GRAND FORKS, ND– Coming into the weekend, the University of North Dakota knew they’d be shorthanded, but didn’t know to what extent. The Fighting Hawks dressed enough skaters for four full lines of offense and three pairings of defense against Colorado College. Though they lost a defenseman early, they were able to hold off the Colorado College Tigers by a score of 3-2.
It wasn’t the start North Dakota wanted, as Colorado College got out to a solid start from the face-off and put some pucks on Zach Driscoll before North Dakota put any sustained pressure on the other end. With them at the bare minimum to put a full roster out there, issues got worse when Cooper Moore threw a hit at center ice, but it was deemed as head contact and garnered him a five-minute major and a game misconduct; dropped UND to five-defensemen for the last 52 minutes of regulation.
Oddly enough, the North Dakota offense got triggered by being down a skater for five minutes, starting off with Judd Caulfield powering through the defense and flipping a puck up and over the confused Dom Basse and gave North Dakota the 1-0 lead. Caulfield was able to get by the defense again on the penalty kill, but Basse got the best of him on that instance. After limiting Colorado College to two shots on their major power play, UND kept their offense turning with Ethan Frisch potting his fourth goal in five games; taking a Tyler Kleven pass and wiring it over Basse to make it 2-0. Minutes later, on the power play, Riese Gaber found a lane and put home his 14th of the season over the shoulder of Basse to make it 3-0 for the Hawks going into the intermission.
The Tigers looked to turn the tides in the second period, trying to wear down the shortened North Dakota defense, but also tried drawing some penalties to see if they couldn’t avenge for their missed opportunity from the five-minute major. It worked at around midpoint of the second, as CC got a power play and only took five seconds before Stanley Cooley tipped a Nicklas Andrews point shot past Driscoll to get CC on the board. Five minutes later, CC got another power play and only took seven seconds for them to come within one with an Andrews shot getting through a screen and behind Driscoll. While they would press for the equalizer, North Dakota was able to keep them to the outside and go into the second intermission up 3-2.
In the third, Colorado was trying to strike, but North Dakota was able to clog up the neutral zone enough for CC to not get many threatening chances on Driscoll. Though North Dakota was limited to two shots, they covered their defensive side well enough to not need many chances. A thrilling moment to the end was Driscoll attempting the open net, but coming up about a half-a-foot short of becoming the fifth goalie to shoot a puck into an empty net. All aside, the shorthanded Hawks take the win 3-2 to open the weekend series.
THEY SAID IT
“We’re in that locker room and (Brad Berry) always says ‘next man up.’ Obviously, with the circumstances we have right now, that’s the situation I’m in and (Brent Johnson) is in. At the end of the day, it’s an opportunity and you give to take it and roll with it.”– Luke Bast on getting more playing time.
“When you have gaps in your five men on the ice and there’s a lot of ice between your defensemen and your forwards, that’s when you get plays off the rush. What we’ve been doing better is playing tighter as a five-man unit coming into our zone and playing through the neutral zone.” — Brad Berry on what’s needed to close out games.
“Wouldn’t it have been way cooler if it went it?? A game of inches, I guess. As goalies, we don’t get a lot of situations and a lot of time to set up like that. Just kind of got it, surprised at how much time I had, and went for it. Got it up pretty good, had the distance, just curled to side there.”– Driscoll on the methodology of his empty net attempt.