COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Three weeks ago, Louis Jamernik was in Okotoks, Alberta, wondering when he would play his next hockey game.
The answer: Jan. 10.
Jamernik probably never would have guessed what team he'd be playing for on that day, though.
After running into issues with injuries and not having enough players to fill out a full lineup during the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod in December, UND called Jamernik and offered him the opportunity to finish out the season in college.
Jamernik jumped at the opportunity, joined the team after Christmas and made his NCAA debut Sunday night in UND's 3-0 win over Colorado College in World Arena.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound forward from Calgary centered UND's fourth line. Harrison Blaisdell and Judd Caulfield played on his wings with extra skater Jackson Keane taking a few shifts.
Jamernik made an impact on UND's first goal of the game, screening Colorado College netminder Matt Vernon while Fighting Hawk rookie defenseman Tyler Kleven picked the corner of the net.
"He plays the right way," Berry said of Jamernik. "He's a 200-foot player. It's got to be tough coming into the NCHC halfway through the season and trying to get up to game speed on what we do. He's had a really good week-and-a-half of practice since he came in here. I thought he did a good job of integrating. I know our guys are helping him, too. It's another big body in the middle of the ice that can play a 200-foot game and a heavy game."
Berry said UND initially considered bringing Jamernik to campus this fall, but opted to have him go back to Okotoks, an Alberta Junior Hockey League team that has developed several top UND players over the years, including NHL draft picks Jacob Bernard-Docker, Rhett Gardner, Corban Knight, Derek Rodwell and Brad Eidsness.
"He was a 20-year old player who was playing, I think, his fourth year of junior hockey in Canada," Berry said. "He probably could have come in last fall. But knowing that he was going to be the captain on that team and being in a big role and playing a lot of minutes, it would have made him well-seasoned to play for us next fall here in our lineup."
Things changed, though.
During the 10-game NCHC Pod, UND lost Kleven and Jake Sanderson for seven games to the World Juniors, then had injuries pile up. The Fighting Hawks were forced to play with fewer than 18 skaters for the first time since October 2012.
Meanwhile, Jamernik's season in the AJHL was on pause with no return date set.
"Up front, we got decimated," Berry said. "We got hit hard. We're a team that plays with a streamlined amount of players, 26 players. We just thought with COVID lurking in the background, if we get cases, we need to make sure we're going to support our team with another good player."
Berry said the players were receptive to adding Jamernik midseason.
"Hats off to our players being open-minded," Berry said. "Sometimes, it's not always a positive experience bringing a guy in halfway through the season. But, you know what, we have such a strong leadership group and a group that knows Louis Jamernik is going to help us down the stretch."
UND forward Grant Mismash said Jamernik has been fitting in well with the group.
"He's a great guy, great teammate," Mismash said. "He brings a lot of energy already so far. You can see out there he has a lot of jump on the ice. . . practices as well. It's good to bring in some fresh energy like that. It gives a spark to our team as well. I'm looking forward to seeing how he progresses."
Special teams dominant for UND
Special teams have been a big difference-maker for UND this season and that continued Sunday night.
The Fighting Hawks went 1-for-3 on the power play, while holding Colorado College scoreless on its four power-play chances.
UND has the best special teams differential in the NCHC at plus-8. Second place in that category is a three-way tie at plus-3. Colorado College sits in dead last at minus-11.
|NCHC team||Special teams net|
|St. Cloud State||+3|
UND has the NCHC's top power play at 28.3 percent, which ranks ahead of Denver's 25 percent.
Adams scored his third power-play goal Sunday night on a deflection to tie Shane Pinto for the team lead in that category. Seven players have one: Sanderson, Mismash, Jordan Kawaguchi, Gabe Bast, Jasper Weatherby, Riese Gaber and Matt Kiersted.
Meanwhile, UND's penalty kill has been rolling.
The Fighting Hawks have now killed off 20 consecutive opponent power plays. They have not allowed a single power-play goal during their current five-game winning streak.
It has been a struggle on the power play for the Tigers this season.
They've had 33 advantages and they've scored as many power-play goals (three) as they've given up shorthanders (three). Making it worse, two of Colorado College's three power-play goals this season have been scored by captain Grant Cruikshank, who is out of the lineup with appendicitis.
Berry not surprised to see Vernon
It seemed to be a bit of a surprise move: Colorado College started Vernon in net over rookie Dominic Basse, who had started the previous seven games.
But Berry said he was not surprised.
"The biggest thing is knowing that they have two very good goaltenders here in Colorado Springs," Berry said. "I thought Matt Vernon had an outstanding year for them last year, coming in and playing some really good minutes for them as a freshman. Now, he's a sophomore.
"They gave Basse an opportunity in the Pod. He won some games against some tough teams in Denver and Duluth. It's one of those things where they have two very good goaltenders and you never know who you're going to get. You've got to be ready for the guy you get. Tonight, it was Vernon."
Vernon, the son of longtime NHL goalie Mike Vernon, played well Sunday.
He allowed three goals, but none were bad. He was screened on the first one. The second was a three-on-one, tic-tac-toe play that he had no chance to stop. And the third was on a strange bounce off of Adams' stick on a deflection that popped high into the air and landed behind Vernon.
For the season, Vernon is 0-3-1 with an .844 save percentage and a 4.22 goals-against average.
Basse, a 6-foot-6 Chicago Blackhawks draft pick, is 3-3-1 with an .894 save percentage and a 2.75 goals-against average.
- UND radio play-by-play announcer Tim Hennessy reported that the Fighting Hawks' series scheduled for next weekend against Denver will likely be backed up two days until Sunday-Monday. UND is planning to fly home to Grand Forks after Monday night's game against Colorado College. Denver is off this week due to a COVID-19 positive test within the program and contact tracing.
- On Sunday night, Colorado College defenseman Connor Mayer played forward, suiting up on the left wing of the third line. He had four shots on goal.
- Not only did UND lose the shots-on-goal battle 27-18 -- the widest shot deficit for the Fighting Hawks since Feb. 15, 2019 -- they also uncharacteristically lost the faceoff battle, 21-20. UND had trouble with Tiger forward Jackson Jutting, the nephew of longtime Minnesota State-Mankato coach Troy Jutting, who went 9-2 in the circle. UND's top faceoff players, Pinto and Weatherby, went 6-5 and 6-8.
- Colorado College defenseman Zach Berzolla delivered the biggest hit of the game on UND forward Gavin Hain at the end of the first period. Hain left the ice for the remainder of the first, but came back for the start of the second. Officials Dan Dreger and Mike Sheehan reviewed the hit for a potential major but no penalty was called.
- Berry on Kleven's return to the lineup: "I thought Tyler Kleven played a very good game. He had good reads. He jumped up in the play a few times. He had a really good couple opportunities. He hit the post. He could have had a second goal. I thought he had a very good, manageable game there. I can tell he's excited about playing with us. After going to the World Juniors and winning a gold medal, that's a big deal. Now, playing on a team where he's got an opportunity to play a regular shift, you can tell he's excited for it."
- Berry on Sanderson's return: "Jake Sanderson is such a smart player. He makes plays, breaks pucks out, good defender, great feet. I thought he had a very solid game tonight."
- Sunday's game marked UND's first game outside of Baxter Arena since last February. UND's final two games of last season were in Baxter and the first 10 games of this season were there.
GameCenter: Goal videos and descriptions
Colorado Springs Gazette: Missing captain Grant Cruikshank, CC blanked by UND