UND Fails to Sweep UMD on Saturday  

Maeve Hushman, Sports Reporter

The University of North Dakota went into Saturday’s game looking to do something they have not done all season, sweep an NCHC opponent. They failed that task once again. University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) bested UND (University of North Dakota) 2-1 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena with a final shot count of 26-21 in favor of UMD.   

The game started in UMD’s favor again, with a first period that ended scoreless and with UND only managing 3 shots to Duluth’s 13. UMD’s low-event suffocating defense was back and on display. UMD’s style of play is meant to smother and stifle any breath of offense, and it did its job in this game.   

UMD would open the scoring in the second period, with Isaac Howard scoring the first goal of the game with two UND players behind the net, leaving Howard completely open. Captain Mark Senden scored UND’s first and only goal off of a breakaway, shooting five-hole to tie the game at one going into the third period. For the most part, UND’s second and third periods looked better than their first, but they still did not do enough to make Duluth open up play or challenge their system. UMD would regain the lead with only two minutes left in the third. It was a scrappy front-of-the-net play from a team that jumped at every chance.   

With Duluth’s style of hockey, opportunities are few and far between, which means a lot more tenacity and opportunism are needed to score. Teams must make their own luck when playing against these teams. UND was able to do that in the first game; they took advantage of their first power play, but on Saturday night, Chris Jandric took a holding penalty during a delayed penalty for UND, taking away any man advantage UND might have had to start the game. The powerplay was unable to convert on Saturday either, a startling reminder of how much this team relies on special teams to give them the edge.  

Most importantly, UND was not getting as much net front traffic as a team needs to score on a team like Duluth. UMD knows what they are; they knew to take advantage of a defensive lapse or a bad turnover. They knew how to take advantage of an open net front. They made their own luck because they knew that their style of hockey did not allow for much scoring on either end. UND did not.   

“We definitely did not get the start we wanted,” Senden said post-game. “I thought we had a great last 40 minutes, but at this point in the season, we cannot take 20 minutes off. We have to be ready from the drop of the puck.”   

Not starting on time or letting up in the third has been a recurring problem for this team.   

Head Coach Brad Berry echoed this well-worn issue in his post-game conference. “We played pretty good for three periods last night [January 20th], and tonight we played okay for the second and third but not good enough in the first. And in this league, you cannot play two out of the three. You have to play all three periods,” he said.   

Despite the loss, there were a couple of bright spots in this game. Drew DeRidder had another fantastic night. Over this weekend, he only allowed four goals. His solid performance held UND in the game after their pedestrian first. His performance was only bolstered by a UND defense showing noticeable improvement. The players and Coach Berry talked in the press conferences about how much work they have been putting into their defense, which showed this weekend.   

UND is about to embark on a lengthy road stretch where they will face more NCHC opponents playing both Miami University and the University of Denver. The road stretch promises a clean slate and a chance at redemption against two teams that UND has lost to in the first half of the season. The answers are within this team, they just need to find them.   

 

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