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Published by Dave Berger on 29 Nov 2013

Weekend Preview: UND vs. St. Lawrence

These non-conference matchups are critical for both schools, as both UND and St. Lawrence hope to be in the mix for the NCAA tournament at the end of the year. Over the past eight-plus seasons, North Dakota has taken advantage of its non-league games, going 41-14-12 (.701) over that stretch.

UND opened its non-conference season at home (taking three points from visiting Vermont) before managing just a tie in two games at Boston University. After the series this weekend, North Dakota will host Northern Michigan (6-5-1, 4-2-0 WCHA) and play a home-and-home series with Bemidji State (5-7-2, 5-4-1 WCHA).

St. Lawrence is 4th in the nation in goals per game (3.86) and 4th in power play percentage (28 percent).
The Saints have been dreadful on the penalty kill, allowing 16 power play goals on the young season.
SLU is also one of the few teams in college hockey allowing more goals/game than North Dakota, surrendering 3.64 goals per contest to UND’s 3.25.

On the injury front, North Dakota will be playing without several key forwards against the Saints. Mark MacMillan and Colten St. Clair continue to be unavailable, while Derek Rodwell’s status is questionable. Junior forward Brendan O’Donnell returned to the UND lineup last weekend against the Terriers and played perhaps his best game in green and white on Saturday night. To make up for the shortage up front, head coach Dave Hakstol will move defenseman Andrew Panzerella to forward for the Subway Holiday Classic.

St. Lawrence Team Profile

Head Coach: Greg Carvel (2nd season at SLU, 25-21-6, .538)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 7-5-2, 2-2-2 ECAC (t-7th)
Last Season: 18-16-4, 9-9-4 ECAC (t-5th)

Team Offense: 3.86 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.64 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 27.9% (19 of 68)
Penalty Kill: 76.1% (51 of 67)

Key Players: Senior F Greg Carey (9-15-24), Freshman F Matt Carey (8-9-17), Senior F Jeremy Wick (5-9-14), Senior D Justin Baker (4-9-13) Freshman D Gavin Bayreuther (4-7-11), Senior G Matt Weninger (5-4-2, 3.57 GAA, .872 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 239-125-39, .641)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 4-6-2, 3-5-0 NCHC (4th)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)

Team Offense: 2.67 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.25 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.2% (10 of 52)
Penalty Kill: 85.7% (54 of 63)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (4-7-11), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (4-4-8), Sophomore F Michael Parks (3-6-9), Senior D Dillon Simpson (1-5-6), Junior D Nick Mattson (1-5-6), Sophomore G Zane Gothberg (2-5-2, 2.84 GAA, .906 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: December 30, 2006 (Hanover, NH). UND tripped up St. Lawrence 4-2 in the championship game of the Ledyard National Bank Classic behind two goals from Ryan Duncan, who was named tournament MVP. North Dakota came into the weekend on a four-game losing streak but righted the ship behind stellar play from goaltender Phillippe Lamoureux, Duncan, Robbie Bina, and T.J. Oshie, who were all named to the all-tournament team.

Last meeting in Grand Forks: November 25, 2000. St. Larwrence scored the first two goals of the game but could not contain Wes Dorey (two goals) and Travis Roche (one goal, two assists) as the Fighting Sioux toppled SLU 4-2. Jeff Panzer, Kevin Spiewak, and Bryan Lundbohm also had multi-point nights for North Dakota, which also won Friday’s opener, 6-1.

Most important meeting: February 20 and 21, 1987 (Grand Forks, ND). The Hrkac Circus dismantled St. Lawrence in a best-of-three NCAA quarterfinal series, taking down the Saints 3-1 and 6-3 on their way to the program’s fifth national championship.

All-time record: UND leads the all-time series, 11-1-0 (.917), including a perfect 6-0-0 mark in games played in Grand Forks. North Dakota’s only loss to SLU was in Canton, New York during the 1981-82 season, a campaign that also ended in an NCAA title for the Fighting Sioux.

Last Ten: UND has won nine of the previous ten games between the schools, outscoring the Saints 47-21 over that stretch of games.

Game News and Notes

UND is unbeaten in its last four Subway Holiday Classic weekends (6-0-2, .875), and is 15-5-2 (.727) all-time at the event. St. Lawrence has been a member of the ECAC since 1961 and has won the regular season title twice (2000 and 2007). North Dakota put 96 shots on net last weekend against Boston University but scored only four goals. SLU senior forward Greg Carey has collected 152 points in his NCAA career, the most among active players. Carey, a Hobey Baker finalist last season, has scored 33 of his 75 career goals with the man advantage.

The Prediction

Often, when two teams haven’t played in a while, the first period or two of the first game are played pretty close to the vest, without much action either way. I feel like this weekend’s games will be wide open from the outset, with plenty of chances for both teams. It’ll come down to special teams and goaltending, with a late power play on Saturday night salvaging a tie for the visiting Saints. UND 5-4, 4-4 tie.

Published by Dave Berger on 06 Apr 2011

Frozen Four Preview: UND vs. Michigan

The top two hockey programs in NCAA history will square off today with a chance to advance to the 2011 national title game. The Michigan Wolverines are seeking their 10th NCAA championship, while North Dakota is looking to hoist banner number eight.

It is worth noting that Michigan collected six national championships by 1956. In the past 55 years, the Wolverines have three. During that same span (1957-2010), the Fighting Sioux have won seven national titles.

The Fighting Sioux enter the tournament on a 15-game unbeaten streak (14-0-1), and boast a win total (32) good for third place all-time among North Dakota hockey teams (the 1986-87 championship team collected 40 victories, while the 1981-82 championship team notched 35).

Much has been made of North Dakota’s familiarity with Xcel Energy Center, and that part is true: UND has won its last five games in St. Paul, including a recent WCHA Final Five tournament title. But it’s also important to remember that while the Fighting Sioux are 17-4-2 (.783) on the road this season, the Wolverines are a far more pedestrian 12-8-3 (.587).

