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Published by Dave Berger on 17 Oct 2014

Weekend Preview: UND at Colorado College

It was time for a change in Colorado Springs.

That much was apparent after last season, when Scott Owen’s squad found lots of different ways to lose. The primary culprit was that Colorado College was not able to finish games. The Tigers scored first in 17 of 37 games last year and played opponents even in the first period (28 goals scored, 28 goals allowed). But CC was just 2-12-3 when taking the early lead and were outscored 93-46 in the final two periods and overtime a year ago.

The past two seasons were the most difficult of Owens’ coaching career. After 13 winning campaigns behind the bench (299-185-43, .608), his teams went just 25-43-11 (.386) from 2012-14.

The Tiger faithful are hopeful for a couple of reasons. The first is that CC should be strong defensively, with key returning blueliners Jacob Slavin and Peter Stoykewych leading the way. And the second is the feeling that new blood behind the bench will 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.

For North Dakota, the time is now. Head coach Dave Hakstol returns almost every piece from last season’s Frozen Four squad (only forward Rocco Grimaldi and defenseman Dillon Simpson could be considered huge losses), and the addition of new talent has the fans talking titles in Grand Forks. But the weight of those expectations could prove too much to bear, as evidenced by the 5-1 drubbing that Bemidji State laid on the Green and White in the season opener for both schools.

UND and Colorado College met five times last season (all in Grand Forks), with North Dakota winning four of the five contests. The teams are scheduled to play four regular season league games against each other this season, with the Tigers returning to Grand Forks on January 23rd and 24th for a weekend series.

Incidentally, 11 of the 22 players on North Dakota’s travel roster for this weekend have never played in Colorado Springs. Junior forward Coltyn Sanderson, sophomore forward Wade Murphy, senior defenseman Andrew Panzerella, and sophomore goaltender Matt Hrnkiw did not make the trip. The Tigers tend to play better at home, collecting five of their seven victories a year ago on the wider Olympic ice surface at World Arena.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Mike Haviland (1st season at CC)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 2-0-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 7-24-6 overall, 6-13-5-1 NCHC (7th)

2013-14 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 2.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.27 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 12.2% (17 of 139)
Penalty Kill: 78.6% (110 of 140)

Key returning players (2013-14 statistics): Junior F Cody Bradley (6-10-16), Junior F Peter Maric (1-1-2 in 12 games), Junior F Alex Roos (10-7-17), Sophomore F Sam Rothstein (6-14-20), Sophomore D Jaccob Slavin (5-20-25), Senior D Peter Stoykewych (1-8-9), G Tyler Marble (no official statistics)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 261-134-40, .646)
National Ranking: #3
This Season: 1-1-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

2013-14 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.02 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.43 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.2% (32 of 186)
Penalty Kill: 83.4% (146 of 175)

Key Returning Players (2013-14 statistics): Senior F Michael Parks (12-18-30), Senior F Mark MacMillan (10-16-26), Junior F Drake Caggiula (11-13-24), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (6-18-24), Senior D Nick Mattson (4-9-23), Junior G Zane McIntyre (20-10-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 16, 2014 (Grand Forks, ND). 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.

Last Meeting in Colorado Springs: December 1, 2012. One night after dropping a 5-3 decision to the homestanding Tigers, North Dakota took the hosts to overtime before downing CC 3-2. Defenseman Dillon Simpson scored an extra attacker goal with 13 seconds remaining to force the extra session, and then-freshman Drake Caggiula potted the game-winner less than one minute into added time.

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, 143-80-10 (.635), although Colorado College holds a 57-48-4 (.541) edge in games played in Colorado Springs. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: North Dakota has won six of the last ten meetings between the teams, outscoring CC 35-31 over that span. Three of the past ten contests have gone to overtime, and six of ten have been decided by a single goal.

Game News and Notes

CC opened the regular season with two victories over Alabama-Huntsville last weekend, marking the Tigers’ first home sweep since November 2012 (Bemidji State). UND head coach Dave Hakstol has a record of 20-13-1 (.603) against Colorado College. North Dakota forward Drake Caggiula has scored seven goals in his ten career 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).

The Prediction

UND should fare well in this matchup, as they have the ability to move the puck through all three zones and the forward depth required to play a weekend series at altitude. Furthermore, the boys from Grand Forks can expect a predominantly green and white crowd at World Arena, proving yet again that for North Dakota hockey, it’s always a home game. UND 3-2, 4-2.

Published by Dave Berger on 17 Oct 2014

NCHC 2014-15 Season Preview and Predictions

There’s plenty of intrigue headed into NCHC 2.0, the second season of the nation’s newest college hockey conference.

And there’s a recurring theme: the teams with an established goaltender feel like they can contend for the league title and beyond, and the teams with question marks between the pipes will be searching for answers.

Miami (junior Ryan McKay, 23 career victories), Nebraska-Omaha (senior Ryan Massa, 18), and North Dakota (junior Zane McIntyre, 29) appear to have their goalie situations solidified, with Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, and St. Cloud State dealing with the losses of Josh Thorimbert, Sam Brittain, Aaron Crandall, and Ryan Faragher, respectively.

And at Western Michigan, there’s a race developing between Junior Lukas Hafner and senior Frank Slubowski, but will it really matter if the Broncos can’t score?

There are two main reasons why goaltending is more important now than ever. The first is that games are more tightly contested than ever before, with most league games decided by one or two goals. And the second is that teams will rely on their netminders (especially early in the season) as new and returning players adjust to new roles and new linemates.

Here’s how the teams ended up last season, the inaugural campaign for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference:

1. St. Cloud State
2. North Dakota
3. Nebraska-Omaha
4. Minnesota-Duluth
4. Western Michigan
6. Denver
7. Colorado College
8. Miami

What follows is my prediction for the league standings, from #8 all the way up to #1. (Media prediction in parenthesis)

#8 Western Michigan Broncos (#7 in the media poll)

Head Coach: Andy Murray (4th season at WMU, 60-42-19, .574)

2013-14 Season: 19-16-5 overall, 11-11-2-2 NCHC (t-4th)
Team Offense: 2.58 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.65 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 13.3% (24 of 181)
Penalty Kill: 84.8% (178 of 210)

Key losses: F Chase Balisy (13-24-37), F Shane Berschbach (16-22-38), D Dennis Brown (2-11-13), D Jordan Oesterle (2-15-17)

Key returning players: Junior F Colton Hargrove (11-13-24), Senior F Justin Kovacs (13-20-33), Junior F Josh Pitt (9-9-18), Senior F Will Kessel (6-6-12), Junior F Nolan LaPorte (11-13-24), Sophomore D Chris Dienes (2-3-5), Junior D Kenny Morrison (4-15-19), Junior G Lukas Hafner (9-6-2, .2.06 GAA, .925 SV%, 2 SO) Senior G Frank Slubowski (10-10-3, 2.86 GAA, .905 SV%)

Potential impact freshmen: F Aidan Muir, D Scott Moldenhauer

2014-15 season outlook: Question marks abound with this team. There’s uncertainty in net (Hafner appears to have overtaken Slubowski as the team’s #1), and the Broncos lost their top two scorers from last season. Western Michigan is perhaps the most physically intimidating team in the league, but can they score enough and kill enough penalties to be relevant in the NCHC? Andy Murray’s club will be miserable to play against, but three goals will be enough to top WMU on most nights.

#7 Colorado College (#8 in the media poll)

Head Coach: Mike Haviland (1st season at CC)

2013-14 Season: 7-24-6 overall, 6-13-5-1 NCHC (7th)
Team Offense: 2.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.27 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 12.2% (17 of 139)
Penalty Kill: 78.6% (110 of 140)

Key losses: F Alexander Krushelnyski (11-13-24), F Archie Skalbeck (6-9-15), F Jeff Collett, (3-7-10), D Eamonn McDermott (0-5-5), G Josh Thorimbert (7-23-6, 3.17 GAA, .895 SV%, 1 SO)

Key returning players: Junior F Cody Bradley (6-10-16), Junior F Peter Maric (1-1-2 in 12 games), Junior F Alex Roos (10-7-17), Sophomore F Sam Rothstein (6-14-20), Sophomore D Jacob Slavin (5-20-25), Senior D Peter Stoykewych (1-8-9), G Tyler Marble (no official statistics)

Potential impact freshmen: D Garrett Cecere, D Duggie Lagrone, D Teemu Kivhalme, G Chase Perry

2014-15 season outlook: Will a coaching change lead to improvement all over the ice? Because that’s what the Tigers need. A shaky goaltending situation and lack of proven scoring has many doubting the Tigers’ chances at an upper-division finish. But Mike Haviland has had success in the coaching ranks and could be just what the doctor ordered in Colorado Springs.

#6 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (#6 in the media poll)

Head Coach: Dean Blais (6th season at UNO, 92-87-18, .513)

2013-14 Season: 17-8-2 overall, 13-9-2-1 NCHC (3rd)
Team Offense: 3.16 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.24 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.4% (37 of 181)
Penalty Kill: 80.8% (147 of 182)

Key losses: F Josh Archibald (29-14-43), F Ryan Walters (7-27-34), F Zahn Raubenheimer (6-5-11), F Johnnie Searfoss (4-8-12), F Brock Montpetit (14-19-33), D Nick Seeler (4-6-10), D Michael Young (3-19-22)

Key returning players: Senior F Dominic Zombo (17-17-34), Sophomore F Austin Ortega (9-10-19), Sophomore F Jake Guentzel (7-27-34), Sophomore D Ian Brady (4-17-21), Junior D Brian Cooper (2-7-9), Senior G Ryan Massa (11-9-1, 2.74 GAA, .899 SV%, 1 SO)

Potential impact freshmen: F Jake Montgomery, F Avery Peterson, F Jake Randolph, F Tyler Vesel, D Luc Snuggerud

2014-15 season outlook: UNO needs to replace the most talented group in program history, and they just might have the new recruits to do it. Ryan Massa will need to play well enough in net to keep Dean Blais’ squad competitive over the first half of the season until the pieces start to come together for the Mavs. Otherwise, the hole might be too deep to crawl out of.

