NCHC 2015-16 Midseason Report

At the beginning of the season, I gave you my predicted order of finish in the NCHC:

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

And here’s how the race stacks up heading into this weekend’s action:

NCHC 2015-16 Current Standings

Team Record Points
North Dakota 9-1-0-0 27
St. Cloud State 8-2-0-0 24
Minnesota-Duluth 4-5-1-1 14
Omaha 4-3-1-0 13
Western Michigan 4-6-0-0 12
Denver 3-4-1-0 10
Miami 2-7-1-1 8
Colorado College 2-8-0-0 6

It is worth noting that Omaha and Denver have each played only eight conference games, while the other six NCHC teams have already played ten. It appears that North Dakota and St. Cloud State have all but locked up home ice for the first round of the conference playoffs, with Minnesota-Duluth, Omaha, Western Michigan, and Denver battling for the other two places in the top half of the league.

We will have a very interesting race for the league title. Take a look at the remaining opponents for North Dakota and St. Cloud State:

North Dakota Home: UNO (2), CC (2), UMD (2), WMU (2)
Road: WMU (2), DU (2) UNO (2)
St. Cloud State Home: CC (2), WMU (2), UMD (2)
Road: UMD (2), Miami (2), UNO (2), CC (2)

UND has one more home series than the Huskies, but St. Cloud plays four of their remaining 14 conference games against Colorado College. With a three point (one game) lead headed into the second half, I’ll give the edge to North Dakota, but it’s close.

St. Cloud State has definitely been the biggest surprise to me in the first half (I tabbed them to finish sixth in the league), while both Duluth (my preseason #1) and Denver (#2) have been a mystery. SCSU already has eight league wins after collecting just eleven a year ago, while the Bulldogs (4-5-11) and Pioneers (3-4-1-0) have just seven between them.

Here’s why I had the Huskies in 6th place headed into this season:

After winning back-to-back conference titles, the Huskies fell to 6th place in the NCHC last year. While SCSU consistently scored with the man advantage, the rest of the offense suffered. St. Cloud State only scored 1.65 even strength goals per game in 2014-15 after posting a much more respectable 2.42 goals per game in the same category two seasons ago. If Bob Motzko’s crew wants to contend for an upper-division finish, balanced scoring is key.

Fast forward to this season: Yes, St. Cloud is blistering on the power play (22 of 72, 30.6%), but they’ve also scored two shorthanded goals, five empty-netters, and 61 even-strength goals in 20 games while allowing under two goals per contest. That’s good for a scoring margin of 90-39 while playing the most difficult schedule in the country (according to KRACH).

If I had to predict how the race for home ice would play out, I would put them in this order:

1. North Dakota
2. St. Cloud State
3. Omaha
4. Duluth

Of the bottom four teams, Denver is the most likely to make a run at Duluth for the final home-ice spot, while Miami, Western Michigan, and Colorado College will be playing for seeding purposes in the second half.

Who do you think will hoist the Penrose Cup? Feel free to comment below with your predictions, and we’ll see you at the rink!

UND/SCSU pregame event set for Saturday, November 21st

Please join us for the UND/SCSU pregame social, an event which takes place in both Grand Forks, North Dakota and St. Cloud, Minnesota each hockey season. This is an opportunity for fans of the University of North Dakota and St. Cloud State University to gather, celebrate the great sport of hockey, and view the Challenge Cup, a traveling trophy which is presented to the team that wins the regular season series. North Dakota claimed the Cup last season with a record of 3-1 against SCSU, outscoring the Huskies 10-8 in the four contests. The teams also met twice in the postseason. St. Cloud State bested UND 3-1 in the NCHC semifinals, while the Green and White earned revenge eight days later with a 4-1 victory in the NCAA West Regional final.

UND SCSU fan social

The pregame event will be held on Saturday, November 21st from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the second floor of Brothers Bar & Grill (the same location as the past two years). The address is 119 Fifth Avenue South in St. Cloud, within walking distance of the Kelly Inn. The event is free and open to the public. A free appetizer bar will be available, and everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to win door prizes.

Fans of both teams enjoy the camaraderie at these social events and regularly comment that the connection between the two fan bases is among the best in college hockey.

Mark your calendars and join us for this event!

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Miami

Miami’s first year in the newly-formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference was a disaster. The RedHawks, picked to finish at the top of the league, went just 6-17-1-1 (.271) in conference play and finished dead last – yes, behind even Colorado College.

In that season (2013-14), Enrico Blasi’s crew allowed 80 goals in 24 conference games and lost ten one-goal contests overall. Miami came back with a vengeance last year, pushing UND to the final weekend of the regular season before a split between the two teams had North Dakota hoisting the Penrose Cup.

In the 2015-16 NCHC preseason poll, North Dakota was picked to finish third and Miami was tabbed to finish fifth, although both schools received first-place votes. In league play this season, Miami swept Western Michigan but suffered a sweep at the hands of St. Cloud State. North Dakota has played only one conference series this year, earning two victories at Colorado College.

#3 North Dakota (7-1-2) is currently ranked considerably higher than #17 Miami (5-4-1), although the RedHawks have played the 3rd toughest schedule in the country (according to KRACH), while UND has played the 60th toughest (otherwise known as the easiest). Miami has already faced #7 Providence, #14 St. Cloud State, and #17 St. Lawrence (rankings are for the week in which the games were played), and will host #6 Omaha next weekend. Brad Berry’s club has not faced a ranked opponent this season, but will travel to #9 St. Cloud State next weekend to face the Huskies.

Miami has killed an incredible 34 of 35 penalties (97.1%) this season. North Dakota went 0-for-9 with the man advantage last weekend against Wisconsin but killed all six Badger power plays in the home split over their former WCHA rival.

Both teams are relying heavily on their freshman classes to carry the scoring load. Miami’s Jack Roslovic (6-3-9) and UND’s Brock Boeser (5-2-7) are leading the pack and rank 1-2 in the league’s freshman goal-scoring race. Overall, Enrico Blasi’s first-year players have scored 11 of Miami’s 20 goals this season (and 21 of 56 points), while Brad Berry’s new recruits have potted 16 of North Dakota’s 33 tallies (21 of 87 points).

