Weekend Preview: North Dakota at Minnesota State

In the last season of the WCHA as we knew it (2012-13), Minnesota, St. Cloud State, and North Dakota finished as the top three teams in the conference standings. There was a three-way tie for fourth, with the final three home-ice spots in the twelve-team league taken by Denver, Wisconsin, and…

Minnesota State.

Seven seasons ago, the Mavericks were on the rise. That year (Mike Hastings’ first behind the bench), Minnesota State went 24-14-3 overall and advanced to the national tournament for the first time since 2003 and just the second time since the Mavericks went Division I in 1996.

Following that historic season, Minnesota State found most of its conference rivals bolting for the Big Ten (Minnesota, Wisconsin) or the newly-formed NCHC (Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota, Omaha, and St. Cloud State).

Mike Hastings’ squad has taken full advantage of its new collection of league foes, winning the WCHA regular season title three times over the past six seasons and posting a combined league record of 116-35-17 (.741). Those league results have propelled the Mavericks to seven consecutive 20-win seasons and five NCAA tournament appearances over the past seven seasons.

For North Dakota, the goal is simple: return to national prominence after a two-year absence from the national tournament. There is reason for optimism in Grand Forks, with an experienced d-corps, plenty of returning grit and skill, and a crop of freshmen with a tremendous amount of upside.

Last weekend, the Mavericks blitzed Arizona State (4-1, 5-0), while the Fighting Hawks swept Canisius (5-0, 8-1).

Minnesota State Team Profile

Head Coach: Mike Hastings (8th season at Minnesota State, 185-80-21, .684)
National Ranking: #2
This Season: 2-0-0 overall
Last Season: 32-8-3 overall (NCAA East Regional Semifinalist), 22-5-1-1 WCHA (1st)

Team Offense: 4.50 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 0.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 35.7% (5 of 14)
Penalty Kill: 100.0% (8 of 8)

Key Players: Senior F Marc Michaelis (3-0-0), Sophomore F Julian Napravnik (1-2-3), Freshman F Lucas Sowder (1-2-3), Junior F Reggie Lutz (1-1-2), Junior F Jared Spooner (0-2-2), Senior D Ian Scheid (0-4-4), Junior D Riese Zmolek (1-1-2), Junior D Connor Mackey (0-1-1), Sophomore G Dryden McKay (2-0-0, 0.5008 GAA, .975 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Brad Berry (5th season at UND ; 92-52-19, .623
National Ranking: #16
This Season: 2-0-0 overall
Last Season: 18-17-2 overall, 12-11-1-0 NCHC (5th)

Team Offense: 6.50 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 0.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 11.1% (1 of 9)
Penalty Kill: 100.0% (8 of 8)

Key Players: Junior F Jordan Kawaguchi (0-3-3), Sophomore F Mark Senden (1-2-3), Senior F Cole Smith (2-0-2), Junior F Grant Mismash (1-1-2), Freshman F Shane Pinto (1-1-2), Sophomore D Jacob Bernard Docker (0-4-4), Senior D Colton Poolman (0-2-2), Junior D Gabe Bast (2-0-2), Sophomore G Adam Scheel (2-0-0, 0.50 GAA, .957 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: October 20, 2018 (Grand Forks, ND). Cole Smith netted two goals in a 4-3 North Dakota victory. Minnesota State took Friday’s opener 7-4 behind a hat trick from Max Coatta.

Last Meeting in Mankato: March 9, 2013. Minnesota State’s Brett Knowles netted the overtime winner to break a 1-1 tie and send the home fans happy. One night earlier, UND netminder Zane McIntyre made 37 saves in a 4-3 victory.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 39-12-7 (.733), including a 15-5-4 (.708) record in games played in Mankato.

Last ten: North Dakota has a sparkling 8-2-0 record in the last ten contests, outscoring the Mavericks 35-25 over that stretch of games.

Game News and Notes

Since the start of last season, the Mavericks are 23-1-0 in the Mankato Civic Center. Game times are 7:07 p.m. on Friday and 6:07 p.m. on Saturday. All-time, North Dakota has only lost five games in Mankato (15-5-4).

Broadcast Information

All UND men’s hockey games, home and away, can be heard on stations across the UND Sports Home of Economy Radio Network as well as through the iHeart Radio app. This weekend’s series can be viewed online at flohockey.tv.

The Prediction

I really can’t see either team taking more than one victory from this series. Both teams were perfect on the penalty kill last weekend; I expect that to change in this series, with both teams exhibiting too much skill to be blanked with the man advantage. Mankato will be too much for UND in game one, with North Dakota silencing the cowbells in the series finale on Saturday night. MSUM 4-2, UND 4-2.

As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. Here’s to hockey!

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