Weekend Preview: UND vs. Alaska-Anchorage

It’s unusual to open the regular season in a non-conference tournament against a conference foe. It’s even more unusual to turn around and host that same conference opponent in the league opener for both schools.

One week after throttling the Seawolves 5-0 with only 15 skaters, North Dakota will have a full complement of weapons in the rematch. UND forwards Danny Kristo, Carter Rowney, Corban Knight, and Brendan O’Donnell all missed last Friday’s tilt but will be on the ice for this weekend’s action. The four have accounted for 7 goals and 10 assists in 19 career games against Alaska-Anchorage.

For Dave Shyiak’s squad, this weekend could go down as the last trip to Grand Forks unless UND hosts the Seawolves in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. North Dakota will be headed to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference next season, while UAA will remain in the new-look WCHA.

Alaska-Anchorage Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Shyiak (8th season at UAA, 78-153-27, .355)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 2-1-1 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 9-25-2 overall, 5-22-1 WCHA (12th)

Team Offense: 2.75 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.75 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 7.1% (1 of 14)
Penalty Kill: 81.0% (17 of 21)

Key Players: Junior F Matt Bailey (1-3-4), Junior F Jordan Kwas (1-1-2), Sophomore D Austin Coldwell (0-1-1), Sophomore F Derek Docken (1-0-1), Junior G Chris Kamal (1-1-0, 2.40 GAA, .907 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (9th season at UND, 214-107-30, .652)
National Ranking: #4
This Season: 1-1-0 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 26-13-3 overall (NCAA Regional Finalist), 16-11-1 WCHA (4th)

Team Offense: 3.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 16.7% (2 of 12)
Penalty Kill: 85.7% (6 of 7)

Key Players: Senior F Danny Kristo (no games played), Sophomore F Mark MacMillan (2-0-2), Freshman F Rocco Grimaldi (1-2-3), Junior D Derek Forbort (0-1-1), Freshman D Jordan Schmaltz (1-1-2), Junior G Clarke Saunders (1-1-0, 1.01 GAA, .962 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: Friday, October 19, 2012 (Fairbanks, AK). Despite playing with only 15 skaters (nine forwards) due to suspensions and injuries, UND steamrolled Alaska-Anchorage 5-0 in the opening game of the Goal Rush tournament. Sophomore forward Mark MacMillan led the way for North Dakota with two goals, while junior netminder Clarke Saunders stopped all 21 shots he faced to earn the victory.

Last meeting in Grand Forks: February 12, 2011. One night after steamrolling UAA 6-1, North Dakota had a tighter contest on their hands. The Seawolves almost made it out of the first period with a scoreless tie, but Brett Hextall scored a power play goal with under one second remaining in the opening frame. The Green and White would earn the sweep with a 3-1 victory.

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, 45-17-4 (.712), including a dominating 26-3-3 (.859) record in games played in Grand Forks.

Last Ten: UND has an 9-1-0 (.900) record in the last ten games between the teams, outscoring the Seawolves 42-15 over that span.

Game News and Notes

UND has won ten straight home openers. North Dakota freshman goaltender Zane Gothberg will make his first career start in Friday’s opener. Anchorage forward Scott Allen was named to the Brice Alaska Goal Rush all-tournament team last weekend. North Dakota senior forward Corban Knight has collecred nine points (three goals, six assists) in seven career games against UAA. This weekend’s games will be televised on Midco Sports Network, FOX College Sports, DirecTV 623 (Friday), and DirecTV 626 (Saturday). A webcast is available at UNDSports.com, and the radio broadcast can be found locally at 96.1 FM The Fox (KQHT-FM).

The Prediction

UND expects to get balanced scoring up front, and that should start with the drop of the puck. UAA will need to limit penalties and get outstanding goaltending if they hope to steal a point from the series. As it is, though, North Dakota has too much talent and will earn the sweep. UND 5-2, 3-2.

As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.

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