Thanks again to Goon for posting this on YouTube.
TONIGHT’S VIEWING: CBS Sports Network. No webcast. Tonight’s lineup notes: Mark MacMillan is back in. Andrew Panzarella is up front. Keaton Thompson is in at D. Zane Gothberg is starting. Full lines and live chat are below.
Western Michigan 1, UND 0 — Nolan LaPorte (Chase Balisy) 2:04. Tambellini doesn’t tie up Balisy off the draw. The senior goes forward with it and passes it to LaPorte on top of the crease and he has an easy goal.
Western Michigan 1, UND 1 — Luke Johnson (Jordan Schmaltz, Dillon Simpson) 12:19 (pp). UND scores on a five-on-three power play. Schmaltz takes the point shot. Johnson finds the rebound, turns around and shoots it past Slubowski.
UND 2, Western Michigan 1 — Luke Johnson (Rocco Grimaldi, Jordan Schmaltz) 7:40 (pp). Grimaldi tries to flip a puck around a WMU forward and track it down, but he misses on the pass to himself. Grimaldi stays with it, though, tracks it down and makes a fantastic setup for Johnson, who one-times his second goal of the game.
UND 3, Western Michigan 1 — Derek Rodwell (Stephane Pattyn, Connor Gaarder) 9:26. Pattyn makes an outstanding play to pull the puck off the wall and hit Rodwell with a behind-the-back pass. Rodwell’s initial shot is stopped, but he stays with it and buries the rebound.
UND 3, Western Michigan 2 — Josh Pitt (Shane Berschbach, Colton Hargrove) 19:59 (ea). Pitt finds the puck at the side of the net and knocks one in with less than a second left in the game.
28 Stephane Pattyn–13 Connor Gaarder–11 Derek Rodwell
9 Drake Caggiula–19 Rocco Grimaldi–27 Luke Johnson
21 Brendan O’Donnell–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
29 Bryn Chyzyk–10 Adam Tambellini–22 Andrew Panzarella
18 Dillon Simpson–24 Jordan Schmaltz
5 Nick Mattson–2 Troy Stecher
20 Gage Ausmus–4 Keaton Thompson
31 Zane Gothberg
33 Clarke Saunders
Out of lineup and on trip: Paul LaDue, Mitch MacMillan.
Western Michigan’s lines
24 Shane Berschbach–10 Josh Pitt–17 Justin Kovacs
29 Will Kessel–8 Sheldon Dries–28 Sam Mellor
14 Colton Hargrove–13 Chase Balisy–16 Nolan LaPorte
25 Mike Cichy–18 David Killip–21 Kyle Novak
15 Jordan Oesterle–11 Dennis Brown
9 Chris Dienes–20 Taylor Fleming
6 Matt Stewart–7 Kenney Morrison
1 Frank Slubowski
35 Sam Bloomberg
55 Lukas Hafner
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Good morning from Kalamazoo, a town that UND doesn’t need a tour guide to show it around.
That’s because it has Brad Berry.
The assistant coach played professionally here for the K-Wings (IHL at the time, ECHL now) for seven or eight years. Berry was a three-time all-star here.
The K-Wings play at Wings Stadium, which is in the southeastern part of town. UND and Western Michigan will square off at Lawson Ice Arena, which is on the southwestern side of town. That’s where UND has a rather important series against the Broncos.
UND needs to find some consistency as soon as possible. If that doesn’t happen in the next few weeks, UND will probably be looking at the NCHC tournament as the only option to keep its NCAA tournament streak alive.
I’ve been asked a lot about this team on game chats and live chats. But I’ve never blogged about it, so I’ll post some general thoughts here.
As I’ve said many times, I don’t think this team has a ton of skill. It has a couple of very skilled players, but not a lot. Let’s go into more detail on that one.
I know the first thing I will hear is about how many draft picks this team has on the roster.
One thing you have to take into account is that almost half of this team’s draft picks are freshmen and about two-thirds are underclassmen.
While I say that I don’t see a lot of skill on this team, I do believe that a lot of these guys will turn into skilled players. They just aren’t there yet.
You will remember back a few years ago when Brad Malone and Matt Frattin were freshmen. They were both NHL draft picks, but they were not very skilled as rookies. The two of them COMBINED for five goals that season.
Through their years at UND, they developed. By the time they were upperclassmen, they were very skilled players. During their senior season, they combined for 100 points and they formed the top line in the nation.
Both of them eventually ended up being NHL players. But it’s easy to forget where they came from.
Luke Johnson and Adam Tambellini are not scoring a lot right now, but, believe it or not, they are on pace to score more goals this season than Malone and Frattin did as rookies.
If you take Brock Nelson’s stat line on Dec. 6 of his freshman season, it read exactly the same as Johnson’s: 1 goal, 4 assists.
Don’t get the wrong impression that I’m saying these guys will be Nelson, Malone or Frattin. I’m not. Everyone takes their own path and I don’t know where they will go from here and how quickly. But I do think that they will eventually become skilled players. They aren’t there yet, though, and that’s not unusual.
