Weekend Preview: UND vs. Minnesota-Duluth

If North Dakota has an edge in this series, it’s this: the last time Duluth traveled to Ralph Engelstad Arena to take on the Fighting Sioux was November 24, 2007. The Bulldogs have 15 players on the roster who have never played in Grand Forks.

The Bulldogs have hit a bit of a rough patch lately, winning just twice in their last six games. UMD was swept in a home-and-home with Bemidji State and posted consecutive splits against Wisconsin and Michigan Tech. Duluth was idle last weekend.

North Dakota is coming off of its best 120 minute performance of the season. Despite splitting with the Huskies in St. Cloud, UND carried the play offensively and physically throughout the weekend. If the Green and White hope to improve their position for the NCAAs, they will need to play that brand of hockey from here on out.

Minnesota-Duluth Team Profile

Head Coach: Scott Sandelin (10th season at UMD, 162-184-46, .472)
This Season:  18-11-1 Overall, 14-7-1 WCHA (t-3rd)
National Rankings: #6/#6
PairWise Ranking: t-9th
Team Offense: 3.33 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.70 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 22.2% (41 of 185)
Penalty Kill: 80.4% (127 of 158)
Last Season: 22-13-8 Overall (NCAA West Regional Finalist), 10-11-7 WCHA
Key Players: Sophomore F Jack Connolly (16-23-39), Junior F Justin Fontaine (17-19-36), Junior F Rob Bordson (8-26-34), Sophomore F Mike Connolly (11-20-31), Sophomore D Brady Lamb (8-7-15), Junior G Kenny Reiter (10-6-0, 2.22 GAA, .917 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (6th season at UND, 144-82-24, .624)
National Ranking: #11/#11
PairWise Ranking: t-13th
This Season: 14-11-5, 9-10-3 WCHA (6th)
Last Season: 24-15-4 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 17-7-4 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 3.03 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.23 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.9% (34 of 163)
Penalty Kill: 86.3% (132 of 153)
Key Players: Sophomore F Jason Gregoire (13-11-24), Senior F Chris VandeVelde (11-16-27), Freshman F Danny Kristo (9-14-23), Junior F Evan Trupp (5-18-23), Junior D Derrick LaPoint (2-11-13), Sophomore G Brad Eidsness (13-8-4, 2.28 GAA, .905 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: December 5, 2009 (Duluth, MN). The Bulldogs got a controversial tying goal from Travis Oleksuk with just over thirty seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime, and completed the comeback just 12 seconds into the extra session to defeat North Dakota 3-2. The Fighting Sioux won Friday’s opener, 4-2.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: November 24, 2007. After defeating Duluth 8-3 on Friday night, UMD’s Drew Akins scored an improbable 80 foot goal for the game winner on Saturday. It was Duluth’s first win in Grand Forks in eleven attempts.

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, 126-70-8 (.637), including a 72-30-2 (.702) record in games played in Grand Forks

Last Ten: North Dakota is 5-4-1 (.550) in the last ten games between the teams.

Game News and Notes

Sioux forwards Chris Vandevelde and Corban Knight were honored by the WCHA for their play last weekend against St. Cloud State. Vandevelde notched two goals and four assists on the weekend and was named co-offensive player of the week, and Knight earned Rookie of the Week honors for his four point effort (one goal, three assists). The Bulldogs have three of the top ten scorers in the league in Connolly, Fontaine, and Bordson. UND will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of its 2000 championship on Saturday night. Members of that team will be available for autographs and Saturday’s game program will feature a pull-out poster of the team.

The Prediction

If North Dakota can put together more series like last weekend’s games in St. Cloud, the wins will start to pile up. I’m not ready to give the Sioux a home sweep just yet, but it’s not out of the question. UND 3-2, 3-3 tie.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

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