Weekend Preview: UND vs. Minnesota

Much has been made of the fact that these two teams have been headed in opposite directions since Minnesota swept North Dakota at Mariucci Arena in November (2-0, 3-2). But is that really the case? Let’s take a look inside some of the numbers and find out…

Coming into the November series, Minnesota’s numbers were eye-popping. Consider these:

Team Offense: 5.38 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.75 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 35.9% (14 of 39)
Penalty Kill: 87.5% (35 of 40)

And since those two games:

Team Offense: 3.46 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.54 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.1% (12 of 57)
Penalty Kill: 78.0% (46 of 59)

For North Dakota, their early numbers spoke directly to their 3-4-1 record:

Team Offense: 2.75 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.5% (8 of 39)
Penalty Kill: 78.1% (25 of 32)

And since being swept at the hands of the Gophers:

Team Offense: 3.73 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.27 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 26.4% (14 of 53)
Penalty Kill: 81.8% (36 of 44)

UND has put together a record of 8-2-1 since their last meeting with Minnesota, while the Gophers are just 6-6-1.

The question this weekend will be: can the intensity and importance of this series be enough for North Dakota to overcome injuries and battle Minnesota’s depth? Goaltending can be the great equalizer, but we haven’t seen Aaron Dell or Brad Eidsness steal a game for UND yet this year.

For Minnesota, the early season scoring depth has cooled off. Second-line center Erik Haula has just three goals in his last 16 games after collected seven goals and 10 assists in his first seven games.

North Dakota is 19-12-3 (.603) all time when playing on Friday the 13th, including a 7-1-2 record in its last ten games on that date. The series opener is, of course, on Friday the 13th.

Minnesota Team Profile

Head Coach: Don Lucia (13th season at Minnesota, 305-166-54, .632)
Pairwise Ranking: 8th
National Rankings: #5/#5
This Season: 15-7-1 overall, 11-3-0 WCHA (t-1st)
Last Season: 16-14-6 overall (missed NCAA tournament), 13-10-5 WCHA (5th)

Team Offense: 4.04 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.13 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 24.5% (27 of 110)
Penalty Kill: 82.9% (92 of 111)

Key Players: Sophomore F Erik Haula (10-17-27), Freshman F Kyle Rau (12-10-22), Sophomore F Nick Bjugstad (17-11-28), Sophomore D Nate Schmidt (1-23-24), Sophomore D Mark Alt (4-10-14), Senior G Kent Patterson (15-7-1, 2.13 GAA, .918 SV%, 6 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (8th season at UND, 198-101-29, .648)
Pairwise Ranking: t-18th
National Rankings: #17/#18
This Season: 11-8-2 overall, 7-7-0 WCHA (6th)
Last Season: 32-9-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 21-6-1 WCHA (1st)

Team Offense: 3.10 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.76 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 22.1% (23 of 104)
Penalty Kill: 82.2% (74 of 90)

Key Players: Junior F Danny Kristo (11-13-24) Sophomore F Brock Nelson (15-9-24), Freshman F Mark MacMillan (4-5-9), Senior D Ben Blood (2-8-10), Freshman D Nick Mattson (5-8-13), Senior G Brad Eidsness (3-1-0, 2.43 GAA, .918 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: November 5, 2011 (Minneapolis, MN). North Dakota took a 2-1 lead into the third period against the Gophers but it didn’t hold up. Minnesota’s Nick Larson tied the game with six minutes to play and Kyle Rau potted the game winner with under a minute to go. Minnesota took the opener, 2-0.

Last meeting in Grand Forks (January 15, 2011). UND spotted Minnesota an early goal and then responded with four straight of their own to earn a 4-1 victory and a split of the weekend series. The Golden Gophers took a 3-2 decision in Friday’s opener.

Most important meeting: March 24, 1979 (Detroit, MI). North Dakota and Minnesota met to decide the national championship, and the Gophers prevailed, 4-3.

All-time: Minnesota leads the all-time series by a slim margin, 135-128-14 (.513), although North Dakota has a 69-54-8 (.557) edge in games played in Grand Forks.

Recent history: Minnesota has had the better of it lately, sporting a record of 5-3-2 (.600) in the last ten games between the schools.

Game News and Notes

Dave Hakstol is 15-11-3 against Minnesota in his head coaching career. With a sweep this weekend, Hakstol will join the 200 win club (John “Gino” Gasparini and Dean Blais are the only other UND coaches to reach that plateau). This weekend is a White Out Weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena, with fans encouraged to wear white to both games. In an effort to alleviate parking and security concerns this weekend, Gopher fans are asked to arrive at 10:37 p.m. each night. Downtown Horns will be playing in the Ralph Engelstad Arena concourse both nights. UND is 8-2-1 when the Horns play at the Ralph.

The Prediction

I’d love to give more than two points to North Dakota, but I can’t see it happening here. UND will pull out a victory on Friday before Minnesota’s depth shines through in the rematch. UND 4-2, MN 4-1.

2 thoughts on “Weekend Preview: UND vs. Minnesota”

  1. Fighting Sioux nearly blew it at the end, but pulled it off! Good job, SIOUX!

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