UND hockey rallies to give new coach Berry his first win
PORTLAND, Maine - Less than six minutes into the season, the University of North Dakota was down two goals. Goalie Cam Johnson was having flashbacks to last season, when the same Lake Superior State team chased him to the bench in his only start....
PORTLAND, Maine – Less than six minutes into the season, the University of North Dakota was down two goals.
Goalie Cam Johnson was having flashbacks to last season, when the same Lake Superior State team chased him to the bench in his only start. Brad Berry, standing behind the bench in his first-ever game as a head coach, called a timeout.
“I thought, ‘This coaching thing is pretty tough,’” Berry said.
It all turned out just fine.
Johnson settled down and stopped 21 consecutive shots to end the game, his teammates reeled off five straight goals and UND beat Lake Superior State 5-2 on Friday afternoon to give Berry the first victory of his coaching career.
Shane Gersich, Keaton Thompson and Austin Poganski scored goals in the second period, while Bryn Chyzyk added a shorthander and an empty-netter in the third to seal the win in the Ice Breaker Invitational in Cross Arena.
“It was a little bit of a slow start,” said Berry, whose team has a chance to win the Ice Breaker for the first time ever against host Maine at 7 p.m. tonight. “We didn’t execute a couple of faceoff plays that we wanted to and it resulted in a couple of good chances against. We were on our heels. The guys stuck with it and did a good job coming back. They dug in and I’m proud of them.”
That was especially the case for Johnson.
The sophomore only earned one start last season and it didn’t go well. He was chased after allowing three goals in just over 20 minutes against the Lakers. Zane McIntyre came in and shut the door as UND rallied to win.
This time, Johnson allowed two of the first three shots. But there was no Hobey Baker Award finalist sitting on the bench ready to go. The team’s only other scholarship goalie, Matej Tomek, didn’t make the trip to Maine because of an injury, and Berry said he didn’t consider pulling his starting netminder.
“No. Never,” he said.
Johnson responded by shutting the Lakers out the rest of the way, including stopping a breakaway in the second period and blanking Lake Superior State on a five-minute power play and a five-on-three power play for 1:12.
“I was nervous out there at the start and it showed,” Johnson said. “After that timeout, I kind of regrouped and told myself, to focus on the next save. I focused on the next save instead of the game as a whole. I broke it down into smaller segments: the next save, the next two minutes, the next penalty kill.”
Johnson admitted that he thought back to his only career start against the Lakers when the first two shots went in, but he tried to quickly put that out of his mind.
“I was excited to get a little bit of redemption,” he said.
Johnson’s bounce back didn’t surprise Berry.
“Watching Cam when he played in the USHL, when he gave up a goal or two, he right away focused on what happened after that,” Berry said. “We have confidence in Cam.”
UND dictated the pace throughout, outshooting the Lakers 17-5 through the first period and 32-13 through two.
North Dakota finally broke through early in the second when Gersich, a freshman, found a rebound on top of the crease and slipped it past Laker goalie Gordon Defiel (39 saves) to cut Lake Superior State’s lead to 2-1. About six minutes later, Thompson blasted a point shot on the power play to tie the game.
Just 47 seconds after Thompson’s goal, UND took the lead for good when Poganski scored at the side of the crease to make it 3-2.
Chyzyk tacked on two insurance tallies in the third, finishing off a Troy Stecher (two assists) feed for a shorthanded goal at 3:17, then sending a puck into an open net with a minute to go.
“They are a very good team and they are probably going to be in the top five from Day 1 on throughout the season,” Lake Superior State coach Damon Whitten said. “A lot of credit goes to them.”
Johnson said it was good to get his first-career win under his belt. Berry said he had fun in doing so as well.
“The biggest part about having fun is believing in your guys,” Berry said. “We all believed in each other.”
Notes: Johnny Simonson left the game in the third period after a big hit along the boards by Gage Torrel, who was assessed a boarding minor. Berry said Simonson would be re-evaluated today, but “I don’t think a lot will keep him out of the lineup.” Drake Caggiula was ejected for checking from behind late in the second period. He will play in today’s game against Maine. . . UND’s healthy scratches were defenseman Christian Wolanin and forwards Rhett Gardner and Mike Gornall.
FIRST PERIOD: 1, LSSU, Henke (Hand, Johnson), 4:53. 2, LSSU, Hults (Hand, Henke), 5:47 (pp).
SECOND PERIOD: 3, UND, Gersich (Schmaltz, Stecher), 1:23. 4, UND, Thompson (Johnson, Caggiula), 7:20 (pp). 5, UND, Poganski (Simonson), 8:07.
THIRD PERIOD: 6, UND, Chyzyk (Stecher, Ausmus), 3:17 (sh). 7, UND, Chyzyk, 19:00 (en).
SAVES: UND, Johnson 3-8-13–24. LSSU, Defiel 17-12-10–39.