GRAND FORKS , ND– The first round of hte NCHC Playoffs kicked off in Grand Forks on Friday for the North Dakota Fighting Hawks against the #7 seed Colorado College Tigers. Thanks to some returns and stingy play, the Fighting Hawks were able to find enough time and space during the game to eek out a 2-1 victory to take Game 1 of the quarterfinal.
While they were missing Connor Ford to non-COVID illness, the Hawks got back Jake Sanderson, Riese Gaber, and Ethan Frisch to the line-up. The first period was typical playoff hockey with plenty of neutral zone play and no team really getting a lot of time and space to create much offense. Only six shots total between both teams were registered in a scoreless tie after one.
The start of the second period made up for the lack of anything in the first. Only 2:35 into the frame, Jaek Sanderson announced his return, pump faking of a shot to draw CC’s Ray Christy down and out, toe dragging back, and whipping a wrister home to give UND the opening salvo. The Tigers came back 1:12 later with Jordan Biro getting behind the defense and ripping a shot past the blocker of Zach Driscoll to tie up the game. UND continued to buzz in the CC end, but it wasn’t until 7:06 remaining the second when they would break the tie with a Tyler Kleven cannon from the point blowing by Matt Vernon to put the Fighting Hawks up again. Trying to push for more offense, North Dakota couldn’t find the back of the net in the rest of the period, but came out up by a goal.
In the third, it was almost a replay of the first, with not a lot of time or space given to either side. Both sides clamped down their own zone plenty, while not giving up much space in the neutral zone. Despite the Tigers outshooting UND 5-4, they weren’t able to find the equalizer and the Hawks were able to score the Game One victory 2-1.
THEY SAID IT
“We didn’t have the start we wanted, we weren’t sharp in a few different areas. But we got better in the second and third period. There wasn’t a lot of time and space out there, but we created a cpuple plays when we had to. We’re going to have to be sharper tomorrow.” — Coach Brad Berry on his team’s play.
“They took a lot of time and space from us. Just moving pucks up quick in the neutral zone, I know (Berry) was harped on us. If we have time, skate through, use our feet, trust ourselves, get pucks deep and get on their defense and goalie.” — Sanderson on what is needed for better chances
“It was everything I expected. We knew it was going to be super hard, they’re playing for their season and we’re trying to move on. We’ve got to match their energy because tomorrow is a going to be a super hard game.” — Jake Schmaltz on his first playoff game.