GRAND FORKS, ND– Despite missing Jake Sanderson and Brady Ferner, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks took the next-man-up mentality to their defense as they took on the Omaha Mavericks in the first game of their make-up weekend from three weeks prior. Even with Omaha getting the better of North Dakota to start, the Hawks got the breaks they needed for a three-goal second period in order to take the 4-1 win.
North Dakota got the quick start they wanted, with Riese Gaber notching his 12th goal of the year after chipping the puck out of the defensive zone, using his speed to beat the Omaha defense, and wired home a wrister past Isaiah Saville to make it 1-0. That seemed to wake up Omaha, who had more opportunities than North Dakota in the first frame, but Zach Driscoll was dialed in for his start, making some solid saves to keep UND with the early lead. Omaha would finally cash in with under three minutes remaining with Brandon Scanlin potting a power play goal from the point through a screen in front to knot the game up at one a piece.
An odd occurrence in the second period for North Dakota. First, Cooper Moore made a tremendous clear off the goal line, as the puck trickled past Driscoll; but Moore rushed back to snag the puck and get a whistle. Second, Mark Senden got back-to-back penalties in the frame, but when they expired he used them to his advantage. First, Senden joined the play as North Dakota was rushing up ice, then controlled a rebound off a Gaber shot and put it over Saville’s shoulder for his fifth of the year to make it 2-1. On his next penalty, Senden got the puck on his tape as he exited the box, found a streaking Judd Caulfield, who tapped in his fifth of the year for a 3-1 UND lead and left the press box cackling at the absurdity of Senden getting the breaks as he came out of the penalty box.
“Pretty fortunate to have those bounces that I did tonight,” Senden said post-game. “They come around once in a lifetime. As soon as (Chris Jandric) was skating with the puck, I saw the clock ticking down (on the second penalty) and I was thinking no way we’re going on another little rush. Obviously, I got it as I popped out of the box there and found Judd backdoor and I kind of chuckled to myself a lot.”
Omaha would get into penalty troubles of their own, including a Jonny Tychonick hook followed by a face-off violation penalty on Nolan Sullivan. The UND power play moved the puck solidly on their extended two-man advantage before Ethan Frisch stayed hot with his third goal in as many games to give the Hawks the 4-1 advantage going into the third period.
Saville was pulled during the intermission in favor of Austin Roden, but Roden was only tested for four shots in the frame. North Dakota and Driscoll were able to stave off the nine shots in the frame from Omaha, including two penalty kills, to keep the lead and win the opening night affair 4-1. It marked the 18th time in the series that the team that scored first in the match-up won the game.
THEY SAID IT
“We’re calling (Ethan Frisch) the next (Alex Ovechkin) with his shot there on the power play. It’s real beneficial to see that all the hard work in practices are really paying off.” – Senden on Frisch’s goal scoring streak.
“Individually it’s good, but I think it shows how we’ve improved defensivey as a team. Our box-out in front were really good, a couple blocked shots. You know, they’re helping me out back there, it’s not just me.” – Driscoll on stopping the last 46 of 47 shots thrown at him the last two games.