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UND’s offense still an issue after 1-1 tie with Bemidji State

Nick Jones offered optimism after UND's exhibition and season-opening games that the team's offense would eventually come around. Not Saturday night. After UND gave up a goal late in the third period to tie Bemidji State 1-1 in Ralph Engelstad Ar...

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UND's Nick Jones works to get the puck past Bemidji State University goalie Zach Driscoll during Saturday's game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Nick Jones offered optimism after UND’s exhibition and season-opening games that the team’s offense would eventually come around.

Not Saturday night.

After UND gave up a goal late in the third period to tie Bemidji State 1-1 in Ralph Engelstad Arena, the senior alternate captain was seething about the Fighting Hawks ending opening weekend without a win to show for it.

“Unacceptable,” Jones said. “Disappointing. You can’t have that. To come out with a loss and a tie, embarrassing is the only word I’ve got.

“It starts with the power play. The last two times I’ve come in here, I’ve been pretty optimistic about it. Tonight, there’s nothing to be optimistic about. We couldn’t even get set up. It was dreadful, to be honest with you. It starts with that.”

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UND went 0-for-4 on the power play and is 0-for-8 on the season.

The Fighting Hawks had a chance to tie Friday’s game in the third period with a late power play, but didn’t register a shot on goal. UND lost 2-1. They had a chance to win Saturday night’s game with a power play in overtime. The Fighting Hawks again couldn’t capitalize and the game ended in a tie.

“We let our whole team down today as a power-play unit,” Jones said. “We’ve got guys going out there, earning power plays for us, and we go out there and put that effort forward? It starts with me losing faceoffs out there. We can’t have that.”

The coaching staff tried to get the offense going.

They mixed up every line.

They gave the rookies more prominent roles: Jasper Weatherby centered a scoring line; Gavin Hain was moved to a scoring line; Mark Senden and Jonny Tychonick were inserted into the lineup.

They even gave rookie goalie Adam Scheel his first-career start.

None of it worked.

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UND now has two goals on 56 shots on goal this season.

Its shooting percentage of 3.6 percent is only ahead of two teams in college hockey: Alabama Huntsville and Bentley.

“You’ve got to believe,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “You’ve got to come to work on Monday. The easy thing to do is point fingers and go off on a different tangent. That’s not what we do here. There’s a focus here. There’s a team here and there’s a culture here. Guys know we have a lot of work to do. It’s early in the season -- that’s no excuse -- but we’ve got to build. We have a good group of guys and a great leadership group.”

Bemidji State, meanwhile, won a series against UND for the first time in program history.

“We passed the test in a few different areas,” Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. “Obviously, our goaltending was strong. Our experienced defensive corps allowed us to defend well. I was pleasantly optimistic. We’re probably ahead of where I thought we were going to be.”

UND got off to a strong start with Grant Mismash scoring just 2:31 into the game.

Mismash had the puck alone in the right circle and sent a pass to Jones at the top of the crease. Bemidji State goalie Zach Driscoll, a St. Cloud State transfer, stopped Jones’s deflection, but the rebound dropped in the crease.

As Driscoll (26 saves) moved forward to pull the puck in and cover it, the puck hit the skate of Beaver defender Dan Billet and went to Mismash at the other side of the crease. Mismash roofed it for his first goal of the season.

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It stayed that way until Beaver forwards Brendan Harris and Charlie Combs -- linemates in junior hockey at Wenatchee -- connected for the game-tying goal with 4:14 left.

Combs blasted a shot from the point through traffic and past Scheel (15 saves).

Next weekend, UND hosts MSU-Mankato, which swept Boston University this weekend.

“Not enough,” Mismash said about the Bemidji State series. “I think we need more from the whole team in general, just bearing down on our chances. That’s about it.

“We have to stick with it. Coaches, staff players, we’re all in it together. We’ll start out fresh on Monday.”

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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