All right, let’s see a show of hands.
Who thought that, on Nov. 29 after losing 5-2 at home against St. Lawrence, UND was about to go on a nine-game unbeaten streak?
Anyone? Bueller? Me either.
UND did what it needed to do, finishing its nonconference portion of the schedule 4-0-1 in the last five and winning games against some teams under .500.
UND did enough in nonconference play to not bury itself in the Pairwise, but there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done.
When asked after Saturday night’s game 4-2 win over Bemidji State about the team’s nonconference performance, coach Dave Hakstol basically said he would like to do-over a couple of them.
No doubt that UND would like to go back to Boston and play the Terriers again. BU is a big-name team with lots of history, but that Terrier squad was not very good (hence UND putting 58 shots on goal against them in one game). BU is now on an eight-game winless streak.
As Hakstol said, there are no do-overs and UND needs to control what’s in front of them. The team did that Saturday night, finishing off a solid series against the Beavers.
My game story is here. Andrew Panzarella with some solid quotes.
Tom Miller’s column is here. He wrote about the emergence of Derek Rodwell, who showed Saturday that he can score some skilled goals as well as the greasy ones.
During the first seven games of UND’s current run, the team was getting by, finding ways to win tight games that were up for grabs. I thought this weekend was the first time that UND really dictated play for an entire weekend and exerted its will on an opponent.
Some will say, “Well, it’s Bemidji State.”
UND outshot BSU by 28 the first night and 16 the second night. In the last seven meetings between UND and the Beavers, UND has not outshot BSU by more than 13. Not even the 2010-11 team outshot BSU by more than 15 on back-to-back nights.
The Beavers are always that make it difficult to generate offense and you always know what kind of team you’re going to get. So, it was definitely a good weekend for UND to show that it can crank things up a bit.
The best sign for the fans is that this team looks like one that is getting better. Clearly, health is a big factor. Mark MacMillan had 3 goals and 5 points in his first 14 games this season, while registering a minus-8 rating. Since returning to health, he has 2 goals and 4 points in 4 games, while registering a plus-5.
Michael Parks has stepped up his game, too. He has six points in the last six games.
Panzarella, a junior, scored the first goal of his college career on Saturday night and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of him during the stretch run. Even if he doesn’t score, he adds a physical element that Wade Murphy does not.
Regardless, the coaching staff has to like the competition to get roster spots. That’s something the team hasn’t had a lot of during the past two seasons (mainly because of injuries). UND is creating depth right now.
The schedule now turns for UND.
It’s Denver, Omaha, Miami, Duluth, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan to close out the regular season. Not the easiest stretch for UND, which still has ground to make up in order to make the NCAA tournament.
UND needed to make up some ground before heading out on this stretch and an 8-0-1 run in nine games did the trick.
Some of you may have noticed a bizarre moment during pregame introductions, where PA announcer Darrin Looker called the name of starting goaltender Zane Gothberg and nobody was on the ice. The spotlight shined on an empty goal crease and nobody skated to the line.
Gothberg actually broke his skate during pregame warmups and equipment manager Andy Rannells was scrambling to fix it. Apparently, there were some hairy moments, but Rannells was able to make the repair just in time for Gothberg to skate onto the ice before puck drop.