Denver takes advantage of two major power plays to beat UND in series finale

Gavin Hain and Tyler Kleven were both ejected from the game and the Pioneers scored three times on the advantage.

UND forward Jackson Blake and Denver forward McKade Webster battle for a puck during their game on Feb. 10, 2023, in Magness Arena.
Tyler Schank / Clarkson Creative Photography via DU Athletics

DENVER — There are only two players on UND's roster who know what it's like to go through a season at UND without winning the Penrose Cup.

The Fighting Hawks won the National Collegiate Hockey Conference title in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

On Saturday night, they left Denver in a spot that almost none of them are used to.

Denver took advantage of major penalties to Gavin Hain and Tyler Kleven, scoring three power-play goals on the pair of five-minute advantages en route to a 5-2 victory and a series sweep in Magness Arena.

UND's chances to finish in the top half of the league standings and host a quarterfinal playoff series are now a longshot. The Fighting Hawks have to make up 12 points in the final three weekends of the regular season. Eighteen are available.


Their hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament and the Fargo Regional are on the verge of requiring an NCHC Frozen Faceoff title to get an automatic bid.

"It's tough," UND coach Brad Berry said. "I'm telling you, it's tough. We haven't been in this for a few years on this side of it. It's a situation where, right now, the standard has to be higher of being more accountable and giving more. By giving more, it doesn't mean playing outside your role. It's just doing your job. I think some guys are, and I think some guys aren't. It seems like it's the same guys that are doing it and the same guys that are not. Until we get everybody doing it, doing their job, that's the result you're probably going to get."

UND closes the regular season with series against St. Cloud State, Colorado College and Omaha.

The Fighting Hawks will be without Kleven, their top-pair defenseman, for the series opener Friday against St. Cloud State due to an automatic suspension for his fourth game misconduct of the season.

Kleven has been called for seven game misconducts in the last two seasons.

On Saturday, the game misconducts doomed UND.

The Pioneers, who have opened up an eight-point lead atop the NCHC standings, scored one power-play goal on the Hain major in the first period and two on Kleven's in the second.

"We just shot ourselves in the foot," Berry said. "We gave up three power-play goals — all of them on the five-minute majors. Can't do it. Undisciplined. To give yourself a chance to win, you can't be in the penalty box."


This has been a familiar theme to games at Magness Arena.

UND (12-13-4) has now been called for a five-minute major on each of its last five regular-season trips to Denver. It has been called for a major in seven of the last eight regular-season trips to Magness.

"Once we got that first five-minute major, I definitely thought about that," said UND captain Mark Senden, a fifth-year senior. "We always do end up getting a major penalty — if not two — in a game here playing Denver. It's always a heated rivalry, but we have to find a way to keep our composure. We can't let that get the best of us. We have to be mentally tough. It's just not acceptable to take five-minute majors in that situation."

UND received goals from Senden and Jackson Blake, who had a three-point weekend.

Drew DeRidder stopped 32 shots in net, allowing goals to Carter King, Aidan Thompson, Shai Buium, Tristan Broz and Massimo Rizzo.

"Not many guys on the team have been in this spot," UND defenseman Chris Jandric said. "It's tough. It's definitely not our culture. You come here to win and that's just not us right now. We've got to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out what we have to do to start winning here."

UND left Denver at No. 22 in the Pairwise Rankings.

Its chances at getting an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament are dwindling.


"We're going to push right to the end," Berry said. "But at the end of the day, our culture is probably one of the strongest things we have here at North Dakota. And I'll tell you what, we're going to do whatever it takes to uphold our culture because we're not going to lose that culture."

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
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