Grand Forks, ND — In NCHC conference play, It’s hard to get the sweep. On Saturday night, The University of North Dakota Hockey team found that out. The Omaha Mavericks hockey team is the NCHC’s Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. Entering the weekend series against The Fighting Hawks, the Mavericks had a 5-9-0 record on Friday and an 11-2-0 record on Saturday night. The Mavericks would improve on their Saturday night record with a 3-2, three-on-three overtime win.
It wasn’t a total loss for the hometown team.
The night started out great for UND, they raced to a 2-0 lead with goals from Riese Gaber and Judd Caulfield. Everything was going UND’s way. Then, in the waning seconds of the second period, UND goalie Zack Driscoll would stop a breakaway by Mavericks forward Brannon McManus. That save would prove to be very important as the game would move to the third period.
In the third period, the Mavericks started working their way back. At the 3:52 mark of the third period, UND defenseman Cooper Moore would take an ill-advised two-minute minor for holding. At the 5:43 mark of the third period, defenseman Davis Pennington would get the Mavericks on the board with a power play marker. Less than three minutes later, graduate forward Kevin Conley would get the equalizer for the Mavericks.
The game would go to 3-on-3 overtime, UND had a chance to win the game, but Ashton Calder would shoot the puck into Isaiah Saville’s leg pad. After being denied on a breakaway in the second period, McManus would ice the game with his eighth goal of the season to give the Mavericks the extra point.
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Again, Calds (Ashton Calder) had the game on his stick,” UND forward Connor Ford said. “Not a better guy to have that opportunity. We believe in him to score that goal, and I know he would love to have that one back. Then a little bit of a blown coverage and it’s in the back of our net, that’s three-on-three hockey. We just have to find a way to win it.”
In the post-game press conference, UND head coach Brad Berry thought his team played better on Saturday night than they did on Friday. Obviously, he wasn’t happy with giving up a two-goal lead. From UND’s perspective, it’s not a total loss and the Fighting Hawks did take 4-of-6 six points on the weekend.
“I thought we played better tonight to a man, our level was better — consistency,” Berry said. “We had a lead going into the third period, down a couple of guys early in the second period. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the kill on the one, and then they got one right away. But for the most part, I thought we played better than we did yesterday and didn’t get the result and disappointing that we didn’t get the win the two-goal lead in the third.”
“Frustrating results, but we played a better game than we did last night,” UND forward Connor Ford said. “But they came back with more as is expected… college hockey on a second night after a loss, but no matter how you want to split it we gotta win that game. You come in with a two-goal lead in the third period, got to win the hockey game.”
UND played the third period without forwards Mark Senden and Louis Jamernik. That’s a big hole to fill because they’re two of UND’s top penalty killers. I don’t recall seeing what took Senden out of the game, but I did see the play that injured Jamernik. In the second period, with the play in the Mavericks end, post-whistle Jamernik inadvertently made contact with Mavericks forward Joey Abate. There wasn’t much of a replay, but Jamernik’s contact with Abate ended with him laying on the ice in writhing in pain. Based on Abate’s reputation, I would question if this was really an accident.
When coach Berry was asked about the condition of his injured player, her was very emotional. Based on his comments, it appears that he thought it was a questionable play, if not a dirty play.
“Not good,” Berry said. “I don’t know, I just got a little emotional right now because one was a preventable play after the whistle by a guy that’s done it time, and time again. So yeah, disappointing in the fact that within the rules, I didn’t think there was within the rules.”
Next weekend, UND takes on the CC Tigers in a two-game series.