When Scott Owen’s Colorado College squad came to Grand Forks last November, the Tigers were ranked #4 in the country with a record of 7-2-0. CC was scoring 4.33 goals per game and converting over 25% of their power play opportunities.

North Dakota allowed 9 goals to Scott Owen’s squad but came away with two victories (by scores of 7-6 and 4-3). Beginning with that weekend, the Tigers posted a disappointing 11-14-2 record the rest of the way and missed out on the WCHA Final Five and the NCAA tournament.

CC played (and lost) many close games a year ago, especially down the stretch, and this year will be no different. The Tigers have already played seven one-goal games this year, and goaltending will be key to their success. So far this season, both senior Joe Howe and junior Josh Thorimbert have shown flashes of brilliance and extended periods of unsteady play.

North Dakota has two players with over 100 career points: senior forwards Danny Kristo (123) and Corban Knight (108). There are seven other players in all of college hockey to have accomplished that feat, and UND has already played against two of them, squaring off against St. Cloud State’s Drew LeBlanc (112) and Notre Dame’s T.J. Tynan (101). This weekend, UND will go against Rylan Schwartz, who is tied with Kristo for the NCAA active scoring lead with 123 points.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Scott Owens (14th season at CC, 306-191-44, .606)
National Ranking: #18
This Season: 7-6-1 overall, 4-2-0 WCHA (t-5th)
Last Season: 18-16-2 overall, 15-12-1 WCHA (5th)

Team Offense: 3.71 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 24.4% (11 of 45)
Penalty Kill: 73.5% (36 of 49)

Key Players: Senior F Rylan Schwartz (7-10-17), Senior F William Rapuzzi (7-10-17), Senior F Scott Winkler (8-6-14), Senior D Mike Boivin (6-6-12), Junior D Eamonn McDermott (2-10-12), Senior G Joe Howe (3-3-1, 3.45 GAA, .900 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (9th season at UND, 219-110-32, .651)
National Ranking: #7
This Season: 6-4-2 overall, 3-1-2 WCHA (t-5th)
Last Season: 26-13-3 overall (NCAA West Regional Finalist), 16-11-1 WCHA (4th)

Team Offense: 3.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 15.2% (7 of 46)
Penalty Kill: 85.7% (36 of 42)

Key Players: Senior F Danny Kristo (5-9-14), Sophomore F Mark MacMillan (6-4-10), Senior F Corban Knight (2-9-11), Freshman F Rocco Grimaldi (5-3-8), Junior D Derek Forbort (3-3-6), Sophomore D Nick Mattson (1-4-5), Junior G Clarke Saunders (4-2-2, 2.09 GAA, .934 SV%, 2 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: November 26, 2011 (Grand Forks, ND). One night after North Dakota won a wild 7-6 contest (13 goals on only 41 shots), the teams got into a special teams battle, with UND prevailing 4-3. The two squads traded power play goals, with Danny Kristo’s shorthanded tally six minutes into the final frame holding up as the game winner for the Green and White.

Last Meeting in Colorado Springs: January 29, 2011. One night after falling 4-2 to homestanding Colorado College, North Dakota came out in the black jerseys and throttled the Tigers 6-0. Six different players scored for the Green and White and Aaron Dell earned the shutout with 20 saves. The win moved UND’s record in the “business suits” to 25-1-2.

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, 137-76-10 (.637), although Colorado College has a 56-47-4 (.542) edge in games played in Colorado Springs. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: North Dakota is 7-2-1 (.750) in the last ten meetings between the teams, including four straight victories. UND has only outscored CC 41-34 over the last ten games, with six of UND’s seven victories coming by a single goal.

Game News and Notes

Colorado College has been outscored 20-11 in first periods this season. With one point this weekend, Danny Kristo will tie Lee Goren, Bryan Lundbohm, and David Lundbohm for 44th on UND’s all-time scoring list. Kristo has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in seven career games against the Tigers. If you are planning to watch the webcast of this weekend’s games (via cctigers.com), beware the floating Tiger head.

The Prediction

In close, tightly-contested games, three things make the difference: team defense, goaltending, and special teams. Colorado College has the edge on the power play, but every other column favors North Dakota. If UND can adjust to the altitude and wide sheet, they could earn more than a split this weekend. I’m reversing the Friday/Saturday trend and calling for a better North Dakota performance in Saturday’s rematch, with a big first period carrying UND to victory. CC 4-2, UND 5-2.