Grand Forks, ND – With the Christmas break in their rearview mirror, it was back to work for the University of North Dakota hockey team. On Saturday night, the Fighting Hawks entertained the Under-18 in an exhibition game. The Hawks fresh off their Christmas break weren’t overlooking the Under-18 team, they entered Saturday’s game flying high after a 6-4 win against the number one St. Cloud State Huskies.
During the first half of the season, UND has struggled offensively. They entered Saturday’s game as the lowest scoring team in the NCHC. Against U-18, the Fighting Hawks got balanced scoring. They scored two goals in the first, two more in the second, and two in the third period to crush the Under-18 team 6-2.
During the first half of the season, UND suffered a rash of injuries. Through 17 games, they used 17 different lineups. On Saturday night, UND had a full complement of healthy players. If UND can stay healthy, there’s no reason they can’t make a run.
Saturday night, UND rolled four lines. They looked fresh and revitalized coming out of the Christmas break. After struggling on the power play during the first half of the season, UND’s power play came alive going 2-5 (.400). Head coach Brad Berry took notice of his top-six forwards.
“Those guys were recruited to be high-end, top six forwards,” Berry said. “With them coming back, I just noticed a freshness, mentally, and physically with guys like (Grant) Mishmash, (Collin) Adams, and (Joel) Janatuinen, they seemed revitalized,” Berry said. “And I think for the most part our whole group was like that. I think one of the big keys tonight to was the power play getting one right away, on our first power play attempt. We got one to get us going, and that was huge.”
— UND Insider (@undinsider) December 30, 2018
If the Hawks are going to be successful during the second half of the season, they’re going to need both of their goaltenders playing well. During the first half of the season, sophomore goalie Peter Thome struggle, going (1-3-0, 3.75 GAA and a .838 save percentage). On Saturday night, Thome entered the game during the third period and stood tall stopping 16-of-17 shots in 16:16 minutes of play. Thome’s rebound control was also very good. Sometimes you have to step away and clear your mind before you can move forward.
“Obviously, it’s always nice to get home and see family and get away from hockey for a bit,” Thome said. “The season is long, you get a little break. Then you get the itch to get back in there. It was definitely big. I think the biggest thing for me was finding a way to be confident and not get down on myself after a goal. You can’t get too worried about things outside of my control.”
This weekend, UND travels to Buffalo, NY to take on the Canisius Golden Griffins in an important two-game non-conference tilt.