Monday, October 26, 2015

Roses and Thorns: It Feels Good to be Wrong

It's not often that DDC picks against the UND's men's hockey team. DDC did just that this past weekend when the No. 1 Green and White traveled to Burlington, VT to take on the Vermont Catamounts, as he picked a split in this past weekend's series.

DDC's doubts were based around UND junior goaltender Matt Hrynkiw and his lack of experience in college hockey. Take a look at The Pick from this past weekend:

However, Hrynkiw's first action in the 4-4 tie on Friday, in which he relived an injured Cam Johnson and let up two quick goals, looms as a serious question mark. Rebound control and net presence are needed for the junior to lead UND to two wins this weekend. DDC thinks UND gets one this weekend, on the heels of a more talented offensive punch.

In this case, it sure feels good to be wrong.

The walk-on and once third-string netminder had a stellar weekend. A sparkling 27-save shutout (Hyrnkiw's first in just his second career start) on Friday paced a 2-0 UND win. Saturday, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native had another 27-save performance, this time on 29 shots, leading the Green and White to a 5-2 win and a non-conference sweep. The two wins earned Hrynkiw National Collegiate Hockey Conference goaltender of the week honors.

DDC predicted the UND offense would earn a split and that side of the ice surely came to play in Vermont. Rookie Brock Boeser led all NCHC freshmen in points this weekend, assisting on a goal on Friday and following up with a goal and an assist on Saturday, to be named NCHC freshman of the week.

Here's what stood out to DDC in this week's Roses and Thorns column.


No. 1 -- Matt Hrynkiw

UND Jr. G, Matt Hrynkiw
earned NCHC Goalie
of the Week honors

The questions were fair coming into this series. While he played well earning a tie and a win against Bemidji
State in his first action, the junior showed signs of nerves. He struggled a bit with rebound control and found himself out of position a few times against the Beavers. Boy, what a difference a little experience can make. Again, in just his second career start, Hrynkiw showed what it takes to be a big-time player at the college level, earning his first shutout. To put things into perspective, last year's Mike Richter award winner as the best goaltender in college hockey, Zane McIntyre had just one shutout all season. DDC was certainly impressed with Hrynkiw this weekend and that steady play could mean big things going forward for the Green and White.

No. 2 -- UND's Offense

It's becoming hard to not be continually excited about the scoring punch for UND. The Green and White again showed a dynamic scoring punch and carried the play throughout this weekend. Brock Boeser continued his impressive play, with his three-point weekend and senior forward Bryn Chyzyk continued his hot start, potting goals in both games to move his total to five (six total points) through six games. The line of senior Drake Caggiula (1g, 1a), sophomore Nick Schmaltz (2a) and Boeser (1g, 2a) tallied a seven-point weekend on the heels of a nine-point effort last Saturday against Bemidji State. UND has racked up a whopping 228 shots on goal through six games, an average of 38 per night and it's certainly been fun to watch early on.

No. 3 --  Still Unbeaten

For the first time since 2002, when Sioux great and NHL all-star Zach Parise was a freshman, UND is unbeaten through its first six games. It's a pretty incredible start for a team that came into the season with a new head coach, 11 freshmen and have been riddled with injuries. UND is 3-0 since Matt Hrynkiw took over as the starting goaltender. After six non-conference tussles, the Green and White kick off their NCHC schedule, traveling to Colorado Spring to take on Colorado College. Let's see how far this can go, shall we?

UND defenseman Tucker Poolman presses Catamount forward Anthony Petruzzelli
on Friday. The Green and White topped Vermont 2-0. (Photo Credit: Free Press)

No. 4 -- Vermont's Webcast

Free just so happens to be DDC's favorite price, but many times, free doesn't always mean great. Despite being just a one-camera play-by-play that did not provide replays, big props to Vermont's very clear webcast. After the broadcast debacle with ZERO live coverage of the games from the Ice Breaker Invitational to start the season, Vermont provided the Green and White faithful with a way to watch their team. Thank you, Vermont Athletics.


No. 1 -- Jimmer Held at Bay

DDC has pretty much got nothing here. UND earned a sweep with a former third-string goaltender, got continued scoring from all over their lineup and carried play in nearly every fashion for all six periods. So, the only thorn DDC has comes from the lack of production from a former Sioux. Senior Dan Senkbeil, who transferred to Vermont following the 2012-13 season, saw his first action of the season on Saturday, only contributing a slashing minor. DDC was pulling for the former UND fan favorite to find the back of the net, particularly as the Green and White carried a comfortable lead late. Cheers, Jim. This blogger wishes you well as you round out your college career.

There you have it. Come back to the blog later this week as UND gets it's NCHC season started in The Springs.

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