Now, because this team doesn’t have an abundance of skill like the past few years, it cannot overcome an average performance and win games.
A couple of years ago, UND could play poorly and still win because it was just that much more talented than everyone (see: the sweep in Mankato in December 2010).
Last year, they could play average, and Danny Kristo and Corban Knight could come to the rescue and win the game for the team.
This team cannot. This team’s margin for error is small. If its goaltenders don’t play well, they will lose. If the team doesn’t execute well, it will probably lose. If it has some bad breaks or bounces go against it, a loss is likely.
So, right now, the challenge for this team is to navigate that small-margin-for-error path to victory.
It needs to play desperate. It needs to get good goaltending. It needs to execute as well. It needs to get some contributions from everyone.
The 2011-12 team, similarly, had a narrow margin for victory, too. That squad did a remarkable job of walking that line while playing under-manned every night because of its major injury problems. They ended up winning the Final Five and becoming an unlikely No. 1 seed.
Now, this team isn’t going to be a No. 1 seed, that I can guarantee. But a spot in the NCAA tournament is not out of the question yet. This team just needs to learn how to walk that narrow line as quickly as possible.
And, maybe by the end of the season, some of the young guys will develop and give this team more of a margin for error (which also happened in 2011-12).
On to some stories this week.
For Thursday’s paper, I wrote about this team’s faceoff struggles. The team is under 50 percent in the faceoff dot right now, the lowest number in the Hakstol Era by far. If Mark MacMillan returns, which is looking more and more likely, that could provide a boost there. He was expected to be the top faceoff guy this season.
For today’s paper, I wrote a series preview. Check it out to see what Western Michigan coach Andy Murray is saying about UND and sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi.
Look for a Q&A with Jordan Schmaltz to be posted on the Herald’s site sometime today, too (Schmaltz and Grimaldi may be the two most skilled guys on the roster right now).
The Kalamazoo Gazette has a good Q&A with Dave Starman posted here. Starman will call today’s game for CBS Sports.
The Gazette also has a short preview for the series here.
Around the NCHC….
Denver at Miami: The Pioneers need their special teams to continue to shine if it is going to win a game in Oxford (DU is the only team in the nation to rank in the top 10 in both PP and PK). Not sure that will happen against a very good RedHawks squad. Miami sweep.
St. Cloud State at Minnesota Duluth: The battle of the two Minnesota teams in the NCHC, I think this will be a great series. The Huskies are probably the best team I’ve seen play against UND this season, but I think the Dogs get one at home. Split.
Omaha at Colorado College: The Tigers dropped to 1-10-2 last weekend. Offense continues to be a major issue. I think the Tigers are due for a win, but playing a very dynamic Omaha team on that big ice sheet? That’s not good for CC. Omaha sweep.
UND at Western Michigan: Generating consistent offense has been an issue for UND. Defense has been a strength for WMU. UND doesn’t match up well here. Western Michigan win in regulation, UND win in shootout.
On the women’s side, UND has arguably the biggest series of the season against Clarkson.
UND only has four nonconference games this season. These will be huge. UND is ranked No. 4. Clarkson is ranked No. 6. Clarkson’s goaltender hasn’t allowed a goal in almost 200 minutes and defenseman Erin Ambrose is the top-scoring blue liner in the nation.
Get ready for a great series in Potsdam.
Coach Brian Idalski says Minnesota and Wisconsin also will probably be cheering for UND in this series as it could impact the WCHA’s seeding in the NCAA tournament. Women’s hockey fans across the country will definitely have an eye on this series.
Darrin Looker is out in Potsdam and will broadcast the game on 1440 AM. Game time is 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For a full preview on that series, go here.
The big question for UND is whether it can bounce back from a couple of tough games against Wisconsin at home. UND only got one point out of that series.
That’s all for now. Check back for updates in the afternoon.
Apologies for the late update, but today was a way-too-busy day with way-too-many stories to write before deadline.
UND will bench freshman defenseman Paul LaDue for Friday night’s game because of a noisy party citation he received this week. The 21-year-old has played in every game so far this season for UND.
That makes it more likely that we will see freshman defenseman Keaton Thompson in the lineup. Thompson was the NCHC’s rookie of the week for his performance against St. Lawrence. If he’s not in, UND also could move Andrew Panzarella back to defense.
Junior center Mark MacMillan is back practicing and UND coach Dave Hakstol said he’s “hopeful” that MacMillan will be able to play against the Broncos. That would be a big lift – assuming he’s able to skate better than he could against Duluth.
Hakstol said that Colten St. Clair won’t be back this weekend, but didn’t rule him out for the Northern Michigan series. He said chances are that St. Clair will return sometime after Christmas. He has been skating.
As for goaltending, sophomore Zane Gothberg said he thought he played his best game of the year on Saturday. He said he felt very comfortable in the net. He also said he knows that his next step is finding more consistency.