Michigan rode a pair of one-goal victories over Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College to advance to the Frozen Four, while North Dakota steamrolled Rensselaer and Denver by a combined score of 12-1.

UND’s Dave Hakstol has led North Dakota for seven seasons, capturing two WCHA regular season titles, three WCHA Final Five championships, and five Frozen Four appearances. Michigan’s Red Berenson won titles with the Wolverines in 1996 and 1998, and has his team in the Frozen Four for the second time since 2003.

The Maize and Blue have played in the NCAA tournament in each of the past 21 seasons. Incidentally, the next longest active streak belongs to New Hampshire (11). Before this current stretch, Michigan had appeared in the national tournament once between 1964 and 1991.

The winner of this game will advance to the 2011 Frozen Four championship game and face either Notre Dame or Minnesota-Duluth in the finals. The Fighting Irish and Bulldogs are each looking for their first national title.

Michigan Team Profile

Head Coach: Red Berenson (27th season at Michigan, 727-338-73, .671)
This Season: 28-10-4 overall, 20-7-1-0 CCHA (1st)
Last Season: 26-18-1 overall (NCAA Midwest Regional finalist), 14-13-1 CCHA (7th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-5th
National Rankings: #6/#2
Team Offense: 3.38 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.26 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.2% (33 of 181)
Penalty Kill: 83.1% (157 of 189)
Key Players: Senior F Carl Hagelin (18-30-48), Senior F Louie Caporusso (11-19-30), Senior F Matt Rust (5-20-25), Senior D Scooter Vaughan (13-10-23), Freshman D Jon Merrill (7-17-24), Senior G Shawn Hunwick (21-8-4, 2.26 GAA, .922 SV%, 3 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 187-92-27, .655)
This Season: 32-8-3 overall, 21-6-1 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: 2nd
National Rankings: #1/#1
Team Offense: 4.14 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.14 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.3% (52 of 223)
Penalty Kill: 86.0% (172 of 200)
Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (36-24-60), Junior F Jason Gregoire (25-18-43), Sophomore F Corban Knight (14-30-44), Senior F Evan Trupp (17-24-41), Senior F/D Jake Marto (8-11-19), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-15-15), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (30-6-2, 1.81 GAA, .924 SV%, 6 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 24, 2007 (Denver, CO). In the semifinals of the NCAA West Regional, North Dakota scored five power play goals to defeat the Wolverines. The Maize and Blue scored two opening minute goals in the first period and matched that feat with two early markers in the middle frame, but the Fighting Sioux fought back to advance to the regional final.

Last Ten Games: North Dakota holds a record of 6-3-1 (.650) in the last ten meetings between the schools, and the Fighting Sioux are unbeaten in the series since 1998.

All-time Series: Michigan leads the series 45-40-4 (.528), but North Dakota has won two of the three NCAA tournament games between the schools.

Game News and Notes

Michigan last defeated North Dakota in March of 1998, handing that Fighting Sioux team just its eighth loss of the season. UND has outscored opponents 78-20 during its current 15-game unbeaten streak. The Fighting Sioux are 24-3-2 (.862) since Thanksgiving; Michigan, 20-7-1 (.732). Today’s semifinal game will be covered on ESPN2, with live coverage of the Frozen Four viewing party at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Prediction

UND has small edges in almost every area on the ice: specialty teams, goaltending, depth, experience, and top-end talent. Michigan needs to score first to keep the crowd out of the game. I think this one will be tied going into the third period, with North Dakota’s depth shining through. UND 4-2.

Bonus Frozen Four Prediction:

In the first semifinal, Minnesota Duluth will ride the goaltending of Kenny Reiter and the FCC line (Fontaine, Connolly, and Connolly) to their first national title game since 1984. UMD 3-1.

National Championship Prediction:

I have a sneaking suspicion that the all-WCHA final will go into overtime and perhaps even longer, with North Dakota topping the Bulldogs in a championship game for the ages. UND 5-4 (OT).

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Published by Dave Berger on 26 Mar 2011

NCAA Tournament Preview: UND vs. Denver

Sioux senior forward Matt Frattin has now scored a goal in nine straight games, and his 36 goals this season place him in the top ten among North Dakota’s all-time single season goal scorers. Frattin would need four more goals to break into the top five, a list that includes Bob Joyce (52 goals in 1986-87), Tony Hrkac (46 in 1986-87), Doug Smail (43 in 1979-80), Russ Romaniuk (40 in 1990-91), and Ben Cherski (40 in 1953-54).

During UND’s current 14 game unbeaten streak (13-0-1), Frattin has notched 16 goals and added 13 assists for 29 points (2.07 points per game).

In Denver’s last twelve contests, the Pioneers are 7-5-0. Three of DU’s last four games have gone to overtime, including last night’s double overtime victory over Western Michigan.

The Pioneers had an interesting cycle broken at the 2011 WCHA Final Five. Had the Pioneers defeated North Dakota in the title game, they would have continued their string of WCHA playoff championships every three years (1999, 2002, 2005, 2008).

After winning back-to-back national championships in 2004 and 2005, the Pios missed the NCAA tournament for two seasons before making a return in 2008. DU has played in the NCAAs the past four seasons, while North Dakota is making their ninth straight appearance.

Denver’s George Gwozdecky has been behind the bench for 17 seasons, leading the Pioneers to three WCHA regular season titles, four WCHA Final Five championships, and two national championships. UND’s Dave Hakstol has led North Dakota for seven seasons, capturing two WCHA regular season titles, three WCHA Final Five championships, and four Frozen Four appearances.

The winner of this game will advance to the 2011 Frozen Four (St. Paul, MN) and face Michigan in the semifinals. The Michigan Wolverines have nine national titles to their credit, while the Denver Pioneers and North Dakota Fighting Sioux each claim seven.

The other half of the Frozen Four bracket claims much less hardware. Minnesota-Duluth will face either Notre Dame or New Hampshire in the other semifinal in St. Paul. All three of those teams are looking for their first national championship.

