Much of the attention leading up to this weekend’s action has been focused on the North Dakota players who will not be suiting up this weekend. Forward Michael Parks has an injury that will sideline him for a few weeks, while more than a few UND players are serving suspensions due to off-ice issues: Danny Kristo, Corban Knight, Carter Rowney, Brendan O’Donnell, and Andrew MacWilliam will sit out Friday’s game, while Kristo will be joined in the stands by Conner Gaarder, Stephane Pattyn, and Andrew Panzarella on Saturday night.
But I would rather focus on the players and teams who will be on the ice this weekend. UND boasts one of the top defensive groups in the country, led by Derek Forbort, Joe Gleason, Dillon Simpson, and newcomer Jordan Schmaltz. Alaska-Anchorage has a young set of blueliners with only one senior on the back end.
Goaltending is a question mark for North Dakota, as neither junior transfer Clarke Saunders nor freshman Zane Gothberg has played a minute in net for the Green and White. UAA, on the other hand, is solid at the position, as juniors Rob Gunderson and Chris Kamal have both seen significant minutes over the past two seasons.
Up front, UND’s scoring threats may be limited on Friday evening. Mark MacMillan, Derek Rodwell, and Rocco Grimaldi will have to come through for North Dakota to be successful. On the Seawolf side of the ledger, Matt Bailey, Jordan Kwas, and Alex Gellert can all light the lamp.
Alaska-Anchorage Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Shyiak (8th season at UAA, 77-152-27, .354)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 1-0-1 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 9-25-2 overall, 5-22-1 WCHA (12th)
Last season’s team statistics:
Team Offense: 2.36 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.72 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.5% (25 of 128)
Penalty Kill: 81.1% (120 of 148)
Key Players (last season’s statistics): Junior F Matt Bailey (10-7-17), Junior F Jordan Kwas (4-10-14), Sophomore D Austin Coldwell (2-12-14), Sophomore F Derek Docken (1-10-11), Junior G Chris Kamal (4-13-0, 3.46 GAA, .877 SV%)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (9th season at UND, 213-106-30, .653)
National Ranking: #2
This Season: 0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 26-13-3 overall (NCAA Regional Finalist), 16-11-1 WCHA (4th)
Last season’s team statistics:
Team Offense: 3.21 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.57 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 22.0% (40 of 182)
Penalty Kill: 81.1% (137 of 169)
Key Players (last season’s statistics): Senior F Danny Kristo (19-26-45) Senior F Corban Knight (16-24-40), Senior F Carter Rowney (18-15-33), Sophomore D Nick Mattson (6-13-19), Junior D Dillon Simpson (2-16-18)
By The Numbers
Last meeting: December 3, 2011 (Anchorage, AK). Despite outshooting UND 20-17, the Seawolves were undone by Danny Kristo, Brock Nelson, and Corban Knight, who combined for three goals and five points in the second period and chased UAA netminder Chris Kamal from the pipes. In the opener, North Dakota scored three goals in the opening ten minutes of the hockey game and won 5-2.
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, 44-17-4 (.708), including a slim 17-14-1 (.547) edge in games played in Anchorage.
Last Ten: UND has an 8-1-1 (.850) record in the last ten games between the teams, outscoring the Seawolves 40-16 over that span.
Game News and Notes
The Seawolves have not scored on the power play yet this season (0 for 7). The five North Dakota forwards out of the lineup on Friday night have 117 career goals. Hayden Trupp, the younger brother of former UND forward Evan Trupp, is a freshman for the Seawolves this season.
Goals will be hard to come by in Friday’s tilt, particularly on the North Dakota side. I see a struggle for the Green and White for the first forty minutes, with a late equalizer earning a point for UND. 3-3 tie.
On Saturday night, North Dakota’s offense will get back on track and show glimpses of what this team can do. North Dakota 5, Alaska (Fairbanks) 2.