But last weekend’s American Hockey Hall of Fame game in Nashville against Penn State was always an eye-opening experience for many of them, as they got to see the full range of fans on the program.
“To see that kind of support for the program, it’s hard to really understand and understand how important this program is to people,” said center Connor Ford, who transferred from Bowling Green this summer. “It’s special. It’s hard to describe. It’s very hard to describe.”
UND arrived in Nashville Thursday evening. A number of players marched on Broadway on Friday before an afternoon practice.
“We saw a sea of green all over Broadway,” said first-year forward Matteo Costantini. “It was really cool to see and it kind of shows that we have the best fans in college hockey. It’s great to be a Fighting Hawk from North Dakota.
Later that evening, UND made a brief stop at the fan’s pre-game party at the Wildhorse Saloon. The players took to a stage and were introduced to the crowd.
“Come out and see… I don’t know what the final tally was, 2,500 people in that bar shouting and cheering for all of you because you are wearing a logo that they support, that was awesome,” Ford said. . “It was really cool. It makes you really appreciate being a part of this program.”
UND ended up losing Saturday night 6-4 to Penn State in front of a crowd of nearly 15,000 spectators at Bridgestone Arena. Over 90 percent of them were UND fans.
“It was really special to see them all,” said freshman center Jake Schmaltz. “I wish we could have taken a win for them.
“It’s crazy how our fans travel. We see it here every weekend when we play here, but just to see everyone committing to come to Nashville and support us, that was really special.”
Slow starts a theme
After the loss to Penn State, UND defenseman Ethan Frisch looked exasperated by a new slow start.
UND lost two goals in the first period, a recurring theme in the first month of the season.
In the last five games, UND has been outscored 59-33 in the first period and 8-4. The Fighting Hawks allowed the opponent to score the first goal in four of those five games. The only time UND scored the first goal, the lead was just over five minutes.
UND was noticeably better in the second, passing opponents 56-33 and scoring them 7-4 in that five-game streak. However, that was not always enough to catch up. Two-goal deficits in the first period have resulted in two of UND’s three losses this season.
Fighting Hawks coach Brad Berry has said the UND must try to eliminate penalties and recklessness at the start of games.
“I think giving the other teams a free air in the first half rather than falling apart in the second and playing like we have to is the biggest difference between the first and the second period,” said Berry. “I think the most important thing with our group right now is that everyone cares, but I think some guys are probably trying to do a little too much. You just have to do your job as a five-man unit on the ice. “
UND probably doesn’t need much of an introduction to Denver.
The Fighting Hawks and Pioneers faced each other seven times last season, accounting for over a quarter of Denver’s games.
UND has won five, including all three in Grand Forks. Denver won two.
“Brad is doing an exceptional job with his team,” Denver coach David Carle said of Brad Berry. “They’re very structured, very detailed. It’s always a challenge. There’s never a lot of open ice anyway. Both teams chase and take up time and space. We’d expect two very good battles this weekend against a quality opponent. “
# 11 Denver to # 8 UND
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Or: Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Recordings: UND 4-3, Denver 4-2.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).
To note : This weekend marks the opening of the conference season at the National College Hockey Conference.