Weekend Preview: North Dakota vs. Miami

Over the first three seasons of the NCHC, Miami has averaged a 5th-place finish (8th, 2nd, 5th), with a combined league record of 29-39-4-4 (.440).

This season is looking like more of the same for the RedHawks. Through ten games, Enrico Blasi’s squad sports a record of 3-4-3-1 (.433), good for fifth place in the eight-team league.

When the National Collegiate Hockey Conference was formed, Miami appeared positioned to be a dominant player. Prior to the 2013-14 season (their inaugural campaign in the NCHC), the RedHawks had made eight consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, with consecutive Frozen Four bids in 2009 and 2010. Since joining the NCHC, Miami has just one NCAA tournament appearance (2015), and that ended quickly with a first-round loss to eventual national champion Providence.

For comparison, North Dakota has finished 2nd, 1st, and 1st in the first three seasons of the new league and currently sits in third place (5-4-1-1, 17 points) with 14 league games remaining.

Last weekend marked the tenth weekend out of eleven that North Dakota faced off against a ranked opponent; UND went 14-5-1 (.725) against top-twenty teams a year ago but is just 9-5-2 (.625) in those situations so far this season. Here’s a closer look at the grind that the Fighting Hawks had to endure in the first half of the 2016-17 season:

vs. #18 Bemidji State (W 3-2, W 5-4)
at #2 Minnesota Duluth (L 2-5, L 0-3)
at #13 Minnesota (T 5-5, L 0-2)
vs. #2 Denver (T 1-1, L 2-3)
at #12 St. Cloud State (W 4-0, W 3-0)
vs. #3 Boston College (W 4-3)
vs. #18 Western Michigan (W 5-1, L 1-3)
at #10 Union (W 3-1)
at #20 Omaha (W 9-1, W 7-3)

Other ranked teams remaining on the second-half schedule include home series vs. #3 Minnesota-Duluth and a road series at #14 Western Michigan.

According to KRACH, North Dakota has played the third-toughest schedule in the country to date; Miami’s ranks 7th of 60 teams.

Last season, Miami lost to Minnesota-Duluth four straight times to end their season. The Bulldogs hosted the RedHawks on the final weekend of the regular season, sweeping Miami 5-0 and 3-1. In the first weekend of the league playoffs, Enrico Blasi’s squad performed admirably but UMD swept again (5-4, 3-1) to end Miami’s season.

The RedHawks come into this weekend as winners of four straight games after suffering a ten game winless streak (0-7-3) that stretched from October 29th through December 9th.

Miami Team Profile

Head Coach: Enrico Blasi (18th season at Miami, 373-256-65, .584)

Pairwise Ranking: 28th of 60 teams
National Rankings: NR/NR
This Season: 7-8-5 overall, 3-4-3-1 NCHC (t-5th)
Last Season: 15-18-3 overall (missed NCAA tournament), 9-13-2-2 NCHC (5th)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 2.60 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.75 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.8% (19 of 107)
Penalty Kill: 85.3% (87 of 102)

Key Players: Senior F Anthony Louis (11-14-25), Sophomore F Kiefer Sherwood (10-13-23), Sophomore F Josh Melnick (6-11-17), Freshman F Carson Meyer (5-12-17), Junior D Louie Belpedio (3-6-9), Sophomore D Grant Hutton (5-2-7), Freshman G Ryan Larkin (6-6-5, 2.48 GAA, .914 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (2nd season at UND, 46-12-7, .762)

Pairwise Ranking: 7th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #7/#7
This Season: 12-6-3 overall, 5-4-1-1 NCHC (3rd)
Last Season: 34-6-4 overall (NCAA champions), 19-4-1-1 NCHC (1st of 8 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.52 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.19 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.3% (20 of 94)
Penalty Kill: 81.9% (77 of 94)

Key Players: Sophomore F Shane Gersich (15-13-28), Freshman F Tyson Jost (10-12-22), Sophomore F Brock Boeser (10-11-21), Junior F Austin Poganski (7-10-17), Junior D Tucker Poolman (4-14-18), Sophomore D Christian Wolanin (2-10-12), Junior G Cam Johnson (12-6-3, 2.09 GAA, .916 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers:

Last meeting: November 14, 2015 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota used some late-game heroics from Nick Schmaltz (an extra-attacker goal with 94 seconds remaining) to send the game to overtime, and Luke Johnson made the final 4-3 with his tally from a strange angle 83 seconds into the extra session. Matt Hrynkiw started both games of the series in net for UND, who won Friday’s opener 6-2. North Dakota outshot their fellow Hawks 68-35 on the weekend.

Most memorable meeting: March 6, 2015 (Oxford, OH). North Dakota went on the road and took care of business, securing a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the RedHawks and earning the Penrose Cup, UND’s 16th regular season conference title. UND scored early in each of the first two periods (Keaton Thompson at 2:43 of the first; Conner Gaarder at 1:56 of the second) and survived a furious Miami rally. Zane McIntyre made 43 of 44 saves, including 38 stops in the final two periods. Miami finished 2nd in the league in 2014-15 (six points behind North Dakota), their best finish by far over the first three seasons of the NCHC.

Last Ten: UND has picked up six wins in the past ten contests, outscoring Miami 35-29 over that stretch of games.

All-time Series: North Dakota leads the all-time series 9-4-1 (.679), including a 5-1-1 (.786) mark in games played in Grand Forks. Five of the fourteen all-time meetings between the schools came during the 2013-14 season, with UND picking up wins in three of those five games. The teams first played in 1999 (Badger Showdown, Milwaukee, WI).

Game News and Notes

North Dakota and Miami have two of the four largest groups of underclassmen in the country. UND’s 19 freshmen and sophomores have scored 147 points this season (59 goals, 88 assists), while Miami’s 20 underclassmen have a line of 33-62-95. With four more consecutive starts between the pipes, UND junior goaltender Cam Johnson would equal a record set by Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, who started 55 straight games in net for North Dakota from 2006-08.

Media Coverage

Both games will be televised live on Midco Sports Network. A high definition webcast of both games will be available to NCHC.tv subscribers. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

The Prediction

North Dakota is relatively healthy and really rolling right now. Miami could steal a game if goaltender Ryan Larkin can shut down UND’s offense, but I think the home side prevails both nights. UND 4-2, 4-3.

As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and insight. Here’s to hockey!

Weekend Preview: North Dakota at Omaha

North Dakota finds itself looking up at Omaha in the NCHC standings as we begin league play in 2017, but only three points separate 3rd place from 6th place in the conference standings. With Minnesota-Duluth and Denver firmly entrenched as the top two teams over the first half of the season, UND and UNO will be battling St. Cloud State and Western Michigan for the final two home ice positions as we look ahead to the league playoffs.

This weekend will mark the ninth weekend out of ten that North Dakota will face off against a ranked opponent; UND went 14-5-1 (.725) against top-twenty teams a year ago but is just 7-5-2 (.556) in those situations so far this season. Here’s a closer look at the grind that the Fighting Hawks had to endure in the first half of the 2016-17 season:

vs. #18 Bemidji State (W 3-2, W 5-4)
at #2 Minnesota Duluth (L 2-5, L 0-3)
at #13 Minnesota (T 5-5, L 0-2)
vs. #2 Denver (T 1-1, L 2-3)
at #12 St. Cloud State (W 4-0, W 3-0)
vs. #3 Boston College (W 4-3)
vs. #18 Western Michigan (W 5-1, L 1-3)
at #10 Union (W 3-1)

Other ranked teams remaining on the second-half schedule include home series vs. #1 Minnesota-Duluth, #18 St. Cloud State and #20 Omaha and a road series at #16 Western Michigan.

According to KRACH, North Dakota has played the third-toughest schedule in the country to date; Omaha’s ranks 20th of 60 teams.

The Mavericks have played only six games against ranked opponents this season, going a combined 2-4 in series against Massachusetts-Lowell, Minnesota-Duluth, and St. Cloud State.

In 2015, both North Dakota and Omaha advanced to the Frozen Four but neither team made the championship game. UND fell to Boston University 5-3, while the Mavericks were upended 4-1 by eventual national champion Providence.

Today’s Trivia Question: Since the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey tournament expanded to 16 teams for the 2002-03 season, very few teams have missed the tourney one year after making a Frozen Four appearance. Omaha accomplished that feat in 2015-16, losing eight straight games to end their season. Who are the other teams who belong in this less-than-elite company?

Omaha Team Profile

Head Coach: Dean Blais (8th season at UNO, 140-122-28, .531)

Pairwise Ranking: 14th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #18/#17
This Season: 11-6-3 overall, 4-4-0-0 NCHC (5th)
Last Season: 18-17-1 overall (missed NCAA tournament), 8-15-1-0 NCHC (6th)

Team Offense: 3.65 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.85 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 26.7% (28 of 105)
Penalty Kill: 81.2% (78 of 96)

Key Players: Senior F Austin Ortega (14-13-27), Junior F Tyler Vesel (9-14-23), Junior F David Pope (6-13-19), Junior F Jake Randolph (4-13-17), Junior D Luc Snuggerud (6-12-18), Senior D Ian Brady (2-15-17), Sophomore G Evan Weninger (7-3-2, 2.52 GAA, .919 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (2nd season at UND, 44-12-7, .754)

Pairwise Ranking: 8th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #7/#7
This Season: 10-6-3 overall, 3-4-1-1 NCHC (6th)
Last Season: 34-6-4 overall (NCAA champions), 19-4-1-1 NCHC (1st of 8 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.05 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.21 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.1% (14 of 82)
Penalty Kill: 81.2% (69 of 85)

Key Players: Sophomore F Shane Gersich (14-11-25), Junior F Austin Poganski (7-9-16), Sophomore F Rhett Gardner (4-6-10), Junior D Tucker Poolman (4-11-15), Sophomore D Christian Wolanin (0-8-8), Junior G Cam Johnson (10-6-3, 2.10 GAA, .915 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers:

Last meeting: February 27, 2016 (Omaha, Nebraska). North Dakota rode a strong second period to a 4-1 victory over the homestanding Mavericks, clinching at least a share of the NCHC regular season championship in the process. UND won Friday night’s opener by a score of 4-2 after the teams split a January series at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.

Most memorable meeting: The game that UND fans will long remember is the outdoor game played at TD Ameritrade Park (Omaha, Nebraska) on February 9th, 2013. One day after winning a tight 2-1 contest indoors, North Dakota throttled UNO 5-2 on a sunny, melty afternoon. Mavericks netminder John Faulkner was pulled after allowing three goals on five shots in just ten minutes of game action. In my opinion, this hockey weekend solidified the notion that for UND hockey, it’s always a home game.

All-time: UND leads the all-time series 12-7-1 (.625), including a 7-3-0 (.700) record in games played in Omaha. Four of the last eight games have gone to overtime.

Game News and Notes

Dean Blais, who was the head coach at UND from 1994-2004, collected 262 victories at North Dakota and led the school to national titles in 1997 and 2000. Omaha has scored 28 goals on the power play and allowed 18; UND has scored 14 and allowed 16.

Media Coverage

Friday’s game will not be televised, but Saturday’s rematch will be televised nationally by American Sports Network and available locally in the Grand Forks viewing area on WDAY’Z Xtra. A high definition webcast of both games will be available to NCHC.tv subscribers. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

The Prediction

North Dakota will surely miss the presence of forwards Brock Boeser (7-9-16 in 13 games) and Tyson Jost (7-11-18 in 17 games), particularly late in both games. I expect two tight contests, with Saturday’s rematch the tighter affair. If the Fighting Hawks can stay out of the penalty box, they’ve got a shot at more than a split, but I don’t see it playing out that way. UNO 4-3, UND 3-1.

As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and insight. Here’s to hockey!

Game Preview: North Dakota at Union

The last time Union was on the college hockey map was during the 2013-14 season, when the Flying Dutchman turned a 1-2-1 start into a 32-6-2 record and an NCAA championship behind balanced scoring (seven players scored 31 points or more that year), excellent defensive play, and solid goaltending. This year, the Dutchmen have found themselves back on the map with a record of 14-3-2 behind the top two scorers in the nation and a team that is highly capable of repeating that level of success.

Through nineteen games this season, Union is scoring an astounding 4.05 goals/game (4th overall) but is allowing a somewhat average 2.79 goals/game (26th). North Dakota, on the other hand, is in the middle of the pack both offensively (3.06 goals scored/game, 24th) and defensively (2.28 goals allowed/game, 11th). The Dutchmen are 9-0-0 when scoring five or more goals and 10-1-1 when scoring four or more.

Both teams also boast impressive goaltenders. Senior Alex Sakellaropoulos has posted an incredible 13-1-1 record through 15 games this year for the Dutchmen, with a goals-against average of 2.45 and a save percentage of .920 in those games. His counterpart, junior Cam Johnson, has been putting up solid numbers with nine wins, a 2.16 GAA, a .910 SV%, and three shutouts through 18 games.

If UND hopes to finish the season strongly, it will need to get more offensive production from junior Austin Poganski and sophomores Rhett Gardner, Joel Janatuinen, and Chris Wilkie. The quartet has just thirteen goals in 67 combined games this season after potting thirty goals in 152 games last year.

This weekend will mark the eighth weekend out of nine that North Dakota will face off against a ranked opponent; UND went 14-5-1 (.725) against top-twenty teams a year ago but is just 6-5-2 (.556) in those situations so far this season. Here’s a closer look at the grind that the Fighting Hawks have had to endure in the first half of the 2016-17 season:

vs. #18 Bemidji State (W 3-2, W 5-4)
at #2 Minnesota Duluth (L 2-5, L 0-3)
at #13 Minnesota (T 5-5, L 0-2)
vs. #2 Denver (T 1-1, L 2-3)
at #12 St. Cloud State (W 4-0, W 3-0)
vs. #3 Boston College (W 4-3)
vs. #18 Western Michigan (W 5-1, L 1-3)

Other ranked teams remaining on the second-half schedule include home series vs. #1 Minnesota-Duluth, #18 St. Cloud State and #20 Omaha and road series at #20 Omaha and #16 Western Michigan.

According to KRACH, North Dakota has played the third-toughest schedule in the country to date; Union’s ranks 36th of 60 teams.

Union boasts the two top scorers in the nation in seniors Mike Vecchione (37 points) and Spencer Foo (34). Mike Vecchione is the front-runner for this year’s Hobey Baker award, leading the country in points (37) and goals (18), while Spencer Foo leads the country in assists with 21.

A big storyline this week will be if UND can produce offense with two of their top three scorers out. Sophomore Brock Boeser (7-9-16 in 13 games this year; 27-33-60 last season) battled through a wrist injury for much of the first half of the season but has missed the last five games. He will not be returning to the lineup on Saturday but is gearing towards a return for next weekend’s series against Nebraska Omaha. Freshman Tyson Jost (7-11-18) will also be out of the lineup this week, as he is representing Team Canada at the World Juniors in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

A big reason for UND’s success for the better part of the past decade has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. During the 2016-17 campaign, Brad Berry’s squad is unbeaten (9-0-0) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past nine years, North Dakota is converting almost 90 percent of second intermission leads into victories and has just seven losses in the last 192 such situations (174-7-13).

Union Team Profile

Head Coach: Rick Bennett (6th season at UC, 112-59-27, .634)

Pairwise Ranking: t-4th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #9/#10
This Season: 14-3-2 overall, 8-1-1 ECAC (1st)
Last Season: 13-14-2 overall (missed NCAA tournament), 6-10-6 ECAC (9th 0f 12 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 4.05 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.79 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.91% (17 of 114)
Penalty Kill: 21.6% (71 of 86)

Key Players: Senior F Mike Vecchione (18-19-37, 1.95 points/game), Junior F Spencer Foo (13-21-34), Sophomore F Sebastian Vidmar (8-13-21 in 16 games), Sophomore F Brett Supinski (2-13-15 in 18 games), Senior D Jeff Taylor (6-12-18), Senior G Alex Sakellaropoulos (13-1-1, 2.45 GAA, .920 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (2nd season at UND, 43-12-7, .750)

Pairwise Ranking: 10th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #8/#8
This Season: 9-6-3 overall, 3-4-1-1 NCHC (6th)
Last Season: 34-6-4 overall (NCAA champions), 19-4-1-1 NCHC (1st of 8 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.06 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.28 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.28% (14 of 81)
Penalty Kill: 80% (64 of 80)

Key Players: Sophomore F Shane Gersich (13-11-24), Junior F Austin Poganski (5-8-13), Sophomore F Rhett Gardner (4-5-9 in 16 games), Junior D Tucker Poolman (4-10-14), Sophomore D Christian Wolanin (0-8-8), Junior G Cam Johnson (9-6-3, 2.16 GAA, .910 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

All Time Series: Saturday’s contest will be the first meeting between North Dakota and Union in the Division I era., and, as such, will be the most important meeting between the two programs.

