Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Roses and Thorns: Starting Hoff on the Right Foot

UND freshmen Matt Kierstad and Grant Mismash (16) celebrate a goal on Saturday from the Ralph Engelstad Arena
in Grand Forks. All six rookie skaters notched at least one point as the Fighting Hawks rolled
the Manitoba Bisons 6-2. (photo: GF Herald)

It'd been six months since we saw our boys in Green and White on the ice for competitive hockey and after a 6-2 exhibition drubbing of the Manitoba Bisons, the game was less about the score and more about who did the scoring for the Fighting Hawks.

UND got at least one point from all six of its rookie skaters, including a goal and an assist from second-round pick Grant Mismash and two assists from Collin Adams while the entire group looked like the college game would suit them fine.

Not to be undersold, the Hawks got a big performance from a returning skater in Ludvig Hoff who, centering the top line for the first time in his career, potted two goals leading the top group with Shane Gersich and Austin Poganski to a +6 performance.

Depth was the story before the start of the season and that held through in the exhibition as all four foward lines and two of three defensive pairings notched points against the Bisons.

It was a good start for the Green and White and here's what stood out to DDC in 2017-18's first installment of Roses and Thorns.


So. F, Ludvig Hoff
netted two goals
against Manitoba

No. 1 -- New Man in the Middle?

For the past two seasons before the start of 2017-18, UND's top line featured a dynamic, game-breaking name that centered the Green and White's clear best group. With Nick Schmaltz and Tyson Jost, both now in the NHL, UND has to find someone new to find that role. With two goals, including laser from the spot to open the scoring for the Fighting Hawks, sophomore Ludvig Hoff has firmly planted his name on the line chart, to start this year. Centering Shane Gersich and Austin Poganski, Hoff looked very much in control as the trio notched four points and were a combined +6.

No. 2 -- Newbies Step Right In

As DDC mentioned in his previous of this season, UND's season could come down to its depth and having a contributions from the crop of new faces would be a big development. Well, at least for this night, this rang true as all six rookie skaters notched a point. Standing out from that group were Grant Mismash with a goal and an assist. Mismash looked like he belonged with heady vision and a couple fantastic moves with his hands. Jordan Kawaguchi also scored a nice goal off a terrific pass from fellow freshman Josh Rieger from cross ice. This will be a group that is tremendously important to UND this season and the exhibition was a great start.

No. 3 -- Top Players Start Quick

Jr. D, Christian Wolanin
recorded a goal and an assist

Not to be forgotten during the underclassmen bonanza, the Green and White got great performances from a few established stalwarts. Junior Shane Gersich looked incredible, skating and creating chances all night while adding and assist while fellow Junior Christian Wolanin netted a goal and an assist. Arguably UND's two best pure playmakers, Gersich and Wolanin looked ready to start the season on a high note as both saw significant special team's time, as well. Wolanin quarterbacked the Power Play and looked calm and collected in doing so. Not to be left out, senior netminder Cam Johnson played well, too. While he let up two goals, one was on a clean breakaway after a turnover and the other on a bit of an off bounce. Johnson made a couple of key saves early in the second, as well. Good performance from some of UND's key players in this one.


No. 1 -- Bad Turnovers

Turnovers were a bit of a problem last year and unfortunately, this hasn't wholly changed following the exhibition. Whether it's trying to go too quickly out of transition or completely missing open sticks on passes, UND had couple bad lapses against the Bisons. Sure, this can be attributed to knocking off a bit of rust, but it's a trend that has roots from 2016-17. Here's to hoping that's left behind before the Hawks travel up to Alaska.

Thanks for reading and check back later this week as DDC previews the Green and White traveling to Anchorage to face off with the Seawolves.

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