Fighting Hawks and Tigers: 3 Things

This past weekend, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks took five-of-six points in their series against the Colorado College Tigers. Here are three things from last weekend’s series against the Tigers.

UND Blows Four-Goal Lead

On Friday night, the Fighting Hawks raced to a four-goal lead. After scoring the fourth goal of the game, UND appeared to take the foot off the gas.

UND goalie Cam Johnson (Matt Schill, UND athletics)
UND goalie Cam Johnson (Matt Schill, UND athletics)

Then the momentum swung in the Tigers favor as forward Christian Heil scored a shorthanded goal for the Tigers.  That was the first shorthanded goal UND had given up in almost ten months.

After the first period of play, it was apparent that scoring goals wasn’t an issue. Keeping the puck out of UND goal was. The Tigers would score five unanswered goals before UND’s Rhett Gardner would score the game-tying goal with 31.9 seconds remaining in regulation.

The two teams would go to five-minute overtime and then a  five-minute 3-on-3 overtime. Nothing was decided after 10 minutes of overtime play. Finally, UND would win the game in the shootout, securing the extra point in the standings.

No Shortage of Goals

Last week, when the University of North Dakota lost two of their top players Drake Caggiula and Nick Schmaltz to injury; questions began to emerge. Who was going to score goals for the Fighting Hawks versus the Colorado College Tigers?

After this weekend’s two-game series against the Tigers, the question was who didn’t score for the Fighting Hawks. Even with a depleted lineup, UND still managed to score 10 goals on the weekend. Shockingly, the final healthy member of the CBS line, Brock Boeser was held scoreless on Saturday night snapping 13-game point streak (10g-10a—20pts).

On Saturday night, it was all UND. The Fighting Hawks would race to a 4-0 lead before giving up a goal late in the third period. Gardner would score an empty net goal to ice the game for UND, making the final score 5-1.

In the last three games, UND has scored five goals in each game. Currently, UND ranks 9th in the nation in goals scoring (93 goals, 3.58 GPG).

Freshman Rhett Gardner Turning Heads

UND freshman forward Rhett Gardner is red-hot. The freshman forward scored two goals on Friday and two more goals on Saturday, giving him nine goals for the season. Currently, Gardner is third on the team in goals and has scored (9g-1a—10pts).

It’s well documented, UND’s 2016 freshman class came in highly touted. One freshman came to UND without a lot of fanfare but has definitely turned some heads. It would appear that the free-agent Gardner is this season’s diamond in the rough. Gardner didn’t slip past the eyes of the UND coaching staff.

UND forward (Conor Knuteson/UND Athletics)
UND forward (Conor Knuteson/UND Athletics)

“When you see good, big-body players in Canada, sometimes they look to the CHL (Canadian Hockey League),” head coach Brad Berry said. “We saw a young player, who was both a good player and a great person. We nabbed him right away, and I’m glad he chose college hockey and chose us.”

The Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan native has also won 156/292 (.534) faceoff wins. That’s good for fourth on the team in faceoff wins.

As of late, Gardner has been in the right place at the right time. Good things happen when he has the puck on his stick.  Gardner has scored five goals in the last four games. On Monday, he named the NCHC’s Rookie of the Week in the NCHC.