If hockey games lasted six minutes instead of 60, Lake Superior State would have pulled off a season-opening shocker Friday.

But North Dakota regrouped from an early deficit and used its superior speed to cruise past the Lakers 5-2 in the opening game of the Ice Breaker tournament at Cross Insurance Arena.

“After the first 5 minutes, I was thinking this coaching thing is pretty tough,” said North Dakota Coach Brad Berry after winning his debut. “The biggest part of having fun is believing in your guys. And that’s what we said after the first period.”

The Lakers threw a scare into the nation’s No. 4 team with goals 54 seconds apart to build a 2-0 lead 5:47 into the game. That came after an apparent goal 11 seconds into the game was waved off by officials after a lengthy conversation that did not include a video review.

That part rankled Lake Superior State Coach Damon Whitten.

“They felt it was directed by a hand,” Whitten said.

Berry called a timeout to settle down goaltender Cam Johnson, who admitted to being nervous at the outset of the game. North Dakota then took control in the second period by scoring three goals. Bryn Chyzyk scored twice in the third period to put the game away. North Dakota will face Maine at 8 p.m. Saturday.

THE FIRST goal scored by Lake Superior State came from a familiar name for Maine fans. J.T. Henke played for the Black Bears two years ago, putting up one goal and seven assists in 21 games. In the offseason, Coach Red Gendron decided to part ways with the 5-foot-9 center as he pursued a roster with more size. Henke spent a year with the New Jersey Hitmen junior team, scoring 54 points, before joining the Lakers as a sophomore. He also assisted on Lake Superior’s second goal Friday.

“His experience in college hockey is a big help. He had a strong game tonight,” said Whitten, whose squad includes 10 freshmen. “He’s got a good skill set. I think he’ll really help us on the power play.”

THE ICE BREAKER is not following a traditional tournament format, but there will still be a champion crowned and a trophy awarded. The matchups for both nights were predetermined, something Maine Coach Red Gendron insisted on so that his team could play the two highest-profile opponents – Michigan State and North Dakota – and also be assured of the 8 p.m. starts. Two teams could finish undefeated this weekend, or all four could be 1-1. In the event of a tie, the champion will be determined by best goal differential over the two games, then fewest goals allowed, most goals scored, best shots on goal differential, fewest shots allowed and, finally, most shots on goal.

MAINE SENIOR FORWARD Will Merchant grew up in Minnesota, where the college hockey rivalry with North Dakota is heated. On Saturday, he’ll finally get to take the ice against those familiar green sweaters. “Growing up, I used to watch them all the time and my dream was always to play them, so now it’s going to happen,” Merchant said. “If we can come out and beat them, it’s a good sign for us the rest of the season.” … The teams were warming up before the first game when UMaine officials got an urgent request. It seemed that North Dakota wanted to be known as “NODAK” on the scoreboard instead of “N DAKOTA,” which was the abbreviation then in use. Within minutes, the change was made.


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