Friday night rewind

EAST LANSING, Mich. — UND’s first game at Michigan State since 1980 ended the same way the last one did — with a North Dakota victory.

UND moved to 11-2-2 with an efficient victory and continued its run of responding to losses in a masterful way. Since late November 2013, UND is unbelievably 22-1-1 after a loss or a tie. The only back-to-back loss stretch during that span was last year’s Frozen Faceoff. The back-to-back ties were this year against Maine and BSU.

Therefore, it has been a real long time since this team has hit a real, actual stretch of adversity. That would have been November 2013, when this team went on a four-game winless streak.

The last in that streak was a home loss to St. Lawrence. The team stayed in the locker room for more than an hour after that loss, figuring out how they would turn that season around. They ended up in the Frozen Four that year.

After last weekend’s 6-1 loss to St. Cloud State, UND responded with a convincing 3-1 win over Michigan State in a game that the F-Hawks largely controlled from the start.


In my game story, I wrote a little bit about captain Gage Ausmus, who gave a speech to his team during their Thanksgiving evening meal in East Lansing (they had steak – their turkey dinner was Wednesday).

I also touch on the continued dominance of UND’s top line, which registered a pair of goals and now has a combined 25 points in the last five games.

The Lansing State Journal story is here. Michigan State coach Tom Anastos says that UND is the kind of team he wants his team to become.

My three keys to the game were:

1. Let Tucker Poolman bomb away from the point. He did that and scored just 95 seconds into the game — his first goal of the year.

2. Stay out of the penalty box. UND generally did a great job of this. Michigan State only had one power play until late in the third period. Rhett Gardner has now been called twice this year for using his hand on a faceoff — a new rule.

3. Get two goals from outside the top line. UND only got one, so I’d still like to see a little more there Sunday, but they are facing a top-notch goalie.

Other notes and comments:

  • Christian Wolanin said he would be playing with a chip on his shoulder because Michigan State did not call him during recruiting process. He played a terrific game all around. He was a major factor all night. UND’s first goal came because Wolanin didn’t force a puck when there was no shooting lane, instead giving it to his D-partner.
  • Cam Johnson was solid in his return. I think he left too many rebounds in the second period, but some rust is expected after a long layoff. I’d guess Matt Hrynkiw goes back in on Sunday.
  • Keaton Thompson was out on Friday night, but I also would guess he will be back in. Probably for Hayden Shaw. He had a few turnovers and Wolanin was really good.
  • The atmosphere was fairly quiet. A lot of that had to do with UND taking the lead early and leading the entire game. Michigan State didn’t generate a ton of chances. Also, it’s Thanksgiving weekend, so there aren’t many students around.
  • Michigan State defenseman Travis Walsh blocked a remarkable nine shots. He leads the nation with 48. Gage Ausmus is second in the country with 37. Ausmus led UND with four blocks on Friday.
  • UND is 15-1-3 in its last 19 nonconference games dating back to last season and is 6-1-2 this season.
  • Nick Schmaltz and Drake Caggiula ranked 1-2 in the nation in plus-minus at +20 and +19. Brock Boeser is fourth at +17. Schmaltz is on pace for about 51 assists this season and Caggiula is six points shy of 100 for his career.

Gameday final: UND 3, Michigan State 1

TONIGHT’S VIEWING: NO television. Webcast for a fee here. Audio at iHeartRadio 96.1 The Fox or Lineup notes: Cam Johnson gets his first start since Oct. 16. Keaton Thompson is scratched for Hayden Shaw. Joel Janatuinen is out, Shane Gersich back in.

First period

UND 1, Michigan State 0 — Tucker Poolman (Christian Wolanin, Johnny Simonson) 1:35. UND gets possession in the zone and starts moving the puck around the points. Wolanin sends one to Poolman, who blasts one five-hole on Hildebrand with UND’s second shot on goal of the game.

UND 2, Michigan State 0 — Drake Caggiula (Nick Schmaltz, Brock Boeser) 11:08. UND gets a 3-on-2 rush with its top three forwards and buries another one. Schmaltz enters the zone, fakes a shot to draw the defender, then dishes to Caggiula on the left side. It doesn’t look like Caggiula has a lot to shoot at, but he sneaks one five-hole.

