MSU hockey dominated by North Dakota, falls 3-1
North Dakota (11-2-2) was better in just about every facet of the game than MSU hockey (4-6-2) and though a late push by the Spartans made it seem close, it was too little too late, as North Dakota took the game, 3-1.
“We have to figure that out,” head coach Tom Anastos said of his team’s sluggish start. “I don't know if guys were just too uptight, gave them too much respect but there’s been a few games so far that we haven’t gotten off to a good start.”
North Dakota proved it was the better team right out of the gate, scoring just 1:35 into the opening frame. Sophomore defenseman Tucker Poolman gave the Fighting Hawks the lead when he took a pass from sophomore forward and wrister five hole past MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand. Freshmen Christian Wolanin also assisted on the goal.
Both MSU and UND couldn’t capitalize on their man advantage chances but UND would boost its lead to two with 8:52 to go in the period.
On a 3-on-2 opportunity, sophomore forward Nick Schmaltz fed senior Drake Caggiula, who snapped one five hole on Hildebrand, putting UND up to 2-0. Freshman forward Brock Boeser was also credited with the assist.
North Dakota continued to have its way with the Spartans, using its advantage in speed and physicality to outwork the Spartans to every puck. Even when the Spartans got to the puck first, Dakota closed on them quickly causing turnovers at will.
“They were good at going back getting pucks, making simple passes, getting out of the zone,” senior captain Michael Ferrantino said. “I thought they supported the puck well, always giving each other options.”
UND started the second period the same way it started the first, scoring quickly.
Spartan defenseman senior John Draeger threw the puck up along the boards, where it was intercepted by Caggiula. Caggiula cut over the blue line, dished to Schmaltz, who faked a shot, froze Hildebrand and slid the puck back to Caggiula who easily tapped the puck in.
North Dakota would continue to dominate until a hardworking Thomas Ebbing stole the puck just outside the UND zone. Racing to the net, Ebbing drew a defenseman to him, dished the puck to Joe Cox who shot one past an out stretched Cam Johnson for a goal.
Having cut the lead down to 3-1, the Spartans started to find some life and desire. However, North Dakota would hang onto the lead heading into second intermission.
North Dakota started fast again, taking it to the Spartans as their conditioning shown through. MSU was unable to catch its breath for much of the third period, but both teams were able to keep shots from finding their respective goalies. Hildebrand, who made 22 saves only saw 5 shots in the third while counterpart Johnson only saw 3 in the period but saved 29 shots.
The Spartans had opportunities but couldn’t seem to find a way to pull the trigger and it may have cost them an opportunity to steal a win.
“Coach has really been harping on taking the shots that we have,” Cox said. “That’s another big thing we gotta keep working on is just when you have a shot, take it. Don’t pass it up.”
While the Spartans played better during the last period and a half, they couldn’t muster much against a stout UND defense. The third period ended without a score and North Dakota would hang onto win 3-1.
“We’re learning," Anastos said. "We’ll learn from tonight’s game. That’s the kind of team we want to become and I think there’s elements as we gain some experience. At times we gotta play with a little bit more poise.”