UND routs Western Michigan 8-2 in Sunday matinee
No. 1-ranked Fighting Hawks improve to 3-0 with the win.
OMAHA, Neb. -- Brad Berry was willing to let up by the middle of the second period.
His No. 1-ranked UND team had a five-on-three power play and Berry used his 12th forward and seventh defenseman instead of his star-studded first power-play unit.
But his players weren't as forgiving.
UND's make-shift unit scored anyway, an indicative sign of Sunday's afternoon matinee against a struggling and injury-plagued Western Michigan team.
In a performance reminiscent of last year, the Fighting Hawks ignored the scoreboard and remained relentless until the final buzzer, hammering the Broncos 8-2 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod in Omaha's Baxter Arena.
It marked the sixth time in the last 37 games that UND has won by six or more goals.
Shane Pinto and Grant Mismash each scored two goals, while Gavin Hain, Riese Gaber, Tyler Kleven and Gabe Bast added one. Pinto had a three-point game, while Mark Senden, Jordan Kawaguchi and Jacob Bernard-Docker each had two-assist afternoons.
Fifteen of UND's 19 skaters had points. It's easier to list those who didn't: defenseman Matt Kiersted, third-line winger Judd Caulfield and fourth-line wingers Carson Albrecht and Harrison Blaisdell, who left the game early with an undisclosed injury.
The rare noon start time didn't throw off the Fighting Hawks, who improved to 3-0 in the Pod.
"Ever since Blaiser was here, I remember when he was the head coach back here, and he called it North Dakota time," said UND coach Brad Berry, referring to Dean Blais. "If the team bus left at a certain time or if there was a team function, it wasn't right on that time. It was usually 10 minutes before. So, guys had North Dakota time today. They started before the puck drop."
Odd way to prep
The preparation for the game was abnormal.
UND usually eats its team meal six hours before the start of a game, loading up on pasta and carbohydrates. But they weren't going to load up on pasta at 6 a.m.
So, the team ate their big pasta meal on Saturday night instead and shifted pregame meal to 8 a.m., four hours before puck drop. They ate traditional breakfast foods Sunday morning.
"I had Frosted Flakes with some potatoes and eggs," said Pinto, who finished with three points. "I'm going to have to have Frosted Flakes for every breakfast after that game."
"It was really strange," Mismash said. "I haven't had a situation like this probably since my freshman year of high school when I played bantams at Shattuck. It was interesting. I ate eggs and hashbrowns and yogurt. I'm usually eating pasta and Alfredo sauce."
The change didn't seem to affect the Fighting Hawks, who traditionally practice in the morning.
UND scored three times in the span of 1 minute, 43 seconds -- Hain shorthanded, Mismash at even strength and Pinto on the power play -- to take a commanding lead just 8:28 into the game.
At the end of the first period, the Fighting Hawks had twice as many goals (four) as Western Michigan had shots on goal (two).
Gaber scored just 13 seconds in the second period and Kleven scored the first of his career at 3:08 -- both highlight-reel plays -- to make it 5-0. There were less than four minutes remaining in the second period when Western Michigan finally registered as many shots as UND had goals.
The game increased the misery for the Broncos, who lost to Omaha 10-2 just three days earlier.
The Broncos played without starting goalie Brandon Bussi, who was injured in the season-opener and won't return during the Pod. Backup goalies Austin Cain (.794 save percentage, 8.39 goals-against average) and Alex Aslanidis (.750, 8.16) have been shelled in his place.
"KG mentioned that we need to get shots on them," Pinto said of the instructions from UND assistant coach Karl Goehring. "But it doesn't change the way we play. I think we've got to attack either way. I thought we did that coming out. We got some pucks on him and he was a little rattled in the first. I thought we did a good job of overwhelming them."
Western Michigan, now 0-3 in the Pod, will play Colorado College on Tuesday.
"If you lose your No. 1 goalie, you have to make some adjustments, and we haven't done a good job of that, for sure," Western Michigan coach Andy Murray said. "We're looking to get better. We have to coach better. We have to play better. We have to compete better."
UND has Monday off before another showdown against rival Denver at 3:35 p.m. Tuesday. The Fighting Hawks beat the Pioneers in overtime Friday night.
"Obviously playing in the Pod here and having all these teams, that's going to be the way of life a little bit," Berry said of strange start times. "But I thought we started on time and got after it right away."