Dynamic, game-breaking, cold-blooded goal scoring.
Whatever superlative you'd like to name it, the UND men's hockey team has lacked a pure goal-scoring punch over the last few seasons. Couple that sentiment with the fact the the Green and White lost six of it's 10 leading point producers from last season either to graduation or professional hockey, the need for scoring was a major story line heading into the 2015-16 season.
Albeit in exhibition form, UND may have gotten a glimpse of a special crop of goal scorers in a 8-3 drubbing of the Manitoba Bisons on Saturday night.
Trailing 2-1 early the second period, the Green and White ripped off seven unanswered goals en route to a victory. Of those eight goals, four came off the sticks of freshmen suiting up for the first time for UND.
For those of you new to the blog, DDC takes a look back at each weekend's series with his Roses and Thorns. Roses are the positives with Thorns being negatives.
So, let's take a look at what stood out.
|Freshman forward Brock Boeser notched his first goal in Green and White|
in UND's 8-3 exhibition win on Saturday. (Photo credit: GF Herald)
No. 1 -- New Blood
As mentioned before, UND got four of its eight goals on Saturday night from freshmen. Three more came off the stick of Johnny Simonson, a sophomore that did not score a goal in just 22 appearances as a freshman. Brock Boeser gave the fans a peek at what looks to be pretty special ability, firing a laser that beat the Bisons' netminder high glove side, tying the game at one in the first period. Then in the second, Shane Gersich notched back-to-back goals in a span of 12 seconds to give UND the lead. Joel Janatuinen also scored his first goal in a UND uniform. The production wasn't just goal scoring. Boeser, Janatuinen and Chris Wilkie also notched assists. So, in total, the Green and White underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) tallied 15 points with seven of those coming from freshmen. An encouraging start, to say the least.
No. 2 -- Don't Forget About Us
Some of UND's "elder statesmen" shined, as well. Junior assistant captain Troy Stecher looked dynamic on Saturday night, tallying three assists and fellow junior Keaton Thompson added two, including a terrific pass off the side boards from the defensive zone to spring Boeser for his goal. The upperclassman, especially in the defensive corps, will need to continue to shine as scoring from freshmen can't be expected every night, particularly early on in the season.
No. 3 -- Effort Before Execution
New head coach Brad Berry echoed the idea of "effort before execution" to his young team in the week leading up to the exhibition win. That certainly showed on Saturday night. Despite trailing 1-0 and 2-1 early on in this game, UND never let off the gas. The Green and White peppered the Manitoba net with 56 shots on goal and carried a tremendous pace throughout. Credit the veterans and coaching staff for keeping the freshmen from being starry-eyed in their first appearance in front of their rowdy, Ralph Engelstad Arena crowd.
|Sr. F, Colten St. Clair|
will miss the first half
of the season due to injury.
No. 1 -- Injuries
UND found out on Friday that it will be without senior forward Colten St. Clair for half the season after suffering an arm injury in practice that will require surgery. Also, freshman goaltender and third-round NHL draft pick Matej Tomek sat out on Saturday with a nagging wrist injury. Tomek's injury, however, looks like it won't keep the Slovak rookie out much longer.
Here's to hoping that this is never a thorn again, this season.
No. 2 -- Shaky Start Between the Pipes
Goaltending, behind the play of All-American Zane McIntrye, hasn't been a question mark for UND over the past two seasons. With the injury to Tomek, it was sophomore Cam Johnson's net on Saturday night for an early audition. Although Johnson's play didn't decide the game in anyway, the netminder didn't impress, allowing three goals on just 12 shots faced, including two in his first four. Johnson, who was pulled in the first period in his only action as a freshman, fought the puck a bit on Saturday and had two goals in particular that he'd most likely want back. The Michigan native will likely be an important piece for this UND squad as the Green and White look to replace a gaping hole. Despite having an excellent defensive corps in front of him this season, Johnson simply needs to be better going forward.
So, that's it.
Come back later this week as UND prepares to head to Portland, Maine for games with Lake Superior State and Maine on Friday and Saturday night at the IceBreaker Invitational.