#5 Denver Pioneers (#4 in the media poll)

Head Coach: Jim Montgomery (2nd season at DU, 20-16-6, .548)

2013-14 Season: 20-16-6 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 10-11-3-2 NCHC (6th)
Team Offense: 2.67 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.33 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.8% (34 of 172)
Penalty Kill: 86.6% (149 of 172)

Key losses: D David Makowski (10-14-24), G Sam Brittain (19-14-6, 2.22 GAA, .929 SV%, 5 SO)

Key returning players: Sophomore F Trevor Moore (14-18-32), Senior F Ty Loney (11-15-26),Junior F Quentin Shore (7-18-25), Senior F Daniel Doremus (9-15-24), Senior F Zac Larraza (10-10-20 in 34 games), Senior D Joey LaLeggia (12-13-25), Junior D Nolan Zajac (5-18-23)

Potential impact freshmen: F Tanner Jaillet, F Danton Heinen, D Tariq Hammond

2014-15 season outlook: Denver has all of the ingredients to have a successful season: veteran leadership, a strong set of blueliners, and top-end talent. All of the ingredients, that is, except a proven netminder. Sam Brittain was everything for the Pios, and his absence leaves a huge void. Will Evan Cowley or Greg Ogard take the reins and lead this team to the NCAA tournament? If so, the sky’s the limit for DU.

#4 Minnesota-Duluth (#5 in the media poll)

Head Coach: Scott Sandelin (15th season at UMD, 248-246-67, .502)

2013-14 Season: 16-16-4 overall, 11-11-2-2 NCHC (t-4th)
Team Offense: 2.89 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.89 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 15.8% (26 of 165)
Penalty Kill: 81.7% (147 of 180)

Key losses: F Caleb Herbert (12-19-31), F Joe Basaraba (8-10-18),F Max Tardy (1-1-2), G Aaron Crandall (14-12-3, 2.76 GAA, .900 SV%, 1 SO)

Key returning players: Junior F Tony Cameranesi (7-14-21), Senior F Justin Crandall (14-13-27), Sophomore F Alex Iafallo (11-11-22), Sophomore F Kyle Osterberg (14-13-27), Sophomore F Dominic Toninato (7-8-15), Junior D Andy Welinski (5-14-19), G Matt McNeely (2-4-1, 2.82 GAA, .894 SV%)

Potential impact freshmen: F Brett Boehm, F Karson Kuhlman, F Jared Thomas, G Kasimir Kaskisuo

2014-15 season outlook: There’s a lot to be hopeful for in Duluth. Scott Sandelin has a stable of forwards who are poised to make a jump in scoring this season. The Bulldogs will need to solidify their goaltending situation if they hope to secure home ice for the playoffs, and I think they’ll get just enough out of McNeely and Kaskisuo to do just that.

#3 St. Cloud State Huskies (#3 in the media poll)

Head Coach: Bob Motzko (10th season at SCSU, 185-137-40, .566)

2013-14 Season: 22-11-5 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 15-6-3-0 NCHC (1st)
Team Offense: 3.58 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.82 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 25.3% (37 of 146)
Penalty Kill: 76.9% (93 of 121)

Key losses: F Nic Dowd (21-20-41), F Cory Thorson (9-11-20), D Kevin Gravel (10-13-23), G Ryan Faragher (20-9-4, 2.79 GAA, .905 SV%, 1 SO)

Key returning players: Junior F Jonny Brodzinski (21-20-41), Junior F Kalle Kossila (13-27-40), Senior F David Morley (9-23-32), Junior F Joey Benik (12-15-27), Junior F Kimmy Murray (13-12-25), Sophomore F Ryan Papa (6-16-22), Senior D Andrew Prochno (3-16-19), Sophomore D Niklas Nevalainen (2-6-8), G Charlie Lindgren (2-2-1, 2.42 GAA, .905 SV%, 1 SO)

Potential impact freshmen: F Judd Peterson, F Patrick Russell, F Blake Winiecki, D Mika Ilvonen, D Nathan Widman

2014-15 season outlook: Bob Motzko has strung together back-to-back conference titles on the back of Ryan Faragher, but now the job is left to Charlie Lindgren and Rasmus Reijola. The Huskies will once again have a world-class power play, but will there be enough 5 on 5 scoring and depth at the center position to win the close games?

#2 North Dakota (#1 in the media poll)

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 261-134-40, .646)

2013-14 Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)
Team Offense: 3.02 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.43 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.2% (32 of 186)
Penalty Kill: 83.4% (146 of 175)

Key losses: F Rocco Grimaldi (17-22-39), F Derek Rodwell (5-5-10), D Dillon Simpson (7-16-23),

Key returning players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (11-13-24), Sophomore F Luke Johnson (8-13-21), Senior F Michael Parks (12-18-30), Senior F Mark MacMillan (10-16-26), Senior F Brendan O’Donnell (7-11-18), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (6-18-24), Senior D Nick Mattson (4-19-23), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (6-15-21), Junior G Zane McIntyre (20-10-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO)

Potential impact freshmen: F Nick Schmaltz, D Tucker Poolman

2014-15 season outlook: North Dakota is built to win this year. Dave Hakstol has all of the tools at his disposal: scoring depth, leadership, a wealth of talent and playmaking ability, outstanding goaltending, the best defensive corps in the country, and motivation after last season’s abrupt ending. But will the weight of pre-season expectations prove to be too much for the boys from Grand Forks?

#1 Miami RedHawks (#2 in the media poll)

Head Coach: Enrico Blasi (16th season at Miami, 313-196-53, .592)

2013-14 Season: 15-20-3 overall, 6-17-1-1 NCHC (8th)
Team Offense: 2.92 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.03 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.6% (35 of 162)
Penalty Kill: 80.5% (136 of 169)

Key losses: F Max Cook (1-8-9), F Byron Paulazzo (3-2-5 in 22 games)

Key returning players: Senior F Austin Czarnik (13-34-47), Junior F Riley Barber (19-25-44), Senior F Blake Coleman (19-9-28 in 27 games), Junior F Sean Kuraly (12-17-29), Sophomore F Anthony Louis (12-13-25), Senior F Alex Wideman (7-9-16), Junior D Matthew Caito (3-13-16), Sophomore D Matt Joyaux (1-4-5), G Ryan McKay (10-13-3, 2.70 GAA, .913 SV%, 4 SO)

Potential impact freshman: D Louie Belpedio

2014-15 season outlook: Miami struggled for much of last season, with injuries playing a factor. The RedHawks also lost 12 one-goal games a year ago, and in order to reverse that trend, the defensemen will need to add scoring (only nine goals and 45 total points in 2013-14). Coach Blasi has virtually his entire team back, but can they go from worst to first? If there’s a roster that can do it, this is it.

So there you have it. Do you agree? Disagree? Who do you have coming out on top? Feel free to post your predictions below, and check back in December for a midseason report.

Published by Dave Berger on 10 Oct 2014

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Bemidji State

Last season, North Dakota and Bemidji State played a home and home series during a January blizzard. This year, it’s the official opener for both teams, with a zero percent chance of snow.

There are family connections on both rosters in 2014-15. North Dakota freshman forward Nick Schmaltz joins older brother Jordan (a junior defenseman) in UND’s lineup, and his puck handling skills and vision were on full display in Sunday’s exhibition tilt against Manitoba. Fans of the Green and White should look forward to the Schmaltz brothers on the same power play unit, at least early in the season.

And Tom Serratore has his own version of Slapshot’s Hanson brothers in triplets Myles, Gerry, and Leo Fitzgerald. Miles and Gerry were second and third in scoring last season for the Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL), and the three forwards have been described as “throwback hockey players”. The Beavers have not played an exhibition game this season, but Serratore indicated that the Fitzgerald brothers would be playing together on the same line.

The teams will play a home and home series this weekend, with Bemidji traveling to UND for Friday’s opener before returning home to host North Dakota on Saturday night. BSU will have a week off before traveling to Mariucci Arena to take on the top-ranked Golden Gophers for a pair of games, while Dave Hakstol’s club will open up NCHC action next weekend at Colorado College.

These games are critical for North Dakota’s postseason aspirations. Last season, Dave Hakstol’s squad went 5-2-3 in non-conference action and barely made the playoffs, while Bemidji State sported an abysmal 0-7-3 record in non-league games. UND’s other non-conference opponents this season will be #3 Providence, #10 Wisconsin, Lake Superior State, and Niagara.

