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UND continues using different looks on its power play

The Fighting Hawks scored again with the man advantage and are converting more than 30 percent of their power plays.

NCAA Men's Hockey 2023: MN Duluth v North Dakota JAN 20
UND forward Riese Gaber tips an Ethan Frisch pass behind Minnesota Duluth goaltender Matthew Thiessen during UND's 4-2 win on Jan. 20, 2023.
Russell Hons / UND athletics
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GRAND FORKS — UND's power play is converting more than 30 percent of its chances.

The Fighting Hawks have the second-best mark in the nation at 30.7 percent, and the program's best since online stats began in 2000.

Usually, you don't change things that are working.

But that's not the philosophy UND has taken this season.

The Fighting Hawks continue to throw different looks at opponents and it's paying dividends.

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With teams continuing to collapse on Riese Gaber in the right circle — his favorite spot to toe-drag-and-shoot — the Fighting Hawks have moved him to a new spot between the dots. Jackson Blake has taken his old spot in the right circle.

On Friday, UND had Ethan Frisch in the left circle for a one-time threat, and Frisch executed a play that UND has not used all season.

Frisch hit Gaber on a shot-pass for a deflection goal in the first period en route to UND's 4-2 victory over Minnesota Duluth in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"Ethan Frisch did an outstanding job of knowing the next play, knowing that 'Hey, I can't get it to the net, I just have to put it on somebody's stick who can re-direct it to the net,'" UND coach Brad Berry said.

UND's power play coach, Karl Goehring, continues to throw opposing penalty kills off balance by moving players around and changing plays they run.

"That's just a lot of respect to other teams," Berry said. "We take a lot of pride, spending a lot of time in the war room, the coaches' room, trying to figure out how to defend other good teams' power plays. Eventually, they're going to try to shut you down. With Riese Gaber on the flank, just before we made that change, they were coming up and out and trying to block him and take him away.

"So, what do you have to do? You have to make adjustments. Karl's done a really good job of not only making those adjustments, but practicing and practicing."

The Fighting Hawks typically have used center Jake Schmaltz on that unit to win faceoffs and play the goal line/net front position. Schmaltz missed the game due to injury, so Gaber took faceoffs on that unit — something the junior has rarely done during his three years on campus.

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It worked.

Gaber went 8-1 in the faceoff dot.

"We found something out, didn't we?" Berry said. "I think it's just his willingness to win. Riese is a huge competitor. He's not the biggest guy out there. But he plays like he's huge. He's just willing to do whatever it takes."

NCAA Men's Hockey 2023: MN Duluth v North Dakota JAN 20
UND forward Riese Gaber celebrates his goal against Minnesota Duluth on Jan. 20, 2023, in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Russell Hons / UND athletics

UND closes out a game

The Fighting Hawks have had issues closing out games in the third period.

They got it done Friday, though.

UND was able to slow the game down and its efficiency showed up in a number of categories.

The Bulldogs had 11 shots on goal in the first period, 10 in the second and just four in the third.

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The Bulldogs had 19 attempts in the first, 14 in the second and just eight in the third.

"I thought we did a great job blocking shots," UND goalie Drew DeRidder said. "We blocked a lot of shots late there in the third. That's the difference. There were a couple that maybe I didn't see completely and our guy gets a huge block. I think that's what won us that game there at the end."

Faceoff numbers were fairly even through two periods — 11-10 Bulldogs in the first, 13-11 Fighting Hawks in the second. But in the third, UND went 11-4 in the dot.

UND's best faceoff men were Gaber and Mark Senden (8-6) — two players who have not played much center this season.

"I thought Mark Senden was good tonight," Berry said. "He hasn't played in the middle. He was a natural centerman coming in here. I thought he did a good job, too, in the middle of the ice."

Quick hits

  • UND fifth-year senior defenseman Ryan Sidorski notched an assist in the game, moving his career-high point total to seven.
  • Minnesota Duluth forward Luke Mylymok had a game-high six shots on goal.
  • The Bulldogs blocked 17 shots — four each by Aiden Dubinsky and Joey Pierce.
  • UND did a terrific job in the faceoff dot on the power play, going 10-1. Much of that was due to Gaber. Minnesota Duluth went 3-0 on faceoffs on its power play.

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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