With Jake Sanderson sidelined, UND takes too many penalties in loss to Minnesota Duluth
The Fighting Hawks took four penalties, including a major in the game's first period alone.
UND learned Friday morning that star defenseman Jake Sanderson was not over his bout with a non-COVID illness and he would not be able to play against Minnesota Duluth.
The Fighting Hawks also learned Matteo Costantini and Dane Montgomery wouldn't be able to go, either.
With Jackson Kunz still out with an upper-body injury, a shorthanded UND squad, with no healthy scratches, needed to be extra sharp against the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs.
But UND took four consecutive penalties in the first period, including a five-minute major. Sophomore Louis Jamernik, who plays on both the power play and penalty kill, was ejected from the game for a contact to the head penalty in the opening period. And UND's early 1-0 lead quickly unraveled and turned into a 4-1 loss to Minnesota Duluth in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
"I thought we came out, had good jump, scored the first goal. That's what we wanted," UND coach Brad Berry said. "And then when you take penalty, penalty, penalty and penalty. . . not a good recipe. What happens is you focus on trying to get through the kills and not give up anything. We gave up a goal. But you try to focus on preserving the lead when we had it, or the tie, and then you just run out of gas a little bit from some of the guys that played key minutes. You can't have that, especially early in the game here.
"We've done a better job playing with discipline, but those are situations where we have to learn from tonight, because against good teams, you can't do that."
Miami transfer Casey Gilling scored twice for the Bulldogs, rookie Dominic James added a goal and Warroad High graduate Kobe Roth iced it with an empty-netter late in the third.
UND, which received a goal from senior Gavin Hain, dropped to 8-4 overall and 4-1 in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play.
It was a rare home loss for UND.
It marked just the second regulation loss in Ralph Engelstad Arena in the last 37 home games. UND is 33-4 at home in that span.
At 6:07 p.m. Saturday, the Fighting Hawks will try to avoid getting swept in Grand Forks for the first time since November 2018 (Western Michigan).
It's unknown whether UND will have Sanderson, the team's leading scorer, or Costantini, the second-line winger, available.
"That's going to be a wait-and-see thing here," Berry said. "It's a situation here where I think it's kind of going through a little bit of everybody in our league here. . . some of the teams. It happened to catch a couple of our guys here. Tomorrow is another day. Hopefully, we'll get to see them bright and early tomorrow and see where they're at. Obviously, we're going to proceed with caution with those guys, because at the end of the day, it's a long season. We want to make sure we're protecting them first. But if they're available to play, for sure, we'll put them in."
Berry said UND had good practices early in the week, then identified some players were feeling ill Wednesday. Players came in and out at the end of the week.
"Hopefully, we're getting through the tough part and coming out the other side," Berry said. "It's a situation, going into a game tomorrow, where you've got to make sure you're close to 100 percent, because if you're not, then you've got to make sure you're rested and replenished to make sure you're in a good state."
UND got off to a great start Friday.
Jamernik created a two-on-one in the neutral zone and fed Hain for his second goal of the year at 2:30 of the opening frame. It snapped Minnesota Duluth goaltender Ryan Fanti's shutout streak at 188:02.
But things quickly unraveled as Nick Portz was called for holding, Tyler Kleven for interference, Judd Caulfield for elbowing and Jamernik for contact to the head.
Minnesota Duluth scored once on the power play to tie the game, then took the lead less than two minutes later.
"It killed us," Hain said. "We got off to a good start, then getting four penalties, or whatever it was, in a row, it just kind of kills the momentum for the whole team. Being undisciplined kid of killed us tonight."
The Bulldogs, who did not play in Grand Forks during either of the last two seasons, tacked on another in the second and an empty-netter in the third.
"I thought we started off pretty good there," Caulfield said. "Hainer got that first one to get us going, but then we took some penalties and got away from our game a little bit. They got two on us, then from there, it's hard to come back on these guys. They play well defensively and they're a good structured team. So, we've just got to get on them and stay on them."