If Robert Morris steals a game at Ralph Engelstad Arena this weekend, it will be a monumental upset. To date, the Colonials have played the softest schedule in men’s hockey. A weaker schedule than Bentley, American International, Sacred Heart, and all the rest.
By contrast, North Dakota has played the nation’s toughest slate of games and are unbeaten in their last seven (6-0-1). The Fighting Sioux boast the nation’s winningest goaltender (Aaron Dell, 13 victories) and goal scoring leader (Matt Frattin, 18 goals). UND is perched atop the WCHA and poised for a second half run to the MacNaughton Cup.
Robert Morris is a new member of Atlantic Hockey this season and is currently in second place. A sparkling 5-0 record in non-conference play has the Colonials looking for their first winning season in program history. It is worth noting that the five wins came against Ohio State, Colgate (2), and Alabama-Huntsville (2).
UND needs two victories to improve on a 3-2-2 non-conference record. Two losses at Maine and ties against Alaska-Anchorage and Notre Dame are blemishes that may prove costly when seeds are announced for the NCAA tournament.
On the injury front, there has been no update on Sioux forward Jason Gregoire. Fellow forward Brett Hextall is expected to play this weekend after missing the past five games. Freshmen Derek Forbort and Brock Nelson are back in Grand Forks and should be ready to go after earning bronze medals at the World Junior Championships.
After this weekend’s series, UND plays host to Minnesota and Nebraska-Omaha on back-to-back weekends before heading to Colorado College at the end of January.
Robert Morris Team Profile
Head Coach: Derek Schooley (7th season at RMU, 81-118-28, .419)
This Season: 12-5-2, 7-5-2 Atlantic Hockey (2nd)
Last Season: 10-19-6, 6-9-3 CHA (2nd)
PairWise Ranking: NR
National Rankings: NR/NR
Team Offense: 3.32 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.32 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.4% (18 of 93)
Penalty Kill: 85.2% (69 of 81)
Key Players: Senior F Nathan Longpre (9-18-27), Senior F Chris Kushner (6-12-18), Junior F Adam Brace (5-9-14), Senior D Denny Urban (7-18-25), Junior D James Lyle (2-4-6), Junior G Brooks Ostergard (10-4-1, 2.32 GAA, .921 SV%)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 169-89-26, .641)
This Season: 14-5-2, 11-3-0 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
PairWise Ranking: #2
National Rankings: #2/#2
Team Offense: 3.52 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.52 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.9% (20 of 106)
Penalty Kill: 85.6% (83 of 97)
Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (18-8-26), Senior F Brad Malone (7-11-18), Sophomore F Corban Knight (9-11-20), Senior F Evan Trupp (7-10-17), Senior D Chay Genoway (4-14-18), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-9-9), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (13-4-1, 2.09 GAA, .912 SV%, 2 SO)
By The Numbers
Robert Morris and North Dakota have never met, so this section is noticeably shorter than normal. 2010-2011 is the Colonials’ seventh at the Division I level.
Game News and Notes
North Dakota has not won an overtime game this season (0-1-2). The Fighting Sioux have allowed the first goal in 14 games this season, and have compiled a sparkling 10-3-1 record in those games. Robert Morris has never finished a hockey season with a winning record. UND has not lost when leading after two periods this season (10-0-0). Sioux forward Matt Frattin leads the NCAA with 18 goals.
I feel like RMU will make one game close, and my instinct tells me it will be a battle on Saturday night after a Friday rout. UND 6-1, 3-2.
Terry Casey Tribute
Prior to Friday night’s series opener, Terry Casey’s #12 jersey will be hung in the rafters at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Casey finished his North Dakota hockey career with 118 points in 88 games and was named a first-team All-American after his senior year. Casey was selected to the 1968 U.S. Olympic hockey team, but died in a car accident in July 1967. His jersey has been retired since 1968.