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Published by Dave Berger on 27 Feb 2015

Weekend Preview: UND vs. St. Cloud State

In the first year of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, St. Cloud State bested North Dakota by three points to claim the league’s first regular season championship. SCSU and UND were both invited to the NCAA tournament, and Denver earned the conference autobid by winning the inaugural Frozen Faceoff.

North Dakota and St. Cloud State have been paired up as schedule partners and rivals since the 2002-03 season. Two years later, the Center Ice Club created a commemorative trophy to mark the rivalry, and the two teams have been battling it out four times each season to claim the 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, St. Cloud went 5-2-1 against North Dakota over the past two seasons (2012-14) and earned the last two Challenge Cups.

A November split in St. Cloud means that the Cup is on the line this weekend in Grand Forks.

According to KRACH, St. Cloud State has played the second-most difficult schedule in the country to this point. Over the last two weekends, the Huskies split at #6 Minnesota-Duluth and swept #5 Nebraska-Omaha. After this two game series in Grand Forks against #1 North Dakota, SCSU will host #7 Denver to close out the regular season. This weekend marks the Huskies’ twelfth ranked opponent of the year (UND has faced eight, and will travel to Oxford, Ohio to face the #5 Miami RedHawks next Friday and Saturday).

UND’s seven senior skaters (forwards Connor Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks, and Stephane Pattyn along with defensemen Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzarella) have combined for 43 points over the last ten games and now rank as the fourth-most productive senior group in the nation with 109 points (Mercyhurst 170, Air Force 119, Minnesota 114).

North Dakota will honor those seven players during Saturday’s Senior Night celebration. The 2015 senior class has amassed a combined record of 95-46-16 (.656) with three straight trips to the NCAA tournament. By comparison, the winningest class under Dave Hakstol was the 2011 class (forwards Matt Frattin, Evan Trupp, Brad Malone, and Brent Davidson and defensemen Chay Genoway, Jake Marto, and Derrick LaPoint), who went 109-48-16 (.676) during their time at UND. Beginning with the incoming freshman class of 2002, every four-year player to wear the Green and White has collected 100 career victories.

Offensive capability from the blue line is a big reason for UND’s continued success. After leading the nation in scoring by defensemen last year, UND is first in the country in that category again this season. Through 31 games, North Dakota blueliners have scored 20 goals and added 71 assists for 91 points, or 2.94 points per game. Denver is second in that category with 88 points in 30 games (2.93 points/game).

More to the point, North Dakota’s top six defensemen have notched 13 goals and added 63 assists for 76 points (2.80 points/game). By comparison, the six SCSU blueliners expected to be in the lineup this weekend have combined for 10 goals and 39 assists for 49 points (1.85 points/game). And furthermore, UND is so deep with talent on the blue line that freshman defenseman Tucker Poolman has been playing wing this season, and he’s chipped in with six goals and five assists.

UND junior netminder Zane McIntyre has moved himself back into the Hobey Baker conversation after a stellar performance last weekend at Western Michigan (67 of 70 saves in the road sweep, with all three of WMU’s goals coming with the extra attacker). McIntyre, who now sits 12th in the country in goals-against average (1.96) and 8th in save percentage (.932), has played the fourth-most minutes in the nation and is tied for second in victories with 22 (Michigan Tech’s Jamie Phillips has 23). In my opinion, the junior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota will need to continue registering victories and pick up one or two more shutouts over the next three weekends of action to remain in contention for college hockey’s highest individual award.

It should also be noted that Zane McIntyre is also statistically the best goaltender in North Dakota hockey history. His career goals-against average (2.08) and save percentage (.927) rank as the best all-time at UND. Former goaltending greats Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, Jordan Parise, Aaron Dell, and Karl Goehring round out the top five.

Perhaps the biggest reason for UND’s success this season has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. During the 2014-15 campaign, Dave Hakstol’s squad is unbeaten (18-0-2) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past seven years, North Dakota is converting almost 90 percent of second intermission leads into victories and has just seven losses in the last 148 such situations (131-7-10). In fact, the last time UND lost when leading after two periods of play was November 1st, 2013 against visiting St. Cloud State, when a 1-0 lead turned into a 3-2 defeat.

Back in November, I wrote this about the difference between year one and year two in the NCHC:

North Dakota finished second in the NCHC, and yet needed some help at the final hour to claim the last spot in the round of sixteen. UND went 8-4-3 in non-league play last season heading into the NCAAs, but the rest of the league struggled mightily, particularly against Hockey East (6-11-5) and the ECAC (4-7-3).

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference has a stellar record against other leagues so far this season, a far cry from last year’s troubles. Currently, six conference schools are ranked in the top sixteen in the country (only Western Michigan and Colorado College are unranked). If these numbers hold, the NCHC could easily place four or even five teams in the NCAA tournament in March after sending just three (and barely that) a year ago.

And now it’s looking like five or even six league schools could be invited to the NCAAs.

Dave Hakstol has his team in a much better position than last year, when North Dakota’s NCAA tournament hopes went down to the wire. With a sparkling 9-1-1 non-conference record, UND currently sits in second place in the Pairwise rankings, one of six NCHC teams in line to make the NCAA tournament. Minnesota-Duluth (3rd), Miami (4th), Denver (7th), Nebraska-Omaha (8th), and St. Cloud State (14th) would all make the field of 16 if the season ended today. The Huskies moved all the way from 19th to 14th in the Pairwise after sweeping Nebraska-Omaha last weekend.

And speaking of Hakstol, the UND head coach has now won twenty or more games in each of his first eleven seasons behind the North Dakota bench. That mark is easily the longest current streak in men’s hockey (Jerry York is second with five straight seasons of twenty or more wins, and the Eagles have 19 victories this season).