Bemidji State Team Profile

Head Coach: Tom Serratore (14th season at BSU, 211-207-56 .504)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 10-21-7 overall, 10-14-4 WCHA (t-8th)

2013-14 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 2.42 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.11 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.5% (23 of 159)
Penalty Kill: 85.8% (139 of 162)

Key Returning Players (2013-14 statistics): Junior F Cory Ward (18-11-29), Junior F Markus Gerbrandt (15-10-25), Sophomore F Brendan Harms (7-14-21), Senior D Matt Prapavessis (5-17-22), Junior D Graeme McCormack (3-14-17), Senior G Andrew Walsh (7-12-4, 3.04 GAA, .904 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 260-133-40, .647.)
National Ranking: #2/#2
This Season: 0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

2013-14 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.02 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.43 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.2% (32 of 186)
Penalty Kill: 83.4% (146 of 175)

Key Returning Players (2013-14 statistics): Senior F Michael Parks (12-18-30), Senior F Mark MacMillan (10-16-26), Junior F Drake Caggiula (11-13-24), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (6-18-24), Senior D Nick Mattson (4-9-23), Junior G Zane McIntyre (20-10-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: January 18, 2014 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota used a balanced attack and some unlikely goal scorers to defeat Bemidji State 4-2. Conner Gaarder, Derek Rodwell, and Andrew Panzarella, who had combined for five goals on the season, all scored against the Beavers. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in Bemidji in Friday’s opener. UND outshot BSU 76-32 on the weekend.

Most Important Meeting: October 15, 2010 (Bemidji, MN). In the first game played at the BREC, North Dakota spotted BSU the opening goal less than two minutes into the contest and then steamrolled the Beavers 5-2. The Fighting Sioux outshot their fellow Green-and-Whiters 38-14.

Last Ten: North Dakota is 7-1-2 (.800) in the last ten meetings between the teams, outscoring the Beavers 34-17 over that stretch of games.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 26-2-3 (.887), including an 8-1-1 (.850) record in games played in Bemidji. BSU’s two victories over North Dakota came 41 years apart (1970 and 2011).

Game News and Notes

North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol needs just three more coaching victories to pass Dean Blais and become the second-winningest head coach in program history. Bemidji State returns twenty letterwinners from last year’s roster. Junior forward Mark MacMillan leads UND with ten points in eight career games against the Beavers. UND will honor longtime WDAZ sports director Pat Sweeney prior to tonight’s contest.

The Prediction

UND will come out flying against the Beavers, showcasing the skill and depth that has them near the top of the national rankings. Saturday’s rematch in Bemidji will be a tougher contest, with North Dakota scoring late to earn the sweep UND 4-1, 2-1.

Published by Dave Berger on 06 May 2014

Twenty Storied Programs: #5 through #1

Last month in Philadelphia, Union became the 20th program to win an NCAA Division I men’s college hockey championship. Since 1948, teams have competed for the coveted trophy, and the Dutchmen will raise a banner celebrating this past season that will hang forever.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all twenty teams who have made it to the mountaintop. Today, we’re discussing the top five programs of all time. Follow the links to have a look at #20 through #16, #15 through #11, and #10 through #6.

#5 Boston University Terriers

National Championships: 5 (1971, 1972, 1978, 1995, 2009)
Frozen Four Appearances: 21 (most recent, 2009)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 32 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 12 (most recent, 2009)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 14 (most recent, 2009)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: LW Chris Drury (1998), D Matt Gilroy (2009)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Cleon Daskalakis (1984), John Cullen (1987), Shawn McEachern (1991), David Sacco (1993), Mike Grier (1995), Jay Pandolfo (1996), Chris Drury (1996, 1997), Michel Larocque (1999), John Curry (2007), Colin Wilson (2009)

Other notable former players: Tony Amonte, Adrian Aucoin, Shawn Bates, Nick Bonino, Chris Borque, Joe DiPenta, Rick DiPietro, Paul Fenton, Mark Fidler, Mike Fidler, Scott Lachance, Dan LaCouture, Rick Meagher, Freddy Meyer, Jack O’Callahan, Tom Poti, Joe Sacco, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dave Silk, Mike Sullivan, Keith Tkachuk, Ryan Whitney, Brandon Yip, Scott Young

Boston University didn’t join the ECAC until the 1961-62 season but still managed to appear in four Frozen Fours as an independent in the 1950s. Jack Parker had a remarkable nine-season stretch with the Terriers from 1989 until 1998, winning 254 games (against just 82 losses), five Hockey East regular season chmapionships, and four Hockey East playoff titles. BU also advanced to nine straight NCAA tournaments over that span, appearing in the Frozen Four seven times with a national title (1995) and three runner-up finishes. The Terriers have only appeared in one Frozen Four in their past nine NCAA tourneys, but they made the most of their visit to Washington, D.C. with a pair of one-goal victories to earn the program’s fifth national title.

#4 Boston College Eagles

National Championships: 5 (1949, 2001, 2008, 2010, 2012)
Frozen Four Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2012)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 33 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 13 (most recent, 2012)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 14 (most recent, 2014)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C David Emma (1991), D Mike Mottau (2000), LW Johnny Gaudreau (2014)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Scott Harlow (1986), Brian Leetch (1987), Craig Janney (1987), Tim Sweeney (1989), Greg Brown (1989, 1990), David Emma (1990), Brian Gionta (1999, 2000, 2001), Jeff Farkas (2000), Ben Eaves (2003), Tony Voce (2004), Patrick Eaves (2005), Chris Collins (2006), Nathan Gerbe (2008), Cam Atkinson (2011), Brian Dumoulin (2012), Johnny Gaudreau (2013), Kevin Hayes (2014)

Other notable former players: Andrew Alberts, Harvey Bennett, Brian Boyle, Doug Brown, Scott Clemmensen, Steven Gionta, Bill Guerin, Peter Harrold, Steve Heinze, Chuck Kobasew, Krys Kolanos, Chris Kreider, Ben Lovejoy, Marty McInnis, Ian Moran, Joe Mullen, Brooks Orpik, Marty Reasoner, Cory Schneider, Rob Scuderi, Ryan Shannon, Tim Sheehy, Ben Smith, Kevin Stevens, Bob Sweeney

The Jerry York era has been astounding at Boston College. In twenty seasons behind the bench, York has collected seven regular season titles, nine league playoff titles, fifteen NCAA tournament appearances, ten Frozen Four bids, and four national championships. But the flip side of that equation is that in the 47 seasons that BC competed for an NCAA title before York’s arrival in Chestnut Hill, the Eagles only played in the national title game three times and won exactly one championship (1949). So the question is this: are we talking about the storied history of Boston College, or the storied history of Jerry York?

#3 Minnesota Golden Gophers

National Championships: 5 (1974, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2003)
Frozen Four Appearances: 21 (most recent, 2014)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 35 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 6 (most recent, 2007)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 15 (most recent, 2014)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Neal Broten (1981), G Robb Stauber (1988), C Brian Bonin (1996), D Jordan Leopold (2002)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Steve Ulseth (1981), Bryan Erickson (1982, 1983), Scott Bjugstad (1983), Pat Micheletti (1985), Robb Stauber (1989), Larry Olimb (1992), Brian Bonin (1995), Mike Crowley (1996, 1997), Jordan Leopold (2001), Keith Ballard (2004), Ryan Potulny (2006), Adam Wilcox (2014)

Other notable former players: Russ Anderson, Mike Antonovich, Nick Bjugstad, Aaron Broten, Paul Broten, Tom Chorske, Ben Clymer, Alex Goligoski, Tom Gorence, Darby Hendrickson, Paul Holmgren, Craig Johnson, Erik Johnson, Phil Kessel, Trent Klatt, Reed Larson, John Mariucci, Paul Martin, John Mayasich, Chris McAlpine, Jack McCartan, Rob McClanahan, Joe Micheletti, Corey Millen, Warren Miller, Kyle Okposo, Tom Pederson, Lance Pitlick, Mike Polich, Mike Ramsey, Erik Rasmussen, Dave Snuggerud, Thomas Vanek, Blake Wheeler, Tom Younghands, Doug Zmolek

With this most recent season in the books, Minnesota is now tied with Michigan for the most NCAA tournament appearances (35), but they’ve also missed the tourney six times in the past 17 seasons. The past three seasons have put the Gopher faithful in a much better mood, however, with three straight league titles, two Frozen Four appearances, and a combined record of 82-30-12 (.710). In the six-team Big Ten, Minnesota will be in a position to add quite a bit of new hardware to the trophy case every season.

#2 University of North Dakota

National Championships: 7 (1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000)
Frozen Four Appearances: 20 (most recent, 2014)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 29 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 7 (most recent, 2012)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 15 (most recent, 2011)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Tony Hrkac (1987), LW Ryan Duncan (2007)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: James Patrick (1983), Jon Casey (1984), Scott Sandelin (1986), Steve Johnson (1988), Russ Parent (1990), Greg Johnson (1991, 1992, 1993), Jason Blake (1997), Curtis Murphy (1998), Jason Blake (1999), Jeff Panzer (2000, 2001), Zach Parise (2003, 2004), Brandon Bochenski (2004), T.J. Oshie (2008), Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (2008), Matt Frattin (2011), Corban Knight (2013), Danny Kristo (2013)

Other notable former players: Earl Anderson, Murray Baron, Ed Belfour, Perry Berezan, Brad Berry, Brad Bombardir, Dave Christian, Mike Commodore, Matt Greene, David Hale, Alan Hangsleben, Dennis Hextall, Dave Hudson, Ryan Johnson, Bob Joyce, Brian Lee, Craig Ludwig, Brad Malone, John Marks, Troy Murray, Brock Nelson, Chris Porter, Russ Romaniuk, Gord Sherven, Doug Smail, Geoff Smith, Drew Stafford, Phil Sykes, Mark Taylor, Dave Tippett, Jonathan Toews, Gary Valk, Dixon Ward, Landon Wilson, Rick Wilson, Travis Zajac, Rick Zombo

Since 1957, North Dakota has just one stretch of “lean years”, otherwise known in Grand Forks as the Rube Bjorkman era. Bjorkman coached the Fighting Sioux from 1968-1978, and his teams collected exactly zero trophies. Otherwise, UND has been relevant and competitive throughout the history of the program, with multiple Frozen Four appearances in every decade. The longest title drought in program history is just seventeen seasons, the best such mark among the top five schools. The future is bright as well, with a current streak of twelve consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (the longest active streak in the country) and nine Frozen Four bids in the past eighteen years.

