If anything, this weekend was probably a good introduction to some of the rookies on what an NCAA regional can be like.
Small building. Unfamiliar area. Not a lot of fans. Not much atmosphere. Different officials. Different…. challenges (like having the forwards in one locker room and the defensemen in another).
On Saturday night, UND badly outshot Simon Fraser but needed a late Dillon Simpson goal to win it 4-3.
Several thoughts and notes on this one:
- One thing UND needs to do a much better job at going forward is getting to rebounds. There were a ton of them sitting around this weekend and they didn’t get to nearly enough. UBC’s goaltender on Friday couldn’t catch the puck with his glove hand, but it never cost him a goal. Lots of rebounds on Saturday, too.
- It was apparent that UND wasn’t emotionally high in these games, as the team didn’t even celebrate goals. UND also didn’t finish very many hits. I don’t know if that was part of not trying to get hurt, but that’s something that also needs to change this weekend.
- Simpson was UND’s best player on Saturday and took over the game at the end. I also thought Mitch MacMillan had one of his best weekends and may have earned himself a spot in the lineup this weekend.
- UND coach Dave Hakstol said that Clarke Saunders was supposed to start Saturday’s game, but he became ill during the day and didn’t even make the trip to the rink with the team. He spent the night in the hotel.
- Forward Rocco Grimaldi was noticeably limping after the game, but was walking on his own power. We’ll hopefully know more about his status early in the week.
- UND had two disallowed goals on Saturday, including a Michael Parks tip in the third period. On the live chat, we thought the goal should have counted because the stick was under the crossbar. But it was waved off. Apparently, the referees said the stick height was fine, but they waved it off because the net was off its pegs. Very strange, because the net was not off. They had no video replay though.
- UND had to adjust its game as the weekend progressed. The ice conditions were such that it was nearly possible to catch a hard pass. It would just jump over players’ sticks. So, they started just firing a lot of shots on net, even if they weren’t great looks rather than setting each other up. One player told me after the game that he doesn’t remember playing on worse ice. Strange because it’s a pure hockey building and it was cold in there.
- There was a great contingent of UND fans at the game. Most of the came from the Seattle area. Among the former players in the house: Brad Eidsness, Garry Valk, Bob Munro, Erwin Martens.
- I mentioned challenges earlier for the team. Same for the media and team video people. They press box was very, very small and full, so on Friday, we climbed on top using a ladder. That was interesting watching UND and Princeton video guys trying to carry laptops up a ladder. In NCAA play, there’s always a main feed that they plug into, but there wasn’t one here, so UND had to pack its own camera and tripod.
- If UND flies out the next morning after a game, it usually leaves all the big equipment on the bus. But this time they didn’t have the bus overnight, so they had to haul all of that stuff into their rooms, which was entertaining to watch.