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: (Bob Motzko, 10th season at SCSU, 199-150-41, .563)
Pairwise Ranking: 14th of 59 teams
National Ranking: NR/NR
This Season: 15-14-1 overall, 10-9-1-0 NCHC (6th)
Last Ten Games: 6-4-0 overall, 6-4-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 22-11-5 overall (NCAA Region semifinalist), 15-6-3-0 NCHC (1st)

Team Offense: 2.87 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.47 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.4% (29 of 124)
Penalty Kill: 79.3% (73 of 92)

Key Players: Junior F Jonny Brodzinski (17-12-29), Junior F Joey Benik (11-18-29), Junior F Kalle Kossila (4-20-24), Freshman F Patrick Russell (10-13-23), Senior D Andrew Prochno (3-11-14), Junior D Ethan Prow (3-12-15), Sophomore G Charlie Lindgren (14-13-1, 2.30 GAA, .916 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 282-139-43, .654)

Pairwise Ranking: 2nd of 59 teams
National Rankings: #1/#1
This Season: 22-6-3 overall, 13-5-2-0 NCHC (1st)
Last Ten Games: 8-1-1 overall, 6-1-1-0 NCHC
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.42 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.13 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.5% (27 of 132)
Penalty Kill: 85.0% (108 of 127)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (15-16-31), Senior F Michael Parks (12-19-31), Senior F Mark MacMillan (16-9-25), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (4-19-23), Senior F Brendan O’Donnell (10-5-15), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (3-22-25), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (4-13-17), Senior D Nick Mattson (2-11-13), Junior G Zane McIntyre (22-6-3, 1.96 GAA, .932 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: November 22, 2014 (St. Cloud, MN). On his 21st birthday, North Dakota freshman Trevor Olson potted the first two goals of his career (including the game-winner) and led UND to the 3-2 road victory over the Huskies. St. Cloud native Austin Poganski assisted on both Olson goals against his hometown team, and Brendan O’Donnell also scored for the Green and White (North Dakota is 19-0-1 all-time when O’Donnell lights the lamp). UND outshot the Huskies 39-29, and both teams went 0-for-3 with the man advantage. SCSU won Friday’s opener 3-2.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: November 2, 2013. Troy Stecher staked UND to an early lead, but St. Cloud State dominated the final forty minutes of action, outshooting North Dakota 21-11 in the second and third periods and scoring the final three goals of the hockey game to earn the road sweep (SCSU won Friday’s opener 2-1). Nic Dowd (one goal, one assist) and Jonny Brodzinski (two assists) led the way for the Huskies.

Most Important Meeting: March 17, 2001 (St. Paul, MN). St. Cloud State defeated North Dakota 6-5 to claim the 2001 WCHA Final Five Championship. Derek Eastman scored the game-winner in overtime after UND scored three goals in the final ten minutes of regulation to force the extra session.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 62-37-12 (.613), including a 30-16-6 (.635) mark in games played in Grand Forks. However, North Dakota is winless (0-3-1) in the last four meetings at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Last Ten: St. Cloud holds a 6-3-1 (.650) edge in the last ten meetings between the teams and has outscored North Dakota 26-21 over that stretch of games.

Game News and Notes

UND goaltender Zane McIntyre is just 2-5-0 against the Huskies in his three years at North Dakota. Head coach Bob Motzko needs one victory this weekend to reach 200 for his career (ten seasons). North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol, who has 282 coaching victories in eleven seasons, is 24-15-7 (.598) in his career against the Huskies. UND can clinch home ice for the first round of the NCHC playoffs with at least three points this weekend.

The Prediction

This season, UND is 8-6-1 on Fridays and 14-0-2 on Saturdays. That trend continues this weekend, with St. Cloud State winning a close one in the opener before North Dakota takes over in the rematch, earning a split of the weekend series and a share of the Challenge Cup. SCSU 3-2, UND 4-1.

On a Personal Note

I look forward to this series every year because of the unique relationship we have with the St. Cloud State hockey fans. On behalf of SiouxSports.com, I would like to invite you to the UND/SCSU pre-game social on Saturday afternoon from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Muddy Rivers Bar and Grill (inside the Red Roof Inn/TownHouse) in downtown Grand Forks. This is a great opportunity to meet fans on both sides of the rivalry, win fabulous door prizes, enjoy a free appetizer bar, and view the Challenge Cup. This event is free and open to the public. Due to the venue, guests must be 21 years of age or older. Bring a friend or six!

Published by Dave Berger on 20 Feb 2015

Weekend Preview: North Dakota at Western Michigan

Western Michigan is still somewhat of an unknown commodity to most North Dakota hockey fans. Before the Broncos joined the newly-formed NCHC in the fall of 2013, the two teams had only met five times, and just once since 1998: a 3-1 UND victory in the 2012 NCAA West Regional in St. Paul.

The Green and White went 4-1 against WMU last season, sweeping in Kalamazoo and splitting in Grand Forks before meeting up in Minneapolis for the third-place game of the inaugural NCHC Frozen Faceoff. After being shut out by Miami in the semifinals, Dave Hakstol had the boys ready to go from the drop of the puck and UND coasted to a 5-0 victory. That result, coupled with Wisconsin’s thrilling win in the Big Ten tournament across the river, propelled North Dakota to a thirteenth consecutive NCAA tournament bid.

This year’s version of Western Michigan has been up and down in league play (5-9-4 with three shootout victories), but head coach Andy Murray’s 7-3-0 non-conference record has fans in Kalamazoo hoping for a playoff run (the Broncos are currently 23rd in the Pairwise rankings). WMU has been able to score more consistently this season (2.75 goals/game), but the Broncos have given up three or more goals in five of their last nine games, including a 7-0 shellacking at the hands of St. Cloud State.

The boys from Kalamazoo, Michigan like to play a tight, physical brand of hockey, but that has meant quite a bit of time in the penalty box. WMU has been in 131 shorthanded situations already this season (compared to 108 power play opportunities). The Broncos’ blistering power play has scored 25 goals this year (converting at 23.1%), but their penalty killers have also allowed 25 goals to the opposition.

North Dakota’s specialty teams numbers are a bit more even: 119 power plays and 118 penalty kills this year, with a net of plus-eight goals (26 power play goals scored, 18 power play goals allowed). UND also leads the nation with nine shorthanded goals, while the Broncos are still looking for their first.

UND’s seven senior skaters (forwards Connor Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks, and Stephane Pattyn along with defensemen Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzarella) have combined for 36 points over the last eight games and now rank as the fourth-most productive senior class in the nation with 102 points (Mercyhurst 167, Air Force 115, Minnesota 108).

Offensive capability from the blue line is another reason for UND’s continued success. After leading the nation in scoring by defensemen last year, UND is second in the country in that category this season. Through 29 games, North Dakota blueliners have scored 18 goals and added 65 assists for 83 points, or 2.86 points per game. Only Massachusetts-Lowell (2.87 points/game) has scored at a higher rate this year.

