Albany Regional notebook: Special teams ultimately doom UND against Notre Dame
The Fighting Hawks struggled on the power play against the second-best penalty kill in the country.
ALBANY, N.Y. — UND didn't get much of a chance to crack Notre Dame's No. 2-ranked penalty kill Thursday night in MVP Arena.
The Fighting Hawks only had two power-play chances.
But those opportunities went awry and ultimately led to Notre Dame's 2-1 overtime victory over the Fighting Hawks in the NCAA regional semifinals.
The key sequence came late in the third period.
Notre Dame forward Jack Adams was called for hooking with just 1:34 left in a 1-1 game.
On the ensuing power play, UND nearly gave up the game-winning goal shorthanded — officials ruled the third period ended before Adam Karashik's shot crossed the goal line — then was forced to take a penalty to prevent a shorthanded breakaway early in overtime.
"We realized that they pressure a lot, they block shots, they pressure up high," UND coach Brad Berry said. "They had seven shorthanded goals before tonight. They're very aggressive."
UND started overtime with 26 seconds left on the power play. Berry said the team had a set faceoff play coming out of intermission.
"We really wanted to try to attack and make the most of the 26 seconds that were remaining on the power play," Berry said. "They made a great play to get a puck past us. We had to take a penalty on it, and the resulting goal they scored was on their power play. Specialty teams are a big difference at this time of year, and they made one more play than we did."
At Christmas break, Berry vowed to get rookie defenseman Brent Johnson more time in the second half of the season.
That's exactly what happened — and Johnson ended up being one of the bright spots of UND's NCAA regional game.
Johnson scored his second goal of the season on a point shot and played more minutes than usual against a veteran, physical Fighting Irish team.
All signs point to an even more increased role for the Washington Capitals draft pick next season.
Driscoll ends career on strong run
UND fifth-year senior goaltender Zach Driscoll ended his college hockey career with another strong game.
Driscoll was excellent in making 23 saves — including eight in the second and eight in the third. His best save may have been when he moved from right to left to deny a backdoor opportunity for Irish defenseman Jake Boltmann in the second period.
Driscoll, who played a year at St. Cloud State and three at Bemidji State, entered the NCAA tournament with a .936 save percentage since Jan. 29.
Ford cherishes year at UND
UND fifth-year senior Connor Ford's college career officially came to an end Thursday night.
After spending four years at Bowling Green, Ford said he's grateful he took a chance at coming to UND for his final year of eligibility.
"Obviously, it was a great opportunity for me to come play for one of the best programs in college hockey and have an opportunity to be an impact guy and play big minutes every night," Ford said. "We put together a great year as a group. There were times we didn't have a full lineup against top-10 teams and we swept. Looking back, I'm proud of our effort as a group.
"It's hard to look back and feel bad about anything or have any regrets. I got to live out a dream of playing at North Dakota. So, the last 12 months, I'm extremely grateful for."
Ford finished with four goals and 28 points in 37 games. He also won a nation-best 587 faceoffs. Since UND kept that stat in 2003-04, only two players have won more draws in a season — Travis Zajac in 2005-06 (649) and Corban Knight in 2012-13 (623).
Both of UND's fourth-year seniors — Gavin Hain and Mark Senden — are eligible to take a fifth year because the 2020-21 season didn't count against anyone's eligibility due to COVID-19.
But at Thursday's postgame press conference, Berry hinted that Senden might not return.
Seated next to Ford, Ethan Frisch and Senden at the press conference, Berry said, "Two of these guys up here are probably going to go away from our program next year and play hockey or get on with their life or whatever they're going to do. They're going to be outstanding people in this world. They're going to be outstanding fathers and husbands."
Senden, the team captain, played in 34 games this season, tallying five goals and 17 points. He played through an illness during the NCAA regional semifinal loss against Notre Dame.
- Riese Gaber accounted for nine of UND's 24 shots on goal against the Fighting Irish.
- UND has lost its last three overtime games in the NCAA tournament. The last overtime win in the NCAAs was in 2014, when it beat Ferris State in double overtime on a goal by Connor Gaarder to send UND to the Frozen Four.
- Attendance at MVP Arena was 2,345, the smallest crowd to attend a UND game this season.