FAIRBANKS—The University of North Dakota hockey team often moves on the ice in hyper drive.
In Friday night’s opener of the Brice Alaska Goal Rush and the season opener for North Dakota, UND displayed a less than blistering pace on the Carlson Center’s Olympic-size sheet, but it was effective toward a 5-0 victory over the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves, a Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival.
No. 2-ranked UND plays for the Goal Rush title at 7:05 tonight against the host Alaska Nanooks.
“I thought we played a real hard-working, smart type of hockey game,” said North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol. “For us to get the first goal I think was a good bounce for us. With a lot of youth in the lineup, I thought that loosened us up and allowed us to play a hard-working type of the game. “
Junior goaltenders Chris Kamal and Rob Gunderson registered 25 and three saves respectively for the 1-1-1 Seawolves, who captured the tournament title last year and in 2008.
“North Dakota has its tradition and they’re a skilled team,” said UAA senior right wing Jordan Kwas, alluding to UND’s seven NCAA Division I national titles and 15 WCHA championships in its history.
“We didn’t challenge them,” Kwas continued. “It’s frustrating because we didn’t get the win we wanted, and we were letting them have it. It’s hard on the boys, but we’ve just got to bounce back tomorrow (today).”
UAA faces Merrimack at 4:05 this afternoon. Alaska rallied to defeat Merrimack 3-2 in Friday’s second game.
North Dakota’s patient flow Friday also revealed its depth.
Eight UND players were serving suspensions, so the team’s coaching staff employed a lot of youth.
Eleven of 15 skaters were freshmen or sophomores. Among UND’s forwards, eight of nine were either rookies or second-year players.
The fairly young lineup got three assists from sophomore right wing Connor Gaarder, two goals from sophomore center Mark MacMillan, and a goal and assist each from freshmen Bryn Chyzyk (left wing) and Jordan Schmaltz (defenseman).
“With all those guys out (suspended), I think it was important everybody stepped up,” MacMillan said. “I know your first game can be nerve-wracking, but everybody stepped up and the freshmen were a big part of it.”
Freshman center Rocco Grimaldi also scored and junior defensemen Derek Forbort and Dillon Simpson each had assists.
Another UND junior, goaltender Clarke Saunders recorded his first career shutout while turning aside 21 shots.
UND grabbed a 2-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes of the Goal Rush.
Schmaltz flung a power-play shot from near the left point and Chyzyk seized the rebound and rolled it around Kamal’s stick-side skate at 8:21. MacMillan, at 13:10, took advantage of a staggered attack by Forbort and Chyzyk and lifted in a backhand while skating across the front of the crease.
UND stretched its lead to 4-0 in the second period in a span of 1 minute, 22 seconds.
MacMillan converted a power-play rebound in front of the crease at 11:31 and Grimaldi lined a wrist shot from the left circle through Kamal’s pads at 12:53.
Kamal was replaced by Gunderson at the start of the third period.