UND junior netminder Zane McIntyre sits squarely on the bubble for a Hobey Baker nod after another pedestrian performance last weekend versus Denver (52 of 57 saves in a win and a tie). McIntyre, who now sits 13th in the country in goals-against average (2.00) and 11th in save percentage (.930), has played the sixth-most minutes in the nation and is tied for second in victories (20). In my opinion, the junior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota will need to continue registering victories and pick up one or two more shutouts over the next month to remain in contention for college hockey’s highest individual award.

It should also be noted that Zane McIntyre is also statistically the best goaltender in North Dakota hockey history. His career goals-against average (2.08) and save percentage (.926) rank as the best all-time at UND. Former goaltending greats Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, Jordan Parise, Aaron Dell, and Karl Goehring round out the top five.

One of the biggest reasons for UND’s success this season has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. During the 2014-15 campaign, Dave Hakstol’s squad is unbeaten (16-0-2) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past seven years, North Dakota is converting almost 90 percent of second intermission leads into victories and has just seven losses in the last 146 such situations (129-7-10).

Dave Hakstol has his team in a much better position than last year, when North Dakota’s NCAA tournament hopes went down to the wire. With a sparkling 9-1-1 non-conference record, UND currently sits in second place in the Pairwise rankings, one of five NCHC teams in line to make the NCAA tournament. Nebraska-Omaha (5th), Minnesota-Duluth (4th), Miami (6th), and Denver (9th) would all make the field of 16 if the season ended today. Of the remaining three league teams on the outside looking in, St. Cloud State is the closest to making the tournament, as the Huskies are currently in 19th place.

And speaking of Hakstol, the UND head coach has now won twenty or more games in each of his first eleven seasons behind the North Dakota bench. That mark is easily the longest current streak in men’s hockey (Jerry York is second with five straight seasons of twenty or more wins, and the Eagles have 18 victories this season).

Western Michigan Team Profile

Head Coach: Andy Murray, 4th season at WMU, 71-53-23, .561)

Pairwise Ranking: 23rd of 59 teams
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 12-12-4 overall, 5-9-4-3 NCHC (7th)
Last Ten Games: 5-3-2 overall, 3-3-2-1 NCHC
Last Season: 19-16-5 overall (missed NCAA tournament), 11-11-2-2 NCHC (t-4th)

Team Offense: 2.75 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.64 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.1% (25 of 108)
Penalty Kill: 80.9% (106 of 131)

Key Players: Junior F Colton Hargrove (12-10-22). Sophomore F Sheldon Dries (11-11-22), Senior F Justin Kovacs (4-17-21), Junior D Kenney Morrison (5-9-14), Sophomore D Taylor Fleming (2-9-11), Junior G Lukas Hafner (10-8-4, 2.28 GAA, .919 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 280-139-43, .653)

Pairwise Ranking: 2nd of 59 teams
National Rankings: #1/#1
This Season: 20-6-3 overall, 11-5-2-0 NCHC (t-1st)
Last Ten Games: 7-2-1 overall, 5-2-1-0 NCHC
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.45 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.17 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.8% (26 of 119)
Penalty Kill: 84.7% (100 of 118)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (13-16-29), Senior F Michael Parks (11-18-29), Senior F Mark MacMillan (15-8-23), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (4-17-21), Senior F Brendan O’Donnell (10-5-15), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (3-20-23), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-12-15), Sophomore D Troy Stecher (1-8-9 in 21 games), Junior G Zane McIntyre (20-6-3, 2.00 GAA, .930 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: Saturday, March 22nd (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 13th consecutive season.

Last Meeting in Kalamazoo: December 7, 2013. WMU netminder Frank Slubowski gave up three goals on thirteen shots before being pulled early in the second period and North Dakota held on for a 3-2 road victory. Western Michigan, which outshot UND 25-16, collected two power play goals on six attempts. The Green and White also won Friday’s opener by a 3-2 score.

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.

All-time Series: In the short history between the schools, UND has won nine of the ten games, outscoring the Broncos 45-19. WMU’s lone victory over North Dakota was a 2-1 road win on March 8th, 2014. The teams first met in 1997.

Game News and Notes

UND is 7-6-1 on Friday nights and 13-0-2 on Saturdays. Western Michigan is just 3-4-3 at home this season; North Dakota is 8-3-0 on the road. MacMillan, whose twelve goals in conference play lead all scorers, has a career line of 45-52-97 in 147 games played and needs just three points to join UND’s Century Club. There are currently 84 members of that exclusive group (100 career points). Thanks to junior forward Nolan LaPorte (eight power play goals), Western Michigan has been the best in the league (23.1 percent) with the man advantage. UND forward Luke Johnson has collected three goals and four assists in five career games against WMU.

The Prediction

North Dakota can take a huge step forward in the league race with two NCHC victories this weekend. It won’t be easy, but I see Zane McIntyre rebounding with a dominating goaltending performance in Kalamazoo. UND 4-2, 3-0.

Published by Dave Berger on 13 Feb 2015

Weekend Preview: North Dakota vs. Denver

In the NCHC, it is clear that Denver/North Dakota will be at the top of the league rivalries. Despite having played just four games in the past two years, the schools definitely do not like each other. 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 six 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 the last four playoff games between the schools, including three consecutive victories in the WCHA Final Five (2010-2012) and the 2011 NCAA Midwest Regional final which sent the Fighting Sioux to the Frozen Four.

A key storyline for DU this season has been the play of its first-year players, particularly the emergence of freshman forward Danton Heinen. The 6-foot, 161 pound phenom from Langley, British Columbia leads the Pios in scoring with 29 points in 26 games. Heinen, who played his junior hockey with the Surrey Eagles (BCHL), notched just a single assist in the December home split against North Dakota but turned it on in January, collecting nine points in the first seven games of 2015. Nationally, Jack Eichel (Boston University) has been the most impressive freshman (15-28-43 in 25 games to lead the nation in scoring), and Michigan’s Dylan Larkin has 31 points in 22 contests, but Heinen is still the third-most prolific scorer among first-year players (by comparison, North Dakota’s top-scoring freshman is Nick Schmaltz, who has potted three goals and notched 16 assists for 19 points in his first 23 college games).

And a second newcomer to the DU roster is also making a difference in 2015. After sophomore goaltender Evan Cowley started ten of the first fourteen games of the season for the Pioneers, freshman Tanner Jaillet has flipped the script and taken the job away from his teammate. Since January 1st, here are the splits:

Evan Cowley: 0-1-1 (four appearances), 2.59 goals-against average, .926 save percentage, zero shutouts
Tanner Jaillet: 6-3-0 (ten appearances), 1.64 goals-against average, .940 save percentage, one shutout

Cowley, from nearby Arvada, Colorado, played in only five games last season (1.76 GAA, .949 SV%), so the two Denver netminders have almost the same amount of game experience.

By contrast, UND’s upperclassmen have been carrying the load. North Dakota’s seniors shined in recent home sweeps of Niagara and Colorado College and again at Nebraska-Omaha. The seven skaters (forwards Connor Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks, and Stephane Pattyn along with defensemen Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzarella) combined for 32 points over the last six games and now rank as the fourth-most productive senior class in the nation with 98 points (Mercyhurst 147, Air Force 111, Minnesota 99).

Offensive capability from the blue line is another reason for UND’s continued success. After leading the nation in scoring by defensemen last year, UND is second in the country in that category this season. Through 27 games, North Dakota blueliners have scored 16 goals and added 60 assists for 76 points, or 2.81 points per game. Only Minnesota State-Mankato (2.97 points/game) has scored at a higher rate this year.

UND junior netminder Zane McIntyre is now squarely on the bubble for a Hobey Baker nod after a rather pedestrian performance in his last weekend of action (59 of 65 saves in a split at UNO). McIntyre, who now sits 11th in the country in goals-against average (1.96) and 10th in save percentage (.931), has played the seventh-most minutes in the nation and is tied for second in victories (19). In my opinion, the junior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota will need to continue registering victories and pick up one or two more shutouts over the next month to remain in contention for college hockey’s highest individual award.

It should also be noted that Zane McIntyre is also statistically the best goaltender in North Dakota hockey history. His career goals-against average (2.08) and save percentage (.926) rank as the best all-time at UND. Former goaltending greats Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, Jordan Parise, Aaron Dell, and Karl Goehring round out the top five.

One of the biggest reasons for UND’s success this season has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. During the 2014-15 campaign, Dave Hakstol’s squad is unbeaten (16-0-1) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past seven years, North Dakota is converting almost 90 percent of second intermission leads into victories and has just seven losses in the last 145 such situations (129-7-9).

Dave Hakstol has his team in a much better position than last year, when North Dakota’s NCAA tournament hopes went down to the wire. With a sparkling 9-1-1 non-conference record, UND currently sits in second place in the Pairwise rankings, one of five NCHC teams in line to make the NCAA tournament. Nebraska-Omaha (4th), Minnesota-Duluth (5th), Miami (7th), and Denver (9th) would all make the field of 16 if the season ended today. Of the remaining three league teams on the outside looking in, St. Cloud State is the closest to making the tournament, as the Huskies are currently tied for 21st.

On a sad note, Denver head coach Jim Montgomery’s father passed away this morning. This, via Twitter:

Jim Montgomery @DUCoachMonty 7:26 AM – 13 Feb 2015 The man who impacted my life the most has passed away. I will miss our daily phone calls and the wisdom and love you gave me. Love you Dad

DU assistant coach David Carle will act as head coach. From all of us at SiouxSports.com, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Montgomery and Denver families.

Denver Team Profile

Head Coach: Jim Montgomery (2nd season at DU, 36-25-7, .581)

Pairwise Ranking: 9th of 59 teams
National Rankings: #9/#9
This Season: 16-9-1 overall, 9-7-0-0 NCHC (5th)
Last Ten Games: 6-4-0 overall, 5-4-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 20-16-6 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 10-11-3-2 NCHC (6th)

Team Offense: 3.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.15 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 22.5% (23 of 102)
Penalty Kill: 87.6% (78 of 89)

Key Players: Freshman F Danton Heinen (10-19-29), Senior F Daniel Doremus (7-15-22), Sophomore F Trevor Moore (13-13-26), Junior F Quentin Shore (8-10-18), Senior D Joey LaLeggia (9-15-24), Junior D Nolan Zajac (5-14-19), Sophomore G Evan Cowley (7-5-1, 2.05 GAA, .927 SV%, 2 SO), Freshman G Tanner Jaillet (9-4-0, 1.97 GAA, .927 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 279-139-42, .652)

Pairwise Ranking: 2nd of 59 teams
National Rankings: #2/#3
This Season: 19-6-2 overall, 10-5-1-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Ten Games: 7-3-0 overall, 5-3-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.44 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.15 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.9% (23 of 110)
Penalty Kill: 84.8% (95 of 112)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (11-16-27), Senior F Michael Parks (9-18-27), Senior F Mark MacMillan (15-8-23), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (3-16-19), Senior F Brendan O’Donnell (10-5-15), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (3-18-21), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-9-12), Sophomore D Troy Stecher (1-8-9 in 19 games), Junior G Zane McIntyre (19-6-2, 1.96 GAA, .931 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: December 13, 2014 (Denver, CO). One night after falling 4-1 to the homestanding Pios, North Dakota used a balanced attack to gain the road split. Despite being outshot 33-26, the Green and White built a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-1 victory. Seven different UND players figured in the scoring, and junior netminder Zane McIntyre made 32 of 33 saves for his thirteenth victory of the season. Each team went 0-3 on the power play.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: December 8, 2012. After the teams battled to a 2-2 tie in the opener, it was all UND in a penalty-filled rematch. The hometown squad could have been deflated after allowing two goals during Dan “Jimmer” Senkbeil’s major for checking from behind, but North Dakota’s specialty teams came through in the end, scoring a power play goal, a shorthanded goal, and an empty netter to ice the 6-3 victory. Rocco Grimaldi and Carter Rowney each had four-point nights and, along with freshman linemate Drake Caggiula (two assists), turned in a ten point performance and a combined plus-5.

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: North Dakota has had slightly the better of it lately, going 5-4-1 (.550) in the last ten meetings between the schools and outscoring Denver 33-26 over that span. The two teams have also met once in the WCHA Final Five (St. Paul) and once in the NCAA regionals during this most recent stretch, with UND winning both of those playoff games.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 139-119-9 (.537), including an 81-42-6 (.651) advantage on home ice. North Dakota last home sweep of the Pioneers came on February 15th and 16th, 2008.

Game News and Notes

UND is 6-6-1 on Friday nights and 13-0-1 on Saturdays. Senior forward Brendan O’Donnell has eight goals in his last thirteen games (UND’s all-time record is 19-0-1 when O’Donnell scores a goal). Denver is 4-5-1 on the road this season; North Dakota is 11-3-2 at home. Denver senior defenseman Joey LaLeggia and North Dakota senior forward Mark MacMillan are two of four players tied for the league lead in points (both have 18 points in 16 NCHC contests). MacMillan, whose twelve goals in conference play lead all scorers, has a career line of 45-52-97 in 145 games played and needs just three points to join UND’s Century Club.

The Prediction

Even though the rosters and past results point to yet another split, UND is playing better hockey right now and is looking for more than three league points this weekend. Friday’s game will be close, with the home crowd pushing the Green and White over the edge. It’s all North Dakota in the rematch. UND 3-2 (OT), 5-2.

Published by Jim Dahl on 11 Feb 2015

Weekly UND PWR outlook

 

 

 

 

 

UND’s PWR outlook is a bit more interesting this week than last — a sweep probably leaves them at #2 (though #1 and #3 are each possible), a split most likely results in a modest fall (though staying at #2 is possible), getting swept would throw UND at the mercy of its competitors.

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That 2% chance of UND taking #1 with a sweep almost certainly requires Minnesota State to be swept by Alaska:

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Published by Dave Berger on 09 Feb 2015

UND/SCSU fan social set for Saturday, February 28th

Please join us for the UND/SCSU pre-game social, an annual event which provides 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 which collects more points in the four regular-season games between the schools. St. Cloud State claimed the Cup last season with a record of 3-1-0 against UND, outscoring North Dakota 11-9 in the four contests. The teams did not meet in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff or the NCAA tournament a year ago.

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This event will be held on Saturday, February 28th from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Muddy Rivers Bar and Grill (inside the Red Roof Inn TownHouse) in downtown Grand Forks. Muddy Rivers is smoke-free, and the event is free and open to the public (due to the venue, guests must be 21 years of age or older). A free appetizer bar will be available, everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to win door prizes, and a hockey bus will take fans to Ralph Engelstad Arena and back again after the game.

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SiouxSports.com is the title sponsor for the event. Other sponsors include:

Daydreams Specialties
Domino’s Pizza
Fargo Force
Happy Joes Pizza
Muddy Rivers Grill and Bar
Quiznos
SiouxPride.com
Speedway 805 Grill and Bar
Valley Dairy

Here’s a look at a few of the door prizes we’ll be giving away:

DoorPrizesFebruary2015

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.

Mark your calendars and join us for this event!

Published by Jim Dahl on 04 Feb 2015

Weekly UND PWR outlook

In this idle weekend, #2 UND (PairWise Rankings) is most likely to keep its #2 ranking, but if they move it will probably be down to #3.

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That .7% chance of UND taking #1 is largely the likelihood of Alaska-Anchorage sweeping Minnesota State (KRACH gives Anchorage a ranking of 53.43 and Minnesota State a ranking of 613.98, thus predicting Alaska-Anchorage has an 8% chance of winning each game, or about a .6% chance of winning both).

To see the threat of falling to #3, UND need only look at current #3 Boston University. UND currently wins the comparison 2-0, but on a razor thin .5856-.5845 RPI advantage. Even a single BU win (and a few other things going right) could be enough for BU to overtake UND.

End of regular season outlook

The regular season outlook has improved to the point that UND is nearly a lock for an at-large bid. Only an epic collapse (e.g. 2 or fewer wins in the final 8 games) combined with a disastrous conference tournament could knock UND out.

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Published by Jim Dahl on 30 Jan 2015

Can UND take over #1 this weekend?

It’s a bit of a longshot, but if everything goes well for UND this weekend, they could climb to #1 in the PairWise Rankings. Incumbent Minnesota State controls it’s own destiny — a sweep guarantees they stay atop the heap for one more week. A split, however, opens the door for UND.

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If UND sweeps, they can take #1 with a suitably bad performance by Mankato. It’s remotely possible, though not likely, for North Dakota to take #1 even with a split.

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Finally, it’s remotely possible (about 2%) for Nebraska-Omaha to take the #1 spot this weekend (a scenario that would almost certainly require a sweep of UND), and extremely remotely possible (about .2%) for Boston University to take #1.

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Published by Dave Berger on 30 Jan 2015

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Nebraska-Omaha

From the outside looking in, it appears as though Dean Blais has resurrected the hockey program in Omaha, bringing in top-end recruits and a new style of play. The Mavericks play an honest, up-tempo brand of hockey, something familiar to fans of the Green and White from Blais’ time in Grand Forks.

But for all of the improvements and excitement, it should be noted that Blais has only brought one team to the NCAA tournament. In 2010-11 (his second season behind the Mavericks bench and UNO’s first season in the WCHA), Nebraska-Omaha took #6-ranked Michigan to overtime but fell 3-2 in the NCAA West Regional semifinals.

For comparison’s sake, previous coach Mike Kemp only took the Mavericks to the NCAA tournament once during his twelve year tenure behind the bench. And to be fair, Blais had to contend with two league changes (first to the WCHA and now to the NCHC) in his first five seasons in Omaha.

This might be the year that changes everything. #5 Nebraska-Omaha has posted an overall record of 15-6-3 and currently sits in first place in the NCHC. Dean Blais’ squad earned an extra point with a shootout victory in Grand Forks on November 28th after the teams skated to a 2-2 tie. UND won the rematch on Saturday night but still sits one point behind the Mavericks in the conference standings.

This year’s version of the UNO Mavericks has a different look to it, as Dean Blais no longer has forwards Josh Archibald and Ryan Walters on the roster. The two combined for 108 goals and 120 assists in 264 college games. However, senior forward Dominic Zombo remains, and UND fans may remember his dad, Rick Zombo, who wore the green and white during Blais’ tenure in Grand Forks.

Despite being outshot by an average margin of 31-26 this year, senior goaltender Ryan Massa is keeping the Mavericks in games. His save percentage of .936 has him in eighth place nationally (four other netminders are tied for fourth at .937).

UNO’s first- and second-year players have carried the load over the first four months of the season. Sophomore forwards Austin Ortega (14-11-25) and Jake Guentzel (7-16-23) lead the way for the Mavericks, while a trio of freshmen (Jake Randolph 4-16-20, Avery Peterson 9-9-18, Tyler Vesel 5-11-16) round out the top five. In fact, nine of the top eleven point getters for Dean Blais this year are freshmen and sophomores.

By contrast, UND’s upperclassmen have been carrying the load. North Dakota’s seniors shined in recent home sweeps of Niagara and Colorado College. The seven skaters (forwards Connor Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks, and Stephane Pattyn along with defensemen Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzarella) combined for 23 points over the last four games and now rank as the third-most productive senior class in the nation with 89 points (Mercyhurst 124, Air Force 99).

Offensive capability from the blue line is another reason for UND’s continued success. After leading the nation in scoring by defensemen last year, UND is second in the country in that category this season. Through 25 games, North Dakota blueliners have scored 16 goals and added 55 assists for 71 points, or 2.84 points per game. Only Massachusetts-Lowell has scored at a higher rate (19-53-72 in 25 games, 2.88/game).

UND junior netminder Zane McIntyre strengthened his case for a Hobey Baker nod with another outstanding performance last weekend (55 of 59 saves). McIntyre, who now sits on the top ten in the country in goals-against average (1.89) and save percentage (.933), has played the third-most minutes in the nation and has earned the most victories (18). In my opinion, the junior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota will need continue registering victories and pick up one or two more shutouts over the next two months to remain in contention for college hockey’s highest individual award.

It should also be noted that Zane McIntyre is also statistically the best goaltender in North Dakota hockey history. His career goals-against average (2.06) and save percentage (.927) rank as the best all-time at UND. Former goaltending greats Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, Jordan Parise, Aaron Dell, and Karl Goehring round out the top five.

Dave Hakstol has his team in a much better position than last year. With a sparkling 9-1-1 non-conference record, UND currently sits in second place in the Pairwise rankings, one of five NCHC teams in line to make the NCAA tournament. Nebraska-Omaha (t-3rd), Minnesota-Duluth (7th), Miami (8th), and Denver (11th) would all make the field of 16 if the season ended today. No other league school is in the top twenty.

In the race for the league title, the schedule for the stretch run seems to favor the boys from Omaha. Over the last four weeks of the regular season, North Dakota will face Denver and Miami as well as Western Michigan (21st) and St. Cloud State (26th). Nebraska-Omaha will play Western Michigan and Colorado College (47th) at home and travel to St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth to close out their NCHC schedule. UND’s four remaining opponents have a combined KRACH rating of 930; UNO’s four foes weigh in at just over 740.

Against common opponents this season, UND has a record of 8-4-0 while the Mavericks sit at 7-3-0.

Nebraska-Omaha Team Profile

Head Coach: Dean Blais (6th season at UNO, 106-92-21, .532)

Pairwise Ranking: t-3rd of 59 teams
National Rankings: #5/#5
This Season: 15-6-3 overall, 9-4-1-1 NCHC (1st)
Last Season: 17-18-2 overall, 13-9-2-1 NCHC (3rd)

Team Offense: 3.04 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.46 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 16.8% (16 of 95)
Penalty Kill: 83.9% (73 of 87)

Key Players: Sophomore F Austin Ortega (14-11-25), Sophomore F Jake Guentzel (7-16-23), Freshman F Jake Randolph (4-16-20), Freshman F Avery Peterson (9-9-18), Junior D Brian Cooper (4-9-13), Sophomore D Ian Brady (4-9-13), Senior G Ryan Massa (10-3-3, 2.00 GAA, .936 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 278-138-42, .653)

Pairwise Ranking: 2nd of 59 teams
National Rankings: #1/#1
This Season: 18-5-2 overall, 9-4-1-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.48 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.08 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.0% (21 of 100)
Penalty Kill: 86.4% (89 of 103)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (10-16-26), Senior F Michael Parks (9-17-26), Senior F Mark MacMillan (13-8-21), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (3-15-18), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (3-17-20), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-9-12), Junior G Zane McIntyre (18-5-2, 1.89 GAA, .933 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers:

Last meeting: November 29, 2014 (Grand Forks, ND). Zane McIntyre made 32 saves as the Green and White built a 3-1 lead and held on for a 3-2 home victory. North Dakota senior forward Mark McMillan scored a second period goal that withstood a lengthy review, and senior captain Stephane Pattyn potted a shorthanded tally late in the middle frame for the game winning goal. UND and UNO skated to a 2-2 tie in Friday’s opener, but Nebraska-Omaha won the shootout for the extra league point, a result that might loom large as race for the NCHC title winds down.

Last meeting in Omaha: 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.

All-time: UND leads the all-time series 8-5-1 (.607), including a 4-2 record in games played in Omaha. North Dakota has picked up six wins and a tie in the last ten games between the schools, outscoring the Mavs 26-23 over that stretch.

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. Now in his eleventh season behind the bench, current UND head coach Dave Hakstol is in second place all-time with 278 coaching wins to his credit. Only Gino Gasparini, who picked up 392 victories from 1978-1994, has more. The Green and White have scored nine shorthanded goals this season, most in the nation. Nebraska-Omaha is 8-3-1 at home this year.

The Prediction

So far this season, North Dakota is 6-5-1 on Fridays and 12-0-1 on Saturdays. I’m going to flip that script and say that the Mavericks’ off week will affect them in the opener. Dean Blais will have his crew ready for Saturday’s rematch. UND 3-2, UNO 3-2.

Published by Dave Berger on 23 Jan 2015

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Colorado College

After opening the season with a home sweep of Alabama-Huntsville, the Colorado College Tigers hosted UND at the World Arena. North Dakota erupted for ten goals in the two game sweep and sent the Tigers reeling. That home series started a stretch of fifteen games with only victory (and that against Wisconsin, a team that everyone is beating these days).

On the positive side, CC has won two of its last three to bring their season record to 5-14-1. One of those victories was against NCHC foe Nebraska-Omaha, the Tigers’ first league win of the year.

The feeling among the Tiger faithful is that new blood behind the bench will eventually translate into new life on the ice. First-year head coach Mike Haviland is new to Division I hockey, but he was named the AHL coach of the year in 2006-07 (Norfolk Admirals) and served as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks for four seasons (2008-12), winning a Stanley Cup in 2010. He was most recently head coach for the AHL’s Hershey Bears.

UND and Colorado College met five times last season (all in Grand Forks), with North Dakota winning four of the five contests. CC notched an overtime victory in Game 2 of the NCHC quarterfinals to force a third and decisive game. Dave Hakstol’s crew ended the Tigers’ season with a 4-3 victory on Sunday night.

