BEMIDJI, Minn. — Is there anyone out there that has worse injury luck than the UND men’s hockey team?
OK, Bubba Schweigert, put your hand down. We’re talking just college hockey here.
The team that lost so many guys that it played roughly two months without enough players to fill out a full lineup in 2012 — the team that lost its leading goal-scorer and best defensive forward the last game before the playoffs a year ago — now has seven players out with injuries including the first- and second-string goaltenders.
And we’re only on Game 3. Yes, Game THREE.
How does that happen?
UND added Cam Johnson and Joel Janatuinen to the injury report Friday night. Coach Brad Berry said that Janatuinen was slew-footed at the end of the first period and “wasn’t feeling well” after it. He said the team took necessary precautions. Berry didn’t confirm the injury, but it sure sounds like a concussion.
Johnson, meanwhile, appeared to injure his groin, sliding from left to right to make a stop at the buzzer at the end of the second period. Berry said that Johnson actually sustained the injury making a similar movement just prior to that and aggravated it on the second one.
If those guys can’t go tonight, every healthy body will be suited up for UND, which means Mike Gornall would make his college hockey debut and Ryan Anderson, a former Roseau goalie who walked on the team from campus a month ago, would be the backup goalie.
UND went from, a few months ago, wondering if the goalie tandem would be Zane McIntyre, Matej Tomek and Cam Johnson. Three games in, UND has none of them.
Tomek is still a few weeks out. He is doing work on his own, but he’s not even practicing with the team yet. I’m not expecting to see him before November.
Berry said that Johnson would be evaluated in the morning. “He’s a tough kid,” Berry said.
Losing two goaltenders to injury at the same time is extremely rare. In the last 15 years, I’m fairly certain it never happened once at UND. It certainly never did during my 11 years on the beat.
I actually can’t think of any other instances in the WCHA/NCHC during the last decade where that’s happened to anyone (do any of you recall it happening anywhere?).
Anyway, Matt Hrynkiw came in unexpectedly and did about as good of a job as can be asked. Hrynkiw allowed two goals on 12 shots. The first one — a power-play point shot through traffic — didn’t bother Hrynkiw. But he wasn’t pleased about allowing the tying goal, saying he slid too far over and gave the shooter an open net.
I’ve talked to a few people about Hrynkiw, including forward Bryn Chyzyk, after tonight’s game. They all have the same message: He will battle as hard as possible. He did that in the third period, while facing more work than Johnson did in the first two combined.
In the meantime, there are a few other areas to shore up:
UND’s penalty kill is at 58.3 percent (7 of 12), which ranks 53rd of 54 teams nationally. Only Canisius (2 of 4) is worse. I have a few theories on that:
1. UND hasn’t been particularly great on faceoffs this season. Two of BSU’s power play goals Friday night came off of faceoff wins. That’s an area that can improve. BSU won the faceoff battle 39-29.
2. On the penalty kill, you’re going to need your goalie to come up with some big saves. UND’s haven’t done that yet.
3. UND’s regular killers last year included Mark MacMillan, Michael Parks, Connor Gaarder, Stephane Pattyn and Colten St. Clair. All are gone/out. That means it’s a whole new crew getting that role.
Other than those areas, UND really dictated Friday’s game. Shots were 32-20. Shot attempts were 72-38 UND.
UND has been pretty good offensively without getting much production from its top players. Johnny Simonson has more goals and the same number of points right now Drake Caggiula, Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz combined.
I should point out that Schmaltz was once again pretty good against the Beavers. He nearly won the game in overtime with a brilliant setup for Paul LaDue, but the pass was an inch or two in front of LaDue, who had a backdoor open net after Schmaltz fooled the goalie.
But Caggiula, Boeser and Schmaltz aren’t going to stay off the scoresheet for long. And if UND can still get production out of guys like Chyzyk, Austin Poganski and Simonson, it will bode well for this season.
G Matej Tomek, lower body — A few weeks away
G Cam Johnson, likely groin — Will be evaluated this morning
F Joel Janatuinen, likely concussion — Will be evaluated this morning
F Shane Gersich, illness — Day to day
D Christian Wolanin, undisclosed — Day to day
F Colten St. Clair, shoulder — Out until February
D Danys Chartrand, undisclosed — No timeline