A scuffling North Dakota team found themselves in an unfamiliar position heading into tonight’s game on the road against #2-ranked Minnesota Duluth. Out-gunned by the extremely deep and talented Bulldog squad, the Fighting Hawks needed a tight defensive effort and a few breaks to pull off a surprise.
That strategy worked....for a while. But with 1:03 left in scoreless first period, North Dakota goalie Peter Thome lost his catching glove during a scramble in front of his net. The puck bounced off to a corner and before officials could whistle the play dead for Thome’s equipment issue, Thome pushed his own net off the moorings to stop play. He was assessed a delay of game penalty, and with just 5.5 seconds left in the period, Kobe Roth converted on another mad scramble in front of the UND to put the Bulldogs ahead at the break.
In what had been an even game up to that point, the wheels came off for North Dakota in the second period. It started early when Parker Mackay capitalized off a turnover in the North Dakota zone to extend the lead to 2-0.
At 8:39 of the second period, North Dakota’s Casey Johnson took a run at a defenseless Minnesota Duluth player near the boards. That set off a semi-brawl, resulting in multiple penalties. When the dust settled after a nine-minute delay, Johnson was given a five-minute major penalty for interference, along with multiple sets of matching penalties for each team. Minnesota Duluth would convert on the ensuing power play quickly, with Kobe Roth finishing off a cross-ice pass from Mikey Anderson into a wide open net.
The Bulldogs would add a pair of goals just 37 seconds apart later in the period with tallies by Mikey Anderson and Tanner Laderoute, which would chase Thome from the game.
With the game result firmly decided, the two teams played an uneventful third period, finishing with a final score of 5-0. The two teams will complete their series on Saturday evening.
Notes and Thoughts:
-I’d heard the rumors and seen the results, but it’s still hard to believe a North Dakota team could be legit bad. But here we are. A couple caveats apply. Minnesota Duluth is really good. They can make decent teams look bad. And North Dakota was short-handed tonight, missing forwards Nick Jones, Collin Adams, and Joel Janatuinen.
But this team just doesn’t have much that scares you offensively. Even when they’re going good and controlling the play, like they did for stretches in the first period, they’re having a tough time converting them. Add in that I think they’re average at best in goal, and they’ve got to do a lot more work to get the same results.
I could see this team getting better in the second half. They’ll probably steal enough games in the RPI-friendly NCHC to get them at least in the NCAA Tournament conversation towards the end of the year, but I wouldn’t surprised if they’re not in the tournament for a second straight season.
-So the Thome delay of game penalty. Here’s the play.
Technically, if a goalie loses a glove, the play is supposed to be blown dead once the official sees it. But the explanation I got was that because the referees hadn’t seen that Thome was without his glove(which I find very surprising, but whatever), the play hadn’t been blown dead and he was still responsible for intentionally knocking the net off. Just a very weird, unfortunate quirk of the rules there for Thome.
-There was a little more misfortune for North Dakota leading up to that first goal, which I think really swung this game around. With a face-off in the UND end with under a minute left in the period, the puck drop on the face-off was terrible. The puck bounced and kicked directly back to UMD at the blue line, giving them clean possession to set up on the power play. North Dakota wouldn’t get a handle on the puck again before Roth’s goal.
If UND wins that face-off and can get a clear, they likely get out of the first period scoreless. I don’t know that it changes the final outcome; UMD was clearly the better team. But it might have kept this game interesting a little longer.
-UMD’s fourth line had great possession numbers in the half of the game that mattered. A big part of that was likely being matched up against North Dakota’s fourth line, and UMD’s superior depth really shone in that area.
Ironically, the best shift North Dakota’s fourth line had came in the second period, though it ended in disaster. After a few attempts at the UMD net, two North Dakota players collided with each other hard, and seconds later, Casey Johnson would make an ugly hit along the boards against a UMD player that would earn him a major penalty(which probably would have been a minor penalty had the check not set off a skirmish).
19:54 Kobe Roth unassisted (power play) 1-0 Minnesota Duluth
After a massive scrum for the puck in the North Dakota crease, Roth was finally able to dig the puck loose at the right side of the net, and put it in before Thome could recover from the ice.
0:38 Parker Mackay from Justin Richards 2-0 Minnesota Duluth
Richards forced a turnover at the right half-boards in the UND zone, and quickly fed the puck up to Mackay. Mackay shot the puck high over the short-side shoulder of Thome for the goal.
9:24 Kobe Roth from Mikey Anderson (power play) 3-0 Minnesota Duluth
Anderson had the puck at the left point and made a cross-ice pass to Roth at the right circle. Roth had the entire net to shoot at and connected with a wrist shot into the open goal.
13:08 Mikey Anderson from Parker Mackay and Justin Richards 4-0 Minnesota Duluth
The Bulldogs entered the zone with a 3-on-2 rush. Mackay got the puck on the left wing, deked around a defender and made a cross-crease pass to a streaking Anderson for a tap-in goal.
13:45 Tanner Laderoute from Jackson Cates 5-0 Minnesota Duluth
Cates won the puck in the right corner and made a pass to Laderoute in the slot. Laderoute’s wrister.