Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Roses and Thorns: Beaten Up, but Still Unbeaten

DDC's first Roses and Thorns column of the 2015-16 season, after UND's 6-2 exhibition win over the Manitoba Bisons earlier in October, had only one thorn -- injuries.

In that column, DDC noted he hoped injuries never made the thorn section again this season.

Welp. So much for that.

The No. 1 UND men's hockey team earned a tie and a win in a non-conference, home-and-home series against Bemidji State, 4-4 on Friday in Bemidji and 5-2 on Saturday in Grand Forks to stay unbeaten on the season at 2-0-2, but certainly had its share of losses.

The Green and White, already down freshman goaltender Matej Tomek and senior forward Colten St. Clair to injuries coming into this past weekend, lost freshman Joel Janatuinen to an apparent concussion and starting goalie Cam Johnson to a leg injury on Friday night.

Johnson's injury led to junior walk-on goaltender Matt Hyrnkiw finishing off Friday's game and getting the start on Saturday, Hrynkiw's first college hockey action in his career.

Hrynkiw struggled a bit on Friday, allowing two goals in the third, but played well on Saturday, to earn his first win for UND.

Here's what else that stood out from this weekend's series.


No. 1 -- Matt Hrynkiw

DDC was certainly down on the junior after Friday night's tie, as Hrynkiw looked incredibly shaky early on. The netminder allowed a goal on his first shot faced and struggled with rebound control, leaving several chances for Bemidji State. Despite the struggles, Hrynkiw made a couple of really important saves, including one in overtime, to hold on for the tie. The junior came back on Saturday and played well, making 19 saves, including nine in the third period, to pace the UND win. Hrynkiw will likely be back in the net this coming weekend in Vermont and will need to play well behind the Green and White.

UND Fr. F, Brock Boeser notched a hat trick, his first three goals with North
Dakota, in UND's 5-2 win on Saturday. (Photo credit: Grand Forks Herald)

No. 2 -- Brock Boeser, Nick Schmaltz and Drake Caggiula

These three came into this season as possibly, the best three scorers for UND, but did not play together until Saturday night. After a nine point (4g, 5a) performance from that line that saw Boeser notch a hat trick, his first three goals for UND, the Green and White might be hard pressed to break up this line. The trio dominated the Beavers, controlling play and creating chances throughout. With the shaky goaltending situation, North Dakota will more than likely need steady goal scoring. This line absolutely brought that on Saturday night.

No. 3 -- Troy Stecher

The junior defenseman continued his stellar play this weekend, notching the game-winner on Saturday, his first of the year. Stecher was aggressive offensively on the play, pouncing on a loose puck outside of a net-front scrum, potting his goal through heavy traffic. The alternate captain has five points (1g, 4a) on the season and has shown tremendous offensive play all year.


No. 1 -- Injuries

UND Jr. G, Matt Hyrnkiw

Ugh. Outside of the aforementioned bumps, UND was also down freshman Shane Gerisch to illness, forcing freshmen Mike Gornall and Christain Wolanin into the lineup on Saturday. Wolanin, a defenseman, played left wing. The Green and White will need to carry a "next man up" mentality going forward, in particular in the nets. Hrynkiw is in the spotlight. He will need to improve to keep this UND team in games until Johnson and Tomek return.

Thanks for reading. Head back later this week as North Dakota prepares to again travel east, taking on the Vermont Catamounts in another important, non-conference series.