Tonight, The University of North Dakota kicked off the 2013-14 season with an exhibition game against the Manitoba Bison (Canadian Interuniversity Sport). The Bison entered tonight’s game with a 0-2-0 record and were outscored 9-0 on the weekend by the Alberta Golden Bears of Canada West. Things didn’t get any better for the Bison tonight. When Manitoba left Grand Forks, ND they had been outscored 12-0 on the weekend, and were still winless after losing 3-0 to UND.
The game was choppy at times and the hometown team looked a little bit rusty. UND came into game with only one official practice under their belt, but the green and white still managed to put 39 shots on net. Despite the high shot total, UND was only able to put three past Manitoba goalies Joe Caliguri and Deven Dubyk.
The game featured three players from the greater Grand Forks Area (Gage Ausmus, Luke Johnson and Paul LaDue). One of the local players, Luke Johnson made an immediate impression on the home town folk, scoring UND’s third goal at the 03:26 mark of the third period. After the game, the freshman was asked about his debut in a UND uniform.
“It was incredible,” Luke Johnson said. “Growing up here, I always dreamed of being on the ice with that caliber of player. So, it was nice to get out there and get the first one.”
The rust showed on special teams and the power play went 0-8 on the evening. Johnson was asked about his impression of the power play.
“We have worked on it a little bit the past week, but were going to need some work on it,” Johnson said.
The UND head coach concurred with his freshman forwards assessment of the power play and had this to say about his team’s first game.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Hakstol said. “I will get a little more specific than that. I thought we really started out the game trying to play with some structure. I thought as we got moving through the game, our five-on-five play improved as we went through the game. As I expected, I thought we were a little rocky on our specialty teams. We scored the shorthanded goal, we were a little out of sync on the PK, but we got the job done. Our power play was a little out of sync, but I think we still got 14 or 15 shots on goal.”
Last season, during the exhibition game against Manitoba, UND forward Michael Parks suffered a lower body injury and missed 17 games. After missing all but one game during the first half of the season, Parks returned to the lineup and scored (7g-1a—8pts) in 25 games. Tonight, Parks was one of the forwards that stood out. Parks scored at the 11:38 mark of the second period to give UND a 2-0 lead. After the game the sophomore forward seemed pleased with his game.
“I think we had a real strong game as a team,” Parks said. “I think it’s good that we got the first one out of the way, because we got a lot of young guys in there. We had what seems to be a pretty long preseason here. Then with working really had at practice, we were really excited to get on the ice in a game.”
The regular season starts for real next weekend (October 11-12, 2013 ) when UND plays the University of Vermont Catamounts in a two game series at Ralph Engelstad Arena.