A quick flashback to November 13th, 2009: UND entered the weekend series with St. Cloud State at 6-1-1, was ranked #2 in the country, and was scoring 3.62 goals per game and allowing 1.50. On the special teams side, North Dakota was scoring on 26% of their power play opportunities and had allowed only three power play goals in 41 chances (92.7%).

On a very unlucky Friday the 13th for the Fighting Sioux, St. Cloud junior forward Aaron Marvin met North Dakota senior defenseman Chay Genoway with a high elbow, sending Genoway into the glass and to the ice. UND’s captain and preseason All-American has not returned to game action (post-concussion syndrome) and the Green and White have struggled in his absence.

Since that game, North Dakota is 6-9-4 and is scoring 2.47 goals per contest while allowing 2.53. After converting on 13 of 50 man advantage opportunities with Genoway in the lineup, the Fighting Sioux have potted only 16 goals on 103 power plays (15.5%) in his absence.

There has been much debate this week regarding whether one of Genoway’s teammates will attempt to exact retribution against Marvin for his illegal hit; it is my opinion that the best way to do that would be on the scoreboard rather than attempting to injure an opponent.

For St. Cloud, the opening of the year 2010 was stellar. The Huskies won their first nine games after the calendar turned, but have just one victory in the past three games. During the current twelve game stretch (10-1-1), St. Cloud has converted better than 28 percent of their power play opportunities.

After this weekend’s series, SCSU will travel to Wisconsin for a pair before playing a home and home with Minnesota State Mankato to close out the regular season.

SCSU head coach Bob Motzko has been rotating netminders, playing junior Dan Dunn on Fridays and freshman Mike Lee on Saturdays. That cycle will continue in the series against the Fighting Sioux.

This weekend, the teams will be earning points for the UND/SCSU Challenge Cup, a traveling fan trophy awarded to the team which wins the four-game season series. The teams split the series in Grand Forks, so the Cup is on the line this weekend and will be awarded in St. Cloud on February 13, 2010. North Dakota has won at least a share of the Challenge Cup each of the past three seasons.

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: (Bob Motzko, 5th season at SCSU, 99-68-23, .582)
National Ranking: #4/#4
PairWise Ranking: 4th
This Season: 18-8-4, 13-6-3 WCHA (t-1st)
Last Season: 18-17-3 overall, 13-13-2 WCHA (6th)
Team Offense: 3.27 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.6% (33 of 160)
Penalty Kill: 85.7% (108 of 126)
Key Players: Junior F Garrett Roe (11-22-33), Junior F Tony Mosey (10-16-26), Senior F Ryan Lasch (15-18-33), Senior D Garrett Raboin (5-13-18), Freshman G Mike Lee (8-6-3, 2.39 GAA, .923 SV%, 1 SO), Junior G Dan Dunn (10-2-1, 2.55 GAA, .914 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (6th season at UND, 143-81-24, .625)
National Ranking: #11/#11
PairWise Ranking: t-11th
This Season: 13-10-5, 8-9-3 WCHA (6th)
Last Season: 24-15-4 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 17-7-4 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 2.86 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.21 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.0% (29 of 153)
Penalty Kill: 86.6% (123 of 142)
Key Players: Sophomore F Jason Gregoire (13-10-23), Senior F Chris VandeVelde (9-12-21), Freshman F Danny Kristo (8-12-20), Junior F Evan Trupp (5-16-21), Junior D Derrick LaPoint (1-11-12), Sophomore G Brad Eidsness (12-7-4, 2.26 GAA, .906 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: November 14, 2009 (Grand Forks, ND). One night after defeating St. Cloud but losing Chay Genoway, the Huskies scored the first three goals of the game and downed the Fighting Sioux 3-2 to earn a split of the weekend series.

Last Meeting in St. Cloud: January 31, 2009. North Dakota rebounds to defeat St. Cloud State 4-2 after suffering their first shutout loss of the season in Friday’s opener (3-0). Senior captain Ryan Duncan scored the game-winner for the Fighting Sioux.

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, 51-28-10 (.629), and holds a record of 20-15-5 (.563) in games played in St. Cloud.

Game News and Notes

St, Cloud has not won a game this season when trailing after one period of play (0-3-3), but the Huskies are doubling up opponents (38 goals scored, 19 allowed) in the opening frame. UND sophomore goaltender Brad Eidsness is 4-1 in his career against St. Cloud. SCSU head coach Bob Motzko will be looking to pick up his 100th win this weekend. Under the new 12-team schedule rotation beginning next season, the Fighting Sioux and Huskies will continue to play four regular season games each year.

The Prediction

The last two times North Dakota has traveled to St. Cloud, the Fighting Sioux have lost on Friday and won on Saturday. I think UND will reverse the trend this weekend with a strong first period on Friday night. In Saturday’s rematch, tempers will flare and the Huskies power play will be the difference. UND 3-2, SCSU 4-1.

If this prediction holds, North Dakota and St. Cloud State will share the Challenge Cup for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

On a Personal Note

I look forward to this series every year because of the unique relationship we have with the Center Ice Club, the official hockey booster organization for the St. Cloud State University Huskies. On behalf of the Center Ice Club, I would like to invite you to the UND/SCSU pre-game social on Saturday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Legends Grill and Bar in the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in St. Cloud. This is a great opportunity to meet fans on both sides of the rivalry, share in some complimentary food and door prizes, and view the Challenge Cup. This event is free and open to all fans 21 and older.