A pivotal NCHC series began tonight against a couple of teams still looking to get things going this season. The University of North Dakota, who haven’t won in their past six games, came to town to take on the Huskies who are 2-2 in the NCHC so far this season.
In the first period, Nathan Widman would take a hooking penalty, giving North Dakota the power play. Sophomore defenseman Christian Wolanin would have the puck at the point and he would feed freshman forward Tyson Jost for a one timer at the top of the right circle. Huskies rookie goaltender Zach Driscoll would make the initial save, but junior forward Austin Poganski’s would kick the puck back to sophomore forward Shane Gersich waiting right in front of the crease to send home the rebound and put the Fighting Hawks up 1-0 at 16:46 in the first. The score would remain at 1-0 heading into the first intermission.
In the second the Huskies would be looking to knot things up at one, but the Fighting Hawks had other ideas. Sophomore forward Patrick Newell would attempt a centering pass but it would be picked off by UND junior defenseman Tucker Poolman. Poolman would find Ludvig Hoff in transition and he would find himself with a free lane to Driscoll; Hoff’s shot would find twine to extend the lead to 2-0 at 8:34 in the second.
From there the floodgates would open up. Sophomore forward Brock Boeser would attempt a backhand shot going behind the net and would collect his own rebound. Boeser would make his way around the boards and would feed senior defenseman Gage Ausmus at the point. His shot would kick off Driscoll’s pad and Gersich would grab his second goal of the game and the Fighting Hawks would add some insurance as North Dakota would enjoy a 3-0 lead.
Looking for any sort of momentum the Huskies would have the puck in Fighting Hawks territory, but a turnover would result in a quick transition play the other way. North Dakota freshman defenseman Colton Poolman would send a pass off the boards to Jost and who else but Gersich would be found wide open streaking through the slot past SCSU’s Driscoll. With his third of the game, Gersich’s hat trick goal would result in a 4-0 lead for UND at 18:42 in the second.
Jeff Smith would replace Driscoll to start the third period.
The score would remain the same at the final buzzer as it would at the end of the second. On the play of the Huskies tonight, head coach Bob Motzko simply said, “It was awful.”
Huskies Captain Ben Storm said, “We played hard in spurts; it definitely wasn’t a full 60 [minutes] tonight that we needed against a good team like North Dakota.”
Even though Driscoll was pulled tonight, the freshman goaltender kept the team in the game for the majority of the first two periods. Motzko was content with the play of both netminders tonight saying that his goalies were “left out to dry.”
The Huskies will look to turn things around tomorrow as they look to bring some energy back into the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.