In the regular season, it’s a five-minute extension – bonus hockey, if you will – during which one team pours it on and the other team attempts to hang on.
North Dakota has been lights out in the extra frame. UND has not lost in seven overtime games this season (3-0-4), including a 2-0-4 record in league play. Wisconsin has also gone to overtime seven times, but holds an 0-3-4 mark (0-2-3 WCHA) in those games.
Over the past two weekends, both the Sioux and the Badgers have played three overtime contests. UND went 2-0-1, while UW went 0-2-1. It is because of these results that North Dakota is in prime position to claim the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champions while Wisconsin can finish no higher than 3rd.
Let’s look at it a different way. If all of those league games had ended after regulation and gone into the books as a tie, the two teams’ WCHA records would look almost identical:
North Dakota: 14-6-6 (34 points)
Wisconsin: 13-8-5 (31 points)
But because of the “fourth period”, the actual league records are:
North Dakota: 16-6-4 (36 points)
Wisconsin: 13-10-3 (29 points)
As the playoffs draw near and the games become tighter, the ability to win close games will be incredibly important. North Dakota is 9-5 in one-goal games this season; Wisconsin, 6-9.
Despite being close in the standings, the two teams appear to be headed in different directions. In the second half of the season (since January 1, 2009), the Fighting Sioux have lost just once (12-1-3), while the Badgers are under .500 (6-7-1). For more on UND’s penchant for second-half surges, click here.
Sioux forward Ryan Duncan has been red hot in the second half of the WCHA season. The senior has scored eight goals and added nine assists in 14 games. North Dakota went 10-1-3 in those seven league series to climb to the top of the WCHA standings.
One area where the Badgers might find success is on the power play. With the loss of Derrick LaPoint for the season (broken leg) and injuries to Evan Trupp and Jason Gregoire (both probable for this weekend), North Dakota’s penalty kill has been suspect lately. Over the past three games, UND has only killed 13 of 18 penalties (72.2%).
UW looks to be just as deep as North Dakota, with 14 players in double digit points for the season (UND has 16). Fighting Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol can comfortably roll all four lines in any situation, a benefit when dealing with the home-ice advantage in Madison.
Sioux freshman goaltender Brad Eidsness has never experienced an atmosphere quite like the Kohl Center, and his ability to play on the big stage will be tested this weekend. Remarkably, the Badgers are only 9-7-2 at the Kohl Center this season, but this weekend’s crowd will be in full throat and most of the players on the UW roster will remember this, my #1 highlight from the 2007-08 Fighting Sioux hockey season:
The Comeback at the Kohl Center will go down in the annals of Fighting Sioux hockey history as one of those “I remember where I was when….” games. North Dakota survived (yes, survived) the first two periods of hockey against the hometown Badgers in the Midwest Regional Final. UND was lucky to be down only 2-0 (thank you, Lamoureux, and your trusty sidekicks, the pipes). And then the captain did what captains do: they leave it all on the ice. Rylan Kaip netted just his eighth goal of the season at 3:33 of the third (and how perfect is that?), and 47 seconds later, Ryan Duncan took a brilliant pass from T.J. Oshie and tied the game at two. Andrew Kozek completed the UND comback at 1:47 of the overtime, and North Dakota was headed to Denver.
North Dakota can win the MacNaughton Cup (awarded to the WCHA regular season champion) with one win or two ties this weekend. UND would also claim the cup if Colorado College beats the Pioneers in Denver on Saturday night. DU and CC play only a single game this weekend.
Wisconsin Team Profile
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (7th season at UW, 139-109-34, .553)
This Season: 16-14-4 Overall, 13-10-3 WCHA (4th)
National Rankings: #19/NR
PairWise Ranking: 21st
Team Offense: 3.26 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.82 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.4% (40 of 206)
Penalty Kill: 87.8% (180 of 205)
Last Season: 16-17-7 Overall (NCAA Midwest Regional Finalist), 11-12-5 WCHA (6th)
Key Players: Junior F Michael Davies (10-12-22), Freshman F Derek Stepan (6-22-28), Senior F Tom Gorowsky (11-14-25), Junior D Jamie McBain (7-27-34), Sophomore D Brendan Smith (8-13-21), Senior G Shane Connelly (15-12-4, 2.68 GAA, .906 SV%, 3 SO)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (5th season at UND, 127-67-19, .641)
This Season: 21-11-4 Overall, 16-6-4 WCHA (1st)
National Rankings: #6/#6
PairWise Ranking: 7th
Team Offense: 3.56 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.67 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.6% (44 of 236)
Penalty Kill: 84.7% (160 of 189)
Last Season: 28-11-4 Overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 18-7-3 WCHA (2nd)
Key Players: Senior F Ryan Duncan (15-17-32), Junior F Chris VandeVelde (13-15-28), Freshman F Jason Gregoire (11-14-25), Freshman F Brett Hextall (12-11-23), Senior D Brad Miller (6-23-29), Junior D Chay Genoway (3-27-30), Freshman G Brad Eidsness (21-8-4, 2.46 GAA, .908 SV, 1 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: November 1, 2008 (Grand Forks, ND). Wisconsin finally earned their first win of the season, posting a 5-2 victory over North Dakota to salvage a split of the weekend series. The Badgers scored three goals in the first two minutes of the third period to erase a 2-0 Fighting Sioux lead. Freshman forward Jason Gregoire netted the game-winner for UND on Friday, sending the Halloween crowd home happy with a power play tally late in the third period that broke a 2-2 tie.
Last Meeting in Madison: March 30, 2008. North Dakota hangs on for the better part of two periods and scores three unanswered goals to defeat the homestanding Badgers and advance to their fourth consecutive Frozen Four.
Most Important Meeting: March 27, 1982. A 2-2 tie after two periods turns into a 5-2 Sioux victory, as Phil Sykes nets a hat trick and leads UND to its fourth National Championship.
All-time Series: Wisconsin leads the all-time series, 81-59-10 (.573), including a 43-24-3 (.636) mark in games played in Madison.
Game News and Notes
North Dakota has not lost this season when leading after one period (13-0-2). Wisconsin has only won one game this year when trailing after twenty minutes of play (1-4-1). UND freshman goaltender Brad Eidsness has now appeared in 33 consecutive games (including 32 starts), eclipsing the mark set by freshman Peter Waselovich during North Dakota’s 1973-74 campaign. UW junior forward Tom Bardis (a transfer from St. Lawrence) and UND senior defenseman Brad Miller are both from Alpharetta, Georgia. North Dakota senior forward Ryan Duncan is currently 16th on the Fighting Sioux career scoring list, two points behind Tony Hrkac (1984-85, 1986-87). Duncan is now in second place on UND’s all-time games played list with 168, and is moving closer to Chris Porter’s school (and NCAA) record of 175 consecutive games played.
The Fighting Sioux are on a roll and the MacNaughton Cup is within reach. No amount of red and white will keep North Dakota from accomplishing the first of many goals on Friday. Look for a bit of a letdown on Saturday, as UND rests a couple of banged-up players and gears up for the first round of the playoffs. UND 4-2, UW 4-3.