Miami Team Profile

Head Coach: Enrico Blasi (17th season at Miami, 356-234-58, .594)
National Ranking: #17/#18
This Season: 5-4-1 overall, 2-2-0-0 NCHC (t-1st)
Last Season: 25-14-1 overall (NCAA East Regional Semifinalist), 14-9-1-1 NCHC (2nd)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 2.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.4% (7 of 38)
Penalty Kill: 97.1% (34 of 35)

Key players: Freshman F Jack Roslovic (6-3-9), Freshman F Josh Melnick (3-3-6), Junior F Anthony Louis (1-5-6), Senior F Sean Kuraly (0-3-3), Sophomore D Louis Belpedio (1-4-5), Senior D Matthew Caito (1-3-4), Senior G Ryan McKay (5-2-1, 1.70 GAA, .937 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (1st season at UND, 7-1-2, .800)
National Ranking: #3/#4
This Season: 7-1-2 overall, 2-0-0-0 NCHC (t-1st)
Last Season: 29-10-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 16-6-2-0 NCHC (1st)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.30 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.70 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.3% (6 of 42)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (30 of 36)

Key Players: Senior F Drake Caggiula (3-8-11), Sophomore F Nick Schmaltz (0-7-7), Senior F Bryn Chyzyk (5-3-8), Freshman F Brock Boeser (5-2-7), Junior D Paul LaDue (0-2-2), Junior D Troy Stecher (2-5-7), Junior G Matt Hyrnkiw (6-1-1, 1.63 GAA, .933 SV%, 2 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: November 15, 2014. After surrendering the first goal early in the second period, North Dakota came roaring back with three of their own in the middle frame and cruised to a 4-1 win in front of 11,802 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Junior forward Drake Caggiula potted two goals (including a highlight reel dangle through Ben Paulides’ skates) and assisted on another, while seniors Mark MacMillan and Michael Parks collected two points each. Zane McIntyre made 28 of 29 saves in the victory, while UND hung the loss on Ryan McKay (23 of 27 saves). Miami won the series opener by a final of 3-2, with both teams scoring a shorthanded goal.

Most Important Meeting: March 6, 2015 (Oxford, OH). North Dakota went on the road and took care of business, securing a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the RedHawks and earning the Penrose Cup, UND’s 16th regular season conference title. UND scored early in each of the first two periods (Keaton Thompson at 2:43 of the first; Connor Gaarder at 1:56 of the second) and survived a furious Miami rally. Zane McIntyre made 43 of 44 saves, including 38 stops in the final two periods.

All-time Series: North Dakota leads the all-time series 7-4-1 (.688), including a 3-1-1 (.700) mark in games played in Grand Forks. Five of the twelve all-time meetings between the schools came during the 2013-14 season, with UND picking up wins in three of those five games. The teams first played in 1999 (Badger Showdown, Milwaukee, WI).

Game News and Notes

UND is not scheduled to play in Oxford this season but could meet Miami in the NCHC and/or NCAA playoffs. That matchup could feature the Fighting Hawks versus the RedHawks, unless voters choose to be known as the University of North Dakota Roughriders instead. UND and Miami are two of six teams tied atop the NCHC standings with six points (two victories), although only three schools (Denver, North Dakota, and St. Cloud State) are 2-0-0. UND senior forward Drake Caggiula has collected five goals and four assists in nine career games against the RedHawks.

Media Coverage

This weekend’s series against Miami is televised on MidcoSports Network, and a high definition stream of both games is available to NCHC.tv subscribers. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

On A Personal Note

I am almost halfway through my Movember campaign, and I could use your help. My goal is $2018, with the 18 in honor of my favorite UND player, David Hoogsteen. Please visit mobro.co/daveberger, donate, and help me change the face of men’s health. Thank you!

The Prediction

I can’t see any way either one of these teams sweeps the series. I’ve got Miami going ahead both nights, with North Dakota rallying in Saturday’s rematch to earn the split. Miami 3-2, UND 4-1.

Ice Breaker Tournament Preview: UND vs. Maine

This weekend marks the official start of the Brad Berry head coaching era at the University of North Dakota. Since 1978. UND has known only three men behind the bench: John “Gino” Gasparini, Dean Blais, and Dave Hakstol. Berry (North Dakota ’02) becomes the fourth in that span (38 years) and the 16th head coach in UND men’s hockey history. The former UND and NHL defenseman spent nine years as an assistant coach at North Dakota and two seasons in that same role with the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL). Brad Berry takes over the reins from Dave Hakstol (now with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers), and he inherits a program both built and expected to win – every season.

Brad Berry’s North Dakota squad has one victory on the young season, a 5-2 triumph over Lake Superior State in the opening game of the 2015 Ice Breaker Tournament (Portland, Maine). UND now turns its attention to Maine, the host school for the tourney even though the Black Bears play their home games in Orono (two hours away).

It’s hard to find a North Dakota fan who doesn’t have admiration and respect for the Maine Black Bears. There’s a certain affinity for other great hockey teams that survive and thrive in smaller markets and are the flagship programs for their state.

More specifically, the connection between UND and Maine is well-documented. Former UND head coach Dean Blais is fondly remembered for his tribute to Shawn Walsh during Walsh’s cancer battle. I remember vividly the game played in Orono, Maine on Friday, October 13th, 2000, when the defending national champion Fighting Sioux took to the ice in matching “Walsh” jerseys and donated the game-worn uniforms to defray coach Walsh’s medical costs.

It was only fitting that when the late Shawn Walsh’s shamrock was retired and hoisted to the rafters at Alfond Arena in October 2004, North Dakota was once again on hand as the visiting team.

Both teams were hit by the early departure bug during this most recent offseason. Maine forward Devin Shore (14-21-35 in 39 games) signed with the Dallas Stars, while defenseman Ben Hutton (9-12-21 in 39) inked a deal with Vancouver. Both players gave up their senior season in the process.

Meanwhile, North Dakota lost two key underclassmen on the back end. Stalwart blueliner Jordan Schmaltz (4-24-28 in 42 games) and Mike Richter award winner Zane McIntyre (29-10-3, 2.05 GAA, .929 SV%) left one year early. Schmaltz is now with the St. Louis organization and McIntyre signed with the Boston Bruins.

Turning our attention to this season, Maine managed just a tie in Friday evening’s contest with Michigan State after the Spartans scored a late extra attacker power play goal. Five of the six goals in the game were scored with the man advantage or shorthanded.

These early season games are critical for North Dakota’s postseason aspirations. Last season, Dave Hakstol’s squad went 9-1-1 in regular season non-conference action and advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four, while the Black Bears sported a pedestrian 5-8-1 record in non-league games and missed the national tournament. UND’s other non-conference opponents this season will be Bemidji State, Vermont, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Alabama-Huntsville (all currently unranked).

