Cornell is one of the few teams in the country scoring at a slower rate than North Dakota. The Big Red have only tallied 12 goals in their first six games, while the Fighting Sioux have a slightly higher average of 28 goals in twelve games.
So why is Cornell still undefeated (4-0-2), while UND finds itself in yet another November funk (4-7-1)?
Cornell has been a goaltending factory for years, beginning with Ken Dryden and Brian Hayward and continuing through David LeNeveu and David McKee. The next Big Red netminder to join the Hobey Baker race is Cornell junior Ben Scrivens. Scrivens had a terrific sophomore campaign (19-12-3, 2.02 goals-against average, .930 save percentage, 4 shutouts), and he’s followed that up with unfathomable numbers this season.
Scrivens has played every minute for Cornell this year, and here are the statistics:
Four wins, two ties. 0.81 goals-against average. .971 save percentage. 2 shutouts.
Admittedly, I’m a numbers guy, and some people aren’t. But let’s take a look at what those numbers mean…
In this weekend’s two game series, it would be an accomplishment for North Dakota to score two goals. Total. Scrivens is giving up less than one goal per game.
And the save percentage is even more ridiculous. In order to score three goals, the Fighting Sioux would have to put more than 100 shots on net.
The offensive outlook for North Dakota is not great. The Sioux have not scored an even-strength goal in more than 13 periods of hockey. UND’s power play is catching on, but Cornell has only allowed one power play goal all season (in 30 opportunities).
According to North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol, this opponent might be just what the doctor ordered.
“Maybe this is the right challenge at the right time,” Hakstol said. “We’re a team that’s not scoring goals. We’re a team that’s been sporadic on our power play. Cornell probably presents the best challenge possible for us at this point in our year.”
After losing two non-conference games at the Icebreaker Invitational earlier this season, it is imperative that North Dakota picks up wins this weekend and next weekend at Harvard, or UND will be on the outside looking in at the national tournament field.
Cornell Team Profile
National Rankings: #12/#12
Head Coach: Mike Schafer (14th season at Cornell, 258-139-47, .634)
This Season: 4-0-2 Overall, 4-0-2 ECAC (t-2nd)
Team Offense: 2.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 0.83 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 12.8% (5 of 39)
Penalty Kill: 96.7% (29 of 30)
Last Season: 19-14-3 Overall, 12-9-1 ECAC (t-4th)
Key Players: Junior F Colin Greening (2-3-5), Sophomore F Riley Nash (2-1-3), Sophomore D Jordan Berk (1-1-2), Junior G Ben Scrivens (4-0-2, 0.81 GAA, .971 SV, 2 SO)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (5th season at UND, 110-63-16, .624)
This Season: 4-7-1 Overall, 4-5-1 WCHA (7th)
National Ranking: NR
Team Offense: 2.33 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.33 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 13.8% (13 of 94)
Penalty Kill: 80.6% (58 of 72)
Last Season: 28-11-4 Overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 18-7-3 WCHA (2nd)
Key Players: Senior F Ryan Duncan (4-6-10), Junior F Chris VandeVelde (3-5-8), Senior F/D Brad Miller (3-5-8), Freshman F Brett Hextall (4-2-6), Junior D Chay Genoway (0-8-8), Freshman G Brad Eidsness (4-4-1, 2.85 GAA, .901 SV)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: December 27, 1997 (Grand Rapids, MI). North Dakota defeated Cornell 5-1 in the opener of the Pepsi Invitational. UND went on to win the holiday tournament, topping Ferris State 6-3 in the championship game.
Most Important Meeting: The Fighting Sioux and Big Red have met three times in the national tournament. Cornell beat UND 1-0 in the 1967 seminfinal, and North Dakota returned the favor in the 1968 semifinal, winning 3-1. UND also defeated Cornell 6-2 in the 1997 national quarterfinals.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 3-1-0 (.750). All four meetings have been on neutral ice.
Game News and Notes
UND freshman goaltender Brad Eidsness has appeared in nine consecutive games (including eight starts). The last freshman netminder to appear in a longer stretch of games was Karl Goehring, who played in ten straight contests in 1997-98. Cornell junior goaltender Ben Scrivens is following in the footsteps of Big Red netminders LeNevue (2001-03) and McKee (2003-06), both of whom became Hobey Baker finalists. North Dakota senior forward Ryan Duncan is currently 30th on the UND career scoring list. Duncan has notched 143 points in his Sioux career and would move into the top 25 all-time with three points this weekend. UND has not won a game this season when scoring two or fewer goals (0-6-1).
It does not look good for the green and white. I’m hopeful for a split, but all four lines need to play well for that to happen. Cornell 2-1, UND 2-1.
Thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.