Second period

UND 3, Michigan State 0 — Drake Caggiula (Nick Schmaltz) :32. Caggiula picks off an outlet pass by Draeger and speeds in the zone on a two-on-one rush. Caggiula and Schmaltz execute a give-and-go perfectly and Caggiula finishes off his second of the game.

UND 3, Michigan State 1 — Joe Cox (Thomas Ebbing) . Ebbing won a puck battle against Boeser to get the puck and start a two-on-one rush. He passes to Cox, who fires a wrist shot. Johnson gets a big chunk of the puck, but not enough as it drops behind him and trickles across the line.

Third period


UND’s lines

9 Drake Caggiula–8 Nick Schmaltz–16 Brock Boeser
29 Bryn Chyzyk–27 Luke Johnson–18 Chris Wilkie
19 Shane Gersich–10 Johnny Simonson–14 Austin Poganski
26 Coltyn Sanderson–22 Rhett Gardner–11 Trevor Olson

20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher
28 Hayden Shaw–6 Paul LaDue
24 Christian Wolanin–3 Tucker Poolman

33 Cam Johnson
30 Matt Hrynkiw

Michigan State’s lines

Mackenzie McEachern–20 Michael Ferrantino–27 Mason Appleton
22 J.T. Stenglein–28 Thomas Ebbing–21 Joe Cox
12 Ryan Keller–23 Cody Milan–26 Villiam Haag
13 Brennan Sanford–9 Connor Wood–24 Justin Hoomaian

4 Travis Walsh–7 John Draeger
18 Carson Gatt–11 Rhett Holland
19 Matt DeBlouw–2 Zach Osburn

30 Jake Hildebrand
45 Ed Minney
32 Nate Phillips

Friday morning reading

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Happy Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday from Michigan.

There’s only one way to spend this American holiday in this state and that’s with the Detroit Lions. Amazingly, the Lions won this game and everyone went to grab their turkey in a good mood.


Now, I’m in East Lansing, where UND will meet Michigan State at 6:05 p.m. Central tonight. It will be the first meeting between these two teams in this city since 1980. The Spartans were in the WCHA back then.

North Dakota has a few connections to this place, though.

Goalie Cam Johnson, who could see his first start since Oct. 16, is from Troy. Freshman defenseman Christian Wolanin is from Rochester. Both Troy and Rochester are northern suburbs of Detroit.

Wolanin wasn’t shy in pointing out that none of the Michigan schools were interested in him, and he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder about it. He’s rather fired up for this weekend’s series, as you could imagine.

Read Wolanin’s comments — and other info — in this Q&A.

Matt Greene is from nearby Grand Ledge, and his parents, Jim and Darcy, work at Michigan State University. Matt’s dream school was Michigan State, but he had his scholarship offer pulled when the Spartans transitioned to a new coaching staff. So, he ended up at UND and it worked out just fine for Greene and North Dakota.

In the 10 years since Matt signed with Edmonton, Jim and Darcy have been popped up at UND games here and there. They have traveled to Houghton to watch UND a couple of times, and that’s no short drive. Houghton is about eight hours away. So expect to see them around the rinks this weekend.

Josh Morton, the former executive of the UND Champions Club and former UND quarterback, now has a similar position at Michigan State. He said he’ll be at morning skate today to say hi to the team.

And more recently, former UND captain Dillon Simpson played at UND, while his father, Craig played for the Spartans.

This weekend’s series is a rare Friday-Sunday matchup. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first Friday-Sunday series since Dec. 2010 in Mankato. The Saturday game was postponed until Sunday because of a blizzard.

This weekend, the finale is Sunday because Michigan State hosts Penn State in football on Saturday afternoon (2:30 p.m. Central). Coach Brad Berry said the option to go to the game is there for the team, but he hasn’t fully decided yet if they’ll go. He says they have some business to attend to.

The above link lists a few questions that have to be answered for UND this weekend — scoring depth and goaltending.

I had a chance to watch Michigan State twice at the Ice Breaker Invitational in Maine and I saw a third game on television this season.

