One of the question marks for North Dakota going into the season was its goaltending. Its top two goalies from last season are both gone. Brad Eidness was a senior last season and Aaron Dell signed a pro deal after his junior season.
North Dakota has had two goalies play in the first six games with Clarke Saunders and Zane Gothberg seeing time. Saunders, a junior from Brockville, Ontario, will start his fifth game of the season on Friday. Saunders is a
transfer from Alabama-Huntsville. He averaged an NCAA-best 34 saves-per-game and had a .906 save percentage last season for the Chargers, who were 2-28-1. Gothberg is a Boston Bruins draft pick (6th round, 2010) and is from Thief River Falls.
“I think both guys have given us a chance to win every time they’ve been in,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “Our goaltending has been solid. We want to continue to be better in all parts of our team and continue with the good competition.”
Hakstol said there is no definitive No. 1 goalie as of yet.
With 12, North Dakota has the second-most NHL draft picks this season in the WCHA
(Minnesota, 15). Six of the 12 are defensemen (Andrew MacWilliam, Toronto; Nick Mattson, Chicago; Derek Forbort, Los Angeles; Jordan Schmaltz, St. Louis; Dillon Simpson, Edmonton; Joe Gleason, Chicago) and five are forwards (Danny Kristo, Montreal; Corban Knight, Florida; Brenda O’Donnell, Tampa Bay; Mark MacMillan, Montreal; Derek Rodwell, New Jersey).
“I’m trying to figure out which one is their No. 1 line,” Huskies coach Bob Motzko said of UND. “I’m not sure that this isn’t the most talented North Dakota team that they’ve had in a lot of years.”
The top line listed is seniors Danny Kristo on left wing with Corban Knight on center and Carter Rowney on right wing.
“They were together last week and we’re trying a lot of different things,” Hakstol said of the line, which had 16 of the team’s 28 shots in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Boston University. “I thought they gained some cohesion and played a lot of good minutes.”
The Huskies have five drafted players on their roster in senior Ben Hanowski (Pittsburgh), junior forward Nic Dowd (Los Angeles), junior defenseman Kevin Gravel (Los Angeles), junior defenseman Nick Jensen (Detroit) and sophomore forward Nick Oliver (Nashville). Though Hanowski will make his second straight series with an upper body injury suffered in a game against MSU-Mankato.
“They have very good depth and have some young guys who have played extremely well,”
Hakstol said of the Huskies. “Dowd and (Drew) LeBlanc are two of their top guys, obviously. But it’s not about one or two guys. They have depth throughout their lineup. Jensen is one of the premier guys in our league and maybe the country. You can’t key on one or two guys.”
The Huskies are coming off a split at Denver (3-0 win and 6-1 loss).
“We’re really happy with Friday and not happy at all with Saturday,” Motzko said with a smile earlier this week. “When Saturday’s the last one, that’s the one you remember. But that’s this league. You’ve got to have a short-term memory and take good out of the direction we were heading. We kind of did it to ourselves. And give Denver credit, they played much more determined on Saturday.”
The shutout win Friday was the first for the Huskies at Magness Arena since a 6-0 victory for
goalie Scott Meyer on Dec. 3, 1999. It was the second shutout of the season and third in the college career of Faragher, a sophomore from Fort Frances, Ontario. This weekend’s series marks an anniversary … sort of … for Faragher. His first collegiate start was Oct. 28, 2011, in Grand Forks and he made 44 saves in a shutout win, the first of 20 straight starts after Mike Lee went down with a hip injury.
“He’s shown it from Day 1 and many times since,” Motzko said of Faragher. “The sky’s the limit for him. We’ll keep putting him in there and learning from his experiences and see where it takes us. You have to give him pretty high marks for what he’s done so far.”
He was 2-2 with a .953 save percentage in four starts against North Dakota last season. For his college career, he’s made 30 appearances and is 13-14-3 with a 2.66 GAA and a .917 save percentage.
So what is the key to the series?
“You’ve got to withstand,” Motzko said of UND. “They come out with great intensity at the start of games and they come in waves. You’ve got to withstand the pressure that they put on and then you’ve got to be able to push back and mount an attack and make them defend. That’s the fun part about the series. It’s pure hockey.
“You’ve got to be great defensively and then you’ve got to find a way to get after them,” Motzko said of UND, which plays SCSU four times every regular season because they have been declared each other’s rivals by the WCHA. “You’ve got to stay disciplined and not give them extra chances on the power play. We’ve got to mount an attack on them as well, that’s critical and get our energy at a high level.”
The weird stat of the series is that the Huskies are 6-0-4 in Friday night games at the National Hockey and Event Center against North Dakota in the last 10 years and 0-10 on Saturday nights. North Dakota leads the all-time series 59-31-11. North Dakota leads the all-time series in St. Cloud 23-17-6.