Weekend Preview: UND at Colorado College

Let me being by saying that Colorado College is a very good team. Despite losing four seniors who saw extensive ice time last season, the Tigers return scoring depth, experience, and a proven goaltender in Richard Bachman. Jack Hillen’s ability to contribute from the blue line (6-31-37) will be missed, as will Jimmy Kilpatrick’s touch around the net (15-16-31). But Scott Owen’s squad is undefeated through eight games and appears to have the right mix of top-end talent and role players to make a deep run in the playoffs.

All that being said, I’m not convinced that Colorado College is the best team in the country. Their five wins have come at home (two victories each against Alabama-Huntsville and Michigan Tech, and a 3-2 victory over Denver), and they have tied three games on the road. Two of those sister-kissers came against Clarkson, a team that the Tigers destroyed twice last season (5-2 and 6-1). The third road tie came against Denver in a home-and-home series.

So is the record a mirage or is it a reflection of how good the Tigers are? The truth is somewhere in the middle, but I expect these games to be closer than the rankings indicate.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Scott Owens (10th season at CC, 228-121-28, .642)
This Season: 5-0-3 Overall, 3-0-1 WCHA
National Ranking: #1
Team Offense: 2.50 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play 11.7% (7 of 60)
Penalty Kill 96.8% (61 of 63)
Last Season: 28-12-1 Overall (NCAA West Regional semifinalist), 21-6-1 WCHA (1st)
Key Players: Senior F Chad Rau (5-6-11), Senior F Eric Walski (3-5-8), Junior F Bill Sweatt (2-3-5), Junior D Brian Connelly (1-4-5), Junior D Nate Prosser (1-3-4), Sophomore G Richard Bachman (4-0-3, 1.24 GAA, .960 SV, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (5th season at UND, 108-60-15, .631)
This Season: 2-4-0 Overall, 2-2-0 WCHA
National Ranking: NR
Team Offense: 2.17 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.83 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 10.9% (5 of 46)
Penalty Kill: 78.8% (26 of 33)
Last Season: 28-11-4 Overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 18-7-3 WCHA (2nd)
Key Players: Senior F Ryan Duncan (2-2-4), Junior F Chris VandeVelde (2-1-3), Senior F Ryan Martens (2-1-3), Freshman F Jason Gregoire (2-1-3), Junior D Chay Genoway (0-3-3)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 22, 2008 (St. Paul, MN). UND forward T.J. Oshie scored a key goal late in the first period and the Fighting Sioux won 4-2. With the victory, North Dakota captured third place at the WCHA Final Five and secured a #1 seed for the NCAA tournament.
Last Meeting in Colorado Springs: January 6, 2007. Joe Finley broke a 1-1 tie with under five seconds remaining in the second period, and the Fighting Sioux held on for a 2-1 victory. The goal was the first of Finley’s career.
Most Important Meeting: March 27, 1997. UND defeated Colorado College, 6-2, in the Frozen Four Semifinals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Two nights later, North Dakota downed Boston University, 6-4, to claim its sixth NCAA Championship. North Dakota and Colorado College also met in the 2001 East Regional (Worcester, Mass.), with UND prevailing, 4-1.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 127-73-9. CC holds a 54-44-4 record in games played in Colorado Springs. The teams first met in 1948.

Game News and Notes

Colorado College has played in 11 of the last 14 NCAA national tournaments, but has not won a national championship since 1957. The Tigers are outscoring opponents 7-1 in first periods this season. Sioux forward Ryan Duncan has seven career points (4g, 3a) against CC. The senior from Calgary, Alberta has 138 career points and needs five more to pass T.J. Oshie for 30th on North Dakota’s all-time scoring list.

The Prediction

Colorado College plays so well on the big sheet of ice, and North Dakota has struggled to put together a complete game. UND would love a split in this series, but things will need to go their way in the special teams battle for the Fighting Sioux to gain a victory. A tie and a loss is a more likely result. 2-2 tie on Friday, CC 3-1 on Saturday

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

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