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Four themes re-appear in UND's loss to Miami

RedHawks defenseman Jack Clement scored with 5:26 to go in the third period to help Miami to a split.

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Miami forward Blake Mesenburg (26) watches as his shot hits the back of the Fighting Hawks' net past UND goaltender Drew DeRidder (34) in the second period of a men's hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Saturday, November 19, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — There have been four consistent themes with the UND hockey team this season.

They were all on display Saturday night in a 4-3 loss to Miami in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Some are good. Some are not.

As has been the case too often this season, the negative ones outweighed the positive ones in the series finale.

"I'll say it again," UND alternate captain Ethan Frisch said. "It seems like a recurring theme here — not a full 60 (minutes). We have it written around the rink here: Expect to win. There's a huge difference between expecting to win and expecting a winning mentality out of yourself.

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"Right now, we're expecting to win. That's not just going to come because we're putting on a North Dakota jersey. So, we've got to dig deep and find a full 60 minutes."

The other consistent themes came out Saturday, too.

No. 1: UND is excellent on the power play.

Riese Gaber scored with the extra man in the second period, marking the 13th-straight game UND has scored on the power play.

The Fighting Hawks are converting at 31.1 percent. For reference, UND's best power play since online stats started in 1999 is 23.9 percent. That came in 2006-07, when Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan were on the top unit.

UND is the only team in the nation with a power-play goal in every game this season.

No. 2: The Fighting Hawks can strike fast and rally from big deficits.

UND fell behind Miami 3-0 in the series finale and caught up thanks to goals by Gaber, Gavin Hain and Jackson Blake. They've rallied from three-goal deficits twice in 13 games. They also rallied from a two-goal deficit on the road against then-No. 1 Minnesota.

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UND can do it quickly, too. In four games this season, UND scored three goals in the span of under five minutes.

It has scored back-to-back goals in less than a minute six times.

No. 3: The Fighting Hawks allow way too many goals.

UND's opponent has scored three-plus goals in nine of the last 11 games.

On Saturday, UND played a Miami team that hadn't scored more than two in its last 10 league games, going back to last season. The RedHawks also were playing without first-line center, Red Savage, who was left home with an injury.

They still scored four goals on 16 shots, plunging UND's team save percentage to .877. The only teams with worse team save percentages: Air Force, Bentley and Holy Cross.

Fifth-year senior Drew DeRidder started the game, but was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots. Sophomore Jakob Hellsten barely saw any work over his 33:34 in net, stopping four of five shots.

"That can be a combination of a lot of things," UND coach Brad Berry said of the goals allowed. "I think it's not managing pucks at the right time. There were a couple of goals that were because of not managing pucks that ended up in our end of the rink, which ended up in goals.

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"It's not boxing out. In those critical Grade-A opportunities, when they get a second whack at it, they got a couple of those tonight. You have to be harder in those areas. And for me, the last one is just making sure we're all on the same page. We did that collectively for 60 minutes (Friday) night but for whatever reason, we struggled to do it tonight."

UND is giving up 3.08 goals per game. There's a long way to go this season, but UND has not finished a year giving up more than three goals a game since Ralph Engelstad Arena's opening season, 2001-02.

"We have to clean up our D-zone," Frisch said. "Box outs have been a huge thing this year. We're not getting our box outs, which has usually been a staple of ours. We've got to figure that out. We practice it all week. We're just not doing it in games."

No. 4: UND is finding ways to lose games in the end.

UND is now 5-6-2.

In both ties, UND led in the third period and gave up a tying goal in the last 11 minutes.

In the six losses, UND led in the third period once and was tied in the third in three others, including Saturday's contest.

Despite holding Miami to just two shots on goal over the final 25 minutes, 20 seconds of the game, one of those two went in the net and stood as the game-winner.

Miami captain Jack Clement stripped the puck from Louis Jamernik V and beat Hellsten over the shoulder from the bottom of the left circle with just 5:26 to go. It was one of two shots Miami registered in the third period.

"We're not questioning the care and effort in the room," Frisch said. "We've got a lot of guys that care a lot about the program and the team — and some high-effort guys. We wear the heart-rate monitors. There's no questioning the effort.

"We have to be machine-like. We have to do the things we practice all week. We have great weeks of practice, unbelievable weeks of practice coming in after these losses, and we're just not showing it. We've got to dig deep. We can't be good nine times out of 10. We have to be good 10 times out of 10."

Digging out of a hole

UND now has to dig out of some holes.

It has tallied just seven points in its first six National Collegiate Hockey Conference games, making it a steep climb if it wants to set a program record by winning four consecutive regular-season conference titles.

With Thanksgiving nearing, the season is reaching a point where it's time to start peering over at the Pairwise Rankings here and there. UND sits No. 28 right now.

The Fighting Hawks still have 24-27 games before Selection Sunday, which is more than enough to climb into contention. But it has to start making progress soon.

"We just talked as a group," Jamernik V said. "We're going to figure it out."

UND will now play five of its next six games on the road before heading to Christmas break.

It starts with a Friday night road game at Bemidji State. Then, UND will play two-game series at St. Cloud State and Western Michigan.

"We had a good meeting right now and there's no chance anybody's going to leave a single ounce of anything left," Jamernik V said. "So it's going to be everything we've got."

Notes: UND played without Owen McLaughlin (illness), Nick Portz (upper-body injury), Cooper Moore (injury), Luke Bast (upper body), Dane Montgomery (upper body). Miami played without three injured players — forward Red Savage, forward Max Dukovac and defenseman Nick Donato.

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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