UND and SCSU: The race for the Penrose Cup

North Dakota’s road sweep at Western Michigan put them three points clear of St. Cloud State in the race for the Penrose Cup. Here are the upcoming opponents for each team with eight regular season games remaining:

North Dakota (13-2-1-1, 41 points)

at Denver
vs. Minnesota-Duluth
at Nebraska-Omaha
vs. Western Michigan

St. Cloud State (12-3-1-1, 38 points)

at Miami
at Nebraska-Omaha
vs. Minnesota-Duluth
at Colorado College

It is interesting to note that UND has two home series remaining while the Huskies have just one. The top two teams in the NCHC also share a pair of common opponents this month, with Duluth making a road trip through Grand Forks and St. Cloud on consecutive weekends and Omaha hosting both schools during that same time frame. With each league win worth three points, I would expect the Hawks and Huskies to pick up nine points each over those four games, leaving just four other conference games to decide the league title:

UND at Denver/vs. Western Michigan
SCSU at Miami/at Colorado College

North Dakota’s other two remaining opponents are definitely tougher than St. Cloud’s, despite the fact that the Huskies will play all four of their games on the road. I would expect SCSU to gain some ground in the league race (perhaps a point/weekend), but it won’t be quite enough to erase UND’s lead. If I had to guess, these would be my final standings:

1. North Dakota (59 league points)
2. St. Cloud State (58)
3. Denver (43)
4. Miami (31)
5. Nebraska-Omaha (30)
6. Minnesota-Duluth (28)
7. Western Michigan (21)
8. Colorado College (18)

In 2013-14, St. Cloud State won the league title with 48 points (15-6-3), while UND finished three points back at 15-9-0. Last season, North Dakota took the Penrose Cup with a record of 16-6-2 (50 points), six better than second place Miami. It is quite impressive that both of these teams will shatter those marks in year three of the NCHC.

If this is how the final standings look heading into the league tournament, which first-round matchup is most intriguing? Duluth at Denver? Omaha at Miami? And do you agree or disagree with my order of finish? Feel free to comment below, and thanks for reading!

One thought on “UND and SCSU: The race for the Penrose Cup”

  1. I think Omaha going to Miami would be a really good matchup if the standings shake out this way. The team on the upswing vs. the team on the downswing and both potentially fighting for their season.

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