#1 Michigan Wolverines

National Championships: 9 (1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1996, 1998)
Frozen Four Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2011)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 35 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 9 (most recent, 2010)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 12 (most recent, 2011)

Michigan collected ten Frozen Four appearances and six national titles in the first ten seasons of the NCAA tournament. The stretch from 1957-1990 was positively horrid for the Wolverines, with just one WCHA regular season title and three appearances in the national tournament in a span of 33 years. Head coach Red Berenson brought the Maize and Blue back to prominence with 22 consecutive NCAA bids, twelve Frozen Four appearances, and two more national titles (1996, 1998). The bloom has come off the rose somewhat, however, as the Wolverines have not made the NCAAs since 2012 and have just two Frozen Four appearances in the past eleven seasons. Berenson’s teams are just 36-32-7 (.527) over the past two years, and the winds of change have started to blow in Ann Arbor.

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Brendan Morrison (1997), C Kevin Porter (2008)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Denny Felsner (1991, 1992), Brian Wiseman (1994), Steve Shields (1994), David Oliver (1994), Brendan Morrison (1995, 1996), John Madden (1997), Bill Muckalt (1998), Mike Comrie (2000), Andy Hilbert (2001), T.J. Hensick (2005, 2007), Louie Caporusso (2009), Shawn Hunwick (2012)

Other notable former players: Gordon “Red” Berenson, Mike Brown, Mike Cammalleri, Andrew Cogliano, Greg Fox, David Harlock, Pat Hughes, Matt Hunwick, Jack Johnson, Mike Knuble, Mike Komisarek, Josh Langfeld, Bill MacFarland, Al Montoya, David Moss, Jeff Norton, Eric Nystrom, Jed Ortmeyer, Max Pacioretty, Rob Palmer, Steve Richmond, Dave Richter, Blake Sloan, Chris Tamer, Marty Turco, Mike Van Ryn, Aaron Ward

The Final Analysis:

It is very apparent to me that the top four teams in the rankings could really be placed in any order, and whichever program captures the next national title will vault to the top of the charts. It is perhaps most remarkable that the University of North Dakota is one of the hockey giants, considering that the other four schools in this installment all hail from the three hockey hotbeds in the United States (Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota).

So now it’s your turn. Do you agree or disagree? Who would you have as your number one program of all time? And check back later this month as we take a look at the five teams most likely to break through and win their first national title.

A special thank you goes out to SiouxSports.com user “franchise” for all of the information about Hobey Baker finalists for this article.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 22 Apr 2014

Twenty Storied Programs: #10 through #6

Ten days ago in Philadelphia, Union became the 20th program to win an NCAA Division I men’s college hockey championship. Since 1948, teams have competed for the coveted trophy, and the Dutchmen will raise a banner celebrating this past season that will hang forever.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all twenty teams who have made it to the mountaintop. Today, we’re discussing programs ranked #10 through #6. Follow the links to have a look at #20 through #16 and #15 through #11.

#10 Cornell Big Red

National Championships: 2 (1967, 1970)
Frozen Four Appearances: 8 (most recent, 2003)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 19 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 12 (most recent, 2010)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 8 (most recent, 2005)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Joe Nieuwendyk (1987), Doug Murray (2002), Dave LeNeveu (2003), David McKee (2005), Ben Scrivens (2010)
Other notable former players: Byron Bitz, Brad Chartrand, Sean Collins, Ken Dryden, Darren Eliot, Colin Greening, Brian Hayward, Kent Manderville, Brian McCutcheon, Matt Moulson, Douglas Murray, Riley Nash, Ryan O’Byrne, Jean-Marc Pelletier

Cornell was a Division I independent until the 1961-62 season, when the Big Red joined the ECAC. From 1966-73, Ned Harkness and Dick Bertrand combined to claim five regular season titles, five playoff titles, six tournament appearances, six Frozen Fours, two national titles, and two other runner-up finishes. Since that time, Cornell has never gone more than five seasons without appearing in the NCAAs. The only “lean years” for this program were during the Brian McCutcheon era (1987-1995), when the Lynah faithful were treated to just a single appearance in the NCAA tournament. Current head coach Mike Schafer has returned the Big Red to prominence in his 19 seasons behind the bench, and Cornell shows no signs of slowing down.

#9 Maine Black Bears

National Championships: 2 (1993, 1999)
Frozen Four Appearances: 11 (last, 2007)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 18 (last, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 5 (last, 2004)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 4 (last, 1995)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: LW Scott Pellerin (1992), LW Paul Kariya (1993)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Mike Golden (1988), David Capuano (1988, 1989), Jean-Yves Roy (1991, 1992), Jim Montgomery (1993), Chris Imes (1995), Steve Kariya (1999), Greg Moore (2006), Gustav Myquist (2010, 2011), Spencer Abbott (2012)
Other notable former players: Shawn Anderson, Bob Beers, Ben Bishop, Keith Carney, Brett Clark, Bob Corkum, Niko Dimitrakos, Mike Dunham, Chris Ferraro, Peter Ferraro, Brian Flynn, Ben Guite, Jim Howard, Doug Janik, Mike Lundin, Dustin Penner, Ted Purcell, Garth Snow, Eric Weinrich

Maine has competed at the Division I level since the 1977-78 season and joined Hockey East in 1984. Two stretches stick out with the Black Bears. From 1986-1995, Maine won seven combined regular season and playoff titles, went to the NCAAs eight times, made five Frozen Fours, and claimed their first national title. Then, from 1998-2007, the pride of Orono, Maine won two playoff titles and advanced to nine consecutive national tournaments, appearing in six Frozen Fours with a national championship in 1999 and two 2nd place finishes (2002, 2004). It’s been tougher sledding lately, with just one tournament appearance in the past seven seasons, but there’s plenty to be excited about with this program.

#8 Michigan State Spartans

National Championships: 3 (1966, 1986, 2007)
Frozen Four Appearances: 9 (most recent, 2007)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 27 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 11 (most recent, 2006)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 8 (most recent, 2001)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Kip Miller (1990), G Ryan Miller (2001)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Ron Scott (1982, 1983), Craig Simpson (1985), Kelly Miller (1985), Mike Donnelly (1986), Bobby Reynolds (1989), Kip Miller (1989), Bryan Smolinski (1993), Anson Carter (1995), Chad Alban (1998), Mike York (1998, 1999), Shawn Horcoff (2000), Ryan Miller (2002), John-Michael Liles (2003), Jim Slater (2004), Jeff Lerg (2008), Torey Krug (2012)
Other notable former players: Justin Abdelkader, Norm Barnes, David Booth, Rod Brind’Amour, Jeff Brubaker, Danton Cole, Jim Cummins, Bob Essensa, Brian Glennie, Derek Grant, Steve Guolla, Adam Hall, Andre Hutchinson, Duncan Keith, Tim Kennedy, Ken Leiter, Chris Luongo, Drew Miller, Kevin Miller, Joe Murphy, Rem Murray, Jeff Petry, Doug Roberts, Corey Tropp, Mike Weaver, Neil Wilkinson, Jason Woolley

Michigan State suffered through some pretty lean years in the WCHA. From 1959-1981, the Spartans made the NCAA tournament only twice (1965-66 and 1966-67), but won a national title in 1966. Over the past 33 seasons, MSU has made the tournament 24 times, with six Frozen Four appearances and two more national championships. It’s been a tough go over the past six years, with just two winning seasons and one NCAA tourney appearance, but in the six team Big Ten Conference, Sparty will be back.

#7 Wisconsin Badgers

National Championships: 6 (1973, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1990, 2006)
Frozen Four Appearances: 9 (most recent, 2010)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2013)
Conference Playoff Titles: 9 (most recent, 2013)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 2000)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Blake Geoffrion (2010)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: John Newberry (1982), Tony Granato (1987), Paul Ranheim (1988), Duane Derksen (1992), Steve Reinprecht (2000), Dany Heatley (2001), Brian Elliot (2006), Jamie McBain (2009), Brendan Smith (2010), Justin Schultz (2011, 2012), Joel Rumpel (2014)
Other notable former players: Mike Blaisdell, Rene Bourque, Adam Burish, Jim Carey, Chris Chelios, Jake Dowell, Davis Drewiske, Bruce Driver, Mike Eaves, Brian Engblom, Patrick Flatley, Jake Gardiner, Tom Gilbert, Sean Hill, Mark Johnson, Curtis Joseph, David Maley, Ryan McDonagh, Scott Mellanby, Brian Mullen, Mark Osiecki, Joe Pavelski, Brian Rafalski, Barry Richter, Mike Richter, Jack Skille, Paul Stanton, Derek Stepan, Gary Suter, Ryan Suter, Dean Talafous, Dave Tanabe, Kyle Turris, Brad Winchester

Wisconsin played as a Division I independent until the 1969-70 season, at which point the Badgers were admitted into the WCHA. Head coaches Bob Johnson and Jeff Sauer kept UW competing at a high level throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Current head coach Mike Eaves has continued that tradition, adding a sixth title to the trophy case in 2006. Since their inaugural season in the WCHA, Bucky has made the NCAA tournament in 25 of 45 seasons overall, with 34 years of twenty victories or more.

