SiouxSports.com

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.

Published by Dave Berger on 09 Jan 2015

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Minnesota-Duluth

51-20-12. That’s the record that Minnesota-Duluth compiled from 2010-2012. In 2010-11, the Bulldogs won the national title, and they followed that up with a berth in the Northeast Regional final at the end of the 2012 campaign (falling to Boston College).

But the last two years have been a different story. UMD won only thirty games combined over the past two seasons. Despite a national championship to his credit, head coach Scott Sandelin is only eight games over .500 (259-251-67, .507) during his tenure at Duluth. Now in his 15th season behind the bench, Sandelin has notched 20 or more victories six times, claimed one WCHA playoff championship, led Duluth to the national tournament four times, and brought his teams to two Frozen Fours.

By contrast, UND head coach Dave Hakstol, now in his eleventh season coaching at his alma mater, already has over 270 wins to his credit (273-137-42, .650). In each of his ten previous campaigns, Hakstol has won at least 20 games and brought UND to the NCAA tournament. He boasts two MacNaughton Cups (WCHA regular season title), four Broadmoor trophies (WCHA playoff title), and six Frozen Four appearances.

At the end of the 2010-11 season, many expected these two squads to go to battle for the national title. Duluth held up their end of the bargain, dispatching Notre Dame in their semifinal. UND fell short, however, falling to Michigan 2-0 in heartbreaking fashion.

In the current race for the top spot in the NCHC, Minnesota-Duluth is tied with Miami for first place while North Dakota is in fourth place (two points back). With each victory worth three points, the top four places (those three schools, plus Nebraska-Omaha) will ebb and flow all the way until March.

This season, North Dakota is 7-1-1 (.833) in non-conference play, with only a January home series versus Niagara (3-13-2, .222) remaining outside of their league schedule. Duluth has struggled a bit out of the NCHC, going just 5-3 over their first four non-conference weekends. The Bulldogs lost to Minnesota at the IceBreaker South Bend, Indiana) in October but rebounded to sweep a home-and-home series against the Gophers in November. UMD could face Goldy a fourth time at the North Star College Cup (St. Paul, Minnesota) later this month. Duluth also has a non-conference series with Northern Michigan in early February.

North Dakota’s remaining league schedule features two home games each against Colorado College, Denver, and St. Cloud State and road series at Nebraska-Omaha, Western Michigan, and Miami. Duluth will close the regular season by hosting Western Michigan, St. Cloud State and Nebraska-Omaha and traveling to face Denver, Miami, and Western Michigan.

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, five conference schools appear in the top 14 in the Pairwise rankings: #3 Minnesota-Duluth, #4 Miami, #6 Nebraska-Omaha, #7 North Dakota, and #14 Denver. 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: 46-24-4 (.649, 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: 5-7-1 (.423)
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 35-39-5 (.475) in non-league play, the second-worst winning percentage in college hockey (Atlantic Hockey, 12-47-4, .222). Not including a 9-1-2 mark against Atlantic Hockey, the Big Ten sports a dismal 26-38-3 (.410) record against the other four major hockey conferences.

Minnesota-Duluth Team Profile

Head Coach: Scott Sandelin (15th season at UMD, 259-251-67, .507)

Pairwise Ranking: 3rd
National Rankings: #7/#7
This Season: 12-6-0 overall, 7-3-0-0 NCHC (t-1st)
Last Season: 16-16-4 overall, 11-11-2-2 NCHC (t-4th)

Team Offense: 3.33 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.22 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.0% (18 of 90)
Penalty Kill: 81.6% (62 of 76)

Key Players: Sophomore F Dominic Toninato (13-5-18), Junior F Austin Farley (7-8-15), Junior F Tony Cameranesi (4-9-13), Sophomore F Alex Iafallo (3-10-13), Junior D Andy Welinski (6-7-13), Sophomore D Carson Soucy (2-4-6), Freshman G Kasimir Kaskisuo (11-4-0, 2.12 GAA, .920 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 273-137-42, .650)

Pairwise Ranking: 7th
National Rankings: #1/#1
This Season: 13-4-2 overall, 6-3-1-0 NCHC (4th)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.26 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.16 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.4% (18 of 84)
Penalty Kill: 86.9% (73 of 84)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (8-14-22), Senior F Michael Parks (6-14-20), Senior F Mark MacMillan (8-7-15), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (3-12-15), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (3-11-14), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-6-9), Junior G Zane McIntyre (13-4-2, 1.95 GAA, .929 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: February 22, 2014 (Duluth, MN). North Dakota blitzed the Bulldogs 6-2 to complete the road sweep (UND won 3-0 in Friday’s opener). Freshman defenseman Paul LaDue scored two power play goals while Rocco Grimaldi, Mitch MacMillan, Dillon Simpson, and Jordan Schmaltz all registered two-point nights. The Green and White went 3-for-4 with the man advantage and held Duluth scoreless on five power play opportunities.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: November 16, 2013. One night after dropping a 4-2 contest to homestanding North Dakota, the Duluth Bulldogs doubled up UND 6-3 behind two goals from Adam Krause. Zane Gothberg took the loss in net for North Dakota after relieving Clarke Saunders, who allowed three goals on 13 shots in the first period.

