UND without 3 players in match up with Mavericks
GRAND FORKS — If the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team is to find its way this weekend in Omaha, it will have to do so without three regulars.
Forwards Adam Tambellini, Brendan O’Donnell and Colten St. Clair have all been ruled out for this weekend because of injury and none made the trip to Omaha for UND’s Saturday-Sunday matchup against the Mavericks.
That’s not welcome news for a team that’s hoping to find its offensive touch.
In its last game, a 3-1 loss to St. Cloud State last Saturday, UND mustered only 17 shots on goal — the third-lowest total in the tenure of 10th-year coach Dave Hakstol. UND has scored five goals in the last three games, all losses.
St. Clair, who has a goal in six games, is expected to be out four-to-six weeks with a left leg injury that he sustained Saturday night. Tambellini (one goal, one assist) and O’Donnell (team-leading three goals, one assist) are week-to-week with undisclosed injuries.
With their absences, UND’s forward lines will lack proven scoring depth this weekend. Of the 12 forwards the team is expected to dress tonight, only four have scored goals this season. Half of them have not registered a point.
Hakstol said the players who have been out of the lineup have been pushing to get in, but he added that the whole team needs to raise their level of play on the weekend.
“I think our competition level on Friday and Saturday nights has to be more consistent,” Hakstol said. “We’ve got great competition on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in practice. The wins and losses are chalked up on Friday and Saturday nights and we’ve been too inconsistent on Friday and Saturday nights.
“We’re trying to build our game. We’re trying to improve our game in a lot of different areas. It brings a little different level to practice because we just lost two games at home, which doesn’t sit real well with us.”
Senior forward Derek Rodwell is likely to be in the lineup for the first time this season tonight. If UND uses the regular 12-forward, 6-defenseman setup, Coltyn Sanderson and Bryn Chyzyk also will be in. UND also could opt to dress a seventh defenseman instead.
Like UND, Omaha has had an up-and-down start to the season.
The Mavericks lost four of their first six and were swept at home by Cornell, but they started to right the ship last weekend by earning a sweep at Denver. Omaha won back-to-back games in overtime on goals by Josh Archibald, the son of former UND great Jim Archibald.
The Mavericks (4-4, 2-0 NCHC) have struggled with taking penalties and killing them early this season.
Omaha ranks No. 1 nationally in power-play opportunities allowed (56) and power-play goals allowed (18). The Mavericks’ penalty kill is at 67.9 percent, which ranks 55th out of 59 teams.
The Mavericks have been much better five-on-five, allowing just six even-strength goals in eight games this season.
“Omaha plays extremely hard defensively. They’ve got a big D-corps back there,” Hakstol said, likely referring to 6-foot-6 Jaycob Megna and 6-3 Michael Young. “They can transition with their forwards very well, which is similar to St. Cloud State. Omaha probably pushes the envelope even quicker and faster than St. Cloud when it comes to playing aggressively on the forecheck.”
Caggiula a positive
One of the biggest positives early this season for UND is the play of sophomore forward Drake Caggiula. The Pickering, Ont., native leads UND in goals (three) and points (five).
“I think everybody notices when you score a highlight-reel goal like he has once or twice this year,” Hakstol said. “But I pay more attention to the other parts of his game. He’s probably, in terms of our forwards, the guy who has been the most difficult (to play against). He’s been the hardest guy up front. He’s done all the little things the right way.”