This could be a difficult stretch for St. Cloud State. Before Christmas, the Huskies will play two games each at North Dakota, Denver, and Alaska-Anchorage and home series against Wisconsin and Colorado College. The trip to UAA is never easy, and their other four 2009 opponents sport a combined record of 21-9-4.
SCSU has had an uneven season so far, going unbeaten (2-0-2) at home while winning only one game on the road (1-3-0). Garrett Roe has been a bright spot up front for the Huskies (two goals and eight points in eight games), but he will serve a suspension on Friday night for an unspecified violation of team rules.
North Dakota has come out firing, with only a 2-1 setback at Anchorage spoiling an otherwise stellar record (6-1-1). UND enjoys a huge advantage in special teams play, and boasts scoring depth and a gigantic home-ice edge. The Fighting Sioux began their current 16 game home unbeaten streak (13-0-3) with a sweep against the Huskies in December 2008.
This weekend, the teams will be earning points for the UND/SCSU Challenge Cup, a traveling fan trophy awarded to the team which wins the four-game season series. The Cup will be awarded in St. Cloud on February 13, 2010. North Dakota has won at least a share of the Challenge Cup each of the past three seasons.
St. Cloud State Team Profile
Head Coach: (Bob Motzko, 5th season at SCSU, 84-63-21, .563)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 3-3-2, 2-1-1 WCHA
Last Season: 18-17-3 overall, 13-13-2 WCHA (6th)
Team Offense: 2.38 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.25 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.4% (9 of 49)
Penalty Kill: 84.4% (27 of 32)
Key Players: Junior F Garrett Roe (2-6-8), Junior F Tony Mosey (3-3-6), Senior F Ryan Lasch (2-1-3), Senior D Craig Gaudet (1-3-4), Junior G Dan Dunn (2-1-0, 1.98 GAA, .924 SV%)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (6th season at UND, 136-72-20, .640)
National Ranking: #2/#2
This Season: 6-1-1, 4-1-1 WCHA
Last Season: 24-15-4 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 17-7-4 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 3.62 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 26.0% (13 of 50)
Penalty Kill: 92.7% (38 of 41)
Key Players: Senior F Chris VandeVelde (2-7-9), Sophomore F Jason Gregoire (5-0-5), Junior F Evan Trupp (4-4-8), Senior D Chay Genoway (4-6-10), Sophomore G Brad Eidsness (5-1-1, 1.70 GAA, .915 SV%, 1 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: January 31, 2009 (St. Cloud, MN). North Dakota rebounds to defeat St. Cloud State 4-2 after suffering their first shutout loss of the season in Friday’s opener (3-0). Senior captain Ryan Duncan scored the game-winner for the Fighting Sioux.
Last Meeting in Grand Forks: December 13, 2008. 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.
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, 50-27-10 (.632), and holds a record of 26-11-5 (.679) in games played in Grand Forks. The Huskies are 3-8-3 in games played in the new Ralph Engelstad Arena since it opened in 2001.
Game News and Notes
The Sioux are 19-12-3 all-time on Friday the 13th and have lost just once in their last nine games (6-1-2) on Paraskavedekatriaphobia Day. Last season UND defeated Minnesota State University – Mankato 4-1 on Friday, February 13th. North Dakota has not lost in its last 16 home contests (13-0-3). UND’s penalty kill is the second best in the country. Huskies leading scorer Garrett Roe will miss Friday’s series opener due to a violation of team rules. SCSU head coach Bob Motzko would not elaborate on the suspension.
North Dakota will continue its home unbeaten streak, but it won’t be easy. Both teams will need to strike a balance between playing a physical brand of hockey and staying our of the penalty box. SCSU will keep both games close and will steal at least one point this weekend. UND 3-2, 2-2 tie.
On a Personal Note
I look forward to this series every year because of the unique relationship we have with the Center Ice Club, the official hockey booster organization for the St. Cloud State University Huskies. On behalf of SiouxSports.com, I would like to invite you to the UND/SCSU pre-game social on Saturday afternoon from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Southgate Grill and Bar. This is a great opportunity to meet fans on both sides of the rivalry, and the Challenge Cup will be on display. This event is free and open to all fans 21 and older.
I thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.