Game Preview: UND vs. St. Cloud State

As I mentioned in my article about the Challenge Cup, the rivalry between these two schools has picked up since the WCHA made North Dakota and St. Cloud State schedule partners five seasons ago.

And on a personal note, this weekend will mark my tenth visit to the National Hockey Center to watch these two teams take the ice.

There are a couple of keys for this weekend’s games. UND comes in as the second-most penalized team in the country (19.3 penalty minutes/game), while SCSU is the least-penalized team in all of college hockey (9.3 penalty minutes/game). Further complicating matters for North Dakota is that the Huskies are converting almost 23% of their power play opportunities, while the Fighting Sioux are struggling at just over 15%.

Or put more simply, SCSU has scored over 40% of its goals with the man advantage; UND, only 20%.

UND will also feel the loss of junior forward T.J. Oshie, who will serve a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules and will not play Friday night. Oshie is tied for the team lead in points, and his energy and hard-nosed play will be missed in the opener.

The two teams will meet again in Grand Forks on March 7-8 (the final weekend of the regular season) with the UND/SCSU Challenge Cup on the line.

St. Cloud State Team Profile
National Rankings: #15/-
Head Coach: Bob Motzko (3rd season at SCSU, 53-36-13, .583)
This Season: 9-9-2 Overall, 4-7-1 WCHA (t-7th)
Special Teams: Power Play 22.8% (26 of 114), Penalty Kill 86.7% (65 of 75)
Last Season: 22-11-7 Overall (NCAA East Regional Semifinalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (2nd)
Key Players: Sophomore F Ryan Lasch (15-15-30), Freshman F Garrett Roe (11-16-27), Sophomore F Andreas Nodl (10-13-23), Senior F Nate Dey (8-5-13), Senior D Aaron Brocklehurst (2-10-12), Sophomore G Jase Weslosky (7-8-0, 2.16 GAA, .928 SV, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile
National Rankings: #8/#7
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 87-52-12, .616)
This Season: 9-7-1 Overall, 7-7-0 WCHA (4th)
Specialty Teams: Power Play 15.1% (11 of 73), Penalty Kill 87.5% (70 of 80)
Last Season: 24-14-5 (Frozen Four Semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Players: Junior F Ryan Duncan (7-9-16), Junior F T.J. Oshie (9-7-16), Sophomore F Chris VandeVelde (6-7-13), Senior D Robbie Bina (1-15-16), Junior D Taylor Chorney (0-12-12), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (9-7-1, 1.88 GAA, .932 SV, 4 SO)

By The Numbers
Last Meeting: March 16, 2007 (St. Paul, Minnesota). UND defeats SCSU 6-2 in the WCHA Final Five semifinals. Chris Porter plays in his 171st consecutive game to tie the all-time WCHA record. Porter would set the record in the championship game the following night.
Last Meeting in St. Cloud: March 3, 2007. UND takes the series finale 7-2 after the teams skate to a 3-3 tie in the opener.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 46-25-8 (.633), and holds a record of 18-13-5 (.569) in games played in St. Cloud.

Game News and Notes
UND goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux has now started 42 consecutive games between the pipes, breaking the previous school record of 40 held by Al Finkelstein (1951-53). Lamoureux’s streak is the second-longest streak in WCHA history, trailing only Brant Nicklin, who started 76 consecutive games for the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs from 1996-98. St. Cloud State boasts two of the top five scorers in the country in sophomore Ryan Lasch (#2, 15-15-30) and freshman Garrett Roe (#5, 11-16-27, tops among rookies). By comparison, UND’s top scorers T.J. Oshie, Robbie Bina, and Ryan Duncan (16 points each) are tied for 70th among national scoring leaders. North Dakota has not lost to St. Cloud in the last six meetings between the two teams, going 4-0-2 in that span. The Fighting Sioux are definitely not a comeback team. The last time North Dakota won a game after trailing through two periods was almost three seasons ago. Since then, UND has gone 0-24-0 when facing a deficit after forty minutes.

The Prediction
I’m not sure when the Sioux will stop doing the splits, but it won’t be this weekend. With T.J. Oshie out of the lineup on Friday night, North Dakota will be happy to take two points from the weekend series. SCSU 4-2, UND 3-2.

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Check back after the games for reaction and commentary.

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