Three things: Oct. 9

Title defense starts brightly
North Dakota began its quest for a ninth national championship and second in two years strongly. Atlantic Hockey’s Canisius was the Fighting Hawks’ first test this past weekend in Grand Forks, and UND ran into few problems while winning both games of the teams’ series by a combined 10-1.

UND’s offense was particularly strong in the second period of Friday’s 6-0 win. After Shane Gersich and Rhett Gardner gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead through one period, second-period goals from Austin Poganski, Tyson Jost, Dixon Bowen and Brock Boeser put the game’s result beyond doubt.

Hawks goaltender Cam Johnson opened his junior season with a shutout, stopping 17 Canisius shots. The Golden Griffins were also unable to score on any of their four power-play opportunities Friday.

Saturday’s rematch provided much of the same, especially in the final 40 minutes. After a power-play goal from Nick Hutchison gave Canisius a 1-0 lead late in the first period, UND used four unanswered goals to win 4-1 and sweep the weekend set.

Gersich and Poganski both picked up their second goals of the weekend in Saturday’s third period. Johnson again went the distance in UND’s net and made 10 saves.

UND has an extra day to practice this upcoming week, with a Saturday home tilt against Rensselaer the only game on the docket.

Western Michigan opens 2-0
We’re dealing with small sample sizes at this point, but a Western Michigan team many have picked to finish second-to-last in the NCHC this season has opened with a pair of wins.

The Broncos opened a home-and-home series against former CCHA rival Ferris State on Thursday in Big Rapids, Mich., and left Ewigleben Ice Arena with a hard-fought 5-3 victory. Two power-play goals kept WMU in contention with the teams tied at 3-3 after two periods before Western’s Lawton Courtnall and Sheldon Dries scored the go-ahead and game-clinching goals in the third.

WMU followed its success Thursday night up with a 2-1 win over Ferris on Friday in Kalamazoo. All three goals came in the game’s first 33 minutes, as Western’s Matheson Iacopelli and Scott Moldenhauer combined in the second period to cancel out Chad McDonald’s first-period tally for FSU.

Western will hope to continue its good early form this next week with another home-and-home series against another old CCHA foe. The Broncos travel to No. 14 Bowling Green on Friday before the Falcons return the favor Saturday.

CC storms back
In a non-conference weekend series between two teams expected to finish last in their respective leagues, neither Massachusetts nor Colorado College was able to prove itself vastly superior to the other.

Say this for CC, though: On Saturday, one night after falling 3-0 to the Minutemen, the Tigers responded with a big offensive statement.

CC’s 7-4 win Saturday at the Mullins Center started with the Tigers storming out of the gates. Branden Makara opened the scoring exactly one minute in before sandwiching a Kristian Blumenschein goal to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead just 7:15 into the first period.

Massachusetts did eventually beat CC goalie Alex Leclerc four times, and the Minutemen scored on half of their four shots on goal in the second period but never led in the game.

CC faces Hockey East opposition again later this week. While the Tigers will be playing back at home in Colorado Springs, however, they’ll be facing what should be a tougher test against No. 8 Massachusetts-Lowell. UML picked up a pair of ties at home Friday and Saturday against Minnesota-Duluth.