If you watched Friday’s game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the University of North Dakota, you saw a team that lost a majority of their 1-on-1 battles. UND wasn’t very good.

They weren’t strong on pucks. More importantly, UND was a step slow and got out muscled in all three zones of the ice. The Badgers kicked UND butt up and down the ice. It wasn’t pretty.

What a difference 24 hours make.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula was suspended for Friday’s game and had to watch from the stands.

Like his teammates, Caggiula didn’t like what he saw on Friday night. No one on the UND hockey team did. Caggiula returned to the lineup on Saturday night after a one-game hiatus and added a much-needed spark.

“Watching yesterday was real tough,” Caggiula said. “It’s been a tough week, not being able to take a regular shift in practice, and having to watch yesterday which, (last night) wasn’t our best game.”

Caggiula continued, “I was the only one with fresh legs today. So, I knew I had to create a spark. I tried to do whatever I could, to do that. It took us… I think it was 35 shots before we could crack one again. We keep pushing and pushing.”

Sophomore forward Johnny Simonson wasn’t pleased with Friday’s efforts, either, “Not a real happy atmosphere (in the locker room), obviously a lot of disappointment, maybe a little bit of embarrassment in our own building. A lot of motivation and it showed tonight.”

And push they did. UND outshot and outplayed the pesky Badgers all night long. Unlike Friday, UND played a complete 60-minute game.

UND’s hard work and persistence would pay off in the later part of the game as they wore down the Badgers. UND would break open the game in the third period with goals from Caggiula and Shane Gersich.

“It was an opposite game from last night,” UND head coach Brad Berry said. “I thought we battled hard for 60 minutes and found a way to win. I am proud of our guys. That’s the way they have to play. College hockey has so much parity, whether is the NCHC or non-conference, you have to play that way to have success.”

UND’s team speed caused the Badgers to take many ill-advised penalties. Fortunately for the Badgers, UND wasn’t able to cash in and was (0-7) on the man advantage. UND stopped the Badgers power play, too (0-5).

The Hrynkiw Dilemma

During the first ten games of the season, the Injury Ninja has run rampant through the UND locker room. One of the beneficiaries of the injury bug has been the junior walk-on, third-string goalie Matt Hrynkiw. At the begging of the season, Hrynkiw was UND’s third-string goalie. Honestly, I don’t know if anyone really expected him to play all that much.

Safe to say, the UND hockey team is happy to have Hrynkiw in net.

Hrynkiw has made the most of his opportunity and through eight games, he’s ranked 13th in the nation for division I goalies. Hrynkiw is (6-1-1, 1.63 GAA and a .933 SV%).  The UND coaching staff has a heck of a dilemma, you really can’t pull a goalie out of the lineup that’s performing like this.

“We’ll deal with that day-by-day and week-by-week,” coach Berry said. “This young man in net has earned himself another start in net soon.”

Next weekend, UND entertains the Miami RedHawks in an important two-game NCHC series.

With the 3-1 win, UND improves to 7-1-2. UND has lost one game in their last 18 regular season non-conference games.

About The Author

College Hockey Writer, Contributing Editor

Eric Burton is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers college hockey and the University of North Dakota for Inside Hockey. Eric is the editor of the SIN BIN. Lastly, Eric was the college hockey writer for The Hockey Writers.

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