During the preseason, the theme in the University of North Dakota locker room has been time turn the page. There’s a lot of work to do starting a new season.
Obviously, before they could move forward, the Fighting Hawks had some unfinished business to wrap up. There was a championship banner to hang from the rafters and an appearance from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Commissioner Josh Fenton. When the eight NCAA championship banner hit the rafters the crowd roared its approval.
“While it was a night to celebrate past greatness, it was time to look ahead as well. “We tried to turn the page days ago, or weeks ago,” UND head coach Brad Berry said. “This will bring some closure to it. You can see we have a lot of things to work on to get to where we want to be.”
Oh yeah, there was a hockey game, too.
The defending champs came out in the first and at times looked a bit sloppy and out of synch, but that’s to be expected. In the second period, UND’s play began to improve. While the game was close for two periods of play, the end result was never in doubt. UND’s speed began to wear Manitoba down.
In the third period, the Bisons took a few untimely, undisciplined penalties and the Hawks made them pay. At the 13:31 mark of the third period, UND forward Brock Boeser reminded us why he was selected as an All-American, as he scored a nasty goal on the power play to give UND a 3-1 lead. Less than three minutes later, junior defenseman Tucker Poolman put the final nail in the Bisons coffin as he scored on the power play to push the lead to 4-1.
In the waning moments of the third period, a little-used sophomore forward Mike Gornall put the icing on the cake with a beautiful one-timer, 5-1 Hawks. Even with the win, there’s much to be done as the Fighting Hawks turn the page.
“As you can see, we have a lot of things to work on to get to where we want to be,” coach Berry said. “Come Monday morning, we got to get to another level. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens day by day, coming in here and our guys know that.”
Next weekend, UND entertains the Canisius College Golden Griffins in an important two-game non-conference series.
— RussHons (@russhons) October 2, 2016
Record Breaking Night
Incidentally, last night, the largest crowd (11,706 fans) ever to watch an exhibition game packed the Ralph Engelstad Arena. This didn’t go unnoticed by the UND hockey team.
“I thought it was tremendous and I thought it was very special,” said Berry. “I thought Ralph Engelstad Arena and (general manager) Jody Hodgson did a great job of making it a special night. A big part of that was remember the seven other championships, which laid the foundation for our success. Having a member from each of them back was very special.”