Most Important Meeting: March 22, 1984 (Lake Placid, NY) Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota met in the national semifinal game, with the Bulldogs defeating the Fighting Sioux 2-1 in overtime to advance to the championship. UND went on to defeat Michigan State 6-5 (OT) for third place, while Duluth fell to Bowling Green 5-4 in four overtimes, the longest championship game ever played.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 139-76-9 (.641), including a 77-32-3 (.701) record in games played in Grand Forks.

Last Ten: North Dakota is 6-3-1 (.650) in the last ten games between the teams, outscoring Duluth 43-21 over that stretch. Two of the three losses were by a single goal.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol is 22-8-3 (.712) against Minnesota-Duluth in his head coaching career. UND sophomores Paul LaDue and Luke Johnson each scored five points in their four games against Duluth last season. UMD has the top scoring offense in the league (3.33 goals/game), with sophomore center Dominic Toninato leading the way with 13 goals (best in the NCHC). Both head coaches this weekend are alumni of the University of North Dakota: Dave Hakstol (’92) and Scott Sandelin (’86) both played for UND.

Media Coverage

Friday’s game can be seen on Midco Sports Network, while Saturday’s rematch will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

The Prediction

These two teams haven’t played a meaningful game since December 13th. To put that in perspective, most of us hadn’t started our holiday shopping at that point. It is important for both squads to find and reestablish their brand of hockey for the second half of the season and the playoffs. With that being said, the edge goes to the home team. I’ve got North Dakota winning Friday’s opener, with the finale going down to the wire. UND 4-3, 3-3 tie.

Published by Dave Berger on 12 Dec 2014

Weekend Preview: North Dakota at Denver

In the NCHC, it is clear that Denver/North Dakota will be at the top of the league rivalries. Despite having played just two games since February 2013, the schools clearly 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 in the early going has been the emergence of freshman forward Danton Heinen. The 6-foot, 161 pound phenom from Langley, British Columbia leads the Pios in scoring with 16 points in 13 games. Heinen, who played his junior hockey with the Surrey Eagles (BCHL), has been even more impressive since the calendar turned to November, cranking out five goals and adding seven assists for twelve points in his last eight contests. Nationally, Jack Eichel (Boston University) has been the most impressive freshman (8-17-25 in 15 games to lead the nation in scoring), but Heinen is the second-most prolific scorer among first-year players.

One of the biggest reasons for UND’s success over the first seventeen games of this current campaign has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. Dave Hakstol’s squad is unbeaten this season (10-0-1) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past nine years, North Dakota is converting ninety percent of second intermission leads into victories (165-13-12).

On the injury front, North Dakota will be without the services of sophomore defenseman Troy Stecher, the most consistent blueliner on the roster (a team-leading +10 on the season). Stecher’s leg injury is expected to keep him out for 6-8 weeks (between six and ten games), with senior d-man Nick Mattson taking his spot in the lineup. Mattson has appeared in nine contests this season after playing 120 games over his first three seasons at UND.

At forward, Drake Caggiula, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, and Nick Schmaltz have returned to the lineup after missing a combined ten games. Colten St. Clair is out indefinitely with an upper body injury he sustained against Lake Superior State, while Bryn Chyzyk has not played since being injured November 21st at St. Cloud State. Chyzyk could return to the lineup this weekend against the Pioneers.

So far, Dave Hakstol has been able to keep things humming by inserting first-year forwards Johnny Simonson, Trevor Olson and Austin Poganski into the lineup (4-6-10 in 41 combined games played). Sophomore winger Wade Murphy has appeared in seven games, and freshman defenseman Tucker Poolman has been effective at forward when called upon. With twelve healthy forwards, however, expect Poolman back at his natural position on the blueline this weekend against Denver.

Junior netminder Zane McIntyre has been everything for North Dakota while the boys in green and white shuffle lines and adjust to the mounting list of injuries. McIntyre, from Thief River Falls, Minnesota, is UND’s all-time leader in goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.925). Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, Jordan Parise, Aaron Dell, and Karl Goehring round out the top five in each category.

For the Pioneers, sophomore goaltender Evan Cowley has started nine of the first thirteen games, posting a record of 6-4-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average, a save percentage of .922, and two shutouts. Cowley, from nearby Arvada, Colorado, played in five games last season (1.76 GAA, .949 SV%) while learning from senior Sam Brittain. At 6’4”, Cowley is three inches taller than Brittain and two inches taller than McIntyre.

UND is currently 7-1-1 (.833) in non-conference play, with only a January home series versus Niagara (3-11-0, .214) remaining outside of their league schedule.

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, five conference schools are ranked in the top twelve in the country: #1 North Dakota, #6 Miami, #9 Minnesota-Duluth, #11 Denver, and #12 Nebraska-Omaha (St. Cloud State is also receiving votes, while Western Michigan and Colorado College are unranked). More importantly, those same five ranked teams are also currently in the top twelve in the Pairwise rankings. If the league continues to notch non-conference victories at this pace, 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: 36-17-2 (.673, best in the country)

NCHC record vs. Atlantic Hockey: 3-2-0 (.600)
NCHC record vs. Big Ten: 12-2-0 (.857)
NCHC record vs. ECAC: 8-4-1 (.654)
NCHC record vs. Hockey East: 3-3-1 (.500)
NCHC record vs. WCHA: 10-6-0 (.625)

The six teams in the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin) are a combined 29-34-4 (.463) in non-league play, the second-worst winning percentage in college hockey (Atlantic Hockey, 11-33-2, .261). Not including a 7-0-1 mark against Atlantic Hockey, the Big Ten sports a dismal 22-34-3 (.398) record against the other four major hockey conferences.

Denver Team Profile

Head Coach: Jim Montgomery (2nd season at DU, 29-20-6, .582)
National Rankings: #11/#11
This Season: 9-4-0 overall, 3-2-0-0 NCHC (5th)
Last Season: 20-16-6 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 10-11-3-2 NCHC (6th)

Team Offense: 3.38 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.23 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 27.6% (16 of 58)
Penalty Kill: 84.7% (50 of 59)

Key Players: Freshman F Danton Heinen (6-10-16), Senior F Daniel Doremus (4-11-15), Sophomore F Trevor Moore (5-9-14), Junior F Quentin Shore (5-6-11), Senior D Joey LaLeggia (5-6-11), Junior D Nolan Zajac (3-7-10), Sophomore G Evan Cowley (6-4-0, 1.98 GAA, .922 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 272-136-42, .651)
National Rankings: #1/#1
This Season: 12-3-2 overall, 5-2-1-0 NCHC (3rd)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.41 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.12 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.1% (18 of 78)
Penalty Kill: 88.0% (66 of 75)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (7-14-21), Senior F Michael Parks (6-13-19), Senior F Mark MacMillan (8-7-15 in 13 games), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (2-12-14 in 13 games), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (3-11-14), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-6-9), Junior G Zane McIntyre (12-3-2, 1.94 GAA, .929 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: January 25, 2014 (Denver, CO). Despite outshooting the Pioneers 43-23, North Dakota failed to put one past Sam Brittain and fell 3-0 to homestanding DU. Denver’s Zac Larraza scored two third period goals, one early on the power play and a late empty netter to seal the victory. UND won Friday’s opener 4-2, with nine different players figuring in the scoring for the Green and White.

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 the better of it lately, going 6-3-1 (.650) in the last ten meetings between the schools and outscoring Denver 39-25 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, 138-118-9 (.537), but the Pioneers hold a 69-52-3 (.569) record in game played at altitude.

Game News and Notes

Currently 12-3-2, head coach Dave Hakstol has never won more than thirteen games before Christmas in his ten seasons behind the North Dakota bench. Senior forward Brendan O’Donnell has scored a goal in each of his last three games (UND is 16-0-1 when O’Donnell scores a goal). Denver is 7-2-0 at home this season; North Dakota is 6-1-0 on the road (sweeps at Colorado College and Wisconsin, a road win at Bemidji State, and a split at St. Cloud State). The aforementioned 2003-04 UND squad is the last team to leave Denver with a sweep. The two teams will meet again in February 2015 in Grand Forks.

The Prediction

With all of the talent on both rosters, a split is the most likely result. I’ll take the home team in a close one on Friday, with UND rebounding on Saturday to keep both teams feeling good about themselves heading into the holiday break. DU 3-2, UND 4-2.

Published by Dave Berger on 05 Dec 2014

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Lake Superior State

After Union dismantled Minnesota to become the 20th college hockey team to claim a national championship, I ranked all twenty programs. Lake Superior State, UND’s opponent this weekend, came in at #13 (you’ll have to check out the full article to see where North Dakota ended up). At that time, I said this about the Lakers:

From 1987-1996, the Lakers were a college hockey dynasty. Head coaches Frank Anzalone and Jeff Jackson amassed a combined record of 277-80-39 (.749), and Lake Superior appeared in nine straight NCAA tournaments with three national titles (1988, 1992, 1994) and a runner-up finish in 1993. Perhaps the most astounding fact of all is that the best Laker team, the 1990-91 squad, went 36-5-4 but lost their first round NCAA playoff series to Clarkson and didn’t make the Frozen Four. Still, it’s been 18 seasons since those glory days without a single noteworthy accomplishment or tournament appearance. Until that changes, the Lakers are stuck in the past.

Beginning in 1996-97, Lake Superior fell off the college hockey map just as the Fighting Sioux were returning to national prominence. Even though LSSU has competed at the Division I level since 1966, the two teams have never been members of the same conference or met in postseason play. Remarkably, the two schools have only played two games in almost fifty seasons of hockey, a weekend series in Grand Forks in December 1973.

LSSU now competes in the new-look WCHA after competing in the CCHA from 1966 until 2013. Lake Superior had one dominant stretch as mentioned above, claiming three regular season championships and four league playoff titles in a nine year span. But since 1996, the Lakers have only reached the twenty-win plateau once (2006-07) and grew accustomed to finishing in the bottom half of the league standings.

This season, the Lakers went winless in October (0-9-0) and were outscored 36-13 over that stretch of games. November has been a bit better for Lake Superior (3-4-0), although they were recently blanked at home by scores of 7-0 and 3-0 at the hands of current #2 Minnesota State. LSSU is a very young team, with only three seniors on the roster (compared with nine freshmen and nine sophomores). Damon Whitten is in his first year as head coach in Sault Ste. Marie, and he regularly plays a first-year netminder and five freshmen on the blue line.

For the first time since 2002-03, a North Dakota team has ten or more wins over the first two months of the season. UND is currently 10-3-2, compared to an October/November record of 5-7-2 a year ago. Last year’s squad went 20-7-1 (.732) over the final five months of the season, overcoming that slow start and advancing to the Frozen Four for the sixth time in Dave Hakstol’s ten seasons behind the bench.

One of the biggest reasons for UND’s success over the first fifteen games of this current campaign has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. Dave Hakstol’s squad is unbeaten this season (8-0-1) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past nine years, North Dakota is converting ninety percent of second intermission leads into victories (163-13-12).

UND is currently 5-1-1 (.786) in non-conference play, with only a January home series versus Niagara (3-9-0, .250) on the horizon after this weekend’s games.

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, five conference schools are ranked in the top twelve in the country: #1 North Dakota, #4 Miami, #8 Minnesota-Duluth, #10 Denver, and #12 Nebraska-Omaha (St. Cloud State is also receiving votes, while Western Michigan and Colorado College are unranked). If the league continues to notch non-conference victories at this pace, 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.

NCHC overall record vs. other conferences: 33-16-2 (.667, best in the country)

NCHC record vs. Atlantic Hockey: 3-2-0 (.600)
NCHC record vs. Big Ten: 12-2-0 (.857)
NCHC record vs. ECAC: 7-3-1 (.682)
NCHC record vs. Hockey East: 3-3-1 (.500)
NCHC record vs. WCHA: 8-6-0 (.571)

The six teams in the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin) are a combined 29-34-4 (.463) in non-league play, the second-worst winning percentage in college hockey (Atlantic Hockey, 11-33-2, .261). Not including a 7-0-1 mark against Atlantic Hockey, the Big Ten sports a dismal 22-34-3 (.398) record against the other four major hockey conferences.

After this weekend, UND will travel to Denver for an important NCHC series against the Pioneers while Lake Superior heads four hours south of Sault Ste. Marie to Big Rapids, Michigan for a pair with Ferris State. The Lakers will also take part in the Florida College Classic (also featuring Cornell, Miami, and Notre Dame) to close out the 2014 portion of their schedule.

Lake Superior Team Profile

Head Coach: Damon Whitten (1st season at LSSU, 3-13-0, .188)
National Ranking: NR/NR
This Season: 3-13-0 overall, 3-9-0 WCHA (6th)
Last Season: 16-19-1 overall, 12-16-0 WCHA (t-8th)

Team Offense: 1.69 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.88 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 6.9% (5 of 72)
Penalty Kill: 75.9% (41 of 54)

Key Players: Junior F Bryce Schmitt (5-5-10), Senior F Stephen Perfetto (4-2-6), Senior F Chris Ciotti (4-1-5), Freshman D James Roll (0-7-7), Freshman D Jason Bird (1-3-4), Freshman G Gordon Defiel (3-11-0, 3.53 GAA, .900 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 270-136-42, .650)
National Ranking: #1/#1
This Season: 10-3-2 overall, 5-2-1-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.20 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.07 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.6% (13 of 70)
Penalty Kill: 86.4% (57 of 66)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (7-13-20), Senior F Michael Parks (5-11-16), Senior F Mark MacMillan (7-6-13 in 11 games), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (2-8-10 in 11 games), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (2-7-9), Sophomore D Troy Stecher (1-8-9), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-5-8), Junior G Zane McIntyre (10-3-2, 2.02 GAA, .928 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: December 15, 1973 (Grand Forks, ND). One night after throttling the visiting Lakers 7-2, the homestanding Sioux defeated Lake Superior 7-3 to earn the series sweep. Rookie head coach Rick Comley did manage to win twenty games that season after taking over for the legendary Ron Mason, who left LSSU to coach at Bowling Green (and later Michigan State).

All-time Series: North Dakota has won both of the meetings between the teams by a combined score of 14-5.

Game News and Notes

The Lakers have not made the NCAA tournament since a thirty win season in 1995-96. North Dakota has advanced to the tourney 17 times since then, winning two national titles (1997 and 2000). UND has scored eight shorthanded goals this season, most in the nation. Lake State’s power play is currently 57th out of 59 Division 1 men’s hockey teams. North Dakota junior forward Drake Caggiula is tied for second nationally in scoring (20 points).

The Prediction

Normally, in a mismatched series, the Saturday game will be a closer contest after the underdog has had some time to adjust and prepare for the rematch. But I’ve got a feeling that Friday’s opener will be tighter, with the Lakers running out of gas in game two. UND 4-2, 6-1.

Published by Dave Berger on 28 Nov 2014

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, 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. #11 Nebraska-Omaha is off to a 7-2-1 start and has an opportunity to make a statement over the next couple of weekends.

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 31-24 this year, senior goaltender Ryan Massa is keeping the Mavericks in games. His 1.49 goals-against average ranks fourth in all of college hockey, while his save percentage (.951) has him tied for second.

By comparison, UND junior netminder Zane McIntyre is 21st in goals-against average (2.04), while his save percentage of .927 is good for 23rd nationally.

