Grand Forks, ND – In the press room after the game, a couple of us were talking about a theme for Saturday night’s game against the Michigan Tech Huskies. It was hard to find one theme that stuck out. The game was another defensive masterpiece for the Fighting Hawks. They limited another opponent to less than 20 shots on goal and only gave up one goal against. Through seven games, UND is the top-ranked defensive team in the nation, giving up 1.43 goals against per game.
Early in the season, UND talked about taking pride in protecting home ice and re-establishing the swagger. In five home games, the Hawks have done just that going 5-0-0. In those five games, UND has given up a grand total of 75 shots on goal. That’s an average of 15 shots per game. Moreover, in seven games, UND has given up 121 shots averaging 17.29 shots per game.
“I think that’s more than just the defense,” junior defenseman Matt Kiersted said. “It’s the forwards coming back on the backcheck. The harder they backcheck, the easier it is for us to stay up on our gaps. I think that’s big. It’s a whole team thing.”
Entering Saturday’s game, there was no familiarity between the two teams. They hadn’t played each other since March 15-17, 2013, during the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
It wasn’t a very exciting game, but in the end, the University of North Dakota found a way to win another Hall of Fame Game at Ralph Engelstad Arena. For those keeping track at home, UND is unbeaten in seven straight Hall of Fame games 7-0-0. Dating back to last season, the Hawks have also won seven straight games at home.
Huskies Strike First
At the 05:50 mark of the first period, the Huskies would take a 1-0 with a goal from Justin Misiak. The Hawks would tie the game at 10:41 mark of the first period. Junior defenseman Matt Kierstad would score his first goal of the season with a blast a shot from the point.
The two teams would play to a stalemate in the second period. The Hawks would badly outshoot the Huskies 8-1.
In the third period, the Hawks would control most of the play. With 7:31 remaining in the game, Fighting Hawks forward Collin Adams intercepted a Huskies turnover and quickly passed it to forward Jordan Kawaguchi who blasted a puck from the slot past Huskies goalie Robbie Beydoun. Make that 2-1 Hawks.
“I was trying to go blocker, but I think it went through his armpit, maybe but that worked out for us,” Kawaguchi said. “Obviously, pretty happy about it.”
With 27 seconds remaining in the game, Gavin Hain would ice the game with an open net goal.
— UND Insider (@UNDinsider) November 3, 2019
Special Teams, UND’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
So far, during the 2019-20 season, UND has struggled mightily on the power play. On Saturday, UND was 0-5 on the power play. In seven games, UND is 2-25 (.08) on the man advantage and ranked 50th in the nation. (Link to Stats)
One has to wonder if they Hawks get one power play goal to go, it could start an avalanche of goals to follow.
“We need to get better on (the power play) and I think once we do get one they’ll start coming,” Kawaguchi said.
“I think we were a little methodical, UND head coach Brad Berry said. “I think we were pretty predictable as far as moving the puck around and getting shots blocked. They blocked a lot of shots. They’re a good defensive team. There’s a reason why they’re seventh in the country in defense, and they did a good job.”
On the flip side, UND has killed 20 of 21 (.95) of the opponent’s power plays and is ranked 5th in the nation.
UND begins NCHC play next Friday against the Miami RedHawks.