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Offense absent again as UND gets swept at Western Michigan

The Fighting Hawks failed to score for the first time in 88 games.

UND defenseman Chris Jandric (7) looks to clear the puck in front of goalie Jakob Hellsten on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Lawson Ice Arena.
Ashley Huss / Western Michigan athletics

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — UND tried throwing shots to the net from all areas of the offensive zone.

It mixed up the power-play units. It even tried defenseman Jake Sanderson at left wing for a shift.

But right now, nothing is working for the offensively starved Fighting Hawks.

They failed to score a goal for the first time in 88 games — a streak dating back three years — and lost 2-0 to Western Michigan on Saturday night in Lawson Ice Arena.

Western Michigan goalie Brandon Bussi made 24 saves — many of them on perimeter chances — while Tyler Kleven hit the post twice and UND left Kalamazoo with nothing to show for it.


"It's frustrating because we thought we played really well," UND alternate captain Connor Ford said. "It was a pretty good group effort. We played hard. We had our chances. But at the end of the day, you can't win if you don't score. You can slice it however many ways you want — look at Xs and Os, analytics, whatever — but if the puck doesn't find the back of the net at least a couple times a night, you're not going to win."

It's four-straight losses for the Fighting Hawks for the first time since the 2013-14 season. It's back-to-back sweeps against for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

Both of those teams eventually went on runs and reached the NCAA Frozen Four. This team has work to do to get there. It dropped from No. 4 to No. 13 in the Pairwise Rankings over the last four games, which means it went from a No. 1 seed to a bubble team in a hurry.

"Everybody probably says you need a little puck luck, but what we do is we create our own puck luck," UND coach Brad Berry said. "If we keep working hard, we'll get that. I don't think it's going the right way right now, but the major thing is our guys sticking together and having belief and finding a way to generate probably a little bit more offense."

Special teams were again the issue for UND.

During the two-game series, even-strength goals were 1-1, but UND was minus-four on special teams.

Western scored three times on the power play Friday, once shorthanded Saturday and finished the series with an empty-netter.

The key play came at the end of the first period when Broncos rookie Max Sasson scored shorthanded.


UND forward Ashton Calder had the puck at the point on the power play and attempted to throw a pass to the other point. But Sasson read the play, picked off the pass and went the other way on a clean breakaway. Sasson picked the corner of the net to make it 1-0 with 46.1 seconds left in the first.

It was the first time UND had allowed a shorthanded goal since the 2019-20 season. It didn't allow a single one last season and hadn't allowed one yet this season.

Sasson's tally was the game's only goal until the empty-netter.

"We've got to be better on special teams," Ford said. "On nights like tonight, that's where you've got to strike. Special teams are the difference in college hockey when things are really tight five-on-five. This weekend, there were two five-on-five goals through 120 minutes of play — one for us, one for them. The rest is decided by special teams. We lost that battle."

UND (13-10) will need to address that in a hurry with St. Cloud State coming to Ralph Engelstad Arena next weekend. The Huskies scored 19 goals in two games this weekend against Miami.

UND's bright spot was the play of rookie goalie Jakob Hellsten, who stopped 24 of 25 shots in making his third start.

"Coming out of the Cornell series, I don't think we played our best defensively," Berry said. "I thought we took a step that way. Now, we've got to take a step offensively."

Berry said they'll look at juggling lines and power play units.


"Everything's on the board here," he said. "We're going to keep working."

Notes: UND wore its black jerseys for the fifth time this season. It won the previous four (at Quinnipiac, at St. Cloud State and twice at Colorado College).

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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