Omaha Steals win in Overtime on Senior Night

UND prepares for the playoffs after loss to Mavericks

Photo+taken+by+Caitlin+Collins

Photo taken by Caitlin Collins

James DeArman, Sports Writer

Senior Night at the Ralph Engelstad Arena is always a special night but, on this Friday, it meant just a little bit more. In a year that had more trials and hardships than any other, 8 seniors took to the ice after the game to be honored for their contributions to the program. Even though this is their last regular-season game in the Ralph there is still work to be done in the building. The NCHC Frozen Faceoff will be held in Grand Forks giving UND a home-ice advantage for the conference playoffs. After tonight’s overtime loss to Omaha, the Hawks will have a week to set things right before win or go home hockey begins. 

It was the University of Omaha that played spoilers on the night handing UND their only home loss of the season. A lethargic Hawks team hit the ice and quickly fell behind two goals in the second period, seemingly hungover from their recent success. This two-goal lead was North Dakota’s first deficit since January. This season UND holds a record of 1-5-1 when their opponent scores the first goal, 17-0 when scoring first. Something head coach Brad Berry will surely emphasize this week in practice.  

“I don’t think we had our best at the beginning of the game,” Berry said. “I thought 30 minutes into the game, we started to press a little bit. We got a little momentum. We got some chances. But a two-goal lead is tough to come back from. We were better in the second half, but we have to start the way we did the second half of the game.” 

The number one nationally ranked Fighting Hawks had some work to do as the game entered its later half and found some energy from their fourth line. Senior Jackson Keane was able to put home the puck on the rebound after Louis Jamernik lead the charge and fired a backhander on target. The senior from Winnipeg collected his fourth career goal.  

Entering the third period still down by one it did not take long for UND to draw level with the Mavericks. Only 15 seconds into the period Jordan Kawaguchi knocked a loose puck in the crease into the back of the net. It was only fitting that the senior captain Kawaguchi would be the one to tie up the game on senior night.  

After a back-and-forth rest of the third period, they would need overtime to settle things on the night. After the three-on-three play began a golden opportunity opened up for UND. Another senior, Matt Kiersted, found himself open in the slot and unleashed a shot that was turned wide by the Omaha goaltender. Keirsted would then make the fatal mistake of slashing Omaha forward Tyler Weiss, giving the Mavericks a four on three powerplay.  

It did not take Omaha long to convert on that powerplay as Taylor Ward tipped in a slap shot that would win the game.  

“Obviously, it would have been nice to finish the regular season on a win,” Kawaguchi said. “But at the end of the day, we’re still No. 1 in our conference. We’re still going to move on and get ready for playoffs next week. 

Next Friday, March 12th, UND will begin their march for their first-ever NCHC tournament trophy at the Ralph. Being the number one team in the conference they have drawn the number eight seed in the University of Miami Redhawks. In a conference as strong as the NCHC no game is an easy win, and the Fight Hawks must come out firing if they hope to complete their visions of grandeur.  

 James DeArman is a Dakota Student Sports Writer. He can be reached at [email protected]