Ed Belfour sets the tone, UND follows with rout of Miami
The Hockey Hall of Famer got the crowd going during his pregame shift and his old team scored seven times to earn an NCHC win.
GRAND FORKS — When Ed Belfour was done with his pregame shift, he skated to the goalie's crease.
It's the place he manned during UND's 1987 NCAA national championship season before embarking on a Hall of Fame career in the NHL that included a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal.
Belfour put his glove, blocker and Christian Brothers stick on top of the net. He turned around and pointed at the crowd, then ripped off his North Dakota jersey to reveal an old Sioux jersey underneath. Belfour beat his chest and the 10,823 in Ralph Engelstad Arena cheered him on.
"I just got chills down my whole body," UND freshman Ben Strinden said. "I had his hockey cards growing up. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever."
UND then channeled Belfour's energy, scored 3 minutes, 31 seconds into the game and went on to rout Miami 7-1 in their National Collegiate Hockey Conference series opener.
Nearly everyone on the roster got in on the action.
Jackson Blake scored twice. Strinden scored his first-career goal and added an assist. Captain Mark Senden had a goal and an assist. Gavin Hain, Griffin Ness and Judd Caulfield all scored. Riese Gaber had two assists. Brent Johnson had two assists and a plus-4 rating. Louis Jamernik V went 13-1 in the faceoff dot.
In net, sophomore Jakob Hellsten stopped 18 of 19 shots.
It was an extra special game for Hellsten because of Belfour's ceremony.
Hellsten played two years of junior hockey in Leksand, Sweden — the same place Belfour finished his playing career in 2007-08. During his freshman year, Hellsten had his pads specifically designed after the ones Belfour wore while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Belfour wore Hellsten's old pads for his shift.
"Last year, I was looking for graphics to use," Hellsten said. "I found a picture of him when he was playing for the Maple Leafs. I thought it would be pretty cool to use it. So, it was awesome seeing him wear them today. It was a special moment, for sure. He's a huge part of this program. Seeing him out there and the energy he brought to us and the building was really awesome."
UND did its part.
After getting swept by Denver last weekend, UND (5-5-2) responded with an emphatic effort.
The Fighting Hawks outshot Miami 11-3 in the first period and opened a 2-0 lead on goals by Hain and Strinden. Hain finished off a passing play Senden and Jamernik V to start the scoring.
Strinden walked a puck from the corner to the top of the crease and slipped it five-hole on Miami goalie Ludvig Persson for his first collegiate goal.
"That was really surreal," said Strinden, who grew up a UND fan in Fargo. "It kind of felt like I was dreaming. That was a really special moment. I've been dreaming of it my whole life."
UND blew the game open during a five-minute stretch in the second.
Miami's Axel Kumlin was called for a five-minute major for contacting the head of UND forward Nick Portz, who left the game and did not return.
Blake and Ness scored on the ensuing power play to make it 4-0. Less than 10 seconds after the power play ended, Senden buried UND's first shorthanded goal of the season to make it 5-0.
"We had a tough week and we talked about the identity of our team and how we all have to play that way consistently in order to have success," UND coach Brad Berry said. "I thought our guys did a good job of that in all different phases of the game. From start to finish, I was proud."
Miami's lone goal came from Blake Mesenburg with 1:45 left in the second period, but UND answered just 18 seconds later when Strinden took a puck to the net and Caulfield batted the rebound out of midair for his third goal in four games.
"It's great to see," Senden said. "We need more of those hard plays. Strinden's goal, he was driving the net and I thought we had a lot more of that tonight, just going to those critical areas, driving the net hard and getting shots through."
Belfour was the fourth former UND player to participate in the 'One Last Shift' event. Every time, UND has scored a goal in the opening four minutes and gone on to victory.
Jim Archibald was the first to do it in November 2018. Following Archibald's shift, UND scored just 3:29 into the game and went on to beat Wisconsin 5-0. Brandon Bochenski's shift came last October against Niagara. UND scored just 69 seconds into that game and won 4-0. Dave Christian's did it last November against rival Minnesota. UND scored 3:27 into that game and the Fighting Hawks won 3-2.
After Belfour's skate, UND scored 3:31 into the game.
"It was amazing," Berry said. "He's quite a guy. I know he only played one year here, but man, he created a lot of memories, winning a national championship, 40 wins, but I think more importantly to me is how he feels about UND. You can tell with his emotion when he was on the ice, living in the moment again, one more time, at the college level. That's what our tradition and culture is based on — guys that have poured their hearts out for our program. He surely did."
Berry said he didn't know Belfour had a Sioux jersey underneath his North Dakota sweater, but he wasn't surprised.
"That's his passion," Berry said. "He played under that jersey and he's so proud of it. He's a guy that's true and true. He's one guy who, when things go well, you don't really hear from him. But when things go sideways, and you're not doing as well, and there's a little adversity, he's one of the first to call back. That tells you about him as a person."
Notes: UND played without forward Owen McLaughlin (illness), forward Dane Montgomery (lower-body injury), defenseman Cooper Moore (injury) and defenseman Luke Bast (upper-body injury). Jackson Kunz was a healthy scratch. . . Miami played without forwards Red Savage and Max Dukovic. Neither made the trip to Grand Forks.