Game News and Notes

Messa Rink seats approximately 2225 people and will be the smallest venue in which the UND men’s hockey team has played in 14 years (North Dakota played Providence at Hobey Baker Arena [capacity 2092] on November 1st, 2002). With 14 victories, Union has the most wins in men’s Division I college hockey this season. At this point last season, North Dakota had 15 wins. Shayne Gostisbehere, Union’s Frozen Four MVP in 2014, is now coached by Dave Hakstol as a member of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. My son, Alex (16), wrote this article on my behalf. Follow him on Twitter @AlexBerger_Fake. Puck drop is set for 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (3:00 p.m. Central).

Media Coverage

Saturday’s game will only be televised locally on Time Warner Cable’s Spectrum Sports (channel 50 in the Schenectady, New York viewing area). The game will also be streamed live at www.unionathletics.tv (for a fee of $8.95). All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

The Prediction

For North Dakota to have a chance on Saturday afternoon, they will need to do three things: generate scoring opportunities from the 3rd and 4th lines, shut down the duo of Mike Vecchione and Spencer Foo, and score at least three goals. With both Boeser and Jost out of the lineup, however, I would be very surprised to see UND score at that rate and shut down Union’s top two scorers. North Dakota will jump out to an early lead but will not be able to keep up the offensive pressure. Union 3, UND 1.

Weekend Preview: North Dakota vs. Western Michigan

North Dakota and Western Michigan have faced off sixteen times since 1997, with UND claiming victory in fifteen of those contests and outscoring WMU 68-28 in the process.

The Fighting Hawks will be fortunate to win two of the four regular-season games against the Broncos this year.

How can both of these statements be true?

Through recruiting and player development, WMU head coach Andy Murray has finally been able to put his mark on the team. Freshmen and sophomores are leading the way for the Broncos, and the combination of speed, size, and skill is one that will be barely recognizable to North Dakota fans.

For the first time since joining the NCHC, the Broncos are looking to finish in the top half of the league standings. WMU had been trending downward (eleven conference victories in 2013-14, six in 2014-15, and just five in 2015-16) but is currently in 3rd place with a mark of 3-4-1-1. North Dakota, on the other hand, sits in 6th place with a mark of 2-3-1-1. UND has not been scoring enough goals in league play, notching twelve in six games for an average of just two per contest. Western Michigan, on the other hand, has scored 23 goals in eight league games (2.88 goals/game).

If UND hopes to end 2016 on a high note, it will need to get more offensive production from junior Austin Poganski and sophomores Rhett Gardner, Joel Janatuinen and Chris Wilkie. The quartet has just eleven goals in 59 combined games this season after potting thirty goals in 152 games last year.

This weekend will mark the seventh weekend out of eight that North Dakota will face off against a ranked opponent; UND went 14-5-1 (.725) against top-twenty teams a year ago but is just 5-4-2 (.545) in those situations so far this season. Here’s a closer look at the grind that the Fighting Hawks have had to endure in the first half of the 2016-17 season:

vs. #18 Bemidji State (W 3-2, W 5-4)
at #2 Minnesota Duluth (L 2-5, L 0-3)
at #13 Minnesota (T 5-5, L 0-2)
vs. #2 Denver (T 1-1, L 2-3)
at #12 St. Cloud State (W 4-0, W 3-0)
vs. #3 Boston College (W 4-3)

Other ranked teams remaining on the second-half schedule include home series vs. #1 Minnesota-Duluth, #17 St. Cloud State, and #20 Omaha and a trip to Kalamazoo in February to face these same Broncos yet again. UND will also play a single game at #15 Union College on New Year’s Eve.

According to KRACH, North Dakota has played the second-toughest schedule in the country to date; Western Michigan’s ranks as the eighth toughest.

Another huge story line for both clubs has been the emergence of a pair of super sophomores. Second-year Bronco Matheson Iacopelli leads the NCHC with 13 goals in 14 games after scoring just once as a freshman. North Dakota sophomore Shane Gersich struggled with illness last year but is tied for the lead in the league scoring race with 22 points. Gersich had 11 points in 37 games as a freshman.

Both teams are also missing key components in their lineups. UND sophomore Brock Boeser (7-9-16 in 13 games this year; 27-33-60 last season) battled through a wrist injury for much of the first half of the season but has missed the last three games. His return to the lineup this weekend is still in question. Western Michigan has been without 6-foot-4-inch, 212 pound junior forward Aidan Muir since November 12th. Muir, a draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers, has appeared in 80 career games for the Broncos, collecting 30 points.

Western Michigan and North Dakota boast six of the top ten faceoff men in the league. For the Broncos, Colt Conrad (2nd, 58.8%) and Michael Rebry (t-4th, 54.9%) lead the way, while all four of UND’s centermen have been outstanding:

1st. Tyson Jost (63.2%)
t-4th. Ludvig Hoff (54.9%)
6th. Rhett Gardner (53.9%)
10th. Johnny Simonson (52.4%)

No other NCHC school can claim more than one of the league’s top ten in the “fastest draw” category.

A big reason for UND’s success for the better part of the past decade has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. During the 2016-17 campaign, Brad Berry’s squad is unbeaten (7-0-0) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past nine years, North Dakota is converting almost 90 percent of second intermission leads into victories and has just seven losses in the last 192 such situations (172-7-13).

Western Michigan Team Profile

Head Coach: Andy Murray (6th season at WMU, 88-88-30, .500)

Pairwise Ranking: 11th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #18/#17
This Season: 7-4-3 overall, 3-4-1-1 NCHC (3rd)
Last Season: 8-25-3 overall (missed NCAA tournament), 5-18-1-1 NCHC (7th)

Team Offense: 3.64 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.93 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 22.1% (21 of 95)
Penalty Kill: 81.0% (68 of 84)

Key Players: Sophomore F Mattheson Iacopelli (13-4-17), Sophomore F Griffen Molino (4-7-11), Freshman F Wade Allison (7-3-10), Senior F Sheldon Dries (4-6-10), Senior D Taylor Fleming (0-13-13), Junior D Scott Moldenhauer (3-6-9), Sophomore G Trevor Gorsuch (4-3-2, 3.07 GAA, .894 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (2nd season at UND, 42-11-7, .758)

Pairwise Ranking: t-8th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #8/#9
This Season: 8-5-3 overall, 2-3-1-1 NCHC (6th)
Last Season: 34-6-4 overall (NCAA Champions), 19-4-1-1 NCHC (1st of 8 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.06 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.31 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.1% (13 of 72)
Penalty Kill: 79.7% (59 of 74)

Key Players: Sophomore F Brock Boeser (7-9-16 in 13 games), Sophomore F Shane Gersich (11-11-22), Freshman F Tyson Jost (7-10-17), Junior F Austin Poganski (3-7-10), Junior D Tucker Poolman (4-10-14), Sophomore D Christian Wolanin (0-6-6), Junior G Cam Johnson (8-5-3, 2.24 GAA, .907 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 5, 2016 (Grand Forks, ND). One night after a dominating 8-1 performance that clinched the Penrose Cup outright, North Dakota held on for a 5-4 victory in the regular season finale. The Broncos skated to a 3-1 lead after the first period (chasing netminder Cam Johnson in the process), but UND flipped the script in the middle frame to knot the game at four goals apiece. Drake Caggiula, the ninth different goal-scorer in the contest, potted the game-winner early in the third period. North Dakota won the special teams battle, scoring on the power play, while shorthanded, and during four-on-four action.

Most Important Meeting: March 24, 2012 (St. Paul, MN). North Dakota upended Western Michigan 3-1 in the NCAA West Regional semifinal. Brock Nelson had two points, including an empty net goal with 25 seconds remaining that sent UND to the regional finals against Minnesota. Aaron Dell made 24 saves for the Green and White. The Broncos, who have played at the Division I level since 1975-76, have five NCAA tournament appearances but have not been in the national tournament since 2012.

Lone Broncos Highlight: March 18, 2014 (Grand Forks, ND). Western Michigan’s Colton Hargrove scored a shorthanded goal (his second of the game) eight minutes into the third period to break a 1-1 tie, and the Broncos held on to defeat homestanding North Dakota 2-1 in front of almost 12,000 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena. WMU’s victory was its first and only win in sixteen games against UND, who won Friday’s opener 2-0. The loss cost North Dakota a chance to win the first-ever Penrose Cup as NCHC champions.

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Saturday, March 22, 2014 (Minneapolis, MN). North Dakota faced a must-win situation in the 3rd place game at the inaugural NCHC Frozen Faceoff, and did not disappoint the partisan crowd. The Green and White rolled to a 5-0 victory behind two first period goals from Conner Gaarder. UND netminder Zane Gothberg made 25 saves for the shutout, and Dave Hakstol’s crew played the waiting game for several more hours before discovering that they had indeed made the NCAA tournament for the 12th consecutive season.

