From the familiar to the unknown.
One week after traveling to Mariucci to face the Golden Gophers in a series that marked the 270th game played between the two teams, North Dakota heads to Ithaca, New York for the first time ever. UND has played Cornell just six times in school history, with four of those meetings in the NCAA tournament and the last two games played in Grand Forks last season.
The Big Red are on a bit of a slide, going just 2-2-2 in their last six games and scoring more than three goals just once in the last eight. Cornell opened the season 7-2-1.
For North Dakota, it’s more of the same. With Chay Genoway in the lineup, the Fighting Sioux were 7-1-1. Without him, the Green and White are a sub-par 5-6-4. Talk has ramped up in recent weeks regarding the possibility that Genoway might apply for a medical hardship year and return to UND next season.
As for this weekend’s action, I expect the games will be played much like Saturday’s finale in Grand Forks last season, a tight-checking affair won and lost on special teams. If the Big Red can keep the game close, senior goaltender Ben Scrivens can and will be the difference.
For North Dakota, the power play is a recent concern after UND went 0 for 10 last weekend in Minneapolis.
Cornell Team Profile
Head Coach: Mike Schafer (15th season at Cornell, 285-153-52, .635)
National Rankings: #9/#7
PairWise Ranking: 17th-tie
This Season: 9-4-3 overall, 7-2-2 ECAC (2nd)
Last Season: 22-10-4 overall (Midwest Regional Finalist), 13-6-3 ECAC
Team Offense: 3.31 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.12 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 24.3% (18 of 74)
Penalty Kill: 88.0% (73 of 83)
Key Players: Senior F Blake Gallagher (11-9-20), Senior F Colin Greening (7-13-20), Junior F Riley Nash (5-9-14), Senior D Brendon Nash (2-8-10), Freshman D Nick D’Agostino (2-7-9), Senior G Ben Scrivens (9-4-3, 2.04 GAA, .928 SV%, 1 SO)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (6th season at UND, 142-77-23, .634)
National Ranking: #5/#6
PairWise Ranking: 12th-tie
This Season: 12-7-5, 8-7-3 WCHA (6th)
Last Season: 24-15-4 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 17-7-4 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 3.12 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.25 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 22.0% (29 of 132)
Penalty Kill: 85.8% (97 of 113)
Key Players: Sophomore F Jason Gregoire (12-7-19), Senior F Chris VandeVelde (6-12-18), Freshman F Danny Kristo (8-11-19), Junior F Evan Trupp (5-15-20), Junior D Derrick LaPoint (1-11-12), Sophomore G Brad Eidsness (11-6-4, 2.29 GAA, .906 SV%, 1 SO)
By The Numbers
Last meeting: November 29, 2008 (Grand Forks, ND). One night after the Fighting Sioux drubbed Cornell 7-3, the teams played a tighter contest on Saturday, with the Big Red scoring the game winner with under four minutes to play. UND had a power play goal disallowed earlier in the contest.
Last meeting at James Lynah Rink: These will be the first two games played between the two schools at Lynah.
Most important meeting: The teams have met twice in the NCAA semifinals, with Cornell coming out on top 1-0 in 1967 and North Dakota returning the favor the following season, 3-1.
All-time: North Dakota leads the all-time series 4-2-0 (.667). The teams have never met in Ithaca, NY.
Game News and Notes
Ben Scrivens has started every game in net for Cornell this season, ranking sixth nationally in goals-against average and fourth in the nation in save percentage. UND junior forward Brad Malone will play in his 100th career game this weekend, joining seniors Chris Vandevelde, Darcy Zajac, and Chay Genoway in reaching the century mark in games played.
Cornell has the edge playing at home, and if Scrivens is on his game, North Dakota will struggle. Call it a hunch, but UND should come out firing after a disappointing weekend at Mariucci, and the Big Red will lock it down on Saturday night. UND 4-2, Cornell 2-1.