This weekend’s games will mark the 15th and 16th meetings between the two teams in the past three seasons. In addition to the normal league schedule, the two teams met at the Great Lakes Invitational in December 2008 and faced each other in the league playoffs each of the past two seasons. In the previous 14 games, North Dakota is 10-3-1 against Michigan Tech and has outscored the Huskies 49-21. Sixteen games in three seasons is believed to be the most against one opponent in that span.
In the past five contests between the schools, the Fighting Sioux have been even more dominant, winning all five and scoring 22 goals while allowing 7.
After opening 2010 with a record of 4-5-2, UND has reeled off five straight victories and secured home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Michigan Tech has clinched the title of “having to travel to Denver to face the #1 Pioneers and win two games to extend their season”. Two weeks ago, DU swept the visiting Huskies, 5-2 and 5-3.
Michigan Tech has been in a freefall for two years. After collecting 18 victories in 2006-07 and 14 in 07-08, the Huskies have posted a record of 11-51-8 over the past two seasons.
North Dakota can still finish as high as third place in the WCHA, as UND holds the tiebreaker over 3rd place St. Cloud State and 4th place Minnesota-Duluth. Coming into this weekend, the Fighting Sioux trail UMD by two points and SCSU by four points in the standings. Duluth is at Anchorage this weekend, while St. Cloud State travels to Mankato for a pair with the Mavericks.
Michigan Tech Team Profile
Head Coach: (Jamie Russell, 7th season at MTU, 66-163-33, .315)
National Ranking: NR/NR
PairWise Ranking: NR
This Season: 5-26-1, 4-22-0 WCHA (10th)
Last Season: 6-25-7 overall, 2-19-7 WCHA (10th)
Team Offense: 2.12 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 4.19 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 15.6% (22 of 141)
Penalty Kill: 69.1% (121 of 175)
Key Players: Sophomore F Brett Olson (18-12-30), Senior F Malcolm Gwilliam (12-14-26), Junior F Jordan Baker (8-9-17), Freshman D Steven Seigo (4-15-19), Freshman G Kevin Genoe (4-17-1, 3.48 GAA, .904 SV%)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (6th season at UND, 148-82-24, .630)
National Ranking: #7/#7
PairWise Ranking: t-6th
This Season: 18-11-5, 31-10-3 WCHA (5th)
Last Season: 24-15-4 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 17-7-4 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 3.15 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.18 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.3% (39 of 183)
Penalty Kill: 87.4% (152 of 174)
Key Players: Sophomore F Jason Gregoire (15-12-27), Senior F Chris VandeVelde (13-18-31), Freshman F Danny Kristo (12-15-27), Junior F Evan Trupp (5-22-27), Junior D Derrick LaPoint (2-12-14), Sophomore G Brad Eidsness (17-8-4, 2.21 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: November 7, 2009 (Houghton, MI). UND defeated the Huskies 4-1 behind two goals from junior Evan Trupp. Trupp also had a goal in Friday’s 4-2 Sioux victory.
Last Meeting in Grand Forks: March 14, 2009. North Dakota held on for a 4-3 victory and a sweep of the WCHA first-round playoff series. It would turn out to be UND’s last victory of the 2008-09 season, as the Fighting Sioux lost both games at the WCHA Final Five (to Minnesota-Duluth and Wisconsin) and dropped their NCAA tournament opener to New Hampshire in overtime.
Most Important Meeting: The Sioux and Huskies have never met in the NCAA tournament, so I will go with the most important meeting that never was: in 1965, the Sioux lost to Boston College, 4-3, one game short of the national championship game, where they would have faced the Michigan Tech Huskies, who won the second of their three titles by defeating the Eagles. UND settled for third place that season, downing Brown University, 9-5. North Dakota went 13-3-0 in the regular season in 1964-65, with two of those three losses coming at the hands of Michigan Tech.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 138-90-9 (.599), including a 77-33-4 (.693) record in Grand Forks. The teams first met in 1948.
Last Ten: UND has posted a 7-2-1 (.750) record in the last ten games between the teams.
Game News and Notes
For the third consecutive week, two Fighting Sioux were honored as WCHA Players of the Week. This time around, freshman forward Corban Knight was chosen as the league’s top rookie (his third such honor this season) and sophomore goaltender Brad Eidsness earned Defensive Player honors for the second consecutive week. UND’s power play converts at 26.3 percent when Brett Hextall is in the lineup and just 6.5 percent when he does not play. Michigan Tech freshman goaltender Kevin Genoe made 58 saves last Friday night against Wisconsin. Despite the effort, MTU lost 5-2. North Dakota junior forward Matt Frattin has picked up eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) in his last five games, and has scored five goals and five assists in eleven career games against Michigan Tech. UND will honor its three seniors on the ice prior to Saturday’s game. Chay Genoway, Darcy Zajac, and Chris Vandevelde make up this year’s senior class. Our two children, Alex and Ashley, will ride the Zamboni during the first intermission on Friday night.
All signs point to a North Dakota sweep. Michigan Tech will need to play five on five to to keep it close and have a chance in the third period. If it’s a battle of special teams, the score could get ugly early. North Dakota 5-2, 4-2.