Drew DeRidder turns aside 27 shots as UND wins series opener at Miami
The fifth-year senior netminder has a .937 save percentage in the last three games.
OXFORD, Ohio — UND has waited all season for one of its goaltenders to take charge.
Drew DeRidder is on the cusp of doing it.
The fifth-year senior goaltender turned in one of his best performances to date Friday night, turning aside 27 shots in a 4-1 UND victory over Miami University in Goggin Ice Center.
"Outstanding," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Outstanding. I can't say enough about him. He won us the game tonight. He settled in early, he had to make some tough saves. A good goaltender is usually your best penalty killer. Tonight, he was. He made some tough saves when we needed them and he gave us a chance to win. That's all you can ask for."
Since being benched for the Western Michigan series in early January, DeRidder has made three consecutive starts, posting a .937 save percentage. He has not allowed more than two goals in any of the games.
"It's easier when you play a couple games in a row and get that rhythm going," DeRidder said. "It's nice to have that. I'm feeling good in the net."
This is the first time all season UND's maligned defense has held its opponent under three goals in three consecutive games.
"Drew was excellent tonight," UND alternate captain Frisch said. "He really led us out there. It would have been a lot different game if he wasn't on his game. I'm super thankful for him. He played exceptional tonight."
The only goal DeRidder allowed was on a power-play point shot that deflected off of a UND defender with 8:44 left in the game. The Fighting Hawks were well in control by then.
Offensively, the Fighting Hawks didn't generate a ton of shots. They only put 20 on Miami goalie Ludvig Persson, but they were efficient in converting them.
Jackson Blake scored a power-play goal, while Carson Albrecht, Tyler Kleven and Matteo Costantini added even-strength goals. Kleven had a two-point night adding an assist.
"We played well for the most part," Frisch said. "We got the job done. We got the win. But there are definitely areas to clean up. We'll focus on those and turn our attention to tomorrow. It was a solid effort, but there are a few things we need to clean up."
Albrecht's goal highlighted the night. Nick Portz chipped a Kleven pass up the wall in the neutral zone. Albrecht picked up the loose puck, got behind Miami defender Robby Drazner, protected the puck with his body as he drove to the slot and roofed it over Persson's blocker.
"We've been practicing that for the last month," Albrecht said. "It was just like we drew up."
Melee at the end
The game ended with a pair of melees in the final minute that resulted in 33 penalty minutes, a major and a game disqualification.
Kleven was assessed a five-minute major for cross-checking with 18 seconds left. There was no game misconduct attached to his major, which is vital for Kleven. Because he already has two game misconduct penalties this season, a third would have meant an automatic one-game suspension.
Unless the National Collegiate Hockey Conference issues a suspension, Kleven will be available for the series final at 6 p.m. Central on Saturday.
Miami's Max Dukovac was assessed a game disqualification for kicking Kleven during the melee, meaning he's automatically suspended for the series finale.
Berry was irked about non-calls earlier in the game, which he thought led to the fracas at the end.
"When you don't call penalties that should be penalties, that's what happens," Berry said.
Hain, Schmaltz injured
UND finished the game with just 11 forwards due to injuries to Gavin Hain and Jake Schmaltz.
Hain suffered an injury in the second period on a hit into the boards. He did not return. Officials reviewed the play for a major, but did not assess one.
Schmaltz suffered an injury in the third on a hit into the boards. No penalty was called on the play. UND challenged for a major, but lost the challenge.
"We're going to evaluate them tonight," Berry said. "At the end of the day, we're going to put their best interest forward as far as what that is. If they can play, they'll play. If they can't, we'll protect their safety."
Last week, Schmaltz missed the series against Minnesota Duluth, marking the first time he missed a game since Nov. 22, 2019, when he was playing junior hockey in the United States Hockey League. He had played in 145 consecutive games, a stretch that spanned parts of four seasons.
Looking for a sweep
UND has swept a pair of nonconference series this season — Holy Cross and Lindenwood.
It has won series against Omaha and Western Michigan.
But the three-time defending Penrose Cup winners have yet to sweep all six points in an NCHC series this season. They'll try to do that Saturday in Oxford — something that will be vital if the Fighting Hawks want to climb into the top half of the standings and make a run at NCAA tournament contention.
They're currently in seventh in the NCHC, one point back of sixth-place Minnesota Duluth and two points back of fifth-place Colorado College. UND is No. 22 in the Pairwise Rankings.
The Fighting Hawks feel they can play better in the series finale.
"I just didn't feel like we had the juice today, but I'm happy with the outcome," Albrecht said.
It helps when the goaltender is on his game.
"I think he's got a lot of pride," Berry said of DeRidder. "He knows he's a fifth-year player. He wants to finish the season strong and try to go as long as we can."
Notes: UND's scratches on the trip were forward Griffin Ness and defenseman Ty Farmer. . . Forward Jackson Kunz, forward Dane Montgomery (upper-body injury), defenseman Brent Johnson and goaltender Kaleb Johnson did not travel. . . UND wore its black jerseys for the game.