UND shuts out nation's top-scoring offense to close first half
Drew DeRidder posted a 25-save shutout as the Fighting Hawks grabbed five of six points at Lawson Ice Arena.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Chris Jandric walked around the team hotel Friday night wearing a Croatian soccer jersey.
He's half Croatian and had reason to celebrate: Croatia upset Brazil to reach the semifinals of the World Cup thanks to its stingy defense and excellent netminding.
"I think maybe we took some of their plays there," Jandric said with a smile.
A UND team that entered the weekend with a problematic defense made a big statement in Lawson Ice Arena.
The Fighting Hawks beat Western Michigan 3-0 on Saturday night, blanking a team that had the country's No. 1 scoring offense, No. 1 scoring line and top point-getter.
Goalie Drew DeRidder stopped all 25 shots as the Fighting Hawks left Kalamazoo with five of a possible six National Collegiate Hockey Conference points.
"Anytime you go on the road, especially when you come into this building and do what we did, it sets the bar," UND coach Brad Berry said. "We know we can do that. I said to our guys here that this is a situation where we want to prove to ourselves that we're not an every-now-and-then team. We're an everyday team."
Judd Caulfield scored a power-play goal in the first period, Nick Portz scored at even-strength in the third and Dylan James iced it with an empty-netter. Jandric added two assists.
But the story was the defense and goaltending.
UND (7-8-4) held the Broncos to just two goals all weekend. The Broncos had scored at least four in every series this season.
Western Michigan's top line of Ryan McAllister, Max Sasson and Jason Polin were held without a point.
"We all bought in," Jandric said. "It was huge for us, boxing out guys. I know we had a little emphasis on that in practices this week. I think we really focused on that and let Drew see the first shot, then we had the second shot. I think it was just awesome for us to get that win."
For DeRidder, it was a special weekend.
The Fenton, Mich., product was playing just two hours from home and had his family in attendance.
"It's incredible," DeRidder said. "It's an incredible feeling to be able to go out there and see them all, and leave on a good note. It's a huge deal."
Caulfield, a senior from Grand Forks, continued to torment the Broncos with his first-period goal on the power play. He's now scored nine goals in 12 career games against Western Michigan and five goals in six games in Lawson Ice Arena.
His goal, a deflection of a Jackson Blake shot, put UND ahead at 6:46 of the first.
"I was just out there with some great playmakers," said Caulfield, who has points in eight of the last 11 games after starting the season scoreless in eight. "I could have had a blindfold on and put those two goals in this weekend. (Owen) McLaughlin and Blake are unbelievable playmakers. They've got high-end skill. They see guys so well and make plays like that constantly. It's a lot of fun to play with guys like that."
UND held that 1-0 lead headed to the third period, and closed it out efficiently.
Portz, who was scratched a night earlier, put home a rebound of a Jandric shot at 8:26 of the third to make it a 2-0 Fighting Hawks lead. James finished it off with an empty-netter.
UND now has three weeks off before returning to play an exhibition game on New Year's Eve against the U.S. Under-18 Team. Its next regular-season action is Jan. 6-7 against Lindenwood in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The Fighting Hawks hope to carry the momentum through Christmas break.
"One of our staff members said, 'In order to go on a run, you have to win the first one, then the second,'" DeRidder said. "We're right there. This is the momentum we need."
Notes: UND made two lineup changes from Friday night. First, it moved Portz in the lineup for Matteo Costantini, who suffered an upper-body injury late in the series opener. Then, because of injuries to other forwards, UND dressed an extra forward in Ben Strinden and scratched defenseman Ty Farmer.