NCAA Midwest Regional Final Preview: #4 North Dakota vs. #2 Ferris State

After the 2012-13 season, North Dakota moved from the WCHA to the NCHC, Wisconsin departed for the Big Ten, and Ferris State joined the WCHA after being a long-time member of the now-defunct CCHA.

Wisconsin finished 2nd in the Big Ten this season, while North Dakota ended up just behind St. Cloud State in the NCHC.

And Ferris State won the regular season title in the first year of the new-look WCHA and comes into the game tonight with 29 wins on the season. Bob Daniels, in his 22nd year behind the FSU bench, has his team playing a smart, physical brand of hockey backed by Hobey finalist C.J. Motte between the pipes.

Motte’s line is impressive. The junior netminder has a record of 28-8-3, a goals-against average of 2.20, a save percentage of .928, and five shutouts this season, including one yesterday in the Midwest Regional semifinal.

After blanking Colgate 1-0 behind a first period power play goal by freshman Gerald Mayhew, the Bulldogs find themselves one game away from the Frozen Four. If they advance, it would mark the second such appearance in three seasons.

Ferris State has played the 45th toughest schedule in Division I men’s hockey, the weakest slate of any team in the NCAA tournament not named Robert Morris. Including the regional games yesterday, the Bulldogs have played seven games against other teams in the NCAAs, going 2-5-0:

3 games versus #11 Minnesota State (0-3-0)
4 games versus #12 Colgate (2-2-0)

North Dakota has played nine games against the tournament field, with a record of 4-4-1:

1 game versus #4 Wisconsin (1-0-0)
4 games versus #8 St. Cloud State (1-3-0)
2 games versus #14 Vermont (1-0-1)
2 games versus #17 Denver (1-1-0)

After defeating Wisconsin last night, Dave Hakstol has the boys from Grand Forks on the cusp of their sixth Frozen Four appearance in his ten seasons behind the North Dakota bench and the ninth in the past 18 seasons overall. North Dakota has also appeared in twelve consecutive NCAA men’s ice hockey national tournaments, the longest active streak in the country. These results speak to the consistency of the program and aid in recruiting, as the coaching staff can assure potential recruits that they will have an opportunity to compete for a national title every season at UND.

Ferris State Team Profile

Head Coach: Bob Daniels (22nd season at Ferris State, 379-388-87, .495)

Pairwise Ranking: 4th
National Ranking: #6
This Season: 29-10-3 overall, 20-6-12 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 16-16-5 overall, 13-12-3-1 CCHA (5th)

Team Offense: 3.26 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.19 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.1% (30 of 175)
Penalty Kill: 86.8% (171 of 197)

Key Players: Senior F Garrett Thompson (16-16-32), Junior F Justin Buzzeo (14-18-32), Senior F Cory Kane (13-18-31), Senior F Andy Huff (11-13-24), Senior D Scott Czarnowczan (6-19-25), Junior D Jason Binkley (3-21-24), Junior G C.J. Motte (28-8-3, 2.20 GAA, .928 SV%, 5 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 259-132-40, .647)

Pairwise Ranking: t-11th
National Ranking: #13
This Season: 24-13-3 overall, 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)

Team Offense: 3.10 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.48 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.4% (31 of 178)
Penalty Kill: 82.8% (140 of 169)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (17-22-39), Sophomore F Michael Parks (12-18-30), Junior F Mark MacMillan (10-16-26), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (11-13-24), Freshman F Luke Johnson (8-13-21), Senior D Dillon Simpson (7-15-22), Sophomore D Jordan Schmaltz (6-17-23), Sophomore G Zane Gothberg (19-9-3, 2.05 GAA, .923 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 28, 2003 (Minneapolis, MN). Ferris State used three assists from Chris Kunitz and 44 saves by Mike Brown to topple the Fighting Sioux 5-2 in the West Regional semifinal at Mariucci Arena. UND goaltender Jake Brandt was not particularly sharp, allowing three goals on twenty shots over the first two periods before being pulled in favor of Josh Siembida. Ferris State went 2-for-3 with the man advantage and sealed UND’s fate with an empty net goal in the final twenty seconds. North Dakota, which outshot the Bulldogs 46-27, received goals from David Lundbohm and Ryan Hale but failed to score on four power play opportunities and hit six posts. Head coach Dean Blais quipped, “We hit the pipe so hard I thought that puck was going to split in half.”

Most Important Meeting: With a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four (Philadelphia, PA) on the line, tonight’s Midwest Regional final is the most important meeting between the two hockey programs.

All-time Series: North Dakota is 5-1-0 all-time against Ferris State, outscoring the Bulldogs 32-20. The teams first met in December 1981, with the Fighting Sioux throttling the boys from Big Rapids, Michigan 5-2 and 6-2 at the original Ralph Engelstad Arena. UND would go on to win their fourth national title a little more than three months later, defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 5-2 for the championship.

Exactly 13 years to the day after their first series, the two schools met once again in Grand Forks, with the Green and White rolling to an 8-6, 5-2 sweep. And the sixth meeting between the two teams took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan on December 28th, 1997. North Dakota defeated the Bulldogs 6-3 to claim the championship of the Pepsi Invitational one night after downing Cornell 5-1.

Game News and Notes

Ferris State has outscored opponents 51-20 in the first period this season and boasts a record of 21-1-0 when leading after twenty minutes of play. North Dakota will have two seniors playing in today’s game (Dillon Simpson and Derek Rodwell), while FSU can dress as many as five. This is the third appearance in the NCAA tournament for the Bulldogs. Ferris State advanced to the regional final in 2003 and appeared in the national title game in 2012, losing 4-1 to Boston College.

The Prediction

It’s difficult to know what type of game we’ll see today. I fear that we’ll have a parade to the penalty box, which would seem to favor the Bulldogs. If Hakstol is able to roll four lines and gain momentum through a hard forecheck, it’ll be off to Philadelphia. C.J. Motte can’t shut out two teams in a row, can he? The first goal is big for both squads, and I think it goes UND’s way. North Dakota 4, Ferris State 2.

One thought on “NCAA Midwest Regional Final Preview: #4 North Dakota vs. #2 Ferris State”

  1. I sure hope you are correct. I’ll see you in philly. GO SIOUX! I’ll bring the plate.

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