 2-1 for the Hawks. Duluth had a chance on the power play past the midway point in the frame, but Driscoll was equal to the task, kicking out shot after shot to keep the North Dakota lead. Duluth put the pressure on late, even putting Fanti in the closing minutes, but they could not find the equalizer; leading to a 2-1 UND win and a weekend split.
THEY SAID IT
“I think everyone’s first reaction when key guys are out is, ‘Man, we’re going to miss them.’ The biggest thing is our mentality is the next man up mentality. We’re going to miss them, but there’s other good players around here that can go in. Anytime you can get a win and get some young guys to get reps, like Cooper Moore and Luke Bast, that’s huge and when you get the win, it’s a bonus.” — Berry on the depth of his team after this weekend.
“Obviously the bodies weren’t feeling great, but that’s to be expected anytime you play Duluth in a two-game series. It really comes down to mentality. We were a little too worried about the refs, we were worried about our lineup the first night and the second night it was like– let’s throw that out the window and worry about who we’ve got in this room.” — Frisch on the message going into Satuday’s game.
“That goal was a pretty big relief. Coming in, kind of got a little dinged up in the summer and took a while to come back. I’ve been kind of chipping away at it, trying to get my confidence back, trying to get back to my old self.” — Budy on his goal and what it does for his progression.
“We got extended on a shift out there. Sometimes you get extended on an icing call or whatever, someone gets extended and then he’s not on with his regular line. I just tried to take the three freshest guys and Ford and Calder were up, but Budy was on the next line. It was a situation where I wanted a fresh body up there.” — Berry on the unintentional mixing of lines that lead to the game winner.