GRAND FORKS, ND– Almost there.
That seemed to be the theme from the North Dakota Fighting Hawks following a 3-2 defeat against Denver on Friday night. With bits and pieces of their game coming together, the whole package hasn’t seemed to be completed for this squad, as the Hawks drop to 4-4-1 on the season.
“Just buying into the little things here and there,” mentioned Chris Jandric post game. “We kept them to 19 shots, stopped their top line; but it comes down to the little things and have to have a more business-like mentality. Just have to gain some more speed and clean up our defensive zone, too. It’s just buying in, whether it’s blocking shots or chipping the puck out; but it’s unacceptable to be losing these games.”
After a messed up travel schedule coming into this weekend, the Pioneers were the first on the board when Kyle Mayhew beat Ty Farmer to a loose puck in the corner and found Carter King in the slot, who whipped one over Drew DeRidder’s shoulder for the early 1-0 lead. North Dakota picked up the pressure after that, taking control offensively, but couldn’t solve Magnus Chrona for much of the first frame. It wasn’t until under three minutes left did UND get on the board with Ryan Sidorski jumping into the rush and centering a pass in front that initially got deflected by Chrona, but laid in the crease for Griffin Ness to pick up and put home to tie the game going into the intermission.
Denver got going early in the second with Aidan Thompson creating a takeaway in the slot and using a couple of screens in front from North Dakota skaters to beat DeRidder and make it a 2-1 Denver lead only 2:17 into the second frame. The score could have gotten a lot worse, as North Dakota was getting the brunt of the penalty calls against them; but DeRidder made some fine saves during those PKs and kept the deficit at only a goal heading into the second intermission.
To start the third, UND was able to get it going early on a carry-over penalty with Jandric getting the puck at the blue line, taking his time for a screen to form, and wristing one through everyone to tie the game only 33 seconds into the last regulation period. With each team pressing to break the tie, the Pioneers would be the team to do it, with Jared Wright picking up a rebound and getting just enough on it to have it squeak through DeRidder’s pads to make it a 3-2 score. North Dakota would hold Denver to only two shots in the last 13:27 of the game, but could not find an equalizer themselves, even with the extra attacks for almost three minutes at the end of the game. Denver wins only their second games in 20 trips to The Ralph by a score of 3-2.
“Just having more consistent habits to details,” said head coach Brad Berry when asked what more is needed from the Hawks. “I do think we’re close. I give Denver credit, they won the game. But sometimes we beat ourselves a little bit. In situations where games in the third period when the game is up for grabs and sometimes we give up a goal at inopportune times by beating ourselves and not by playing the percentages and not having a chance playing in the offensive zone.”
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