#6 Denver Pioneers

National Championships: 7 (1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005)
Frozen Four Appearances: 14 (most recent, 2005)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2013)
Conference Playoff Titles: 7 (most recent, 2008)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 11 (most recent, 2010)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: D Matt Carle (2006)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Ed Beers (1982), Dallas Gaume (1986), Dave Shields (1990), Wade Dubielwicz (2002), Rhett Rakhshani (2010), Marc Cheverie (2010)
Other notable former players: Bruce Affleck, Glenn Anderson, Tyler Bozak, Chris Butler, Mike Christie, Kevin Dineen, Marshall Johnston, Cliff Koroll, Antti Laaksonen, Pete LoPresti, Keith Magnuson, Tom Martin, Peter McNab, Craig Patrick, Matt Pettinger, Rich Preston, Craig Redmond, Mark Rycroft, Drew Shore, Paul Stastny, Vic Venasky, Jason Zucker

The Denver Pioneers have a similar resume to the Michigan Wolverines, with five titles before 1970 but only one NCAA postseason appearance between 1973 and 1995 Head coach George Gwozdecky took the reins beginning with the 1994-95 campaign and guided the Pios to 12 tournament appearances (and two national championships) in his 19 seasons behind the bench, but he’s since been replaced by Jim Montgomery. I am confident that DU can compete for both regular season and postseason hardware going forward.

Follow this link for a look at the top five teams on the all-time champions list. And check back later this month for a look at the five teams most likely to break through and win their first national title.

A special thank you goes out to SiouxSports.com user “franchise” for all of the information about Hobey Baker finalists for this article.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 16 Apr 2014

Twenty Storied Programs: #15 through #11

On Saturday night in Philadelphia, Union became the 20th program to win an NCAA Division I men’s college hockey championship. Since 1948, teams have competed for the coveted trophy, and the Dutchmen will raise a banner celebrating this season that will hang forever.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all twenty teams who have made it to the mountaintop. Yesterday, I went through #20 through #16, and today we’re discussing programs ranked #15 through #11…

#15 Rensselaer Engineers

National Championships: 2 (1954, 1985)
Frozen Four Appearances: 5 (most recent, 1985)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 9 (most recent, 2011)
Conference Playoff Titles: 3 (most recent, 1995)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 5 (most recent, 1985)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Adam Oates (1985), Joe Juneau (1990, 1991), Neil Little (1994), Eric Healey (1998), Joel Laing (2000), Marc Cavosie (2002), Chase Polacek (2010, 2011)
Other notable former players: John Carter, Jerry D’Amigo, Ken Hammond, Larry Landon, Mike McPhee, Kraig Nienhuis, Brandon Pirri, Brian Pothier, Daren Puppa, Brad Tapper, Graeme Townshend

The Engineers have a habit of popping up for short stints and then disappearing for 10 years or so. Here’s a look at the all-time tournament appearances: 1953, 1954, 1961, 1964, 1984, 1985, 1994, 1995, 2011. When Rensselaer is on top of the college hockey world, they really go all out. Head coach Mike Addesa followed up a 32-6-0 campaign in 1983-84 with an other-worldly 35-2-1 national championship season. But since then, RPI has only seen the NCAAs three times in the past 29 years. And with only one twenty-win season in the past decade, it’ll be an uphill climb for head coach Seth Appert to compete in the ECAC going forward.

#14 Harvard Crimson

National Championships: 1 (1989)
Frozen Four Appearances: 12 (most recent, 1994)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 21 (most recent, 2006)
Conference Playoff Titles: 7 (most recent, 2006)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 10 (most recent, 1994)

Harvard has a rich and storied tradition, with each decade filled with memorable games and remarkable accomplishments. But despite 12 Frozen Four appearances, the Crimson have only advanced to three championship games, losing to Wisconsin (1983) and Michigan State (1986) before breaking through against Minnesota in 1989. Harvard found a recent run of success with five straight tourney appearances and three playoff titles between 2001 and 2006, but the boys from Cambridge, Massachusetts have only collected 94 wins in the eight seasons since then.

Hobey Baker Award Winners: D Mark Fusco (1983), C Scott Fusco (1986), LW Lane MacDonald (1989)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Scott Fusco (1985), Lane MacDonald (1987), Allen Bourbeau (1989), Peter Ciavaglia (1991), Ted Drury (1993), Sean McCann (1994), Dov Grumet-Morris (2005)
Other notable former players: Craig Adams, Dan Bolduc, Ted Donato, Alexander Killorn, Louis Leblanc, Craig MacDonald, Steve Martins, Bob McManama, Dominic Moore, Dylan Reese, Neil Sheehy, Don Sweeney, Noah Welch

#13 Lake Superior Lakers

National Championships: 3 (1988, 1992, 1994)
Frozen Four Appearances: 4 (most recent, 1994)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 10 (most recent, 1996)
Conference Playoff Titles: 4 (most recent, 1995)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 1996)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Mark Vermette (1988), Bruce Hoffort (1989), Jim Dowd (1991), Darrin Madeley (1992), Brian Rolston (1993), Keith Aldridge (1996)
Other notable former players: Will Acton, Bates Battaglia, Kevin Czuczman, Chris Dahlquist, John Flesch, John Grahame, Paul Jerrard, Dan Keczmer, Sandy Moger, Steven Oleksy, Derek Smith, Rob Valicevic, Doug Weight

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 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.

#12 Michigan Tech Huskies

National Championships: 3 (1962, 1965, 1975)
Frozen Four Appearances: 10 (most recent, 1981)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 10 (most recent, 1981)
Conference Playoff Titles: 1 (1962)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 6 (most recent, 1976)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Jamie Ram (1994), Colin Murphy (2005)
Other notable former players: Lou Angotti, Gary Bauman, Chris Conner, Chris Durno, Tony Esposito, John Grisdale, Steve Jensen, Al Karlander, Bob Lorimer, George Lyle, Randy McKay, Gord McRae, Glenn Merkosky, Damian Rhodes, Jarkko Ruutu, Andre Savage, John Scott, Lorne Stamler, Andy Sutton, Tim Watters, Clay Wilson, Warren Young, Mike Zuke

John MacInnes coached Michigan Tech from 1956 until 1982, and under his leadership the Huskies were one of the top programs in the country for the better part of two decades. In a 17 year stretch, MTU appeared in eight Frozen Fours, with three national titles and three runner-up finishes. The issue for the boys from Houghton is that in the past 34 years, there has been absolutely nothing to cheer about. No regular season titles, no postseason titles, and no NCAA tournament appearances. For 34 years straight. And in that stretch of time, MTU has managed only two winning seasons: 17-15-5 in 1992-93 and 18-17-5 in 2006-07.

#11 Colorado College Tigers

National Championships: 2 (1950, 1957)
Frozen Four Appearances: 10 (most recent, 2005)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 20 (most recent, 2011)
Conference Playoff Titles: 1 (1978)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 9 (most recent, 2008)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: LW Peter Sejna (2003), C Marty Sertich (2005)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Jay MacNeil (1995), Peter Geronazzo (1996), Brian Swanson (1997, 1999), Tom Preissing (2003), Brett Sterling (2005, 2006), Marty Sertich (2006)
Other notable former players: Joey Crabb, Mark Cullen, Dave Feamster, Jack Hillen, Doug Lidster, Curtis McElhinney, Eddie Mio, Doug Palazzari, Toby Petersen, Nate Prosser, Chad Rau, Jaden Schwartz, Greg Smith, Colin Stuart, Mark Stuart

When it’s coming up on 60 years since your program’s last national title, the shine starts to come off of the trophy. As evidenced by the statistics above, Colorado College has had plenty of successful regular seasons over the past twenty years, but the lack of postseason success is astounding. The Tigers never won the WCHA Final Five despite appearing in the title game three times, and they’ve only appeared in one Frozen Four since 1997. And after the 1957 championship, CC only made the NCAA tournament once in the next 37 seasons. A new coach might breathe some life into this team, but it’ll be an uphill climb in the NCHC.

Check back next week for a look at #10 through #6 on the all-time champions list. And once we’re through with the twenty programs which have claimed college hockey’s biggest prize, we’ll take a look at the five teams most likely to break through and win their first national title.

A special thank you goes out to SiouxSports.com user “franchise” for all of the information about Hobey Baker finalists for this article.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 15 Apr 2014

Twenty Storied Programs: #20 through #16

On Saturday night in Philadelphia, Union became the 20th program to win an NCAA Division I men’s college hockey championship. Since 1948, teams have competed for the coveted trophy, and the Dutchmen will raise a banner celebrating this season that will hang forever.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all twenty teams who have made it to the mountaintop, beginning today with #20 through #16…

#20: Bowling Green Falcons

National Championships: 1 (1984)
Frozen Four Appearances: 2 (most recent, 1984)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 9 (most recent, 1990)
Conference Playoff Titles: 4 (most recent, 1988)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 7 (most recent, 1987)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: LW George McPhee (1982), C Brian Holzinger (1995)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Brian Hills (1982, 1983), Nelson Emerson (1988, 1989, 1990), Rob Blake (1990), Jordan Sigalet (2005)
Other notable former players: Gary Kruzich, Brian MacLellan, Ken Morrow, Greg Parks, Kelly Perrault, Jeff Wells

Bowling Green collected a whole bunch of hardware between 1975 and 1990, and the Falcons haven’t been back to the national tournament since then. Head coaches Ron Mason and Jerry York left for greener pastures (Michigan State and Boston College, respectively), and it’s been downhill for 25 years. Current head coach Chris Bergeron has a chance at returning the Falcons to glory in the new-look WCHA, but with Ferris State and Minnesota State the class of that league, he’ll have to catch lightning in a bottle.

