Weekend Preview: UND vs. Colorado College

Colorado College opened with a 3-1 home victory over Minnesota-Duluth in the first NCHC game for either school. The Tigers have won only one game since that time, going just 1-13-3 since October 18th.

It’s been a tough 17 game stretch for Scott Owen’s club, a three month span with a single victory. CC has found lots of different ways to lose, but the primary culprit is that Colorado College has not been able to finish games. The Tigers are 0-6-2 when scoring the first goal and have been outscored 30-7 in third periods and overtime sessions so far this season.

The Tiger faithful can point to the scoring void created when last year’s senior class (Rylan Schwartz, Will Rapuzzi, Mike Boivin, Scott Winkler, Andrew Hamburg, and Joe Marciano) graduated. Those six accounted for 170 of CC’s 315 points (54 percent) in 2012-13.

But North Dakota experienced a similar loss with the graduation of Danny Kristo, Corban Knight, Carter Rowney, Joe Gleason, and Andrew MacWilliam, plus the early departure of Derek Forbort. The six UND stalwarts collected 176 of North Dakota’s 361 points, good for 49 percent of UND’s production last year.

Dave Hakstol’s crew has won five straight games after a 4-7-2 start. The Green and White have scored at least three goals in nine of their last eleven games and have allowed two or fewer goals seven times in that same stretch.

North Dakota is finally healthy, and with Bryn Chyzyk’s return from a team-imposed suspension, has three capable scoring lines. The key to the second half of the season will be the performance of Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, and Michael Parks, three juniors who have 21 points in 43 combined games this year but who collected 94 points in 197 games over their first two seasons.

There are several other areas on the Green and White side of the ledger in this matchup: goaltending has been a question mark all season for the Tigers (senior Josh Thorimbert is allowing more than three goals/game with a save percentage below .900), while sophomore Zane Gothberg has taken over the #1 spot for UND. Colorado College comes in to this weekend with the league’s worst power play (11.6%), while North Dakota is clipping along at 20.5%. And finally, CC has not played well on the road this year (0-8-1), and historically has had some difficulty adjusting to the narrower NHL ice sheet.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Scott Owens (15th season at CC, 319-217-51, .587)

Pairwise Ranking: 52nd
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 2-13-3 overall, 2-5-3 NCHC (5th)
Last Season: 18-19-5 overall, 11-13-4 WCHA (8th)

Team Offense: 1.67 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.17 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 11.6% (8 of 69)
Penalty Kill: 80.9% (55 of 68)

Key Players: Senior F Alexander Krushelnyski (4-7-11), Freshman F Alex Roos (4-4-8), Senior F Jeff Collett (3-4-7), Freshman D Jaccob Slavin (1-8-9), Senior D Eamonn McDermott (0-2-2), Senior G Josh Thorimbert (2-13-3, 3.08 GAA, .899 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 244-126-39, .644)

Pairwise Ranking: 21st (tie)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 9-7-2 overall, 5-5-0 NCHC (3rd)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)

Team Offense: 2.78 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.89 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.5% (17 of 83)
Penalty Kill: 83.9% (78 of 93)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (6-11-17), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (5-6-11), Sophomore F Michael Parks (3-8-11), Senior D Dillon Simpson (3-7-10), Sophomore D Jordan Schmaltz (2-8-10), Sophomore G Zane Gothberg (7-5-2, 2.36 GAA, .917 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 21, 2013 (St. Paul, MN). In the opening game of the 2013 WCHA Final Five, Peter Stoykewych potted the game winner five minutes into overtime and the Tigers upended North Dakota 4-3. UND, which had won three consecutive Final Five titles, got two goals from freshman Drake Caggiula in a losing effort. Colorado College would go on to defeat Minnesota 2-0 before falling to Wisconsin 3-2 in the title game, ending their hopes of advancing to the NCAA tournament.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: January 12, 2013. North Dakota forward Mitch MacMillan, who was eligible in his first WCHA series after transferring from St. Cloud State, notched a goal and assist in leading to a 5-3 victory over visiting Colorado College. The Tigers, who took Friday’s opener by a score of 4-3, did not have an answer for offensive juggernaut Dan “Jimmer” Senkbeil, who potted the game-winner for his first career goal.

Most Important Meeting: March 27, 1997. UND defeated Colorado College, 6-2, in the Frozen Four Semifinals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Two nights later, North Dakota downed Boston University, 6-4, to claim its sixth NCAA Championship. North Dakota and Colorado College also met in the 2001 East Regional (Worcester, Mass.), with UND prevailing, 4-1.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 139-79-10 (.632), including an 83-20-6 (.789) record in games played in Grand Forks. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: North Dakota is 6-4-0 (.600) in the last ten meetings between the teams. UND has only outscored CC 41-34 over the last ten games, with four of UND’s six victories coming by a single goal.

Game News and Notes

UND forward Drake Caggiula has five goals in five career games against Colorado College, while defenseman Dillon Simpson has collected seven points in his eight tilts against the Tigers. CC has not made an appearance in the national tournament since 2011, while North Dakota has made the NCAA’s each of the last eleven seasons. A Friday win for the Green and White would give UND its first six-game winning streak in almost two years. Head coach Scott Owens has coached the Tigers since 1997.

The Prediction

All signs point to a North Dakota sweep this weekend. Saturday’s game will be closer than Friday’s opener, but the Tigers will go home empty-handed. UND 4-1, 3-2.

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