UND Extends Unbeaten Streak

Maeve Hushman, Sports Reporter

The final week of the regular season is here, and beyond Denver securing the Penrose Cup, the NCHC standings all came down to the games this weekend. University of North Dakota’s playoff hopes were based on getting a favorable matchup, which was in part dependent on them playing well this weekend. Going into this late stretch, UND has been on a five-game unbeaten streak with every single game going into overtime. On Friday night, for the penultimate home game of the season, the University of North Dakota defeated University of Nebraska Omaha 5-4 in overtime with a final shot count of 29-29.  

UND seems to have found new gear and at the perfect time. Their defensive performance has improved, and the goaltending has followed suit. They have also shown resilience not deflating at the slightest bit of adversity.  

The game started out in UND’s favor with Jackson Kunz scoring only a minute and thirty-six seconds into the first period. Kunz broke that goal down in the post-game. “I was just trying to find space and Farmer [Ty Farmer] shot it and I tried to get a stick on it,” he said.  

Kunz’s ice time and place in the lineup has increased in recent games. “I finally just came to it, started playing my game a little bit, started moving my feet more and fortunately, I’ve gotten a few goals,” he said regarding his recent success and place in the lineup.  

Even with that excellent work by Kunz, Omaha quickly answered back with Tyler Weiss scoring only four minutes later off a textbook two on one rebound. Despite the tied score, UND looked solid in the first period killing off three penalties and setting the game pace. The first period ended in a tie with the shots on goal being 13-11 in favor of Omaha.  

The second period was all UND. They scored two unanswered goals, one from Gavin Hain on the powerplay, with a scrappy rebound chance. The other was an amazing unassisted goal by Freshman Dylan James, who had a shorthanded chance thwarted in the first. Going into the third UND secured a two-goal lead and led in shots on goal.  

However, in the third period, Omaha would tie the game with four minutes to go. James would score his second goal of the night, another beautiful unassisted goal, to restore UND’s lead. That joy and lead did not last long, Omaha pulled their goalie and scored to push the game to overtime with only 30 seconds left in regulation.  

Only one minute into overtime, Ethan Frisch would score the game winning goal off a play from Riese Gaber and Jackson Blake who have both been key to UND’s success at 3-on-3.  

Frisch had this to say about his game winning goal, “I saw the play develop from behind the neutral zone kind of reminded me a lot of last week… but instead of making moves just shooting, I’m more of a shooter. So that was a great play by Gaber and great play by Blake.”  

Even though his third period goal would not end up being the game winner, James was really the star of the game with two breathtaking goals that were crucial to UND’s success. “I felt fast today,” he said post-game crediting his two goals not only to his speed which Head Coach Brad Berry referred to as “NHL elite speed.” But to an increase in confidence, “just more confidence, it’s the end of the season, you’re playing to win,” James said.  

Coach Berry also pointed to James’s confidence. “As a freshman coming in here sometimes it’s a little overwhelming and just getting acclimated to the game, knowing how much time when have the puck on your tape… now he knows,” he said.   

Despite the positives of an unbeaten streak, there are still some concerns about that success coming at three on three which goes away after the postseason. Still, the team is unbeaten heading into the post season and playing their best, most consistent hockey. Overall, it is a good boost as they approach the postseason.  


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