All-Time Series: In the short history between the schools, UND has won fifteen of the sixteen games, outscoring the Broncos 68-28. WMU’s lone victory over North Dakota was the aforementioned 2-1 road win on March 8th, 2014. The teams first met in 1997.

Game News and Notes

UND sophomore forward Brock Boeser collected ten points in the four meetings between the teams as a freshman, including six of his 27 goals on the season. With one victory this weekend, Western Michigan (7-4-3) will equal their win total from all of last year (8-25-3). WMU head coach Andy Murray’s son Brady played two seasons at North Dakota (2003-05) and finished with a scoring line of 27-39-66 in 63 career games. Brady Murray spent most of his professional hockey career in the Swiss-A league (Rapperswil-Jona and Lugano, among other teams) but did appear in four NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings in 2007-08, scoring one goal.

Media Coverage

Both games this weekend will be carried live by Midco Sports Network, with Saturday’s rematch also available on FOX College Sports Central. This weekend’s series will also be streamed live via NCHC.tv. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

The Prediction

For the second weekend in a row, UND has an edge between the pipes, and that might make all the difference. On a normal Friday night in Grand Forks, it takes the visitors some time to adjust to the atmosphere and the speed of play. I expect tonight’s opener to be just the opposite, with the Broncos showcasing a new brand of hockey from the opening faceoff. If North Dakota can survive the first period relatively unscathed, there will be time to adjust in the locker room. Look for two entertaining games this weekend, with at least one contest headed to overtime. 3-3 tie, UND 4-3.
As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and insight. Here’s to hockey!

College Hockey Showdown Preview: North Dakota vs. Boston College

The College Hockey Showdown was announced over 14 months ago and instantly became a must-see event for fans of these two programs and college hockey fans in general. The National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the University of North Dakota are co-hosts for this event, and the NCHC chose the two participants for a few very important reasons. Certainly, the league could count on a large following from both sides of what has become a fierce rivalry. Furthermore, over the past decade, North Dakota and Boston College are the top two winningest programs in the country (UND 276 wins, BC 275).

Here’s the full resume for Boston College and North Dakota:

13 National Championships (UND 8, BC 5)
47 Frozen Four Appearances (BC 26, UND 21)
5 Hobey Baker Winners (BC 3, UND 2)

North Dakota: 14 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances
Boston College: 8 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances

In the past 21 seasons…

Boston College has made the tourney 18 times, with eight league titles, nine playoff titles, twelve Frozen Four appearances, and four national titles (2001, 2008, 2010, 2012).

North Dakota has made the tourney 19 times, with nine league titles, six playoff titles, eleven Frozen Four appearances, and three national titles (1997, 2000, 2016).

In his 23rd season behind the BC bench, Jerry York is responsible for four of the Eagles’ five national titles (2001, 2008, 2010, 2012). Last season (his first as North Dakota’s bench boss), Brad Berry helped UND win the program’s eighth championship (and first since 2000).

Since 1957, North Dakota has just one stretch of “lean years”, otherwise known in Grand Forks as the Rube Bjorkman era. Bjorkman coached the Fighting Sioux from 1968-1978, and his teams collected exactly zero trophies. Otherwise, UND has been relevant and competitive throughout the history of the program, with multiple Frozen Four appearances in every decade.

Their opponent tonight can boast no such thing. The Jerry York era has been astounding at Boston College, but the flip side of that equation is that in the 47 seasons that BC competed for an NCAA title before York’s arrival in Chestnut Hill, the Eagles only played in the national title game three times and won exactly one championship (1949). So the question is this: are we talking about the storied history of Boston College, or the storied history of Jerry York?

Before we look forward to tonight’s matchup, let’s look back at some memorable moments in what has become an intense rivalry….

March 28, 1999. Madison, Wisconsin. BC defeats UND 3-1 (en) in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Sioux, who received a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament, lose for only the sixth time all season, and finish the year at 32-6-2, one game short of the Frozen Four.

April 8, 2000. Providence, Rhode Island. UND defeats BC 4-2 (en) in the NCAA title game to claim its seventh national championship. The Sioux rally from a 2-1 deficit after two periods.

April 7, 2001. Albany, New York. BC defeats UND 3-2 (OT) to win its first NCAA crown since 1949. Krys Kolanos nets the game-winner at 4:43 of overtime after UND scores twice in the final four minutes of regulation to even the score.

March 26, 2005. Worcester, Massachusetts. UND defeats BC 6-3 in the NCAA East Regional Final to advance to the first of four consecutive Frozen Fours. Colorado College, Denver, and Minnesota also advance, setting up an all-WCHA Frozen Four.

April 6, 2006. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. BC defeats UND 6-5 in the Frozen Four semifinal. North Dakota scores twice in the final five minutes to make it close, but it’s too little, too late.

April 5, 2007. St. Louis, Missouri. The NCAA Frozen Four semifinal. Yet another in a seemingly endless string of bouts between two heavyweights. Arguably the two hottest teams in the tournament: Boston College, winners of 12 straight games, versus North Dakota, winners of 19 of their last 21 contests. A furious final seven minutes turns a 2-2 tie into a 6-4 Eagles victory.

On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, there will be a tremendous amount of talent on the ice. Unfortunately, though, Boston College will be without the services of Ryan Fitzgerald (5-11-16 in 16 games) who is out 4-6 weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain against Minnesota last weekend.

North Dakota’s Brock Boeser (upper body injury; 7-9-16 in 13 games) did not take the ice last weekend in UND’s home series against Michigan State, and although he made the trip to Manhattan, his status for tonight’s tilt is still in question.

If UND has an edge in this game, it’s the experience that netminder Cam Johnson brings to his locker room, bench, and crease. Johnson backstopped North Dakota to a national title last season, facing the nation’s hottest team (Northeastern), best line (Michigan’s CCM line), a bitter conference rival (Denver), and the country’s best team (Quinnipiac). On the other side, Boston College goaltender Joe Woll (9-4-1) has played well this season but, as a freshman, has never been on such a large stage.

This weekend will mark the sixth weekend out of seven that North Dakota will face off against a ranked opponent; UND went 14-5-1 (.725) against top-twenty teams a year ago but is just 4-4-2 (.500) in those situations so far this season. Here’s a closer look at the five-week grind that the Fighting Hawks had to endure before Thanksgiving:

vs. #18 Bemidji State (W 3-2, W 5-4)
at #2 Minnesota Duluth (L 2-5, L 0-3)
at #13 Minnesota (T 5-5, L 0-2)
vs. #2 Denver (T 1-1, L 2-3)
at #12 St. Cloud State (W 4-0, W 3-0)

UND carries a 5-2-2 non-conference record into this weekend. After Saturday’s clash with the Eagles, North Dakota’s out-of-conference schedule will conclude with a single game at #17 Union on New Year’s Eve. Brad Berry is hoping to lead the team to a fifteenth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance (longest active streak in the nation), and a large part of that winning tradition is due to success outside of the league. UND has lost just three times in its last 31 non-conference games (23-3-5), and victories this weekend will help secure North Dakota’s postseason aspirations.

Boston College Team Profile

Head Coach: Jerry York (23rd season at BC, 557-268-77, .660)

Pairwise Ranking: t-5th of 60 teams
National Ranking: #3/#4
This Season: 12-4-1 overall, 7-0-1 Hockey East (1st)
Last Season: 28-8-5 (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 15-2-5 Hockey East (t-1st)

Team Offense: 3.71 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.29 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 16.7% (14 of 84)
Penalty Kill: 82.2% (88 of 107)

Key Players: Senior F Matthew Gaudreau (5-13-18), Sophomore F Colin White (9-5-14), Senior F Austin Cangelosi (8-6-14), Sophomore F Christopher Brown (5-9-14), Sophomore D Casey Fitzgerald (5-8-13), Sophomore F Michael Kim (1-10-11), Freshman G Joe Woll (9-4-1, 2.32 GAA, .922 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (2nd season at UND, 41-11-7, .754)

Pairwise Ranking: 13th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #9/#10
This Season: 7-5-3 overall, 2-3-1-1 NCHC (5th)
Last Season: 34-6-4 overall (NCAA Champions), 19-4-1-1 NCHC (1st of 8 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.27 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.2% (12 of 66)
Penalty Kill: 80.6% (58 of 72)

Key Players: Sophomore F Brock Boeser (7-9-16), Sophomore F Shane Gersich (11-10-21), Freshman F Tyson Jost (5-10-15), Junior F Austin Poganski (3-6-9), Junior D Tucker Poolman (4-10-14), Senior D Gage Ausmus (0-4-4), Junior G Cam Johnson (7-5-3, 2.19 GAA, .908 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: October 8, 2011 (Grand Forks, ND). In the championship game of the Icebreaker, UND led 2-1 early in the second period but saw the Eagles score four goals in a span of ten minutes to chase North Dakota netminder Aaron Dell (five goals allowed, ten saves) and take a 5-2 lead into the second intermission. Relief goaltender Brad Eidsness (one goal allowed, seven saves) gave the Sioux a fighting chance, but UND could not put any more pucks past Parker Milner, who finished with 22 saves for the Eagles. Aside from a fog-shortened 0-0 tie on Chestnut Hill, this game marked the fourth consecutive time that BC had scored six goals against North Dakota.

