Last season almost ended with a glass slipper for the Bulldogs. Duluth went on the road in the first round of the WCHA playoffs and swept Colorado College before running the table at the WCHA Final Five, becoming the first team to win three games at the league’s post-season tournament. After defeating Princeton 5-4 in overtime (thanks to two goals in the final 40 seconds of regulation), the Bulldogs fell 2-1 to national runner-up Miami.
This season, UMD has not been swept in a weekend series and has won three conference games in a row (vs. Michigan Tech and a road sweep at Minnesota). North Dakota had to settle for a 5-5- tie with #1 Miami last weekend after defeating Ohio State in the tournament opener.
Minnesota-Duluth Team Profile
Head Coach: Scott Sandelin (10th season at UMD, 153-177-46, .468)
This Season: 9-4-1 Overall, 6-3-1 WCHA (3rd)
National Rankings: #12/#12
PairWise Ranking: #7
Team Offense: 3.50 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.71 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 25.5% (24 of 94)
Penalty Kill: 78.5% (62 of 79)
Last Season: 22-13-8 Overall (NCAA West Regional Finalist), 10-11-7 WCHA
Key Players: Sophomore F Jack Connolly (10-11-21), Junior F Justin Fontaine (11-9-20), Sophomore F Mike Connolly (5-9-14), Sophomore D Brady Lamb (5-3-8), Sophomore G Brady Hjelle (6-2-1, 2.86 GAA, .909 SV%)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (6th season at UND, 138-75-21, .635)
National Ranking: #3/#3
PairWise Ranking: #9
This Season: 8-4-2, 5-4-1 WCHA (t-4th)
Last Season: 24-15-4 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 17-7-4 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 3.29 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.93 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 24.1% (20 of 83)
Penalty Kill: 88.3% (68 of 77)
Key Players: Senior F Chris VandeVelde (4-9-13), Freshman F Danny Kristo (5-8-13), Junior F Evan Trupp (4-9-13), Sophomore D Ben Blood (1-3-4), Sophomore G Brad Eidsness (7-3-2, 1.89 GAA, .920 SV%, 1 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: March 20, 2009 (St. Paul, MN). Duluth continued to ride goaltender Alex Stalock on its improbable Final Five run, downing the Fighting Sioux 3-0 and advancing to its first Final Five championship in team history.
Last Meeting in Duluth: November 22, 2008. After beating UND just twice in the previous 20 meetings between the schools (2-16-2), the Bulldogs defeated UND 3-1. Duluth scored a goal in each period and Alex Stalock stopped 37 of 38 North Dakota shots.
Most Important Meeting: March 22, 1984 (Lake Placid, NY) Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota met in the national semifinal game, with the Bulldogs defeating the Fighting Sioux 2-1 in overtime to advance to the championship. UND went on to defeat Michigan State 6-5 (OT) for third place, while Duluth fell to Bowling Green 5-4 in four overtimes, the longest championship game ever played.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 125-69-8 (.639), including a 52-37-4 (.580) record in games played in Duluth.
Game News and Notes
Bulldog sophomore F Jack Connolly leads the nation in scoring with 21 points. The Fighting Sioux scored just three goals in three games against Duluth last season. North Dakota senior defenseman Chay Genoway (4 goals and 6 assists in 9 games) is still suffering from an upper body injury and is not expected to play against UMD.
UND should be content with a road split against an excellent team, and that’s what they’re getting. North Dakota will win a close one on Friday and the Bulldogs’ power play will click in Saturday’s finale. UND 3-2, UMD 5-2.
I will be vacationing next week, and I will not be posting a full UND/Wisconsin preview. So here is your bonus prediction: This is not the defensive Badger squad that we’ve seen over the past few years; this year’s version is scoring almost four goals per game. North Dakota will be able to contain Bucky for much of the weekend, but the Badgers will squeeze out a point on Saturday night. UND 4-2, 4-4 tie.