UND Hockey Returns

James DeArman, Sports Writer

The warm days of summer have since subsided and have been overtaken by the crisp cool days of Fall with the October air encouraging the leaves to meet the ground. This can only mean one thing, it’s hockey season. That means it is time to return to hockey’s Palace on the Prairie, the Ralph Engelstad Arena. A stadium which echoes character and class from its granite flooring to it cherry wood seats. This modern temple of sport will open its doors for its 18th season of North Dakota hockey looking for a team that lives up to its grandeur.


Brad Barry’s 2019-20 Fighting Hawks are looking to be that team. 203 days since North Dakota faced a disappointing end to their season at the hands of the University of Denver in the first round of the NCHC playoffs and missing the NCAA tournament. The Hawks saw the ice for the first time in an exhibition game against the University of Manitoba. A common sight for the team as they have matched up against the Bison in an exhibition match in the past few seasons.  


Coming into this season Head Coach Brad Berry has faced some heat from the around the program for two disappointing payoff results the last two years but has shown his confidence and commitment to the success of this team. Berry seemed happy with the work his players put in during the offseason, especially young players. 


“Guys like Jacob Bernard-Docker and some of our players that have come to our program a year ago, that have taken a step physically, and that’s a big deal,” Berry said. “We are very happy with what they did in the summertime and it will transfer to the fall.”


Bernard-Docker, the 2018 26th overall pick, comes into the 2019 season looking to make a bigger impact on the game with a year of experience under his belt and time to grow physically and mentally.


This season will be the first time the incoming freshman will play under the lights in the Ralph. A moment that freshman and Grand Forks native Judd Caulfield has been preparing for his entire life. The 18 year old forward, who stands at 6 3’ and 205 pounds, was recently taken in the fifth round of the NHL draft to the Pittsburgh Penguins.


 “It’s going to be great to have my family at all the games this year,” Bernard-Docker said. “They have really supported me through my entire career. It’s great they will be able to watch me live.”


The power forward hopes to make an impact in the game by using his big frame to play a physical game.


A sellout crowd roared with the drop of the puck as their favorite Friday and Saturday night activity had finally made its return. It was also return to form for North Dakota as they streaked to a 5-1 win lead by Grant Mismash’s four assists and two goals from Gavin Hain. The speed of play was one thing that stood out was the speed of the UND game. 


“Our speed not only in moving pucks, but also in skating through the neutral zone, and attacking with it,” Coach Berry said. “That’s a good sign. Anytime you have speed, it’s tough to defend that. We have to keep working on that, and make sure that is a strength of ours.” 


Another element that looked like a positive return to form was the powerplay. Last years power play success was low with only 14.2 percent of them seeing a goal. UND was 3-7 on the power play this night and looked as if they had taken a step forward this offseason. UND will carry strong momentum from this preseason win into next weekend as the season kicks off with Canisius when they visit the Ralph, and we can all celebrate the magic of hope that a new season brings us all.