Seven of North Dakota’s eight October games will be played on the road, with only a single home tilt versus Bemidji State on Saturday, October 17th to satisfy the fans in Grand Forks. Beginning with a November visit from the Wisconsin Badgers, however, UND will have eight home series and only six weekends away from Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Maine Team Profile

Head Coach: Dennis “Red” Gendron (3rd season at Maine, 30-37-8, .453)
National Ranking: NR/NR
This Season: 0-0-1 overall, 0-0-0 Hockey East
Last Season: 14-22-3 overall, 8-12-2 (t-9th)

2014-15 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 2.77 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.26 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 13.1% (19 of 145)
Penalty Kill: 82.9% (121 of 146)

Key Returning Players (2014-15 statistics): Senior F Steven Swavely (8-20-28), Junior F Cam Brown (7-21-28), Junior F Blaine Byron (12-15-27), Junior D Dan Renouf (3-9-12), Senior D Conor Riley (3-8-11), Senior G Matt Morris (7-9-2, 2.99 GAA, .905 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (1st season at UND, 1-0-0, 1.000)
National Ranking: #4/#4
This Season: 1-0-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 29-10-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 16-6-2-0 NCHC (1st)

2014-15 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.29 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.24 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.4% (34 of 167)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (142 of 169)

Key Returning Players (2014-15 statistics): Senior F Drake Caggiula (18-18-36), Sophomore F Nick Schmaltz (5-21-26), Junior F Luke Johnson (11-13-24), Junior D Paul LaDue (5-17-22), Junior D Troy Stecher (3-10-13), Sophomore D Tucker Poolman (8-10-18), Sophomore G Cam Johnson (0-0-0, 5.54 GAA, .765 SV% in 43 minutes of game action)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: October 15, 2011 (Grand Forks, ND). Maine scored a power play goal midway through the third period to salvage a 3-3 tie with homestanding North Dakota. Five of the six goals were scored on the power play. Danny Kristo notched two goals and an assist to lead UND.

Last Meeting in Maine: October 23, 2010 (Orono, ME). The Black Bears chose to start freshman goaltender Dan Sullivan in the second game of the series and he responded, stopping 23 of 25 North Dakota shots in earning a 4-2 victory and a weekend sweep for his squad. Maine won the opener, 7-3.

Most Important Meeting: April 6, 2000 (Providence, RI). The Fighting Sioux scored twice in the second period and Karl Goehring stopped all 30 shots he faced as UND advanced to the national title game with a 2-0 victory over Maine. Two nights later, the Green and White would claim their seventh national championship.

Last Ten: The teams have split the last ten meetings, with each school winning four times and two games ending in a tie.

All-time Series: North Dakota leads the all-time series 12-8-2 (.591), including a 6-3-0 (.667) edge in games played in Maine.

Game News and Notes

Maine was just 3-6 in one goal contests and 1-5-3 in overtime games last season. UND was 18-0-1 last year when leading after two periods of play. North Dakota is now 42-19-7 (.669) in season openers.

The Prediction

Goaltending remains a question mark for North Dakota. Sophomore Cam Johnson (just over 100 minutes of college experience) will get the start for UND, while his counterpart for Maine (senior Matt Morris) has appeared in 27 NCAA contests and logged over 1400 minutes of game action. As in Friday’s opener, North Dakota will need to rely on a veteran group of defensemen to allow Johnson to settle in and see the puck. I see a repeat of yesterday’s script, with the Green and White falling behind early before coming back to win. UND 3-2.

Ice Breaker Tournament Preview: UND vs. Lake Superior

It’s the official start of the Brad Berry head coaching era at the University of North Dakota. Since 1978. UND has known only three men behind the bench: John “Gino” Gasparini, Dean Blais, and Dave Hakstol. Berry (North Dakota ’02) becomes the fourth in that span (38 years) and the 16th head coach in UND men’s hockey history. The former UND and NHL defenseman spent nine years as an assistant coach at North Dakota and two seasons in that same role with the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL). Brad Berry takes over the reins from Dave Hakstol (now with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers), and he inherits a program both built and expected to win – every season.

North Dakota’s first opponent this year is Lake Superior State, a team that once held such lofty expectations. 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 19 seasons since those glory days without a single noteworthy accomplishment or tournament appearance. Until that changes, the Lakers are stuck in the past.

Beginning in 1996-97, Lake Superior fell off the college hockey map just as the Fighting Sioux were returning to national prominence. Even though LSSU has competed at the Division 1 level since 1966, the two teams have never been members of the same conference or met in postseason play. Remarkably, the two schools have only met four times in almost fifty seasons of hockey (UND swept a home series against the Lakers in December 1973 and again last season).

Lake Superior State boasts two North Dakota connections on its roster. Senior forward Bryce Schmitt, the Lakers’ leading returning scorer (and alternate captain), hails from Minot and is a three year letter winner for the Lakers after spending time with the Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL). Freshman forward C.J. Hayes, who hails from Margate, Florida, played for the Fargo Force of the USHL.

These games are critical for North Dakota’s postseason aspirations. Last season, Dave Hakstol’s squad went 9-1-1 in regular season non-conference action and advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four, while Lake Superior State sported an abysmal 0-7-1 record in non-league games and missed the national tournament. UND’s other non-conference opponents this season will be Maine, Bemidji State, Vermont, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Alabama-Huntsville (all currently unranked).

Seven of North Dakota’s eight October games will be played on the road, with only a single home tilt versus Bemidji State on Saturday, October 17th to satisfy the fans in Grand Forks. Beginning with a November visit from the Wisconsin Badgers, however, UND will have eight home series and only six weekends away from Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Lake Superior Team Profile

Head Coach: Damon Whitten (2nd season at LSSU, 8-28-2, .237)
National Ranking: NR/NR
This Season: 0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 8-28-2 overall, 7-20-1 (t-8th)

2014-15 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 1.58 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.45 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 8.1% (13 of 160)
Penalty Kill: 73.6% (103 of 140)

Key Returning Players (2014-15 statistics): Senior F Bryce Schmitt (7-8-15), Junior F Alex Globke (5-5-10), Junior F Gus Correale (4-6-10), Senior F Austin McKay (5-0-5), Senior D Eric Drapluk (3-8-11), Sophomore D James Roll (1-10-11), Sophomore G Gordon Defiel (8-26-2, 3.08 GAA, .915 SV%, 4 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (1st season at UND)
National Ranking: #4/#4
This Season: 0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 29-10-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 16-6-2-0 NCHC (1st)

2014-15 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.29 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.24 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.4% (34 of 167)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (142 of 169)

Key Returning Players (2014-15 statistics): Senior F Drake Caggiula (18-18-36), Sophomore F Nick Schmaltz (5-21-26), Junior F Luke Johnson (11-13-24), Junior D Paul LaDue (5-17-22), Junior D Troy Stecher (3-10-13), Sophomore D Tucker Poolman (8-10-18), Sophomore G Cam Johnson (0-0-0, 5.54 GAA, .765 SV% in 43 minutes of game action)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: December 6, 2014 (Grand Forks, ND). One night after outshooting the Lakers 43-25 and handing them a 7-4 defeat, homestanding (and top-ranked) North Dakota outlasted Lake Superior 3-1 to earn the series sweep. In the rematch, junior defenseman Jordan Schmaltz picked up a goal and an assist. Over the two games, UND thwarted all nine Laker power play opportunities.

