This weekend, the University of North Dakota travels to South Bend, Indiana to play the Fighting Irish in a two game series in Compton Family Arena.
Today was media day for this weekend’s series and these are a few of the points from North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol that caught my attention.
This is what Coach Hakstol had to say about UND’s fans.
“Our students; its the best student section in the country,” Hakastol said. “We leave for the pregame meal and there’s a thousand students already lined up at 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon and you come back to the game and the student line up out in the cold that wraps halfway around to the back of the arena. That, in itself, brings excitement right way, when you come to the rink and inside the arena – the passion – not just the students, but all of our fans bring is second to none. I can compare that to just about any sporting event that I have ever been at.
What continually strikes me is new people come into the building – National Hockey League people – hockey people from all-over different parts of north America – come in here and no matter what they have heard about the building – no matter how many positives they have heard about the atmosphere by the end of the hockey game here they’re in disbelief of what they have just witnessed. That’s all due to the passion and excitement of our fans. Their loyalty is second to none.”
This past weekend, UND gave up 70 plus shots to the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and Coach Hakstol was asked what he had to do defensively to limit the amount of shots that he team game up in the defensive zone.
“It’s what we have to do outside of our defensive zone,” Hakstol said. “Not inside. We’re playing good hockey in our own zone. We have to do a better job taking care of the puck. We have to play to our strengths. In order to do that, we want to play in the opposition’s end of the rink. When we turn pucks over in the neutral zone – when we give up possession easily in the offensive zone that leads to three or four more opportunities that we have to play in our own defensive zone – I think last week that was a bigger issue than our actual performance in terms of defensive zone coverage. It comes down to taking care of the puck and pushing the puck up ice and making it a 200 foot game for our opposition.
Give Duluth a lot of credit. I said it a week ago – they’re a quick team – they’re a great fore-checking team – they’re a good transition team. We cannot turn the puck over to them. I think we turned the puck over to them a little bit too much. That’s one area of our game that has to get better because we’re going into a series against another team that’s pretty good in the neutral zone that’s pretty good in transition.”
The games this past weekend were some of the longest teams in UND history and coach Hakstol was asked about the communication with the officials and if there is too much between the officials and the players and coaches during a game.
“No I think we have to reduce the communication,” Hakstol said. “Not the communication but the length of communication between officials and the teams and that includes both the players on the ice – the captions that are communicating with officials – as well as the amount of time that is spent at the benches talking with the officials. That’s not on any one individual part of the game – that’s on all of us. We have to reduce that amount of time. For those games last week to be some the longest games we have played in 250 games is crazy because there wasn’t really very much going on in terms of extracurricular stuff that’s on all of us and we have to reduce that over length of game time.”
Coach Hakstol was asked if the rivalry between UMD and UND is heating up.
“I think it’s always been that way,” Hakstol said. “I think if you look at some of the series we have played over the past few years I think it’s always been that way. I think it’s a great rivalry it’s a traditional and historical rival for us – so absolutely – obviously we are both moving into a new league next year and I consider them certainly to be of our… not just proximity wise but they’re one of our closest rivals. I think this games weekend were pretty indicative of that and probably of the healthy rivalry to come.”
Coach Hakstol was asked about the status of injured forward Michael Parks who was injured during the first period of Friday’s game.
“Michael Parks will travel to South Bend this weekend, but will not play,” Hakstol said. “He’s still week to week.”