UND Hockey Defeats UMD on Friday  

Maeve Hushman, Sports Reporter

After a disappointing two-game series against Western Michigan, The University of North Dakota hockey team has their last chance to win at home before a long road stretch. They also had the chance to win on the night honoring UND legend Al Pearson, and they did just that.  The University of North Dakota defeated the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) 4-2 on Friday, January 20th. The final shot count was 25-22 in favor of UMD, but UND still left the Ralph Engelstad Arena victorious.   

The first period was textbook low event, neutral zone clogging hockey, an excellent strategy by Duluth because that style, no matter how hard to watch, can turn even the most lackluster teams into a threat. It is a great strategy to steal wins and a difficult system to play against. However, UND took advantage of their first powerplay and open scoring. Play began to open up in the second and third periods, giving UND the advantage. Gavin Hain scored a fantastic diving goal right in front of the net to make it 2-0 before UMD cut the lead in half. In the third, Louis Jamernick V scored just 43 seconds into the period restoring the 2-goal lead. All UND had to do was hold the lead and finish out the game, something they have struggled with, and they did. Even though Kyle Bettens of UMD scored his second of the night, Jackson Blake finished the win off with an empty net goal to make the final score 4-2.   

It was a great night for a UND team that struggled to play a full 60 and hold one-goal leads in the third.   

Head Coach Brad Berry in Wednesday’s pre-game press conference said that he wanted to see an improvement in defensive systems and performance in these two games. The defense had a noticeable improvement, and Drew DeRidder stood tall behind them for the best performance since his shutout against Western Michigan before the Holiday break.   

“It was a full 60 minutes from everyone out there. Third period we bent but we did not break,” defenseman Ryan Sidorski said post-game. “We did not play scared, we played to win.”   

Sidorski emphasized playing simply and holding onto momentum even when things went in UMD’s favor.   

When asked how to carry the positive momentum into this game, Sidorski said, “play how we did today…keep it simple, chip pucks out, when we are under pressure…be positive on the bench…we were pretty positive today, which I think helps a lot.”   

Coach Berry was also pleased with the full team’s performance tonight. “I thought we did a good job playing to win…guys sold out; they blocked shots. That was the difference tonight as far as getting in front of pucks and doing whatever it takes to close out a win,” he said.    

For Hain, it was all about winning it for Al Pearson. “Honestly, I was a little emotional; I had some tears in my eyes,” Hain said of Pearson’s tribute video. “I got to know him a little bit…played cribbage with him a few times…He has done a lot for this program…he is an unbelievable man.”   

Winning for Al Pearson meant a lot to this team and made this win all the sweeter. It was also a sweet win for DeRidder, who has not started since the first Lindenwood game, where he was pulled.   

“It has been tough, not gonna lie. But you know, this is what being a goalie is all about…you got to be able to deal with the pressure,” DeRidder said commenting on the impact of the battle for the starting goaltender role as well his tumultuous season.   

“No matter what happened before you gotta keep working and take advantage of your next chance when it comes,”  he said.  

UND looks to sweep the University of Minnesota Duluth and finish out their home stretch on a high note before they go on the road to face Denver and Colorado College. Every victory counts as UND approaches the home stretch of the season. Hopefully, this game is the turning point UND fans have patiently awaited.   

Maeve Hushman is a Dakota Student Sports Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected]