Last season’s February series in Omaha was noteworthy for a couple of reasons. North Dakota swept the Mavericks 2-1 and 5-2, with Saturday’s contest played outdoors at TD Ameritrade Park, the home of the College World Series. The UND fan contingent was loud and impressive, leading directly to the notion that for North Dakota hockey, it’s always a home game.
Another large and vocal Green and White crowd is expected for this weekend in Omaha. Games will be played on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
Dean Blais’ squad has a distinct North Dakota feel to it, with two forwards named Archibald and Zombo on the ice. UND fans may remember their dads, Jim Archibald and Rick Zombo, who wore the green and white during Blais’ tenure in Grand Forks. The younger Archibald (Josh) is tied for the team lead in points (6-4-10), while Dominic Zombo has chipped in three goals and three assists in eight games for the Mavericks.
Nebraska-Omaha Team Profile
Head Coach: Dean Blais (5th season at UNO, 78-72-16, .518)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 4-4-0, 2-0-0 NCHC (t-1st)
Last Season: 19-18-2 overall, 14-12-2 WCHA (7th)
Team Offense: 3.12 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 16.7% (8 of 48)
Penalty Kill: 67.9% (38 of 56)
Key Players: Senior F Ryan Walters (3-7-10), Junior F Josh Archibald (6-4-10), Junior F Dominic Zombo (3-3-6), Freshman D Ian Brady (1-5-6). Senior D Michael Young (0-4-4), Freshman G Kirk Thompson (3-2-0, 2.99 GAA, .887 SV%)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 237-122-38, .645)
National Ranking: #11
This Season: 2-3-1, 1-3-0 NCHC (t-6th)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)
Team Offense: 2.67 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.17 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.5% (5 of 27)
Penalty Kill: 96.6% (28 of 29)
Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (2-3-5), Junior F Mark MacMillan (2-1-3), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (3-2-5), Sophomore F Michael Parks (1-4-5), Senior D Dillon Simpson (0-1-1), Junior D Nick Mattson (1-2-3), Sophomore G Zane Gothberg (2-3-1, 2.79 GAA. .910 SV%)
By The Numbers:
Last meeting: February 9, 1013 (Omaha, NE). In a slushy and warm outdoor game, North Dakota scored the first four goals before Archibald and Zombo scored against their dads’ former school to make the score 4-2. UND senior Danny Kristo iced the contest with a late tally. Maverick netminder Dayn Belfour (son of UND great Eddie Belfour) made 20 saves in a relief effort after starting goaltender John Faulkner allowed three goals on five shots in the opening frame.
Most important meeting: Since the two teams have only met eight times (with UND holding a 5-3 advantage, outscoring UNO 24-20), I will call Saturday’s opener the most important meeting between the schools.
Game News and Notes
UNO has already allowed 18 power play goals in eight games this season, while North Dakota has killed 28 consecutive penalties. Maverick freshman forward Jake Guentzel was named NCHC Rookie of the Week after picking up assists on both UNO overtime goals last weekend at Denver.
North Dakota will not lose its fourth consecutive game. UND will be primed and ready to go from the drop of the puck on Saturday night. The Mavericks will steal at least one point from North Dakota in Sunday’s rematch, with a possible shootout looming. UND 5-2, 3-3 tie.