Improved Play Helps UND Get Series Win Against BSU

by | Nov 28, 2022

What a difference a week makes. A week ago, the University of North Dakota hockey team lost the series finale 4-3 to league rival Miami. The mood in the post-game was subdued. A week later, the mood was very different. After scoring his first goal of the season, Louis Jamernik V returned to the post-game press conference with a smile on his face. He had gotten off the snide and scored his first goal of the season helping UND beat the Bemidji State 4-2 in the series finale.

“At this time, exactly seven days ago – we were not very happy,” Jamernik V said. “We didn’t get the result we wanted. Today, I thought we played close to 60 minutes. We had a little bit of a lapse, but we weathered that, and we shut them down in the last five minutes.”

Riese Gaber Gives His Teammate Some Advice

Entering Saturday’s game against the Beavers, Jamernik had not scored a goal in 21 games (final six games of last season and through 15 games this season). After scoring nine goals the season prior, Jamernick was snake bitten. Finally, He broke the goalless streak. When he asked about scoring his first goal of the year, the first person Jamernik V mentioned was his teammate, junior forward Riese Gaber.

“The first guy I want to mention is Riese Gaber,” Jamernik V said. “That guy is not only an unreal teammate but a friend. I was down on myself a little bit. It’s tough when it’s not going in. He just said it’s all mindset. He gave me a lot of pointers on mental, ‘I’m going to score. I’m going to score.”

And score he did.

UND Takes Step Forward

Based on what I saw this past weekend, (Tie and a Win). I thought UND played some of their best hockey of the year. Yes, the Beavers are a good hockey team. They already have wins against Arizona State, Michigan Tech, and St. Cloud State. They’re not a team to take lightly. You can’t go to sleep on them. They have decent offensive talent and play strong team defense. They’re on you the minute you hit the ice. This past weekend, UND had two lapses that cost them goals, but I thought they fought through the adversity. On Saturday night UND gave up an even-strength goal and a shorthanded goal. Instead of folding, they fought back and iced the game with an empty net goal.

When asked if UND played their best hockey of the season against the Beavers head coach Brad Berry had this to say.

“At the beginning of the year, I think we were playing at that level, and then we ran into some good teams and kind of knocked back a little bit,” Berry said. “At the end of the day, I think we’re coming to the point where we’re playing more consistently within our game.  “I know a bunch of guys came in here and said, we played 40 minutes. We played for 60 minutes or 55. I would have to agree with probably 55. There were a couple of shifts, in the third period that got away, but I thought for the most point our guys got close to the 60-minute game.”

“I think we took a step forward,” defenseman Tyler Kleven said.

It’s about playing the game the right way. It’s about being hard on pucks and being tidy with the puck in all three zones. It’s about smart passes and not giving up the puck in the slot between the faceoff dots. It’s about pinching and not getting caught up in the ice in no man’s land. All of these things happened during the first half of the season. All these things are fixable. I thought the Hawks played much better last weekend against the Beavers.

Has UND’s Goaltending Turned the Corner?

During the 2022-23 season, the Fighting Hawks have struggled defensively and with their goaltending. It’s not one facet of the game. Again, there’s plenty of blame to go around, hockey is a team game. Currently, UND is ranked 58th place nationally in save percentage, and 48th nationally in goals against. The UND coaching staff would definitely like to improve on those numbers.

At times, the Hawks goaltenders have struggled with consistency. Here’s the line on UND’s goaltending: Jakob Hellsten is 3-3-2, 2.73 GAA, and has a .869 save percentage. His teammate, Drew DeRidder, is 3-3-1, 2.95 GAA, and a .891 save percentage. They have a single shutout between them, DeRidder on October 7, 2022, against Holy Cross.

This past weekend, against the Beavers, UND sophomore goalie Jakob Hellsten played back-to-back games and went 1-0-1 on the weekend. He looked more confident between the pipes. He’s also made a good case for him being the number-one goaltender.

“He looks confident, and he looks solid,” Berry said when asked about his goaltender. “That’s what that’s all you’re asking when you’re going through what we’re going through right now. When it’s not coming easy, all you need is just solid. That’s from our whole group. Simplifying your game plan – being steady – being dependable and predictable to your teammates. I thought he was that for us this weekend.”

Hellsten said that he like getting into a couple of games in a row and getting into a rhythm.

“With every game, you get into a groove, and you just kind of go with it,” Hellsten said. So yeah, for sure.”

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