It’s been a different sort of first half for North Dakota. In head coach Dave Hakstol‘s first six seasons, UND has gone into the Christmas break with an average of 6.2 WCHA losses. Heading into Mankato this weekend (their last conference action until January), the Fighting Sioux sport a 9-3-0 league record.
It’s also worth noting that two of those three conference losses were an overtime loss against Duluth and a last-second heartbreaking defeat in Omaha.
In non-conference action, the Green and White hit a two-game skid at Maine but performed well otherwise and have an even 2-2-2 mark against Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska, Maine, and Notre Dame. The “non-conference” game at Duluth to open the Bulldogs’ new arena and a home series against Robert Morris will be important second-half contests if UND has designs on a high seed in the NCAA tournament.
Minnesota-State Mankato has come on lately, winning its last four games (@UMass-Lowell, vs. Minnesota). The Mavs have been road warriors, playing eight consecutive games away from Alltel Center. Before last weekend’s series against the Gophers, the Landcows’ last home game was October 23rd.
It’s been feast or famine in the goal scoring department for Jutting’s squad. In six victories, MSU-M has averaged 4.0 goals per game. In six defeats, the Mavericks have scored an average of 1.3 goals.
Mankato has only one player with more than four goals on the season (Justin Jokinen, 6) while North Dakota’s top lamp-lighters are Matt Frattin (15) and Corban Knight (9).
In injury news, Sioux forwards Brett Hextall and Jason Gregoire will be out of the lineup once again. Look for senior forward Brett Davidson to play up front this weekend after a strong Saturday night against St. Cloud State.
MSU-Mankato Team Profile
Head Coach: Troy Jutting (11th season at MSUM, 164-188-51, .470)
This Season: 6-6-4, 4-6-2 WCHA (t-6th)
Last Season: 16-20-3, 9-17-2 WCHA (t-8th)
PairWise Ranking: NR
National Rankings: NR/NR
Team Offense: 2.81 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.25 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.1% (11 of 78)
Penalty Kill: 81.2% (69 of 85)
Key Players: Freshman F Chase Grant (4-6-10), Junior F Michael Dorr (4-6-10), Senior F Andrew Sackrison (3-5-8), Senior D Kurt Davis (4-9-13), Senior F Ben Youds (2-2-4), Sophomore G Phil Cook (5-6-2, 3.03 GAA, .913 SV%)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 166-89-26, .637)
This Season: 11-5-2, 9-3-0 WCHA (2nd)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
PairWise Ranking: #4
National Rankings: #5/#5
Team Offense: 3.39 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.67 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.3% (17 of 93)
Penalty Kill: 85.9% (67 of 78)
Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (15-7-22), Junior F Jason Gregoire (6-7-13), Sophomore F Corban Knight (9-8-17), Senior F Evan Trupp (5-8-13), Senior D Chay Genoway (3-12-15), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-8-8), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (10-4-1, 2.18 GAA, .902 SV%, 1 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: January 9, 2010 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota got two goals from Jason Gregoire for the second consecutive game and completed the sweep of the visiting Mavs, 3-2. The Fighting Sioux won Friday’s opener, 4-1.
Last Meeting in Mankato: October 18, 2008. North Dakota turned the special teams tables on Mankato by scoring three power play goals and adding a late shorthander for a 4-3 victory. MSU-M won Friday’s opener 5-1 on the strength of three shorthanded tallies.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 33-10-7 (.730), including a 12-4-4 (.700) record in games played in Mankato.
Last ten: North Dakota has a sparkling 9-1-0 (.900) record in the last ten contests, and has lost just once in the last 16 meetings (14-1-1).
Game News and Notes
North Dakota has allowed the first goal in 12 of 18 contests this year and has a record of 8-3-1 in those games. The Mavericks have killed off the last 13 opponent power play opportunities, while North Dakota was held without a power play marker in 11 chances last weekend against St. Cloud State. UND has not lost when leading after two periods this season (8-0-0). Sioux forward Matt Frattin is tied for the NCAA goal-scoring lead with 15.
If North Dakota were healthy, I would pick a sweep. If North Dakota were at home, I would pick a sweep. The Fighting Sioux are banged up and on the road, and I’m picking a sweep. These are the road games good teams need to win to become great teams. UND 4-3, 4-2.