Icebreaker Preview: UND vs. Boston University

119 minutes. Less than two complete hockey games. That’s the total amount of collegiate experience among the three goaltenders on the roster.

And this from the head coach:

“The most important thing we have to do is shore up that position. Our philosophy will be (that) those who play well will be rewarded with further play. It might be that we have a rotation. It might be that we have a 1 and a 1A. It might be that we just have a number one guy. It all remains to be seen.”

A quote from North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol? Nope. That was Boston University head coach Jack Parker describing the goaltending situation at Agganis Arena. But the situation sounds very familiar to the Sioux faithful….

Hobey Baker candidate Jean-Philippe Lamoureux graduated from the University of North Dakota after posting one of the all-time great seasons in UND netminding history: 27-11-4, 1.75 goals-against average, .932 save percentage, and 6 shutouts.

Sioux senior Aaron Walski is the only goaltender on the roster with any collegiate playing time, and he has played a total of 101 minutes over three seasons.

Freshman goaltender Brad Eidsness is expected to split playing time with Walski this weekend at the Icebreaker, while walk-on Graeme Harrington may see the ice sometime down the road.

At BU, only sophomore goalie Adam Kraus has seen game action, as Brett Bennett was dismissed from the team after a sophomore campaign in which he played 70 percent of the goaltending minutes and posted a record of 16-10-3 with a 2.63 GAA and a .888 save percentage. Freshman Grant Rollheiser was the top netminder taken in the 2008 NHL draft and should see playing time right away.

Both teams return scoring punch and defensive depth, but need to solve the goaltending puzzle in order to play deep into March and April.

Boston University Team Profile

Head Coach: Jack Parker (34th season at BU, 762-389-93, .650)

National Rankings: #9/#10

This Season: 0-0-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East

Last Season: 19-17-4, 15-9-3 Hockey East (2nd)

Key Returning Players: Senior F Chris Higgins (14-18-32), Sophomore F Colin Wilson (12-23-35), Sophomore F Nick Bonino (16-13-29), Senior D Matt Gilroy (6-15-21), Sophomore D Kevin Shattenkirk (4-17-21)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (5th season at UND, 106-56-15, .641)

National Rankings: #5/#4

This Season: 0-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA

Last Season: 28-11-4 (Frozen Four semifinalist), 18-7-3 WCHA (2nd)

Key Returning Players: Senior F Ryan Duncan (18-22-40), Junior F Chris VandeVelde (15-17-32), Senior F Andrew Kozek (18-3-21), Junior D Chay Genoway (8-21-29), Senior D Joe Finley (4-11-15)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: March 25, 2005. UND blanks BU 4-0 in the opener of the NCAA East Regional (Worcester, MA). North Dakota would go on to defeat Boston College 6-3 in the regional final.

Last meeting at Agannis Arena: October 20, 1995. The Terriers blitz North Dakota 8-5.

Most important meeting: March 29, 1997. UND scores five goals in the second period and goes on to defeat Boston University 6-4 for the 1997 NCAA championship. David Hoogsteen scores 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, 11-6-1 (.639), although the Terriers have won five of nine games played in Boston. 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.

Game News and Notes

This is the second consecutive season that North Dakota has opened non-conference action in Boston. Last season, the Sioux played Boston College to a bizarre, fog-shortened 0-0 tie before beating Northeastern 3-0. UND tuned up for the Icebreaker with a 6-2 exhibition victory over the University of Manitoba Bisons, while the Terriers downed the University of New Brunswick 4-2 in exhibition play. North Dakota freshman forward Jason Gregoire was tabbed as the co-rookie of the year in the WCHA coaches’ poll. When UND freshman Brett Hextall suits up in Friday’s contest, he will become the first California native to play hockey for the Fighting Sioux.

The Prediction

UND has won its last six season openers, and will make it seven against Boston University. Both teams can get up the ice and score, and this one will go down to the wire. UND 4-3.

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