There has been no official word on Sioux center Brock Nelson’s injury, although the team does not expect him back in the lineup against Denver.

Denver Team Profile

Head Coach: George Gwozdecky (17th season at DU, 398-238-55 .616)

This Season: 25-11-5 overall, 17-8-3 WCHA (2nd)
Last Season: 27-10-4 Overall (NCAA East Regional Semifinalist), 19-5-4 WCHA (1st)

Pairwise Ranking: 7th
National Rankings: #5/#5

Team Offense: 3.29 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.61 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.0% (35 of 184)
Penalty Kill: 86.3% (164 of 190)

Key Players: Freshman F Jason Zucker (22-22-44), Senior F Kyle Ostrow (15-13-28), Senior F Drew Shore (23-23-46), Senior F Anthony Maiani (8-28-36), Freshman D David Makowski (6-23-29), Sophomore D Matt Donovan (9-23-32), Freshman G Sam Brittain (19-8-5, 2.20 GAA, .924 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 186-92-27, .653)
This Season: 31-8-3 overall, 21-6-1 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: 2nd
National Rankings: #1/#1

Team Offense: 4.05 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.22 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.0% (48 of 209)
Penalty Kill: 85.1% (160 of 188)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (36-23-59), Junior F Jason Gregoire (25-17-42), Sophomore F Corban Knight (14-30-44), Senior F Evan Trupp (16-24-40), Senior F/D Jake Marto (7-11-18), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-15-15), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (29-6-2, 1.83 GAA, .923 SV%, 6 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 19, 2011 (St. Paul, MN). North Dakota and Denver needed two overtimes to decide the WCHA Final Five championship, and Matt Frattin provided the knockout punch. Frattin also netted the game-winner against Colorado College one night earlier and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Exactly one year earlier, North Dakota knocked off the #1-seeded Pioneers to advance to the Final Five title game.

Last Meeting in the NCAA tournament: April 9, 2005 (St. Louis, MO). Denver’s Paul Stastny (two goals and one assist) and Peter Mannino (44 saves) led the Pioneers to a 4-1 victory in the 2005 national championship game. Travis Zajac scored the only goal for North Dakota, who put 23 shots on net in the third period alone but came up empty.

Most Important Meeting: It’s hard to pick just one game, as the two teams have played four times for the national title. Denver defeated UND for the national championship in 1958, 1968, and 2005, while the Sioux downed the Pioneers in 1963.

Last Ten Games: Denver has had a slight edge lately, going 5-4-1 (.550) in the last ten meetings between the schools.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 132-115-8 (.533).

Game News and Notes

Denver freshman forward Jason Zucker scored three goals in a weekend series at North Dakota in October but was held off the scoresheet against UND at the WCHA Final Five. North Dakota is the only #1 seed remaining in the NCAA tournament (Boston College, Miami, and Yale lost this weekend). Hobey Baker hopeful Matt Frattin has 47 goals in his last 55 games. In this year’s playoffs (five games) the Pioneers have outscored opponents 13-1 in the third period. UND sophomore netminder Aaron Dell notched his 29th victory of the season against RPI, tying Ed Belfour’s single season record at North Dakota.

The Prediction

Denver has talent, grit, and resiliency, and they are never out of a game until the final whistle. That being said, UND is on a mission this season, and they have their sights set on the Frozen Four. This game will be an instant classic and could go either way. The Pioneers had to settle for second place in the WCHA regular season and at the Final Five, and they’ll end up in the same spot again. North Dakota 4-3.

Published by Dave Berger on 26 Mar 2011

NCAA Tournament Preview: UND vs. Rensselaer

RPI head coach Seth Appert left the coaching staff at Denver University following the 2005-06 season, and in his first three years behind the bench for the Engineers, he collected 31 victories (31-68-14).

With a victory today, North Dakota would collect its 31st victory of the 2010-11 season.

To be fair, Appert has turned things around at Rensselaer. Last season, RPI finished above .500 (18-17-4), and this year, the Engineers are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. Rensselaer won the ECAC playoff title that season, and has not collected any hardware since then, a span of 15 years.

Since 1995, North Dakota has won six WCHA regular season titles, four WCHA playoff championships, and two national titles among 13 NCAA tournament appearances and seven trips the Frozen Four.

RPI senior forward Chase Polacek is the two-time ECAC player of the year and a Hobey Baker finalist this season. 11 of his 21 goals have come with the man advantage, and he has nine game winners to his credit.

North Dakota boasts a Hobey finalist of their own in senior forward Matt Frattin, who netted both game winners last weekend at the WCHA Final Five. Frattin’s 35 goals lead the nation, and he is almost certain to find his name in the Hobey Hat Trick later this month.

Rensselaer hasn’t played since March 6th, when they were bounced by Colgate in double overtime in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. RPI has won only twice in the last nine games (2-6-1), with three of those losses coming in overtime. To be be fair, goaltender Allen York was sick or injured for the majority of that stretch.

UND is unbeaten in their last 13 games (12-0-1), outscoring opponents 66-19 in that span. It is worth noting that two of those victories came against Colorado College by scores of 6-0 and 4-3.

In one-goal games this season, North Dakota is 8-3-0, while RPI is a pedestrian 8-8-0. Away from home, the Engineers are 7-6-3, while the Fighting Sioux boast a 12-4-2 mark on the road.

Sioux junior forward Jason Gregoire (undisclosed injury) has been practicing with the team and is expected to be in the lineup this afternoon.

North Dakota should be able to roll four lines and play whichever style the Engineers bring to the ice today. Goaltending is the great equalizer in playoff hockey, however, and RPI’s Allen York is capable of keeping his team in any contest.

Rensselaer Team Profile

Head Coach: (Seth Appert, 5th season at RPI, 69-97-23, .426)
This Season: 20-12-5 overall, 11-9-2 ECAC (t-4th)
Last Season: 18-17-4 overall, 10-9-3 ECAC (t-5th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-13th
National Rankings: #16/#15
Team Offense: 2.97 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.27 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.3% (36 of 197)
Penalty Kill: 84.8% (162 of 191)
Key Players: Senior F Chase Polacek (21-27-48), Senior F Tyler Helfrich (14-24-38), Freshman F Brock Higgs (9-12-21), Sophomore D Nick Bailen (8-28-36), Junior D Mike Bergin (2-16-18), Junior G Allen York (18-10-4, 2.05 GAA, .927 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 185-92-27, .653)
This Season: 30-8-3, 21-6-1 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: 2nd
National Rankings: #1/#1
Team Offense: 4.05 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.22 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.0% (48 of 209)
Penalty Kill: 85.1% (160 of 188)
Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (35-22-57), Junior F Jason Gregoire (24-17-41), Sophomore F Corban Knight (13-29-42), Senior F Evan Trupp (16-21-37), Senior F/D Jake Marto (7-11-18), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-15-15), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (28-6-2, 1.88 GAA, .921 SV%, 5 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: January 13, 1990 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota completed the sweep of the visiting Engineers with a 5-3 victory after downing RPI 2-1 a night earlier. Current Sioux coaches Dave Hakstol and Dane Jackson were players on that UND team, while Cary Eades was an assistant on the coaching staff.

Most important meetings: March 16 and 17, 1984 (Troy, NY). The only previous NCAA tournament games between the schools came in March of 1984, when the Fighting Sioux swept the quarterfinal series, 5-4 and 4-2.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 7-1-0 (.875). Rensselaer’s only victory over North Dakota came on November 24, 1984, when RPI crushed the homestanding Sioux 8-2 in Grand Forks.

Game News and Notes

Before today’s matchup in the Midwest regional (Green Bay, WI), the Sioux and Engineers had only played in two locations: Troy, New York (1960, 1981, and 1984) and Grand Forks, ND (1984 and 1990). North Dakota is 17-3-1 (.833) since Christmas and enters the NCAA tournament on a season-long 13-game unbeaten streak (12-0-1).

The Prediction

Everything points to North Dakota in this one. UND has the experience, talent, depth, and tenacity to shut down the Engineers. The only question is how the games will be officiated, as the Fighting Sioux prefer to play fast and physical. If North Dakota gives Rensselaer five or more power plays, it could be a close one. UND 4-2.

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.

Published by Dave Berger on 04 Mar 2011

Weekend Preview: UND at Michigan Tech

It’s been a rough season for the Michigan Tech Huskies. In fact, it’s been a rough three seasons.

Jamie Russell’s squad has won only four games in 2010-11. To put that in perspective, North Dakota won five games in February (5-0-1). At one point, the Huskies went on a winless streak of historic proportions, going 0-23-2 with a stretch of 15 straight losses.

In the past three seasons, MTU has won 15 games (15-81-12). The Fighting Sioux have won 15 games in the past three months (15-3-1).

So it’s no surprise that visiting North Dakota is the heavy favorite in the matchup this weekend and when the teams play at UND in the first round of the WCHA playoffs next week.

But there are signs of improvement for Michigan Tech. The Huskies have only allowed six more power play goals than they’ve scored this season, much better than the -48 they posted over the past two seasons. Although their power play and penalty kill numbers are still dreadful, the biggest difference is that MTU is staying out of the box.

The other bright spot for the Huskies has been the play of their freshman class. Three of the top seven point producers for MTU are first-year players, and as a class, the top six rookies have scored 24 goals and added 43 assists in 201 combined games played.

On the negative side for MTU is team defense and goaltending. Opponents are averaging over 36 shots on goal per game, sophomore G Kevin Genoe is routinely left out to dry, and the team has only allowed two goals or less 5 times all season.

By comparison, UND has allowed two goals or less 22 times this year, and are allowing opponents an average of 24 shots on goal per game.

If you factor in team offense (MTU is scoring 2.09 goals per game; UND 3.74), it’s easy to see why the records are mirror images of each other (MTU 4-26-4, UND 24-8-3).

Despite all of the numbers, it will be very difficult for North Dakota to beat Michigan Tech (or any opponent, for that matter) four consecutive times. I expect one game each weekend to be a close contest, and if the Huskies can get great goaltending, they could steal a game and make UND’s road to the WCHA Final Five very interesting.

In the chase for the MacNaughton Cup (WCHA regular season champion), the Fighting Sioux have clinched at least a share and would capture the trophy outright with at least one point this weekend.

Michigan Tech Team Profile

Head Coach: (Jamie Russell, 8th season at MTU, 70-193-37, .295)

This Season: 4-26-4, 2-22-2 WCHA (12th)
Last Season: 5-30-1 overall, 4-24-0 WCHA (10th)
Pairwise Ranking: NR
National Rankings: NR/NR

Team Offense: 2.09 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 4.15 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.0% (24 of 141)
Penalty Kill: 76.9% (100 of 130)

Key Players: Sophomore F Milos Gordic (15-6-21), Freshman F Ryan Furne (11-9-20), Freshman F Jacob Johnstone (4-14-18), Senior D Deron Cousens (2-18-20), Sophomore D Steven Seigo (4-13-17), Sophomore G Kevin Genoe (3-15-2, 3.61 GAA, .893 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 179-92-27, .646)

This Season: 24-8-3, 19-6-1 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: 2nd
National Rankings: #1/#1

Team Offense: 3.74 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.34 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.7% (40 of 184)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (137 of 163)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (27-15-42), Junior F Jason Gregoire (17-14-31), Sophomore F Corban Knight (13-24-37), Senior F Evan Trupp (14-17-31), Senior F/D Jake Marto (6-9-15), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-13-13), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (23-6-2, 1.98 GAA, .918 SV%, 4 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 6, 2010 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota rallied from a two goal deficit to defeat the visiting Huskies 3-2 and secure a weekend sweep. UND forward Jason Gregoire potted two goals and Mario Lamoureux added the game winner midway through the third period.

Last Meeting in Houghton: November 7, 2009. MTU jumped all over the Sioux early but got into penalty trouble in the middle frame, taking four straight penalties. North Dakota’s Evan Trupp scored two goals in the 4-1 UND victory. A night earlier, the Green and White won 4-2.

Most Important Meeting: The Sioux and Huskies have never met in the NCAA tournament, so I will go with the most important meeting that never was: in 1965, the Sioux lost to Boston College, 4-3, one game short of the national championship game, where they would have faced the Michigan Tech Huskies, who won the second of their three titles by defeating the Eagles. UND settled for third place that season, downing Brown University, 9-5. North Dakota went 13-3-0 in the regular season in 1964-65, with two of those three losses coming at the hands of Michigan Tech.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 140-90-9 (.605), including a slight edge (59-55-5, .517) in games played in Houghton. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: UND has posted an 8-1-1 (.850) record in the last ten games between the teams. Michigan Tech’s lone victory in that stretch came at the Great Lakes Invitational (Detroit, MI). The Fighting Sioux have outscored the Huskies 36-16 in the last ten games.

Game News and Notes:

UND and Michigan Tech will also meet in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. It will mark the third time in the last four years that North Dakota hosts the Huskies in the postseason. Michigan Tech has not played in the NCAA tournament since 1981, but advanced to the WCHA Final Five in 2007. Sioux senior forward Matt Frattin joined UND’s Century Club last weekend (100 career points), and two of his teammates are close to that milestone. Senior Evan Trupp (98 career points) and junior Jason Gregoire (97) could find the score sheet often enough this weekend to reach 100.

The Prediction

I’ve got Friday’s opener as all North Dakota, with Michigan Tech sending a message in the rematch that next weekend’s playoff series will not be easy for the Green and White. UND 5-1, 4-3.

Published by Dave Berger on 25 Feb 2011

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Bemidji State

Bemidji State had a rough introduction to the WCHA. In addition to losing their first two games at home to North Dakota by identical 5-2 scores, the Beavers didn’t find their third victory of the season until November 27th. To put that in perspective, North Dakota had won nine games by that point.

That victory over Northern Michigan, coupled with a home sweep over Nebraska-Omaha the following weekend, gave the BSU faithful some hope. Since that time, however, Tom Serratore’s squad has gone just 7-6-3 and are almost certainly going on the road for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Bemidji State is currently in 9th place in the league, tied with the other two “State”s (MSU-Mankato and St. Cloud). If the Beavers are looking to move up in the standings and host playoff games at the BREC, they will need a split (or better) this weekend.

North Dakota hasn’t missed a beat since losing defenseman Chay Genoway (lower body injury) and forward Danny Kristo (frostbite). The team has clicked in their absence, and the return of forwards Jason Gregoire (7-7-14 in his last eight games) and Brett Hextall (5-2-7 in his last five) has softened the blow somewhat.

There is an outside chance that league-leading UND would hoist the MacNaughton Cup (WCHA regular season championship trophy) this weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena. A sweep, coupled with some help (Denver, Duluth, and Nebraska-Omaha are all within three points, with DU and UNO playing each other) could lead to a celebration on Sunday afternoon.

And a final word about the ice conditions: REA is hosting the North Dakota state boys’ and girls’ hockey championships this weekend, in addition to the UND mens’ hockey series against Bemidji State. Kudos to the staff and crew at REA for keeping the ice in great shape over this stretch of games.

Bemidji State Team Profile

Head Coach: Tom Serratore (10th season at BSU, 175-142-37 .547)
This Season: 12-14-4, 8-12-4 WCHA (t-9th)
Last Season: 23-10-4 (NCAA Midwest Regional semifinalist), 14-3-1 CHA (1st)
Pairwise Ranking: 29th
National Rankings: NR/NR

Team Offense: 2.30 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.47 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.6% (21 of 102)
Penalty Kill: 82.6% (114 of 138)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Read (16-12-28), Senior F Ian Lowe (11-12-23), Sophomore F Jordan George (14-17-31), Junior D Brad Hunt (1-16-17), Freshman D Sam Rendle (3-8-11), Junior G Dan Bakala (11-9-3, 2.17 GAA, .925 SV%, 3 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 177-92-27, .644)
This Season: 22-8-3, 17-6-1 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: 2nd
National Rankings: #1/#1

Team Offense: 3.67 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.39 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.7% (34 of 173)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (131 of 156)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (24-14-38), Junior F Jason Gregoire (14-14-28), Sophomore F Corban Knight (13-20-33), Senior F Evan Trupp (13-15-28), Senior F/D Jake Marto (5-7-12), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-13-13), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (21-6-2, 2.02 GAA, .919 SV%, 4 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: October 16, 2010 (Bemidji, MN). North Dakota defeated the Beavers 5-2 to earn the road sweep after downing BSU one night earlier by the identical score. Matt Frattin scored four goals and added an assist in the weekend series.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: January 3, 2009. The Fighting Sioux scored a power play goal thirty seconds into overtime to upend the visiting Beavers 4-3. BSU had tallied its own man-advantage marker midway through the third period to tie the score. North Dakota doubled BSU in the shot department, 40-20.

Most Important Meeting: October 15, 2010 (Bemidji, MN). In the first game played at the BREC (Bemidji Regional Events Center), 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 has won the last ten meetings between the teams by a combined score of 40-18. One of the victories came in overtime.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 19-1-1 (.929), including a 12-1-1 (.893) record in games played in Grand Forks. BSU’s lone victory over North Dakota came on February 7, 1990.

Game News and Notes:

UND clinched home ice for the opening round of the WCHA playoffs for the ninth consecutive year, the longest active streak in the league. North Dakota forwards Matt Frattin (97 career points) and Evan Trupp (96 career points) could join UND’s Century Club this weekend. This season, Bemidji State is 9-1-1 when leading after two periods and 1-9-1 when trailing after two periods. The Fighting Sioux senior class has scored nearly half (60 of 121) of the team’s goals this season. The Beavers are riding a five game unbeaten streak (3-0-2). Sophomore Aaron Dell has started the last twenty games in net for North Dakota (14-3-2, 1.84 GAA, .930 SV%, 3 SO in that span).

