North Dakota fans might not remember that Colorado College is still a member of the WCHA.
When the league expanded to 12 teams (adding Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha), the unbalanced schedule was tweaked once again, meaning that, outside of St. Cloud State, the Fighting Sioux would host the other conference teams three out of every five seasons.
Despite playing only a two-game road series in 2009-10, North Dakota has only two games scheduled against the Tigers this season, and, you guessed it, the games are in Colorado Springs.
To put this in perspective: the last time Colorado College played at Ralph Engelstad Arena was March 1, 2009. Since that game, UND has hosted Minnesota at REA seven times.
So here’s a Colorado College primer for you: They haven’t made the national tournament since 2008 and haven’t won as much as a game at the WCHA Final Five or the NCAAs since 2005. Their best player (forward Jaden Schwartz; 11-15-26 in 17 games) is out with an injury, and the Tigers don’t have the goaltending that fans have become accustomed to (Joe Howe is no Bachmann, Zaba, or McElhinney). In short, CC’s advantage is more altitude than attitude.
The road doesn’t get any easier for Scott Owen’s club. After this weekend’s action against North Dakota, the Tigers have a home and home with Denver and road trips to Bemidji State and Wisconsin sandwiched around home series against MSU-Mankato and Minnesota-Duluth.
For North Dakota, it’s time to pick up points and secure home ice. After returning from Colorado Springs, the Green and White host Alaska-Anchorage and Bemidji State and travel to St. Cloud State and Michigan Tech to round out the regular season.
Sioux forward Jason Gregoire has been key since returning to the lineup, potting four goals against Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota after missing seven games due to injury.
On the special teams side of things, the Tigers don’t take many penalties and they are clipping along at nearly 24 percent on the power play. On the wide sheet, this could be problematic for UND.
Colorado College Team Profile
Head Coach: Scott Owens (12th season at CC, 272-161-39, .618)
This Season: 14-11-1 Overall, 8-8-0 WCHA (t-6th)
Last Season: 19-17-3 Overall, 12-13-3 WCHA (6th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-18th
National Rankings: #20/NR
Team Offense: 3.42 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.77 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.6% (37 of 157)
Penalty Kill: 85.5% (94 of 110)
Key Players: Sophomore F Rylan Schwartz (6-21-27), Senior F Tyler Johnson (16-12-28), Senior F Stephen Schultz (12-16-28), Junior D Gabe Guentzel (4-13-17), Senior D Ryan Lowery (1-12-13), Sophomore G Joe Howe (11-9-1, 2.70 GAA, .908 SV%, 3 SO)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 173-91-26, .641)
This Season: 18-7-2, 13-5-0 WCHA (t-2nd)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-2nd
National Rankings: #4/#5
Team Offense: 3.63 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.52 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.8% (30 of 144)
Penalty Kill: 83.7% (108 of 129)
Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (20-10-30), Senior F Brad Malone (9-15-24), Sophomore F Corban Knight (12-15-27), Senior F Evan Trupp (11-13-24), Senior D Chay Genoway (6-19-25), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-9-9), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (17-5-1, 2.07 GAA, .916 SV%, 3 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: February 27, 2010 (Colorado Springs, CO). North Dakota defeated the Tigers 3-2 to complete the road sweep and clinch home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. UND won Friday’s opener in overtime by the identical score.
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, 134-75-10 (.635), although the Tigers hold a 55-47-4 (.538) edge in games played in Colorado Springs. The teams first met in 1948.
Last Ten: North Dakota is 7-2-1 (.750) in the last ten meetings between the teams.
Game News and Notes
North Dakota junior forward Jason Gregoire has five points (4 goals, 1 assist) in his last four games since returning from injury. Remarkably, Colorado College is scoring almost a half-point per game more without Jaden Schwartz in the lineup. Most of that is due to the fact that Alabama-Huntsville was on the schedule. With at least two points this weekend, UND can leapfrog idle Denver and recapture first place in the league standings. North Dakota is 8-3-1 on the road this season, including WCHA sweeps at Bemidji State, MSU-Mankato, and Wisconsin.
It’s difficult to predict games between teams who haven’t played each other much lately. If history is any indication, this weekend’s action will be quick and entertaining. I can’t see North Dakota sweeping at Colorado College two years in a row, so I’ll call it a split. UND 3-2, CC 4-3.
Brad Malone is the seventh Sioux player to amass over 300 career penalty minutes. Who are the other six?
Please leave your comments and trivia guesses below. As always, I thank you for reading.