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Coach challenges continue to factor into UND hockey games

Brad Berry made two challenges during the Fighting Hawks' 4-1 win over Omaha on Friday night. Both were successful.

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UND coach Brad Berry stands on the bench at Omaha's Baxter Arena on Nov. 4, 2022.
Mark Kuhlmann / UND athletics
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OMAHA, Neb. — The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee put the onus on the head coaches to use challenges in order to get video reviews this season.

No longer can they just ask the officials to go review everything. Now, they have to put their timeout on the line — or risk a minor penalty if their challenge is wrong and they have no timeout left.

Early this season, UND coach Brad Berry and his staff have made five challenges. They've won four of them, including both in Friday night's 4-1 win over Omaha in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference opener.

Both were key plays.

While holding a 2-0 lead in the second period, Berry challenged for goalie interference after Omaha scored on a rush and an ensuing scramble.

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On the play, Omaha's Tyler Rollwagen attempted to finish a backdoor feed and ran into UND goalie Drew DeRidder. The puck went behind the net and popped out to the side of the crease. Maverick forward Cameron Berg tapped it in.

There's no question Rollwagen made contact with DeRidder on the play. The issue in question was whether DeRidder had enough time to get back into the play. Officials ruled he did not.

Berry made the decision to challenge that play himself — not from anyone watching video in the press box.

"I said, 'This is a big deal. What happens if we don't use this challenge? What happens if it is goalie interference?'" Berry said. "You have that timeout for a reason. You don't go on a penalty kill if you use your timeout. So, I just said, 'Hey, you know what? Let's use it.' It was productive."

Berry's second challenge happened later in the period during a wild sequence.

First, officials used video review to see if Ty Farmer's boarding penalty was a major. Referees still have the ability to go in and review for a five-minute major without a challenge, which is what they did this time. After reviewing it, they called a major for hitting from behind and a game misconduct.

Omaha was set to go on a five-minute power play, but UND immediately challenged for a major on Berg on the same play for cross-checking Louis Jamernik V in the head.

Berry said that challenge was a no-brainer.

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"That was probably a little bit easier to call, because he had a severe gash under his mask," Berry said. "Obviously, that doesn't get there by itself. Obviously, that was a big deal, because that negated their five-minute major."

Mavs held to 2 SOG in 10:05 of PP time

There was a domino effect with that major to Berg.

Omaha had four power-play opportunities in the third period, but didn't score on any of them. Berg is a key to Omaha's potent top power-play unit. He camps out in the right circle and looks for one-timers. The Mavericks lost that threat.

As a whole, UND killed off all seven Omaha power plays. The Mavericks entered the weekend ranked No. 2 in the NCHC and No. 6 in the nation with the man advantage, but only mustered two shots on goal during their 10:05 power plays. One was by Berg in the first period. One was by Ty Mueller in the third.

"Last weekend, against ASU, we gave up a couple of power-play goals for the other team," UND forward Nick Portz said. "But we worked on it in practice. We had some good pre-scout work by the coaches and then ultimately we executed and we were strong on pucks."

UND associate coach Dane Jackson, who is in charge of the penalty kill, also seemed to have a plan set up to disrupt Omaha's neutral zone drop passes. UND picked one off and nearly had a couple of others.

Portz productive in limited minutes

Nick Portz has been in and out of the lineup this season.

He hasn't played huge minutes when he's been in, either.

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In his first four games, he played 8:29, 5:25, 6:08 and 6:01. But he continues to be productive in those limited minutes. Portz had two assists Friday night against Omaha. He made a brilliant play to win a puck battle, power through a check by a defender and set up Riese Gaber for one of them.

"I was super happy for him," Gaber said. "On my second (goal) there, I was more happy for him. That was a great play by him. I had a good talk with him earlier in the week. I think he's sticking with what works for him, extending plays and working below the goal line. He did a great job of that tonight and it paid off for him, so I was really happy for him."

For the season, Portz has four points in five games. In points per minute played, Portz currently ranks only behind Jandric, Jackson Blake, Gaber and Carson Albrecht.

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Nick Portz (20) celebrates a goal by Jackson Kunz against Omaha on Nov. 4, 2022, in Baxter Arena.
Mark Kuhlmann / UND athletics

Quick hits

  • Chris Jandric's longest-career point streak entering this season was four games. He's now at eight after registering an assist Friday. Jandric had a team-high five shots on goal.
  • Omaha forward Jack Randl, who leads the nation in goals with 10, did not register a shot on goal in the game. He attempted four. Two went wide, one was blocked by Jandric and one was blocked by Ryan Sidorski.
  • Berry praised Sidorski and Brent Johnson for filling in bigger minutes after Farmer's major. "I tip my hat to Brent Johnson and Ryan Sidorski for guys who played some big minutes for us. They did a good job."
  • UND had a decided advantage in faceoffs early in the game, but Omaha almost brought it all the way back to neutral. It finished 34-33 UND.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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