All-time: North Dakota has won all four of the meetings between the teams by a combined score of 24-10.

Game News and Notes

The Lakers have not made the NCAA tournament since a thirty win season in 1995-96. North Dakota has advanced to the tourney 18 times since then, winning two national titles (1997 and 2000). UND was 18-0-1 last season when leading after two periods of play. Lake Superior State will battle Michigan State on Saturday afternoon, while North Dakota will face host Maine in Saturday evening’s finale.

The Prediction

Goaltending is the big question mark here. Sophomore Cam Johnson (43 minutes of college experience) will get the start for UND, while his counterpart for LSSU (fellow second-year netminder Gordon Defiel) has appeared in 36 NCAA contests, posting four shutouts. North Dakota will need to rely on a veteran group of defensemen to allow Johnson to settle in and see the puck. I see the Lakers getting on the board early, with the Green and White coasting to victory over the final two periods. UND 4-1.

NCAA Frozen Four Preview: UND vs. Boston University

Most of the talk surrounding tonight’s North Dakota-Boston University matchup centers around one of the following themes:

Can UND contain the Terriers’ top line of Jack Eichel, Evan Rodrigues, and Danny O’Regan?

The three Boston University linemates have combined for 67 goals and 109 assists this season, and all three have shown the ability to put the puck in the net in any situation. With the top seed and last line change, I expect Dave Hakstol to counter with Luke Johnson’s line against the Jack Eichel line as often as possible. Incidentally, BU boasts the nation’s 2nd-best offense (3.85 goals scored /game); North Dakota is ranked 7th defensively (2.17 goals allowed/game).

Will the game be a penalty fest, or will North Dakota be able to roll four lines?

Trading power plays would seem to favor the Terriers (BU is clipping along at over 25 percent with the man advantage), and while UND’s penalty killers have done an admirable job (84.8% on the season), the Green and White would rather get all eighteen skaters involved and use that depth to their advantage.

Which goaltender (BU’s Matt O’Connor or UND’s Zane McIntyre) will be able to make the key saves to propel his team to the national championship game?

If North Dakota has an edge in this game, it’s in net. While Terrier junior netminder Matt O’Connor (24-3-4, 2.10 GAA, .928 SV%, 1 SO) has been more than capable, his counterpart between the pipes for UND has been outstanding. Junior goaltender Zane McIntyre (29-9-3, 2.00 GAA, .931 SV%, 1 SO) has been everything for North Dakota this season, and the accolades keep piling up for the NCHC Goaltender of the Year. McIntyre, one of five finalists for the Mike Richter award and one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker, was recently named the NCAA West Regional Most Outstanding Player after stopping 48 of 50 shots against Quinnipiac and St. Cloud State.

Offensive capability from the blue line is another strength for UND. After leading the nation in scoring by defensemen last year, UND is first in the country in that category again this season. Through 41 games, North Dakota blueliners have scored 29 goals and added 90 assists for 119 points, or 2.90 points per game. And furthermore, Dave Hakstol’s squad is so deep with talent on the blue line that freshman defenseman Tucker Poolman has been playing wing this season, and he’s chipped in with eight goals and nine assists.

Five different members of UND’s defensive corps (Paul LaDue, Nick Mattson, Jordan Schmaltz, Troy Stecher, and Keaton Thompson) have nabbed NCHC Defenseman of the Week honors this season, while Tucker Poolman has been named the league’s Rookie of the Week.

Boston University advanced to the Frozen Four with a pair of 3-2 victories over Yale (in overtime) and Minnesota-Duluth at the NCAA Northeast Regional in Manchester, New Hampshire. For his efforts (3 goals, 1 assist in the two wins), BU senior forward Evan Rodrigues was named the regional’s Most Outstanding Player. North Dakota dispatched Quinnipiac and St. Cloud State by identical 4-1 scores at the NCAA West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota).

With nine freshmen and only two seniors in the regular lineup, the Terriers are the youngest team in college hockey (20 years, 10 months). North Dakota, with 12 upperclassmen, are more than a full year older per player (21 years, 11 months). And in terms of NCAA tournament experience, UND’s seven seniors have already appeared in 56 national tournament games; BU’s two senior skaters (Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues) have combined for 6 appearances.

BU head coach David Quinn, now in his second season behind the bench and with 37 coaching victories to his credit, is making his first appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four. By comparison, UND’s Dave Hakstol has collected 289 wins in eleven seasons and has his team in the national semifinals for the seventh time.

Boston University Team Profile

Head Coach: David Quinn (2nd season at BU, 37-28-9, .561)
National Ranking: #2
This Season: 27-7-5, 14-5-3 Hockey East (1st)
Last Ten Games: 8-2-0 (including two overtime wins)
Last Season: 10-21-4, 5-12-3 Hockey East (9th)

Team Offense: 3.85 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.26 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 25.6% (40 of 156)
Penalty Kill: 83.1% (133 of 160)

Key Players: Freshman F Jack Eichel (24-43-67), Senior F Evan Rodrigues (21-40-61), Junior F Danny O’Regan (22-26-48), Senior F Cason Hohmann (10-18-28), Junior D Matt Grzelcyk (10-27-37), Junior F/D Ahti Oksanen (24-11-35), Junior G Matt O’Connor (24-3-4, 2.10 GAA, .928 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 289-142-43, .655)
National Ranking: #1
This Season: 29-9-3 overall, 16-6-2-0 NCHC (1st)
Last Ten Games: 7-3-0
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.29 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.17 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.6% (32 of 163)
Penalty Kill: 84.8% (140 of 165)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (18-18-36), Senior F Michael Parks (12-20-32), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (5-21-26), Senior F Brendan O’Donnell (13-7-20), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (4-23-27), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (5-17-22), Senior D Nick Mattson (4-16-20), Junior G Zane McIntyre (29-9-3, 2.00 GAA, .931 SV%, 1 SO

By The Numbers

Last meeting: November 23, 2013 (Boston, MA). UND outshot Boston University 58-31 but could manage only a 3-3 tie in front of 4,378 at Agannis Arena. Eight different North Dakota players figured in the scoring, including Adam Tambellini, who scored a power play goal in the third period but is no longer with the team. Zane Gothberg and Matt O’Connor were the goaltenders of record in the contest and combined to make 83 saves. In a penalty-filled contest, both teams went 1-for-7 with the man advantage.

Last meeting in the NCAA tournament: March 25, 2005 (Worcester, MA). North Dakota’s Colby Genoway (2 goals, 2 assists) led the way as UND blanked the Terriers 4-0 at the NCAA East Regional. BU went 0-for-9 on the power play, and UND’s Jordan Parise turned aside 29 shots for the shutout. The Fighting Sioux would go on to defeat Boston College 6-3 in the regional final and advance to the Frozen Four, best known for featuring four WCHA teams and UND’s 4-2 semifinal victory over Minnesota.

Most important meeting: March 29, 1997 (Milwaukee, WI). North Dakota scored five goals in the second period and went on to defeat Boston University 6-4 for the 1997 NCAA championship (the program’s 6th). David Hoogsteen scored two goals for the Fighting Sioux, including a back-breaker with six seconds remaining in the middle frame.

All-time record: North Dakota leads the all-time series, 12-9-2 (.565), helped by a stellar 6-1-1 (.813) record in games played in Grand Forks. When the newly-formed Hockey East began play in 1984-1985, it created a five-year interlocking schedule with the WCHA. During that time, Boston University and North Dakota met 7 times, with John “Gino” Gasparini’s Fighting Sioux squad going 6-1-0 against Jack Parker’s Terriers.

Last Ten: The series is tied 4-4-2 over the past ten games. UND has outscored the Terriers 32-31 in that span.

Game News and Notes

Boston University has outscored opponents 73-26 in third periods and overtime sessions (combined) this season. The Terriers play on a hybrid sheet of ice at Agannis Arena; the playing surface is 90 feet wide; five feet wider than NHL rinks but not as wide as the Olympic ice sheets (100 feet wide). This season, both teams are undefeated when leading after two periods of play (BU 16-0-0, UND 18-0-1). UND head coach Dave Hakstol (17 career NCAA wins) is currently ninth on college hockey’s all-time tournament victories list.

The Prediction

Boston University’s Jack Eichel will figure in the scoring (and win the Hobey), but it won’t be enough for the Terriers. I see North Dakota’s depth, experience, and resolve factoring heavily in a game that probably won’t be decided until well into the night. UND 3, BU 2 (OT).

Bonus Prediction

Dean Blais and the Omaha Mavericks will prove too much for the Providence Friars, setting up an all-NCHC championship game and sending ticket prices falling. UNO 4, PC 2.

My Top Five April Fool’s Stories on SiouxSports.com

As most of you have already figured out, this morning’s blog post, “Due to historic snowfall, NCAA to move Frozen Four from Boston to Fargo” was an April Fools’ joke.

As I sat and watched the comments roll in and the retweets pile up, I was reminded of my favorite April Fools’ columns and thought I would share them with you again today…

Here are my five favorites from years past:

2009: “Rule Change: Ties in the Frozen Four to be decided by shootout”

2011: “NCAA to drop nickname settlement and sanctions altogether if UND wins hockey championship”

2012: “Audio from ‘The Timeout’ available for the first time”

2013: “After further review: UND and Yale to replay West Regional final”

2014: “Hobey Baker committee adds Gothberg to list of finalists”

Which are your favorites? More to the point: Which, at the time, did you fall for?

Due to historic snowfall, NCAA to move Frozen Four from Boston to Fargo

It turns out that Boston, Massachusetts is a bit too frozen for the Frozen Four.

The winter of 2014-15 dumped historic amounts of snow in the northeast, and the hardest hit areas of New England have collected over 100 inches of the white stuff.

Boston Logan Airport has received 110.6 inches of snow this winter, and the persistent cold weather has prevented any meaningful snowmelt. The city recorded 28 consecutive days with lows 20 degrees or colder, from Jan. 25 through Feb. 21 (inclusive), breaking the all-time record of 27 consecutive days set Jan. 12 through Feb. 7, 1881.

Despite the weather, the NCAA held off on making a final decision whether to move the 2015 Frozen Four from TD Garden (Boston, Massachusetts). Tournament officials were hoping that enough snow would melt during the month of March to keep the event in Beantown.

“(The snow melt) didn’t happen quickly enough, so we had to go to ‘Plan B’,” one tournament official said (speaking on condition of anonymity). “And so we looked at what the regionals did last weekend, and one of them (the NCAA West Regional in Fargo, North Dakota) was over capacity. That seemed to make the most sense.”

But TD Garden in Boston seats over 17,000 for hockey games, while SCHEELS Arena in Fargo tops out at 5,000. That was a problem for the NCAA.

“Yeah, we couldn’t squeeze everyone into the USHL rink,” my source said. “And then someone else on the committee remembered that Fargo also has a football team.”

That football team would be the North Dakota State University Bison, the four-time defending NCAA Division I-FCS National Champions (2011-2014). The Bison play in the Fargodome in front of 19,000 fans for every home football game. Local officials know they have a tall task ahead of them putting an ice sheet over the turf, but they’re up for it.

A news conference to formally announce re-ticketing procedures for next weekend’s games (April 9th and 11th) and further explain the rationale behind this unique development is scheduled to air at 4:01 p.m. Eastern time today (April 1st) on ESPNU.

NCAA West Regional Preview: UND vs. St. Cloud State

North Dakota and SCSU took different paths to tonight’s West Regional final, and now these familiar foes will face off for the sixth time this season with a trip to Boston and a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four on the line.

The Huskies took the long road home yesterday in Fargo, surviving the opening 40 minutes thanks in large part to the play of goaltender Charlie Lindgren (36 of 38 saves). I wrote about Lindgren’s play and the ups and downs on the St. Cloud State bench in a feature for College Hockey News called “Huskies Never Say Die”. SCSU took yesterday’s tilt with Michigan Tech (a battle of the Huskies, if you will) to overtime before defeating their long-time WCHA foe 3-2 and advancing in the NCAA tournament.

For UND, the 4-1 victory over Quinnipiac was only easy on the scoreboard. North Dakota was able to score a power play goal, an even-strength goal from behind the end line, and two shorthanded goals to put the game out of reach. Despite giving up a late 6-on-4 power play tally to spoil Zane McIntyre’s shutout bid (the junior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota has now allowed exactly one goal 15 times this season), the Green and White used the energy from the partisan crowd and an unbelievable effort in their own end to block 28 Bobcat shot attempts. With almost 15 minutes on the penalty kill over the course of the game, Dave Hakstol’s crew had to win the special teams battle to move on, and the boys from Grand Forks got it done in a virtual home game.

I also wrote a feature called “Bobcats Buried In Fargo” for College Hockey News on the Quinnipiac hockey team and what went wrong for them yesterday. There are some interesting quotes from QU head coach Rand Pecknold about regionals being held at neutral (or not so neutral) sites.

In my opinion, UND will not be able to trade power plays with St. Cloud State and expect a good result. In three victories over the Huskies, North Dakota killed 11 of 14 penalties. Bob Motzko’s two victories over the Green and White this season rode were aided by a potent SCSU power play (two goals in seven attempts). In the season series, the Huskies have scored 11 goals against UND in five games, with five goals coming with the man advantage and a sixth scored into the empty net.

North Dakota went 2-for-10 on the power play in three wins over St. Cloud State and was held scoreless on five attempts in two defeats. It is my contention that UND does not rely nearly as heavily on power play scoring as their counterparts in the red and black and would be better served staying out of the penalty box tonight. This is easier said than done, however, as these NCHC rivals will certainly play all the way until the whistle (and often after it), and Dave Hakstol wants his team playing right on the edge.

According to KRACH, St. Cloud State has played the second-most difficult schedule in the country to this point in the season. Saturday’s matchup between North Dakota and SCSU at Scheels Arena in Fargo marks the Huskies’ fourteenth straight game against an opponent ranked in the top eight in the country. Over the last seven weekends, St. Cloud has gone 8-5-0 against #6 Minnesota-Duluth, #5 Nebraska Omaha, #1 North Dakota, #7 Denver, #8 Nebraska-Omaha, #1 North Dakota, #6 Miami, and #5 Michigan Tech (rankings are for the week the games were played).

North Dakota will be without the services of senior forward Mark MacMillan for the rest of the season. The NCHC Defensive Player of the Year sustained a lower body injury while blocking a shot during a key 5-on-3 penalty kill against St. Cloud State. The senior from Penticton, British Columbia, one of five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, finishes his North Dakota career with 99 points in 151 games at UND. The last player to fall one point short of UND’s Century Club was forward Wes Dorey (1997-2001), who collected 47 goals and 52 assists in 140 career games.

St. Cloud State saw senior defenseman Andrew Prochno (3-12-15) and junior forward Kalle Kossila (6-20-26) return to the lineup after missing the NCHC Frozen Faceoff with injuries. Kossila scored SCSU’s first goal against Michigan Tech in yesterday’s regional semifinal. In the first period of the same game, Huskies’ forward Jonny Brodzinski sustained a lower-body injury but was able to return and net the game-tying goal with 38 seconds remaining in the hockey game. Brodzinski’s availability for tonight’s contest is still unknown, but I would expect him to suit up for St. Cloud State.

Perhaps the biggest reason for UND’s success this season has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. During the 2014-15 campaign, Dave Hakstol’s squad is unbeaten (24-0-2) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past seven years, North Dakota is converting almost 90 percent of second intermission leads into victories and has just seven losses in the last 154 such situations (137-7-10). The last time UND lost when leading after two periods of play was November 1st, 2013 against visiting St. Cloud State, when a 1-0 lead turned into a 3-2 defeat.

Incredibly, Dave Hakstol has brought his team to the NCAA regional final in nine of his eleven seasons behind the UND bench. Hakstol already has six Frozen Fours to his credit and is looking to add a seventh to his resume and an eighth national title to the rafters at Ralph Engelstad Arena. With three more victories, North Dakota would accomplish both of those tasks.

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: Bob Motzko (10th season at SCSU, 204-154-41, .563)
National Rankings: #13/#13
This Season: 20-18-1 overall, 11-12-1-0 NCHC (6th)
Last Ten Games: 6-4-0 (with two overtime victories)
Last Season: 22-11-5 overall (NCAA Region semifinalist), 15-6-3-0 NCHC (1st)

Team Offense: 2.77 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.38 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 24.0% (37 of 154)
Penalty Kill: 80.2% (93 of 116)

Key Players: Junior F Jonny Brodzinski (21-17-38), Junior F Joey Benik (16-23-39), Junior F Kalle Kossila (6-20-26), Freshman F Patrick Russell (10-15-25), Junior D Ethan Prow (4-19-23), Senior D Andrew Prochno (3-12-15), Sophomore G Charlie Lindgren (19-17-1, 2.24 GAA, .920 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 288-142-43, .654)
National Rankings: #3/#3
This Season: 28-9-3 overall, 16-6-2-0 NCHC (1st)
Last Ten Games: 7-3-0 (with two overtime victories)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.27 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.20 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.8% (32 of 162)
Penalty Kill: 84.7% (138 of 163)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (17-18-35), Senior F Michael Parks (12-20-32), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (5-21-26), Senior F Brendan O’Donnell (13-7-20), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (4-23-27), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (5-17-22), Senior D Nick Mattson (4-16-20), Junior G Zane McIntyre (28-9-3, 2.02 GAA, .930 SV%, 1 SO

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 20th, 2015 (Minneapolis, MN). St. Cloud State silenced the pro-North Dakota crowd with two goals in a span of 19 seconds late in the first period to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead after twenty minutes of play. SCSU forward Joe Rehkamp added an empty net goal with 1:05 left in the game and the Huskies advanced to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship game. Zane McIntyre made 21 saves for UND; Charlie Lindgren stopped 19 of 20 North Dakota shots on goal.

Last Meeting in North Dakota: February 28, 2015 (Grand Forks). Conner Gaarder led the way with a goal and an assist and North Dakota chased SCSU netminder Charlie Lindgren after two periods of play as UND completed the sweep of the visiting Huskies by a score of 3-1. Nick Mattson scored North Dakota’s third goal with 41 seconds remaining in the middle frame, and Zane McIntyre made 27 of 28 saves for the Green and White after stopping 22 of 24 shots in the series opener (a 3-2 UND victory). With a 3-1 regular season record against St. Cloud State this season, North Dakota won the 2014-15 Challenge Cup.

Most Important Meeting: With a berth in the 2015 Frozen Four on the line, I will call tonight’s NCAA West Regional final the most important meeting between the two teams.

All-time Series: North Dakota leads the all-time series, 64-38-12 (.614), including a 6-2-0 (.750) record at neutral sites. SCSU’s most recent tournament victory was last weekend in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals (Minneapolis, MN). The Huskies also defeated North Dakota at the 2001 WCHA Final Five. UND is 10-3-0 (.769) against St. Cloud State in the conference playoffs, with their most recent triumph coming in the 2012 WCHA Final Five quarterfinals. The teams have never met in the NCAA tournament.

Last Ten: St. Cloud holds a 5-4-1 (.550) edge in the last ten meetings between the teams and has outscored North Dakota 24-22 over that stretch of games.

Game News and Notes

UND goaltender Zane McIntyre is 5-6-1 against the Huskies in his three years at North Dakota. Head coach Bob Motzko picked up his 200th career victory (ten seasons) with a win over Denver on the final night of the NCHC regular season. North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol, who has 288 coaching victories in eleven seasons, is 26-16-7 (.602) in his career against the Huskies.

The Prediction

Because these teams are so familiar with each other, I expect this game to be played fast and loose. If Bob Motzko has Jonny Brodzinski available in all situations and for all three periods, SCSU has a good chance at advancing to the Frozen Four. UND has an edge in net and on defense, but if the teams trade power plays, the advantage goes to St. Cloud State. This feels like a one-goal game either way, with North Dakota’s fans turning SCHEELS Arena into yet another home game and tipping the scales in favor of the Green and White. UND 3, SCSU 2.

Pregame Event (from UNDsports.com)

The North Dakota Champions Club is hosting an official UND pregame party at Fargo Billiards and Gastro Pub. The pregame party starts at 5:00 p.m. tonight (Saturday, March 28th).

Parking at SCHEELS Arena is limited and fans are encouraged to consider alternate parking options. A shuttle service will run between Fargo Billiards and Gastro Pub, Anderson Softball Complex on 45th Street South, Bulldog Tap, and SCHEELS Arena. Shuttles will begin at 6:00 p.m. tonight and will continue until one hour after the game ends.

NCAA West Regional Preview: UND vs. Quinnipiac

In 16 years at the Division I level, Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold has never had a losing season. Pecknold has led the Bobcats to their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance (and fourth overall), and QU faces a fairly unfamiliar opponent at the West Regional in North Dakota.

Despite Quinnipiac’s recent success and the Bobcats’ deep run in 2013 (national runner-up, losing 4-0 to Yale in the final), UND and QU have never met in the NCAA tournament. The two teams have only faced each other twice: an October 2006 series in Grand Forks that went in the books as a UND sweep. Sioux forwards Ryan Duncan, T.J. Oshie, and Jonathan Toews figured heavily in those results (note: current Quinnipiac forward Devon Toews is no relation to Jonathan).

Before this recent stretch of three straight NCAA tourney bids, the only Quinnipiac appearance on the national scene came in 2001-02, when the team (competing in the MAAC and known as the “Braves”) suffered a 6-1 loss to Cornell in the regional semifinal.

It is fairly difficult to compare teams from different conferences, but there are some measurables. The only common opponent for the two programs this season was St. Cloud State. The Bobcats traveled to St. Cloud in early January and split with the homestanding Huskies (1-0, 2-3). North Dakota has faced SCSU five times this season, winning three of the five contests with each team scoring eleven goals in the season series.

Incidentally, St. Cloud State (who faces Michigan Tech in the other regional semifinal) was the team Quinnipiac defeated by a score of 4-1 at the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four, the only Frozen Four appearance for either of those two programs. Michigan Tech, a former WCHA foe of St. Cloud State and UND, is appearing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1981 but has three national championships (1962, 1965, 1975).

UND has amassed a record of 27-9-3; Quinnipiac, 23-11-4. According to KRACH, North Dakota has played the 8th most difficult schedule in the country this season, while QU comes in at 32nd. Of the tournament participants, only RIT (49th) has played a softer schedule than the Bobcats.

Quinnipiac played seven games this year against teams in the national tournament, going 2-3-2 with two games each against St. Cloud State and Yale and three games against Harvard. By comparison, 22 of North Dakota’s 39 games this year were against six of the other 15 teams in the NCAAs (the five other NCHC schools in the tournament plus a home series against Providence), with UND going 11-8-3 in those games. The Green and White had an even record this season against Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, and Miami and winning records against Nebraska-Omaha, St. Cloud State and Providence.

North Dakota will be without the services of senior forward Mark MacMillan for the rest of the season. The NCHC Defensive Player of the Year sustained a lower body injury while blocking a shot during a key 5-on-3 penalty kill against St. Cloud State. The senior from Penticton, British Columbia, one of five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, finishes his North Dakota career with 99 points in 151 games at UND. The last player to fall one point short of UND’s Century Club was forward Wes Dorey (1997-2001), who collected 47 goals and 52 assists in 140 career games.

There is some intrigue regarding the availability of QU sophomore forward Sam Anas. The Bobcats’ leading scorer (23 goals, 16 assists) did not play last weekend in the ECAC semifinals, and earlier this week, Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold was quoted as saying “right now, we’re moving on without him. Is it 100 percent that he’s not playing? No. We’re dreaming. But it’s very unlikely that he will play”. However, Anas participated in the team practice at Scheels Arena on Thursday (wearing a red non-contact jersey), and afterward, Pecknold opened the press conference by stating that he wasn’t going to comment on injuries or who will be in the lineup on Friday against North Dakota.

UND’s seven senior skaters (forwards Conner Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks, and Stephane Pattyn, along with defensemen Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzerella) have amassed a career record of 100-49-16 (.655) with four straight trips to the NCAA tournament. By comparison, the winningest class under Dave Hakstol was the 2011 class (forwards Matt Frattin, Evan Trupp, Brad Malone, and Brent Davidson and defensemen Chay Genoway, Jake Marto, and Derrick LaPoint), who went 109-48-16 (.676) during their time at UND. Beginning with the incoming freshman class of 2002, every four-year player to wear the Green and White has collected 100 career victories.

