Raise your hand if you thought UND would be down 4-1 at any point to Lake Superior State this weekend.
Anyone? If your hand is up, you’re a liar.
Despite a stunning first half of the game on Friday that silenced the home crowd at Ralph Engelstad Arena, the No. 1 team in the country showed precisely why they earned that distinction coming into the weekend, ripping off six unanswered goals en route to a crazy 7-4 win.
In the series finale on Saturday, UND’s performance wasn’t its prettiest of the year, but North Dakota took care of business and earned a non-conference sweep with a 3-1 victory over LSSU.
Here’s what stood out to DDC against the Lakers in this week’s edition of Roses and Thorns:
No. 1 – Tucker Poolman
Injuries to Drake Caggiula and Colton St. Clair forced the freshman defenseman to move to forward on Friday night and Poolman paced UND’s furious comeback win with a dynamic two-goal performance. Poolman netted his first on the power play to make it 4-2 and reignited the REA crowd and his second goal, again on the power play, knotted the game at 4-4. From there, the route was on. This freshman has a unique blend of size, skill and scoring touch and his versatility led UND to the win on Friday.
|UND senior forward Michael Parks celebrates his third period power play |
goal on Friday night. The Green and White were lethal with extra man this past
weekend, going a combined 5-for-8. Photo credit: UND Sports.
No. 2 – UND’s Power Play
After struggling mightily over the last handful of weekends, UND got back on track this weekend going a combined 5-for-8. Freshman Nick Schmaltz makes this unit go and they went all weekend.
No. 3 – Zane McIntyre
What else can be said about this kid? The junior netminder made two huge saves, one with UND still trailing and another while tied on Friday night after coming in cold after a tough start for freshman goaltender Cam Johnson. On Saturday night, McIntyre wasn’t very busy, but kept LSSU at bay, especially during a late push by the Lakers with UND nursing a tenuous 2-1 lead. As McIntyre goes, so goes the Green and White. Two more wins for the all-world North Dakota goalie.
Honorable mention – LSSU’s Jerseys
Classic and timeless. Great colors and a solid logo. Simply put, those sweaters are a thing of beauty.
No. 1 – Injuries
UND has been bitten by the injury bug a lot this year and the Green and White may have had it’s biggest one to date when sophomore defenseman Troy Stetcher went down with a leg injury on Saturday. Arguably UND’s best d-man so far this year, Stetcher went leg first into the boards in the third period and his status is unknown going forward. UND lost St. Clair on Friday as well, but saw Caggiula come back to the ice on Saturday night after missing a large portion of Friday night’s game. Injuries are part of the game, unfortunately, and it’s next man up for the Green and White.
No. 2 – Cam Johnson
DDC didn’t want to pick on the freshman netminder’s shaky first-career start on Friday, but it showed UND fans a nervous side to life without an experienced backstop. Johnson fought the puck as LSSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead that saw the freshman get yanked, but lucky for UND, they never really lost control of the game. If something were to happen to McIntrye injury-wise for North Dakota, Johnson would be the man running the show. Johnson needs to fix whatever jitters he was plagued with on Friday. Depth at all positions is key to a deep run.
No. 3 – Dumb Penalties
UND kept the Lakers from scoring a power play goal all weekend, however, dumb penalties stymied an early UND comeback just a minute after scoring a huge 3-1 goal on Friday night after a slashing call on Luke Johnson. It didn’t stop the comeback, but those kinds of penalties can’t happen against more talented teams. Saturday night, UND couldn’t get any offense rolling in the first due to penalties. Again, ultimately, it didn’t matter, but this needs to be a point of emphasis going forward.
Check back later this week as DDC takes a look at UND’s series with conference foe and longtime-rival Denver.