Weekend Preview: UND vs. MSU-Mankato

The Fighting Sioux and Mavericks have both built a reputation as tough, physical hockey teams. The last time these two teams played a regular-season series in Grand Forks, five players were ejected for fighting in the first game. Tensions from that game spilled over into the following season when Rylan Kaip finally squared off against Trevor Bruess after waiting eleven months for the opportunity.

On paper, MSU-M and UND have very similar special teams percentages, but Mankato spends much more time killing penalties, while North Dakota finds itself on the power play much more frequently. The breakdown:

MSU-Mankato: 5.76 power plays per game, 6.79 penalty kills per game
North Dakota: 6.70 power plays per game, 5.27 penalty kills per game

The teams have combined for 13 shorthanded goals this season, including three by the Mavs’ Zach Harrison against UND in the WCHA opener for both schools.

In the impossible-to-predict race for home ice in the conference playoffs, the Mavericks are currently in eighth place but could move up to fourth with a sweep of North Dakota. UND would find itself in first place with a sweep and a Denver loss this weekend.

Minnesota State University Mankato Team Profile

Head Coach: Troy Jutting (9th season at MSUM, 140-158-41, .473)
This Season: 13-13-3 Overall, 9-11-2 WCHA (8th)
National Rankings: NR/NR
PairWise Ranking: 24th
Team Offense: 3.17 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.10 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.8% (33 of 167)
Penalty Kill: 79.7% (157 of 197)
Last Season: 19-16-4, 12-12-4 WCHA (4th)
Key Players: Senior F Mick Berge (6-19-25), Junior F Trevor Bruess (10-4-14), Sophomore F Mick Louwerse (12-12-24), Sophomore D Kurt Davis (6-22-28), Senior G Mike Zacharias (12-10-3, 2.95 GAA, .904 SV)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (5th season at UND, 122-67-18, .633)
This Season: 16-11-3 Overall, 11-6-3 WCHA (3rd)
National Rankings: #11/#11
PairWise Ranking: 16th
Team Offense: 3.47 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.73 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.4% (37 of 201)
Penalty Kill: 85.4% (135 of 158)
Last Season: 28-11-4 Overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 18-7-3 WCHA (2nd)
Key Players: Senior F Ryan Duncan (12-11-23), 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 (2-25-27), Freshman G Brad Eidsness (16-8-3, 2.51 GAA, .909 SV)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: October 18, 2008 (Mankato, MN). North Dakota scored three power play goals in the third period to knot the game at 3-3 and Chris Vandevelde scored a shorthanded goal with under ten seconds remaining for a 4-3 victory. The Mavericks won Friday’s opener 5-1, largely due to Zach Harrison’s shorthanded hat trick.

Last meeting in Grand Forks: March 10, 2007. The Fighting Sioux held on for a 2-1 victory and a sweep of the WCHA first round playoff series. North Dakota won the opener, 5-2.

All-time record: UND leads the all-time series 29-10-7 (.707), including a 17-6-3 record (.712) in Grand Forks. Remarkably, 10 of the 44 games played between the two teams have come in the WCHA playoffs, with North Dakota winning eight of those ten games.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota has not lost this season when leading after one period of play (9-0-1). UND freshman goaltender Brad Eidsness has appeared in 27 consecutive games (including 26 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. Maverick freshman forward Mike Louewerse (12-12-24) ranks third in the WCHA in rookie scoring. North Dakota senior forward Ryan Duncan is currently 18th on the Fighting Sioux career scoring list, one point behind David Hoogsteen (1995-99). UND is three points behind league leaders Denver and Wisconsin. The Pioneers play one game this weekend (at Colorado College), while the Badgers are idle. A Sioux sweep coupled with a Denver loss would put North Dakota in first place with three weeks remaining in the regular season. UND and MSU-M are two of the three teams (along with Wisconsin) that have swept a weekend series from Minnesota in 2009.

The Prediction

Both teams have a lot to play for, and a split is likely. But North Dakota has been rolling four lines effectively and playing well at home, so I’m looking for the Fighting Sioux to take three points. UND 5-3, 3-3 tie.

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