Fighting Hawks raise banner, defeat Bemidji State in exhibition play

(Grand Forks, ND) -- The big weekend for University of North Dakota's athletic department wrapped up Saturday night as the Fighting Hawks' men's hockey team raised their NCHC Championship banner and opened up the season with an exhibition game against Bemidji State University. A quick start to the second period and a late third period goal led the Fighting Hawks to a 2-1 victory over Bemidji State.

After skating to a scoreless first period, the scoring started quickly in the second period. 

Less than 90 seconds into a powerplay, UND's Jake Sanderson found Riese Gaber on the right circle, who sent a shot Bemidji State's Mattias Sholl, giving UND the 1-0 lead just two-and-a-half minutes into the second period.

A short time later, Bemidji State answered back as Owen Sillinger found Alex Ierullo wide open in the slot, sending the puck past UND's Zach Driscoll, who faced 16 shots in the victory for North Dakota.

The game winner, coming with less than eight minutes to go in the third period, came off a scrum behind the UND net. Sanderson, who was the playmaker in the first goal of the game, won a defensive battle for the puck and carried it up the side wall, taking the puck into the slot and burying it past Gavin Enright, who came in at the start of the third period for Bemidji State.

The Fighting Hawks will open up the regular season next Friday and Saturday against the Niagara University Purple Eagles at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Friday night's game is at 7:07 p.m., while Saturday night's faceoff will be at 6:07 p.m. The weekend will also celebrate Ralph Engelstad Arena's 20th anniversary. The arena opened on October 5, 2001.

UND Athletic Director Bill Chaves told Flag Family Media's Scott Hennen that all home Saturday night faceoffs will be at 6:07 p.m. The early faceoffs will allow for earlier departure times for teams, and fans, in the event of possible inclement winter weather.