Most important meetings: The Sioux and Eagles have met twice to decide the National Championship, with UND taking the title in 2000 and BC winning it all in 2001.

All-time: The all-time series between the two schools is dead even at 11-11-1 (.500). The teams first met on December 29, 1959, with the Sioux winning 5-3. In addition to the more recent playoff meetings listed above, UND and BC also played in national semifinal games in 1963 and 1965, splitting the two contests. When the newly-formed Hockey East began play in 1984-1985, it created a five-year interlocking schedule with the WCHA. During that time, Boston College and North Dakota met 7 times, with John “Gino” Gasparini’s Fighting Sioux squad going 5-2-0 against Len Ceglarski’s Eagles.

Game News and Notes

Opponents have outshot Boston College 176-147 and outscored the Eagles 22-21 in third periods this season. BC has a huge edge (402-304 in shots; 42-17 in goals) over the first forty minutes of play. Boston College leads the nation with twelve victories this season. UND alum Brock Nelson and BC alum Brian Leetch (a Hobey Baker finalist in 1987) will drop the ceremonial first puck.

Pregame Festivities

There are pregame events scheduled at Heartland Brewery (350 5th Avenue, inside the Empire State Building) and Beer Authority (300 West 40th Street). All UND fans are welcome to attend.

Media Coverage

This Saturday’s game will be televised on CBS Sports Network; there will not be a webcast available. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

The Prediction

If this game were decided by a “fans in Manhattan” contest, North Dakota would have already won in a landslide, as the UND contingent in New York City is quite impressive. As it stands, however, whichever side better handles the pressure of the big stage will have the early advantage. Brad Berry may need to urge his squad on to a furious comeback in the late stages of the game. I see this one going down to the wire (and possibly to overtime), with the Green and White faithful cheering their team to victory over 1500 miles from home. UND 4-3

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Here’s to hockey!

Weekend Preview: North Dakota vs. Michigan State

Michigan State and North Dakota competed in the MCHL from 1951 to 1959 and in the WCHA from 1959 until 1981, when then-head coach Ron Mason took the Spartans to the newly-formed CCHA. In their 22 seasons in the WCHA, MSU won exactly zero league titles and made only two NCAA tournament appearances. Ron Mason made the most of those chances, however, with a national championship in 1966.

Ron Mason’s clubs fared far better after leaving the WCHA. In 21 CCHA seasons under Mason, the Spartans collected eight regular season championships, ten playoff titles, and 19 NCAA appearances, including five trips to the Frozen Four. Mason collected the progam’s second NCAA title in 1986 and finished runner-up to Gino Gasparini’s Hrkac Circus in 1987.

This is only the second ranked opponent for the Spartans this season. MSU hosted #6 Denver, with the Pioneers sweeping by scores of 2-1 and 3-1.

Last weekend marked the fifth consecutive weekend against a ranked opponent for North Dakota; UND went 14-5-1 (.725) against top-twenty teams a year ago but is just 4-4-2 (.500) in those situations so far this season. Here’s a closer look at the five-week grind that the Fighting Hawks had to endure:

vs. #18 Bemidji State (W 3-2, W 5-4)
at #2 Minnesota Duluth (L 2-5, L 0-3)
at #13 Minnesota (T 5-5, L 0-2)
vs. #2 Denver (T 1-1, L 2-3)
at #12 St. Cloud State (W 4-0, W 3-0)

The Spartans will open up Big Ten play in early December by hosting #11 Minnesota, while North Dakota has already played six conference games, going 2-3-1 (with a shootout win) to find themselves in 5th place in the NCHC, one league point back of Omaha and Western Michigan (both 3-3-0). Michigan State has finished 5th, 2nd, and 5th over the first three seasons of the Big Ten, the league that destroyed the WCHA as we knew it.

UND is 5-1-1 at home this season with an identical 5-1-1 non-conference record. North Dakota’s out-of-conference schedule will conclude with single games against #4 Boston College at Madison Square Garden next Saturday night and at #17 Union on New Year’s Eve. Brad Berry is hoping to lead the team to a fifteenth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance (longest active streak in the nation), and a large part of that winning tradition is due to success outside of the league. UND has lost just twice in its last 29 non-conference games (23-2-4), and victories this weekend will help secure North Dakota’s postseason aspirations.

Michigan State Team Profile

Head Coach: Tom Anastos (6th season at MSU, 74-104-20, .424)

Pairwise Ranking: 50th of 60 teams
National Rankings: NR/NR
This Season: 3-6-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten
Last Season: 10-23-4 overall, 7-12-2-0 Big Ten (5th of 6 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 2.33 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.78 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 13.2% (7 of 53)
Penalty Kill: 73.3% (33 of 45)

Key Players: Sophomore F Mason Appleton (5-6-11), Senior F Villiam Haag (3-4-7), Freshman F Taro Hirose (2-5-7), Sophomore D Zach Osburn (2-4-6), Junior D Carson Gatt (1-0-1), Junior G Ed Minney (3-3-0, 3.16 GAA, .879 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (2nd season at UND, 41-10-6, .772)

Pairwise Ranking: t-3rd of 60 teams
National Rankings: #5/#5
This Season: 7-4-2 overall, 2-3-1-1 NCHC (5th)
Last Season: 34-6-4 overall (NCAA Champions), 19-4-1-1 NCHC (1st of 8 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.08 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.15 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 16.9% (10 of 59)
Penalty Kill: 81.0% (51 of 63)

Key Players: Sophomore F Brock Boeser (7-9-16), Sophomore F Shane Gersich (10-8-18), Freshman F Tyson Jost (3-10-13), Junior F Austin Poganski (3-4-7), Junior D Tucker Poolman (3-9-12), Senior D Gage Ausmus (0-3-3), Junior G Cam Johnson (7-4-2, 2.07 GAA, .915 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: November 29, 2015 (East Lansing, Michigan). In a rare Friday-Sunday series, North Dakota used four goals by Drake Caggiula and superb goaltending from Cam Johnson (57 saves) to sweep the homestanding Spartans 3-1 and 4-1. The Fighting Hawks held Michigan State to just one power play goal on nine opportunities.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: October 13, 2007 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota blitzed the defending national champions 6-0 in the US Hockey Hall of Fame Game. Twelve Fighting Sioux players made the scoresheet, and the names read like a who’s who of UND hockey in the 21st century: Robbie Bina, Taylor Chorney, Ryan Duncan, Matt Frattin, Chay Genoway, Rylan Kaip, Andrew Kozek, Brad Malone, T.J. Oshie, Evan Trupp, Chris VandeVelde, and Darcy Zajac. Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux made 23 saves for the shutout.

Most Important Meeting: March 28. 1987 (Detroit, MI). The Hrkac Circus invaded Joe Louis Arena and took home North Dakota’s fifth national championship with a 5-3 victory over the Spartans. More recently, the Fighting Sioux scored twice on “unscoreonable” Hobey Baker winner Ryan Miller and advanced to the 2001 national championship game with a 2-0 Frozen Four semifinal victory over MSU.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 64-36-2 (.637), including a 34-11-1 (.750) record in games played in Grand Forks. The teams first met as members of the Midwest Collegiate Hockey League (MCHL) during the 1951-52 season.

Last Ten: North Dakota has won eight of the previous ten meetings between the schools, outscoring the Spartans 40-21 in that stretch. Three of the last ten MSU-UND games have come in the national tournament, with North Dakota winning all three, most importantly the 1987 championship game and a 2001 semifinal contest. The Fighting Sioux also defeated Sparty 6-5 in overtime to win the 1984 third-place game (Lake Placid, NY),

Game News and Notes

Michigan State has not made the NCAA tournament since 2012 and has just two tourney appearances since their national championship in 2007. Two of North Dakota’s eight national titles have come against the Spartans (1959 and 1987). UND is 19-6-3 (.732) all-time in the Subway Holiday Classic. Shane Gersich is the first UND player since Matt Frattin to score ten goals before Thanksgiving. Tyson Jost is really good at faceoffs (63.2%).

