The University of North Dakota hadn’t played in the friendly confines of Ralph Englestad Arena in over 34 days. On Friday night, 11,728 filed in to see the hometown team take on the Miami University RedHawks in an important National Collegiate Hockey Conference matchup. Many of them would leave the Ralph shaking their heads.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to get on the board. At the 03:30 mark of the first period, the RedHawks would jump to a 1-0 lead with a goal from the skate of Gordie Green. Red-hot sophomore defenseman Christian Wolanin would tie the game 2:30 minutes later with a floater from the blueline.
In the second period, the Fighting Hawks would take a two-goal lead with goals from Brock Boeser and Shane Gersich. It looked like things were going the Hawks way, and then they took their foot off the gas.
Coming into Friday’s game, UND hadn’t lost a game when leading after the second period (82 games).
“We gave it away,” senior defenseman, captain Gage Ausmus said. “We thought we had it won. We gave it away, really. We went into the third period over confident and didn’t work for anything. They completely outworked us.”
“I can’t remember the last time we had five goals scored on us in the third period. That’s embarrassing, really. That’s something that’s not acceptable under any circumstances. We’ll have to have a short memory and get back tomorrow.
After the Gersich goal, the RedHawks fought their way back and outshot the Fighting Hawks 16-1. The RedHawks would score five unanswered goals and break the game open. The RedHawks would chase junior All-American goalie Cam Johnson from the game. Sophomore goalie Matej Tomek would enter the game for the first time as a Fighting Hawks goaltender. Tomek would suffer the same fate as the starter, the RedHawks would score two more goals on five shots, spoiling the young goaltender’s debut.
I want to be clear, goaltending wasn’t the problem last night. The Hawks left their goalies high and dry from most of the second half of the game. They had a lead and tried to sit on it and it blew up on them. It sounds cliché, but it all comes back to playing a 60-minute game and playing the game the right way. You can’t take shifts off against hungry teams.
“I thought the last five minutes of the second period we got away from what we were doing,” head coach Brad Berry said. “Early in that period, we were out changing them. I thought we had some sustained OZP (offensive zone pressure) on them and then we got away from that. We tried to play laterally. We didn’t to get some pucks in. They got some momentum out of the last five minutes of the period and it carried over into the third.
House of Horrors?
Lately, the Ralph hasn’t been very kind to the home team. In the last seven home games; counting Friday’s 6-3 loss to the RedHawks, UND is 1-4-2 (.285). After the game, Ausmus wasn’t pleased with the recent results at home.
“I think we feel more comfortable here, and feel like we have the upper hand when we really don’t,” Ausmus said. “We have to go into every game willing to work and willing to outwork the other team for every inch on the ice and I don’t think we did that tonight.”
On Saturday night, the Fighting Hawks will try to improve on their recent fortunes at home.
Stats of Interest
The last three games defenseman Christian Wolanin is red-hot, (3g-3a—6pts).
Sophomore forward Shane Gersich has a seven-game point streak (5g-3a—8pts).