Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published January 16 2013
UND preps for rival top-ranked GophersGRAND FORKS – Earlier this week, the University of North Dakota men’s hockey captains held a team meeting to let the younger players know what to expect this weekend.
“We can’t go into that building for five minutes unprepared,” UND alternate captain Danny Kristo said. “Everything we do this week, we need to do with a pro mentality. We have to be like pros. If we want a chance at four points this weekend, we’re almost going to have to have a perfect weekend and we know that.”
That’s because the opponent is currently the No. 1 team in the nation.
The University of Minnesota leads all Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams in scoring offense, scoring defense, power play and penalty kill. So, No. 6 UND knows it has some tough work ahead during this weekend’s series (7:07 p.m. Friday, 5:07 p.m. Saturday, Mariucci Arena).
The Gophers have lost just one time in the last 15 games, and that loss was a month and a half ago.
“(Minnesota) is playing very well,” Hakstol said. “They are a quality team from top to bottom. But I’m more concerned with how we’re playing and some of the inconsistencies that we’ve shown in our game over the last few weeks. We’re addressing that. We’re going to work to make sure we improve what we’re doing.
“I don’t control anything over what (the Gophers) are going to do on Friday and Saturday night. We do control a heck of a lot in terms of what we’re going to do on Friday and Saturday night. And we have to improve from what we’ve done the past two weekends.”
While UND (13-6-3) has just one loss in the last nine games, Hakstol pointed to a Saturday night win against Holy Cross and a Friday night loss against Colorado College as two examples of sporadic efforts.
Part of the reason is that UND is working on finding line chemistry with two additions to the lineup.
Michael Parks played less than one period in the first half of the season due to a pair of injuries. Mitch MacMillan became eligible two weeks ago after transferring from St. Cloud State.
UND made major switches in line combinations and defensive pairings during last weekend against Colorado College.
“We’ve had a lot of changes through our lineup the last couple of weekends in key positions,” Hakstol said. “That’s changed some things.”
Hakstol said he liked what MacMillan did on the top line with Danny Kristo and Corban Knight, but thought the other lines needed more chemistry.
“I don’t think we’re there yet,” Hakstol said. “Adding two players to your roster changes some dynamics and some chemistry. That’s going to help us get better. But I don’t think where we were on Saturday night is where we need to be by any stretch of the imagination.”
Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald