NCAA Tournament Preview: UND vs. Yale

North Dakota’s seniors are getting another shot at Yale. As freshmen in 2010, UND faced the Bulldogs in the regional semifinal. Yale stormed out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 victory (full recap below).

Remarkably, North Dakota is playing in a regional final for the seventh time in Dave Hakstol’s nine seasons as head coach and eighth time in the last ten years. On the other bench, the Bulldogs are playing in their third national quarterfinal game in four seasons. Yale lost to Boston College in 2010 and Minnesota-Duluth in 2011; both of those programs went on to championships in those seasons.

Both teams produced heroes in their opening round games. Bulldogs forward Jesse Root scored his tenth goal of the season just nine seconds into overtime as the Elis downed Minnesota, while North Dakota senior defenseman Andrew MacWilliam potted just his second goal of the season when he knotted the game at 1-1 early in the third period against Niagara. UND senior forward Danny Kristo added the game winner for the Green and White less than a minute later, setting up a Yale-North Dakota regional final. 18 of Kristo’s 26 goals this season have come with his team tied or trailing, and Kristo now has five goals in five playoff games this year.

Yale Team Profile

Head Coach: Keith Allain (7th season at Yale, 135-84-19, .607)
Pairwise Ranking: t-14th
National Ranking: #15
This Season: 19-12-3 overall, 12-9-1 ECAC (3rd)
Last Season: 16-16-3 overall, 10-10-2 ECAC (t-6th)

Team Offense: 2.82 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.74 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.2% (33 of 156)
Penalty Kill: 83.2% (129 of 155)

Key Players: Junior F Kenny Agostino (16-23-39), Senior F Andrew Miller (16-20-36), Senior F Antoine Laganiere (14-13-27), Sophomore D Tommy Fallen (7-15-22), Freshman D Ryan Obuchowski (3-9-12), Senior G Jeff Malcolm (17-6-2, 2.40 GAA, .915 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (9th season at UND, 235-118-37, .650)
Pairwise Ranking: 8th
National Ranking: #7
This Season: 22-12-7 overall, 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)
Last Season: 26-13-3 overall (NCAA West Regional Finalist), 16-11-1 WCHA (4th)

Team Offense: 3.27 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.41 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.8% (32 of 162)
Penalty Kill: 84.2% (128 of 152)

Key Players: Senior F Corban Knight (15-33-48), Senior F Danny Kristo (26-26-52), Sophomore F Mark MacMillan (13-12-25), Freshman F Rocco Grimaldi (13-23-36), Junior D Derek Forbort (4-12-16), Junior D Dillon Simpson (5-19-24), Freshman G Zane Gothbergg (9-4-3, 2.46 GAA, .920 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 27, 2010 (Worcester, MA). The Elis took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission and held on for a 3-2 victory over North Dakota. Junior goaltender Ryan Rondeau started only his fifth game of the season and made 34 saves for the Bulldogs, while Denny Kearney scored two of Yale’s thee goals. Goals by UND forwards Brett Hextall and Matt Frattin made it interesting in the final frame, but the Green and White could not find the equalizer and Yale advanced to the regional final against Boston College. It was the Bulldogs’ first NCAA tournament victory since 1954.

Most Important Meeting: The teams have never met in an NCAA regional final or in the Frozen Four, so I will call today’s tilt the most important game ever played between these two squads.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 5-1-0 (.833).

Game News and Notes

After appearing in the NCAA tournament just one in its first 47 years as an ECAC member, Keith Allain has his Bulldogs in the national playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol is 12-3 in NCAA regional games. Yale went 11-3-1 at home this year but just 8-9-1 on the road or at neutral sites.

The Prediction

The first ten minutes will be key for both teams. Yale will hope to survive the opening flurry, while UND will look to play its style from the drop of the puck. Goaltending and officiating will be key, and North Dakota’s power play will need to show signs of life. If Dave Hakstol’s crew can score at least one goal with the man advantage, the Green and White should advance to the Frozen Four. If they are held without a power play goal, it’s anyone’s game. UND 3, Yale 2.

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