Three Things: UND vs Army

by | Oct 14, 2023

Three Things: UND vs Army

by | Oct 14, 2023

Grand Forks, North Dakota — On Friday night, the University of North Dakota hockey kicked off the 2023-24 season with an impressive 7-2 win against Army in the first round of the 2023 Ice Breaker Tournament. Saturday, UND will play Wisconsin for an Ice Breaker Tournament trophy.

UND scored four goals in the second period to break open the game. Four players had multipoint games; Jackson Blake (2g-1a–3pts), Hunter Johannes (2g-0a–2pts), Riese Gaber (1g-1a–2pts), Jake Schmaltz (0g-2a–2pts). One promising note: Schmaltz had his first multipoint game since Oct. 21, 2022 (North Dakota vs. Minnesota, 2-3 loss). For the game, UND outshot Army 32-12.

One theme that emerged on Friday night was that two players with connections to North Dakota made their regular season debuts with the team they used to watch in their childhoods. Both players had successful debuts and chipped in on the scoresheet. (Stick tap to Brad E. Schlossman)

Hunter Johannes Makes His Debut

Growing up, forward Hunter Johannes was a fan of the University of North Dakota hockey team. It had always been his dream to play for UND. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota native has many family connections to UND, so it didn’t seem like a stretch for him to play at UND.

“It’s a tradition; my family was raised in North Dakota, Johannes said. “My grandparents went to UND. My uncle went here, and I have cousins that currently go here. Now I’m here.”

On Friday night, Johannes made his debut with the Fighting Hawks, and what a debut it was. He scored two goals on four shots and electrified the hometown fans with a beautiful wrap-around goal. It was the first two-goal game of Johannes’s collegiate career.

“I can’t really put words to it,” Johannes said. “Honestly, I’m just really blessed to be a part of this team and to put the jersey on. I know it’s just the beginning. It’s going to take a lot more hard work from here.”

Cameron Berg Impresses in His Debut

As a kid, Cameron Berg grew up watching UND play hockey. Fast forward to the present; after a two-year stint in Omaha, he’s a member of a team he used to watch.

“Yeah, I came to a few games, especially in the old WCHA days when they would go to the Final Five,” Berg said. “We got a matchup tomorrow against an old rival. So I’m definitely excited for that one.”

Berg spent his first two seasons at Omaha. After UND ended Omaha’s season in the NCHC playoffs, Berg entered the NCAA transfer portal. UND was one of those schools that called. Coming to North Dakota seemed like a no-brainer.

“After the season, I felt it best for me to move on with my career, Berg said, to talk to my family and advisor. North Dakota happened to be a school that called and said all the right things. So, it made me feel pretty good about coming here.”

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot

Wayne Gretzky used to say, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” Berg appears to embrace that philosophy. The scouting report on Berg; he has a very hard, accurate shot, and he likes to shoot the puck, a lot. On the power play, he’s been known to play the bumper. During the hockey media day, I asked Berg what kind of player he was.

“I like to shoot the puck whenever I can,” Berg said. You never know what’s going to happen when you get to the net. It might go in; the goalie might bobble it — a rebound for your teammate. I love getting the puck to the net.”

On Friday night, Berg scored a goal on three shots and was a plus-two.

UND Must Play More Disciplined

Against Army, UND took five minor penalties and went 2-4 on the penalty kill. If UND wants to be successful this season, they’ll either want to stay out of the penalty box or improve on the penalty kill. I asked head coach Brad Berry if he was concerned with the amount of penalties his team took against Army.

“They’re a big physical team; that’s not an excuse for taking those penalties,” Berry said. “We have to do a better job. Anytime you get past two or three penalties, you’re playing with fire. One thing we noticed about the penalty kill when they scored those goals. We didn’t win draws. If you can win the draw and get the clear.”

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