Here’s what you need to know about the Spartans:

  1. Goalie Jake Hildebrand is the reigning Big Ten MVP. He probably could have left school after this season, but didn’t. He can steal games.
  2. I don’t know if it’s a 100 percent done deal that Hildebrand will start both games. He was pulled in his last start a week ago and sophomore Ed Minney, who played at the NTDP, stopped 34 of 36 shots in his first-career action.
  3. Michigan State’s top skill players like J.T. Stenglein, Mackenzie MacEachern and freshman Mason Appleton were very good in the Ice Breaker. When they were on the power play, the Spartans moved the puck a lot.
  4. UND seemingly should have an advantage with depth. Michigan State’s lower lines were average, and this is where UND’s depth players need to be able to create momentum and score a little more.

In East Lansing, the Spartans seem excited about this nonconference matchup between traditional powers.

My three keys to this series:

1. Get two goals per game when the top line is not on the ice. Yes, this may be asking a lot, but I think UND is capable and it would be huge.

2. Stay out of the box. UND wants to play a possession game, but that can’t happen when you’re shorthanded. UND has allowed its opponents to have five power plays in four of the last five games. That’s a tad too many. Lower that number and you’ll lower Michigan State’s scoring chances.

3. Let Poolman bomb away from the point. Tucker Poolman has a tremendous shot, and the more he can get it off on the power play, the higher the chance of a goal — whether he scores himself or if the goalie can’t control a rebound.

This weekend’s picks…

UND at Michigan State: The Spartans have the advantage in net with a league MVP, but I like UND in all of the other spots (except maybe faceoffs, where MSU is .520 and UND is .502). UND 5-3, 2-1.

Belfast, Northern Ireland: Yep, we have four college hockey teams playing overseas this weekend. Should be an awesome, memorable experience for all involved. Especially UMass-Lowell, since I’m predicting the River Hawks to win the tourney that also features Brown, Northeastern and Colgate.

Colorado College vs. Air Force: Finally, the Tigers’ nightmare (and 15-game losing streak dating back to last season) should come to an end. CC 4-2, 2-2.

St. Cloud State at Minnesota: The Huskies are skilled, veteran and will be fired up for this series in Mariucci Arena. St. Cloud State 3-2, 4-1.

UND at Syracuse: The Orange were picked to win the CHA this season, so it won’t be an easy matchup. The returning players know that first-hand as they lost to the Orange last season and it may have cost UND a spot in the national tournament. UND 1-1, 3-1.

All right – I need to sleep off some more of the turkey hangover.

Wednesday update

Quick update here before I have to catch my flight to Michigan.

All three goaltenders are fully participating in practice and will travel to Michigan. UND coach Brad Berry has not announced a starting goalie for Friday night yet, so this weekend could be interesting.

Berry said that everyone is going to be on this road trip as UND isn’t limited by conference legislation. He said it’s important for players who aren’t in the lineup to join team activities.

UND will have a team Thanksgiving dinner tonight at The Ralph. UND travels to Michigan tomorrow and will have a regular team meal on Thursday night as well, but the Thanksgiving feast is tonight.

The hot college hockey topic this week has been College Hockey News’ story on the Big Ten’s proposal to set a younger age limit in the sport.

Berry said he’s “not a fan at all” of the legislation.

I’ll also have some more on all of the ties in college hockey.

Also, you’ll want to check out my Q&A with Christian Wolanin in Friday’s paper. He’s from nearby Rochester, Mich., and he made it clear that none of the Michigan schools were interested in him. He has a chip on his shoulder, you could say.

UND is expecting to run into Jim and Darcy Greene, the parents of Matt Greene, who work at Michigan State. If you remember, Michigan State was Greene’s dream school. They offered him but later pulled that offer. Greene ended up at UND and winning a couple of Stanley Cups.

The Greenes frequently travel to watch UND play to this day.

Is loss to SCSU a concern?

UND lost 6-1 to St. Cloud State on Saturday night – the team’s most lopsided loss since the 2008 Frozen Four. How concerning is it?

When you break down the game, it’s probably not anything to panic about.

