Weekend Preview: UND at Alaska-Anchorage

Last year was a turnaround of sorts for Dave Shyiak and his Alaska-Anchorage squad. UAA finished with a 12-14-2 mark in WCHA play, just two points away from home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Instead of hosting, the Seawolves traveled to Minnesota for the first round and swept the Gophers, 4-3 and 2-0. Anchorage appeared in the WCHA Final Five for the second time in school history, losing to Colorado College in the quarterfinals and ending the year at 16-18-3.

This season, it’s a turn-back-around, as the Seawolves find themselves back in familiar territory in league play with a record of 2-7-1. UAA sits in a tie for 11th place in the conference and is struggling to score goals and prevent goals.

It has been an equally frustrating turnaround for North Dakota. One season removed from a league title, Final Five championship, and Frozen Four appearance, UND came into last weekend’s home series against Colorado College at 2-6-0 in league play. A high-scoring sweep has rejuvenated UND, and the Green and White hope to continue scoring goals and picking up wins.

For Dave Hakstol’s Fighting Sioux, it’s been a puzzling goaltender tandem, as Aaron Dell and Brad Eidsness have shown flashes of brilliance and periods of mediocrity. Hakstol has two good buttons to push this weekend, however, as both Dell (3-0-0, .067 GAA, .964 SV%) and Eidsness (3-1-1, 2.00 GAA, .907 SV%) have had success against Anchorage.

North Dakota’s Danny Kristo (7 goals, 10 assists in 14 games) has been making plays all over the ice, and linemates Brock Nelson (10 goals, 7 assists) and Corban Knight (6 goals, 11 assists) have provided a spark as well. On the blueline, freshman Nick Mattson (3 goals, 5 assists) has added sorely-needed offensive punch, as the other seven defensemen on the roster have a combined 2 goals and 17 assists.

Alaska is always a difficult road trip, as evidenced by the fact that in team history, North Dakota has a record of 15-14-1 at Anchorage. UND’s road record of 1-5-0 this season is less than stellar, although the Seawolves are just 2-3-1 at home this year.

Alaska-Anchorage Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Shyiak (7th season at UAA, 72-134-26, .366)

Pairwise Ranking: NR
National Rankings: NR/NR
This Season: 5-7-2 overall, 2-7-1 WCHA (t-11th)
Last Season: 11-23-2 overall, 9-17-2 WCHA (t-8th)

Team Offense: 2.43 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.36 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.8% (10 of 48)
Penalty Kill: 76.7% (46 of 60)

Key Players: Junior F Mickey Spencer (7-2-9), Junior F Daniel Naslund (2-5-7), Sophomore F Brett Cameron (2-5-7), Senior D Scott Warner (0-6-6), Senior F/D Curtis Leinweber (3-1-4), Sophomore G Chris Kamal (3-4-0, 3.10 GAA, .890 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (8th season at UND, 193-100-28, .645)
Pairwise Ranking: #28
National Rankings: NR/NR
This Season: 6-7-1 overall, 4-6-0 WCHA (9th)
Last Season: 32-9-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 21-6-1 WCHA (1st)

Team Offense: 2.86 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.21 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.8% (15 of 72)
Penalty Kill: 80.3% (49 of 61)

Key Players: Junior F Danny Kristo (7-10-17) Junior F Corban Knight (6-11-17), Sophomore F Brock Nelson (10-7-17), Freshman D Nick Mattson (3-5-8), Senior D Ben Blood (1-2-3), Freshman D Nick Mattson (2-4-6), Junior G Aaron Dell (4-6-1, 3.27 GAA, .877 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: February 12, 2011 (Grand Forks, ND). UAA almost survived North Dakota’s first period onslaught, but Sioux forward Brett Hextall scored a power play goal with under a second remaining in the opening frame. Fellow forward Evan Trupp added the game winner less than a minute into the second period, and UND completed the sweep by a score of 3-1. Friday’s opener was all UND, 6-1.

Last meeting in Anchorage: October 8, 2010. Midway through the 2nd period at the Kendall Hockey Classic, North Dakota led 5-1. Eight minutes later, the Seawolves were within one. Anchorage got the equalizer early in the 3rd and the game ended 5-5.

Most Important Meeting: March 19, 2004 (St. Paul, MN). The Fighting Sioux and Seawolves met in the semifinal round of the WCHA Final Five, and UND cruised to the championship game with a 4-2 victory.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 42-17-4 (.698), including a slim 15-14 1 (.517) edge in games played in Anchorage. The last time UND swept a series in Anchorage was in February 2009.

Last Ten: UND has a 7-2-1 (.750) record in the last ten games between the teams.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota heads into the weekend just two points out of sixth place in the WCHA. The top six teams in the league host the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Aside from the ten goals Anchorage scored in a road sweep of Mankato, UAA has scored a total of seven goals in eight league contests. UND sophomore forward Brock Nelson was named WCHA co-offensive player of the week after picking up six points in a home sweep of Colorado College last weekend. The puck drops at 10:07 Central time both night, with the games broadcast live on Fighting Sioux Sports Network (FSSN) and MidcoSN3.

The Prediction

It is so difficult to call a sweep in Anchorage, but North Dakota is on a bit of a roll and will get the next best thing, escaping Alaska without a loss. 2-2 tie, UND 4-2.

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