UND grabs third-straight win with victory at Miami
Jake Sanderson scored twice and Connor Ford had three assists to lead the Fighting Hawks to a 4-1 win over the RedHawks.
OXFORD, Ohio — Zach Driscoll stood in his crease at Goggin Ice Arena surrounded by a packed Miami University student section, one reminiscent of the old days when the RedHawks went to back-to-back NCAA Frozen Fours.
After not having fans at a home game for more than 600 days, they've sold out Goggin in both of Miami's home dates this season.
But they never had a chance to try to fluster the UND goaltender.
Driscoll did not see an even-strength shot on goal until there were just 28 seconds left in the first period as UND turned a third-straight fast start into a third-straight victory.
UND beat Miami 4-1 on Friday night to stay perfect in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play.
Sophomore defenseman Jake Sanderson scored two goals and added an assist. Fifth-year senior Connor Ford, playing against his old coach, had three assists. Sophomore Riese Gaber scored for the fifth time in his four-career games against Miami, while rookie Matteo Costantini scored for a third-straight game.
"I thought we came out again tonight and we got a good jump," UND coach Brad Berry said. "That's three games in a row now we've had energy and pace to our game right away. I thought it carried over from the first period there. I thought we did a good job of stacking shifts together five-on-five. Obviously (Miami goalie Ludvig) Persson played pretty well in the first period to make some saves there, but I thought we carried out a 60-minute game for the most part. I thought it was one of our better games, putting together 60 minutes."
The Fighting Hawks, who swept Denver last weekend, improved to 7-3 overall and 3-0 in NCHC play as they aim for a third-straight Penrose Cup as league champions.
"I think that was the closest game we've had to a full 60 minutes," Sanderson said.
UND will go for the sweep at 4 p.m. Central on Saturday. Sweeps have not been easy at Goggin Ice Center. UND has played six previous series in the building and only once came away with a two-game sweep. That was in 2016-17.
"We earned the right to win tonight," Berry said. "Tomorrow, we have to make sure we have that mentality to do something we haven't done a lot in here. That's earning a right to get a second one, which in the NCHC, you know as well as I do, it's tough to win the second one. So, our guys are going to enjoy it for a few minutes tonight, get something to eat, get some rest and have a quick turnaround."
On Friday, UND overwhelmed Miami from the start.
UND outshot the RedHawks 14-3 in the first period and took a 1-0 lead on Gaber's power-play goal at 11:24. Sanderson had the puck at the top of the zone and dished it to Gaber, who came up the right side and picked the corner of the net on Persson.
"I just give it to him and let him do his thing," Sanderson said. "He's so good at shooting the puck and finding lanes."
Sanderson extended the lead in the second, using his dynamic skating ability to make a three-on-two rush into a four-on-two advantage. Ashton Calder put a pass through Ford in the middle to Sanderson the left and the Ottawa Senators draft pick had a wide open net to score.
"He's got special, elite skating ability," Berry said of Sanderson. "There are situations where he can get up from a dead stop and join the play. It was a really good play. Ashton Calder made an unreal play. He could have pumped that to the net and Persson probably makes a save, but he held onto it."
The game may have been a little extra special for Ford.
Five years ago, Miami coach Chris Bergeron recruited Ford to college hockey. Bergeron was at Bowling Green at the time. They were together for two seasons at Bowling Green before Bergeron accepted the job at Miami. Ford transferred after last season to UND.
Ford matched his career high with three points and three assists. He also went 16-6 in the faceoff dot.
"This isn't the first time I've played him since the switch," Ford said. "But yeah, you definitely want to perform well in front of those guys."
UND will now shoot for its first 4-0 start in NCHC play since 2015-16, when it won the program's eighth NCAA national championship.
"It's been a huge, great start," Ford said. "I couldn't ask for anything better. We're kind of segmenting the rest of this half until Christmas. We've got nine games to go up until Christmas. We're going to take one game at a time and put our best foot forward each night."