It’s hard to be too critical of the goaltending when five of the six goals were deflections — three of them deflected off of UND players before going in. The sixth goal was a guy alone on the top of the crease.

I liked the way Cam Johnson looked in net. He seemed more confident than the past. The goals he allowed were some bad luck. I think he plays at least one game against Michigan State this weekend.

Defensively, UND actually only allowed 21 shots on goal, which will win you most contests.

Offensively, I thought UND was bad in the first 13 minutes of the second period – hardly generating anything – but looked fine other than that stretch.

What areas are worthy of concern at this point?

1. Scoring balance [read story here]. Drake Caggiula, Nick Schmaltz or Brock Boeser have had a hand in 15 of UND’s last 17 goals. They are getting a ton from that line, but not enough from others. UND has others who are capable of chipping in, but have gone quiet lately. Austin Poganski’s goal drought is at 11 games. Luke Johnson and Bryn Chyzyk have 1 point in the last 5 games.

2. Penalties. Trevor Olson took an untimely major penalty on Saturday against St. Cloud State that ran North Dakota out of the contest. UND probably spent too much time in the box this weekend and St. Cloud State’s power play was excellent on the big ice sheet.

This week, it’s off to Michigan State to take on the Spartans, who are a solid team. We got a look at them at the Ice Breaker. Some of their top guys can make plays, and they’re not a bad team, but they aren’t St. Cloud State, either.

If UND can find some scoring balance and stay out of the box, it would help solve this team’s biggest concerns and point it in the direction of a couple of wins.

Gameday final: SCSU 6, UND 1

TONIGHT’S VIEWING: Midco Sports Network (GF Ch. 27, 622 HD), Audio: The Fox 96.1 FM on iHeartRadio and audio. Lineup notes: Hrynkiw stays in for UND. Janatuinen replaces Gersich on the LW of the fourth line. St. Cloud State goes with Papa and Tedesco for Eyssimont and Storm.

First period

SCSU 1, UND 0 — Patrick Newell (Robby Jackson Niklas Nevalainen) 14:11. The Huskies only get one shot on net in the first 14 minutes of the period but score on the second. Newell flicks a wrist shot that hits the skate of a UND defenseman, who was down trying to block the shot, re-directing it five-hole on Hrynkiw.

Second period

SCSU 2, UND 0 — Daniel Tedesco (Nathan Widman, Patrick Russell) 5:40. St. Cloud State carries the puck on a 3-on-2 and executes perfectly. Russell leaves it back for Widman, who draws the defender toward him before dishing to Tedesco on the left side. Tedesco goes across the crease to make it 2-0.

SCSU 3, UND 0 — David Morley (Patrick Newell, Jon Lizotte) 8:46. Lizotte holds the puck in the zone and launches a shot that Newell deflects off the post and Morley knocks it in to make it 3-0. Hrynkiw pulled after allowing 3 goals on 6 shots. Cam Johnson in for the first time since Oct. 16.

SCSU 3, UND 1 — Troy Stecher (Brock Boeser, Nick Schmaltz) 14:21. UND’s top line gets on board on UND’s second shot of the period. Boeser finds Stecher in space. Stecher skates to the high slot and fires it through traffic, beating Lindgren on the stick side.

SCSU 4, UND 1 — Niklas Nevalainen (Blake Winiecki, Jimmy Schuldt) 18:35 (pp). Skating on a major power play, St. Cloud State again makes it a three-goal game. Simonson fails to clear a puck and it gets to Winiecki near the goal line. He flips a pass back to a pinching Nevalainen, who snaps a shot that hits Boeser and gets by Johnson.

Third period

SCSU 5, UND 1 — Ethan Prow (Joey Benik, Kalle Kossila) 16:15 (pp). Prow gets the puck at the point on the power play and blasts one that deflects off of a UND defenseman and past Johnson.

SCSU 6, UND 1 — Jacob Benson (Jon Lizotte, Jimmy Murray) 19:05. The Red River grad scores his first-career goal on a tip of a shot by his former Roughrider teammate.

