Grand Forks, ND — The University of North Dakota hockey team doesn’t get swept at home very often. Prior to Saturday night, UND hadn’t been swept at home since November 16-17, 2018. The opponent, Western Michigan (0-2 L, 2-6 L). Breaking it down further, the Fighting Hawks hadn’t been swept at home in a non-conference series since October 20-21, 2006 against Maine (2-5 L, 1-3L). That series sweep was a minor setback, UND would go on to lose to the Boston College Eagles 6-4 in the semi-finals of the Frozen Four.
With that said, I am not suggesting this year’s UND hockey team is headed to the Frozen Four. While UND was unable to get a win this weekend, they didn’t play all that bad. At times, the Fighting Hawks dominated the Big Red, but their goalie Ian Shane was outstanding in the net. Shane didn’t see any action during the first half of the season for the Big Red but played in relief last weekend against Arizona State. It looks like the Cornell has found a viable starting goaltender. In three games for the Big Red, Shane is (2-0-0, has 1.51 GAA and a .951 save percentage). Against the Hawks, Shane stopped (51-of-55 shots .927).
What can we take from Cornell sweeping UND? There are a few areas that UND needs to improve on. UND was beaten physically all weekend long. They had trouble getting chances from the slot. The Big Red played a very sound defensive game. The Big Red’s play resembled Western Michigan.
“They’re big and fast but so are we, (we) just needed to match that, and this weekend we didn’t,” defenseman Jake Sanderson said. “Like I’ve been saying, like other guys on our team will say, we just need to stick together, stay positive, and have a good weekend practice.”
“It sucks,” Riese Gaber said. “This weekend, we didn’t play terrible. I thought we controlled a lot of the weekend. There’s a lot of plays where we need to be a lot stronger.”
I think that UND head coach Brad Berry summed it up best.
“I think we did have a number of chances,” Berry said. “We put a few in his glove, and I don’t know if we had enough net traffic on it. I know there were a lot of rebounds laying around. But again, that’s a team that swarms you in the defensive zone. If you don’t get a puck out they swarm you. They stick some bodies on pucks a block a lot of shots.”
Gaber scored North Dakota’s lone goal on the power play in the first period.
“Obviously, we have a lot of new faces this year… I guess it’s the same for everyone,” Gaber said. “Losing at home you never like to do that and especially getting swept. Give them credit, they’re a good team, but so are we. I don’t think we matched what they brought this weekend.”
The good news, UND has another home series next weekend to right the ship.
“Yeah, right back into the NCHC,” Gaber said. “So we got to bring our ‘A’-game and be ready. Obviously, these ones hurt for the pairwise, and all we can do now is just kind of stick together and look forward ahead to this weekend.”