Weekend Preview: UND at Minnesota-Duluth

51-20-12. That’s the record that Minnesota-Duluth compiled from 2010-2012. In 2010-11, the Bulldogs won the national title, and they followed that up with a berth in the Northeast Regional final at the end of the 2012 campaign (falling to Boston College).

But last season was a different story. UMD won only 14 games (14-19-5) and finished ninth in the last season of the WCHA as it used to be. Despite a national championship to his credit, head coach Scott Sandelin is only four games over .500 (244-240-67, .504) during his tenure at Duluth. Now in his 14th season behind the bench, Sandelin has notched 20 or more victories six times, claimed one WCHA playoff championship, led Duluth to the national tournament four times, and brought his teams to two Frozen Fours.

By contrast, UND head coach Dave Hakstol, now in his tenth season coaching at his alma mater, already has over 250 wins to his credit (251-128-40, .647). In each of his nine previous campaigns, Hakstol has won at least 20 games and brought UND to the NCAA tournament. He boasts two MacNaughton Cups (WCHA regular season title), four Broadmoor trophies (WCHA playoff title), and five Frozen Four appearances.

At the end of the 2010-11 season, many expected these two squads to go to battle for the national title. Duluth held up their end of the bargain, dispatching Notre Dame in their semifinal. UND fell short, however, falling to Michigan 2-0 in heartbreaking fashion.

The Bulldogs were riding a seven game unbeaten streak (4-0-3) before they suffered a sweep at St. Cloud State last weekend. UND has won eight of its last ten conference games and now sits alone in second place in the NCHC, one game behind league-leading St. Cloud State.

UMD is just 7-6-3 (.531) since December 1st, while North Dakota sports a sparkling 11-2-1 record (.821) over that same span.

Minnesota-Duluth Team Profile

Head Coach: Scott Sandelin (14th season at UMD, 244-240-67,.504)

Pairwise Ranking: t-16th
National Ranking: #20
This Season: 13-11-4 overall, 8-8-2-2 NCHC (t-5th)
Last Season: 14-19-5 overall, 10-13-5 WCHA (9th)

Team Offense: 2.93 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.79 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.4% (23 of 132)
Penalty Kill: 85.6% (125 of 146)

Key Players: Junior F Caleb Herbert (8-17-25), Freshman F Alex Iafallo (11-10-21), Junior F Justin Crandall (10-7-17), Senior F Joe Basaraba (7-8-15), Sophomore D Andy Welinski (5-11-16), Freshman D Willie Raskob (0-11-11), Senior G Aaron Crandall (11-8-3, 2.74 GAA, .906 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 251-128-40, .647)

Pairwise Ranking: t-11th
National Ranking: #11
This Season: 16-9-3 overall, 11-7-0-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)

Team Offense: 3.07 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.75 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.7% (23 of 130)
Penalty Kill: 81.1% (107 of 132)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (11-15-26), Sophomore F Michael Parks (9-16-25), Junior F Mark MacMillan (8-10-18), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (8-9-17), Senior D Dillon Simpson (6-12-18), Sophomore D Jordan Schmaltz (4-13-17), Sophomore G Zane Gothberg (11-5-3, 2.25 GAA, .915 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: November 16, 2013 (Grand Forks, ND). One night after dropping a 4-2 contest to homestanding North Dakota, the Duluth Bulldogs doubled up UND 6-3 behind two goals from Adam Krause. Zane Gothberg took the loss in net for North Dakota after relieving Clarke Saunders, who allowed three goals on 13 shots in the first period.

Last Meeting in Duluth: February 11, 2012. UMD raced out to a 5-2 lead behind two goals and three assists from Jack Connolly and then withstood a furious North Dakota comeback to win 5-4 and earn a split of the weekend series. UND won Friday’s opener 3-1 and outshot the Bulldogs 36-31 in the rematch, including a 16-5 shot advantage in the third period.

Most Important Meeting: March 22, 1984 (Lake Placid, NY) Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota met in the national semifinal game, with the Bulldogs defeating the Fighting Sioux 2-1 in overtime to advance to the championship. UND went on to defeat Michigan State 6-5 (OT) for third place, while Duluth fell to Bowling Green 5-4 in four overtimes, the longest championship game ever played.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 137-76-9 (.637), including a 55-39-5 (.581) record in games played in Duluth.

Last Ten: North Dakota is 6-3-1 (.650) in the last ten games between the teams. UND has outscored Duluth 35-26 in the past ten contests. Two of the three losses were by a single goal.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol is 19-7-3 (.707) against Minnesota-Duluth in his head coaching career. UND is 7-2 in games in which the opponent scores first. Both head coaches this weekend are alumni of the University of North Dakota: Dave Hakstol (’92) and Scott Sandelin (’86) both played for UND.

Media Coverage

Friday’s game will be telecast live on FOX Sports North PLUS, while Saturday’s game can be seen on Midco Sports Network, which is picking up the My9 broadcast of the game.

The Prediction

UMD is a dismal 4-5-3 at home, while North Dakota is just 5-4-2 on the road. With that in mind, I can’t see this weekend as anything other than a split. The question is which game will go to which team? The first period on Friday night will tell the tale. If UND can come out of the first twenty ahead or tied, it bodes well for the weekend. I’ll take the Green and White on Friday night, with Duluth rebounding for the split in Saturday’s rematch. UND 3-2, UMD 4-3.

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