Dave Christian gets the night started as trend emerges in 'One More Shift' games
The former UND great and 1980 Miracle on Ice team member skated with the Fighting Hawks before Saturday night's rivalry contest against Minnesota.
Dave Christian took the ice in full uniform with the UND hockey team Saturday night.
He was carrying his old Christian Brothers wood stick — a throwback to his days as a star UND hockey player who went on to win Olympic gold with the 1980 Miracle on Ice team and have a lengthy NHL career.
Christian skated around UND's zone, through the neutral zone and waved to fans who were giving him an ovation as part of the 'One More Shift' event for former stars.
Christian was even willing to take a shift in the game, but it had conditions.
"It's only going to be power play and I'm not coming back out of the offensive zone," he joked with UND head coach Brad Berry.
As it turned out, he didn't have to.
UND came out flying, scored an early goal and beat rival Minnesota 3-2 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
UND has put together three 'One More Shift' events, and a trend is emerging in them: All three times, UND scored a goal in the opening four minutes en route to a victory.
On Nov. 2, 2018, it was Jim Archibald's shift. He got the team fired up before the game, then Rhett Gardner scored 3:29 into the contest and UND beat Wisconsin 5-0.
On Oct. 9, it was Brandon Bochenski's shift. On that night, Jake Schmaltz scored 1:09 into the game and UND beat Niagara 4-0.
On Saturday, Christian skated his shift and Gavin Hain scored 3:27 into the game.
"The players were honored to see him," Berry said. "When we got out in the tunnel before the national anthem and the starting lineups, he was with us right there, giving everybody a fist bump and being like he was part of the team."
Christian, of Warroad, Minn., played at UND from 1977-79, racking up 30 goals and 70 points in 78 games. He led UND to the NCAA national championship game as a sophomore. UND won it the next year, while he was making hockey history in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"Obviously, he's a guy that has a lot of tradition and history within our program. . . and his family," Berry said. "To have him out, he looked like he probably could have skated a few shifts for us, the way he was moving out there. It's great to honor him. He's a huge part of our program and I know guys look up to him as far as what he's done, not only here but in the National Hockey League and also winning a gold medal in 1980."
There's another 'One More Shift' night scheduled for this season.
Hockey Hall of Famer Ed Belfour will do it on Jan. 28, when UND hosts St. Cloud State.
Maybe an early goal won't be in line that night — after all, Belfour was a goalie — but a big save would be fitting.
A change to the power play
The secret is out.
Everyone is catching on to UND's favorite play with the top power-play unit. Defenseman Jake Sanderson runs it from the top of the zone and likes to dish it to Riese Gaber, who comes up the right side with speed and snaps Grade-A looks on the net. Gaber has three power-play goals this season, and he also buried one in the exhibition game doing the same thing.
On Friday, Minnesota was sitting on that play.
On Saturday, UND made a change to that power-play unit to combat it.
Fighting Hawks power play coach Karl Goehring moved defenseman Ethan Frisch to the opposite circle on the left side of the zone instead of freshman forward Jake Schmaltz, who had been playing there.
The reason appeared obvious: UND wanted a right-handed player in that circle to one-time pucks from Sanderson.
If defenders are going to cheat toward Gaber, the player in the left circle is going to get a lot of chances. That player can get pucks off quicker if they're right-handed.
Frisch has a good one-timer and appears to be the guy who will benefit for now. However, injured forward Ashton Calder also is a righty with a terrific one-timer. Once he's healthy, Goehring will have the option of using Calder in that spot, too, if the coaching staff wants to keep a right-hander there.
An underrated game
The box score didn't tell the whole story of Saturday night for Frisch.
The defenseman from Moorhead didn't have any points and finished with an even rating, but made several outstanding plays defensively to either break up potential rushes or block shots on Grade-A looks for the Gophers.
Frisch took time and space away from Minnesota on one odd-man chance after his defensive partner, Jake Sanderson, got caught up the ice. And he blocked a Grant Cruikshank shot in the second period that may have prevented a goal.
Frisch played huge minutes alongside Sanderson and was particularly good in the defensive zone. He finished with a game-high four shot blocks.
A defensive shuffle
One night after Tyler Kleven was called for a major and game misconduct for cross-checking Minnesota forward Ben Meyers in the back of the head, Berry essentially opted not to play the sophomore from Fargo in the series finale.
Kleven was listed as the 19th skater and did not see the ice at all in the first or third periods. He ended up playing a little more than two minutes in the game, all in the second period.
Freshman Luke Bast ended up with a lot more minutes than usual and turned in his best game to date.
Sophomore Cooper Moore continued his ascent with another terrific game. In the first 24 minutes of Saturday's game, Moore had attempted more shots (nine) than Minnesota's entire team (seven).
Of Moore's nine attempts, four were on net.
"I think with all of our 'D,' it's all about opportunity," said Moore, who is now quarterbacking UND's second power-play unit. "I think we're all good players. We can all skate really well. You saw with Bast, he got more minutes (Saturday) and he looked great out there. It's just about opportunity."
- UND goalie Zach Driscoll of Apple Valley, Minn., has now beaten Minnesota as a member of two different teams — five years apart. He swept the Gophers as a freshman at St. Cloud State in 2016-17.
- After the Gophers pulled within a goal with 3:30 to go in the third period, they never got another puck on net. They had two shot attempts. Jackson LaCombe's was blocked by Mark Senden. Meyers had one blocked by Moore.
- Minnesota forward Blake McLaughlin was called for a 10-minute misconduct after UND's second goal. The misconduct was for shooting a puck in the vicinity of an official.
- UND's discipline was far better on Saturday than Friday. The Fighting Hawks gave the Gophers just two power plays that totaled 2:10. On Friday, the Gophers spent 9:24 on the power play.