Grand Forks, ND — The University of North Dakota hockey team doesn’t get beat very often at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Over the past two seasons, UND is 31-3-0 on home ice. On Saturday night, the Fighting Hawks were trying to avoid getting swept for the first time since November 16-17, 2018 against the Western Michigan Broncos (0-2, 2-6).
After playing undisciplined hockey on Friday night, the Hawks were more composed in game two. The Fighting Hawks didn’t take Friday’s loss lightly. They came to the rink on Saturday and got to work.
“When we lose a game, it’s not a very good day around here,” UND head coach Berry said. ” That’s the beauty of North Dakota hockey. Everything is dealt with on the up and up and everybody’s accountable. Everybody usually brings their best effort the next night after a loss.”
On Saturday night, it was a much better effort for the Fighting Hawks. For most of the game, it was a tight-checking affair. There was little time and space. I compared Saturday’s game to a bare-knuckle street fight.
“I thought we stepped up there,” Berry said. “I thought the first two or three shifts were okay. Then we went on the five-minute major power play. I thought it gave us a little bit of life. We didn’t score on it, but I thought the powerplay gave us momentum for the rest of the period about the rest of the game.
“That was the message today to our guys, as far as the discipline side of it. I thought we were a lot more disciplined today. But that’s so key if you’re on a power play, and you get that momentum. We were killing all day yesterday, and it gave that team momentum, so again, good learning lesson for our guys, but proud of the way our guys responded tonight, and to a man, there were no passengers.”
UND goalie Zach Driscoll echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“Obviously, last night wasn’t a game we wanted,” Driscoll said. “Everybody knows we kind of dug ourselves a little bit of hole with the penalty trouble there. That’s something we addressed today as a team in our meeting. Just kind of coming back and putting together a full 60 five-on-five and I think we did a really good job tonight.”
With two key players out of the lineup, an unlikely hero emerged for the Fighting Hawks, junior forward Brendan Budy. After a player got caught on the ice for an extended amount of time, Budy found himself on the ice with Ashton Calder and Connor Ford. An unlikely trio of players. The move paid off. At the 5:05 mark of the third period, Budy buried the game-winning goal, his first since the 2021 NCHC playoffs. (March 12, 2021, against the Miami RedHawks). After facing a fair share of adversity this season, Budy’s hard work had finally paid off.
“That goal was a pretty big relief,” Budy said. “I would say coming in, I kind of got a little banged up in the summer. I took a while to come back. Being out for so long, it’s kind of hard. I’ve been kind of chipping away at it. Trying to get my confidence back and kind of get back to my old self. I think that kind of helped a lot. Obviously, that was a great pass from Calds.”
With the win, UND improves to 9-4-0 and 5-1-0 NCHC and leads the NCHC with 15 points. With the loss, UND drops to 8-3-1, 3-2-1 third in the NCHC. Next week, UND takes on the Minnesota Gophers in a two-game, non-conference series.