Weekend Preview: UND at Minnesota-Duluth

51-20-12. That’s the record that Minnesota-Duluth compiled from 2010-2012. In 2010-11, the Bulldogs won the national title, and they followed that up with a berth in the Northeast Regional final at the end of the 2012 campaign (falling to Boston College).

But last season was a different story. UMD won only 14 games (14-19-5) and finished ninth in the last season of the WCHA as it used to be. Despite a national championship to his credit, head coach Scott Sandelin is only four games over .500 (244-240-67, .504) during his tenure at Duluth. Now in his 14th season behind the bench, Sandelin has notched 20 or more victories six times, claimed one WCHA playoff championship, led Duluth to the national tournament four times, and brought his teams to two Frozen Fours.

By contrast, UND head coach Dave Hakstol, now in his tenth season coaching at his alma mater, already has over 250 wins to his credit (251-128-40, .647). In each of his nine previous campaigns, Hakstol has won at least 20 games and brought UND to the NCAA tournament. He boasts two MacNaughton Cups (WCHA regular season title), four Broadmoor trophies (WCHA playoff title), and five Frozen Four appearances.

At the end of the 2010-11 season, many expected these two squads to go to battle for the national title. Duluth held up their end of the bargain, dispatching Notre Dame in their semifinal. UND fell short, however, falling to Michigan 2-0 in heartbreaking fashion.

The Bulldogs were riding a seven game unbeaten streak (4-0-3) before they suffered a sweep at St. Cloud State last weekend. UND has won eight of its last ten conference games and now sits alone in second place in the NCHC, one game behind league-leading St. Cloud State.

UMD is just 7-6-3 (.531) since December 1st, while North Dakota sports a sparkling 11-2-1 record (.821) over that same span.

Minnesota-Duluth Team Profile

Head Coach: Scott Sandelin (14th season at UMD, 244-240-67,.504)

Pairwise Ranking: t-16th
National Ranking: #20
This Season: 13-11-4 overall, 8-8-2-2 NCHC (t-5th)
Last Season: 14-19-5 overall, 10-13-5 WCHA (9th)

Team Offense: 2.93 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.79 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.4% (23 of 132)
Penalty Kill: 85.6% (125 of 146)

Key Players: Junior F Caleb Herbert (8-17-25), Freshman F Alex Iafallo (11-10-21), Junior F Justin Crandall (10-7-17), Senior F Joe Basaraba (7-8-15), Sophomore D Andy Welinski (5-11-16), Freshman D Willie Raskob (0-11-11), Senior G Aaron Crandall (11-8-3, 2.74 GAA, .906 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 251-128-40, .647)

Pairwise Ranking: t-11th
National Ranking: #11
This Season: 16-9-3 overall, 11-7-0-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)

Team Offense: 3.07 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.75 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.7% (23 of 130)
Penalty Kill: 81.1% (107 of 132)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (11-15-26), Sophomore F Michael Parks (9-16-25), Junior F Mark MacMillan (8-10-18), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (8-9-17), Senior D Dillon Simpson (6-12-18), Sophomore D Jordan Schmaltz (4-13-17), Sophomore G Zane Gothberg (11-5-3, 2.25 GAA, .915 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: November 16, 2013 (Grand Forks, ND). One night after dropping a 4-2 contest to homestanding North Dakota, the Duluth Bulldogs doubled up UND 6-3 behind two goals from Adam Krause. Zane Gothberg took the loss in net for North Dakota after relieving Clarke Saunders, who allowed three goals on 13 shots in the first period.

Last Meeting in Duluth: February 11, 2012. UMD raced out to a 5-2 lead behind two goals and three assists from Jack Connolly and then withstood a furious North Dakota comeback to win 5-4 and earn a split of the weekend series. UND won Friday’s opener 3-1 and outshot the Bulldogs 36-31 in the rematch, including a 16-5 shot advantage in the third period.

Most Important Meeting: March 22, 1984 (Lake Placid, NY) Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota met in the national semifinal game, with the Bulldogs defeating the Fighting Sioux 2-1 in overtime to advance to the championship. UND went on to defeat Michigan State 6-5 (OT) for third place, while Duluth fell to Bowling Green 5-4 in four overtimes, the longest championship game ever played.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 137-76-9 (.637), including a 55-39-5 (.581) record in games played in Duluth.

Last Ten: North Dakota is 6-3-1 (.650) in the last ten games between the teams. UND has outscored Duluth 35-26 in the past ten contests. Two of the three losses were by a single goal.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol is 19-7-3 (.707) against Minnesota-Duluth in his head coaching career. UND is 7-2 in games in which the opponent scores first. Both head coaches this weekend are alumni of the University of North Dakota: Dave Hakstol (’92) and Scott Sandelin (’86) both played for UND.

Media Coverage

Friday’s game will be telecast live on FOX Sports North PLUS, while Saturday’s game can be seen on Midco Sports Network, which is picking up the My9 broadcast of the game.

The Prediction

UMD is a dismal 4-5-3 at home, while North Dakota is just 5-4-2 on the road. With that in mind, I can’t see this weekend as anything other than a split. The question is which game will go to which team? The first period on Friday night will tell the tale. If UND can come out of the first twenty ahead or tied, it bodes well for the weekend. I’ll take the Green and White on Friday night, with Duluth rebounding for the split in Saturday’s rematch. UND 3-2, UMD 4-3.

Weekend Preview: UND vs. St. Cloud State

A quick flashback to November 13th, 2009: UND entered the weekend series with St. Cloud State at 6-1-1, was ranked #2 in the country, and was scoring 3.62 goals per game and allowing 1.50. On the special teams side, North Dakota was scoring on 26% of their power play opportunities and had allowed only three power play goals in 41 chances (92.7%).

On a very unlucky Friday the 13th for the Fighting Sioux, St. Cloud junior forward Aaron Marvin met North Dakota senior defenseman Chay Genoway with a high elbow, sending Genoway into the glass and to the ice. UND’s captain and preseason All-American has not returned to game action (post-concussion syndrome) and the Green and White have struggled in his absence.

Since that game, North Dakota is 6-9-4 and is scoring 2.47 goals per contest while allowing 2.53. After converting on 13 of 50 man advantage opportunities with Genoway in the lineup, the Fighting Sioux have potted only 16 goals on 103 power plays (15.5%) in his absence.

There has been much debate this week regarding whether one of Genoway’s teammates will attempt to exact retribution against Marvin for his illegal hit; it is my opinion that the best way to do that would be on the scoreboard rather than attempting to injure an opponent.

For St. Cloud, the opening of the year 2010 was stellar. The Huskies won their first nine games after the calendar turned, but have just one victory in the past three games. During the current twelve game stretch (10-1-1), St. Cloud has converted better than 28 percent of their power play opportunities.

After this weekend’s series, SCSU will travel to Wisconsin for a pair before playing a home and home with Minnesota State Mankato to close out the regular season.

SCSU head coach Bob Motzko has been rotating netminders, playing junior Dan Dunn on Fridays and freshman Mike Lee on Saturdays. That cycle will continue in the series against the Fighting Sioux.

This weekend, the teams will be earning points for the UND/SCSU Challenge Cup, a traveling fan trophy awarded to the team which wins the four-game season series. The teams split the series in Grand Forks, so the Cup is on the line this weekend and will be awarded in St. Cloud on February 13, 2010. North Dakota has won at least a share of the Challenge Cup each of the past three seasons.

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: (Bob Motzko, 5th season at SCSU, 99-68-23, .582)
National Ranking: #4/#4
PairWise Ranking: 4th
This Season: 18-8-4, 13-6-3 WCHA (t-1st)
Last Season: 18-17-3 overall, 13-13-2 WCHA (6th)
Team Offense: 3.27 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.6% (33 of 160)
Penalty Kill: 85.7% (108 of 126)
Key Players: Junior F Garrett Roe (11-22-33), Junior F Tony Mosey (10-16-26), Senior F Ryan Lasch (15-18-33), Senior D Garrett Raboin (5-13-18), Freshman G Mike Lee (8-6-3, 2.39 GAA, .923 SV%, 1 SO), Junior G Dan Dunn (10-2-1, 2.55 GAA, .914 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (6th season at UND, 143-81-24, .625)
National Ranking: #11/#11
PairWise Ranking: t-11th
This Season: 13-10-5, 8-9-3 WCHA (6th)
Last Season: 24-15-4 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 17-7-4 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 2.86 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.21 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.0% (29 of 153)
Penalty Kill: 86.6% (123 of 142)
Key Players: Sophomore F Jason Gregoire (13-10-23), Senior F Chris VandeVelde (9-12-21), Freshman F Danny Kristo (8-12-20), Junior F Evan Trupp (5-16-21), Junior D Derrick LaPoint (1-11-12), Sophomore G Brad Eidsness (12-7-4, 2.26 GAA, .906 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: November 14, 2009 (Grand Forks, ND). One night after defeating St. Cloud but losing Chay Genoway, the Huskies scored the first three goals of the game and downed the Fighting Sioux 3-2 to earn a split of the weekend series.

Last Meeting in St. Cloud: January 31, 2009. North Dakota rebounds to defeat St. Cloud State 4-2 after suffering their first shutout loss of the season in Friday’s opener (3-0). Senior captain Ryan Duncan scored the game-winner for the Fighting Sioux.

Most Important Meeting: March 17, 2001 (St. Paul, MN). St. Cloud State defeated North Dakota 6-5 to claim the 2001 WCHA Final Five Championship. Derek Eastman scored the game-winner in overtime after UND scored three goals in the final ten minutes of regulation to force the extra session.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 51-28-10 (.629), and holds a record of 20-15-5 (.563) in games played in St. Cloud.

Game News and Notes

St, Cloud has not won a game this season when trailing after one period of play (0-3-3), but the Huskies are doubling up opponents (38 goals scored, 19 allowed) in the opening frame. UND sophomore goaltender Brad Eidsness is 4-1 in his career against St. Cloud. SCSU head coach Bob Motzko will be looking to pick up his 100th win this weekend. Under the new 12-team schedule rotation beginning next season, the Fighting Sioux and Huskies will continue to play four regular season games each year.

The Prediction

The last two times North Dakota has traveled to St. Cloud, the Fighting Sioux have lost on Friday and won on Saturday. I think UND will reverse the trend this weekend with a strong first period on Friday night. In Saturday’s rematch, tempers will flare and the Huskies power play will be the difference. UND 3-2, SCSU 4-1.

If this prediction holds, North Dakota and St. Cloud State will share the Challenge Cup for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

On a Personal Note

I look forward to this series every year because of the unique relationship we have with the Center Ice Club, the official hockey booster organization for the St. Cloud State University Huskies. On behalf of the Center Ice Club, I would like to invite you to the UND/SCSU pre-game social on Saturday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Legends Grill and Bar in the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in St. Cloud. This is a great opportunity to meet fans on both sides of the rivalry, share in some complimentary food and door prizes, and view the Challenge Cup. This event is free and open to all fans 21 and older.