Drew DeRidder looks to build upon last week's performance
The fifth-year senior goalie is expected to start Friday's series opener against Miami University.
OXFORD, Ohio — Drew DeRidder ended the first half of the season with one of his best performances.
Playing in front of a large contingent of family members in his home state of Michigan, DeRidder held the NCAA's top-scoring offense, Western Michigan, to just two goals in 125 minutes of play. UND walked away with five of six points in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference series.
DeRidder's parents, sister and grandparents will be back to see him play this weekend against Miami University in Oxford — a four-hour drive from his home in Fenton, Mich.
"Hopefully, we can do that again," he said of replicating his performance in front of them in December.
If UND is to make a late-season charge to the top half of the NCHC standings and into NCAA tournament contention, it will count on strong goaltending from the fifth-year senior transfer from Michigan State.
That position has been inconsistent this season for the Fighting Hawks (10-11-4).
They've started all three goalies — DeRidder, Jakob Hellsten and Kaleb Johnson — as they've looked for one to take over.
Right now, it's DeRidder's net.
The 5-foot-11, 178-pound goalie put together a strong series against Minnesota Duluth last weekend and is hoping to build off that.
According to advanced analytics, DeRidder held the Bulldogs under their expected goal total both nights. Minnesota Duluth's expected goal total was three on Saturday and 2.7 on Friday. The Bulldogs had two each night.
That means DeRidder stopped 1.7 goals above expectation for the weekend series.
The only weekends UND had posted higher saves above expectation were at Omaha (UND got four of six NCHC points), at Western Michigan (UND got five of six NCHC points) and Holy Cross (UND swept).
"He gave us a chance to win each night," Berry said. "That's what you need, especially when you're playing NCHC hockey here. The focus is for him, as well as our group here, to play at that level again against Miami, giving us a chance to be solid defensively and win."
DeRidder said he'll enter the Miami series (6:30 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday) feeling more in a rhythm.
"I felt good," DeRidder said of the Minnesota Duluth weekend. "I think any goalie is going to say that anytime they put a couple of good games together. It just gets a good rhythm going and it's a lot easier to play every game than just coming in every once in a while.
"It's impossible really to replicate a game in practice. You can do drills and it's great to see some of that stuff, but nothing is quite like a game. A game is a lot of broken plays and weird bounces you need to be ready for. It's hard to simulate that in practice all the time."
DeRidder had plenty of individual success at Michigan State, where he posted a .923 save percentage as a junior and a .918 as a senior.
This season, he's at .888, and UND's team save percentage is at an NCAA-worst .872. The goalies often have not been helped by the rest of the team defensively. UND sits at No. 48 of 61 teams in goals-against per game, allowing an average of 3.2.
"Consistency is probably the most important thing," DeRidder said of his game. "I think our whole team has struggled with that. I've struggled with that personally. That's a huge thing. If you're consistent in your game, that's a huge deal. You need that to get to a high level. I've had that in the past, but maybe have struggled with that a little here. It's not like I've changed anything. It's just (important to) keep working and find a way to get 1 percent better every day."
UND at Miami
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Goggin Ice Center, Oxford, Ohio.
TV: CBS Sports (Friday only).
Stream: NCHChockey.com (Saturday only).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).
Of note: Regular radio play-by-play announcer Tim Hennessy is ill and did not travel. Darrin Looker will call the games on the radio.
UND most goals saved above expectation
2.3 — at Omaha (DeRidder)
2.2 — vs. Holy Cross (DeRidder)
1.9 — at Western Michigan (DeRidder)
1.0 — vs. Minnesota Duluth (DeRidder)
1.0 — vs. Holy Cross (Hellsten)
0.7 — vs. Arizona State (DeRidder)
0.7 — vs. Minnesota Duluth (DeRidder)
0.6 — at Minnesota (DeRidder)