Weekend Preview: UND vs. Colorado College

After opening the season with a home sweep of Alabama-Huntsville, the Colorado College Tigers hosted UND at the World Arena. North Dakota erupted for ten goals in the two game sweep and sent the Tigers reeling. That home series started a stretch of fifteen games with only victory (and that against Wisconsin, a team that everyone is beating these days).

On the positive side, CC has won two of its last three to bring their season record to 5-14-1. One of those victories was against NCHC foe Nebraska-Omaha, the Tigers’ first league win of the year.

The feeling among the Tiger faithful is that new blood behind the bench will eventually 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.

UND and Colorado College met five times last season (all in Grand Forks), with North Dakota winning four of the five contests. CC notched an overtime victory in Game 2 of the NCHC quarterfinals to force a third and decisive game. Dave Hakstol’s crew ended the Tigers’ season with a 4-3 victory on Sunday night.

Nationally, Dave Hakstol has his team in a much better position than last year. With a sparkling 9-1-1 non-conference record and sixteen victories overall, UND currently sits in fourth place in the Pairwise rankings, one of five NCHC teams in line to make the NCAA tournament. Nebraska-Omaha (2nd), Minnesota-Duluth (5th), Miami (6th), and Denver (t-12th) would also make the field of 16 if the season ended today (no other league school is in the top twenty). In the second half of the season, North Dakota will face UNO, Denver, and Miami as well as Western Michigan and St. Cloud State.

North Dakota’s seniors shined in last weekend’s sweep of visiting Niagara. The seven skaters (forwards Connor Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks, and Stephane Pattyn along with defensemen Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzarella) combined for seven goals and seven assists (and a +15 rating). MacMillan and Parks each had two goals in Saturday’s 7-0 triumph.

UND junior netminder Zane McIntyre strengthened his case for a Hobey Baker nod with another dominating performance last weekend. He made 42 of 43 saves in the two victories and notched his first shutout of the season. McIntyre, who now sits on the top ten in the country in goals-against average (1.87) and save percentage (.933), has played the fifth-most minutes in the nation and is tied for first with 16 victories. In my opinion, the junior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota will need to maintain or improve upon those numbers and pick up one or two more shutouts over the next two months to remain in contention for college hockey’s highest individual award.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Mike Haviland (1st season at CC, 5-14-1, .275)

Pairwise Ranking: 43rd of 59 teams
National Rankings: NR
This Season: 5-14-1 overall, 1-9-1-0 NCHC (8th)
Last Season: 7-24-6 overall, 6-13-5-1 NCHC (7th)

Team Offense: 2.25 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 4.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.3% (15 of 82)
Penalty Kill: 80.7% (67 of 83)

Key players: Junior F Cody Bradley (8-10-18), Junior F Hunter Fejes (5-9-14), Senior F Scott Wamsganz (5-6-11), Sophomore F Sam Rothstein (4-7-11), Sophomore D Jaccob Slavin (2-8-10), Senior D Aaron Harstad (3-2-5), Freshman G Chase Perry (1-7-1, 3.64 GAA, .884 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 276-138-42, .651)

Pairwise Ranking: 4th of 59 teams
National Rankings: #2/#2
This Season: 16-5-2 overall, 7-4-1-0 NCHC (3rd)
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

Team Offense: 3.48 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.09 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.8% (20 of 96)
Penalty Kill: 87.8% (86 of 98)

Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (9-15-24), Senior F Michael Parks (8-15-23), Senior F Mark MacMillan (11-8-19), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (3-14-17), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (3-17-20), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (3-8-11), Junior G Zane McIntyre (16-5-2, 1.87 GAA, .933 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: October 18, 2014 (Colorado Springs, CO). North Dakota scored five times on nine chances with the man advantage in a 7-2 throttling of the homestanding Tigers. UND’s Mark MacMillan had a hat trick (including two shorthanded goals) and added two assists to go along with his two goals in Friday night’s 3-1 North Dakota victory. Zane McIntyre made 52 of 55 saves in the weekend sweep.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: March 16, 2014. 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.

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, 145-80-10 (.638), including a stellar 87-21-6 (.789) record in games played in Grand Forks. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: North Dakota has won seven of the last ten meetings between the teams, outscoring CC 39-27 over that span. All three of UND’s losses over that stretch have been by a single goal, including two overtime defeats in league playoff action (WCHA Final Five in 2013, NCHC Quarterfinal in 2014).

Game News and Notes

CC has just one victory on the road this season and sports a 1-11-1 (.115) record in games away from the Springs. UND head coach Dave Hakstol has an overall record of 22-13-1 (.625) against Colorado College. Two North Dakota forwards have scored ten or more career points against Colorado College: junior forward Drake Caggiula has scored seven goals and added four assists in his twelve career games against CC, while senior forward Mark MacMillan is averaging a point per game (8-6-14 in 14 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). Friday’s opener can be seen on CBS Sports Network, with a puck drop of 7:07 p.m. (thirty minutes earlier than normal).

The Prediction

UND should fare well in this matchup, as they have more top-end talent and depth than the Tigers. The only way that Colorado College can stay in these games is to draw penalties and score on the power play. Watch for a hat trick sometime this weekend. UND 4-1, 6-2.

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