Last night, junior defenseman Troy Stecher called out his fellow teammates in the post-game press conference after losing 4-3 in overtime to the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. More specifically, Stecher pointed comments were directed at UND’s freshmen class.
“Facts are facts,” Stecher said. “We’re a young team. We have a lot of freshmen, but it’s time to mature and grow up a bit. We’re done with non-conference games. Every game is going to be a playoff mentality, heading into the national tournament; we have to win a game like this.”
It appears that Stecher’s teammates took his words to heart. The Fighting Hawks came out and played a complete 60-minute game. The Hawks beat the Mavericks in all three zones on the ice. Unlike Friday’s game, the Hawks also won the 50-50 battles and limited turnovers.
The Fighting Hawks don’t lose back-to-back games very often. The last time UND had been swept by an opponent was at the Ralph Engelstad on November 1-2, 2013, against the St. Cloud State Huskies (2-3 L, 1-3 L).
There’s a reason for this. Head coach Brad Berry explained the expectations after a loss. It’s not all fun and games.
“They’re hard days,” head coach Brad Berry said. “Today around the rink it was a hard day. We demand excellence here at North Dakota. Even if you play well and you lose it hurts. If you don’t play hard it hurts more. It’s a hard day after you lose a game. I am very proud of our guys how they bounded back.”
“It’s coming to the rink with urgency,” Captain Gage Ausmus said. “It’s the emotions coming to the rink in the morning for Saturday’s after a loss are a lot different than after a win.”
What difference a day made.
The Mavericks would take the lead at the 17:55 mark of the first period with a power play goal from Tyler Vesel. That lead would quickly evaporate as Drake Caggiula would score another highlight-reel power play goal. Senior forward Coltyn Sanderson would score the game-winning goal at the 03:33 mark of the second period. That was all that UND would need. For good measure, the Fighting Hawks would add three more goals from Brock Boeser, Troy Stecher and Luke Johnson to make the final score 5-1.
That was all that UND would need. For good measure, the Fighting Hawks would add three more goals from Brock Boeser, Stecher and Luke Johnson to make the final score 5-1.
After the game coach Berry gave Sanderson props for scoring his first collegiate goal.
“He broke the seal,” coach Berry said. “He’s had a lot of opportunities here over the course of this year. I think he had another opportunity later in the game to score too. It’s great to see him getting chances. Most of all, he’s a great guy and I’m glad that he got the monkey off of his back.”
Coach Berry was pleased with the way his team responded after dropping the first game of the series.
“I thought we were a lot better managing pucks in all three zones,” Berry said. “I thought we weren’t very good at that yesterday. I thought we played a 200-foot game. I thought a couple of lines did a pretty good job against the (Jake)Guentzel line, and D-men negated a lot of scoring opportunities that they had last night. Overall, t was a 60-mintue game.”
Caggiula was hurt early in the second period when he checked Maverick forward Steven Spinner at center ice. Caggiula’s status for next weekend is unknown at this time and he will be evaluated by the UND training staff this week.
“It was the hit there (at center ice),” coach Berry said. “You can’t say enough about Drake’s compete level. He’s a guy that has ultra-skill, but yet, he competes and finishes every check. He’s a 200-foot player that plays the game the right way. Unfortunately, he got dinged up there on the hit.”
With the win, UND remains in second place in the NCHC standings and improves to (19-3-2, 10-2-0 NCHC). UNO drops to (15-6-1, 5-6-1 NCHC).
With the win, sophomore goalie Cam Johnson improves to (10-1-1, 1.28 GAA, .949 save percentage).
Next weekend, UND entertains the Colorado College Tigers.