In most seasons during the Hakstol era, there is a midpoint (typically around the start of the new year) when his Fighting Sioux squad begins to get on a roll and pile up wins.
No one knew what to make of this season’s 7-1-1 start, a stretch during which UND was outscoring opponents 3.67-1.56 goals per game.
Everyone knows what happened to Chay Genoway on Friday the 13th of November, 2009. For the sake of this article, we’ll call that midpoint #1. Over the next nine games (up until January 1st and an interesting comparison to the nine games Genoway was in the lineup), UND struggled to a 2-5-2 mark, losing all five games by one goal and playing dead even hockey, scoring 25 goals and allowing 25 goals.
January 1, 2010. Midpoint #2. Since the calendar turned, North Dakota is 7-5-2 and is outscoring opponents 3.07-2.21 goals per game. Most importantly, Brett Hextall’s return has reignited the power play and UND has rattled off three straight victories, outscoring St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth 18-4.
The biggest differences over the past 14 games have been solid defensive play and the goaltending of Brad Eidsness. A comfort level has developed on the back end which allows some of the more offensive-minded blueliners (Derrick Lapoint, Jake Marto, and Ben Blood) to play more effectively in the attacking zone.
Colorado College and North Dakota come into the weekend tied for 5th place in the WCHA, and this weekend’s action might well determine who claims the fifth and final home ice spot in the first round of the league playoffs.
Colorado College Team Profile
Head Coach: Scott Owens (11th season at CC, 256-145-38, .626)
National Rankings: #13/#12
PairWise Ranking: 17th
This Season: 17-12-3 Overall, 11-10-3 WCHA (t-5th)
Last Season: 16-12-10 Overall, 12-9-7 WCHA (t-3rd)
Team Offense: 3.34 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.78 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 22.9% (41 of 179)
Penalty Kill: 82.6% (123 of 149)
Key Players: Senior F Bill Sweatt (14-15-29), Senior F Mike Testwuide (18-9-27), Freshman F Rylan Schwartz (6-20-26), Senior D Nate Prosser (3-21-24), Freshman G Joe Howe (15-11-3, 2.74 GAA, .908 SV%, 3 SO)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (6th season at UND, 146-82-24, .627)
National Ranking: #8/#8
PairWise Ranking: 8th
This Season: 16-11-5, 11-10-3 WCHA (t-5th)
Last Season: 24-15-4 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 17-7-4 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 3.16 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.19 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.0% (37 of 176)
Penalty Kill: 86.6% (142 of 164)
Key Players: Sophomore F Jason Gregoire (15-12-27), Senior F Chris VandeVelde (12-18-30), Freshman F Danny Kristo (10-15-25), Junior F Evan Trupp (5-19-24), Junior D Derrick LaPoint (2-12-14), Sophomore G Brad Eidsness (15-8-4, 2.22 GAA, .909 SV%, 1 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: March 1, 2009 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota moved into first place in the WCHA with a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory over the visiting Tigers. The Fighting Sioux killed 1:50 of penalty time in the extra frame before Darcy Zajac netted the game winner with 90 seconds remaining. UND and CC battled to a 4-4 tie in Friday’s opener.
Last Meeting in Colorado Springs: November 8, 2008. Tiger forward Eric Walsky scored four goals as CC upended visiting North Dakota 7-4. UND won the series opener 3-1 a night earlier.
Most Important Meeting: March 27, 1997. UND defeated Colorado College, 6-2, in the Frozen Four Semifinals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Two nights later, North Dakota downed Boston University, 6-4, to claim its sixth NCAA Championship. North Dakota and Colorado College also met in the 2001 East Regional (Worcester, Mass.), with UND prevailing, 4-1.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 132-75-10 (.631), although the Tigers hold a 55-45-4 (.548) edge in games played in Colorado Springs. The teams first met in 1948.
Last Ten: North Dakota is 6-3-1 (.650) in the last ten meetings between the teams.
Game News and Notes
Colorado College has not lost this season when leading after one period of play (10-0-2), and have won only twice when trailing after the opening twenty minutes (2-9-0). The WCHA honored a pair of North Dakota sophomores after last weekend, as forward Brett Hextall (four points) and goaltender Brad Eidsness (53 saves on 56 shots) were named Offensive and Defensive players of the week. UND’s power play converts at 26.6 percent when Brett Hextall is in the lineup and just 6.5 percent when he does not play.
This series has split written all over it, but if North Dakota continues to score at a breakneck pace, they could squeeze three points out of the weekend. Friday’s first period is key for both teams, and will forecast how the rest of the weekend will play out. North Dakota 4-2, Colorado College 4-3.
Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.