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A destination game dud in Las Vegas

UND struggled to generate offensive chances in loss to Arizona State

NCAA Men's Hockey 2022: Arizona State v North Dakota OCT 29
UND forward Riese Gaber enters the zone against Arizona State defenseman Ty Murchison during the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, October 29, 2022.
Russell Hons / UND athletics

LAS VEGAS — The Vegas Strip is supposed to be the place for grand performances and shows under the bright lights.

UND did not fit in Saturday.

The Fighting Hawks delivered a destination game dud in T-Mobile Arena, losing 3-2 to Arizona State in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.

The crowd of 15,503 — nearly all of which was wearing green — had its fun in the opening 10 minutes as UND built a 2-0 lead on goals by Gavin Hain and Jake Schmaltz.

But the fans, who traveled from at least 43 different states and seven different countries, spent the next 50 minutes groaning as the Fighting Hawks conceded three-straight goals to Matthew Kopperud, Lukas Sillinger and Robert Mastrosimone, while struggling to generate anything of their own.


"We've got to identify ourselves about what we want to be," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Do we want to be a consistent team with an attack mentality? Or do we want to be a team that's up-and-down and being inconsistent? We have some things we have to figure out here and make sure everyone is on the same page. Tonight, we left a lot on the table."

UND traveled to Vegas on Thursday with the intention of making it different than last year's destination game, when it lost to Penn State in Nashville.

The Fighting Hawks had a more reserved itinerary this time around, attempting to stay away from the pregame fan festivities. They repeated all week that it was going to be a business trip.

But none of it worked.

After winning destination games against Clarkson in Winnipeg (2012), Omaha at T.D. Ameritrade Park (2014), Boston College in New York City's Madison Square Garden (2016) and Minnesota in Las Vegas' Orleans Arena, the Fighting Hawks have now dropped consecutive ones to two of college hockey's newcomers to the scene.

Saturday's performance was even more lethargic than last year in Nashville.

Playing against an Arizona State that entered the weekend allowing an average of 37.2 shots on goal per game, UND mustered just 15 shots on Sun Devils goalie T.J. Semptimphelter.

In the third period, while trailing by a goal, UND went nearly 18 minutes without registering a single shot on goal.


"We need to be better in a lot of different areas and we have to address that," Berry said. "In order to win games — it doesn't matter who you play — everybody's got to bring their A-game. It's a situation where some guys aren't playing their best. Guess what? Half your team isn't going to win you a game. It has to be everybody together."

UND dropped to 3-3-1 this season as it continued to be an unpredictable team.

At times, the Fighting Hawks have generated offense with ease. UND has scored three goals in the span of less than five minutes during half of its first six games. At the same time, it has now gone through 10-minute stretches without a single shot on goal in back-to-back games, while conceding a lead in five straight.

"Guys got spread out and we weren't supporting the puck as well," Hain said. "There were some missed passes through the neutral zone. You can't really play in the offensive zone if you're not playing as a group."

UND rarely pressured Semptimphelter in the back half of the game until it pulled goalie Drew DeRidder (18 saves) for an extra attacker.

"In order to play against a team that's locking it down defensively, you have to make sure you play together and you're on the same page," Berry said. "We came through the neutral zone and we missed two or three passes. The execution has to be better in order to play in the offensive zone. I thought our execution wasn't as good tonight."

Arizona State, which won the Ice Vegas tournament in T-Mobile Arena five years ago, is now 3-0 in the building.

"It's obviously a benchmark win," Arizona State coach Greg Powers said. "We've had some really nice wins. But with this environment, against that team, against that great program, in front of their fans which are unbelievable — hats off to them for traveling down here and making it such a great environment — that's a program benchmark win. It really is."


UND opens National Collegiate Hockey Conference play next week at Omaha.

"As a team, we've got to come together and play as a team," Hain said. "We have to come together and be on the same page."

As for the destination games, there will now be a hiatus.

UND's schedule for 2023-24 is already set and it is close to finalizing 2024-25 without a destination game. Because UND is unlikely to get the Hall of Fame Game two years in a row — it will play Providence in Grand Forks in 2024 — it might be at least 2026-27 before it happens again.

"We want to thank (our fans) for coming out," Berry said. "It wasn't the result we wanted tonight."

Notes: UND played without injured defenseman Luke Bast and injured forwards Dane Montgomery and Carson Albrecht. Forward Ben Strinden suffered an injury in the first period and did not return. UND's extra skater was a defenseman, so the Fighting Hawks were unable to fill his spot on the fourth line.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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