The Prediction

The afternoon games are always tricky to predict, but North Dakota has been on a roll and the only thing that could derail the train is BSU’s line of Jordan George, Ian Lowe, and Matt Read. I’m seeing two close games, with UND’s depth (watch for scoring from unexpected places this weekend) proving to be the difference. UND 4-2, 3-2.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Published by Dave Berger on 18 Feb 2011

Weekend Preview: UND vs. St. Cloud State

It’s the middle of February, and St. Cloud State sits behind Alaska-Anchorage in the league standings.

I’m not sure I’m as good at predictions as some of you think I am, for reasons I’m about to illustrate:

Before the season started, I picked St. Cloud to finish 2nd and Anchorage to finish 11th. According to Jim Dahl’s “possible outcomes” thread, SCSU can finish no higher than 3rd, and those possibilities look even more remote with North Dakota coming to town.

In October, the Huskies appeared to be locked and loaded to challenge UND for the league title, with the only question mark on the blue line. At this point in the season, SCSU is loaded with question marks. Bob Motzko’s squad went on a seven-game unbeaten streak, but that was bookended with seven losses by a combined score of 30-10.

The road doesn’t get any easier as SCSU struggles to gain home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. After a home series against the Fighting Sioux, the Huskies host Wisconsin and travel to Denver to close out the regular season.

North Dakota clinched home ice and moved into first place in the league with a home sweep last weekend. UND has the easiest remaining schedule of the MacNaughton contenders, with a home series against Bemidji State and a road trip to Michigan Tech on the schedule.

Since losing defenseman Chay Genoway (lower body injury) and forward Danny Kristo (frostbite), the Fighting Sioux have played some of their best hockey of the season. The return of forwards Brett Hextall and Jason Gregoire from injury has helped in that regard. Gregoire, in particular, has been an offensive catalyst, notching twelve points in eight games since his return to the lineup.

UND goaltender Aaron Dell notched his 20th victory of the season last weekend against Alaska-Anchorage, and has looked steady all season long. In addition to four shutouts, Dell has allowed a single goal in seven other starts. Junior netminder Brad Eidsness might not see the crease again this year.

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. North Dakota swept the series in Grand Forks and will claim the trophy outright with at least one point in the series. The Cup will be awarded in St. Cloud on Saturday. February 19th. Including this year, North Dakota has won at least a share of the Challenge Cup each of the past five seasons.

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: Bob Motzko (6th season at SCSU, 117-88-28, .562)
This Season: 12-14-4, 8-11-3 WCHA (9th)
Last Season: 24-14-5 (NCAA West Regional finalist), 15-9-4 WCHA (3rd)
Pairwise Ranking: t-26th
National Rankings: NR/NR

Team Offense: 2.90 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.00 goal sallowed/game
Power Play: 16.8% (29 of 173)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (110 of 132)

Key Players: Senior F Garrett Roe (6-22-28), Junior F Drew LeBlanc (12-23-35), Junior F Jared Festler (11-7-18), Freshman D Nick Jensen (5-11-16), Senior D Brett Barta (1-10-11), Sophomore G Mike Lee (10-10-3, 2.83 GAA, .905 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 176-92-26, .643)
This Season: 21-8-2, 16-6-0 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: 3rd
National Rankings: #2/#2

Team Offense: 3.71 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.39 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.8% (32 of 162)
Penalty Kill: 85.1% (126 of 148)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (22-13-35), Senior F Brad Malone (9-17-26), Sophomore F Corban Knight (13-18-31), Senior F Evan Trupp (13-15-28), Senior F/D Jake Marto (5-7-12), Junior D Ben Blood (1-6-7), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (20-6-1, 1.99 GAA, .920 SV%, 4 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: December 4, 2010 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota put on the black jerseys and exploded for five first period goals in a rout over visiting St. Cloud State. UND’s 6-2 victory secured the first home sweep of the season for the Fighting Sioux.

Last Meeting in St. Cloud: February 13, 2010. After a scoreless first period, UND erupted for six goals in the middle frame and destroyed the homestanding Huskies, 8-1. Sioux forward Matt Frattin added two goals in the third period.

Most Important Meeting: There are two classic Final Five championship games between the schools:

2001: 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.

2010: SCSU took a 2-0 lead less than a minute into the Final Five title game but couldn’t make it last, falling to North Dakota 5-3. UND became the second team in as many seasons to notch three victories at the WCHA postseason tournament.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 55-29-10 (.638), including a 21-16-5 (.560) record in St. Cloud.

Last Ten: North Dakota holds a 7-3-0 (.700) edge in the last ten meetings between the two teams. UND and SCSU play four regular season games every year under the WCHA’s schedule partner arrangement.

Challenge Cup: The two schools shared the Challenge Cup last season, splitting both regular season series. North Dakota has already claimed at least a share of the Cup with a sweep in Grand Forks earlier this season.

Game News and Notes

In the last meeting between the teams, UND wore black jerseys at home for just the second time ever. St. Cloud State is only 4-7-3 at the National Hockey Center this season, with home victories over Quinnipiac and Bemidji State and a sweep against Michigan Tech. North Dakota is 9-4-1 on the road, with sweeps at Bemidji State, Wisconsin, and MSU-Mankato. The Fighting Sioux have won the last four games between the teams by a combined score of 22-7.

The Prediction

If these two teams met on neutral ice or in Grand Forks, I would predict another Sioux sweep. But UND has struggled on Friday nights in St. Cloud (0-7-3 in their last ten), and I have a feeling that they’ll need to mount a comeback to salvage a tie in the opener. The rematch is all North Dakota. 3-3 tie, UND 5-1.

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 (February 19th) 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.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Published by Dave Berger on 11 Feb 2011

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Alaska-Anchorage

Alaska-Anchorage is looking at their best conference finish in program history. Before the season started, I predicted that the Seawolves would finish 11th out of 12 teams, and I wrote this:

11. Alaska-Anchorage: Ten freshmen and 40 minutes of returning experience in net means the Seawolves will be lucky to win five WCHA games.

