The last time these teams met, even the post-game handshake was heated. There’s plenty more on the line this time around, and Wisconsin, whose unexpected tournament berth may have had them scrambling to cancel tee times, will be ready. The Badgers used a fair bit of puck luck and a partisan crowd to down Denver 6-2, while North Dakota withstood a furious Princeton forecheck and survived 5-1. Yes, I said survived 5-1. The UND/Princeton tilt should have been a 3-2 contest either way, but Hobey Baker finalist Jean-Philippe Lamoureux stole the show, turning aside 38 Tiger shots before his shutout bid was spoiled with 33 seconds remaining.
Of the six Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams invited to the NCAA tournament, only these two remain, and one of them will represent the WCHA in the Frozen Four (Denver, CO). The other four league representatives (Colorado College, Denver, St. Cloud State, and Minnesota) failed to win a game in the tournament.
The winner of this Midwest Region final will face the Boston College/Miami winner in one national semifinal, while Michigan will battle CCHA rival Notre Dame in the other semifinal.
Wisconsin Team Profile
National Rankings: #17/-
PairWise Ranking: #12
KRACH Strength of Schedule: 4th of 59 teams
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (6th season at UW, 123-94-30 .559)
This Season: 16-16-7 Overall, 11-12-5 WCHA (6th)
Team Offense: 2.87 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.54 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.1% (31 of 181)
Penalty Kill: 81.3% (152 of 187)
Last Season: 19-18-4 Overall, 12-13-3 WCHA (6th)
Key Players: Freshman F Kyle Turris (11-23-34), Junior F Ben Street (13-17-30), Sophomore D Jamie McBain (4-19-23), Senior D Kyle Klubertanz (4-15-19), Junior G Shane Connelly (15-15-5, 2.43 GAA, .913 SV, 1 SO)
NCAA Championships: 6 (most recent, 2006)
NCAA Appearance: 22nd (most recent, 2006)
North Dakota Team Profile
National Rankings: #3/#3
PairWise Ranking: #3
KRACH Strength of Schedule:2nd of 59 teams
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 105-55-15, .643)
This Season: 27-10-4 Overall, 18-7-3 WCHA (2nd)
Team Offense: 3.05 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.76 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.5% (36 of 185)
Penalty Kill: 87.6% (156 of 178)
Last Season: 24-14-5 Overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Players: Junior F T.J. Oshie (18-25-43, Hobey Baker finalist), Junior F Ryan Duncan (17-22-39), Sophomore F Chris VandeVelde (15-17-32), Sophomore D Chay Genoway (8-21-29), Senior D Taylor Chorney (3-21-24), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (26-10-4, 1.63 GAA, .935 SV, 6 SO, Hobey Baker finalist)
NCAA Championships: 7 (most recent, 2000)
NCAA Appearance: 23rd (most recent, 2007)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: November 10, 2007 (Madison, WI). North Dakota defeats Wisconsin 3-1 to salvage a split of the weekend series at the Kohl Center. The Badgers won Friday night, 4-0. Saturday’s finale was marred by 172 penalty minutes, most of which came during a line brawl late in the third period.
Most Important Meeting: March 27, 1982. A 2-2 tie after two periods turns into a 5-2 Sioux victory, as Phil Sykes nets a hat trick and leads UND to its fourth National Championship.
All-time Series: Wisconsin leads the all-time series, 80-57-10 (.578), including a 43-22-3 mark (.654) in Madison and an 11-5 record (.688) at the Kohl Center.
Game News and Notes
UND senior goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoure (Grand Forks, ND) enters Sunday’s game leading the nation in goals-against average (1.6346) and save percentage (.935). The Hobey Baker finalist is tied for first with six shutouts and has given up exactly one goal 17 times this season. Only two of the other top-ten net minders (Michigan’s Billy Sauer and Miami’s Jeff Zatkoff) are still active in postseason play. Saturday’s win against Denver was Wisconsin’s first action since a March 15th overtime loss to St. Cloud eliminated them from the WCHA playoffs. North Dakota is outscoring opponents 44-12 in the first period this season; Wisconsin is 2-12-6 when trailing after twenty minutes. The Badgers finish strong, however, outscoring opponents 49-23 in the third period. Freshman phenom Kyle Turris (11-23-34) is expected to turn pro at the conclusion of Wisconsin’s season. The six goals Wisconsin tallied against Denver were the most the Badgers had scored in a game since a 7-2 victory over Denver on January 12th. North Dakota’s four juniors who turned down pro contracts (Oshie, Duncan, Chorney, Finley) have combined to score 42 goals and 79 assists, more than a third of UND’s goal scoring for the season.
The Badger faithful will be out in full force, and the first ten minutes will tell the tale. If North Dakota can demonstrate puck control and poise early on, it could be a long night for Bucky. If Wisconsin keeps the crowd involved, this one might go to overtime. The Sioux rebound from a shaky first-round game and head to Denver on a high note. UND 3-1.
Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Check back after the game for reaction, commentary, and analysis.