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TOM MILLER: Overcoming obstacles a UND staple

At 6:45 p.m. Saturday night, UND freshman forward Joel Janatuinen was in his dorm room when he received a call from assistant coach Matt Shaw. North Dakota forward Nick Schmaltz was a late injury scratch after warmups and the Fighting Hawks neede...

At 6:45 p.m. Saturday night, UND freshman forward Joel Janatuinen was in his dorm room when he received a call from assistant coach Matt Shaw.

North Dakota forward Nick Schmaltz was a late injury scratch after warmups and the Fighting Hawks needed Janatuinen to hop into the lineup.

Janatuinen wasn't told the injury scenario during the phone call, only that he needed to be at the rink.

When he arrived at the rink, UND trainer Mark Poolman told him he was playing.

"Warmups were about over when I got the call," Janatuinen said. "I put my gear on and did some jumping jacks. After the anthem, I was ripping around a bit and that was pretty much it."

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Janatuinen fit into a role on UND's second line as the Fighting Hawks came from behind to beat Western Michigan 5-4 in the regular-season finale at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

It was a fitting way to end the regular season. UND, which has battled injuries to top goalies and top forwards all season long, overcame plenty of obstacles in this one to come out victorious.

"We've had just about everything thrown at us this year and the guys have handled it in a positive way," UND coach Brad Berry said. "I think that goes to our culture. I keep harping about it. It's a team-first attitude, and the guys are buying in. It'll help us down the stretch, because we'll get some adversity down the road."

Schmaltz's late scratch was the first curveball of the day.

"We were calling him," UND senior Drake Caggiula said. "He probably had 10 missed calls."

Berry blamed himself for not having an extra skater during warmups, despite knowing his team was nursing a couple of injuries.

"I think it says a lot about the team," Janatuinen said. "We didn't have the start we wanted. We talked at the first intermission. We decided we had to get this one. It's not a throw-away game."

There were a few more hurdles against UND on Saturday. It was an emotional Senior Night. The team wrapped up the Penrose Cup the night before. The Hawks might have had a natural letdown after an easy win the night before.

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Those factors led to UND's thud of a start. UND's defense, which Berry said wasn't up to par, led to Cam Johnson getting pulled after allowing three goals on four shots.

After pulling Johnson, Berry called a timeout to regroup. It worked, as UND scored three times in the second period and Caggiula's power-play goal in the third period stood as the game winner.

"Going down like that in the first period, it shows a lot of character and how much guys want to win," Caggiula said.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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