Nationally, Dave Hakstol has his team in a much better position than last year. With a sparkling 9-1-1 non-conference record and sixteen victories overall, UND currently sits in fourth place in the Pairwise rankings, one of five NCHC teams in line to make the NCAA tournament. Nebraska-Omaha (2nd), Minnesota-Duluth (5th), Miami (6th), and Denver (t-12th) would also make the field of 16 if the season ended today (no other league school is in the top twenty). In the second half of the season, North Dakota will face UNO, Denver, and Miami as well as Western Michigan and St. Cloud State.

North Dakota’s seniors shined in last weekend’s sweep of visiting Niagara. The seven skaters (forwards Connor Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks, and Stephane Pattyn along with defensemen Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzarella) combined for seven goals and seven assists (and a +15 rating). MacMillan and Parks each had two goals in Saturday’s 7-0 triumph.

UND junior netminder Zane McIntyre strengthened his case for a Hobey Baker nod with another dominating performance last weekend. He made 42 of 43 saves in the two victories and notched his first shutout of the season. McIntyre, who now sits on the top ten in the country in goals-against average (1.87) and save percentage (.933), has played the fifth-most minutes in the nation and is tied for first with 16 victories. In my opinion, the junior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota will need to maintain or improve upon those numbers and pick up one or two more shutouts over the next two months to remain in contention for college hockey’s highest individual award.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Mike Haviland (1st season at CC, 5-14-1, .275)

Pairwise Ranking: 43rd of 59 teams
National Rankings: NR
This Season: 5-14-1 overall, 1-9-1-0 NCHC (8th)
Last Season: 7-24-6 overall, 6-13-5-1 NCHC (7th)

Team Offense: 2.25 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 4.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.3% (15 of 82)
Penalty Kill: 80.7% (67 of 83)

Key players: Junior F Cody Bradley (8-10-18), Junior F Hunter Fejes (5-9-14), Senior F Scott Wamsganz (5-6-11), Sophomore F Sam Rothstein (4-7-11), Sophomore D Jaccob Slavin (2-8-10), Senior D Aaron Harstad (3-2-5), Freshman G Chase Perry (1-7-1, 3.64 GAA, .884 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 276-138-42, .651)

Pairwise Ranking: 4th of 59 teams
National Rankings: #2/#2
This Season: 16-5-2 overall, 7-4-1-0 NCHC (3rd)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.48 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.09 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.8% (20 of 96)
Penalty Kill: 87.8% (86 of 98)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (9-15-24), Senior F Michael Parks (8-15-23), Senior F Mark MacMillan (11-8-19), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (3-14-17), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (3-17-20), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-8-11), Junior G Zane McIntyre (16-5-2, 1.87 GAA, .933 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: October 18, 2014 (Colorado Springs, CO). North Dakota scored five times on nine chances with the man advantage in a 7-2 throttling of the homestanding Tigers. UND’s Mark MacMillan had a hat trick (including two shorthanded goals) and added two assists to go along with his two goals in Friday night’s 3-1 North Dakota victory. Zane McIntyre made 52 of 55 saves in the weekend sweep.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: March 16, 2014. In the third and decisive game of their first round playoff series, Colorado College gave the Green and White all they could handle, scoring an extra attacker goal with 90 seconds remaining to pull within one. UND netminder Zane McIntyre (nee Gothberg) stood strong at the end, however, making 27 saves in the contest and preserving a 4-3 North Dakota victory. CC played perhaps its best, most complete hockey of the season in the three-game series.

Most Important Meeting: March 27, 1997. UND defeated Colorado College, 6-2, in the Frozen Four Semifinals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Two nights later, North Dakota downed Boston University, 6-4, to claim its sixth NCAA Championship. North Dakota and Colorado College also met in the 2001 East Regional (Worcester, Mass.), with UND prevailing, 4-1.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 145-80-10 (.638), including a stellar 87-21-6 (.789) record in games played in Grand Forks. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: North Dakota has won seven of the last ten meetings between the teams, outscoring CC 39-27 over that span. All three of UND’s losses over that stretch have been by a single goal, including two overtime defeats in league playoff action (WCHA Final Five in 2013, NCHC Quarterfinal in 2014).

Game News and Notes

CC has just one victory on the road this season and sports a 1-11-1 (.115) record in games away from the Springs. UND head coach Dave Hakstol has an overall record of 22-13-1 (.625) against Colorado College. Two North Dakota forwards have scored ten or more career points against Colorado College: junior forward Drake Caggiula has scored seven goals and added four assists in his twelve career games against CC, while senior forward Mark MacMillan is averaging a point per game (8-6-14 in 14 games) against the Tigers. For the second time in two seasons, a college hockey team in Colorado has a new coach (Jim Montgomery took over for George Gwozdecky at DU last year). Friday’s opener can be seen on CBS Sports Network, with a puck drop of 7:07 p.m. (thirty minutes earlier than normal).

The Prediction

UND should fare well in this matchup, as they have more top-end talent and depth than the Tigers. The only way that Colorado College can stay in these games is to draw penalties and score on the power play. Watch for a hat trick sometime this weekend. UND 4-1, 6-2.

Published by Dave Berger on 16 Jan 2015

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Niagara

The last game between these two teams featured three of that season’s ten Hobey Baker finalists: Niagara junior goaltender Carsen Chubak (who led the nation with six shutouts) and North Dakota senior forwards Danny Kristo and Corban Knight faced off in the 2013 NCAA Midwest Regional. UND prevailed 2-1 behind a pair of third period goals, but would fall 4-1 to eventual national champion Yale in the regional final.

This season’s version of the Purple Eagles does not appear to be headed back to the NCAAs. Niagara is currently dead last in the Pairwise Rankings, and will need to win the Atlantic Hockey postseason tournament to make the program’s fifth appearance in the national tournament. NU has competed at the Division I level since the 1996-97 campaign.

Niagara opened up this season with nine consecutive losses but managed to string together three straight victories from November 8th to November 22nd (their only three wins of the season). Since that time, Dave Burkholder’s squad has gone 0-6-2 for a combined season mark of 3-15-2.

The problem for the boys from Niagara Falls has been, well, everything. NU has given up four or more goals THIRTEEN times this season. The Purple Eagles have scored three or more goals only six times, and four or more goals only once. The Niagara power play is abysmal (7 goals on 94 chances, 7.4%), and they’ve given up 25 power play goals to opponents (killing less than 75% of penalties). NU’s power play and penalty kill numbers rank 57th and 56th respectively among all 59 NCAA men’s hockey teams.

