In 10 previous games, the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team had never lost to the US Under-18 Team. On Saturday, that streak came to an end. Before we get all worked up, UND isn’t the first college team to lose to the U-18 team. So far this season, they’ve beaten Michigan State, Notre Dame, Michigan Tech, Boston University, and Wisconsin. After today’s 2-0 loss to the U-18 team, you can add North Dakota to that list. The Fighting Hawks won’t be the last team to lose to U-18 teams. In their 14 games against collegiate teams, U-18 is 10-4-0.
It was not a good day for the hometown team. The U-18 played a physical game and they never let the Hawks set up in the offensive zone. There’s not a lot to say. UND played poorly and was beaten in all three zones on the ice.
“Very disappointing, you got to give them credit,” UND forward Riese Gaber said. “They played really well, and they’re a fast team, but at the same time, we knew what to expect and I don’t think we brought our A-game and definitely showed tonight.”
Exhibition games don’t count against a team’s record and they give the coaching staff an opportunity to try different things.
“It’s one of those things where guys got opportunities,” UND head coach Brad Berry said. “Some guys got in our lineup tonight that wanted opportunities and we found a body of work on where they’re at. We got some information on our group.”
A couple of guys were banged up and sat out on Saturday. Goalie Zack Driscoll, and forward Louis Jamernik were held out to give them more time to rest. Finally, defenseman Jake Sanderson was held out of Saturday’s game. He went home after the World Juniors were canceled to spend some time with his family.
“We’ll get guys back in their normal spots for next week, and we’ll play a lot harder and we’ll be a lot sharper,” Berry said.
One bright spot in Saturday’s game was Freshman goalie Jakob Hellsten, who stopped 16 of 18 shots. He’s started the last two games that UND has played in.
During Saturday’s exhibition, UND looked a step slow and at times disorientated. In the post-game press conference, I asked UND forward Gavin Hain if it’s hard getting up for an exhibition game like this?
“It is a mental battle,” Hain said. “Kind of disappointing effort by our guys today, me included. Just being kind of mentally weak and not playing our best. Not really being ready for what they have. So there’s a little bit of a mental battle but we just didn’t do what we needed to do.”
Riese Gaber on turning things around and being ready to play next weekend.
“We know what it takes to bring our A-game and we’ve done it all first half and I think we’re I’m confident in our group that we’re gonna have a good week of practice and we’re gonna be ready to go on on Friday night,” Gaber said.
Next weekend, UND takes on the Cornell Big Red in an important two-game non-conference series.