Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Roses and Thorns: Rolling with Rookies

Headlines from from around the NCHC:
- WMU shocks previously unbeaten Omaha
with a 4-2, 6-1 sweep in Kalamazoo.
- DU drops two in Boston against BC and BU.
- St. Cloud sweeps Miami, 3-0, 3-1.
The No. 1 University of North Dakota men's hockey team scored seven goals this weekend in a 5-2, 2-0 sweep against Colorado College this past weekend in Colorado Springs.

All seven of those goals were scored by freshmen. Let that sink in for a second.

In UND's 2014-15 campaign, freshmen netted 20 goals all season. Through eight, unbeaten games so far this season, the green and white rookies have 14 goals.

Youth is being served and it certainly has been fun to watch.

Here's what stood out from UND's National Collegiate Hockey Conference opening series weekend sweep in The Springs.


No. 1 -- The Rookies

Chris Wilkie scored twice on Friday, Shane Gerisch potted goals in both games, Brock Boeser netted his fifth of the season on Friday, Christian Wolanin scored the game-winning goal on Saturday and Rhett Gardner scored his first-career goal in shorthanded, game-winning fashion on Friday, capping a tremendous weekend for the UND rookies. The impact that this class has made has been obvious as all have assimilated quickly to the college game. Not since the vaunted class that included Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan in 2005-06 has the Green and White seen this kind of start from a group of freshmen. If you don't know much about that 05-06 bunch and what they have did at UND and eventually on the professional and international stage, you just don't know hockey. What an impressive start so far for this group of UND rookies.

UND's Troy Stecher looks for the puck during Saturday night's game.
Photo courtesy of The Gazette in Colorado Springs.

No. 2 -- Matt Hyrnkiw

If the rookies are story No. 1 so far this season for UND, Matt Hrynkiw has been story No. 1a. The walk-on and former third-string goaltender was great again this weekend stopping 19 of 21 shots in Friday's win and then shut out the Tigers with a dazzling, 29-save performance in a 2-0 win on Saturday. Hrynkiw notched his second shutout of the season in the second game, one more than Zane McIntyre had in his Mike Richter Award winning season as the nation's top goaltender last year. The Saskatchewan native had 14 saves in the second period of that shutout, his best frame of the season. Hyrnkiw has now won all four of his starts and is 4-0-1 on the year. You know what? Screw one rose... here's a bundle of roses for you, Mr. Hyrnkiw.

No. 3 -- UND's PK

UND Jr. G, Matt Hrynkiw
notched a 29-save shutout
on Saturday night.

Putting it nicely, UND's penalty kill hadn't been great coming into Colorado Springs. This weekend was different. The Green and White killed off 11 of 12 Tiger power plays and showed a lot of grit in protecting Matt Hrynkiw. The 12 penalties is concerning, but if UND keeps up this kind of play on the PK, they can take as many penalties as they like. Great performance from a group that didn't return a lot of PK players from last season.


No. 1 -- Penalties

The aforementioned PK had to be good all weekend or this series could have gone much differently. Too many undisciplined penalties slowed a UND attack that really carried play throughout this weekend. Colorado College isn't very good and if the Green and White intend to take 12 penalties on a weekend against some of the upper echelon NCHC teams, they may not be as successful on the penalty kill. Behind the play and offensive zone penalties can't become a trend for this team.

Thanks for reading. Come back later this week as DDC previews UND's series against the hated Wisconsin Badgers from the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

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