Media Coverage

This weekend’s games will be televised on the Midco Sports Network, and a high definition webcast is available at NCHC.tv. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

The Prediction

North Dakota is finally clicking in all three zones and has the advantage over the Spartans in every facet of the game. I see Saturday’s contest being the closer of the two, with Cam Johnson proving to be the difference yet again. UND 4-1, 3-2.

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Here’s to hockey!

Weekend Preview: North Dakota at St. Cloud State

A season ago, North Dakota traveled to face St. Cloud State in November with quite a bit on the line…

It was a battle of two top-ten teams. A matchup between the first two winners of the Penrose Cup (NCHC regular season champions). A rematch of the 2015 NCAA West Regional final in Fargo, North Dakota. Two teams who battled six times in 2014-15, with North Dakota winning four. At the time, UND and SCSU were the only two undefeated teams in conference play, combining to score 84 goals in their first 22 games.

And in that November series (the only two games the squads would play against each other during the 2015-16 season), they managed a split (UND 4-3, SCSU 6-1).

The end of last season could not have gone any differently for the two conference rivals. St. Cloud State, the top seed in the NCAA West Regional (Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN), rallied to tie #18 Ferris State in the third period, but the Bulldogs scored just 18 seconds into the extra session to knock off the Huskies (who were ranked #2 in the country heading into the NCAAs) by a final of 5-4.

The newly-minted Fighting Hawks from the University of North Dakota fared much better in the postseason, defeating Northeastern (the nation’s hottest team), Michigan (featuring the nation’s best line), Denver (a bitter conference rival), and Quinnipiac (the nation’s best team) to hoist the program’s eighth national title. In the four games of the NCAA tournament, UND downed their opponents by a combined score of 18-7.

Things look a bit different this time around…

The two teams have just two victories between them in conference play (SCSU 2-2-0-0, UND 0-3-1-1), and both squads have a vastly different identity (or are still searching for same) than they had a season ago.

Gone from the North Dakota roster are nine players from the 2015-16 championship squad. Last season’s senior class (forwards Drake Caggiula, Bryn Chyzyk, Coltyn Sanderson, and Colten St. Clair) would have been enough of a loss, as the quartet accounted for 44 goals and 41 assists in 116 combined games.

But the worst was yet to come as the early departure bug hit the program particularly hard. Five players gave up college eligibility to sign pro contracts, including forward Nick Schmaltz (11-35-46), who left after his sophomore season. The other four skaters would have been seniors this year:

Forward Luke Johnson (11-10-21)
Defenseman Troy Stecher (8-21-29)
Defenseman Paul LaDue (5-14-19)
Defenseman Keaton Thompson (2-15-17)

All told, the nine players accounted for exactly half of North Dakota’s goal scoring last season (81 of 162). Stecher, LaDue, and Thompson helped anchor a defensive unit that allowed only 1.84 goals/game and gave up zero or one goal 24 times in 2015-16.

The picture at St. Cloud State is very similar. The Huskies are learning to live without a quartet of senior forwards who contributed all over the ice last season: Kalle Kossila (14-40-54 in 2015-16), Joey Benik (23-25-48), Jimmy Murray (13-26-39), and David Morley (14-23-37). To further complicate matters, sophomore Patrick Russell (20-21-41) gave up his final two seasons of eligibility to sign with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

On the defensive side of things, SCSU lost only one defenseman from last season’s roster: senior captain Ethan Prow, who tallied 8-30-38 a year ago and finished his career one point shy of the century mark (19-80-99). The biggest loss in their own end occurred when netminder Charlie Lindgren (30-9-1, 2.13 GAA, .925 SV%, 5 SO) gave up his senior season to join the Montreal Canadiens organization. That decision left the Huskies without any experience in net, and the job is left to freshmen Zach Driscoll, Jeff Smith, and David Zevnik. So far, it’s been Driscoll (5-2-0, 2.92 GAA, .884 SV%) in the driver’s seat with Smith (1-2-0, 3.61 GAA, .867 SV%) backing him up on most nights.

The top returning scorer for the Huskies is sophomore Mikey Eyssimont, who tallied 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points as a freshman last season.

His counterpart at UND, sophomore Brock Boeser, led the Fighting Hawks with sixty points (27 goals, 33 assists) during his rookie campaign.

Despite all of the changes, this weekend will feel strangely familiar:

Two teams in the mix for yet another NCAA tournament appearance. A lethal St. Cloud State power play on the wide sheet of ice that gives North Dakota fits every single year. An arena that will feel like Christmas in November, with nearly half of the fans in green to combat the hometown red.

In 2004, the Center Ice Club created a commemorative trophy to mark the rivalry, and the two teams have been battling it out each season to claim the UND/SCSU Challenge Cup.

UND had the better of the play in the first eight years of the Challenge Cup era, claiming the Cup four times and sharing the trophy three times while St. Cloud State only won the trophy once (2005-06). However, the Huskies have earned the trophy two of the last four seasons and shared the Cup last season. The 2016-17 version of the Challenge Cup will be decided in February when the teams take the ice at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.

One St. Cloud State supporter is quite familiar with this rivalry, both home and away. By his own admission, Bill Prout (@CenterIceClub, centericeview.com) has attended more SCSU hockey games than anyone else on the planet. I connected with Bill to fill us in on what to expect this weekend (and beyond) from the Huskies:

Dave Berger, SiouxSports.com: What should UND fans expect to see from SCSU this weekend?

Bill Prout, CenterIceView.com: Much like UND a team that is very youthful and looking for consistency in play. SCSU lost 220 points of offense from 2015-16. Against Minnesota they rallied both nights for wins. Against the Bulldogs they coughed up 3-2 leads each night to lose. They are going through a “growth” process.

DB: Who are the players to watch?

BP: Upper class leadership on offense comes from juniors Judd Peterson (7 goals) and Blake Winiecki who has a six game scoring streak. Sophomores Jimmy Schuldt (captain) and Will Borgen are providing leadership on defense. 2015-16 USHL Defenseman of the Year Jack Ahcan has been outstanding and near the top of the team scoring chart. Dennis Cholowski, a first round draft choice of Detroit, is another outstanding young defenseman. Ryan Poehling is a 17 year old who decided to forgo his senior year of high school to join twin brothers Jack and Nick. Ryan will be a first round draft choice in the 2017 NHL entry draft. Patrick Newell and Mikey Eyssimont are skilled and exciting sophomore forwards.

DB: Are the Huskies dealing with injuries right now?

BP: Only one…senior forward Ryan Papa.

DB: What will SCSU need to do to have success in this important conference series?

BP: They need to limit the mental mistakes and turnovers that have haunted them at times this season. The goaltending has been a challenge with two first-year netminders. The goaltenders need to elevate their play from 87% to over 90% save percentage. They’ll need to capitalize on UND’s struggling penalty kill when given the opportunity. Consistent play down the middle of the ice will be important.

DB: How would you describe their style of play? What do they do well?

BP: Great transistion from their defensive zone and the ability to motor up the ice. SCSU is not a physically imposing team and relies on their skill and speed to get their opponent off balance. They absolutely dominated major segments of the Minnesota and Duluth series. They can score in bunches.

DB: What are the players and coaches saying about this matchup? Is this a weekend that’s been circled on the calendar for a while? Or is it just another pair of games?

BP: Both the coaching staff and players look forward to this series. They respect the tradition and winning tradition UND has. The players particularly look forward to playing in front of the large crowds and the noise and excitement that this series brings. These teams have a history of exciting games and the players are aware of that.

DB: What is the ceiling for this team? Are supporters thinking that a Frozen Four berth is a possibility for this club?

BP: There is a whole lot of talent on this squad. However, they are very young and inexperienced. It’s always a challenge when a team has so few upperclassmen and when your starting goaltender left a year early. They will certainly be a much better team the second half of the season but it’s unlikely they’ll have the offense of the 2015-16 squad. Goaltending is a concern and may be the biggest detriment to making a strong run at the end of this season. This team may be a year off from another strong post-season run.

My thanks to Bill Prout (@CenterIceClub on Twitter) for his time and his contributions to this preview. If you’re interested, you can find his game preview for centericeview.com here.

