UND forward Jordan Kawaguchi checks an AIC player in the first period. (Photo Credit: Eric J. Burton)

UND Stings AIC, 5-1

Fargo, ND – The University of North Dakota hockey team had never faced American International College in a regular-season or playoff game. Friday, was the first-ever matchup between the two teams. Incidentally, some of the fans in Scheels Arena had seen AIC play against the St. Cloud State Huskies during the 2019 NCAA West Regional Championship. SCSU fans know how that game ended.

During the pregame, Twitter-verse was buzzing with hopeful fans of other college programs dreaming of UND’s demise. If only the NCHC Champion would suffer the same fate as the Huskies two years earlier. On Friday, there wouldn’t be any upset. The Fighting Hawks dispatched the Yellowjackets advancing to the NCAA Midwest Regional final.

The Hawks won the game in the first period. Early on, the Yellowjackets looked like the hungrier team, however, their momentum didn’t last very long. During the middle part of the first period, the Hawks methodically took apart the Yellowjackets. By the end of the first period, it was evident that there was a noticeable disparity in talent between the two teams.

Quick Strike-Hawks

At the 8:58 mark of the first period, Jasper Weatherby scored the first of his back-to-back goals. The Hawks tacked on two more markers (Grant Mismash and Collin Adams) and by the 16:22 mark of the first period, it was 4-0 UND. The quick-strike Hawks had scored four goals in seven minutes and 24 seconds. UND outshot the AIC 13-7 in the first period.

Adam Scheel Shines in Win Against AIC

When the Yellowjackets were able to get a shot on the Hawks net, junior goalie Adam Scheel was there to repel the Yellowjackets. During Friday’s game against the Yellowjackets, Scheel was almost perfect, stopping 23-of-24 shots. With the win, he improves to 20-3-1 (1.78 GAA, and a .929 save percentage), including four shutouts.

It was a ho-hum middle frame. Neither team would score during the second period. The Hawks didn’t need to, and the Yellowjackets were unable to get anything past the rock-solid Scheel.

The third period was a little more entertaining. Both teams would find the twine. At the 17:46 mark of the third period, the Yellowjackets were finally able to solve Scheel. Senior forward Tobias Fladeby scored his 10th goal of the season on the power play spoiling Scheel’s shutout bid. Twenty-nine seconds later, the Hawks would answer as Adams scored his second goal of the game.

During the second period, Scheel made a big save to bail out the Hawks.

“It’s a big deal,” Berry said. “If you give up a goal late in the period, especially in the second period where they’ve had some power-play opportunities. That’s a momentum builder going into the third. We’ve seen that play a few times where Scheeler has made a couple of glove saves in helping us from giving up that goal.

What went well for North Dakota in the first period?

“I liked our energy,” head coach Brad Berry said. “I liked our short-pass support. I liked that all four lines and all 6 ‘D’ were going. We did all the habits and details that we usually do better to the identity of our team. I think it’s one of those things where that’s how you have to sustain it early on to try to gain the momentum, and we were fortunate to get a few goals in the first period.”

On the goal outage during the second period.

“The second period was filled with a lot of penalties, and again when you’re on the power play penalty kill that’s when there are momentum shifts in the game,” Berry said. “I thought the first period we did a pretty good job of playing the game that we wanted to our net identity.”

On getting the first win against AIC.

“They’ve checked every single box that we wanted them to check,” Berry said. “We have a few more.”

On Saturday, UND will play UMD for the Midwest Regional Championship at 6:30 PM CT. With the win, UND improves to 22-5-1. With the loss, AIC ends their season with a 15-4-0 record.

(Official Box Score)

Weatherby’s Torrid Run

On January 29, 2021, UND junior forward Jasper Weatherby caught fire. Since that date, he’s been one of UND’s top forwards. In the following 12 games, the Ashland, Oregon Native has scored 11 goals and 17 points. Makes you wonder what his final upside will be when he’s done playing for UND?

Entering the 2020-21 season, Weatherby had 23 career points (13g-10a—23pts). With his two goals on Saturday night, Weatherby has equaled his career point total in 28 games. During the 2020-21 season, he’s scored (14g-9a—23pts). He’s also a plus-six. Weatherby also has five multi-point games.

Weatherby is a 2018 4th round (#102 overall) draft pick of the San Jose Sharks. I am sure that his play on the ice has gotten the Sharks attention.

When asked if Weatherby was nervous after his first NCAA playoff game, Weather had this to say.

“I’m just excited, these are games you want to play and all those nerves are excitement, Weatherby said. “I was very excited. I think that our entire team was, and we tried to carry that in and play fast and have fun out there.”