UND Hockey: War of Words

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference is a tough conference. Every game is a war. I have often joked that the regular season trophy should be a meat grinder. Eight teams kick the crap out of each other for 24 games. The season takes its toll.

At the end of the season, after a grueling 24-game schedule, someone’s feeling is going to get hurt. That’s the reality of sports. It would appear that there will be no love lost between the Omaha Mavericks and the Univesity of North Dakota.

Last night, both head coaches had pointed comments for the other side. Below, I included the post-game radio comments for Brad Berry and the embedded tweet with the post-game comments for Mike Gabinet. I think you’ll find both men’s comments thought-provoking.

Berry Said What?

During the post-game interview, UND hockey radio play-by-play announcer Tim Hennessy made the comment, “I’ve never seen a team be so after the whistle tough.”

UND head coach Brad Berry took the high road, “all I am going to say, it comes from leadership.  Here’s the deal, we stuck around to shake hands after, and their coaching staff didn’t. We asked him to speak at our Booster’s luncheon, there’s only one other coach that ever declined that. He’s one of them. I don’t want to go off of the handle, but it starts with leadership and it resonates down to their players.”

Berry continued, “We also got chirped a little bit when it was four nothing and we put our power play unit out. It’s still four nothing. You never know. Two things have to happen there. The game isn’t out of reach totally yet. When you’re acting like they were, that’s what you do. You have to do something. I like how Senden went out and scored a power play goal on the power play. They wanted that unit, they got that unit.”

Gabinet Said What?

Omaha Maverick head coach Mike Gabinet had a lot to say after Saturday’s game.

In the post-game, Omaha head coach Mike Gabinet didn’t take the high road, “I didn’t like a couple of our penalties that we took at the end of the game, but I also have some empathy for of our guys. We played these guys three times, we got three concussions. At the end of the day, these guys are a very tight-knit group in there. They really care about each other. It’s hard when you see teammate’s constantly go down with concussions – with injuries.

“We’ve lost four guys in four games against these guys. I think frustrations boiled over there. Obviously, it was a three nothing game. So, we wanted to get back in the game. We don’t want to take retaliatory penalties. That’s not good. I also have some empathy for our players.”

North Dakota Rebounds against Omaha, Wins 4-1

Grand Forks, ND — How a team responds after a bad game, says a lot about their character. After losing Friday’s game 6-3 to the Omaha Mavericks, the University of North Dakota hockey team refocused their efforts and secured a 4-1 decision. 

From the drop of the first puck, you could see that Saturday’s effort was much better. This time, the Hawks played on their toes and pushed the pace. Defensively, the Hawks didn’t give the Mavericks a lot to work with. Instead of giving up the first goal of the game in the opening minute. The Hawks would score the first goal and never relinquish the lead. 

It was a better effort all the way around. 

“Yeah, much-improved tenacity and mindset I thought,” associate head coach Dane Jackson said. “We weren’t terrible last night, but we weren’t sharp in our execution. I thought that we were kind of soft defensively. It was a good reset. I think sometimes you get a lot of wins, and the guys forget a few details. We thought we’d lost some details from last weekend. 

“It’s got to happen organically, you have a loss and it kind of gets the guys attention back. We were happy with the response. I thought we were much more physical and much more kind of tenacious in our play overall.”

On Saturday night, it was about sending messages. The UND coaching staff scratched freshmen forwards Judd Caulfield and Harrison Blaisdell. In their place, the coaching staff inserted little-used Casey Johnson and Jackson Keane, both players had an immediate impact and contributed in the box score.

The Hawks would strike first. At 08:30 mark of the first period, Johnson scored UND’s first goal. Johnson’s first of the season, the fourth of his career. At first, look, it appeared the goal might be waved off for goalie interference. After a lengthy review, the on-ice officials ruled that the Mavericks goalie Isaiah tripped Dixon Bowen. (You can see the goal below.)

UND wasn’t done, Collin Adams and Mark Senden would score goals to give UND a 3-0 lead going into the first intermission. At the 07:05 mark of the second period, Omaha sophomore forward Taylor Ward would score to cut UND’s lead to 3-1. That was all the closer the Mavericks would get. Three minutes later, freshman forward Shane Pinto would score to give UND a 4-1 lead.

Senden Surges

After recording a single point in 11 games, sophomore forward Mark Senden has four points in the last four games (2g-2a–4pts). Against the Mavericks, Senden recorded (2g-1a–3pts). During the last week, Senden sat down with coach Jackson and viewed the game film. It appears video work has paid off. What did they talk about? 

“You know, just trying to look at areas where I could hold on to the puck a little longer,” Senden said. Maybe hit a guy on a pop play. Just finding those right spots out on the ice. Kind of in that soft area in the o-zone, and also just defensively, supporting wings.”

We always really appreciate what Mark brings,” Jackson said. He’s such a strong two-way player. Just good defensively, and it was nice to see him come in and do a little bit of video (work) this week. We just talked about a few little things; him holding on to the puck a little longer, because he is so selfless and kind of defensive-minded sometimes. 

“I think he kind of advances pucks when he maybe can possess them a little longer and look for maybe a little something more offensive. So, I don’t know if that was it or not but it’s nice to see him, have some success and I was happy for those guys.”

With the win, the Fighting Hawks improve to 17-2-2 overall and 8-1-1in the NCHC. With the loss, the Mavericks fall to 9-10-3 overall and 3-6-1 NCHC. Next weekend, UND travels to Miami to take on the RedHawks.