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North Dakota natives Ben Strinden, Judd Caulfield come through in series opener against Miami

Strinden scored his first collegiate goal, while Caulfield scored for the third time in four games.

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Fighting Hawks forward Judd Caulfield tries to push the puck past Miami goaltender Ludvig Persson (32) in the second period of an NCHC men's hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Friday, November 18, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — On his third shift of the game, Judd Caulfield entered the zone one-on-one with Miami defenseman Zane Demsey.

Caulfield chipped the puck around Demsey, fought off a hit, snuck behind him, re-possessed the puck, created separation and drove hard to the net.

RedHawks goalie Ludvig Persson made the save, but the play was a sign that 10,823 in Ralph Engelstad Arena might see Judd Caulfield at his best Friday night.

That is, indeed, how it transpired.

Caulfield and linemates Ben Strinden and Dylan James showed a style of game UND can play this season — one that was sometimes lacking in the first month.

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They caused havoc, frequently drove pucks to the net and got rewarded for it twice.

Caulfield, a Grand Forks native, scored his third goal in four games. Strinden, of Fargo, scored his first collegiate goal. Both were scored from the top of the crease. James extended his point streak to four games with an assist.

"They're big, heavy bodies," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Ben's a centerman but he's played wing for us a little bit. I thought he did a good job of playing hard down low and having some speed through the neutral zone and making plays. You don't have to tell him to take a puck to the net. He'll do that. He scored a goal on it and had a couple other opportunities. Juddy plays that same way.

"Dylan James has speed on that line. I thought he did a good job of complementing that line as well. If you can have that element and bring that to the table, it really helps."

Strinden had his best game at UND, scoring a goal, tallying an assist, putting four shots on net and registering a plus-2 rating.

What got Strinden going?

"Obviously, it's nice to score your first goal and get the monkey off your back," Strinden said. "And then, I just love playing hockey and I love playing at The Ralph. I just go out there and play and try to have fun. It was really special."

PP, PK stay hot

Both of UND's special teams units — the power play and penalty kill — entered the weekend ranked in the top 10 nationally.

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They both stayed hot against Miami.

UND scored a pair of power play goals — one by Jackson Blake and the other by Griffin Ness — to continue the run of scoring with the extra man in every game this season. UND is the only team to do that in the nation.

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Freshman Fighting Hawks forward Jackson Blake celebrates his second period goal in front of the UND student section at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks during a home men's hockey game against the Miami Redhawks on Friday, November 18, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

UND's penalty kill also was excellent Friday.

Miami had three power plays and did not even attempt a single shot during them, much less put one on net.

Part of this was due to injuries for the RedHawks. Red Savage did not make the trip after sustaining an injury a week earlier against Colorado College. Savage usually runs Miami's power play from the circle.

Rookie Max Dukovac also did not make the trip. He's a power play regular, too.

Portz leaves with injury

UND forward Nick Portz left the game after sustaining a hit from Miami defenseman Axel Kumlin early in the second period. Kumlin was given a five-minute major and game misconduct. UND scored twice on the ensuing power play.

Portz did not return for the third period.

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"He didn't complete the game," Berry said. "Obviously, they're going to evaluate a little bit tonight. We had Carson Albrecht in (as the extra skater). He got in a couple of shifts early, then obviously, he had to supplement on that line. We'll evaluate (Portz) and see. I know we have a couple of healthy bodies that could go in the lineup tomorrow."

Jackson Kunz was a healthy scratch and likely to come in the lineup if Portz cannot go.

McLaughlin a possibility?

Owen McLaughlin battled an illness this week, which kept him out of Friday's series opener.

Berry didn't rule out the possibility of McLaughlin playing Saturday, though.

"He is a possibility," Berry said. "He had flu-like symptoms. He didn't practice Monday or Tuesday. He did a little bit on Wednesday, but he had a situation where he had trouble keeping food down and the energy was a big part of it. Obviously, playing in the NCHC, you need that energy. I think he's close, but we'll see where he's at."

McLaughlin watched the game from the upper bowl alongside former NHL star Daniel Briere, a special assistant to Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. McLaughlin is a Flyers draft pick.

Quick hits

  • Miami defenseman Nick Donato left the game in the third period with an apparent injury.
  • RedHawks leading scorer Matthew Barbolini was held without a single attempted shot, highlighting the outstanding job Mark Senden, Gavin Hain and Louis Jamernik V did against Miami's top line.
  • Shots on goal were 11-3 UND in the first. Attempted shots were 24-4 as the Fighting Hawks came out of the gates flying, just as Chris Bergeron predicted.
  • Jamernik V went 13-1 on faceoffs.
  • UND raised a new banner dedicated to Ed Belfour's Hockey Hall of Fame induction. It will eventually sit next to the conference championship banners on the west side of the rink.
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A banner honoring UND standout goaltender and retired NHL all-star Ed Belfour is raised to the rafters of Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks during his "One Last Shift" event prior to an NCHC men's hockey game between the UND Fighting Hawks and the Miami Redhawks on Friday, November 18, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

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 bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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