The last time these teams played, St. Cloud State sat in 7th place in the conference while UND found itself in 9th.
Seven weeks later, the Huskies are still sitting in seventh, while North Dakota has surged to 2nd place.
Since being swept at North Dakota, SCSU has picked up just three victories and two ties. The Fighting Sioux have lost just twice in December and January (10-2-2) and are right in the middle of the race for the McNaughton Cup.
North Dakota has been getting great goaltending and balanced scoring for the better part of two months, while St. Cloud has been up and down. Over the past three weekends, the Huskies swept Duluth at home, suffered two losses against Minnesota, and took three of four points from the Tigers in Colorado Springs.
Garrett Roe (12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points) and Lasch (11-19-30) continue to lead the way for St. Cloud State. The Huskies continue to thrive on the power play (18.1%) but have struggled in close contests (1-5-0 in one goal games this season).
This weekend, the teams will be earning points for the UND/SCSU Challenge Cup. North Dakota swept two games from St. Cloud in Grand Forks, so the Huskies will need to win both games this weekend to share the trophy for the second consecutive year.
St. Cloud State Team Profile
Head Coach: Bob Motzko (4th season at SCSU, 76-54-18, .574)
This Season: 13-11-2 Overall, 8-9-1 WCHA (7th)
National Rankings: NR/NR
PairWise Ranking: 19th
Team Offense: 3.69 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.92 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.1% (30 of 166)
Penalty Kill: 79.8% (103 of 129)
Last Season: 19-16-5 Overall (NCAA East Regional Semifinalist), 12-12-4 WCHA (4th)
Key Players: Sophomore F Garrett Roe (12-24-36), Senior F John Swanson (8-15-23), Junior F Ryan Lasch (11-19-30), Junior D Garrett Raboin (8-16-24), Junior G Jase Weslosky (11-7-1, 2.87 GAA, .912 SV, 1 SO)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (5th season at UND, 121-66-18, .634)
This Season: 15-10-3 Overall, 10-5-3 WCHA (2nd)
National Ranking: #12/#12
PairWise Ranking: 14th
Team Offense: 3.57 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.75 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.3% (37 of 192)
Penalty Kill: 84.4% (124 of 147)
Last Season: 28-11-4 Overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 18-7-3 WCHA (2nd)
Key Players: Senior F Ryan Duncan (11-11-22), Junior F Chris VandeVelde (9-12-21), Senior F/D Brad Miller (4-19-23), Sophomore F Matt Frattin (12-7-19), Junior D Chay Genoway (2-23-25), Freshman G Brad Eidsness (15-7-3, 2.50 GAA, .910 SV)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: December 13, 2008 (Grand Forks, ND). Brett Hextall scored the game-winner with five seconds remaining in the second period as North Dakota defeated St. Cloud 7-4. UND won the opener, 3-2.
Last Meeting in St. Cloud: January 5, 2008. Ryan Duncan led the Fighting Sioux with two goals and an assist as UND downed the Huskies 6-2 to gain a split of the weekend series.
Most Important Meeting: March 17, 2001 (St. Paul, MN). St. Cloud State defeated North Dakota 6-5 to claim the 2001 WCHA Final Five Championship. Derek Eastman scored the game-winner in overtime after UND scored three goals in the final ten minutes of regulation to force the extra session.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 49-26-10 (.635), and holds a record of 19-14-5 (.566) in games played in St. Cloud.
Game News and Notes
UND freshman goaltender Brad Eidsness has appeared in 25 consecutive games (including 24 starts). The last freshman netminder to appear in a longer stretch of games was Peter Waselovich, who played in a school-record 32 straight games during UND’s 1973-74 season. North Dakota senior forward Ryan Duncan moved into the top 20 on UND’s career scoring list with a three point weekend against Denver. Duncan has notched 155 points in his Sioux career. St. Cloud holds a sparkling 10-3-0 record in home games.
This series has split written all over it. North Dakota will continue its solid play on Friday night, but the Huskies will not lose all four games in this season series. UND 5-3, SCSU 4-2.
On a Personal Note
The St. Cloud State University Center Ice Club will be hosting a pre-game social this Saturday, January 31st from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Holiday Inn and Suites (Legends Bar). The Holiday Inn is located at the intersection of Highway 15 and Division Street (Highway 23).
They will provide food, prizes, and tremendous hospitality to fans of both teams. I encourage you to attend the social, take a look at the Challenge Cup, and meet some great fans on both sides of this hockey rivalry.
This event is free and open to all fans 21 and older.
As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.