Jordan Kawaguchi goal lifts UND to seventh-straight U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game win
UND's captain was summoned to center ice at the conclusion of the game.
It was his duty to pick up the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game trophy after beating Michigan Tech 3-1 on Saturday night in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
But the captain wasn't on the ice.
Senior defenseman Colton Poolman was ruled out Saturday morning due to a lower-body injury and unable to play in the game, further depleting UND's standout defensive core, which was already missing junior Gabe Bast.
The Fighting Hawks did what good teams do, though.
They patched together a new defensive group and limited their opponent to just 15 shots on goal and a mere six over the final 40 minutes of the game. They rallied from a deficit for the second time in eight days. They received a key third-period goal at a key time -- this one from junior Jordan Kawaguchi with 7:31 remaining in the third period to break a 1-1 tie.
And they found someone else -- senior alternate captain Cole Smith -- to collect the J. Lawrence Cain Award, which goes to the winner of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.
"It's confidence," Kawaguchi said. "Scoring goals is confidence, and I think we have that now. I think we're tired of tying games and losing games by one goal (last year). We go out there and we want to win a hockey game. It doesn't matter what it is, we want to win a hockey game, bottom line."
Berry didn't give a timeline for Poolman's return immediately after the game.
UND, which received a first-period goal from Matt Kiersted and an empty-netter from Gavin Hain, is now 5-1-1 to start the season and has won its last seven games in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The Fighting Hawks have won the last seven U.S. Hockey Hall of Game Games they've participated in -- a run that goes back to the opening of Ralph Engelstad Arena.
They beat Minnesota Duluth in 2003, then-defending NCAA champ Michigan State in 2007, Minnesota Duluth again in 2010 in the opening of AmsOil Arena, Air Force in an overtime thriller in 2014, RPI in 2016, Minnesota in Las Vegas a year ago and old Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival Michigan Tech on Saturday.
"The trophy is cool and all, but it's one game to us," Kawaguchi said. "It's Pairwise. It's big for us. But we're not focused on that trophy. We're focused on the one at the end of the season. At the end of the day, it's a trophy and we're happy we got the win tonight, but now we're looking for a different one."
Despite playing shorthanded on defense -- with rookie Ethan Frisch and junior Josh Rieger getting increased roles -- UND again limited an opponent's offensive chances and goals.
Through seven games, UND is allowing opponents an average of 17.29 shots on goal per game -- by far the best mark in the country. Nobody else is holding opponents to less than 20 shots per game. UND hasn't let an opponent hit the 25-shot mark in a game this season.
"I thought we had a little trouble in the first period moving pucks and got hemmed in our end a couple of times," UND coach Brad Berry said. "I don't think we played as a five-man unit up and down the ice and we gave them a few good looks early on, but I thought we tightened it up in the second. We kind of took over momentum there playing in their end of the rink and playing the right way.
"A team that's hard and heavy like that, if you give them a little bit of momentum, it can get away on you. I thought our guys did a good job of dialing in during the second period."
Fighting Hawks goalie Adam Scheel has allowed just five goals in the last four games and has posted a .932 save percentage in that span.
UND concludes its five-game homestand next weekend with its National Collegiate Hockey Conference opener against Miami University.
The Fighting Hawks only have four nonconference games remaining -- a two-game series at rival Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday and a two-game series at home against Alabama-Huntsville on the opening week of January.
It's unknown whether UND will be healthy when the RedHawks come to town next week or when the Fighting Hawks go to No. 1-ranked Denver the following week, but they showed they can win without key players Saturday.
"We talk about it all the time," Kiersted said. "Bubs (Berry) just got done saying it. It's the next-man up mentality. I think we've got a really deep D-core. A guy comes out, the next guy comes in and he performs."
UND in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game
2019-20 -- UND 3, Michigan Tech 1 (in Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2018-19 -- UND 3, Minnesota 1 (in Las Vegas, Orleans Arena)
2016-17 -- UND 5, RPI 2 (in Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2014-15 -- UND 3, Air Force 2, OT (in Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2010-11 -- UND 5, Minnesota Duluth 0 (in Duluth, AmsOil Arena opening)
2007-08 -- UND 6, Michigan State 0 (in Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2003-04 -- UND 3, Minnesota Duluth 2 (in Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2001-02 -- Minnesota 7, UND 5 (in Ralph Engelstad Arena, building opening)
1992-93 -- Minnesota Duluth 4, UND 3 (in Eveleth, Minn., exhibition game)
1988-89 -- UND 2, Minnesota Duluth 2, tie (in Eveleth, Minn., exhibition game)
1978-79 -- Minnesota 5, UND 3 (in Eveleth, Minn., exhibition game)
UND 3, Michigan Tech 1
First period -- 1. MTU, Justin Misiak 1 (Alex Smith 3, Brian Halonen 2) 5:50; 2. UND, Matt Kiersted 1 10:41.
Second period -- No scoring.
Third period -- 3. UND, Jordan Kawaguchi 2 (Collin Adams 4) 12:29; 4. UND, Gavin Hain 1 (Cole Smith 2, Andrew Peski 2) 19:33 (en)
Penalties -- Mitch Meek, MTU, hooking, 11:48 first; Halonen, MTU, slashing, 4:47 second; Marcus Russell, MTU, hooking, 12:41 second; Logan Pietila, MTU, tripping, :36 third; Harrison Blaisdell, UND, high sticking, 7:58 third; Cooper Watson, MTU, indirect contact to the head, 11:11 third; Smith, UND, interference, 12:03 third; Shane Pinto, UND, unsportsmanlike conduct, 15:39 third
Goalie saves -- UND: Adam Scheel 8-1-5 -- 14; MTU: Robbie Beydoun 6-8-7 -- 21
Penalties-minutes -- UND 3-6, MTU 5-10
Power plays -- UND 0-5, MTU 0-3
Attendance -- 10,899
Referees -- Scott Bokal and Andy Thackaberry
Linesmen -- Mike Eslinger and Tyler Liffrig