Jacob Bernard-Docker questionable for NCHC semifinals
Fighting Hawks expect to finish the league tournament without senior forward Grant Mismash.
Since Jan. 30, no defenseman in the country has more points than Jacob Bernard-Docker.
The UND junior has tallied 11 points in his last eight games, while earning the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's defensive defenseman of the year award.
But there's a chance that the Fighting Hawks could be without Bernard-Docker for their NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinal game against Denver at 8:05 p.m. Monday night.
Bernard-Docker sustained an injury in UND's 6-2 quarterfinal win over Miami, when he lost his balance and crashed hard into the boards, hitting the back of his head and neck with 10:38 left in the third period. He remained on the ice, virtually motionless, for 20 seconds before slowly getting to his feet.
Bernard-Docker eventually rejoined the play, but once there was a whistle, he left the ice and immediately went down the tunnel to the training room.
"He's day to day, we haven't ruled him out," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Obviously, he's gone through yesterday and today. . . very positive tests and different things like that. We're going to go to a day-to-day approach to it and we'll see what the rest of the afternoon and tomorrow brings, but very positive (indications)."
If Bernard-Docker can play, UND will have a full complement of defensemen for the 12th game this season. UND is 10-1 when it has all of its defensemen available. The lone loss was in overtime to Omaha on March 5.
If Bernard-Docker can't go, it would likely mean a rise in minutes for UND freshman defenseman Cooper Moore, who made his collegiate playoff debut against Miami during Friday night's quarterfinal game.
Moore, a 6-foot-1, 182-pound blue liner from Cos Cob, Conn., dressed as the seventh defenseman and registered one shot on goal and a minus-1. For the season, Moore has played in 16 of UND's 25 games, scoring two goals and tallying five points.
The fifth-round Detroit Red Wings draft pick has only played twice since January, though.
"In Cooper's situation, we've got a really good D-core here and probably, normally, he'd be an every day defenseman for us in a normal year," Berry said. "But given the guys that came back the extra year, it's a situation where he's been in-and-out of the lineup. When he's been in, he's been good. He's had a transformation, too, of getting to know what our league is about."
Moore got most of his experience at the start of the year, playing in the NCHC Pod, when UND was without defensemen Jake Sanderson and Tyler Kleven, who missed seven games to play in the World Junior Championship.
"He's a very confident and aggressive player," Berry said. "Sometimes, through the neutral zone, he might get caught making that aggressive read, but I think he's really kind of done a good job of controlling his game on what to do and when not to go."
Berry said during the pre-scout of Miami last week, he reviewed clips from the Dec. 20 game in the NCHC Pod against the RedHawks and Moore jumped out a few times.
"He made some really good plays to create offense for us and was very good defensively, too," Berry said. "It's a situation where now, it's great that he's getting in and getting some time and experience here, because he deserves it."
Mismash ruled out
Last week, Berry ruled out forward Grant Mismash for the quarterfinal game against Miami, and now Berry says Mismash will also miss the semifinal against Denver.
If UND makes the championship game, Mismash would also miss that.
"He's unavailable for the rest of this tournament," Berry said.
Mismash, who has averaged a point-per game this season for UND (nine goals, 18 points in 18 games) sustained an upper-body injury Feb. 12 against Denver and has missed the last six games.
The second-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators usually plays left wing on a line with center Collin Adams and right winger Jordan Kawaguchi. Sophomore Brendan Budy played in that spot Friday night and scored a goal, while Adams racked up five points (two goals, three assists) and Kawaguchi four assists.
UND will now hope Mismash is able to return for the NCAA tournament, which begins with a regional semifinal game on March 26th in Fargo's Scheels Arena. UND's opponent will be revealed on March 21 at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
Denver shorthanded, too
Denver played its quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon against Omaha without a fourth line due to eight players being in COVID-19 protocol.
The eight players missing were forward McKade Webster (three goals, nine points), forward Steven Jandric (one goal, six points), forward Brett Edwards (two goals, four points), forward Jake Durflinger (two goals, four points), forward Carter King (one assist), forward Jack Works (one assist) defenseman Reid Irwin (three goals) and defenseman Lane Krenzen (one assist).
Last month, Denver forward Brett Stapley (four goals, seven points) also had season-ending surgery, leaving the Pioneers with nine forwards. Defenseman Bo Hanson moved up to play forward against Omaha and scored the game-winning goal.
Denver coach David Carle said Saturday that the Pioneers were examining the possibility of flying one player into Grand Forks after getting out of COVID-19 protocol to play in the semifinals. But on Sunday, Carle said that wasn't going to happen.
"He will not be available," Carle said, without naming which player could have potentially joined the team.
Although Denver is playing significantly shorthanded, the Pioneers do have their top eight scorers and 10 of their top 11, and they managed to match their second-highest offensive output of the year in beating Omaha 5-4 on Saturday.
The top line of Hank Crone, Cole Guttman and Bobby Brink combined for two goals and seven points, while defenseman Mike Benning added two goals.
"I thought our energy was still great in the third (period)," Denver forward Ryan Barrow said. "The energy was great throughout the whole game."
Barrow said the team will use Sunday to rest ahead of the semifinal game.
"I think everyone slept like babies last night," Barrow said. "And today being an off day is huge for us."