Weekend Preview: North Dakota vs. Boston University

The last time these two teams played, UND forward Jason Gregoire was named the WCHA preseason rookie of the year and fellow rookie Brett Hextall became the first California native to suit up for the Green and White.

This season, North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi was picked as the favorite to win the WCHA rookie of the year award. Grimaldi, who was born in Rossmoor, California, has picked up at least a point in all six games he has played for UND.

These non-conference matchups are critical for both schools, as UND and BU figure to be in the mix for the NCAA tournament at the end of the year. Over the past eight seasons, North Dakota has taken advantage of its non-league games, going 40-13-10 (.714) over that stretch.

The legendary Jack Parker will be behind the bench as the head coach of the BU Terriers. Parker, in his 40th season at the helm, has coached over 1400 games and led the Terriers to three NCAA titles (1978, 1995, 2009). Jack Parker has led BU to 33 winning seasons in his career. During one nine season stretch (1989-1998), Boston University made nine consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament, advanced to the Frozen Four seven times, and played in four title games, claiming the trophy in 1995.

Boston University Team Profile

Head Coach: Jack Parker (40th season at BU, 879-457-113, .646)
National Ranking: #12
This Season: 3-1-0, 3-1-0 Hockey East (2nd)
Last Season: 23-15-1 (NCAA West Regional semifinalist), 17-9-1 Hockey East (t-2nd)

Team Offense: 3.25 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.8% (3 of 16)
Penalty Kill: 85.0% (17 of 20)

Key Players: Sophomore F Cason Hohmann (3-3-6), Senior F Wade Megan (3-1-4), Sophomore F Evan Rodrigues (0-5-5), Junior D Garrett Noonan (1-2-3), Freshman D Matt Grzelcyk (0-3-3), Freshman G Matt O’Connor (3-0-0, 1.75 GAA, .945 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (9th season at UND, 215-107-31, .653)
National Ranking: #5
This Season: 2-1-1 overall, 1-0-1 WCHA (t-3rd)
Last Season: 26-13-3 overall (NCAA West Regional Finalist), 16-11-1 WCHA (4th)

Team Offense: 3.25 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.6% (3 of 17)
Penalty Kill: 91.7% (11 of 2)

Key Players: Senior F Danny Kristo (0-4-4), Sophomore F Mark MacMillan (2-0-2), Freshman F Rocco Grimaldi (2-2-4), Junior D Derek Forbort (2-1-3), Freshman D Jordan Schmaltz (1-1-2), Junior G Clarke Saunders (1-1-1, 1.64 GAA, .940 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: October 10, 2008 (Boston, MA). The Terriers blitzed North Dakota 5-1 in the opening game of the 2008 Ice Breaker Tournament. Early in the second period, UND knotted the game at 1-1. Within 38 seconds, Boston University had scored two goals and was off to the races. Brad Miller scored the lone goal for the Green and White.

Last meeting in Grand Forks: December 28, 1996. One night after North Dakota notched a 6-4 victory over the visiting Terriers, the two teams skated to a 2-2 tie in the rematch. Almost exactly three months later, UND downed BU 6-4 to claim its sixth national title.

Most important meeting: March 29, 1997. UND scores five goals in the second period and goes on to defeat Boston University 6-4 for the 1997 NCAA championship. David Hoogsteen scores two goals for the Fighting Sioux, including a back-breaker with six seconds remaining in the middle frame.

All-time record: North Dakota leads the all-time series, 11-7-1 (.605), helped by a stellar 5-0-1 (.833) record in games played in Grand Forks. When the newly-formed Hockey East began play in 1984-1985, it created a five-year interlocking schedule with the WCHA. During that time, Boston University and North Dakota met 7 times, with John “Gino” Gasparini’s Fighting Sioux squad going 6-1-0 against Jack Parker’s Terriers.

Last Ten: Boston University has had the better of the play of late, going 6-3-1 against UND in the last ten matchups. The Terriers have outscored UND 43-33 during that span.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota has given up a total of six goals in four games this season. Last season, both UND and BU lost in the West Regional to Minnesota. UND senior center Corban Knight would join North Dakota’s Century Club (100 career points) with a goal or assist this weekend. There are currently 83 members of that exclusive fraternity, including fellow senior Danny Kristo (113 career points). The Terriers play on a hybrid sheet of ice at Agannis Arena; the playing surface is 90 feet wide; five feet wider than NHL rinks but not as wide as the Olympic ice sheets (100 feet wide).

The Prediction

Boston University has never won a game in Grand Forks, but they will steal at least a point (and probably more) this weekend. Both squads are still juggling line combinations and improving every week. Look for a tentative opening 30 minutes and a furious finish to both games. UND 3-2, BU 5-3.

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