Weekend Preview: North Dakota vs. Colorado College

After winning just twenty total games over his first three seasons behind the CC bench, head coach Mike Haviland won fifteen games (15-17-5) during the 2017-18 campaign and took Denver to three games in the first round of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs (2-0 W, 2-3 L, 1-6 L).

The feeling among the Tiger faithful has always been that new blood behind the bench would eventually translate into new life on the ice, and CC fans are finally being rewarded for their patience. Colorado College (8-10-2) is averaging over three goals per game since the beginning of last season after averaging just a shade over two goals per contest (215 goals in 107 games) in Haviland’s first three campaigns.

Many familiar names have been popping up on the scoresheet for the Tigers, with six forwards already reaching double-digit point totals: senior Westin Michaud (6-8-14), junior Nick Halloran (4-9-13), senior Trey Bradley (6-7-13), senior Mason Bergh (5-7-12), senior Trevor Gooch (7-5-12), and junior Alex Berardinelli (7-4-11). Sadly, it was announced on Thursday that Nick Halloran is out for the season with a lower-body injury, so the prolific Halloran-Bergh-Bradley line that was together all of last year is no more.

By comparison, only one UND forward (sophomore Jordan Kawaguchi; 3-9-12) has collected ten or more points so far this season (senior Rhett Gardner, junior Nick Jones, and sophomore Grant Mismash each have nine points). Mismash might not be available for this series due to injury.

North Dakota fans will also notice another familiar name in the Colorado College lineup: junior Chris Wilkie (3-4-7) has appeared in eight games for the Tigers this season after transferring from UND (where he spent two years and won a national title) and sitting out last season (per NCAA rules).

After getting swept at Canisius last weekend, UND saw its non-conference record drop to 6-4-1 (.591) on the season. After going 9-1-2 (.833) in non-conference play in 2015-16 and 7-2-2 (.727) out-of-conference in 2016-17, Brad Berry’s squad went just 6-2-4 (.667) last season and snapped its streak of fifteen consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

As a whole, the NCHC fared extremely well in non-conference action, collecting a combined record of 50-21-8 (.684) and sporting a winning record against four of the other five leagues across the college hockey landscape (losing the head-to-head with the ECAC, 2-3-1). Here are the inter-conference records, from best to worst:

NCHC: 50-21-8 (.684)
Big Ten: 34-22-5 (.598)
Hockey East: 48-40-8 (.542)
ECAC: 38-42-6 (.477)
WCHA: 22-38-5 (.377)
Atlantic Hockey: 13-42-6 (.262)

Not only could the NCHC as a whole field four or even five teams in the NCAA tournament, but North Dakota’s record against Minnesota (1-0-0) and Wisconsin (2-0-0) will also help them specifically in Pairwise comparisons against all of the Big Ten teams.

According to KRACH, Colorado College has played the 30th toughest schedule in the country this season; North Dakota’s slate of games ranks as the ninth-most difficult out of sixty men’s Division I hockey programs.

Last year’s senior class at North Dakota (Cam Johnson, Trevor Olson, Austin Poganski, and Johnny Simonson) went 101-45-20 (.669) and became the fifteenth consecutive recruiting class to win at least 100 games. This year’s group (Ryan Anderson, Rhett Gardner, Joel Janatuinen, and Hayden Shaw) currently sits at 81-44-18 (.629) and would need 19 more victories in the final 25 games remaining on the schedule (at most) to continue that impressive streak.

This weekend marks the first of eight consecutive conference opponents to finish out the regular season, and the schedule sets up favorably for North Dakota, with the majority of its more difficult matchups on home ice. UND also has the benefit of playing half of its remaining games against the bottom two teams in the league (Colorado College and Omaha). Here are the remaining series for the Fighting Hawks:

Home: Colorado College, St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth, Omaha
Road: Omaha, Denver, Western Michigan, Colorado College

Note: North Dakota will not face NCHC foe Miami in the second half of the season.

At 3-5-0-0 (9 points) in league play, North Dakota will likely need nine or ten wins over the past sixteen conference games to secure home ice for the first round of the NCHC playoffs. Over the first five seasons, the fourth-place finisher (final home ice spot) has averaged roughly 36 points (11-11-2-1).

