Portland, Maine - It seemed as though, Lake Superior State was going to put up the upset of the the early season. The Lakers scored two early goals, off of snipes in the slot by J.T Henke and Mitch Hults. It also had an early goal that was disallowed because it was hit in by a hand, just 11 seconds into the contest. It was able to escape out of the period with the 2-0 lead, but the second period brought about a much different scenario. UND scored three goals in the first eight minutes, seven
The seeds were able placed at the end of the first period, for UND to take over the game. For much of the second half of the firrst period, North Dakota poured shot after shot onto Laker goalie, Gordon Defiel. UND outshot the Lakers, 12-0 in the remaining moments of the first. The onslaught continued in the second and its opponent wasn’t able to register a shot til about the midway point of the second period.
Lake Superior had chances to tie. Drake Cagguila was assessed a five minute game misconduct late in the second period and North Dakota took two quick penalties early in the third to give its opponent . But a restless, non-existent power play and good kill by North Dakota stymied any opportunity for a comeback. North Dakota added another in the third period, and poured more shots onto Defiel. North Dakota outshot its opponent 45-26 in the game.
- Lake Superior caught its opponent off guard in the early going. Cam Johnson, the UND netminder, didn’t help the cause either as he let in three soft ones (two that counted and one that was disallowed). The start was shocking, but UND really settled down to dominate the rest of the game. In the end, the result wasn’t as shocking as it started out.
- Once North Dakota found its legs, and its goaltender settled down, they were by far the better team. They used their speed against an opponent that just couldn’t keep up. The second period it dominated, outshooting LSSU 15-8 in a period that it was down a man for seven of the 20 minutes. The third period saw a better effort from LSSU, but it still wasted opportunities to tie and possibly win.
- When North Dakota gave up its second goal, goaltender Cam Johnson looked rattled. New UND coach, Brad Berry called a timeout. That minute of coaching and talking worked dividends. He didn’t think of pulling his goalie, or so he said later during his presser, and his team rallied around in response until Johnson could find his stride. It was a great turnaround, for the sophomore who has struggled in just three career games. He probably won’t be the guy in a few weeks, when freshman Matej Tomek comes back from injury, but the response was something that was notable. It would have been easy for both team and goaltender to falter.
- LSSU struggled to find its legs in the second period, which cost them the game. On almost every loose puck, it was just a step behind a much faster UND team. In all senses, it looked like the environment and the good performance in the first period knocked the wind out of them. It will need a huge bounce-back tomorrow against Michigan State.
LSSU coach Damon Whitten said:
“Tonight’s game had an NCAA tournament feel for it because there are a lot of eyes on it. It is a really healthy thing for my program to be a part of. It was really good opening night for my team.”
There are a lot of things that I like about this year’s edition of my program. We took a lot of steps forward and obviously we had some chances to win that hockey game. It will be a work in progress, we should have been up 3-0 but I am not sure how they overturned that goal. I liked the response though.”
“I have felt better than where we were at from day one. Last year it talked about how it took us some time to get to a level we wanted. BUt baseline, we feel we are way ahead of where we were last year.”
North Dakota coach Brad Berry
“It was a little bit of a slow start for us and we didn’t execute a couple of faceoff plays like we would have wanted to that resulted in a couple of chances for them. We were on our heels a little bit but we stepped it up 5 on 5., got back in it and we dug in. I am really proud of them for that.”
“It never crossed my mind to pull Cam. The timeout was used just to regroup and reset. Obviously Cam back back to the bench, he is a part of our team, and we all said we had to get better. I thought we did.”
UND goalie Cam Johnson said,
“I was a litle nervous there at the start. I was able to regroup my thoughts during that timeout and calm down. Coach Berry said to calm down and relax, which I did. My confidence grew as the game went on.”
North Dakota will play Maine tomorrow night at 8 pm. It will look to building off a strong last 50 minutes of the game tonight. Lake Superior will look to rebound against Michigan State at 4:30 pm eastern.