UND hockey rewind: Miami coach Chris Bergeron impressed with Fighting Hawks defensemen
UND limited Miami to 19 shots on goal in season opener.
OMAHA, Neb. -- Last season, only one team hit the three-goal mark against UND in back-to-back games.
That was Miami.
In fact, Miami did it three games in a row against the Fighting Hawks.
It scored four in the series finale in Grand Forks in November, then tallied four and three goals during their January series in Oxford, Ohio.
It was an impressive feat considering UND allowed an average of fewer than two goals per game en route to a 26-5-4 record.
But to open the 2020-21 season, Miami had difficultly generating or sustaining anything against UND. Part of it was due to the fact that Miami was playing its first games since forwards Karch Bachman and Gordie Green graduated. The other part was UND's defensemen, who were excellent at taking away time and space from RedHawk players.
"It just seemed like their defensemen did that, all six of them," Bergeron said. "They made it very difficult. Time and space, they controlled it. When there was a little bit of time, they closed the gap quickly. They had good sticks in the D-zone.
"I think they all played well."
Miami forward Phil Knies said it was tough to generate anything.
"I think the D had good gaps on their side," he said. "We were constantly putting pucks behind them, but they were able to break them out pretty quick, so I don't think we had a sustained forecheck to turn any of those pucks over."
UND paired its top two defensemen together in senior Matt Kiersted and junior Jacob Bernard-Docker. The second pairing was freshman Jake Sanderson and sophomore Ethan Frisch. The third pairing was freshman Tyler Kleven and senior Gabe Bast.
Those pairings gave the Fighting Hawks three left-handers on the left side and three right-handers on the right side.
"I'm proud of each and every one of them," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Everyone brings a little something different to the table, which hopefully makes us a successful team that way."
Berry had extra praise for Kleven, the rookie from Fargo.
"Tyler Kleven is a guy who probably didn't get a lot of accolades out of the freshman class that came in here, but he just kind of has a workman-like attitude in the gym, in practice," Berry said. "Tyler moved pucks well. He used his body at the right time. He wasn't chasing guys and pushing up and out in undisciplined situations. He played a very disciplined game. A couple of the hits he made out there is what he brings to the table. All I know is we're glad we have him on our bench."
- There was some atmosphere at the game. The NCHC piped in some light crowd noise, which was a nice touch.
- They're also playing every team's goal song after each goal.
- UND killed off all four Omaha power plays. One player who is clearly going to take on a much larger role on the penalty kill this season is Harrison Blaisdell. He was a regular out there on the penalty kill.
- In addition to tallying a pair of assists, Shane Pinto went 19-9 in the faceoff dot. Jasper Weatherby was 9-7, Collin Adams 8-6, Mark Senden 3-5 and Gavin Hain 0-1. That all adds up to a 39-28 advantage for UND.
- Weatherby's speed was noticeably better than past years. He was able to beat players wide and to separate with it, which he hasn't done a lot in the past. He was third on the team in shots on goal with four, behind Riese Gaber's six and Pinto's five.
- Miami goalie Ben Kraws was outstanding. In the postgame Zoom interview, RedHawks coach Chris Bergeron said the gulf between Kraws' good days and bad days was too wide last year. Bergeron said Kraws put in a lot of time in the offseason and it's paying off. That performance should earn him a start in Miami's next game.
- Miami freshman Matthew Barbolini had a nice debut for the RedHawks. He had two shots on goal, including one on a partial breakaway.
Herald stories to read
Gameday final: Game day final: UND 2, Miami 0
Pregame demonstration: UND hockey players Jasper Weatherby and Jacob Bernard-Docker demonstrate against racial injustices before game
Game story: In an unconventional setting, UND picks up where it left off last season with a 2-0 win over Miami
Column: Commentary: How Riese Gaber impacts UND's lines and top power-play unit
Photo gallery: Photos: North Dakota vs. Miami Wednesday, Dec. 2, at NCHC Pod
The Athletic Ottawa: Sens prospects take center stage as UND opens season
San Jose Hockey Now: Sharks GM Doug Wilson calls Weatherby to offer support
Star Tribune: Weatherby, Bernard-Docker's demonstration particularly notable
Ottawa Citizen: Senators prospect kneels in fight against racism