UND captain Riese Gaber emotional after final UND game: 'I owe everything to the program'

Mar. 30—MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — UND captain Riese Gaber was one of the last Fighting Hawks off the ice after UND's 4-3 loss to Michigan in the NCAA regional in Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights, Mo.

At a postgame press conference, Gaber sniffled and wiped away tears from red eyes as he talked about his career at UND.

He has one year of eligibility left, but has said he intends to sign a professional contract after this season.

"It's tough," Gaber said. "This place means so much to me, and it was just incredible to have the four years here that I did. I never took a day for granted, and I was just so lucky to be able to wear that jersey for four years. The greatest four years of my life. I owe everything to the program, and it's just tough that it's ending this way."

UND coach Brad Berry said Gaber "encapsulates everything that we want in a player coming to North Dakota."

"He's an outstanding hockey player, has elite ability, impeccable character," he said. "He's team first. I'll tell you what, he left this place in a better spot. He's a true North Dakota player, and he's going to have a great career moving past here, but I feel bad. I feel sad for him, Griffin Ness, Carson Albrecht. All the one-year guys that came through here to get a little taste of it. (Gaber) left his heart on the table tonight, and I'm super proud of him and thankful that he's been part of our group for the last four years."

In addition to Gaber, the Hawks will lose Logan Britt, Garrett Pyke, Keaton Pehrson and Hunter Johannes, who have all exhausted their NCAA eligibility.

Johannes scored the game's first goal Friday, and Pehrson had two assists against his former team.

"Keaton Pehrson is outstanding," Berry said. "It's always tough coming into an organization after you spent four years in a different place and he fit right in. At North Dakota, we vote for our captains and there's never been a time where a guy has come in for one year and gets voted by his peers an assistant captain. That says a lot about what our players thought right from the get-go.

"I thought he was tremendous tonight. He had a couple of assists. He had pride in his game tonight as well as he did the whole year. He was outstanding. We were in the locker room after. It was a tough, somber moment in there. He said a lot of things that a lot of times a one-year guy doesn't. It tells you a little bit about him. He left an impact in our group and I'm glad we had a chance to have him for a year."


was a scratch for Friday's regional

due to an upper-body injury he suffered last Friday in a loss to Omaha in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals. The game would've been Pyke's first in the NCAA tournament after four years at Alaska.

"That's the way fate and destiny is," Berry said. "I remember a couple years ago, Jake Sanderson got hurt in our last NCHC playoff game. He didn't get to play in the NCAA tournament. He was our best defenseman and that's the way it is. That's the way fate is sometimes."

Junior center Jake Schmaltz is close with many of the guys moving on after this season, living with many of them during his first three years at UND.

"We want to win for them," he said, "and to go out this way ... I just want to say thank you to Riese and Griffin and (Carson Albrecht), who have been here for four years, and the guys that came in here. They mean everything to this program, especially this guy (Gaber). He's one of my best friends. I just love him. It just sucks."