#19 Northern Michigan Wildcats

National Championships: 1 (1991)
Frozen Four Appearances: 3 (most recent, 1991)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 (most recent, 2010)
Conference Playoff Titles: 2 (most recent, 1981)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 1991)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Steve Bozek (1981), Gary Emmons (1986, 1987), Phil Berger (1988), Brad Werenka (1991), Scott Beattie (1991, 1992), Tuomas Tarkki (2005), Mark Olver (2010)
Other notable former players: Dallas Drake, Erik Gustafsson, Tom Laidlaw, Mike Santorelli, Ed Ward, Steve Weeks

Northern Michigan has only been a Division I program since 1976, and the Wildcats quickly rose to prominence with two Frozen Four appearances (and one runner-up finish) in their first five seasons at college hockey’s top level. After that meteoric ascent, it took head coach Rick Comley another ten years to win a national title. Walt Kyle is just the second coach in the program’s history, and he has taken NMU to the national tournament just once in his twelve seasons behind the bench.

#18 Yale Bulldogs

National Championships: 1 (2013)
Frozen Four Appearances: 2 (most recent, 2013)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 6 (most recent, 2013)
Conference Playoff Titles: 2 (most recent, 2011)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 2010)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Bob Brooke (1983), Mark Kaufmann (1993), Ray Giroux (1998), Jeff Hamilton (1999, 2001), Chris Higgins (2003)
Other notable former players: Mark Arcobello, John Emmons, Craig Ferguson, Bob Kudelski, Brad Mills, Randy Wood

The Yale Bulldogs have certainly burst on the scene lately, with only two seasons of note (1951-52 and 1997-98) before this recent stretch of success. It remains to be seen whether Keith Allain can bring the Elis back to the top of the ECAC with Quinnipiac, Colgate, and Union in the picture. Yale has gone 128-64-17 (.653) over the past six seasons, though, so I expect them to be back in the playoff hunt before too long.

#17 Union Dutchmen

National Championships: 1 (2014)
Frozen Four Appearances: 2 (most recent, 2014)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 3 (most recent, 2014)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 2014)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Troy Grosenick (2012), Shane Gostisbehere (2014)
Notable former players: Steve Baker, Kyle Bodie, Mario Giallonardo, Jeff Hutchins, Duane Joyce, Nolan Julseth, Keith Kinkaid, Trevor Koenig, Jeremy Welsh, Kelly Zajac

Union has only been competing at the Division I level since 1991, and they’ve really only risen to prominence in the past five years. UC went 18 years without a twenty-win season, and since then they’ve done it five straight times. The Dutchmen have collected 127 victories over the past five campaigns, with three regular season titles, three league playoff titles, four NCAA tournament appearances, two Frozen Four bids, and the most recent national title. Still, it remains to be seen whether Union can continue this type of success over the long term.

#16: Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs

National Championships: 1 (2011)
Frozen Four Appearances: 4 (most recent, 2011)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 3 (most recent, 2009)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 1993)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: D Tom Kurvers (1984), RW Bill Watson (1985), LW Chris Marinucci (1994), RW Junior Lessard (2004), C Jack Connolly (2012)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Brett Hull (1996), Derek Plante (1993), Jack Connolly (2011)
Other notable former players: Pat Boutette, Jason Garrison, Curt Giles, Jim Johnson, Dave Langevin, Norm Maciver, Bob Mason, Matt Niskanen, Mark Pavelich, Shjon Podein, Mason Raymond, Jay Rosehill, Dennis Vaske

Head coach Scott Sandelin took the Bulldogs to the top of the college hockey world just three seasons ago, but the consistency hasn’t been there. In his 14 years at Duluth, he has earned one league playoff title and four NCAA tournament bids. Sandelin has made the most of his time in the national tourney, however, with two Frozen Four bids in four chances. His predecessor, Mike Sertich, made the NCAAs in each of his first three seasons (1982-85) with two regular season titles, two playoff titles, and two Frozen four bids, but after that unbelievable start he took his team to the national tournament just once in his last fifteen years behind the bench.

Here’s a look at #15 through #11 on the all-time champions list. Check back later this week for the top ten.

And once we’re through with the twenty programs which have claimed college hockey’s biggest prize, we’ll take a look at the five teams most likely to break through and win their first national title.

A special thank you goes out to SiouxSports.com user “franchise” for all of the information about Hobey Baker finalists for this article.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 12 Apr 2014

2014-15 UND Hockey: A Six Pack Of Recruits

Yesterday, we took a look ahead at how much of North Dakota’s current roster is coming back for the 2014-15 season and what that means for the future of UND hockey.

And the incoming freshman class will be a big part of that future as well.

If you remember, Dave Hakstol loses four seniors from this year’s Frozen Four squad (forwards Derek Rodwell and Mitch MacMillan, defenseman Dillon Simpson, and goaltender Clarke Saunders). There is also a roster spot available since Adam Tambellini left the team in January. The other question mark on the roster is whether there is still a spot for Coltyn Sanderson, who has appeared in five games over his first two seasons at North Dakota. Sanderson has talent (81 points in 57 games with the Weyburn Red Wings/SJHL in 2011-12), but he might get squeezed out by this incoming group of forwards.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this recruiting class is that Hakstol had two blue chip wingers – Ryan Gropp and Brendan Lemieux – decommit and opt for major juniors, and the remaining six players in this recruiting class might still be the best in the nation. At the time of his commitment to UND, Gropp was called the biggest recruit to come to Grand Forks since Jonathan Toews. Brendan Lemieux was recently ranked the 28th best non-goaltending prospect in North America, while Gropp isn’t draft eligible until 2015.

But enough about the players who won’t be on campus and on the ice in October. There is plenty of talent coming in, and fans should expect several of these freshmen to step in and contribute right away.

All six newcomers for the 2014-15 season are coming from the United States Hockey League, joining nine other USHL alums on the current UND roster. If fans appreciate the local flavor that current North Dakota players Gage Ausmus (East Grand Forks, MN), Zane Gothberg (Thief River Falls, MN), Luke Johnson (Grand Forks, ND), Paul LaDue (Grand Forks, ND), and Keaton Thompson (Devils Lake, ND) bring to the lineup, they will be even more pleased next year. Dave Hakstol is bringing in forward John Simonson (a Grand Forks Central product) and defenseman Tucker Poolman (East Grand Forks Green Wave). Poolman is the son of current UND trainer Mark Poolman.

Other incoming freshmen expected on campus this fall (hometown):

Forward Nick Schmaltz (Verona, WI)

Forward Trevor Olson (Duluth, MN)

Defenseman Hayden Shaw (Woodbury, MN)
(edit: there are varying reports on Shaw enrolling at UND or returning to the USHL for another season of juniors)

Goaltender Cam Johnson (Troy, MI)

With all six newcomers hailing from the United States, that will bring the number of Canadians on the roster to single digits (9) for the first time in ten seasons (2004-05).

North Dakota will have seven states and the District of Columbia represented when they take the ice to begin the 2014-15 season. There will be seven Minnesotans (two from East Grand Forks and one each from Thief River Falls, Duluth, Chanhassen, Edina, and Woodbury), four North Dakotans (including three from Grand Forks), two from Wisconsin (the Schmaltz brothers), and one player each from Arizona, California, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington, D.C.

Nine Canadians will hail from four different provinces: British Columbia (3), Manitoba (3), Saskatchewan (2), and Ontario (1).

And now, let’s meet the six rookies, beginning with the three forwards:

Trevor Olson (Sioux City Musketeers /USHL)
Born: November 22, 1993 (age 20)
Hometown: Duluth, Minnesota
Height: 6-2 Weight: 188

This season, Trevor Olson has only appeared in 21 games for Sioux City, scoring nine goals and adding twelve assists for an average of a point per game. Olson was good for one minor penalty per game (40 PIM) this season for the Musketeers.

Last year, in 63 combined games played between Green Bay and Sioux City, he scored 17 goals and added 33 assists for 50 points with 62 PIM.

Olson is perhaps the most underrated player in this recruiting class. He will make his mark as a power forward with some scoring touch – an element that has been mostly lacking over the past two seasons. North Dakota fans should expect a mix of Rylan Kaip and Brad Malone, with his offensive production falling somewhere in the middle of those two. Considering that Kaip ended his career with 39 points in 144 games and Malone bettered that total with 40 points in 43 games as a senior (and 85 points in 161 games overall), I understand that’s a wide range. But the physical play will be there from the get-go, and Olson has a nose for the net that can’t be taught.

Nick Schmaltz (Green Bay Gamblers/USHL)
Born: February 23, 1996 (age 18)
Hometown: Verona, WIsconsin
Height: 6-0 Weight: 172

Nick Schmaltz has the most high-end potential of this entire recruiting class, as evidenced by his #19 ranking of all North American skaters in the final CSS report. His biggest strength is his vision, and, though it sounds absurd, he could potentially lead the team in assists next year. At just 18 years of age, he is still growing and getting stronger, and that definitely bodes well for his future success.