UND’s lines

9 Drake Caggiula–8 Nick Schmaltz–16 Brock Boeser
29 Bryn Chyzyk–27 Luke Johnson–18 Chris Wilkie
25 Joel Janatuinen–10 Johnny Simonson–14 Austin Poganski
26 Coltyn Sanderson–22 Rhett Gardner–11 Trevor Olson

20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher
24 Christian Wolanin–6 Paul LaDue
4 Keaton Thompson–3 Tucker Poolman

30 Matt Hrynkiw
33 Cam Johnson

St. Cloud State’s lines

21 Jimmy Murray–11 Kalle Kossila–63 Patrick Russell
9 Joey Benik–13 David Morley–14 Patrick Newell
23 Robby Jackson–18 Judd Peterson–10 Ryan Papa
6 Daniel Tedesco–42 Blake Winiecki–17 Jacob Benson

22 Jimmy Schuldt–12 Ethan Prow
5 Nathan Widman–20 Will Borgen
7 Niklas Nevalainen–16 Jon Lizotte

35 Charlie Lindgren
45 Rasmus Reijola
30 David Zevnik

Friday night rewind

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Yes, it was a bit of a strange evening with UND officially being known as the Fighting Hawks. I heard some fans “caw-ing” at each other. Others waved their arms like hawk wings after UND goals, laughing in the process.

We had some fun with the new name, too, on Friday afternoon. I posed a question on Twitter and Facebook asking fans to submit their picks on who would score the first goal as a Fighting Hawk for both the men and the women.

The answer to the trivia question will forever be Drake Caggiula and Amy Menke. Caggiula got his a little bit before Menke. Both players ended up with Hawk tricks (sorry, terrible pun, but my dad and grandpa would be proud).

Three people ended up calling both goal scorers right — David Badley, Matthew Borowicz and Marcus Anderson.

Badley also won on the men’s side. He was only 40 seconds off of Caggiula’s goal. Honorable mention to Jordan Schmaltz, who knows his old team well. He was only 2:08 off.

Brooke Umland wins on the women’s side. She was only 2:23 off of Menke’s goal late in the second period.


Grand Forks Herald gamer

Star Tribune column by Patrick Reusse

St. Cloud Times gamer

SB Nation blog recap



This was the most that UND has been pushed all season, including the loss to Wisconsin. St. Cloud State became the first time to outshoot UND — and the Huskies did it by quite a bit.

UND entered the weekend allowing 22.25 shots per game. St. Cloud State had 27 by the end of the second period.

It was a huge test for goalie Matt Hrynkiw, and he passed it. He gave UND a chance to win yet again, and UND did it. Hrynkiw was great on first pucks. He struggled with rebound control, especially late in the game. But that’s where the strong defenders helped out.

The defenders cleared out a lot of rebounds and made some key shot blocks to keep UND in front.

A few other thoughts:

  • Obviously, UND’s top line is very dominant right now. Probably UND’s best line since the DOT line. That’s 20 points in the last three games for the Drake Caggiula-Nick Schmaltz-Brock Boeser line. Caggiula was on the ice for all four UND goals.
  • It was very interesting to see freshman Rhett Gardner get the assignment of the defensive zone draw with 5.2 seconds left. He won it and it iced the game for UND. Gardner, by the way, now has a goal in three straight games.
  • The last draw aside, UND got destroyed on faceoffs. The final tally was 45-25. UND has had some tough faceoff nights vs. SCSU in recent years.
  • The last time UND swept a series in St. Cloud, Boeser was 1 year old.
  • The Fighting Hawks did a terrific job on the power play, going 2 for 3. They took just :23 to score on the first power play and :19 on the second.
  • St. Cloud State easily set up in the zone on its power plays. The Huskies went 1-for-5, but it was essentially 2-for-5, because they converted one before UND could get its fifth back in the zone. The Huskies had 12 shots on their power play tonight.
  • A funny moment in the game was when Hrynkiw lost an edge and wiped out into his own net taking the ice for the second period. Hrynkiw said it was pretty funny and that it actually helped relax him.
  • As usual, it was a great showing of UND fans in the NHC, which helped make for a great atmosphere.
  • Although UND’s big top line has been so dominant, you could easily make an argument that Troy Stecher has been UND’s best player to this point. He had two more assists and a terrific night again.
  • It was a tough night for the refs. A couple of questionable calls that led to power-play goals for each team. And Bob Motzko was not happy about UND’s first goal, which Caggiula tipped on net before putting home his own rebound. It could have been high sticking. It was very, very close, but the officials didn’t think video was conclusive enough to overturn the call on the ice.
  • I thought it was one of Trevor Olson’s more solid games. He scored two goals in the NHC last season, so maybe it’s a favorite spot of his.