Nebraska-Omaha is 3-1 in NCHC play on the young season, outscoring opponents 14-6 in those four games (a sweep at Western Michigan and a home split with #8 Minnesota-Duluth). These next two weekends will tell the tale for UNO: after this weekend’s series at #2 North Dakota, the Mavericks will travel to Oxford, Ohio to take on the #5 Miami RedHawks.

I said when this season began that if North Dakota could stay healthy, then a run to the Frozen Four was likely. The roster has been anything but healthy, with freshman forward Nick Schmaltz (1-7-8 in 9 games), junior forward Bryn Chyzyk (2-3-5 in 11 games), and senior forward Brendan O’Donnell (3-1-4 in 13 games) expected to miss this weekend’s action. Senior forward Mark MacMillan and sophomore defenseman Paul LaDue have already returned to play after missing games due to injury, and freshman defenseman Tucker Poolman should play up front against the Mavericks after appearing at forward last weekend against St. Cloud State.

That offensive capability from the blue line is one reason for UND’s early success. After leading the nation in scoring by defensemen last year, UND is second in the country in that category on the young season. Through thirteen games, North Dakota blueliners have scored nine goals and added 26 assists for 35 points, or 2.69 points per game. Only Massachusetts-Lowell has scored at a higher rate (9-31-40 in thirteen games, 3.08/game).

More to the point, North Dakota’s top six defensemen have already notched nine goals and added 24 assists for 32 points in thirteen games (2.46 points/game). By comparison, the six UNO blueliners expected to be in the lineup this weekend have combined for five goals and eleven assists for 16 points (1.6 points/game).

North Dakota has definitely missed the play of freshman phenom Nick Schmaltz, particularly with the man advantage. After starting the season with nine power play goals on its first 29 opportunities, UND has gone just 3 for 34 over the past eight games. In six of those eight games, North Dakota has failed to score on the power play.

And here’s how Nick Schmaltz’ injury has impacted the situation:

With Nick Schmaltz in the lineup (nine games): 11 for 48 on the power play (22.9 percent)
Without Nick Schmaltz in the lineup (four games): 1 for 15 on the power play (6.7 percent)

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.

NCHC overall record vs. other conferences: 30-15-2 (.660, best in the country)

NCHC record vs. Atlantic Hockey: 3-2-0 (.600)
NCHC record vs. Big Ten: 11-2-0 (.846)
NCHC record vs. ECAC: 6-3-1 (.650)
NCHC record vs. Hockey East: 3-3-1 (.500)
NCHC record vs. WCHA: 7-5-0 (.583)

The six teams in the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin) are a combined 23-30-3 (.438) in non-league play, the second-worst winning percentage in college hockey (Atlantic Hockey, 10-31-2, .256). Not including a 7-0-1 mark against Atlantic Hockey, the Big Ten sports an embarrassing 16-30-2 (.354) record against the other four major hockey conferences.

Nebraska-Omaha Team Profile

Head Coach: Dean Blais (6th season at UNO, 98-88-19, .524)
National Ranking: #11/#13
This Season: 7-2-1 overall, 3-1-0-0 NCHC (t-4th)
Last Season: 17-18-2 overall, 13-9-2-1 NCHC (3rd)

Team Offense: 3.20 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.90 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.1% (7 of 41)
Penalty Kill: 90.9% (40 of 44)

Key Players: Sophomore F Austin Ortega (5-8-13), Sophomore F Jake Guentzel (5-6-11), Freshman F Jake Randolph (1-8-9), Senior F Dominic Zombo (3-3-6), Junior D Brian Cooper (2-4-6), Freshman D Luc Snuggerud (1-2-3), Senior G Ryan Massa (6-1-1, 1.49 GAA, .951 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 269-136-41, .649)
National Ranking: #2/#2
This Season: 9-3-1 overall, 4-2-0-0 NCHC (3rd)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.31 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.08 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.0% (12 of 63)
Penalty Kill: 84.7% (50 of 59)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (7-10-17), Senior F Michael Parks (5-9-14), Senior F Mark MacMillan (6-5-11 in 9 games), Sophomore F Luke Johnson (3-3-6), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (1-7-8), Sophomore D Troy Stecher (1-8-9), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-5-8), Junior G Zane McIntyre (9-3-1, 2.04 GAA, .927 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: February 8, 2014 (Grand Forks, ND). Nebraska-Omaha rebounded from a 4-2 defeat to earn a series (and season) split with homestanding UND. In the 6-3 victory on Saturday night, Mavericks forward Josh Archibald netted a hat trick and added an assist as UNO scored five consecutive goals. North Dakota, which had built a 3-1 lead, went 0-for-6 on the power play.

Most important 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.

All-time: UND leads the all-time series 7-5-0 (.583) although both teams have won three of the six meetings in Grand Forks. North Dakota has won six of the last ten games between the schools, with each squad scoring 29 goals over that stretch.

Game News and Notes

Mavericks’ head coach Dean Blais is 3-3 lifetime on the visitors’ bench at Ralph Engelstad Arena. 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. UND has scored seven shorthanded goals this season, most in the nation. UNO is 5-0-1 on the road this year. North Dakota junior forward Drake Caggiula is tied for fourth nationally in scoring (17 points).

