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IceBreaker: North Dakota Speeds Past Lake Superior

Matt Dewkett

Portland, Maine -- North Dakota recovered from a tough first six minutes of the game to earn a 5-2 win over Lake Superior State in the first game of the 2015 IceBreaker at the Cross Arena.

Lake Superior jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the game's first 5:47 on goals from J.T. Henke and Mitch Hults. The damage could have been worse for North Dakota as the Lakers had a goal disallowed just 11 seconds into the contest.

J.T. Henke, a transfer from Maine, beat North Dakota goaltender Cam Johnson with a wrister from the circle at the 4:53 mark. Jake Hand and Matt Johnson were credited with the assists.

Just over a minute later, on a power play, the Lakers extended their lead to 2-0. Mitch Hults took a quick snap shot that beat Johnson above the blocker.

First year North Dakota coach Brad Berry called timeout after the second goal and his team dominated territorially the rest of the period, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. That changed 1:23 into the middle frame when Troy Stecher's shot from the right point made it through traffic and went in off the stick of freshman Shane Gersich.

"It was a little bit of a slow start. We didn't execute a couple of face-off plays that we wanted to. We were on our heels, but the guys stuck with it. The guys did a good job of coming back. I'm very proud of them," said Berry.

"Just to regroup and reset. Get back to our game," added Berry on why he called timeout.

A two-goal flurry in just 47 seconds gave UND its first lead of the night before the midway mark of the second period. Keaton Thompson's blast from the left point hit off a defender before beating Laker goalie Gordon Defiel up high. Drake Caggiula and Chris Wilkie picked up the helpers.

North Dakota took its first lead of the night with 11:53 to play in the second period. Johnny Simonson pushed the puck up to Austin Poganski who worked in on the right post. With his second bid he chipped the puck up over the leg of Defiel.

Starting between the pipes in just his second career game, Cam Johnson recovered nicely from the shaky start. He held his ground to stop a Matt Johnson breakaway bid with 8:34 left in the second. He also stood his ground on two separate big kills.

"Excellent," said Berry, when asked how his goalie performed after the timeout was called. "We have confidence in what Cam can do."

After Caggiula was whistled for a five-minute major for checking from behind with 5:08 to go in the second, UND stymied Lake Superior. UND had the better of the scoring chances over the duration of the major despite being shorthanded.

UND grabbed a two-goal lead with 12:45 to go in the third period immediately after killing a five-on-three. Right after coming out of the sin bin, Stecher gave a pretty saucer pass to Bryn Chyzyk who quickly snapped a shot past Defiel's blocker on the two-on-one. Chyzyk added an empty net goal with 59.1 seconds left to make the final score 5-2.

"Special teams is a big momentum builder. The five-minute kill going to the locker room was huge for us. That was a big win for us. The five-on-three, that's just all mentality out there. Who's going to want it more, who's going to block that shot," said Chyzyk.


Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.