Gameday final: UND 4, SCSU 3

TONIGHT’S VIEWING: FSN Plus (GF Ch. 339), Fox College Sports, Audio at iHeartRadio 96.1 The Fox or LINEUP NOTES: No surprises in the lineups. Both Benson and Lizotte are in for SCSU. Full lines and live chat are below.

First period

SCSU 1, UND 0 — Judd Peterson (Patrick Newell Jon Lizotte) 2:20. UND loses a wall battle and gets caught out of position defensively, starting a quick 2-on-1 for SCSU. Newell draws LaDue enough toward him to get the pass and Hrynkiw has no shot at Peterson’s one-timer.

SCSU 1, UND 1 — Drake Caggiula (Troy Stecher, Nick Schmaltz) 6:20. Stecher blasts a point shot that Caggiula tips. Lindgren makes the initial stop, but Caggiula pounces on the rebound to score the first goal as a Fighting Hawk.

UND 2, SCSU 1 — Drake Caggiula (Rhett Gardner, Nick Schmaltz) 13:37 (pp). UND only takes 22 seconds to cash in on the power-play chance. Schmaltz gets the puck to Gardner at the bottom of the right circle and Gardner makes a great cross-crease feed to Caggiula, who buries his second of the game.

Second period

UND 3, SCSU 1 — Rhett Gardner (Brock Boeser, Troy Stecher) 5:48 (pp). UND has a short power play but converts again. Stecher blasts one from the point that gets to Gardner on top of the crease after a Boeser tip. Gardner quick flicks a backhand past Lindgren’s skate to score for the third straight game.

UND 3, SCSU 2 — Jimmy Murray (David Morley, Jimmy Schuldt) 16:29 (pp). After back-to-back power plays, the Huskies convert when Morley sends a pass from the left circle all the way across to the right circle to Murray, who rockets a shot perfectly in the corner of the net to beat Hrynkiw.

Third period

UND 4, SCSU 2 — Drake Caggiula (Christian Wolanin, Nick Schmaltz) :28. UND gains the zone and Wolanin launches a point shot purposely wide of the net, looking for a long rebound and he gets it. Caggiula goes top shelf from a tight angle to finish off his first-career hat trick.

UND 4, SCSU 3 — David Morley (Jimmy Murray, Niklas Nevalainen) 14:52. An SCSU power play ends, but UND isn’t able to get its fifth attacker back in the play and Murray fires a shot from the left circle that Hrynkiw leaves in the crease for Morley to easily sweep in.

UND’s lines

9 Drake Caggiula–8 Nick Schmaltz–16 Brock Boeser
29 Bryn Chyzyk–27 Luke Johnson–18 Chris Wilkie
19 Shane Gersich–10 Johnny Simonson–14 Austin Poganski
26 Coltyn Sanderson–22 Rhett Gardner–11 Trevor Olson

20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher
24 Christian Wolanin–6 Paul LaDue
4 Keaton Thompson–3 Tucker Poolman

30 Matt Hrynkiw
33 Cam Johnson

St. Cloud State’s lines

21 Jimmy Murray–11 Kalle Kossila–63 Patrick Russell
9 Joey Benik–13 David Morley–23 Robby Jackson
19 Mikey Eyssimont–18 Judd Peterson–14 Patrick Newell
4 Ben Storm–42 Blake Winiecki–17 Jacob Benson

22 Jimmy Schuldt–12 Ethan Prow
5 Nathan Widman–20 Will Borgen
7 Niklas Nevalainen–16 Jon Lizotte

35 Charlie Lindgren
45 Rasmus Reijola
30 David Zevnik