And NU’s three wins came by way of an overtime victory over Bentley (10-9-2, 40th in the Pairwise) and a sweep of Army (5-14-2, 57th). According to KRACH, Niagara has played the easiest schedule in all of college hockey, and they’ve still managed only three victories. To put that in perspective, North Dakota picked up their third win on October 18th. By my calendar, that’s three months ago. And KRACH lists UND as having the 7th toughest schedule in the country to this point in the season.

Through their first twenty games, Niagara has only one skater with ten or more points. By comparison, North Dakota’s roster features eight skaters with double digit point totals, led by junior forward Drake Caggiula (9-14-23) and senior forward Michael Parks (6-14-20). UND has scored eighteen power play goals while allowing just twelve and have also scored eight shorthanded goals (tops in the country) while allowing only two.

Dave Hakstol’s squad has already posted a 7-1-1 (.833) record in non-conference games this season, his best mark in eleven years as head coach. The only blemishes on that mark are a home loss to Bemidji State and a tie against Providence. UND won the other game in both of those series, and also swept on the road at Wisconsin and at home against Lake Superior State. North Dakota picked up a single win against Air Force in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 in overtime on Bryn Chyzyk’s shorthanded tally with six seconds remaining. That victory could prove huge in the final Pairwise rankings at the end of the season.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference as a whole has a stellar record against other leagues so far this season, a far cry from last year’s troubles. Currently, four conference schools appear in the top seven in the Pairwise rankings: #2 Minnesota-Duluth, #4 Nebraska-Omaha, #6 North Dakota, and #7 Miami. Denver is currently #17 in the Pairwise, with St Cloud State at #21 and Western Michigan tied for #25. With only a handful of non-conference games remaining, the NCHC could easily place four or even five teams in the NCAA tournament after sending just three (and barely that) a year ago.

NCHC overall record vs. other conferences: 48-24-4 (.658, best in the country)

NCHC record vs. Atlantic Hockey: 3-2-0 (.600)
NCHC record vs. Big Ten: 13-2-0 (.867)
NCHC record vs. ECAC: 13-6-2 (.667)
NCHC record vs. Hockey East: 7-7-1 (.500)
NCHC record vs. WCHA: 12-7-1 (.625)

The six teams in the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin) are a combined 35-40-6 (.469) in non-league play, the second-worst winning percentage in college hockey (Atlantic Hockey, 12-48-4, .219). Not including a 9-1-2 mark against Atlantic Hockey, the Big Ten sports a dismal 26-39-4 (.406) record against the other four major hockey conferences.

Niagara Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Burkholder (14th season at NU, 232-210-57, .522)

Pairwise Ranking: 59th of 59 teams
National Rankings: NR
This Season: 3-15-2 overall, 3-11-2 Atlantic Hockey (11th)
Last Season: 15-20-5 overall, 11-11-5 Atlantic Hockey (6th)

Team Offense: 1.95 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 4.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 7.4% (7 of 94)
Penalty Kill: 74.2% (72 of 97)

Key Players: Senior F Isaac Kohls (4-6-10), Junior F Hugo Turcotte (5-4-9), Freshman F Robert Angiolella (5-3-8), Junior F Dan Kolenda (4-5-9), Senior D Keegan Harper (2-4-6), Senior D Nick Cecere (2-3-5), Junior D Matt Dineen (0-3-3, 52 PIM), Sophomore G Jackson Teichroeb (3-9-2, 3.11 GAA, .903 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 274-138-42, .650)

Pairwise Ranking: 6th of 59 teams
National Rankings: #3/#2
This Season: 14-5-2 overall, 7-4-1-0 NCHC (3rd)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.24 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.24 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.5% (18 of 88)
Penalty Kill: 87.0% (80 of 92)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (9-14-23), Senior F Michael Parks (6-14-20), Senior F Mark MacMillan (9-7-16), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (3-13-16), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (3-13-16), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-7-10), Junior G Zane McIntyre (14-5-2, 2.01 GAA, .930 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 29, 2013 (Grand Rapids, MI). In the semifinals of the NCAA Midwest Regional, Niagara scored first but couldn’t make it hold up. UND outshot the Purple Eagles 20-7 in the third period, making two of them count and escaping with a 2-1 victory. Ten current North Dakota skaters appeared in that playoff game, but none registered a point. Zane McIntyre was the goaltender of record, stopping 28 of 29 shots and earning his first NCAA tournament victory.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: October 26, 2002. UND scored three goals in the first four minutes of the second period and downed the Purple Eagles 5-3 in the second game of a non-conference series. North Dakota goaltender Jake Brandt was pulled after allowing three goals on twelve Niagara shots. Hat tricks by Brandon Bochenski (in Friday’s 6-4 victory) and Zach Parise (Saturday) helped propel the Fighting Sioux to the series sweep.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series 5-0 and has outscored the Purple Eagles 20-10. The teams first met on March 25, 2000 (NCAA West Regional). Jeff Panzer tallied three assists to lead North Dakota to a 4-1 victory over the Purple Eagles at Mariucci Arena. UND forward Lee Goren scored early in the third period after NU cut the lead to 2-1 in the middle frame. Andy Kollar made 26 saves for the Fighting Sioux, who outshot Niagara 43-27.

Game News and Notes

Niagara is 1-8-1 away from home and has not won a non-conference game all season. The Purple Eagles play their home games at Dwyer Arena (capacity 2100). NU has been dreadful in 2nd and 3rd periods this season, scoring only 24 goals and allowing 59 over their first twenty games. UND is 4-5-1 on Friday nights and 10-0-1 on Saturdays. Friday’s opener will be Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder’s 500th game behind the bench. North Dakota fans are encouraged to “Green Out” the Ralph this weekend; official glow-in-the-dark shirts will be available for purchase at the Sioux Shop and other merchandise outlets.

The Prediction

In the battle of the coaching Daves, Hakstol’s crew can’t afford a hiccup this weekend against college hockey’s worst team. I expect one game to be close, and I’ll go with Friday’s opener since UND has been virtually unstoppable on Saturdays. Don’t be surprised if North Dakota freshman netminder Cam Johnson sees the ice in this series. UND 4-2, 6-1.

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