Weekend Preview – ‘Nodak Nation’

‘Nodak Nation’ made a strong showing at The Ralph last Saturday in the form of a banner that spread across an entire student section and was approximately 10 rows tall. As the players were introduced for the university on the precipice of selecting a new nickname to “replace” the Fighting Sioux, the fans shook the banner violently and got excited for their first home game. If you follow my twitter, you know I’ve been pushing for Nodaks to be selected and it seems like at least some students share my perspective. In my opinion, it is the one nickname option that says ‘We are North Dakota and we’re not going to apologize for it’. In my eyes, we are abiding by the NCAA’s requirement of getting rid of the Sioux nickname but at the same time picking something ambiguous for each person to assign their own meaning. Yes, we are Nodaks. You know who else are included in that family? …the Sioux tribes from around the state. So on the eve of a new nickname vote, my choice is unequivocally NODAK NATION.

Friday’s game skated to a 4-4 tie in a game played in Bemidji, MN. Johnny Simonson and Bryn Chyzyk opened the scoring to take a quick 2-goal lead in a game that saw the Fighting Nodaks(see what I did there?) jump all over the home team. However, the Beavers were able to answer with 2 PPG’s in the latter half of the 1st and beginning of the 2nd period.

UND once again put the pedal down with goals by Luke Johnson and Austin Poganski to take a 4-2 lead going into the 3rd period. However, after the buzzer sounded at end of the 2nd Cam Johnson pulled his groin sliding over to stop a Bemidji one-timer. This injury created the opportunity for Walk-On, 3rd String Goalie Matt Hrynkiw to jump in net for the 3rd period and it didn’t start well.

The 1st shot of the 3rd period was a shot from the point by Bemidji’s Graeme McCormack that went off the post and in to make it a 1 goal game. It was McCormack’s 2nd PPG of the game. Then with 6 minutes remaining, one of the Sedin Twins Gerry Fitzgerald evened up the game to send the BSU crowd into a frenzy. UND was unable to find the winner at the end of the 3rd or in the OT despite good pressure and the game ended in a disappointing tie.

Saturday night UND would be Matt Hrynkiw’s first start of his career as Cam Johnson and Matej Tomek were out with injuries. The game didn’t start ideally for the new goalie, letting in 2 of his first 4 shots while UND dominated play. This led to an unsatisfying tie ending the 1st period with bookend goals by one of the twins from Full House Gerry Fitzgerald. Drake ‘Highlight Reel’ Caggiula scored 6 seconds after Bemidji opened the scoring by opening up BSU’s goaltender’s legs before depositing the puck in the goal bank. Brock Boeser followed that by wrapping around the net and sniping the opposite corner on the helpless Beaver goalie.

The 2nd period doesn’t deserve any notable space in this blog because it was the most boring period of hockey. I literally don’t remember anything about it(and I know what you’re thinking, I only had a couple beers at this point).

The third period begin with more chances for UND that finally climaxed in a scramble in front of the net. The puck kicked out to Troy Stecher who somehow shot it through the carnage in front of the net into the back of the net. The goal was reviewed for goaltender interference and upheld to the delight of the 11,800 in attendance. Following this, Troy Stecher was hit up high by a BSU player who was given the gate. UND wasted no time in scoring 7 seconds into the PP giving Boeser a tap-in off a Caggiula rebound. An ENG gave Boeser the 1st hat trick by a Freshman since this guy…

UND @ Vermont
(Burlington, VT @ Gutterson Fieldhouse)

UND is probably heading to the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, VT right about now to face the Catamounts in their rink that literally looks like a barn. This is one of these rinks I’d love to go see a game at because it has a lot of history and character. That, and it would make me appreciate what we as UND fans get to watch college hockey in every weekend.

Vermont sticks out to me because of 3 names, Yvan Pattyn, Dan Senkbeil, and Alexx Privitera. Yvan is General Stephan Pattyn’s younger brother. Dan Senkbeil aka Jim is the player that made ‘jimmering’ or ‘to jimmer’ become part of UND fan’s lexicon. Then there’s Alexx Primadonna Privitera who UND fans may remember from a penalty box incident from October of 2013. Privitera played for BU(he was kicked off the team later) when they visited the Ralph in 2013. He got a good heckling from our fans for committing a penalty and decide on his way out of the box he would assault one of them. So as the penalty expired he hit the student in the head with the stick leaving a welt… class act huh? At least now the players should know he gets rattled easily.

Although, it’s early UND comes in with a .750 winning % while Vermont is at .333 getting swept in Burlington by UNO last weekend. I can imagine getting swept in their own barn doesn’t sit well with them and they’ll be looking to rectify it with the #1 ranked team starting tonight.

The obvious concerns for UND are injuries. We have yet to see 3rd round pick Matej Tomek’s skills as he is recovering from offseason surgery. That, coupled with Cam Johnson being injured, leaves us with our 3rd string goaltender Mr. Hrynkiw. Our defense needs to be sound and limit Grade A chances in front of him because of his inexperience. This may limit the amount of offense they can contribute by jumping up in the play and pinching along the walls.

The good news is that this team has had no trouble scoring goals so far this year. Averaging 3.75 goals/game and handily outshooting every opponent so far this year, they may need to continue this trend with an unknown in net. The line of Nick Schmaltz, Brock Boeser, and Drake Caggiula will most likely stay in tact for Friday’s game and may be the best line in the nation. Nick’s vision combined with Brock’s scoring ability and Caggiula’s hard hitting and pure finishing touch will be a force in almost every game.

Here’s to thinking UND continues to outscore opponents:

UND 5-3, UND 4-3


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