The Prediction

This weekend feels like a pair of 2-1 or 3-2 games, with both teams able to get up and down the ice without sacrificing too much on the defensive end. A huge key this weekend is whether UND can get back to scoring with the man advantage. I like North Dakota in Friday’s opener, with the Mavericks scoring late on Saturday night to earn the series split. UND 2-1, UNO 3-2.

Published by Dave Berger on 21 Nov 2014

Weekend Preview: UND at 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 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.

NCHC overall record vs. other conferences: 27-14-2 (.651, best in the country)

NCHC record vs. Atlantic Hockey: 2-1-0 (.667)
NCHC record vs. Big Ten: 9-2-0 (.818)
NCHC record vs. ECAC: 6-3-1 (.650)
NCHC record vs. Hockey East: 3-3-1 (.500)
NCHC record vs. WCHA: 7-5-0 (.583)

The six teams in the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin) are a combined 23-28-3 (.454) in non-league play, the second-worst winning percentage in college hockey (Atlantic Hockey, 9-28-2, .256). Not including a 7-0-1 mark against Atlantic Hockey, the Big Ten sports an embarrassing 16-28-2 (.370) record against the other four major hockey conferences.

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 has gone 5-2-1 against North Dakota over the past two regular seasons and has earned the last two Challenge Cups.

SCSU has played perhaps the most difficult schedule in the country to this point, opening up with splits against #6 Colgate, #2 Union, and #1 Minnesota before dropping both games of a home-and-home series with #17 Minnesota-Duluth. Last weekend, the Huskies split at unranked Western Michigan to take their conference record to 1-2-1-0.

As is typical for St. Cloud teams, the Huskies thrive with the man advantage. SCSU is converting 25 percent of power play opportunities (11 of 44), good for fifth in the nation. The flip side of that coin, however, is that the Huskies have only scored 11 even-strength goals over their first ten games (4-5-1).

A key to North Dakota’s early success has been special teams play. With a roughly equal number of power play and shorthanded situations, UND has scored twelve power play goals while only allowing seven. Furthermore, Dave Hakstol’s crew has scored seven shorthanded goals in the first eleven games of the season, best in the country. By comparison, St. Cloud State has scored only one goal while on the penalty kill.

After leading the nation in scoring by defensemen last year, UND is second in the country in that category on the young season. Through eleven games, North Dakota blueliners have scored nine goals and added 23 assists for 32 points, or 2.91 points per game. Only Massachusetts-Lowell has scored at a higher rate (8-30-38 in eleven games, 3.45/game).

More to the point, North Dakota’s top six defensemen have already notched nine goals and added 20 assists for 29 points in eleven games (2.64 points/game). By comparison, the six SCSU blueliners expected to be in the lineup this weekend have combined for five goals and ten assists for 15 points (1.5 points/game).

Eleven UND forwards have already scored a goal this season, including seven players with two or more tallies.
That scoring depth has made North Dakota difficult to match lines against, and the Green and White have capitalized, going 5-0 on the road with a win at Bemidji State and sweeps at Colorado College and Wisconsin.

St. Cloud State has owned the second period in games this year, outscoring opponents 11-4 in the middle frame. In the other 45 minutes of play, however, SCSU has been outscored 22-12. UND has been outscored 12-11 in second periods over its first eleven games but has a 28-10 goal advantage in the first and third periods and overtime.

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: (Bob Motzko, 10th season at SCSU, 188-141-41, .564)
National Ranking: #16/#15
This Season: 4-5-1 overall, 1-2-1-0 NCHC (7th)
Last Season: 22-11-5 overall (NCAA Region semifinalist), 15-6-3-0 NCHC (1st)

Team Offense: 2.30 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.60 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 25.0% (11 of 44)
Penalty Kill: 85.0% (34 of 40)

Key Players: Junior F Jonny Brodzinski (5-3-8), Junior F Joey Benik (5-3-8), Junior F Kalle Kossila (2-6-8), Freshman F Patrick Russell (2-5-7), Senior D Andrew Prochno (2-5-7), Junior D Ethan Prow (1-3-4), Sophomore G Charlie Lindgren (4-5-1, 2.49 GAA, .909 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 268-135-41, .650)
National Ranking: #2/#3
This Season: 8-2-1 overall, 3-1-0-0 NCHC (t-3rd)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.55 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.1% (12 of 57)
Penalty Kill: 86.5% (45 of 52)

Key Players: Senior F Michael Parks (5-9-14), Junior F Drake Caggiula (6-10-16), Senior F Mark MacMillan (6-4-10 in 7 games), Sophomore F Luke Johnson (3-3-6), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (1-6-7), Sophomore D Troy Stecher (1-7-8), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-5-8), Junior G Zane McIntyre (8-2-1, 1.95 GAA, .928 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 1, 2014 (St. Cloud, MN). The Huskies rebounded from a 5-2 loss in Friday’s opener to defeat North Dakota 3-1 in the rematch. St. Cloud scored once in each period to overcome Rocco Grimaldi’s unassisted shorthanded goal in the first. Ryan Faragher made 33 of 34 saves for the Huskies. The series split gave SCSU the inside track to the league title, which they claimed one week later with a sweep at Colorado College.

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, 61-36-12 (.615), including a 25-19-6 (.560) mark in games played in St. Cloud.

Last Ten: St. Cloud holds a slight 5-4-1 (.550) edge in the last ten meetings between the teams, although each team has scored 24 combined goals over that span.