In 55 games with the Gamblers this season, the younger brother of current UND defenseman Jordan Schmaltz has 18 goals and 45 assists for 63 points. His 45 assists are good for third-most in the USHL this season, and he was the #7 point getter overall. Last year, he posted similarly impressive numbers: 18 goals and 34 assists (52 points) in 64 games played, also with Green Bay.

Schmaltz looks to be a player in the mold of Drew Stafford or Travis Zajac. He should be a first round pick in the 2014 NHL draft, and his talent is matched by his willingness to play the physical game and make things happen for his teammates. He definitely needs to work at becoming a more complete player in all three zones before he makes the jump to the next level, so I would expect that he would play at UND for at least two seasons.

John Simonson (Lincoln Stars/USHL)
Born: June 16, 1993 (age 20)
Hometown: Grand Forks, North Dakota
Height: 5-10 Weight: 170

In 58 games played with the Stars this season, Simonson has potted 28 goals (tied for 6th most in the league) and notched 31 assists. The former Central Knight has shown plenty of scoring punch in the USHL, particularly lately, and he has a nice mix of grit and skill. Simonson plays bigger than his 5’10” frame and, as an older player (he’ll be 21 before his freshman season begins), he has enough experience to play a couple of different roles.

The gritty forward has a good shot and can add some offensive punch to a checking line or be called upon to skate on one of the top two lines and create space for his teammates. Over time, Simonson might be seen as a Derek Rodwell-type player with a bit more offensive production. He will be capable and dependable, and he might see some penalty kill time later on in his collegiate career.

Two defensemen are scheduled to appear on UND’s campus this fall, and one of them (Tucker Poolman) is expected to compete for playing time right away. The other (Hayden Shaw) will need some more time to develop and should be seen as a work in progress.

Tucker Poolman (Omaha Lancers/USHL)
Born: June 8, 1993 (age 20)
Hometown: East Grand Forks, Minnesota
Height: 6-3 Weight: 200

Tucker Poolman will be 21 years old when he arrives on UND’s campus in September. He is solid and tough in his own end, and has shown signs of developing his game in the USHL. Last season with Omaha, he had a line of 14g-14a in 64 games played with 49 minutes in penalties and a -7 rating. This year, his line reads 15g26a in 58 games played with 23 PIM and a +20 rating.

Poolman has developed into one of the best two-way defensemen in the USHL. He has some Paul LaDue in his game, and fans should remember that LaDue scored 21 points in 41 games this season as a freshman. A Winnipeg Jets draft pick (5th round, #127 overall), Poolman will be the tallest player on the North Dakota roster next season.

Hayden Shaw (Waterloo Black Hawks/USHL)
Born: June 5, 1996 (age 17)
Hometown: Woodbury, Minnesota
Height: 5-10 Weight: 180

(Edit: It is possible that Shaw will return to Waterloo for a second season of junior hockey before enrolling at UND)

Hayden Shaw is pretty young, having left Woodbury High School after his sophomore season to play in the USHL. He will turn 18 three months before beginning his collegiate career at North Dakota. Shaw is built much like former UND blueliner Joe Gleason, but with more upside. Fans of the Green and White should expect Shaw to develop into a Troy Stecher-like player.

In 53 games played with Waterloo this season, Shaw has scored 8 goals and added 21 assists for 29 points. He currently sits at a +8 with 51 penalty minutes. The move from high school hockey seems to have paid off for the Woodbury native, but he might not see more than 10 or 15 games as a freshman at UND since the returning D-corps is experienced and talented.

And Dave Hakstol will bring in one goaltender to replace Clarke Saunders, who just finished up his senior season in Grand Forks.

Cam Johnson (Waterloo Black Hawks/USHL)
Born: July 11, 1994 (age 19)
Hometown: Troy, Michigan
Height: 6-1 Weight: 199

Cam Johnson is every bit as good as Clarke Saunders. He struggled early this season with the Fargo Force (2-14-3, 3.27 GAA, .909 SV%, 1 SO in 20 gp), but he has thrived since his trade to Waterloo (11-1-1, 1.86 GAA, .939 SV%, a SO in 15 gp). I think it was more the team in front of him in Fargo (the Force were the worst team in the USHL this season), and the change of scenery has done wonders for his game and his confidence.

It will definitely be a battle for the backup spot at UND between Johnson and Matt Hrynkiw. I would expect that Johnson will eventually move up the depth chart into the #2 spot behind Zane Gothberg, but it may take him the better part of his freshman season. In any event, Dave Hakstol has an embarrassment of riches in the netminder department.

These are the six players that I expect on the roster for the 2014-15 season. If there are early departures (sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi and sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz are possibilities), forward Shane Gersich (USNTDP) and defenseman Ryan Mantha (Indiana/USHL) look to be the two skaters most likely to take their spots.

For a closer look at North Dakota’s returning players, click here.

As I stated yesterday, UND should be considered one of the top five teams in the country coming into next season. Dave Hakstol returns balanced scoring, a more experienced group of defensemen, and a Hobey Baker contender in goaltender Zane Gothberg. The pieces are in place.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 11 Apr 2014

2014-15 North Dakota Hockey: The Future Is Bright

Despite Thursday night’s devastating loss to Minnesota in the Frozen Four semifinals, North Dakota hockey fans have much to be thankful for. This year’s version of the Green and White won 25 games, gave the UND faithful plenty of thrilling moments, and pushed the nation’s #1 team to the absolute limit in Philadelphia.

And next year should be even better.

One look at the roster could tell even a casual observer that head coach Dave Hakstol will have plenty more to work with in 2014-15. There are only four seniors listed, with a minimum amount of “flight risk” from underclassmen. But the cupboard is even more full than that. And here’s why:

North Dakota’s three senior skaters (Mitch MacMillan, Derek Rodwell, and Dillon Simpson) appeared in 94 games this season, scoring 13 goals and adding 23 assists for a scoring average of .3830 points per game.

It’s the other three classes that carried the load:

Juniors (6 forwards, 1 defenseman): 53 goals and 84 assists in 290 games (.4724 points/game)

Sophomores (4 forwards, 1 defenseman): 38 goals and 59 assists in 165 games (.5879 points/game)

Freshmen (2 forwards, 4 defensemen): 21 goals and 46 assists in 191 games (.3508 points/game)

And with only Derek Rodwell graduating from Thursday night’s group of 12 forwards, three of the four forward lines can remain intact, at least early in the season:

Drake Caggiula – Mark MacMillan – Michael Parks
Stephane Pattyn – Rocco Grimaldi – Luke Johnson
Bryn Chyzyk – Colten St. Clair – Andrew Panzarella

Either Coltyn Sanderson (five career games over two seasons) or Wade Murphy (19 games as a freshman) can step right into the lineup in October. And that’s not counting UND’s incoming recruits, which we’ll get to in tomorrow’s article.

Before we look at the blue line, I’ll remind the reader that in the previous off-season, Dave Hakstol had to find a way to replace 63 goals and 113 assists (176 points of offense). This time around, North Dakota loses 13 goals and 23 assists (36 points).

As for the senior class, forward Mitch MacMillan only appeared in 19 games this season (and only nine games since December 7th), registering one goal and two assists. He wasn’t in the lineup for the Frozen Four semifinal matchup against Minnesota.

Forward Derek Rodwell brought size and grit to the ice, and his effort earned him a spot in the lineup every night. Even so, it won’t be difficult to replace his offensive production – he scored 13 goals and added 11 assists in 123 career games.

Coming into this season, UND returned three defensemen (senior Dillon Simpson, junior Nick Mattson, and sophomore Jordan Schmaltz) who had played a combined 236 games on defense.

UND would not have been in the NCAA tournament without contributions from their four freshmen blueliners. Paul LaDue (41 games played, 6g-15a) and Troy Stecher (42 games, 2g-9a) were absolute warriors, while fellow rookie defensemen Keaton Thompson (26 games, 3g-5a) and Gage Ausmus (21 games, 2g-1a) were rotated in effectively as the sixth D.

North Dakota will lose Dillon Simpson to graduation, and there is no doubt that his absence will leave a definite void. The senior captain appeared in 156 games in the North Dakota sweater, potting 16 goals and notching 59 assists. He led the nation in blocked shots this season (109 in 42 games) and was recently named to the All-College Hockey News first team. There is no way that UND can replace that type of leadership with just one player.

However, next year’s top six defensemen will return with a combined 333 games of experience on the back end. I would expect that two of the defensive pairings will remain intact, with Ausmus stepping into Simpson’s spot alongside Jordan Schmaltz:

Jordan Schmaltz – Gage Ausmus
Nick Mattson– Paul LaDue
Keaton Thompson – Troy Stecher

This is a far different situation than the one Dave Hakstol faced coming into the 2013-14 season, and North Dakota will definitely improve on the 2.43 goals/game they allowed over the course of this previous campaign. It is also worth noting that as a team, UND only allowed 2.00 goals/game over the final 29 games of the season (beginning on November 30th), a far better measure of the results we should expect next year.

Over that stretch of 29 games, North Dakota only allowed more than two goals seven times (and more than three goals just once).

Dave Hakstol’s crew appears to have the goaltending picture solidified for the foreseeable future. Zane Gothberg (20-10-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO) will be a junior next season, and incoming recruit Cameron Johnson (Fargo/USHL) will compete with Matt Hrynkiw for backup duties while Johnson adjusts to the college game. Fans should also remember that Hrynkiw was named Canada’s 2012-13 national Junior A Goaltender of the Year and SJHL Goaltender of the Year after going 27-11-2 and leading the league in goals against average (1.83), save percentage (.939) and shutouts (six).

