At first look, the University of North Dakota hockey has taken off where they left off. On March 12, 2020, the college hockey season came to a crashing end with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fast forward to the present, 12 games into the 2020-21 season, the UND hockey team is cruising along at a (.792) winning percentage. At this moment in time, that’s better than last season’s impressive (.771) winning percentage. This weekend, UND 9-2-1 takes on their heated rival the Denver Pioneers 4-7-1.
So far this season, the Fighting Hawks have played like a team that is on a mission. After being denied last season, they have played with even more vigor. If that’s possible?
The 2020-21 UND hockey team has something to prove. It’s an older, more experienced team, that hasn’t made the playoffs in a couple of seasons.
“We haven’t made the national tournament in a couple of years,” head coach Brad Berry said after sweeping the Colorado College Tigers. “We would have made it last year, but due to COVID, everything got shut down. These guys haven’t had a taste of it (NCAA tourney). I think there’s a burning desire in there to get back there and try to do something special.”
Like last season, there seems to be a lot of chemistry in the Hawks locker-room. They genuinely seem to like each other. That’s helpful if you want to survive a college hockey season.
“I would say we are a tight team that cares about each other,” Berry said. “We’ve got a lot of different personalities on our team. A lot of guys from different places. The guys like being together. They like being at the rink. They like hanging around each other.”
Take a penalty late in the game, no problem. Let’s go kill it.
“When we took that penalty late in the game, the first tendency was here we go,” Berry said. “We’ve got to kill a penalty. They have a great chance of scoring a goal.
“It wasn’t like that. Grant Mishmash took a penalty in the offensive zone. Let’s pick him up here. Let’s have his back. That’s a big deal when you have that on your team.”
Mr. Third Period
This season, senior forward Grant Mismash from Edina, MN, has taken his game to another level. His improvement is noticeable. Through 12 games, Mismash is three goals shy of a career-best. (During his freshman season, he scored nine goals and 22 points). Breaking it down further, he’s scored nine points in the last seven games (4g-5a—9pts). He’s also on a four-game points streak.
“He (Mismash) put himself in very good shape,” Berry said. “He prepared himself to get to that level. Now, it pushes him to play with a couple of guys who are pretty fast. His skating ability is much improved from last year. That line is clicking. When they play with pace. That’s a big deal.”
Mismash’s linemate, Collin Adams, has also gotten off to a great start during the 2020-21 season. Currently, Adams has scored five goals and 12 points. Adams, like Mismash, is on a six-game point streak scoring four goals and eight points.
This past week, Mismash was the NCHC Forward of the Week.