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Friday rewind: Jake Schmaltz fills in for late scratch Connor Ford

UND's first-line center was out with an illness, but the reigning NCHC rookie of the week had two assists in his spot

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UND captain Mark Senden drops Colorado College forward Hunter McKown (41) to the ice as teammate Judd Caulfield looks on in the third period of game one of an NCHC quarterfinals series at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Friday, March 11, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — UND athletic trainer Mark Poolman walked up to head coach Brad Berry on Friday morning.

"I could tell in his face something was up," Berry said.

By now, Berry knows that look well.

It seems every game day in the second half of this season, there's a new injury or illness to report. On Friday, it was first-line center Connor Ford, a finalist for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's defensive forward of the year award.

"(Poolman) said Connor wasn't feeling well," Berry said. "I literally found out this morning."


It meant another last-minute lineup change for UND. Rookie forward Jake Schmaltz was promoted to top-line center between Riese Gaber and Judd Caulfield.

Schmaltz came through, assisting on both goals of UND's 2-1 win over Colorado College in Game 1 of their best-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series.

"I thought he did a good job," Berry said. "He's been really, really good for us. He's scored some big goals for us, created some offense for us. But what I like about Jake is he's really responsible. He's a 200-foot player. He's very good in his end of the rink. You want a player that's predictable to other players. You want a guy that's consistent in how he plays."

Schmaltz, who scored two goals in UND's Penrose Cup-clinching win a week ago, said he didn't practice at all with Gaber and Caulfield this week.

"Like we always say, 'next man up, be flexible,'" said Schmaltz, the NCHC's reigning rookie of the week. "I mean, we're all comfortable and confident playing with each other. We miss Connor Ford. He's great in the dot. I definitely took a lot more faceoffs tonight with him being out. I'm just trying to dig in and just do as much as I can, knowing that Connor Ford is out. Hopefully, he's back soon."

Schmaltz went 12-9 in the faceoff circle, while Louis Jamernik went 13-7. Mark Senden went 4-10 and Griffin Ness went 2-2.

Berry said Ford's status for Game 2 is up in the air.

"I texted him after the game here and he said he was doing fine and got some stuff down," Berry said.


UND isn't the only team dealing with a non-COVID illness that seems to be going around the league.

St. Cloud State played Game 1 of its series against Minnesota Duluth without starting goalie David Hrenak and captain Spencer Meier. The Huskies lost 5-2 to the Bulldogs.

Offense tough to find

It was very difficult to generate offense for both teams.

Shots on goal in the first 12:50 of the game: Colorado College 1, UND 0.

"I thought we didn't probably have the start we wanted," Berry said. "We weren't probably sharp in a few different areas, but I thought we got a little better in the second period and in the third period. There wasn't a lot of time and space for both teams out there."

At the end of the first, shots were a mere 4-2 in favor of UND. Third-period shots were just 5-4 Colorado College. In the three-goal second period, shots were 15-9 UND.

Grade-A chances and odd-man rushes were minimal for both squads.

"We knew it was going to be super hard," Schmaltz said. "They're playing for their season. We're trying to move on. We just knew it was going to be really hard. Give them credit. They played super hard tonight. We've got to match their energy because tomorrow is going to be a super hard game."


Power plays limited

Each team had just one power-play opportunity on the night — another reason for the low offensive output.

The Tigers have had trouble generating five-on-five against UND all season.

Jordan Biro's goal at 3:37 of the second period is the only five-on-five goal the Tigers have scored against the Fighting Hawks in the last four meetings between the teams.

Colorado College's lone power-play chance came when Caulfield was called for interference at 10:16 of the first period, but the Tigers were unable to muster a shot on goal during that power play.

Likewise, Colorado College only gave UND's 10th-ranked power play one chance against the Tigers' No. 56 penalty kill.

It came in the third period after Marc Pasemko was called for hooking. But Colorado College won the initial draw, cleared it and UND never registered a shot on goal during its only man advantage.

Quick hits

  • Colorado College did not see UND defenseman Jake Sanderson in any of the four regular-season meetings between the teams, but he quickly introduced himself with a highlight-reel goal.
  • The Tigers played without 10-goal scorer Tyler Coffey, but Coffey did take warmups, so perhaps there's a chance he could play in Game 2.
  • Colorado College started goaltender Matt Vernon in Game 1 over Dominic Basse. Vernon played well in stopping 21 of 23.
  • Playing without Sanderson and Ethan Frisch in recent games, UND mixed and matched its defensive pairings throughout its contests. This was the first time in a while where defenseman coach Karl Goehring stuck to his pre-determined pairings pretty much all game.
  • UND goalie Zach Driscoll didn't face many Grade-A chances, but you could tell he was sharp by the way he played a point shot by Connor Mayer in the third period. Mayer's shot was wide of the net, looking for a long rebound off the end wall, but Driscoll easily moved back in his net and sealed his post.
  • Schmaltz on coming back for Game 2 on Saturday: "We just know it's going to be super hard. They're going to come out really hard and we just have to match that. We had a little shaky start tonight. . . not a lot of shots. We're going to have to build off what we did in the second and third tonight."
  • Sanderson on Game 2: "We know it's going to be a really tough game for us. Their season is on the line, so we know they're going to bring it. I think with us, it's stay mentally sharp, don't give them an inch out there."

Stories to read

Game story: Jake Sanderson scores key goal in return to lineup as UND beats CC

Sidebar: Known for his punishing style, Tyler Kleven showing offensive ability, too

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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