Game News and Notes

UND junior forward Drake Caggiula’s 16 points have him tied with four other players for the nation’s scoring lead. Only Penn State senior forward Taylor Holstrom has amassed that total in fewer games (nine, to Caggiula’s eleven). SCSU junior forwards Joey Benik, Jonny Brodzinski, and Kalle Kossila are tied for the team scoring lead with ten points each. North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol is 23-14-7 (.602) in his career against the Huskies.

The Prediction

Most seasons, I give the edge to St. Cloud at home on the wider sheet. But given UND’s forward depth and mobile defensive corps, I think that the road squad will fare quite well. If the Huskies get their power play going, all bets are off. UND 4-2, 2-2 tie (SCSU wins shootout for the extra league point).

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 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on the second floor of Brother’s Bar and Grill (119 Fifth Avenue South) in St. Cloud. 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.

Published by Dave Berger on 20 Nov 2014

A New Era For St. Cloud State Men’s Hockey

Coming into this year, North Dakota’s current senior class (forwards Conner Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Andrew Panzerella, Michael Parks, Stephane Pattyn, and Colten St. Clair, along with defenseman Nick Mattson) has never won the regular season series against St. Cloud State.

Bob Motzko’s Huskies own a 7-4-1 record against UND over the past three seasons, outscoring the Green and White 31-24 in those twelve conference games. North Dakota does claim the only postseason victory over the last three years, a 4-1 triumph at the 2012 WCHA Final Five in St. Paul, Minnesota.

SCSU won the regular season title in the last year of the WCHA as we know it (2012-2013), and also came out on top of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in the first season of its existence (2013-14). The Huskies have gone 64-44-11 (.584) over the last three full seasons, and the last two years look even better: a record of 47-27-6 (.625), with two regular season league titles, two trips to the NCAA tournament, a berth in the Frozen Four (2012-13), a Hobey Baker winner (forward Drew LeBlanc, 2012-13), and another Hobey Hat Trick finalist (forward Nic Dowd, 2013-14).

There were some who questioned the inclusion of St. Cloud State in the NCHC after Minnesota and Wisconsin bolted for the Big Ten hockey conference. I would contend that SCSU’s sustained success and style of play have made the UND/SCSU rivalry one of the best in the league.

Click here for a full preview and predictions for this weekend’s games in St. Cloud. And make sure to join us at the UND/SCSU fan social (Saturday from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Brothers Bar & Grill).

Published by Dave Berger on 19 Nov 2014

UND/SCSU fan social set for Saturday, November 22nd

Please join us for the UND/SCSU pre-game social, an event which takes place in both Grand Forks, North Dakota and St. Cloud, Minnesota each hockey season. The fan social 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 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.

This event will be held on Saturday, November 22nd from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the second floor of Brothers Bar & Grill (the same location as last year). 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 (due to the venue, guests must be 21 years of age or older). A free appetizer bar will be available, and everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to win door prizes.

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 Dave Berger on 14 Nov 2014

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Miami

At the beginning of last season, Miami was #1 in the national polls and expected to finish first in the inaugural season of the NCHC. The RedHawks returned Ryan McKay between the pipes (1.39 GAA, .946 SV%, 4 SO in 2012-13) and a pair of high-flying forwards in Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik.

Inconsistent goaltending and a string of injuries took their toll on Enrico Blasi’s squad. Furthermore, Miami went 4-10 in one-goal games last year and sputtered to a 15-20-3 record. It was the first time in ten seasons that the RedHawks failed to win at least twenty games.

Despite the disappointing regular season results, Miami traveled to St. Cloud for the first round of the NCHC playoffs and dispatched #4 St. Cloud State in a pair of tight games. At the inaugural Frozen Faceoff, the RedHawks blanked #11 North Dakota 3-0 before dropping a heartbreaker to Denver in the league championship game, ending their improbable run one game short of the NCAA tournament.

This season, netminder Jay Williams has taken over the starting spot, and he’s been spectacular. Aside from one rough outing against St. Lawrence, the junior from McLean, Virginia has given up just eight goals in seven games, making 140 of 148 saves (.946) and picking up seven victories.

Miami only graduated two players from last year’s squad: forwards Max Cook (23 points in 111 career games) and Bryon Paulazzo (33 points in 105 games). To the cynic, bringing back almost the entire roster from a 15 win season might not be all that exciting, but this year looks to be markedly different for the boys from Oxford, Ohio. After allowing over three goals per game a year ago, Miami has brought that number down to 2.00 goals allowed/game, the exact same scoring defense as North Dakota. And the RedHawks will definitely be able to score with anyone, notching three or more goals in seven of ten games this year (and potting two goals in each of the other three).

North Dakota’s scoring depth will be tested this weekend. Already without the services of senior forward Mark MacMillan (5-2-7 in five games this season), UND freshman phenom Nick Schmaltz (1-7-8 in nine games) sustained an upper body injury against Wisconsin and is not expected to play.

The Green and White will miss MacMillan’s scoring touch and Schmaltz’s playmaking ability over the next month or so, as North Dakota’s first half schedule concludes with tough league opponents St. Cloud State, Nebraska-Omaha, and Denver (along with non-conference foe Lake Superior) over the next four weeks.