So far this year, the six freshman forwards have appeared in a total of 101 games, scoring 18 goals and adding 30 assists. The two freshman blue liners have combined for 40 games, contributing 2 goals and 3 assists. That has taken some of the scoring load off of seniors Tommy Grant and Craig Parkinson and allowed freshmen goaltenders Rob Gunderson and Chris Kamal to grow accustomed to league play.

And I was dead wrong about the win total: UAA has already notched nine wins in the WCHA and is currently tied for 6th place in the league standings (with Colorado College).

Of the top five teams in the league, North Dakota has the easiest schedule remaining. After UAA, the Fighting Sioux will travel to St. Cloud and Michigan Tech and host Bemidji State over the final three weekends of the regular season. Denver has tough tests on the road (Minnesota and Nebraska-Omaha), and Duluth closes out the year with a road trip to Colorado College and a home series against UNO. As you can see, it will be almost impossible for Dean Blais’ squad to gain ground, as they also have Wisconsin at home and a road series at Anchorage. Wisconsin also faces Minnesota and Colorado College over the final month.

Alaska-Anchorage Team Profile

Head Coach: (Dave Shyiak, 6th season at UAA, 61-122-24, .353)

This Season: 10-13-3, 9-11-2 WCHA (t-6th)
Last Season: 11-23-2 overall, 9-17-2 WCHA (t-8th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-25th
National Rankings: NR

Team Offense: 2.38 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.96 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 15.9% (18 of 113)
Penalty Kill: 81.0% (94 of 116)

Key Players: Senior F Tommy Grant (10-13-23), Freshman F Matt Bailey (8-9-17), Freshman F Jordan Kwas (4-13-17), Junior D Curtis Leinweber (4-6-10), Senior D Luka Vidmar (1-8-9), Freshman G Rob Gunderson (6-10-2, 2.72 GAA, .896 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 173-91-26, .641)

This Season: 19-8-2, 14-6-0 WCHA (3rd)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-5th
National Rankings: #5/#5

Team Offense: 3.66 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.48 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.3% (31 of 153)
Penalty Kill: 84.2% (117 of 139)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (21-10-31), Senior F Brad Malone (9-16-25), Sophomore F Corban Knight (12-16-28), Senior F Evan Trupp (11-14-25), Senior F/D Jake Marto (4-6-10), Junior D Ben Blood (1-5-6), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (18-6-1, 2.07 GAA, .918 SV%, 4 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: October 8, 2010 (Anchorage, AK). Midway through the 2nd period at the Kendall Hockey Classic, North Dakota led 5-1. Eight minutes later, the Seawolves were within one. Anchorage got the equalizer early in the 3rd and the game ended 5-5.

Last meeting in Grand Forks: November 15, 2008. UND used two power play goals and a shorthanded marker to defeat the visiting Seawolves, 3-1. UAA won Friday’s opener, 3-2, collecting just their third ever victory in Grand Forks,

Most Important Meeting: March 19, 2004 (St. Paul, MN). The Fighting Sioux and Seawolves met in the semifinal round of the WCHA Final Five, and UND cruised to the championship game with a 4-2 victory.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 40-17-4 (.689) including a 24-3-3 (.850) record in games played in Grand Forks. The Fighting Sioux have only lost twice in the last eleven meetings between the teams (7-2-2), with three of those games going to overtime.

Game News and Notes

The Seawolves are one victory away from matching their win total from all of last season. Sioux junior forward Jason Gregoire has eight points (six goals, two assists) in six games since returning from injury on January 14th. UND’s Chay Genoway (lower-body injury) and Danny Kristo (frostbite) will miss this weekend’s action. Sioux forward Taylor Dickin will see his first action of the season.

The Prediction

This feels like a Friday breakout for North Dakota. In Saturday’s rematch, the Seawolves will limit penalties and scoring opportunities but will fall just short of a victory. UND 6-2, 2-1.

Published by Dave Berger on 28 Jan 2011

Weekend Preview: UND at Colorado College

North Dakota fans might not remember that Colorado College is still a member of the WCHA.

When the league expanded to 12 teams (adding Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha), the unbalanced schedule was tweaked once again, meaning that, outside of St. Cloud State, the Fighting Sioux would host the other conference teams three out of every five seasons.

Despite playing only a two-game road series in 2009-10, North Dakota has only two games scheduled against the Tigers this season, and, you guessed it, the games are in Colorado Springs.

To put this in perspective: the last time Colorado College played at Ralph Engelstad Arena was March 1, 2009. Since that game, UND has hosted Minnesota at REA seven times.

So here’s a Colorado College primer for you: They haven’t made the national tournament since 2008 and haven’t won as much as a game at the WCHA Final Five or the NCAAs since 2005. Their best player (forward Jaden Schwartz; 11-15-26 in 17 games) is out with an injury, and the Tigers don’t have the goaltending that fans have become accustomed to (Joe Howe is no Bachmann, Zaba, or McElhinney). In short, CC’s advantage is more altitude than attitude.

The road doesn’t get any easier for Scott Owen’s club. After this weekend’s action against North Dakota, the Tigers have a home and home with Denver and road trips to Bemidji State and Wisconsin sandwiched around home series against MSU-Mankato and Minnesota-Duluth.

For North Dakota, it’s time to pick up points and secure home ice. After returning from Colorado Springs, the Green and White host Alaska-Anchorage and Bemidji State and travel to St. Cloud State and Michigan Tech to round out the regular season.

Sioux forward Jason Gregoire has been key since returning to the lineup, potting four goals against Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota after missing seven games due to injury.