UND will be going up against Frank Slubowski, aka The Big Slubowski, who is one of the NCHC’s top netminders. WMU plays great defensively around him and UND will really have to work to generate offense against the Broncos. Slubowski is the guy who was in net for WMU for the 2012 NCAA regional game.
UND fans also will see a familiar face on the other side in senior forward Mike Cichy, who played two seasons at UND. Things haven’t come easy for Cichy early this season – he has no points in 10 games – but I’m sure he’d like nothing more than to get on track this weekend.
That’s it for now – off to Kalamazoo today. Hopefully we’ll have some more updates (not related to the weather and travel problems). Did I mention that it is 58 degrees in Kalamazoo right now?
Herald writers Tom Miller and Brad Elliott Schlossman talk about the UND men’s hockey team, the action in Oregon and the football coaching search.
Rocco Grimaldi gets the top spot this week.
Former UND alternate captain Matt Watkins became the third former UND player (to my knowledge) to score a Teddy Bear Toss goal.
Watkins scored the first goal of the game for the Hershey Bears, which set off the Teddy Bear Toss — an event where fans throw teddy bears on the ice, which are collected for children of need.
You can watch Watkins, with his usual mustache greatness going on, comment on the goal here.
News organizations say that nearly 13,000 teddy bears were tossed on the ice.
Chay Genoway and Evan Trupp also have scored Teddy Bear Toss goals in their careers.
A pair of rookie defensemen for UND have earned weekly NCHC honors.
Troy Stecher is the defenseman of the week, while Keaton Thompson has been named the rookie of the week in the league.
Stecher was UND’s only blue liner to register a plus both nights against St. Lawrence last weekend. He was a plus-one each night. He also assisted on Connor Gaarder’s go-ahead goal late in the second period Saturday.
Thompson, of Devils Lake, scored his first-career goal Friday and registered a plus-one rating. He leads the team with a plus-two rating.
UND takes on Western Michigan this weekend.
UND in weekly honors
Nov. 19 — Dillon Simpson, NCHC defensive player of the week
Dec. 2 — Troy Stecher, NCHC defensive player of the week
Dec. 2 — Keaton Thompson, NCHC rookie of the week
Five highlights from around the country
1. Grafton’s Chad Demers scored a game-tying, extra-attacker goal to help Air Force forge a 2-2 tie with Bentley. Demers leads Air Force with 18 points in 14 games.
2. Miami’s Austin Czarnik had five assists and Riley Barber had four points as the RedHawks pulled away from Bemidji State in the third period. The game was tied 3-3 after two, but the RedHawks scored three in the third for a 6-3 victory.
3. Minnesota earned the first sweep of the Big Ten, using a Seth Ambroz goal with 26 seconds remaining to beat Wisconsin 4-3. Ambroz had two goals in the game.
4. Union rallied from a 4-1 deficit to beat Penn State 5-4 on Sunday. Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere had two goals in the comeback and a remarkable 12 shots on goal. Gostisbehere is second in the nation in shots on goal, which is quite impressive for a blue liner.
5. Colorado College’s stunning winless streak has hit 12 games after a 3-0 loss to New Hampshire. The Tigers are now 1-10-2 on the season and 0-10-2 since its season-opening victory over Duluth.
NCHC top performers
5 points — Austin Czarnik, Miami, 5 assists
4 points — Riley Barber, Miami, 1 goal, 3 assists
2 points — Devin Loe, Miami, 2 goals
2 points — Alex Wideman, Miami, 2 goals
2 points — Connor Gaarder, UND, 1 goal, 1 assist
2 points — Blake Coleman, Miami, 1 goal, 1 assist
UND 3, St. Lawrence 2
It wasn’t necessarily a thing of beauty, but UND was able to grind out a much-needed win over St. Lawrence in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Game stories:
- The game was UND’s first Saturday night victory of the season.
- Rocco Grimaldi started the game with a shorthanded goal. It was the first shorty of his career.
- UND struggled on important draws Friday night. It was a little better Saturday and went .500. There were still some key lost draws.
- Connor Gaarder entered the weekend on a 27-game goal drought. He ended up scoring on both nights. His goal Saturday was scored on a great shot.
- UND hasn’t scored a lot of pretty goals this season, and I don’t think it is going to, but Saturday was an exception. All three were nice goals.
- I actually thought UND struggled for most of the final 40 minutes of the game. St. Lawrence, pushing to tie the game in the third period, was very dominant. UND did a pretty good job blocking shots and letting goalie Zane Gothberg see others.
- Speaking of Gothberg, he gave UND the type of goaltending it needs to win games. He was very good. We’ll see if he can become more consistent with performances like that one.
- Greg Carey certainly lived up to his billing. He scored another goal Saturday and now has 29 points in 16 games. He has now opened a four-point lead in the national scoring race.
- UND did a much better job of killing penalties in the series finale. Coach Dave Hakstol said that Dane Jackson, who coaches the PK unit, simplified things on Saturday and it worked.
- UND only has four more nonconference games left and needs to make the most of them. It hosts Northern Michigan in two weeks and has a home-and-home with Bemidji State in January.