Grand Forks, ND — Saturday the University of North Dakota hockey team was looking to get their first series sweep at home since November 5-6, 2021, when they swept the Denver Pioneers (3-1, 4-1). UND entered Saturday’s game three points behind the league-leading Denver Pioneers and was looking to keep the Pioneers within striking distance.
At the 4;12 mark of the first period, UND defenseman Ethan Frisch scored his second goal of the weekend with a nice shot from the left point. Things were appeared to be headed in the right direction.
Then there was a shift in momentum. The Huskies would score three unanswered goals, a power goal, an even-strength goal, and a shorthanded goal. The Huskies looked like they were on their way to a series split. SCSU would take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission. SCSU outshot UND 10-6 in the first period.
Freshman goalie Jakob Hellsten had emerged as UND’s starting goalie. Since December, the Ljusdal, Sweden native has played in six games going 2-2-0. After getting the win on Friday night, Hellsten again got the nod in the net. It was a rough night for Hellsten, he gave up three goals on seven shots and was sitting on the bench to start the second period. Enter senior goalie Zach Driscoll, the grad student stopped 20-of-20 shots and made some big saves to keep UND in the game.
“Jakob Hellsten played outstanding last night,” Berry said. “I just want to say it wasn’t his fault tonight for getting yanked. Maybe he wants to try and make the save on one of those three just to keep your team in the game.
“But at the end of the day, he’s been outstanding as a young guy. I gotta tip my hat to Zack Driscoll, it’s not easy when you’re a fifth-year guy, and you don’t have the net right now. He came in – had to be ready, and he was.”
Pulling Hellsten was a move to rally the team and send a message, and it worked.
“When coach (Berry) came in after the first period, he wasn’t very happy, and we weren’t very happy with ourselves,” Driscoll said. “So hats off to Helly (Jakob Hellsten) I thought he played really good this weekend, especially on Friday, and we kind of left him out there to start the game. I think it’s more of a motivation thing for the group – next man up – always be ready and positive.”
Even after giving up three straight goals on Saturday, I thought UND played some of its best hockey of the season against the Huskies. After going down 3-1, UND’s fourth line added a spark, they were on the ice for the game-tying goal by soon-to-be an Olympian Jake Sanderson. When it was all said and done, UND’s D-Core was responsible for all three of UND’s goals (Frisch, Chris Jandric, and Jake Sanderson).
In the post-game press conference, I asked coach Berry if his fourth line was his new energy line?
“Tim Hennesy (Radio PxP) asked me earlier about having a fourth line, an identity (line) that can play in all situations,” Berry said. “Last few minutes of the game, they were out there, it’s a situation where you need that in college hockey when the game is so fast-paced and physical. You can’t roll three lines. You have to have four lines. When you have a line like that, that’s bringing identity it’s pretty easy to throw over the boards.”
It would appear that head coach Brad Berry has his team going in the right direction. The Hawks could’ve given up after going down 3-1, but they didn’t. They kept it simple and tied the game up.
“We took a step forward again,” coach Berry said. “The first period wasn’t our sharpest of the weekend, but the resolve, resiliency, and character in the locker room came out in the second and third period and found a way to get a couple of points out of it. We’ll keep building on that.”
Entering Saturday’s game the UND hockey team hadn’t been in a shootout at home since the 2019-20 season (January 17, 2020, against Miami University, UND won on a goal by Grant Mismash). On Saturday, Ashton Calder scored the game-winning shootout goal for UND to give them the extra point.
Entering this weekend’s series, UND had scored five goals in the last four games. When the weekend was over, UND had scored 10 goals and only given up four goals.
With the 3-3 tie, UND is 14-10-1 (.580) and sits in second place of the NCHC standings with a 9-4-1 record. The homestand continues for the Hawks, next weekend they take on the Omaha Mavericks in an important two-game conference series.