UND looks to get ugly against Colorado College
GRAND FORKS -- University of North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol wouldn't mind if his team got a bit uglier this weekend. No, he's not talking about their Movember mustaches.
Hakstol would like to see some grinding, cycling, winning of puck battles and, ultimately, a rebound goal or two when UND travels to take on Colorado College in World Arena (6:37 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday).
UND has been outshot in seven straight games -- the longest such streak in at least 14 years -- and the team is attributing it to the lack of puck possession time.
"We're spending too much time in our zone," Hakstol said. "We're not taking care of the puck well enough. We're not grinding and cycling like we need to.
"We've got to get better. We've got to keep improving. We're a third of the way through our schedule right now. Our results are indicative of what our performance has been. We've been OK. We've got to take that to a higher level of consistent play."
UND (6-4-2 overall, 3-1-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) has had no shortage of highlight-reel goals this season. In fact, more than half of them have been on pretty plays -- a two-on-one, a rush, a snapshot or on a backdoor feed.
The problem is that since the season-opening 5-0 win over Alaska Anchorage, the goals off of cycles and rebound goals have been scarce.
The last true rebound goal UND scored was about a month ago, when Rocco Grimaldi pounced on a Nick Mattson point shot (since then, Danny Kristo also scored on a backhand that hit traffic and Corban Knight fed Kristo for a goal after Knight picked up a rebound).
"When you look at some of our wins, I think we've scored some of those dirty goals from the top of the crease," Hakstol said. "That's how you win games. I think, probably on average, you're going to score one of four or one of five on a pretty passing play that's considered to be a pretty goal. Most the others are tips, rebounds and guys driving to the net.
"That's part of the area we have to be more consistent in. When that all comes together, that's part of spending time in the offensive zone. That's part of cycling, wrapping pucks to the net, whipping pucks to the net from maybe not a great angle, but you have people going for rebounds. We're doing that sporadically. In order to be more difficult to play against, we have to do that more consistently."
If UND is able to do that, it will probably start winning the shot battle again. As it is, UND is averaging being outshot 31.6 to 29.2. The last time UND outshot its opponent was Nov. 2 against Boston University. UND outshot the Terriers 35-22 and won the game 4-2.
All is not lost in UND's play in front of opposing goalies, though. UND has been very effective on scoring goals from point shots with forwards screening opposing goaltenders.
"That part has to stay strong," Hakstol said. "We're scoring goals there. That may be attributed, partly, to the group we have on the blue line. We have guys with pretty good puck poise back there. But you don't score those unless you have traffic in front of the net."
Colorado College, 7-6-1 overall and 4-2 in league play, has averaged scoring 4.25 goals per game at home this season, which will be yet another stiff test for UND. This series will be the fourth in five weeks against a nationally ranked team for UND.
"Go up and down our schedule," Hakstol said. "We've played a real difficult schedule against some real good teams. That's been good for us. It has exposed a lot of areas we have to improve upon."