North Dakota will lose goaltender Clarke Saunders to graduation, but the transfer from Alabama-Huntsville struggled in his senior season (5-4-0, 3.22 GAA, .905 SV%) after posting much better numbers at UND in 2012-13 (13-9-4, 2.30 GAA, .917 SV%, 3 SO). Even though Saunders lost the starting job to Zane Gothberg, he was a more than capable backup, a great teammate, and an insurance policy for the coaching staff.

The only early departure risks that I see with this group are sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi (17-22-39 in 42 games played this season) and sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz (6-18-24 in 41 games). I would put both at under a ten percent chance of leaving before next season, as both would definitely benefit from another year at the college level.

North Dakota should be considered one of the top five teams in the country going into next year, along with Boston College, Miami, Michigan and Minnesota. Regardless of last night’s bitter loss, the University of North Dakota hockey program has quite a bit to be proud of and even more to look forward to. Keeping in mind that UND is hosting the NCAA West Regional next season (at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota), it would not surprise me one bit to see the Green and White in Boston, Massachusetts for the 2015 Frozen Four.

Click here for the inside scoop on North Dakota’s incoming freshmen for 2014-15.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 10 Apr 2014

2014 NCAA Frozen Four Preview: UND vs. Minnesota

In the past ten days, we’ve had plenty of time to discuss the Minnesota/North Dakota rivalry, the history of the two schools, and the 283 games played up until this point. I’ve written countless articles, kept tabs on what fans on both sides are saying in fan forums and on Twitter, and took part in a phone interview with the Associated Press for an article which appeared in the New York Times.

I’ve discussed how I’m pleased that the two schools have reached a schedule agreement and will resume the rivalry three seasons from now. North Dakota will head to Mariucci Arena during the 2016-17 season, and the Gophers will return the favor the following year (dates for each series have not been announced).

I’ve written about the twelve titles that the two teams have earned and how, for both programs, the future may be even brighter than the present. I’ve been asked countless times about the teams, the coaches, the players, and my predictions for the 2014 Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

And after all of that, it’s time to focus on tonight’s game.

Minnesota has been on top of the college hockey world for the entire season. The Gophers have won 27 games this year (against just six losses) and steamrolled through the first season of the Big Ten with a 14-3-3 record. The U of M is back in the Frozen Four for the fifth time in Don Lucia’s fifteen seasons behind the Gopher bench.

As I said in my article about the Gophers’ young roster, Minnesota has just four senior skaters – forwards Nate Condon and Tom Serratore, and defensemen Justin Holl and Jake Parenteau. The quartet has appeared in a combined 138 games this season, potting 12 goals and collecting 34 assists. It’s really been the other three classes that have made this team go. The six juniors have scored 53 goals in 2013-14, and, remarkably, the eight freshmen have potted 56.

Minnesota sophomore netminder Adam Wilcox has been even better this season than last. It is astonishing that the Hobey Baker finalist already has 50 wins to his credit (with seven shutouts). Incidentally, Michigan’s Marty Turco (1995-98) holds the record for career goaltending victories with 127.

The end of the regular season had its share of hiccups for Don Lucia’s group. The Gophers went just 6-4-1 down the stretch, losing to Ohio State in their first ever Big Ten tournament game. The Maroon and Gold rebounded in the West Regional (St. Paul, MN), throttling Robert Morris 7-3 and St. Cloud State 4-0.

Many people are saying that the Gophers’ most recent game was their most complete, well-played game of the season. If there was any program that wanted to get right back to playing, it would be Minnesota. It will be interesting to see whether the extended layoff has any effect on the team’s performance in Philadelphia.

North Dakota’s second-half surge has been well documented, but there are some underlying reasons why things turned around last December. Junior forwards Mark MacMillan and Brendan O’Donnell missed a combined eleven games due to injury, and their return has solidified the lineup. UND routinely plays three freshman defensemen (Troy Stecher, Paul LaDue, and a platoon of Gage Ausmus/Keaton Thompson), and those rookie blueliners have come a long way since the beginning of the year. And sophomore Zane Gothberg has solidified the goaltending situation after splitting time with senior Clarke Saunders in October and November. Saunders did step in for five games while his teammate was battling back from injury, but it’s been Gothberg’s crease since then.

Dave Hakstol has his team back in the Frozen Four for the sixth time in his ten seasons behind the UND bench. North Dakota played a couple of tight contests at the Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, OH), toppling former WCHA foe Wisconsin 5-2 with two empty net goals before finding a way to win against Ferris State. The Bulldogs outshot UND 26-8 over a forty minute stretch before Conner Gaarder netted the game winner in the second overtime session. The aforementioned Gothberg, who hails from Thief River Falls, Minnesota (hometown of Ralph Engelstad) stopped 44 of 45 shots in the 2-1 victory.

One question mark for tonight is how the game will be officiated. I don’t think UND wants to play a game with six power plays on each side. As always, goaltending will be huge, and both Wilcox and Gothberg have the ability to take over a game. And a final point is how the fans will support one team or the other. I’m not talking about how many Minnesota or North Dakota fans will be there. I’m wondering if fans of Boston College and Union (who play in Thursday’s first semifinal) will embrace the underdog and get behind the Green and White.

The winner of this matchup will move on to Saturday’s championship game to face either the Boston College Eagles or the Union Dutchmen. I’ve written a full preview of that matchup as well.

Minnesota Team Profile

Head Coach: Don Lucia (15th season at Minnesota, 371-188-65, .647)

National Ranking: #1
This Season: 27-6-6 overall, 14-3-3 Big Ten (1st)
Last Season: 26-9-5 overall (NCAA West Regional semifinalist), 16-7-5 WCHA (t-1st)

Team Offense: 3.51 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.2% (34 of 168)
Penalty Kill: 82.9% (107 of 129)

Key Players: Junior F Kyle Rau (14-23-37), Junior F Sam Warning (12-20-32), Junior F Travis Boyd (9-22-31), Freshman F Justin Kloos (15-15-30), Freshman F Hudson Fasching (13-16-29), Sophomore D Mike Reilly (9-23-32), Sophomore D Brady Skjei (6-7-13), Sophomore G Adam Wilcox (25-5-6, 1.89 GAA, .934 SV%, 4 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 260-132-40, .648)

National Ranking: #5
This Season: 25-13-3 overall, 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)

Team Offense: 3.07 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.44 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.4% (32 of 184)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (145 of 174)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (17-22-39), Sophomore F Michael Parks (12-18-30), Junior F Mark MacMillan (10-16-26), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (11-13-24), Freshman F Luke Johnson (8-13-21), Senior D Dillon Simpson (7-15-22), Sophomore D Jordan Schmaltz (6-17-23), Sophomore G Zane Gothberg (20-9-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: January 19, 2013 (Minneapolis, MN). North Dakota twice saw two-goal leads vanish at Mariucci Arena in the last meeting between the two teams as WCHA foes, a 4-4 tie. Nick Bjugstad and Nate Condon scored third period goals for the Gophers to send the game to overtime, and the teams combined for just one shot on net in the extra frame. Zane Gothberg made 31 saves for UND, while Adam Wilcox turned aside 22 shots.

Last meeting in the NCAA tournament: March 25, 2012 (St. Paul, MN). The Gophers got multi-point efforts from Travis Boyd, Zach Budish, and Nate Condon in a 5-2 win over North Dakota in the West Region final at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota somewhat atoned for the “timeout game” in the WCHA Final Five one week earlier, when the Fighting Sioux spotted the Maroon and Gold three goals before exploding for six of their own. The Gophers advanced to the Frozen Four, suffering a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Boston College in the national semifinals.

Most important meeting: March 24, 1979 (Detroit, MI). North Dakota and Minnesota met to decide the national championship, and the Gophers prevailed, 4-3. Neal Broten scored the game-winning goal for the U of M, and Steve Janaszak was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

All-time: Minnesota leads the all-time series by a slim margin, 138-130-15 (.514). Each team has won eight of the sixteen meetings on neutral ice. The teams first met in 1948.

All-time in the NCAA playoffs: The teams have split their previous four meetings in the national tournament. Minnesota won the 1979 title with a 4-3 victory over North Dakota, and also took down UND 5-2 in the 2012 West Region final. Dave Hakstol has defeated the Gophers twice in NCAA play. Chris Porter’s wraparound goal in overtime sent the Fighting Sioux to the 2007 Frozen Four with a 3-2 victory in the West Region final, and the Green and White also got the better of Minnesota in the 2005 Frozen Four semfinal. Erik Fabian and Travis Zajac each scored twice in North Dakota’s 4-2 win.

Last ten: The Gophers have gone 6-3-1 in the last ten meetings between the schools, outscoring UND 33-25 in those games.

Game News and Notes

Dave Hakstol is 17-14-4 against Minnesota in his head coaching career. The Gophers are 19-0-2 when leading after one period of play but just 3-4-2 when trailing after the opening twenty minutes. North Dakota is 8-3-0 in one goal games this season. In an effort to alleviate parking concerns, Minnesota fans are asked to park in Pittsburgh and walk to the Wells Fargo Center.

The Prediction

UND seems to have embraced the underdog role in this year’s Frozen Four. If head coach Dave Hakstol can get the boys playing fast and loose, they could be a handful for the Gophers. I don’t see much scoring early, as both squads feel each other out and try to avoid mistakes and turnovers. I feel more excited than nervous about this one, and that’s always a good sign. I’ll take the Green and White in a close one. North Dakota 3, Minnesota 2

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