On the other side of the ledger, the three Quinnipiac seniors (forward Matthew Peca and defensemen Justin Agosta and Danny Federico) have amassed a record of 97-43-42 at QU, the best four-year mark in program history.

UND junior netminder Zane McIntyre has been showered with accolades over the past week or so. The junior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota was named the NCHC Goaltender of the Year, one of five finalists for the Mike Richter Award (best goaltender), and one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. McIntyre, who now sits 16th in the country in goals-against average (2.05) and 11th in save percentage (.929), has played the third-most minutes in the nation and has 27 victories, good for second among all goaltenders (Jamie Phillips of Michigan Tech has 28).

Only two goalies in North Dakota hockey history have more wins in a season than McIntyre’s 27: Aaron Dell went 30-7-2 in 2010-11, and Eddie Belfour notched 29 victories against only four defeats during his only season in Grand Forks (1986-87). Incidentally, Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux posted a record of 27-11-4 in 2007-08. With 56 career goaltending victories, McIntyre now sits in fourth place on UND’s all-time list. Karl Goehring (1997-2001, 80 wins), Lamoureux (2004-08, 60 wins), and Brad Eidsness (2008-12, 58 wins) hold the top three spots in that category.

It should be noted that Zane McIntyre is also statistically the best goaltender in North Dakota hockey history. His career goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.926) rank as the best all-time at UND. Former goaltending greats Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, Jordan Parise, Aaron Dell, and Karl Goehring round out the top five.

There is an excellent article by Brad Schlossman here that discusses why Zane changed his name from Gothberg to McIntyre and how much his mother and grandmother have influenced him, both on and off the ice.
Perhaps the biggest reason for UND’s success this season has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. During the 2014-15 campaign, Dave Hakstol’s squad is unbeaten (23-0-2) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past seven years, North Dakota is converting almost 90 percent of second intermission leads into victories and has just seven losses in the last 153 such situations (136-7-10). The last time UND lost when leading after two periods of play was November 1st, 2013 against visiting St. Cloud State, when a 1-0 lead turned into a 3-2 defeat.

Dave Hakstol, a National Coach of the Year finalist for the eighth time, was recently named the NCHC Coach of the Year and has now won twenty or more games in each of his first eleven seasons behind the North Dakota bench. That mark is easily the longest current streak in men’s hockey (Jerry York is second with six straight seasons of twenty or more wins, and UMass-Lowell’s Norm Bazin, Minnesota’s Don Lucia, and Quinnipiac’s Rand Pecknold have four). Since Dave Hakstol was hired (2004-05), his teams are 52-23 (.693) in the postseason (conference and NCAA tournaments). UND’s 25-win season is Hakstol’s eighth in his eleven years behind the North Dakota bench.

Quinnipiac Team Profile

Head Coach: Rand Pecknold (21st season at QU, 414-259-76, .603)
National Ranking: #11/#11
This Season: 23-11-4 overall, 16-3-3 ECAC (1st)
Last Ten Games: 5-3-2
Last Season: 24-10-6 overall (NCAA East Region semifinalist), 12-6-4 ECAC (3rd)

Team Offense: 2.76 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.24 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.6% (29 of 148)
Penalty Kill: 87.9% (124 of 141)

Key Players: Sophomore F Sam Anas (23-16-39), Senior F Matthew Peca (7-29-36), Junior F Travis St. Denis (15-18-33), Freshman F Landon Smith (15-16-31), Senior D Justin Agosta (3-19-22), Sophmore F Devon Toews (4-16-20), Junior G Michael Garteig (22-9-3, 2.00 GAA, .918 SV%, 5 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 287-142-43, .654)
National Rankings: #3/#3
This Season: 27-9-3 overall, 16-6-2-0 NCHC (1st)
Last Ten Games: 7-3-0
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.26 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.23 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.6% (31 of 158)
Penalty Kill: 84.5% (131 of 155)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (16-17-33), Senior F Michael Parks (12-20-32), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (5-21-26), Senior F Brendan O’Donnell (13-7-20), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (4-23-27), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (5-16-21), Senior D Nick Mattson (4-16-20), Junior G Zane McIntyre (27-9-3, 2.05 GAA, .929 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: October 7, 2006 (Grand Forks, ND). A late Quinnipiac power play goal got the Bobcats within a goal, but the damage had been done by then. T.J. Oshie assisted on all three Jonathan Toews goals (remarkably, the only hat trick of his Fighting Sioux career) and Ryan Duncan had a three point night (1 g, 2 a) in a 4-2 North Dakota victory. UND blew out the Bobcats 6-1 in Friday’s opener despite only one goal from the Oshie-Toews-Duncan (D.O.T.) line.

Most Important Meeting: Friday’s NCAA West Regional semifinal is the most important meeting between the two programs.

All-time Series: The two teams have only played two games (the aforementioned October 2006 series in Grand Forks), with North Dakota sweeping the Bobcats by a combined score of 10-3.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota is 11-2 in one-goal games this season. Teams that bus to their regional site (in-state) are 25-15 in NCAA regional games since 2008 (#1 seeds are 9-1); teams that fly are 39-54 over that same time period. Quinnipiac has competed at the Division I level since the 1999-2000 season; that was the year UND won its seventh national championship. North Dakota has played exactly one game in Fargo, a 5-1 victory over the Fargo Flyers on January 18th, 1947. That contest was UND’s second-ever game as a Division I hockey program.

The Prediction

Dave Hakstol has experimented with the lines coming into this matchup, and it will be interested to see how and when he shortens the bench as the game progresses. Quinnipiac will give UND fits with its overall team speed, and Zane McIntyre will need to be up to the challenge as the Bobcats generate several odd-man rushes per game. The partisan green and white crowd at Scheels Arena should give North Dakota the push it needs to advance to the regional final. UND 3, QU 2.

Bonus Prediction

In the first regional semifinal (a battle of the Huskies), I’ve got St. Cloud State and Michigan Tech in a tight contest, with St. Cloud’s power play making the difference. SCSU 3, MTU 2.

Pregame Events (from UNDsports.com)

The North Dakota Champions Club is hosting an official UND pregame party at Fargo Billiards and Gastro Pub. The pregame party starts three hours prior to any game in which UND is participating.

Parking at SCHEELS Arena is limited and fans are encouraged to consider alternate parking options. A shuttle service will run between Fargo Billiards and Gastro Pub, Anderson Softball Complex on 45th Street South, Bulldog Tap, and SCHEELS Arena. Shuttles will begin two hours before the first game of each day and will continue until one hour after the final game ends.