Weekend Preview: UND at Colorado College

It was time for a change in Colorado Springs.

That much was apparent after last season, when Scott Owen’s squad found lots of different ways to lose. The primary culprit was that Colorado College was not able to finish games. The Tigers scored first in 17 of 37 games last year and played opponents even in the first period (28 goals scored, 28 goals allowed). But CC was just 2-12-3 when taking the early lead and were outscored 93-46 in the final two periods and overtime a year ago.

The past two seasons were the most difficult of Owens’ coaching career. After 13 winning campaigns behind the bench (299-185-43, .608), his teams went just 25-43-11 (.386) from 2012-14.

The Tiger faithful are hopeful for a couple of reasons. The first is that CC should be strong defensively, with key returning blueliners Jacob Slavin and Peter Stoykewych leading the way. And the second is the feeling that new blood behind the bench will translate into new life on the ice. First-year head coach Mike Haviland is new to Division I hockey, but he was named the AHL coach of the year in 2006-07 (Norfolk Admirals) and served as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks for four seasons (2008-12), winning a Stanley Cup in 2010. He was most recently head coach for the AHL’s Hershey Bears.

For North Dakota, the time is now. Head coach Dave Hakstol returns almost every piece from last season’s Frozen Four squad (only forward Rocco Grimaldi and defenseman Dillon Simpson could be considered huge losses), and the addition of new talent has the fans talking titles in Grand Forks. But the weight of those expectations could prove too much to bear, as evidenced by the 5-1 drubbing that Bemidji State laid on the Green and White in the season opener for both schools.

UND and Colorado College met five times last season (all in Grand Forks), with North Dakota winning four of the five contests. The teams are scheduled to play four regular season league games against each other this season, with the Tigers returning to Grand Forks on January 23rd and 24th for a weekend series.

Incidentally, 11 of the 22 players on North Dakota’s travel roster for this weekend have never played in Colorado Springs. Junior forward Coltyn Sanderson, sophomore forward Wade Murphy, senior defenseman Andrew Panzerella, and sophomore goaltender Matt Hrnkiw did not make the trip. The Tigers tend to play better at home, collecting five of their seven victories a year ago on the wider Olympic ice surface at World Arena.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Mike Haviland (1st season at CC)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 2-0-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 7-24-6 overall, 6-13-5-1 NCHC (7th)

2013-14 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 2.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.27 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 12.2% (17 of 139)
Penalty Kill: 78.6% (110 of 140)

Key returning players (2013-14 statistics): Junior F Cody Bradley (6-10-16), Junior F Peter Maric (1-1-2 in 12 games), Junior F Alex Roos (10-7-17), Sophomore F Sam Rothstein (6-14-20), Sophomore D Jaccob Slavin (5-20-25), Senior D Peter Stoykewych (1-8-9), G Tyler Marble (no official statistics)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 261-134-40, .646)
National Ranking: #3
This Season: 1-1-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

2013-14 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.02 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.43 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.2% (32 of 186)
Penalty Kill: 83.4% (146 of 175)

Key Returning Players (2013-14 statistics): Senior F Michael Parks (12-18-30), Senior F Mark MacMillan (10-16-26), Junior F Drake Caggiula (11-13-24), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (6-18-24), Senior D Nick Mattson (4-9-23), Junior G Zane McIntyre (20-10-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 16, 2014 (Grand Forks, ND). In the third and decisive game of their first round playoff series, Colorado College gave the Green and White all they could handle, scoring an extra attacker goal with 90 seconds remaining to pull within one. UND netminder Zane McIntyre (nee Gothberg) stood strong at the end, however, making 27 saves in the contest and preserving a 4-3 North Dakota victory. CC played perhaps its best, most complete hockey of the season in the three-game series.

Last Meeting in Colorado Springs: December 1, 2012. One night after dropping a 5-3 decision to the homestanding Tigers, North Dakota took the hosts to overtime before downing CC 3-2. Defenseman Dillon Simpson scored an extra attacker goal with 13 seconds remaining to force the extra session, and then-freshman Drake Caggiula potted the game-winner less than one minute into added time.

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, 143-80-10 (.635), although Colorado College holds a 57-48-4 (.541) edge in games played in Colorado Springs. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: North Dakota has won six of the last ten meetings between the teams, outscoring CC 35-31 over that span. Three of the past ten contests have gone to overtime, and six of ten have been decided by a single goal.

Game News and Notes

CC opened the regular season with two victories over Alabama-Huntsville last weekend, marking the Tigers’ first home sweep since November 2012 (Bemidji State). UND head coach Dave Hakstol has a record of 20-13-1 (.603) against Colorado College. North Dakota forward Drake Caggiula has scored seven goals in his ten career games against the Tigers. For the second time in two seasons, a college hockey team in Colorado has a new coach (Jim Montgomery took over for George Gwozdecky at DU last year).

The Prediction

UND should fare well in this matchup, as they have the ability to move the puck through all three zones and the forward depth required to play a weekend series at altitude. Furthermore, the boys from Grand Forks can expect a predominantly green and white crowd at World Arena, proving yet again that for North Dakota hockey, it’s always a home game. UND 3-2, 4-2.

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