This weekend marks the fifth consecutive weekend against a ranked opponent for North Dakota; UND went 14-5-1 (.725) against top-twenty teams a year ago but is just 2-4-2 (.375) in those situations this season. Here’s a closer look at the five-week grind that the Fighting Hawks have had to endure:

vs. #18 Bemidji State (W 3-2, W 5-4)
at #2 Minnesota Duluth (L 2-5, L 0-3)
at #13 Minnesota (T 5-5, L 0-2)
vs. #2 Denver (T 1-1, L 2-3)
at #12 St. Cloud State

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: Bob Motzko (12th season at SCSU, 241-168-42, .581)

Pairwise Ranking: t-11th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #12/#12
This Season: 6-4-0 overall, 2-2-0-0 NCHC (5th)
Last Season: 31-9-1 overall (NCAA West Regional semifinalist), 17-6-1-1 NCHC (t-2nd)

Team Offense: 4.10 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.40 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.6% (9 of 46)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (30 of 36)

Key Players: Junior F Judd Peterson (7-3-10), Sophomore F Patrick Newell (2-8-10), Sophomore F Mikey Eyssimont (6-3-9), Junior F Blake Winiecki (6-3-9), Freshman D Jack Ahcan (2-8-10), Sophomore D Jimmy Schuldt (2-6-8), Sophomore D Will Borgen (0-7-7), Freshman G Zach Driscoll (5-2-0, 2.92 GAA, .884 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (2nd season at UND, 39-10-6, .764)

Pairwise Ranking: t-8th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #8/#8
This Season: 5-4-2 overall, 0-3-1-1 NCHC (7th)
Last Season: 34-6-4 overall (NCAA Champions), 19-4-1-1 NCHC (1st of 8 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.55 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 13.7% (7 of 51)
Penalty Kill: 78.2% (43 of 55)

Key Players: Sophomore F Brock Boeser (7-6-13), Sophomore F Shane Gersich (6-8-14), Freshman F Tyson Jost (3-8-11), Junior F Austin Poganski (3-3-6), Junior D Tucker Poolman (2-7-9), Senior D Gage Ausmus (0-2-2), Junior G Cam Johnson (5-4-2, 2.45 GAA, .895 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: November 21, 2015 (St. Cloud, MN). One night after senior Drake Caggiula’s hat trick gave UND a 4-3 road victory, it was all Huskies in a 6-1 shellacking of the Fighting Hawks. No amount of bird noise from the North Dakota road trippers could prevent six different Huskies from scoring on a total of only 21 shots on goal. St. Cloud State went 2-for-5 with the man advantage and held UND scoreless on three power play chances.

Most Important Meeting: NCAA West Regional Final in Fargo, ND (March 28, 2015). North Dakota scored three unassisted goals over the final two periods of the hockey game to defeat St. Cloud State 4-1 in the West Regional Final and advance to the NCAA Frozen Four. Jimmy Murray got the Huskies on the board less than 90 seconds in to the hockey game, but that did nothing to quiet the partisan crowd of 5,307 at SCHEELS Arena. Four different players scored for UND, while Zane McIntyre made 19 stops to earn his 29th and final victory of the season.

All-time Series: North Dakota leads the all-time series, 66-39-12 (.615), including a 27-21-6 (.556) record in St. Cloud. Aside from their 2015 NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinal victory, the Huskies also defeated North Dakota in the 2001 WCHA Final Five championship game. UND is 10-3-0 (.769) against St. Cloud State in the conference playoffs, with their most recent triumph coming in the 2012 WCHA Final Five quarterfinals. The teams have only met once in the NCAA tournament (2015).

Last Ten: UND holds a 6-4-0 (.600) edge in the last ten meetings between the teams, but each squad has scored 26 goals over that stretch of games.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota junior forward Austin Poganski (St. Cloud, MN) has four points in eight career games against his hometown team. No team has swept this series in the past 15 years. UND sophomore forward Brock Boeser has been held off of the score sheet in three straight games and five of the past six. He was only scoreless in 10 of 42 contests (and only 4 of the last 32) a year ago. When these two teams met a year ago, SCSU was allowing 1.50 goals/game. This year, St. Cloud State is allowing 3.40 goals/game. The last time UND swept the Huskies in St. Cloud was in November of 1998.

Media Coverage

Both games this weekend will be televised. Friday’s opener can be seen on FOX Sports North PLUS, and Saturday’s finale will be produced by the SCSU Sports Network and also carried by Midco Sports Network. A high definition stream of both games is available to NCHC.tv subscribers. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

Pregame Event

The annual gathering of SCSU and North Dakota fans will take place on Saturday, November 19th from 4:00-6:00 p.m. on the second level of Brothers Bar and Grill (119 5th Avenue South) in St. Cloud. Complimentary appetizers will be served, and the Challenge Cup will be on hand. All St. Cloud State and UND fans are encouraged to attend.

The Prediction

I don’t see any possibility of either one of these teams getting out of this weekend with two victories. Each side is filled with talent and question marks, with the Huskies getting a slight advantage on home ice. I see this series playing out in a very similar fashion to last year, although the rematch will be closer this time around. UND 3-2, SCSU 4-3.

As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and insight. Here’s to hockey!

The UND/SCSU Challenge Cup

Beginning with the 2002-03 season, the WCHA changed its schedule rotation, creating “rivals” which would play each other four times each season. St. Cloud State and North Dakota were partnered up in a scheduling system that ended in 2009-10.

At that time, even though the WCHA expanded to 12 teams (adding Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha) and implemented a new rotating schedule, UND and SCSU continued to play four games each year. In the NCHC, that is not the case. Last season (2015-16) was the first time since 2001-02 that the two teams did not play four times in the regular season.

Over the past twelve seasons, the fans have made their mark on the partnership between the schools. The UND/SCSU rivalry has a commemorative fan trophy, thanks to the Center Ice Club at St. Cloud State University:

Challenge Cup

The UND/SCSU Challenge Cup is awarded to the team that wins the regular season series. As you may be able to see in the photo above, the winning team is engraved for each year.

UND won the Challenge Cup in 04-05, going 3-0-1 against the Huskies. St. Cloud took the trophy back in 05-06, sporting a record of 3-1-0 against North Dakota. In 06-07, the Sioux won two games and tied the other two, collecting six points and the Challenge Cup. The next season, the teams shared the Cup, with UND and SCSU each winning one game and tying the other two. In 08-09, North Dakota sprinted to the lead in the Challenge Cup race by winning both games in Grand Forks but needed a Saturday victory in St. Cloud to salvage a split on the weekend and reclaim the Cup. The following year (09-10), both series were splits, and the Challenge Cup was shared once again. In 2010-11, UND claimed seven of eight points (3-0-1) and took back the trophy, while the 2011-12 campaign went down as another tie. The Huskies claimed the Cup for two consecutive seasons (2012-14) by going 5-2-1 over North Dakota, but UND pulled off a Challenge Cup-worthy sweep in Grand Forks during the 2014-15 campaign that also earned them a share of the Penrose Cup. The teams split a pair of games in St. Cloud almost exactly one year ago, so the two schools shared the hardware yet again.

If you’re keeping track at home, UND has won the Cup five times, St. Cloud has claimed the trophy three times, and the schools have shared the Challenge Cup four times.

Since the two teams will also play in Grand Forks during the regular season this year, the teams will be earning points toward the trophy but the Challenge Cup will not be on the line this weekend at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

The Challenge Cup will be on display at the UND/SCSU pregame event on Saturday, November 19th at Brothers Bar & Grill (119 5th Avenue South) in St. Cloud. This is a great opportunity to meet fans on both sides of this hockey rivalry. There will be complimentary appetizers, and the event is free and open to the public.

Please follow this link for a complete preview of this weekend’s games. Here’s to hockey!

UND/SCSU pregame event set for Saturday, November 19th

Please join us for the UND/SCSU pregame social, an event which takes place in both Grand Forks, North Dakota and St. Cloud, Minnesota each hockey season. This is an opportunity for fans of the University of North Dakota and St. Cloud State University to gather, celebrate the great sport of hockey, and view the Challenge Cup, a traveling trophy which is presented to the team that wins the regular season series. The two teams shared the Cup last season with a split of the two games played in St. Cloud. For the record, the Huskies outscored the newly-minted Fighting Hawks 9-5 on the weekend. There was no return series at Ralph Engelstad Arena in 2015-16, but the teams will play in Grand Forks on February 3rd and 4th, 2017, and the Challenge Cup will be on the line:

und-scsu-november-2016

The pregame event will be held on Saturday, November 19th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the second floor of Brothers Bar & Grill (the same location as the past three years). The address is 119 Fifth Avenue South in St. Cloud, within walking distance of the Kelly Inn. The event is free and open to the public. A free appetizer bar will be available.

Fans of both teams enjoy the camaraderie at these social events and regularly comment that the connection between the two fan bases is among the best in college hockey.

Please mark your calendars and join us for this event. Here’s to hockey!

Weekend Preview: North Dakota vs. Denver

In the NCHC, it is clear that Denver/North Dakota is at the top of the league rivalries. The teams have played thirteen times over the past three seasons, but the feud goes all the way back to Geoff Paukovitch’ illegal check on Sioux forward Robbie Bina during the 2005 WCHA Final Five.