Also, sophomore defenseman Paul LaDue (3-5-8 in eight games) will be out of the lineup this weekend. After leading the nation in scoring by defensemen last year, UND is second in the country on the young season. Through nine games, North Dakota blueliners have scored nine goals and added twenty assists for 29 points, or 3.22 points per game. Only Massachusetts-Lowell has scored at a higher rate (7-26-33 in nine games, 3.67/game).

Another key to North Dakota’s early success has been special teams play. With a roughly equal number of power play and shorthanded situations (48 and 47, respectively), UND has scored eleven power play goals while only allowing six. Furthermore, Dave Hakstol’s crew has scored six shorthanded goals in the first nine games of the season, best in the country.

This weekend’s games mark the conference home opener for North Dakota. The National Collegiate Hockey Conference has a stellar record against other leagues so far this season, a far cry from the struggles last year. Currently, six conference schools are ranked in the top 15 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 (Denver, North Dakota, and St. Cloud State) a year ago.

NCHC overall record vs. other conferences: 25-14-2 (.634, best in the country)

NCHC record vs. Atlantic Hockey: 2-1-0
NCHC record vs. Big Ten: 7-2-0
NCHC record vs. ECAC: 6-3-1
NCHC record vs. Hockey East: 3-3-1
NCHC record vs. WCHA: 7-5-0

The six teams in the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin) are a combined 19-23-3 (.456) in non-league play, the second-worst winning percentage in college hockey (Atlantic Hockey, 8-26-2, .250). Not including a 5-0-1 mark against Atlantic Hockey, the Big Ten sports an embarrassing 14-23-2 (.385) record against the other four major hockey conferences.

Miami Team Profile

Head Coach: Enrico Blasi (16th season at Miami, 333-219-56, .594)
National Ranking: #7/#7
This Season: 7-3-0 overall, 3-1-0-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 15-20-3 overall, 6-17-1-1 NCHC (8th)

Team Offense: 3.20 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.8% (10 of 48)
Penalty Kill: 78.7% (37 of 47)

Key players: Junior F Riley Barber (5-6-11), Senior F Austin Czarnik (0-10-10), Sophomore F Sean Kuraly (7-4-11), Senior F Blake Coleman (6-5-11), Sophomore D Matthew Caito (0-6-6), Freshman D Louie Belpedio (3-1-4), Junior G Jay Williams (7-1-0, 1.64 GAA, .921 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 267-134-41, .650)
National Ranking: #2/#2
This Season: 7-1-1 overall, 2-0-0-0 NCHC (t-3rd)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.67 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 22.9% (11 of 48)
Penalty Kill: 87.2% (41 of 47)

Key Players: Senior F Michael Parks (3-8-11), Junior F Drake Caggiula (3-8-11), Sophomore F Luke Johnson (3-3-6), Junior F Bryn Chyzyk (2-2-4), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (1-4-5), Sophomore D Troy Stecher (1-7-8), Junior G Zane McIntyre (7-1-1, 1.94 GAA, .927 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 21, 2014 (Minneapolis, MN). UND outshot the RedHawks 32-28 but could not solve sophomore netminder Ryan McKay as Miami advanced to the NCHC title game with a 3-0 victory. North Dakota went 0-5 with the man advantage and allowed a first period power play goal. Miami ‘s Blake Coleman, Austin Czarnik, and Riley Barber all figured in the scoring. Of the announced attendance of 9113, well over nine thousand were wearing green and white.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: February 15, 2014. One night after a 3-2 Valentine’s Day victory, North Dakota showed the visiting RedHawks no love in a 9-2 beatdown. UND chased not one but two goaltenders in the contest as the Green and White scored four goals in each of the first two periods before coasting to the series sweep. North Dakota’s Rocco Grimaldi collected four points, and netminder Zane Gothberg made 27 saves for the victory. Remarkably, UND also had two disallowed goals in the first period.

Most Important Meeting: Last season’s loss to Miami at the Frozen Faceoff could have ended North Dakota’s season, but UND rebounded with a 5-0 victory over Western Michigan. After Wisconsin did their part across the river in St. Paul, the Green and White used their second chance as fuel for a Frozen Four run. The four games these two teams will play this season are also important for NCHC home ice and NCAA tournament hopes.

All-time Series: North Dakota leads the all-time series 5-2-1 (.688), including a 2-0-1 (.833) mark in games played in Grand Forks. Five of the eight all-time meetings between the schools came during the 2013-14 season. The teams first played in 1999 (Badger Showdown, Milwaukee, WI).

Game News and Notes

North Dakota will travel to Miami in early March to play a conference series, the last games of the regular season for both teams. Five of the players on the ice this weekend are leading the NCHC in scoring. Miami’s Blake Coleman, Sean Kuraly and Riley Barber all have eleven points this season, the same total as UND’s Drake Caggiula and Michael Parks. Parks has eight points in five career games against the RedHawks. A victory on Friday would give UND its best ten-game start to a season since 2002-03.

The Prediction

Both of these games could go either way, but I’m giving Miami the edge on Friday night since North Dakota is shuffling lines and readjusting after injuries rocked the lineup. UND will rebound for a victory on Saturday, and a split this weekend would not be a disappointing result. Miami 3-2, UND 4-2.

Next »