Grand Forks, ND — How a team responds after a bad game, says a lot about their character. After losing Friday’s game 6-3 to the Omaha Mavericks, the University of North Dakota hockey team refocused their efforts and secured a 4-1 decision.
From the drop of the first puck, you could see that Saturday’s effort was much better. This time, the Hawks played on their toes and pushed the pace. Defensively, the Hawks didn’t give the Mavericks a lot to work with. Instead of giving up the first goal of the game in the opening minute. The Hawks would score the first goal and never relinquish the lead.
It was a better effort all the way around.
“Yeah, much-improved tenacity and mindset I thought,” associate head coach Dane Jackson said. “We weren’t terrible last night, but we weren’t sharp in our execution. I thought that we were kind of soft defensively. It was a good reset. I think sometimes you get a lot of wins, and the guys forget a few details. We thought we’d lost some details from last weekend.
“It’s got to happen organically, you have a loss and it kind of gets the guys attention back. We were happy with the response. I thought we were much more physical and much more kind of tenacious in our play overall.”
On Saturday night, it was about sending messages. The UND coaching staff scratched freshmen forwards Judd Caulfield and Harrison Blaisdell. In their place, the coaching staff inserted little-used Casey Johnson and Jackson Keane, both players had an immediate impact and contributed in the box score.
The Hawks would strike first. At 08:30 mark of the first period, Johnson scored UND’s first goal. Johnson’s first of the season, the fourth of his career. At first, look, it appeared the goal might be waved off for goalie interference. After a lengthy review, the on-ice officials ruled that the Mavericks goalie Isaiah tripped Dixon Bowen. (You can see the goal below.)
UND wasn’t done, Collin Adams and Mark Senden would score goals to give UND a 3-0 lead going into the first intermission. At the 07:05 mark of the second period, Omaha sophomore forward Taylor Ward would score to cut UND’s lead to 3-1. That was all the closer the Mavericks would get. Three minutes later, freshman forward Shane Pinto would score to give UND a 4-1 lead.
After recording a single point in 11 games, sophomore forward Mark Senden has four points in the last four games (2g-2a–4pts). Against the Mavericks, Senden recorded (2g-1a–3pts). During the last week, Senden sat down with coach Jackson and viewed the game film. It appears video work has paid off. What did they talk about?
“You know, just trying to look at areas where I could hold on to the puck a little longer,” Senden said. Maybe hit a guy on a pop play. Just finding those right spots out on the ice. Kind of in that soft area in the o-zone, and also just defensively, supporting wings.”
We always really appreciate what Mark brings,” Jackson said. He’s such a strong two-way player. Just good defensively, and it was nice to see him come in and do a little bit of video (work) this week. We just talked about a few little things; him holding on to the puck a little longer, because he is so selfless and kind of defensive-minded sometimes.
“I think he kind of advances pucks when he maybe can possess them a little longer and look for maybe a little something more offensive. So, I don’t know if that was it or not but it’s nice to see him, have some success and I was happy for those guys.”
With the win, the Fighting Hawks improve to 17-2-2 overall and 8-1-1in the NCHC. With the loss, the Mavericks fall to 9-10-3 overall and 3-6-1 NCHC. Next weekend, UND travels to Miami to take on the RedHawks.