Monday, January 19, 2015

Roses and Thorns: Breathing Easy

UND senior forward Mark MacMillan pots a power play
goal on Saturday night. Photo Credit: UND Sports
This past weekend had all the makings of a Pairwise disaster for the UND men’s hockey team.

The Green and White had little to gain and a lot to lose in the rankings with a loss to dead-last ranked Niagara. A loss in either game would have sent UND hurdling down the rankings.

A 7-1, 5-0 sweep later, North Dakota and its fans can breathe easy.

The Green and White dominated the lowly Purple Eagles for a full 120 minutes Friday and Saturday and closed out their non-conference play for 2014-15 with a stellar 9-1-1 record.

Here’s what stood out to DDC in his weekly Roses and Thorns:


No. 1 – Zane McIntyre

The junior netminder was a late, third-period softie on Friday short of back-to-back shutouts on the weekend. Although not tested very much all weekend, McIntyre was nearly perfect, stopping 42-of-43 shots and recording his first shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. With the solid weekend, McIntyre’s .933 save percentage is now best in UND single-season history. Already UND’s career leader in save percentage (.927) and goals against average (2.06), we’re running out of superlatives for the all-world goalie.

No. 2 – Slump Breakers

A trio of players broke slumps on Saturday night when Michael Parks netted two goals on Saturday, his first since Dec. 5, Mark MacMillan scored twice and added an assist, recording three points after having just one in five games and Wade Murphy got his first point of the season with an assist in the third. It was great to see the top liners get going again and even better to see the hard-working Murphy finally find the scoresheet.

No. 3 – Senior Captains

What a weekend from UND’s senior captains. Stephane Pattyn scored twice (1g Friday, 1g Saturday), Parks netted two on Saturday and McMillan added four points (2 goals on Saturday, 2a) for an eight-point weekend for the core of the team. On Saturday, all five goals came from the captains. After a cutesy first period for UND that saw too many passes and waste chances, the seniors turned up the heat and found the next three times in the second to pace the sweep. Huge statement from a great group.

No. 4 – UND’s “fourth” Line

The recently-formed line of Austin Poganski, Connor Gaarder and Brendan O’Donnell was dominant on Friday night recording three goals (two from Poganski and one from O’Donnell) and five assists for eight points. A lot can be said for chemistry and these three found each other all night. The freshman Poganski was in the right spot on both goals after big bounces while seniors Gaarder and O’Donnell meshed very well together. DDC would like to see this line stick together.

No. 5 – Bryn Chyzyk

The junior forward scored UND’s first and last goals on Friday night and each goal showed Chyzyk’s growth as a player this season. Chyzyk’s first was a blend of speed and power as he beat the NU netminder 1-on-1. His second, Chyzyk ripped a laser past the goaltender on a short-side wrister, both gorgeous in their own right. This may have been said previously, but if the Virden, Manitoba native doesn’t wear a letter next year for UND, something is wrong.

UND's Stephane Pattyn leads the team back to the bench after celebrating a goal on
Niagara University's Jackson Teichroeb on Friday. Photo Credit: Grand Forks Herald.


No. 1 – Lack of Grit for Niagara

For a team that lacks talent, DDC fully expected to see Niagara play a slow, defensive type game in an attempt to plug the middle against an explosive UND offense. That wasn’t the case on the weekend as the Purple Eagles attempted to play an up-tempo, run and gun style that North Dakota blew up right from the beginning of the weekend. That type of play probably works in Atlantic Hockey. Well, no actually, it probably doesn’t since NU has three wins on the year. Hard to believe that was a tournament team just two years ago.

No. 2 – NU Defenseman

Sorry to beat a dead horse on this one, but it’s hard to find a thorn for UND this weekend, so DDC will stick with Niagara. Going out on a limb here… The Purple Eagles are awful on defense. Head coach Dave Burkholder could have easily deployed pylons this weekend. The NU defensemen got blown by wide several times this weekend and left their goaltenders out to dry on multiple goals. Not a good performance from the team from Niagara Falls. DDC must say that the NU D-Man’s feed to North Dakota’s Steph Pattyn for the senior’s Friday night goal was pretty nice.

So, that’s it. Thanks for stopping by and check back in later this week as UND prepares to start the stretch run, welcoming the CC Tigers to the Ralph, this coming weekend.

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