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UND finishes 3-3 tie at Bemidji State with only four healthy defensemen

The Fighting Hawks lost Ethan Frisch and Tyler Kleven during the series opener in the Sanford Center.

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UND forward Riese Gaber makes a move on Bemidji State goalie Mattias Sholl during their game on Nov. 25, 2022, in Bemidji's Sanford Center.
Bemidji State athletics
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BEMIDJI, Minn. — Things aren't coming easy for the UND hockey team right now.

That was, once again, evident Friday night.

For the second time in a week, the Fighting Hawks outshot an opponent by double digits and didn't come away with a win to show for it. Last Saturday night, it was a 20-shot advantage against Miami and a loss.

On Friday, it was a 10-shot advantage that resulted in a 3-3 tie against Bemidji State in the Sanford Center.

Things piled up in other ways, too. There were more key injuries and a disallowed goal.

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UND, already playing without injured defenseman Cooper Moore and ill defenseman Brent Johnson, lost two more during the game against the Beavers and finished the contest with just four healthy blue liners.

Alternate captain Ethan Frisch suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and did not return. Junior Tyler Kleven suffered a lower-body injury in the third and was planted on the bench to end the game. Kleven attempted to play a couple of shifts after the injury, but struggled to move, so UND coach Brad Berry kept him out the rest of the way.

Berry didn't know if either would be able to play in the series finale at 6:07 p.m. in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Fighting Hawks completed the game with a blue line of Chris Jandric, Ty Farmer, Ryan Sidorski and Luke Bast, who suited up for the first time since March. He had been struggling with an upper-body injury.

"We have to take the positives from tonight — and there were a lot of positives — and build on that," Berry said. "Then, we'll get back home and see what it's like for our lineup tomorrow."

UND got behind 2-0 in the first period and 3-1 in the second before mounting a big push.

Griffin Ness, Jackson Blake and Judd Caulfield scored the goals for the Fighting Hawks, while netminder Jakob Hellsten made 18 saves.

Blake also had a goal disallowed on video review late in the first period — a call that appeared to irk UND's bench.

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Bemidji State challenged the goal for too many men on the ice.

On the play, UND forward Gavin Hain skated on the ice as the sixth man while the Fighting Hawks had the puck in the offensive zone. He quickly realized it, turned around and went to the bench as the puck came back to the neutral zone.

Blake then picked it up near his own defensive blue line — with UND back to five skaters on the ice — cruised across the center line, into the offensive zone and beat Bemidji State goalie Mattias Sholl five-hole from the bottom of the right circle in the final minute of the opening frame.

The rule states that the goal can only be overruled if there is a "gained advantaged created by a too many players infraction," which did not appear to be the case with Hain quickly returning to the bench and never getting involved in the play.

"We were coming off a four-on-four, and the guy came from the box (to the bench), and it was just a couple guys that mistook who they were going out for on that play," Berry said. "It really doesn't happen to us a whole lot, but it did in that situation. Ended up going on the ice with an extra guy. He came right back off. Obviously, they probably had an opportunity to call too many men at that time. They didn't. But then the puck cleared the zone. Then, we went back in and scored. That too many men wasn't a direct impact on the goal, which we feel should have counted."

It didn't count, though.

UND came out of the locker room in the second and played one of its best 20-minute stretches of the year. The Fighting Hawks outshot Bemidji State 14-5 and scored three times.

After Blake's goal, which cut Bemidji State's goal to 3-2, the rookie forward skated to the side of the net and signaled goal — a sign that he wasn't pleased with his early disallowed one.

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"The disallowed goal didn't throw us back," Berry said. "We scored a goal back to get it down to (a 2-1 game), then proceeded to play like we can in the second period with puck possession and playing a hard, heavy game. I thought we sustained a lot of momentum in their zone for most of the second."

UND's bench got short in the third but the Fighting Hawks continued to push for a victory, which has been elusive as of late. They've now just won one of the last six.

"I think it's definitely a step in the right direction," Ness said. "I think we played for the most part a pretty complete game. Obviously, it comes out as a tie, but I think it's a step in the right direction for us."

UND is now 5-6-3 overall.

Of the nine games it did not win, UND was tied or leading in the third period in seven of them.

UND has outshot its opponent by double digits in all three games since falling to Denver 6-3 on Nov. 12, but has been unable to secure wins in two of them.

"The thing is not to get frustrated and stay positive, keep doing what we're doing, for the most part, and we'll get rewarded," Ness said. "It will come for us. I believe that strongly. If we play, for the most part, like we did tonight, I don't think any team can play with us. I thought we played pretty well. Sometimes, the puck doesn't go in and bounces don't go your way."

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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