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Mike Haviland (5th season at CC, 43-106-15, .308)

Pairwise Ranking: 32nd of 60 teams
National Rankings: NR/NR

This Season: 8-10-2 overall (.450), 2-5-1-0 NCHC (8th)
Last Season: 15-17-5 overall (missed NCAA tournament), 8-12-4-3 NCHC (t-5th of 8 teams)

2018-19 Season Statistics:

Team Offense: 3.00 goals scored/game – 23rd of 60 teams
Team Defense: 2.75 goals allowed/game – 30th of 60 teams
Power Play: 15.3% (15 of 98) – 45th of 60 teams
Penalty Kill: 77.8% (49 of 63) – 44th of 60 teams

Key players: Senior F Westin Michaud (6-8-14), Junior F Nick Halloran (4-9-13), Senior F Trey Bradley (6-7-13), Senior F Mason Bergh (5-7-12), Senior F Trevor Gooch (7-5-12), Junior F Alex Berardinelli (7-4-11), Senior D Andrew Farney (0-5-5), Junior D Kristian Blumenschein (0-5-5), Freshman D Bryan Yoon (1-9-10), Junior G Alex Leclerc (8-9-2, 2.60 GAA, .911 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (4th season at UND, 81-44-18, .629)

Pairwise Ranking: 21st of 60 teams
National Rankings: #21/NR

This Season: 9-9-1 (.500) overall, 3-5-0-0 NCHC (6th)
Last Season: 17-13-10 (.550) overall (missed NCAA tournament), 8-10-6-1 NCHC (4th of 8 teams)

2018-19 Season Statistics:

Team Offense: 2.42 goals scored/game – 48th of 60 teams
Team Defense: 2.47 goals allowed/game – 18th of 60 teams
Power Play: 15.9% (13 of 82) – 44th of 60 teams
Penalty Kill: 80.0% (56 of 70) – 36th of 60 teams

Key Players: Senior F Rhett Gardner (8-1-9), Sophomore F Jordan Kawaguchi (3-9-12), Sophomore F Grant Mismash (5-4-9), Senior F Nick Jones (2-7-9 in twelve games), Junior F Cole Smith (2-5-7), Junior D Colton Poolman (4-4-8), Freshman D Jacob Bernard-Docker (4-7-11), D Gabe Bast (2-5-7), Sophomore D Matt Kiersted (4-6-10) Freshman G Adam Scheel (8-6-1, 1.91 GAA, .908 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: February 10, 2018 (Grand Forks, ND). Joel Janatuinen scored two goals and Peter Thome made twenty saves as North Dakota avenged a 4-2 home loss one night earlier with a 5-1 victory. The teams also split an October 2017 series in Colorado Springs.

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, 157-83-11 (.647), including a sparkling 101-22-7 (.804) record in games played in Grand Forks. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: North Dakota has six wins and a tie in the last ten meetings between the teams, outscoring CC 41-24 over that span. UND had gone unbeaten in 14 straight (13-0-1) against the Tigers until the three most recent series ended in splits.

Game News and Notes

These two coaching staffs coached against each other at the AHL and NHL levels prior to the NCHC. The Fighting Hawks are 6-4-1 (.591) at home this season; the Tigers are 3-6-1 (.350) on the road. North Dakota forwards Rhett Gardner and Joel Janatuinen each have five career goals against Colorado College. CC has won two national titles (1950, 1957). Since 1957, the Tigers have appeared in the NCAA tournament thirteen times (most recently in 2011) and advanced to three Frozen Fours (1996, 1997, 2005).

Media Coverage

Both games this weekend can be seen live on Midco Sports Network and Fox College Sports, with Saturday’s rematch also available on TSN. A high definition webcast of the games is also available to NCHC.tv subscribers. All UND men’s hockey games (home and away) can be heard on stations across the UND Sports Network (as well as through the iHeart Radio app). The flagship station for the network is 96.1 FM (The Fox). Follow @UNDMHockey for real-time Twitter updates, or follow the action via live chat at UNDsports.com.

The Prediction

In almost every UND/CC matchup that I can remember, North Dakota has had an advantage in scoring depth. That is not the case this year, and the harsh reality is that the Fighting Hawks cannot be counted on to score more than two goals per game. UND has the goaltending advantage, but special teams might be a wash in this one. Until Brad Berry’s squad can prove themselves, I’ve got to call a split in this one, and that might be the harshest reality of all. UND 2-1, CC 3-1.

As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and insight. Here’s to hockey!

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