The University of North Dakota hockey team completed a successful six-game homestand to start the 2023-24 season. In those six games, they won the Ice Breaker tourney with a pair of wins over Army and Wisconsin. Then they split their all-important series with the top-ranked Minnesota Gophers. This past weekend, they had a win and a tie against Minnesota State. These non-conference wins will go a long way in solidifying UND’s post-season chances. Next weekend, it doesn’t get any easier. UND travels to Boston, Massachusetts to take on Boston University (3-2-1) in a two-game non-conference tilt.
Hunter Johannes Making the Most of His Opportunity
This season, if you have watched the UND hockey team play, you will have noticed number 28, Graduate Forward Hunter Johannes. After six games, Johannes has emerged as UND’s leading goal scorer. He scored UND’s first goal of the season, a shorthanded goal. He didn’t stop there. Two of his six goals are shorthanded goals, which also leads UND. Johannes also has a very accurate shot, he’s scored on 23.8% of his shots, which also leads UND. He’s tied for 12th nationally in goal scoring.
You might be noticing a theme here. Johannes is finding ways to get it done. He’s been a nice addition to the UND hockey. If he keeps playing like this it’s going to be hard to ignore him, someone will probably sign him to a free-agent deal after the season is over. In Friday’s post-game press conference, I asked UND head coach Brad Berry if he expected Johannes to be leading the team in goals after five games.
“Probably didn’t think it early on, Berry said. “When he came in here (last January) … he played at Lindenwood. He scored against all of the good teams. He scored against us, Denver, Minnesota. He scored against a lot of good teams. So, it’s not surprising. The other thing that’s not surprising is his work ethic and how he plays so fast. He makes other teams turn pucks over and he is powerful. When you put all that together, recipe for having a good start.”
Coach Berry is right, Johannes has scored some big goals against some very good teams. I went back and checked the box scores. During the last two seasons, he has scored against, Denver, Minnesota, Michigan, Minnesota State, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
There’s no quit in Johannes, he works hard in practice and in the weight room. The coaching staff appears happy with what they’ve seen so far. It’s almost as if he’s out to prove something. That’s a recipe for staying in the lineup.
“He’s a worker in the weight room,” Berry said. “I think he was a guy growing up that never got a lot of accolades or a lot of attention. He’s out to prove to people that he can play and that he’s doing a good job.”
Friday night, entering the second period, UND held a comfortable 4-0 lead over Minnesota State. At the 9:55 mark of the second period, Johannes would score his fourth goal of the year, to give UND an even more comfortable 5-0 lead.
— North Dakota Hockey (@UNDmhockey) October 28, 2023
On Saturday night, Johannes scored the game-tying goal to help UND to salvage an all-important tie, sending the hometown fans into a frenzy. Post goal, Johannes celebrated with his teammates, saluted the student body, and then chirped the Mavericks bench.
— North Dakota Hockey (@UNDmhockey) October 29, 2023
Johannes seems like he’s on a mission, he’s always moving and playing hard. In Saturday’s post-game UND head coach Brad Berry has nothing but positive things to say about the fifth-year senior.
“I’ve seen that play a lot recently, busting through the neutral zone and picking a corner, Berry said. “He’s a powerful man and making an impact in our group right away here.”
I imagine that UND fans won’t get tired of watching him scoring goals. The team captain was also impressed with Johannes’s game-tying goal.
“It was a big body move,” Riese Gaber said. “That was awesome. He puts a lot of energy into the building. He’s been awesome for us. We’re very happy to have him.”
Riese Gaber Joins the Century Group
Senior forward Riese Gaber joined an elite group of players. At the 6:14 mark of the first period Gaber scored on the power play to give UND a 1-0 lead. That goal was Gaber’s 100th point of his collegiate career. The last two UND players to join the century club at UND were Jordan Kawaguchi (40-86–126pts) and Drake Caggiula (62-g-65a–127pts). In 108 games with UND, he’s scored (49g-51a–100pts). Twenty-two of his 49 goals have come on the power play. Gaber’s goal was a thing of beauty. According to the Grand Forks Herald, Gaber is the active leading scorer in the NCAA.
Gaber’s 100th point was a thing of beauty. On the right side, from his office.
— North Dakota Hockey (@UNDmhockey) October 28, 2023
Sweep or Work Out
The UND hockey team is a storied program, and a very high standard has been set. Fans expect conference and national championships. The UND coaching staff has set a very high standard for their players. Weekend home series are expected to end in sweeps, when they don’t sweep there’s a consequence.
“We have a thing here where we do post-game workouts, coach Berry said. “If we don’t sweep, you get swept, you only win one game – you have to do a workout. If you sweep you don’t have to do a workout. it. At the end of the day, I said to the guys, the standard is the standard, we’re going to get in the weight room, and we’re going to work out.”
While a win and a tie against a top opponent is a good weekend, however, it’s not the standard at UND. Following this weekend’s win and a tie, the Hawks were back in the weight room doing a workout.
“They’re in there right now,” Berry said. We didn’t lose this weekend. We won and we tied. We always talk about the standard is the standard and the standard is sweep. You don’t have to work out. I think there was disappointment. I asked the guys I opened it up to them. The guys said they’re teed off. They’re disappointed. That’s good. I think that’s great. It was a lost opportunity that we didn’t, didn’t get the close out for a sweep this weekend. That tells you that the guys are thinking about the standard or want to get to that standard. I think that’s good to have that kind of that teed off mentality and knowing that we didn’t get two wins instead of a win and a tie.