For perhaps the first time under seventh-year coach Brad Berry, UND broke out its business suits — the lucky black jerseys — for Game 1 of a series.
If that didn’t send the message that UND was sick of losing on Friday nights, the performance on the ice did the trick.
UND beat Colorado College 5-2, snapping a streak of three-straight Friday losses.
Louis Jamernik, Matteo Costantini, Jake Schmaltz, Nick Portz and Gavin Hain scored goals, while Mark Senden, Riese Gaber and Chris Jandric had two-assist nights. Goaltender Zach Driscoll stopped 28 of 30 as the Fighting Hawks earned a victory in their first time playing in the new Ed Robson Arena.
“We wanted to make sure we had a message for our team on how we wanted to play,” Berry said of his decision to wear the black jerseys in a series opener.
Portz added: “Every time we see those, we know it’s a business game. We had the mindset that we needed to win this Friday night anyway, but it’s just a little extra.”
On Saturday, UND will attempt to do what nobody else has this season — take all six points from Colorado College in a weekend series. Game 2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. It will be UND’s last before heading to Christmas break. With just a single point, the Fighting Hawks are guaranteed to spend the holidays alone in first.
UND is now 12-6 overall and 7-2 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings, where it is three points up on Western Michigan. The Fighting Hawks are trying to become the first NCHC team to win three-straight Penrose Cups as regular-season champions.
“I just said to our guys leaving the locker room, ‘Good, solid road win, but we’ve got to make sure we build for tomorrow,'” Berry said. “Knowing their team hasn’t been taken for six points, that says a lot about their team. It’s going to be one of the toughest games in the first half tomorrow, knowing it’s the last game and keeping our minds focused on the next job at hand.”
UND played Friday’s game without star defenseman Jake Sanderson, who is nursing an undisclosed injury. Sanderson did not make the trip to Colorado Springs, but Berry said Sanderson should be ready in time to play for Team USA in the World Junior Championship. The Americans’ first game is Dec. 26 against Slovakia.
“It might be a few days before he gets back at it here,” Berry said. “He’ll be ready for the World Juniors and for us in the second half.”
UND also was without top-six winger Ashton Calder, who missed his fourth-straight game with an arm injury.
But in the absence of Sanderson and Calder, the Fighting Hawks received goals from players on all four lines and assists from all three defensive pairings.
“I thought we had a good, full 60 minutes,” Jandric said. “We brought out the business suits, which was nice and we got the three points, which is what we wanted. So, it was awesome.”
Despite falling behind 1-0 early for a third-straight game, UND turned the tide midway through the first period, swarming Colorado College’s defensemen and forcing them into constant turnovers. The Fighting Hawks outshot the Tigers 12-0 in the last half of the first period and built a 2-1 lead thanks to an even-strength goal by Jamernik and a power-play tally by Costantini.
Schmaltz scored a power-play goal just 64 seconds into the second period and the Tigers never got within a goal the rest of the game.
“I thought we protected pucks, executed with the puck, handled pucks and protected them in the offensive zone,” Berry said. “We were playing fast in the offensive zone and not feeding into the other team’s offense. I thought we did a good job. It wasn’t just one line. It started off with Jamernik’s line scoring that goal, but I think every line carried over after that.”
UND extended the lead to 4-1 in the third period on Portz’s first-career goal. The St. Cloud, Minn., native finished a touch pass from Senden on top of the crease.
“Hopefully, now that I’ve got the first one, they’ll come a little easier now,” he said. “But there are no easy goals in this league.”
There are no easy wins, either.
That’s something UND knows heading into the series finale against a Colorado College team that’s had 10 of 15 games this season come down to a single goal.
“We need to be dialed in,” Portz said. “They haven’t given up six points all year, so that’s our next mission is to make sure we can get all six.”
This content was originally published here.