Saturday night rewind

UND completed the 2013 portion of its schedule on Saturday night with a critical third-period rally to beat Northern Michigan 3-1 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

UND extended its winning streak to five games — the second-longest winning streak in the country — as it heads for a lengthy break.

The team had only four games in December, but went 4-0-0. In the last four years, UND is now 17-1-1 in December, which is rather ridiculous, especially for a team that has the reputation of being bad before Christmas. The only December loss in that stretch was overtime, too (Ryan Walters GWG in REA).

Saturday’s game stories:

Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks Herald column on Grimaldi’s success at center

USCHO

UNDsports.com

Other notes:

  • UND’s 4-0 month marked the program’s first unbeaten month since last December when it went 5-0-1 and the program’s first perfect month since going 8-0 in March of 2011.
  • The two wins over Northern were critical for nonconference purposes. UND had a very average 2-2-2 mark heading into the weekend. It has one last chance to improve that mark against Bemidji State next month. Those also will be key games.
  • This was UND’s first sweep at home since January of 2013. Forward Rocco Grimaldi remarked that this was his first chance to do a stick salute at home after a sweep, as he was gone at the World Juniors last January. His was injured for the team’s four sweeps during the year he redshirted. Last year, the team had five home weekends of a win and a tie, but just one sweep.
  • A lot was made out of the NCHC using the shootout this season, but UND has not been involved in one yet. There have only been three in NCHC play (CC has been involved in all three), which actually surprises me. I was expecting more. Four of the eight NCHC teams (UND, Miami, Western, Duluth) have not been involved in one yet.
  • After the game, UND coach Dave Hakstol admitted what we had all suspected for about a month and a half now: Several players in the lineup are dealing with injuries and this next month will be big for them. The most obvious ones are Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Colten St. Clair and Drake Caggiula. Defenseman Gage Ausmus, who came out for postgame interviews with a large ice bag on his knee, did not skate for three star selection, presumably getting medical attention after the game.
  • Hakstol said that the team did not think Caggiula was going to play this weekend as of Friday morning. Apparently, the injury happened Thursday night. It is a lower-body injury as Caggiula was limping after the games.
  • UND goaltender Zane Gothberg previously has showed both his high-end ability and his ability to give up some soft goals. In the last five games, we haven’t seen a single soft goal, only his high-end ability. This is the consistency UND needs from Gothberg, especially with this team that isn’t scoring a ton.
  • UND has allowed just eight goals in the last five games (and only five even strength). The last four games have come against teams that have been struggling offensively. UND needed to shut them down and did just that.
  • UND is 5-0-0 in the last five games. If it gave up just one more goal per game in that stretch, it would be 1-0-4. That shows how small of a margin this team has (as has been discussed previously here). Right now, they are doing a fine job of walking that narrow line.
There are only two nonconference games left for UND and only 15 left for the NCHC. Below, I have a breakdown of each team’s nonconference record and games left. The NCHC has had most of its success against the WCHA.

NCHC nonconference records + remaining games

St. Cloud State 5-1-2 (vs. Minnesota, Mankato/Duluth)
Miami 6-2-2 (done)
North Dakota 4-2-2 (at Bemidji, BEMIDJI)
Denver 5-3-2 (at UMass, BROWN)
Duluth 4-3-1 (vs. Mankato, St. Cloud/Minnesota)
Western Michigan 4-3-3 (vs. Michigan, Michigan State/Michigan Tech)
Omaha 3-5 (at New Hampshire, at New Hampshire)
Colorado College 0-7 (BROWN, PROVIDENCE, PROVIDENCE)

NCHC vs. other leagues + remaining games

10-4-5 vs. WCHA (.658). Three definite games left, potentially five.
5-3-1 vs. Atlantic Hockey (.611). No games left.
8-6 vs. Big Ten (.571). Two definite games left, potentially three.
4-6-2 vs. ECAC (.417). Two games left.
4-7-4 vs. Hockey East (.400). Five games left.

26 thoughts on “Saturday night rewind

  1. Typically, UND seems to be slow starters. Non-conference games are important and Bemidji State should never push North Dakota with all of the talent and tradition UND has. Bemidji State in my opinion is no better than an average Junior program in the US and Canada.

    Come North Dakota…..Play with the Pride that the Tradition has created!

    GO SIOUX!

  2. Not a big deal, but I believe UND would be 2-0-3 had they given up one more goal per game as they won these last 2 vs NMU by scores of 4-1 and 3-1.

  3. Brad, I know it’s out of conference, but do you have any insight on why Stephon Williams has struggled this year? He was so hot in a fully loaded WCHA last year and this year has struggled with the new WCHA. Goalies being goalies?

  4. Curious as to why the Herald chose to put a picture of O’Donnell getting rocked against the glass on the front page of Sunday’s Sports Section after, “UND extended its winning streak to five games — the second-longest winning streak in the country…”

    Here is a player who is giving his all to be on the ice while battling an injury, playing in a game which ended in the first stick salute of the season. I took a better picture with my phone at the end of the game that I could have sent to the Herald.

    It was a great weekend to cheer on the team and I think that the Herald could have captured that energy and enthusiasm with a better cover image.

  5. Brad, on TV it looks like we have fairly diminutive defensemen this year, is this actually the case? It seems like we have trouble moving forwards in front of the net and I have yet to see our D lay some wood into anyone. Admittedly, I have not been to a game (live) so I am fully aware TV does not always provide an accurate vantage point. UND has always recruited big, tough defensemen to ensure teams like MN found out early on who they were playing…:) We typically have 2-3 players of Matt Greene’s ilk, but this year our D look like they are 6’0″ and 180 lbs dripping wet. Are our D bigger than is apparent on TV, or do we truly have a smaller group this year?

  6. So here is my question…..We dump Eades for Berry, who is supposed to be all about an “offense minded defense”. We haven’t seen a lot of defensemen jumping in on the offense until the 3rd period Saturday night, and when they did the looked like a different team. I understand that pinching defensemen is a gamble but how else do you get the defensemen involved in the offense and why are we just seeing it now? Is it part of building the new playing style?

    • I’m not sure if he’s only about “offensive-minded defensemen.” Berry was a two-way defenseman himself. That being said, I do think the ‘D’ have jumped up in the offense quite a bit. UND has the highest scoring D-corps in the NCHC. A lot of times, younger defensemen are asked to solid and reliable in their own end and the offense comes later. We’re seeing that with Jordan Schmaltz. He developed a solid baseline game as a freshman and now he’s starting to be more dynamic.

      • Stats are stats and there is certain amount of puck-luck when the D is dropping bombs from the blue line or tossing pucks at the net looking for tips….so I take them with a grain of salt.
        As far as the more frequent D pinching and forwards cycling to the blue line, like we’ve seen with Rocco, and the defensemen truly getting involved in the offense, in your respected opinion…. can we look for that to continue?

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