Brad Elliott Schlossman
Schlossman is in his 12th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.
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Few were left to witness the rare sight in Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday night. Most had departed long before the final buzzer rang and Minnesota Duluth's 4-0 win over UND became official. They preferred not to see UND get swept at home for the first time since 2013—a span of 33 home series. They preferred not to see UND get shut out at home for the first time since 2011—a span of 115 home games.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Few were left to witness the rare sight in Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday night. Most had departed long before the final buzzer rang and Minnesota Duluth's 4-0 win over the University of North Dakota became official. They preferred not to see UND get swept at home for the first time since 2013 -- a span of 33 home series. They preferred not to see UND get shut out at home for the first time since 2011 -- a span of 115 home games.
The standings are bunched up. UND is becoming dangerously close to being in position to be on the road for the first round of the conference playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Then again, maybe that's not a bad thing. UND has won just two of its last nine home games after a 5-3 loss to Minnesota Duluth in Ralph Engelstad Arena. UND was once again overmatched against a veteran Bulldog team that beat the Fighting Hawks for the third time this season.
Brian Idalski remembers counting down the days until Jessie Vetter was gone. Vetter was a star goalie for the University of Wisconsin and made it nearly impossible for opponents to beat the Badgers. The U.S. National Team goaltender had a career .941 save percentage and blanked UND four times in her career. So, Idalski felt relieved in 2009 when Vetter finally graduated. But along came Alex Rigsby.
Q. What's your favorite movie? A. Interstellar. Q. What's your favorite TV show? A. I'm a big Game of Thrones guy. Me and a few of the guys in the dorms watch it and it's good. Q. Do you have a favorite restaurant in Grand Forks? A. We don't usually go out to eat a whole lot, but when we do, we go over to East Grand to the Blue Moose quite a bit. Q. How about back home in Roseau? A. I'd have to say Earl's Drive In. That's pretty good. Q. How'd you end up with your number, 7?
The bus ride home was long. That tends to be the case when it's a five-hour overnight drive after back-to-back losses. UND had just been swept by Minnesota Duluth for the first time since 1995—and it didn't sit very well. But that series was a catalyst for some changes for the Fighting Hawks. And since then, there have been a lot of them for both No. 8 UND and No. 4 Minnesota Duluth, which will play a two-game series at 7:37 tonight and 7:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
It wasn't an easy introduction to college hockey for Casey Johnson. He was scratched in two of his first three games. When he did get in, the coaches had to carefully manage his minutes and situations. They double shifted a veteran defenseman to play with him and try to help him. The UND freshman defenseman admitted that the game was moving, "blazing fast." But those days appear to be over.
Shane Gersich's ESPN SportsCenter goal didn't officially count. By the time he made a 360 spin move on Denver star will Butcher and threw a backhand into the top corner of the net—all in one motion—the teams were playing 3-on-3. Those points don't go into the books. But it was the start of something big for the UND sophomore forward. Since that November night, Gersich has 12 goals in 13 games, ranking second nationally during that timespan—only behind Northeastern's Zach Aston-Reese (16 goals).
UND sat in the locker room during the second intermission, facing the same situation as a night earlier. There were no fiery speeches. There were no constant reminders of the Friday night meltdown that saw Miami snap UND's 82-game unbeaten streak when leading after two periods. "Not much had to be said," Rhett Gardner said. "We knew what we had to do." UND smothered Miami defensively in the third—not allowing a shot on goal in the opening 8 minutes, 30 seconds of the frame—and hung to beat Miami 3-1 in the series finale in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Welcome home, Rebekah Kolstad. The UND sophomore forward scored a goal in her return to her hometown of Mankato, Minn., as her Fighting Hawks completed a series sweep with a 4-0 win over Minnesota State-Mankato on Saturday afternoon at Verizon Wireless Center. Kolstad scored her fourth goal of the season in the second period to finish off UND's scoring, while rookie goaltender Kristen Campbell earned her first collegiate victory by posting a 22-save shutout.