The first half of the season is almost over for the University of North Dakota hockey team and the midterm grades are in. The Fighting Hawks have one final examination on December 31, 2016, against Union before they can close the books on the first half of the 2016-17 season. The Hawks will be shorthanded when they face the high flying Dutchmen in an important non-conference matchup on Saturday afternoon. Brock Boeser is back home with a minor wrist injury and Tyson Jost is playing for Team Canada during the World Junior Championship.
Through 18 games, UND is (9-6-3, 3-4-1 NCHC). After winning a conference championship last season, UND sits in sixth place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings. While there were many positives in the first half, UND also had their share of negatives that they will need to clean up if they want to be successful in the second half of the season. The Hawks will need to find secondary scoring and improve their special teams play.
NCHC Team Statistics
Looking at UND’s team statistics from a conference standpoint there’s room for improvement. Offensively, UND is tied for sixth in the NCHC with Miami 2.25 G/PG. Defensively, UND is ranked second in the NCHC 2.00 GA/PG. On special teams, UND’s is ranked fourth in the NCHC on the power play with 16.7%. On the penalty kill, UND is ranked fourth in the NCHC with 81.2%. (Courtesy of College Hockey Stats Net)
National Team Statistics
UND is ranked 27th in the nation in scoring 3.06 G/PG. UND is ranked 10th in the nation on defense 2.28 GA/PG. On special teams, UND is struggling nationally: UND is ranked 32nd on the power play, 14/81 (17.3%) and ranked 46th on the penalty kill, 64/80 (80.0%). Those numbers will need to improve if they want to make a run in the second half. (Courtesy of College Hockey Stats Net)
The Midterm Grades
During the final press conference of the year, I posed the question to the head coach and the players: What grade would you give your team during the first half of the season? I think that you will find their answers interesting.
Head Coach Brad Berry: B/B-
“I would consciously give us a B or a B-minus,” UND head coach Berry said. “Obviously, there’s room for improvement in a bunch of different areas. Consistency being one. Coming out and having a very good start – going through some injuries – going through some situations with a new group, I would say probably B or B-minus. There’s room to get better on five-on-five play. Maybe scoring a few more goals. Defensively, we haven’t given a whole lot up. Special teams would be an area we want to improve on.”
Junior Goalie Cam Johnson: B
“I would probably give us a B,” Johnson said. “At times, we played well. There were a lot of instances where we were really great and there were a lot of stances where we were really bad. I think we struggled to find our happy medium. We were either there or we weren’t. When we took our foot off the gas in the first half, we were miserable. Guys were getting down. Guys were getting on each other. It was like a snowball effect. If you take your foot off the gas; you’ve got to put your nose down and get back to the grindstone.
“I think that’s something we’re trying to figure out throughout the first half. Something that’s coming a little easier as the first half is coming to an end. I would give us a B. We had some good wins and we had some bad losses that we wish we could to clean up. It wasn’t that bad of a first half.”
Junior Forward Austin Poganski: B/C
“That’s tough, we were very inconsistent,” Poganski said. “So, it’s kind of tough to put a grade on the first half of the season. When we are playing well, obviously, we’re very hard to compete with and can beat any team in the country. When we’re off, definitely, we’ve had some struggles and hopefully we can figure that out in the second half. Maybe a high C, or a low B, just because of the inconsistency.”
Senior Captain & Defenseman Gage Ausmus: C-
“I would give ourselves a C-minus,” Ausmus said. “I don’t think our record is that bad, we were nine and six, but we should have won more games and been more consistent. That will be our goal in the second half.
“I think you’ve got to change something up. There are some things we will try to improve and handle differently. We’ve got to get more consistent and play our game on a nightly basis and not take nights off.”
Question to the UND hockey fans: What grade would you give the UND hockey team in the first half?
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.