Stage set for regular season

The UND men’s hockey team spent much of the first period last Sunday shaking off rust.

Despite registering only one shot on goal in the first 10 minutes, veteran skaters and freshmen in their collegiate debuts at Ralph Engelstad Arena discovered a rhythm — defeating the Manitoba Bisons 4-0 in an exhibition battle.

“I liked some of the things our young guys did,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I liked the fact that with the young guys, some of them started with some jitters and worked through those and did a pretty good job in the second half of the game. Overall, it was a good finish to our preseason.”

One of those young skaters was freshman Nick Schmaltz.

Playing alongside his older brother Jordan Schmaltz, Nick Schmaltz tallied two assists and four shots on goal.

“It was fun — he’s a special player out there,” Nick Schmaltz said of his brother. “You put the puck on his stick and he’ll make a play.”

Wade Murphy also put a puck in the back of the net on Sunday. The sophomore forward played in 19 games last season, but failed to score a goal.

“It was nice to get the monkey off my back,” Murphy said. “I am feeling more confident out there, and I just have to keep going.”

His team will get a chance this weekend, when North Dakota competes in a home-and-home series against Bemidji State, hosting the Beavers on Friday evening and making its first roadtrip of the season Saturday.

The last time UND lost to the Beavers was in late Nov., 2011. Before that, a battle in 1970 in Grand Forks featured a game in which Bemidji took home the win — contributing to an all time 26-2-3 record between the two teams.

“They’re a very hard team to play against,” Hakstol said. “They always play with a ton of speed and pace. Energy is going to be critical, and we’ll manage that this week. We will spend a lot of time working to improve our game as we go through the week.”

While the numbers don’t side with North Dakota in the first half of the season, with a significantly higher winning percentage evident in the second half of the season, the team has its sights set on the present.

“I’m not worried about either side of that scenario — either what’s on paper or what’s happened in the past,” Hakstol said. “We’re really worried about what’s happening in the present, and what this group is doing on a daily basis.”

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports  editor of The Dakota Student.  She can be reached at [email protected].