Since that 2005 Final Five contest (a Denver victory), the two teams have met nine times in tournament play. Denver won the 2005 NCAA title with a victory over North Dakota and claimed a 2008 WCHA Final Five win as well. UND has won five of the past seven playoff games between the schools, including three consecutive victories in the WCHA Final Five (2010-2012), the 2011 NCAA Midwest Regional final which sent the Fighting Sioux to the Frozen Four, and last season’s thrilling Frozen Four semifinal (a 4-2 UND victory) in Tampa, Florida.

Two nights after dispatching their league rival, North Dakota defeated Quinnipiac in the championship game and moved ahead of DU on the list of teams with the most NCAA titles in program history (8-7). It is worth noting that Denver collected five national championships by 1969. In the past 47 seasons, the Pioneers have won two. During that same span (1970-2016), the Fighting Sioux/Hawks won six titles and are the defending national champions.

Both rosters have changed quite a bit since that April meeting in the Sunshine State…

Denver lost three forwards (Grant Arnold, Gabe Levin, and Quentin Shore) and defenseman Nolan Zajac to graduation after last season. Those four scored 26 goals and added 50 assists for 76 points in 158 games played in 2015-16.

The Pios could have kept the Pacific Rim line intact, as Dylan Gambrell, Danton Heinen, and Trevor Moore all had college eligibility remaining. The trio went an incredible 48-91-139 for Denver last season. Unfortunately for the DU faithful, Heinen (a sophomore) and Moore (a junior) left for the pros, leaving Gambrell (17-30-47 as a freshman) searching for new linemates.

All told, Denver lost 57 of 133 goals scored from last year (43 percent of goal production).

UND lost nine players from the 2015-16 championship squad. Last season’s senior class (forwards Drake Caggiula, Bryn Chyzyk, Coltyn Sanderson, and Colten St. Clair) would have been enough of a loss, as the quartet accounted for 44 goals and 41 assists in 116 combined games.

But the worst was yet to come as the early departure bug hit the program particularly hard. Five players gave up college eligibility to sign pro contracts, including forward Nick Schmaltz (11-35-46), who left after his sophomore season. The other four skaters would have been seniors this year:

Forward Luke Johnson (11-10-21)
Defenseman Troy Stecher (8-21-29)
Defenseman Paul LaDue (5-14-19)
Defenseman Keaton Thompson (2-15-17)

All told, the nine players accounted for exactly half of North Dakota’s goal scoring last season (81 of 162). Stecher, LaDue, and Thompson helped anchor a defensive unit that allowed only 1.84 goals/game and gave up zero or one goal 24 times in 2015-16.

Much like Denver’s Pacific Rim line, North Dakota’s CBS line (Drake Caggiula, Brock Boeser, Nick Schmaltz) was everything for UND last season, as the three scored 63 goals and added 94 assists for 157 points in 118 games. Only Boeser (27-33-60 as a freshman last year) remains on the Fighting Hawks roster.

This weekend marks the fourth of five consecutive weekends against ranked opponents for North Dakota; UND went 14-5-1 (.725) against top-twenty teams a year ago. Here’s a closer look at the five-week grind for the Fighting Hawks until Thanksgiving:

vs. #18 Bemidji State (W 3-2, W 5-4)
at #2 Minnesota Duluth (L 2-5, L 0-3)
at #13 Minnesota (T 5-5, L 0-2)
vs. #2 Denver
at #13 St. Cloud State

North Dakota has struggled on special teams over the past two weekends against the Bulldogs and Gophers, scoring only two power play goals in 21 man-advantage situations (9.5%), allowing seven power play goals in 21 chances (66.7%), and giving up two shorthanded goals in a single period that led directly to UMD’s 3-0 Saturday victory. UND will certainly need to shore up those situations if they hope to contend in the NCHC this season.

Denver Team Profile

Head Coach: Jim Montgomery (4th season at DU, 75-42-14, .626)

Pairwise Ranking: 5th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #2/#2
This Season: 6-2-0 overall, 2-0-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 25-10-6 overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 17-6-1-1 NCHC (t-2nd)

Team Offense: 2.75 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.88 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 15.6% (7 of 45)
Penalty Kill: 84.6% (33 of 39)

Key Players: Freshman F Henrik Borgstrom (4-5-9), Sophomore F Troy Terry (3-3-6), Sophomore F Jarid Lukosevicius (3-3-6), Sophomore F Dylan Gambrell (2-2-4), Senior D Will Butcher (2-5-7), Junior D Adam Plant (0-1-1), Junior G Tanner Jaillet (6-1-0, 1.73 GAA, .931 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (2nd season at UND, 39-9-5, .783)

Pairwise Ranking: t-11th of 60 teams
National Rankings: #6/#6
This Season: 5-3-1 overall, 0-2-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 34-6-4 overall (NCAA Champions), 19-4-1-1 NCHC (1st of 8 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.33 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.67 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 13.3% (6 of 45)
Penalty Kill: 78.7% (37 of 47)

Key Players: Sophomore F Brock Boeser (7-6-13), Sophomore F Shane Gersich (4-8-12), Freshman F Tyson Jost (3-7-10), Sophomore F Joel Janatuinen (3-3-6), Junior D Tucker Poolman (2-5-7), Senior D Gage Ausmus (0-2-2), Junior G Cam Johnson (5-3-1, 2.56 GAA, .889 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: April 7, 2016 (Tampa, Florida). In the semifinals of the NCAA Frozen Four, the two league rivals squared off in a tightly-contested contest. Senior forward Drake Caggiula scored twice early in the middle frame to stake UND to a 2-0 lead, but the Pioneers battled back with a pair of third period goals. The CBS line came through when it mattered most, with Nick Schmaltz scoring the game winner off of a faceoff win with 57 seconds remaining in the hockey game. North Dakota blocked 27 Denver shot attempts and goaltender Cam Johnson made 21 saves for the Fighting Hawks, who won the program’s eighth national title on the same sheet of ice two nights later.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: December 5, 2015. North Dakota forward Austin Poganski scored a shorthanded goal with one second remaining in the opening period and added a power play goal midway through the hockey game as UND blanked the visiting Pios 4-0. Cam Johnson stopped all 18 shots he faced and earned the first of four consecutive shutouts. UND also continually frustrated Denver in Friday’s opener and outscored the Pioneers 9-1 on the weekend to earn the home sweep.

Most Important Meeting: It’s hard to pick just one game, as the two teams have played four times for the national title. Denver defeated UND for the national championship in 1958, 1968, and 2005, while the Sioux downed the Pioneers in 1963. But the game that stands out in recent memory as “the one that got away” was DU’s 1-0 victory over the Fighting Sioux in the 2004 NCAA West Regional final (Colorado Springs, CO). That North Dakota team went 30-8-4 on the season (Dean Blais’ last behind the UND bench) and featured one of the deepest rosters in the past twenty years: Brandon Bochenski, Zach Parise, Brady Murray, Colby Genoway, Drew Stafford and David Lundbohm up front; Nick Fuher, Matt Jones, Matt Greene, and Ryan Hale on defense; and a couple of goaltending stalwarts in Jordan Parise and Jake Brandt.

Last Ten Games: UND has a 5-3-2 (.600) advantage in the last ten games between the schools and has outscored Denver 30-25 over that stretch of games. Six of those ten games occurred a season ago, with both teams sweeping on home ice before tying 1-1 in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff third-place game. North Dakota broke the tie in the season series with a dramatic 4-2 victory in the NCAA Frozen Four.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 143-122-11 (.538). The teams first met in 1950, with North Dakota prevailing 18-3 in Denver.

Game News and Notes

UND sophomore forward Brock Boeser has eight points (four goals, four assists) in six career games against the Pioneers. Denver (15) and North Dakota (14) have more consecutive seasons with twenty or more victories than any other Division I men’s hockey team in the country. Boston College is third with seven straight twenty-win seasons; Quinnipiac has accomplished the feat five consecutive times. North Dakota is unbeaten in its past fifteen games on home ice (14-0-1).

Media Coverage

Both games this weekend can be seen on Midco Sports Network. The series will also be streamed live in high definition via NCHC.tv. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

The Prediction

Saturday’s tilt against Minnesota was the best North Dakota had played in four games, and they still couldn’t score. Goaltending, special teams, defensive play, and secondary scoring are all question marks right now, but a rivalry series at home could be just what the Fighting Hawks need to get back in the win column. The Pioneers have done it with defense, allowing only nine goals total during their current six-game winning streak. If DU can contain North Dakota’s top line, it could be a long weekend in Grand Forks. I see a split here in a pair of tight contests. Denver 3-2, UND 3-2.

As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and insight. Here’s to hockey!