It’s October and that can mean two things – Halloween’s coming and University of North Dakota hockey is here.
The season arrived last weekend with the expected annual exhibition win over the University of Manitoba, a game the Fighting Hawks actually trailed 1-0 before winning 6-2.
UND’s roster includes seven freshmen and seven sophomores. Of the six goals scored against the Bisons, four were from that class – one each by freshmen Grant Mismash and Jordan Kawaguchi and two by sophomore Ludvig Hoff.
Freshman goalie Peter Thome made five saves in a scoreless third period.
“We did some good things offensively, but play away from the puck is always something you can get better at,” UND coach Brad Berry said of the Manitoba game. “Playing at home first and getting that experience, you can’t replace that.”
The puck dropped for real in Anchorage, Alaska, last night and continues at home this weekend against St. Lawrence. It might be hard to maintain focus on that series with one against arch-rival Minnesota looming the following weekend, but Berry said these weekends set the tone for the season.
“A lot of weight is going into this weekend,” Berry said. “It’s game on. We played the exhibition, now it gets racheted up. You gotta make sure you take care of business early on.”
Junior forward Shane Gersich headlines returnees. He led UND in scoring last season with 37 points (21-16) and his 21 goals were a team high.
Sixteen former UND players were on National Hockey League rosters when the season opened on Wednesday. They open National Collegiate Hockey Conference play Oct. 27 at Colorado College.
FAVORABLE SCHEDULE: Second-ranked North Dakota State is 4-0 and should be after a steady stream of less-than-impressive opponents. Eastern Washington (3-2) was the closest thing so far to a quality opponent and it didn’t put up much of a fight. Chalk up another likely blowout this weekend when the Bison head to Indiana State (0-4). The season will get interesting the following week when the Bison play at No. 3 Youngstown State, which beat a strong South Dakota State team 19-7 last week. NDSU leads the MVFC in scoring offense and defense, rushing offense and defense, passing defense and interceptions.
UND HOMECOMING: North Dakota’s woes continued last week at UC Davis, as the Hawks gave up 48 more points to drop to 1-4. They play Northern Colorado today for homecoming. They have never lost four straight games under coach Bubba Schweigert, who is 3-0 against Northern Colorado. The rushing game came around against Davis as John Santiago ran for 170 yards and Brady Oliveira 107.
ON THE ROAD: The University of Mary (0-1, 0-5) is still looking for its first win of the season and an end to a nine-game losing streak dating back to a 26-13 win over Minnesota Crookston on Oct. 15 of last season. To get it, they’ll have to win at Bemidji State (1-0, 3-2) today. The Beavers are 3-2 and have won two straight overall and three in a row against U-Mary. The Beavers are coming off A 56-0 win over Minnesota Crookston.
The steadiest Marauder all season has been sophomore punter Bailey Meyer. He is second in the NSIC with a 39.7-yard average and has placed 12 of his 28 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. He had 18 such kicks last season.
RANDALL AMONG LEADERS: U-Mary senior outside hitter Lauren Randall is second in the Northern Sun in kills per set (4.44) and points per set (4.84).
OCTOBER MADNESS: Men’s and women’s basketball practice at the University of Mary officially starts Oct. 15 but the school will be having a Marauder Madness event for the public Oct. 16. It will include a 3-point shootout, games, a dunk contest and scrimmage. The men’s season opens with an exhibition game against Mayville State Oct. 24. It opens for real against Jamestown on Nov. 13. The women open Oct. 28 at Jamestown.
A SWEEP: Dickinson State sophomore running back Karsten Mack is leading the conference in rushing with an average of 106 yards per game. The 5-10, 190-pounder from Dallas had season-high 161 yards and three TDs in a 40-17 win over Presentation College.
PICK IT AND KICK IT: DSU’s Cain Boschee (4) and Jay Liggins (3) lead the conference in interceptions and kicker Cody Johnson has made six of eight field goal attempts.