Both North Dakota and MSU-Mankato have seen a switch flip in the first half, but it could be said that the teams are headed in opposite directions….
For the Mavericks, the first half of the first half (if that makes any sense) was a struggle. MSUM went 1-6-1 in their first eight league games and found themselves on the bottom looking up. Since then, the Mavs have gone 4-2-0 in WCHA play and are coming off of a non-conference sweep of RIT, outscoring the Tigers 9-1.
For North Dakota, the first half can be summed up in two words: Chay Genoway. With Chay in the lineup, UND bolted out of the gates with a 7-1-1 overall record. Since his injury on November 13th against St. Cloud State, the Fighting Sioux have struggled with a 3-5-3 mark. All five of those losses came by a single goal. It was indeed a very unlucky Friday the 13th for the men in green.
This weekend there are some interesting lineup moves to watch on both benches. UND head coach Dave Hakstol gets three forwards back: junior Matt Frattin (13-12-25 last season) returns from suspension, senior Darcy Zajac (4-6-10) has recovered from surgery, and freshman Danny Kristo (6-10-16) comes back from winning gold with Team USA at the World Junior Championships. Sophomore forward Brett Hextall (8-4-12) will miss the next four to six weeks with an undisclosed lower body injury. It will be interesting to see the line combinations up front for the Fighting Sioux.
For MSUM head coach Trot Jutting, the question mark is in net. Will he go with junior goaltender Austin Lee, who has played in 13 games and has been steady but not spectacular, or will he give the nod to freshman Phil Cook (3-0-1, 0.87 GAA, .967 SV%, 1 SO), last week’s WCHA Rookie of the Week?
MSU-Mankato Team Profile
Head Coach: Troy Jutting (10th season at MSUM, 153-171-46, .477)
This Season: 11-9-2 Overall, 5-8-1 WCHA (8th)
National Rankings: NR/NR
PairWise Ranking: #23
Team Offense: 2.91 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.2% (20 of 116)
Penalty Kill: 85.1% (103 of 121)
Last Season: 15-17-6 Overall, 11-13-4 WCHA (6th)
Key Players: Senior F Zach Harrison (5-14-19), Senior F Jerad Stewart (11-7-18), Junior F Rylan Galiardi (5-8-13), Junior D Ben Youds (0-18-18), Junior D Kurt Davis (3-9-12), Junior G Austin Lee (7-6-0, 2.63 GAA, .913 SV%)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (6th season at UND, 140-77-23, .631)
National Ranking: #5/#5
PairWise Ranking: #12
This Season: 10-6-4, 6-6-2 WCHA (6th)
Last Season: 24-15-4 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 17-7-4 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 3.20 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.15 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.9% (27 of 113)
Penalty Kill: 86.7% (91 of 105)
Key Players: Senior F Chris VandeVelde (6-10-16), Freshman F Danny Kristo (6-10-16), Junior F Evan Trupp (5-13-18), Junior D Jake Marto (3-5-8), Sophomore D Ben Blood (3-3-6), Sophomore G Brad Eidsness (9-5-3, 2.20 GAA, .911 SV%, 1 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: February 14th, 2009 (Grand Forks, ND). It was not a happy Valentines Day for the Mavericks, as North Dakota came from behind to beat visiting MSUM 4-3. The Fighting Sioux won Friday’s series opener, 4-1.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 31-10-7 (.719), including a 19-6-3 (.732) record in games played in Grand Forks.
Game News and Notes
North Dakota is 8-1-1 in the last ten meetings between the teams. The Mavericks can leapfrog UND in the league standings with a sweep this weekend. 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 MSUM. Mavs freshman G Phil Cook put together a strong weekend between the pipes last weekend, making 70 of 71 saves in a two-game sweep of RIT. Cook was named the WCHA Rookie of the Week. The Fighting Sioux have not done well in close contests this season, winning only one of seven games decided by a single goal.
It will be interesting to see how Dave Hakstol shuffles his forward lines, with Zajac, Kristo, and Frattin back in the mix and Hextall out for a few weeks. It might take some time for lines to gel, or it might not. UND 4-3, 3-1.
Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your thoughts, questions, and suggestions.