Friday, April 11, 2014

UND Hockey: The 2013-14 Season is Over.

We knew that Thursday or Saturday would be the last game of the season. Nonetheless, the last game always seems to sting, unless you finish with a title. This one doesn't hurt as bad as others. It took me a week to get over the 2011 Frozen Four.

I don’t think anyone expected UND’s season to end the way it did. UND finishes the season with a (25-14-3, .630) record. They had a 14-7-1 record at home and a 8-5-2 record on the road. They were 3-2-0 on neutral ice.

I don’t know if you could’ve drawn it up this way. Less than a second left in regulation, on a shorthanded goal, by a player that hadn’t scored a goal all season long. But that’s hockey. Sometimes you have to tip your hat and congratulate the other team. It pains me to say that.

Think about this, there was six-tenths of a second remaining in regulation. It was interesting to wake up this morning and see fans calling for Hakstol’s head on twitter. Bulldog radio play-by-play man Bruce Ciskie was re-tweeting some of them. It was even more interesting to see fans and writers telling these fans to get a grip. I actually found it interesting that fans of other teams were defending the UND head coach.

Those who read here on a regular basis know that I think Dave Hakstol is a good hockey coach. I think an extension would be in order, especially after this season. I think this is one of Dave Hakstol’s best coaching jobs so far. Hakstol took a team that wasn’t as talented as the previous ones and went to the Frozen Four. That’s not an easy task. That’s also not an accident. His team was six-tenths of a second from going to overtime with the number one ranked team in the nation. I think this team deserved a better fate. Tough way to lose.  

Hak’s teams are 14-4 in regional play. On the flip side, his teams are 1-6 in the Frozen Four. Okay, one area that Hakstol needs to improve on, I am sure that he would agree. Last night, Hakstol’s team played the game to perfection. I thought the coaching staff had a great team game plan. They kept the Gophers bottled in their own zone and were the better team for most of the game. I don't know what else you can say about that. The boys in green were well prepared and they played very disciplined hockey. It was the best game that I witnessed all season long.

Sometimes you have to tip your hats to both teams for putting on a good show.

Let’s also give credit where credit is due. When you’re in the Frozen Four, you’re playing the best teams in the nation. Minnesota is a pretty good hockey team, there’s no shame in losing to them. Again, it pains me to see them win the game, but they earned it. It's not a fluke that the Gophers are in the championship game of the Frozen Four. Congrats to the Gophers.

I have to tip my hat to Gothberg who played out of his mind during the NCAA playoffs. UND has a big-time stopper in net. For the season, Gothberg finishes with a 20-10-3 record, a NCHC-leading 1.99 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. It’s not how you start, but how you finish, right? After starting the season 2-5-2, from November 30, 2013, his record was 18-5-1 and he had a 1.75 goals against average.

There are better days ahead for this team… I am not giving up.

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