On the special teams side of things, the Tigers don’t take many penalties and they are clipping along at nearly 24 percent on the power play. On the wide sheet, this could be problematic for UND.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Scott Owens (12th season at CC, 272-161-39, .618)
This Season: 14-11-1 Overall, 8-8-0 WCHA (t-6th)
Last Season: 19-17-3 Overall, 12-13-3 WCHA (6th)

Pairwise Ranking: t-18th
National Rankings: #20/NR

Team Offense: 3.42 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.77 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.6% (37 of 157)
Penalty Kill: 85.5% (94 of 110)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rylan Schwartz (6-21-27), Senior F Tyler Johnson (16-12-28), Senior F Stephen Schultz (12-16-28), Junior D Gabe Guentzel (4-13-17), Senior D Ryan Lowery (1-12-13), Sophomore G Joe Howe (11-9-1, 2.70 GAA, .908 SV%, 3 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 173-91-26, .641)
This Season: 18-7-2, 13-5-0 WCHA (t-2nd)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)

Pairwise Ranking: t-2nd
National Rankings: #4/#5

Team Offense: 3.63 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.52 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.8% (30 of 144)
Penalty Kill: 83.7% (108 of 129)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (20-10-30), Senior F Brad Malone (9-15-24), Sophomore F Corban Knight (12-15-27), Senior F Evan Trupp (11-13-24), Senior D Chay Genoway (6-19-25), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-9-9), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (17-5-1, 2.07 GAA, .916 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: February 27, 2010 (Colorado Springs, CO). North Dakota defeated the Tigers 3-2 to complete the road sweep and clinch home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. UND won Friday’s opener in overtime by the identical score.

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, 134-75-10 (.635), although the Tigers hold a 55-47-4 (.538) 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.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota junior forward Jason Gregoire has five points (4 goals, 1 assist) in his last four games since returning from injury. Remarkably, Colorado College is scoring almost a half-point per game more without Jaden Schwartz in the lineup. Most of that is due to the fact that Alabama-Huntsville was on the schedule. With at least two points this weekend, UND can leapfrog idle Denver and recapture first place in the league standings. North Dakota is 8-3-1 on the road this season, including WCHA sweeps at Bemidji State, MSU-Mankato, and Wisconsin.

The Prediction

It’s difficult to predict games between teams who haven’t played each other much lately. If history is any indication, this weekend’s action will be quick and entertaining. I can’t see North Dakota sweeping at Colorado College two years in a row, so I’ll call it a split. UND 3-2, CC 4-3.

Trivia

Brad Malone is the seventh Sioux player to amass over 300 career penalty minutes. Who are the other six?

Please leave your comments and trivia guesses below. As always, I thank you for reading.

Published by Dave Berger on 21 Jan 2011

Weekend Preview: North Dakota vs. Nebraska-Omaha

It might very well be a tale of two halves for Nebraska-Omaha. In the first two months of the season, Dean Blais’ squad went 8-1-0, outscoring opponents 40-20 and looking very much like a contender for a #1 seed in the NCAA‘s. Since that time, the Mavs are 4-7-2 and on the bubble to make the national tournament.

As expected, UNO is playing very well at home and found some early success on the road as well, winning four of their first five games away from Omaha. Since November 13th, the Mavericks have only one road victory (1-5-1).

Currently fourth in the WCHA standings, the Mavs will have to improve in order to secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs. After North Dakota, UNO plays Wisconsin, Denver, and Duluth in the second half of the season and points will be hard to come by.

North Dakota is coming off of an intense series split gainst Minnesota and now will host Nebraska-Omaha’s first ever visit to Ralph Engelstad Arena. I don’t expect the Mavs to be wide-eyed or starstruck on Friday night, as Blais will have his team prepared to win a hockey game.

Special teams will be a factor once again this weekend. UND is currently a +11 in combined power play/penalty kill, while UNO sits dead even, having scored AND allowed 18 power play goals this season.

The Fighting Sioux got a big boost last weekend when junior forward Jason Gregoire returned to the lineup. North Dakota looks to be reasonably healthy for the first time in six weeks.

Nebraska-Omaha Team Profile

Head Coach: Dean Blais (2nd season at UNO, 32-24-8, .563)

This Season: 12-8-2, 9-5-2 WCHA (4th)
Last Season: 20-16-6, 13-12-3 CCHA (6th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-14th
National Rankings: #16/#15

Team Offense: 3.32 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.55 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.2% (18 of 89)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (90 of 108)

Key Players: Senior F Rich Purslow (6-13-19), Senior F Matt Ambroz (13-11-24), Senior F Joey Martin (5-17-22), Freshman F Matt White (9-6-15), Senior D Eric Olimb (1-15-16), Sophomore D Bryce Aneloski (2-6-8), Junior G John Faulkner (12-7-2, 2.47 GAA, .912 SV%, 4 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 172-90-26, .642)

This Season: 17-6-2, 12-4-0 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-2nd
National Rankings: #2/#2

Team Offense: 3.60 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.32 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.3% (27 of 127)
Penalty Kill: 86.4% (102 of 118)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (20-9-29), Senior F Brad Malone (9-14-23), Sophomore F Corban Knight (12-13-25), Senior F Evan Trupp (9-13-22), Senior D Chay Genoway (4-19-23), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-9-9), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (16-5-1, 1.93 GAA, .922 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: Saturday, November 20th (Omaha, Nebraska). UNO shocked North Dakota by scoring the game’s only goal in the final second of regulation. John Faulkner made 30 saves for the Mavs. UND won Friday’s opener, 6-5.

Most important meeting: Since the two teams have only met twice (and the series is tied at one game a piece), I will call Friday’s opener the most important meeting between the schools.

Game News and Notes

Nebraska-Omaha took only one point from four WCHA games against Bemidji State (0-3-1). UND forward Matt Frattin leads the nation with 20 goals while goaltender Aaron Dell is fifth in the country with a 1.93 goals-against average. Mavericks’ head coach Dean Blais has 294 career collegiate coaching victories. After this two-game road trip at North Dakota, UNO will be at home for the next six games (Alabama-Huntsville, St. Cloud State, Wisconsin).

The Prediction

North Dakota is deeper and is gettng great goaltending, but it is very difficult to outwork a Dean Blais team for two consecutive nights. I have a feeling that UNO will pull out at least one point this weekend. UND 3-2, 3-3 tie.

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