Inside the UND locker room, the music blared. Outside, players smiled, laughed and joked. “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs,” senior captain Dillon Simpson explained. That’s why Saturday night’s 3-2 victory over Western Michigan was so rewarding for the UND men’s hockey team.
It was bitterly cold outside the other night at my lake cabin, my reluctance to close it up for the winter now edging into the second week of December. Outside, great pillows of snow adorned the cluster of needles on the pine trees.
UND used two goals by freshman Luke Johnson, one by senior Derek Rodwell and an outstanding performance by goaltender Zane Gothberg to earn an 3-2 victory over Western Michigan in front of 3,110 lively fans at the Lawson Ice Center.
The Broncos (6-5-3) have won four games in a row and have only allowed three goals in the last five games. They rank in the top 10 nationally in team defense for the third year in a row under Murray, who coached 10 years in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues.
Winning faceoffs is not a concern Dave Hakstol has had in a while. Thanks to players such as Corban Knight, Brad Malone, Chris VandeVelde, T.J. Oshie, Jonathan Toews, Travis Zajac and Zach Parise, UND has ranked near the top nationally in that category each year in the last decade. But this season, that dominant center is not there yet.
St. Louis Blues forward David Backes remembers fondly the games he played against T.J. Oshie while the two were Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals. Oshie and Backes are not only teammates now but also linemates for one of the NHL’s top teams.
When the national college hockey poll was released Monday afternoon, there was a rarity. The UND men’s hockey team was not ranked. It hasn’t happened often since the poll started in 1997, but UND did face a strikingly similar situation just two years ago.
Top-ranked Minnesota had its 10-game home unbeaten streak snapped by in-state foe Minnesota Duluth on Sunday afternoon at Mariucci Arena. The loss dropped the Gophers to 9-2-1 on the season and improved the No. 19 Bulldogs’ record to 6-5-1.
The UND men’s hockey team admits that there’s some frustration creeping in.
“Absolutely,” forward Rocco Grimaldi said. “It’s tough, I’m not going to lie,” defenseman Nick Mattson said. “It wears on you.” Things didn’t get any better on Friday night, either.
In a formal press conference in Agganis Arena on Friday night, a typically stern Dave Hakstol refused to look past this weekend and worry about the implications of a rough start to his UND men’s hockey season.
I arrived at my cabin late Wednesday afternoon with darkness about to descend. But before heading back to Grand Forks last weekend to take in the UND-Duluth hockey games, I’d stacked my fireplace with kindling. I had it ready for a strike of the match to bring instant warmth flowing through the cabin.
View your ad here! Cost effective targeted advertising. Contextual advertising starting as low as $79/month. This includes targeted ad delivery and search results! Add your business to the Marketplace »