728 x 90

Gaber helps UND make history


Riese Gaber and the University of North Dakota (UND) Fighting Hawks hockey team made history last week.
The Fighting Hawks became the first team in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s eight-year history to win the Penrose Cup as regular season champion and the league championship in the same year.
UND finished the regular season with an 18-5-1 record, with Gaber netting eight goals and 15 points, playing in all 24 contests.
After going without a goal in the last 12 games of the regular season, Gaber broke out of his slump with a goal in a 6-2 win over Miami in the Frozen Faceoff quarterfinals.
A 2-1 overtime win over Denver put UND in the league final, where a four-goal third period propelled the Fighting Hawks to a 5-3 comeback victory over St. Cloud State.
Gaber scored twice in that final game, including the championship goal. He also added an assist and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Frozen Faceoff and was selected to the all-tournament all-star team.
It was the fourth regular season title for UND and first league championship.
St. Cloud State carried a 2-1 lead into the second period and it stayed that way going into the third, where UND took control.
“It feels good. I think the guys are, obviously, pretty excited to check that box off. But we’ve got a lot of work left here and we’re looking forward to it,” Gaber said.
Despite being down a goal going into the third period, the Fight Hawks were confident they could come back. Gaber said the players believed in themselves and never doubted themselves.
“And I think when it came down to it, we were pretty confident we were going to come back and win that game,” he said.
Scoring the game winner was a pretty good feeling, he said, noting it was pretty loud in the building.
Gaber attributes his and the team’s success to sticking to the game plan, both his own and the team’s.
“Just playing like I can, I know I’ve got to stick with it and, obviously, it worked out well,” he said.
Snapping his 12-game goalless drought was a bit of a relief for the freshman. It was a long time coming, he said, and getting that goal in the quarterfinal was big for his confidence.
“It’s not easy to go through streaks like that. But there’s a lot of things that I can take away from that. I always knew that if I stuck with it, it was going to come, and luckily it did. So I was happy that I finally broke that little streak there,” he said.
UND will now face the American International Yellow Jackets in the NCAA regionals, Mar. 26.
Gaber and his teammates are confident going into regionals.
“We know we’ve got a really special group and we’re really excited to show what we can do at regionals,” he said.
His successful season has led to interest from some NHL teams. Gaber said close to a dozen teams have talked to him so far.

Doug Zywina