What We Learned: UND’s First 10 Games

After 10 games, the University of North Dakota has a 7-1-2 record. I don’t think many thought UND would have a .800 winning percentage after ten games. Especially, with UND starting the season with 11 freshmen in their lineup.

There’s been a lot discussion about UND’s schedule. It’s true, UND’s schedule has been a bit light, their opponent’s combined record is 8-36-11 (.245). While UND’s opponents haven’t been world beaters by any stretch of the imagination, they still had to go out and win the games. UND played seven of their first 10 games on the road. During those 10 games, UND has outscored their opponents 33-17.

For Comparison Sake

For comparison sake, the number one ranked Boston College Eagles are 10-1-0. The Eagles’ opponents combined record is 18-34-9 (.368). Looking at those numbers, the Eagles’ opponents record doesn’t really jump out at you either.

During that same time, junior goalie Thatcher Demko has an (8-1-0 .67 GAA and a .974 SV%) for the Eagles. Demko also has an NCAA-leading six shutouts. Four of those shutouts have come against teams with a combined record of 0-16-3 (.078).

In Division I college hockey, schedules are made years in advance. Just like UND, the Eagles have won the games that are on their schedule. That’s all you can ask for. I don’t think we can fault either team. As both teams enter the meat of their schedules, we’ll find out how both teams matchup against the teams from their conference.

Schedule aside, for the most part, UND and B.C.  have dominated their opponents. I guess that’s all  you can ask for.

Goaltending wins Championships

As I mentioned in another post, I don’t know if anyone expected Matt Hrynkiw to start many games for UND during the 2015-16 season.  Due to injury, Hrynkiw was named UND’s starting goaltender. Through eight games, he’s ranked 13th in the nation for Division I goalies. Hrynkiw is (6-1-1, 1.63 GAA and a .933 SV%).

UND goalie Matt Hrynkiw (UND athletics)
UND goalie Matt Hrynkiw (UND athletics)

We know what to expect with UND’s sophomore goalie Cam Johnson, but freshman goalie Matej Tomek is a bit of an unknown. Eventually, the UND coaching staff is going to want to see what Tomek can do between the pipes. Through 10 games, Tomek has yet to play after recovering from off-season surgery for a lower-body injury.

I had a fan post this comment on my Sin Bin blog. This fan’s comment reflects a fair number of UND’s fans. While many fans appreciate Hrynkiw’s efforts in net, but they are patiently waiting for Tomek to take the net.

Matt has made the saves we expect a goaltender to make.  He doesn’t give me the feeling that he could steal a game as Zane did several times when the team in front of him didn’t bring the A game.  He isn’t a shutdown goaltender, but he’s playing his role as a backup very well.  As a diehard fan, I’m grateful for the job he’s done, but when all are healthy, it’ll be Cam and Matej splitting time.

Based on his performance, I think Hrynkiw’has earned the right to start another game. I would imagine, that the coaching staff is interested in seeing what Tomek can do in net. In due time, he’s going to get his chance. Johnson, on the other hand, was shaky during his time between the pipes and I would have to think he’s going to have to work hard to earn another start.

Statistically, Hrynkiw’s numbers are much better than Johnson’s playing against similar competition. Whoever ends up taking over in net is going to have to step it up, goaltending is key to winning a championship.

Freshman Class Shines

One of the stories of this season has been the play of the UND freshmen. So far this season, three freshman players have stood out more than the others.

Freshman defenseman Christian Wolanin has been a nice surprise. After not playing in two of the first four games, Wolanin has played in seven straight games and scored points in four-of-five games. Including his first career multi-point game (0g-2a—2) on October 30, 2015. In eight games this season, Wolanin has scored (3g-2a—5pts).

The gem on the 2015-16 freshman class has been Brock Boeser. In 10 games, the Burnsville, Minnesota, native has scored (5g-2a—7pts). So far, Boeser has been streaky going pointless in the last three games. Boeser scored a hat trick against Bemidji State.

For those keeping track, Boeser was the first freshman in 10 years to score a hat-trick for UND. Former Fighting Sioux All-American forward T.J. Oshie was the last freshman to score a hat trick for UND and he did it against the Bemidji State Beavers on Dec. 17, 2005.

Finally, freshman forward Shane Gersich has scored (4g-0a—4pts) in six games. Gersich missed four games with an illness. Gersich is a Washington Capitals draft choice and has all of the tools. Gersich has been used as a top-six forward for UND.