Beavers come to ruffle some feathers

Allyson Bento, Sports Editor

UND remain unscathed after a close battle at home

The Ralph Engelstad Arena and the Fighting Hawks welcomed the Bemidji State Beavers this weekend in a series that highlighted the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

Friday’s game was the 40th of junior goaltender Cam Johnson’s career. That not only put him into the UND career record books, but it also placed him in the top spots for career save percentage and goals against average.

Game one also saw the first natural hat trick of sophomore forward Brock Boeser’s career. Boeser scored three unanswered goals against the brick wall that is the Beavers goaltender, Michael Bitzer. Goal three came from a penalty shot in an unexpected fashion.

“I was actually looking for a different move there, but he came really far out, so I wanted to beat him wide there because I think he came to the hash marks then once he started backing up I thought I wasn’t going to beat him,” Boeser said. “I think I got lucky.”

The final score is what matters most and thanks to the Boeser hat trick, UND came out victorious 3-2.

Coming into the second game, the team that the fans were looking forward to watching had returned. The fast-paced, determined team that has a future shot snagging another championship.

BSU still managed to get on the board first by bringing Johnson out from his crease and on to his chest before lobbing one behind him.

Less than a minute later, UND came back and blindsided Bitzer with a shot from Boeser, which bounced off the skate of a Beaver skater and into the net.

The moment shifted and the fans made sure it stayed that way as sophomore Shane Gersich closed the first period with a goal assisted by freshman Tyson Jost giving the Hawks the upper hand heading into the second.

UND extended their lead early in the second period, freshman Zach Yon collected his first career goal as a Fighting Hawk 23 seconds into the period, and Boeser came in with a few minutes left in the second and grabbed his second of the night, fifth of the series.

The Hawks headed into the third with a commanding 4-1 lead, and sophomore Rhett Gardner took to the scoreboard five minutes into the third to extend that to a 5-1 deficit for the Beavers, that would be the last time of the night that UND beat Bitzer.

“I thought they came out hot they put us back on our heels,” Johnson said. “That team always plays well. They’re a really good team, they’re a good opponent,  and I don’t think we were up to par at the start there.”

The Bad

The series sweep did not come easy; the beavers proved to be tough competitors and in game one UND looked as though they forgot their motivation at home. The red flags came from the skating, the goal tending and the all-around feel of the first two periods for the Fighting Hawks. It was as if the pros had been replaced with average Joes.

The Beavers attacked first chipping two past Johnson in the first period, and dimming the light at the end of the tunnel for UND.

“That’s the story of our season so far,” Johnson said. “We don’t give up anything then we give up on a two on one or a breakaway.”

BSU made sure to take away any lanes for the Hawks and their defense in front of Bitzer was strong for both games. They forced turnovers from UND throughout both games and even during the deficit they remained cool, calm and collected.

The Ugly

The series saw some rather ugly play. From the 22 penalty minutes for UND to the sloppy shots and passing, there is plenty of room for improvement.

The Hawks’ inability to complete passes throughout both games allowed for the Beavers to turn over the puck numerous times.

UND found themselves victim to the Beavers tight playing strategies as they lost many rebounds to the Beavers and allowed the Beavers to turn it over back into UND territory.

Even though there was a clear shift in play from game one to game two, UND played strong through the beginning of game two but pumped the brakes when they gave themselves a four goal cushion and BSU jumped on that opportunity.

The Beavers cut into the Hawks lead with two power play goals halfway through the third to move the score into a dangerous two goal differential. 

The crowd became silent when the Beavers called for an extra attacker that put them within one goal in the final seconds. UND barely managed to keep them off the board and come out with the win.

“I think every team goes through moments like this,” Captain Gage Ausmus said. “We’re just fortunate we came out with the win and we can learn from this one.”

The Hawks have been playing a dangerous game that they have been fortunate enough to get out of. Now, with the tough schedule coming up with the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and Minnesota Gophers on back to back weekends, UND needs to find a way to clean up their game and come out sharp and ready to play from the first puck drop.

UND will head to the road to face Minnesota Duluth Oct. 28-29. Friday’s puck drop is scheduled for 7:07 p.m.

Allyson Bento is the sports editor for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]