Weekend Preview: UND vs. Alaska-Anchorage

November 14th, 2008. The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves jumped out to a 3-0 lead against North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Sioux freshman goaltender Brad Eidsness entered the game in place of senior Aaron Walski and held UAA scoreless the rest of the way. UND fell short, losing 3-2, but with Eidsness starting in net the next night, the Sioux took down Anchorage 3-1 to gain a split of the weekend series.

Since that series, Eidsness has started every game for North Dakota. The Fighting Sioux are 15-5-3 in those games and tied for first place in the WCHA. In that same span, Alaska-Anchorage has gone 4-10-3 and fallen to ninth place in the league standings.

In the early part of the season, UAA was blistering hot on the power play. In that weekend series in Grand Forks, North Dakota successfully killed all eleven Seawolves power play opportunities, scored a short-handed goal, and tallied three goals with the man advantage. The Fighting Sioux will see plenty of power play opportunities this weekend, and special teams play will be key to any success UND may have in the land where “you can see Russia from my house”.

On the injury front, Sioux defenseman Derrick LaPoint is out for the season after suffering a broken leg against MSU-Mankato. Freshman defenseman Ben Blood will play this weekend, and fellow blueliner Zach Jones appears ready to return from injury. Corey Feinhage also made the trip to Anchorage and could start if necessary.

Up front, Brett Hextall could possibly go this weekend. Brent Davidson traveled as the thirteenth forward and would be inserted into the lineup if Hextall is unable to play.

Alaska Anchorage Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Shyiak (4th season at UAA, 36-82-19, .332)
This Season: 10-13-5 Overall, 7-12-5 WCHA (9th)
National Ranking: NR/NR
PairWise Ranking: NR
Team Offense: 2.64 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.21 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.1% (21 of 149)
Penalty Kill: 77.2% (149 of 193)
Last Season: 7-21-8 Overall, 3-19-6 WCHA (10th)
Key Players: Junior F Kevin Clark (6-14-20), Junior F Paul Crowder (12-15-27), Sophomore F Tommy Grant (14-7-21), Junior F Josh Lunden (10-5-15), Freshman D Curtis Leinweber (2-9-11), Sophomore G Bryce Christianson (5-5-4, 2.66 GAA, .890 SV)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (5th season at UND, 124-67-18, .636)
This Season: 18-11-3 Overall, 13-6-3 WCHA (1st)
National Rankings: #9/#9
PairWise Ranking: 12th
Team Offense: 3.50 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.69 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.8% (41 of 218)
Penalty Kill: 85.7% (144 of 168)
Last Season: 28-11-4 Overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 18-7-3 WCHA (2nd)
Key Players: Senior F Ryan Duncan (13-13-26), Junior F Chris VandeVelde (10-14-24), Senior F/D Brad Miller (6-19-25), Sophomore F Matt Frattin (12-7-19), Junior D Chay Genoway (2-26-28), Freshman G Brad Eidsness (18-8-3, 2.47 GAA, .909 SV)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: November 15, 2008 (Grand Forks, ND). It was a “special” 3-1 victory as North Dakota scored two power play goals, added a shorthanded tally, and held the Seawolves scoreless on seven power plays. Anchorage won Friday’s opener, 3-2.

Last Meeting in Anchorage: November 18, 2006. The Seawolves scored the last three goals of the hockey game and defeated the visiting Sioux 4-2. Anchorage picked up the series sweep after downing North Dakota 6-2 on Friday. In Friday’s game, UAA scored the last five goals after UND jumped out to a 2-1 lead.

Most Important Meeting: March 19, 2004 (St. Paul, MN). The Fighting Sioux and Seawolves met in the semifinal round of the WCHA Final Five, and UND cruised to the championship game with a 4-2 victory.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 37-16-3 (.688), although UAA holds a 13-12-0 advantage in games played in Anchorage. The Seawolves have won four of their past five home games against North Dakota.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota has not lost this season when leading after one period of play (10-0-1). UAA sophomore forward Tommy Grant has scored 14 goals this season and is the third-leading goal scorer in the WCHA. UND freshman goaltender Brad Eidsness has appeared in 29 consecutive games (including 28 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 is currently 17th on the Fighting Sioux career scoring list, five points behind current UND assistant coach Cary Eades (1978-82). The Seawolves have not lost a game this season (8-0-3) when allowing two or fewer goals.

The Prediction

Historically, this has not been an easy series for UND. Even though the teams are headed in opposite directions, I don’t expect more than a split out of this weekend. UAA 3-2, UND 4-1.

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