North Dakota Honors 1987 Championship Team With a Win
by Virg Foss/Staff Writer
GRAND FORKS, N.D. With a strong contingent of players from the 1987 national championship North Dakota team on hand Friday night as part of their 30th anniversary, perhaps there was a little more pressure on this year's UND Fighting Hawks.
While this team is light years away at this point from the glory of the famed Hrkac Circus, which won an NCAA-record 40 games led by Hobey Baker Award winner Tony Hrkac, they kept pace in one important area.
Like the 1986-87 team, which won its first eight teams, this year's version is now unbeaten in three games. The Fighting Hawks moved to 2-0-1 on the young season after beating visiting St. Lawrence, 2-1, before 11,221 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Highly-touted freshman wing Collin Adams scored the winning goal with 3:49 left in the game, one-timing a pass from Joel Janatuinen on a power play past the left shoulder of SLU goalie Arthur Brey. It was the only power play UND converted in seven chances and came after the Fighting Hawks squandered a 5-on-3 advantage for 44 seconds earlier in the period.
The first home-game goal for Adams won't soon be fogotten by him. "It was a special moment, hearing all the fans scream like that," Adams said. "It was amazing."
The play was made when sophomore defenseman Colton Poolman held the puck in the zone near the blue line. He fed fellow defenseman Christian Wolanin at the right point, who quickly passed to Janatuinen, who found Adams in front.
A key play earlier in the period came right after UND fizzled on the 5-on-3 power play. The Saints forced a neutral zone turnover and broke free on a 2-on-0 rush, with leading returning goal scorer Mike Marnell taking the shot on UND goalie Cam Johnson (20 saves). Johnson made the big save and Adams came back with the winning goal late in the period to secure the victory.
"Bottom line, we found a way to win," UND coach Brad Berry said. "It wasn't pretty, lots of stuff to work on. Didn't think we sustained a lot of offensive zone play just because we were a little bit inconsistent with our shifts, from shift to shift."
Berry said improvement would come from simplifying the plays. "I think we've got to play simple," he said. "The simple part is getting pucks deep. I thought we turned over way too many pucks at their blue line. They played a good road game that didn't allow us much time and space. In those situations, we got to get pucks deep."
Poolman appreciates the skills Adams brings to the team. "He's quick and shifty down there, he can make guys miss," Poolman said. "He's a finisher. You get guys like that in and around those areas, they somehow find a way to score goals every time. We need more of that, I think."
The goal capped a victory after UND scored just four goals last weekend in a 1-1 tie and 3-2 win at Alaska Anchorage.
That UND could eke out a win with the 1987 team on hand to be honored Saturday night made the victory even more meaningful.
"It's pretty special," Poolman said. "They might be one of the best teams in UND history with that Hrkac Circus line and all those great players. It's an honor to play in front of them. We've got to go out and show what Sioux hockey is ... and try to get a win for them."