Weekend Preview: UND at St. Cloud State

Trend #1: In the early part of the 2012-13 season, North Dakota is 3-0 on Friday nights and 0-2-1 on Saturday nights. UND has scored 13 goals in weekend openers but only 6 goals in the second game of the weekend.

Trend #2: Over the past ten seasons, North Dakota has not won a Friday game in St. Cloud (0-6-4), but has posted an unblemished 10-0 record in Saturday rematches at the National Hockey Center.

All three of UND’s Saturday games this season could be classified as a disappointing result:

North Dakota held a lead against Alaska in the Goal Rush tournament but gave up consecutive goals to fall 2-1. UND settled for a 3-3 tie against Alaska-Anchorage after outscoring the Seawolves 9-1 in two earlier victories. And last weekend, the Green and White gave up three third period goals to Boston University in a 4-2 defeat.

For St. Cloud State, last Saturday night’s 6-1 loss at Denver snapped a string of five consecutive victories. SCSU had blanked the Pioneers 3-0 in the series opener.

On the injury front, UND forward Michael Parks has not been cleared to play, while SCSU forwards Ben Hanowski, David Morley, and Joey Benik are also out of the lineup.

There are eight current NCAA Division I men’s hockey players with at least 100 career points, and three of them will be on the ice this weekend. North Dakota’s Danny Kristo (115) and St. Cloud State’s Drew LeBlanc (108) will be joined by UND’s Corban Knight, who notched his 100th career point last Saturday night.

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: (Bob Motzko, 8th season at SCSU, 142-112-34, .552)
National Rankings: #15
This Season: 5-3-0 overall, 3-1-0 WCHA (t-1st)
Last Season: 17-17-5 overall, 12-12 4 WCHA (6th)

Team Offense: 3.88 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.1% (7 of 41)
Penalty Kill: 83.8% (31 of 37)

Key Players: Junior F Nic Dowd (6-6-12), Senior F Drew LeBlanc (3-8-11), Freshman F Kalle Kossila (4-4-8), Junior D Nick Jensen (0-8-8), Freshman D Ethan Prow (2-4-6), Sophomore G Ryan Faragher (4-3-0, 2.23 GAA, .926 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (9th season at UND, 216-108-31, .652)
National Ranking: #6
This Season: 3-2-1 overall, 1-0-1 WCHA (t-6th)
Last Season: 26-13-3 overall (NCAA West Regional Finalist), 16-11-1 WCHA (4th)

Team Offense: 3.17 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.8% (4 of 27)
Penalty Kill: 88.2% (15 of 17)

Key Players: Senior F Danny Kristo (1-5-6), Sophomore F Mark MacMillan (2-2-4), Freshman F Rocco Grimaldi (3-3-6), Junior D Derek Forbort (2-1-3), Freshman D Jordan Schmaltz (1-1-2), Junior G Clarke Saunders (2-1-1, 1.73 GAA, .933 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 15, 2012 (St. Paul, MN). The first of two goals by UND forward Brock Nelson broke a 1-1 second period tie and propelled North Dakota to a 4-1 victory and a berth in the Final Five semifinals against Minnesota. Aaron Dell made 29 saves and earned the win, while SCSU netminder Mike Lee saw his career mark against the Green and White fall to 0-5-1.

Last Meeting in St. Cloud: January 21, 2012. North Dakota survived a late goal review to hold off the homestanding Huskies 3-2. UND’s Corban Knight potted a pair of goals in the road win and the Green and White held SCSU scoreless in seven power play opportunities on the weekend. The victory jumpstarted UND to a 14-3-1 record the rest of the way.

Most Important Meeting: March 17, 2001 (St. Paul, MN). St. Cloud State defeated North Dakota 6-5 to claim the 2001 WCHA Final Five Championship. Derek Eastman scored the game-winner in overtime after UND scored three goals in the final ten minutes of regulation to force the extra session.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 59-31-11 (.639), with a slight edge of 23-17-6 (.565) in games played at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.

Last Ten: North Dakota has had the edge lately, posting a 7-2-1 (.750) record in the last ten meetings between the teams. UND has outscored St. Cloud State 31-22 during that span.

Game News and Notes

UND has lost just twice in the last eleven meetings between the teams (8-2-1). North Dakota and St. Cloud State are two of eight teams who are moving to the National Collegiate Athletic Conference next season, and all eight of those teams are ranked in the top 25 this week. This weekend’s games are two of four contests in the race for the UND/SCSU Challenge Cup.

The Prediction

The Friday/Saturday trend will continue, with North Dakota falling just short on Friday night before pulling away in Saturday’s rematch. It will take UND a period or two to adjust to the wider sheet, but once they do, the lamp will light. SCSU 3-2, UND 5-2.

On a Personal Note

I look forward to this series every year because of the unique relationship we have with the Center Ice Club, the official hockey booster organization for the St. Cloud State University Huskies. On behalf of SiouxSports.com and the Center Ice Club, I would like to invite you to the UND/SCSU pre-game social on Saturday afternoon from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. in the upper level of Brothers Pub (119 Fifth Avenue South) in St. Cloud. This is a great opportunity to meet fans on both sides of the rivalry, win fabulous door prizes, and view the Challenge Cup. This event is free and open to all fans 21 and older.

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

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