Weekend Preview: UND at Colorado College

In the first two seasons of the NCHC, North Dakota has won 31 league games, while Colorado College has managed to win just eight. If we look more closely at last season, the numbers are even worse for the Tigers. UND went 16-6-2-0, claiming the Penrose Cup and posting the best record in the two-year history of the league. The Tigers were historically bad in 2014-15, winning just two league games (2-19-3-1) all season.

The boys from Colorado Springs have not been able to score or stop anyone from scoring. Over the last twenty games dating back to last season, CC has given up three or more goals 15 times and scored more than two goals only six times. As a result, Colorado College has been outscored 77-37 in that stretch and sputtered to record of 1-17-2 over the past twenty games.

The feeling among the Tiger faithful is that new blood behind the bench will eventually translate into new life on the ice. Second-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 six times last season (twice in Colorado Springs), with North Dakota winning all six games and outscoring the Tigers 25-10. Without those six victories, UND’s record last year would have looked far less impressive at 23-10-3 (.681).

This weekend’s games, the first of the conference season, are critical for UND’s Penrose Cup hopes. Last year, North Dakota went 10-2-0 against the bottom four teams in the league (Colorado College, Western Michigan, St. Cloud State, and Minnesota-Duluth) en route to a 16-6-2 conference mark and the NCHC regular season title. A second reward for the Green and White was a first-round playoff series against Colorado College, the 13th time in a row that UND hosted the opening round of the conference tournament. The Green and White dispatched the Tigers in two games (5-1, 3-2) and advanced to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

After this weekend, North Dakota will have played seven of its eight October games on the road, with only a single home game versus Bemidji State(a 5-2 victory) to satisfy the fans in Grand Forks. Beginning with a November visit from the Wisconsin Badgers, however, UND will have eight home series and only six weekends away from Ralph Engelstad Arena.

North Dakota killed all four Vermont power plays last weekend and raised its penalty kill percentage to 72.2% (48th best in the country). This stat will need continually improve if the boys from Grand Forks want to compete for a league title again this year. In the first four games of the season, UND surrendered a total of five power play goals (to put that in perspective, Dave Hakstol’s group allowed only 27 power play goals in 42 games last year). The penalty kill numbers will improve as the goaltending situation improves (UND’s top two netminders – Matej Tomek and Cam Johnson – are both out with injury), but until that happens, the key will be to stay out of the penalty box.

The NCHC led all leagues last season with a sparkling record against the other five conferences, and in doing so placed six teams in the NCAA tournament. And this year, the eight teams in the league have gone 24-14-6 (.587) to place second (the ECAC is first at 21-10-4, .657). Last season, Dave Hakstol’s squad went 9-1-1 in regular season non-conference action and advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four. After a 4-0-2 start outside the NCHC, North Dakota’s other non-conference opponents this season will be Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Alabama-Huntsville (all currently unranked). UND has lost just once in its last 21 nonconference games (16-1-4) dating back to the second half of the 2013-14 season.

Saturday’s series finale will mark the first time that North Dakota will play on Halloween since 2008-09, when UND defeated Wisconsin 3-2. That victory pushed North Dakota’s all-time record on October 31st to 6-3-0. UND and Colorado College have never met on Halloween.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Mike Haviland (2nd season at CC, 6-32-3, .183)
National Rankings: NR/NR
This Season: 0-6-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 6-26-3 overall, 2-19-3-1 NCHC (8th)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 1.50 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.83 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.3% (4 of 28)
Penalty Kill: 76.7% (23 of 30)

Key players: Senior F Cody Bradley (1-2-3), Senior F Hunter Fejes (1-0-1), Junior F Sam Rothstein (0-3-3), Freshman F Trey Bradley (3-1-4), Sophomore D Teemu Kivihalme (1-3-4), Freshman D Andrew Farny (0-2-2), Junior G Tyler Marble (0-2-0, 3.44 GAA, .877 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (1st season at UND, 4-0-2, .833)
National Ranking: #1/#2
This Season: 4-0-2 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 29-10-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 16-6-2-0 NCHC (1st out of 8 teams)

Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.67 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.83 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.0% (5 of 25)
Penalty Kill: 72.2% (13 of 18)

Key Players: Senior F Drake Caggiula (2-6-8), Sophomore F Nick Schmaltz (0-5-5), Senior F Bryn Chyzyk (5-1-6), Freshman F Brock Boeser (4-2-6), Junior D Paul LaDue (0-1-1), Junior D Troy Stecher (2-4-6), Junior G Matt Hyrnkiw (3-0-1, 1.76 GAA, .933 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 14, 2015 (Grand Forks, ND). Senior forward Connor Gaarder potted the game-winner with under 90 seconds remaining in the hockey game to propel UND to a 3-2 victory over the visiting Tigers. Colorado College forward Luc Gerdes scored a wraparound goal at 6:10 of the third period to knot the game at 2. CC outshot the Green and White 33-31, but Zane McIntyre was up to the challenge, making 31 saves in the victory. North Dakota won Friday’s opener by a much more comfortable 5-1 margin.

Last Meeting in Colorado Springs: October 18, 2014. UND blitzed the homestanding Tigers with four goals in the opening frame before cruising to a 7-2 victory. The visitors from Grand Forks went 5-for-9 on the power play and added two shorthanded goals. Senior forward Mark MacMillan scored a rare empty net shorthanded goal for his hat trick, and added two assists for good measure. North Dakota won Friday’s opener 3-1.

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, 149-80-10 (.644), although Colorado College has had the advantage at altitude (6,035 feet), going 57-50-4 (.532) in Colorado Springs. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: North Dakota has won nine of the last ten meetings between the teams, outscoring CC 38-20 over that span. The only Tigers victory was an overtime win in the 2014 NCHC quarterfinals. Seventeen of the last nineteen games have been decided by two goals or less.

Game News and Notes

Four of the Tigers’ nine goals this season have come with the man advantage. UND went the entire 2014-15 season without being swept on the road (11-4-0 during the regular season away from Ralph Engelstad Arena last year). Colorado College has only scored one first period goal in six games this season. North Dakota senior forward Drake Caggiula, who leads all current NCAA men’s hockey players in career games played with 129, has already faced CC 16 times in his career, collecting 13 points (eight goals, five assists).

Media Coverage

This weekend’s series at Colorado College will not be televised, but a webcast of both games is available to NCHC.tv subscribers. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on 96.1 FM and on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

The Prediction

UND has been rolling and Colorado College has been stumbling. Furthermore, the boys from Grand Forks can expect a predominantly green and white crowd at World Arena, proving yet again that for UND hockey, it’s always a home game. If the Tigers’ power play gets clicking, they could make one game close. North Dakota will sweep and end October with a sparkling 6-0-2 record. UND 5-1, 4-2.

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