Weekend Preview: UND vs. Bemidji State

Bemidji State had a rough introduction to the WCHA. In addition to losing their first two games at home to North Dakota by identical 5-2 scores, the Beavers didn’t find their third victory of the season until November 27th. To put that in perspective, North Dakota had won nine games by that point.

That victory over Northern Michigan, coupled with a home sweep over Nebraska-Omaha the following weekend, gave the BSU faithful some hope. Since that time, however, Tom Serratore’s squad has gone just 7-6-3 and are almost certainly going on the road for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Bemidji State is currently in 9th place in the league, tied with the other two “State”s (MSU-Mankato and St. Cloud). If the Beavers are looking to move up in the standings and host playoff games at the BREC, they will need a split (or better) this weekend.

North Dakota hasn’t missed a beat since losing defenseman Chay Genoway (lower body injury) and forward Danny Kristo (frostbite). The team has clicked in their absence, and the return of forwards Jason Gregoire (7-7-14 in his last eight games) and Brett Hextall (5-2-7 in his last five) has softened the blow somewhat.

There is an outside chance that league-leading UND would hoist the MacNaughton Cup (WCHA regular season championship trophy) this weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena. A sweep, coupled with some help (Denver, Duluth, and Nebraska-Omaha are all within three points, with DU and UNO playing each other) could lead to a celebration on Sunday afternoon.

And a final word about the ice conditions: REA is hosting the North Dakota state boys’ and girls’ hockey championships this weekend, in addition to the UND mens’ hockey series against Bemidji State. Kudos to the staff and crew at REA for keeping the ice in great shape over this stretch of games.

Bemidji State Team Profile

Head Coach: Tom Serratore (10th season at BSU, 175-142-37 .547)
This Season: 12-14-4, 8-12-4 WCHA (t-9th)
Last Season: 23-10-4 (NCAA Midwest Regional semifinalist), 14-3-1 CHA (1st)
Pairwise Ranking: 29th
National Rankings: NR/NR

Team Offense: 2.30 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.47 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.6% (21 of 102)
Penalty Kill: 82.6% (114 of 138)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Read (16-12-28), Senior F Ian Lowe (11-12-23), Sophomore F Jordan George (14-17-31), Junior D Brad Hunt (1-16-17), Freshman D Sam Rendle (3-8-11), Junior G Dan Bakala (11-9-3, 2.17 GAA, .925 SV%, 3 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 177-92-27, .644)
This Season: 22-8-3, 17-6-1 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: 2nd
National Rankings: #1/#1

Team Offense: 3.67 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.39 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.7% (34 of 173)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (131 of 156)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (24-14-38), Junior F Jason Gregoire (14-14-28), Sophomore F Corban Knight (13-20-33), Senior F Evan Trupp (13-15-28), Senior F/D Jake Marto (5-7-12), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-13-13), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (21-6-2, 2.02 GAA, .919 SV%, 4 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: October 16, 2010 (Bemidji, MN). North Dakota defeated the Beavers 5-2 to earn the road sweep after downing BSU one night earlier by the identical score. Matt Frattin scored four goals and added an assist in the weekend series.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: January 3, 2009. The Fighting Sioux scored a power play goal thirty seconds into overtime to upend the visiting Beavers 4-3. BSU had tallied its own man-advantage marker midway through the third period to tie the score. North Dakota doubled BSU in the shot department, 40-20.

Most Important Meeting: October 15, 2010 (Bemidji, MN). In the first game played at the BREC (Bemidji Regional Events Center), North Dakota spotted BSU the opening goal less than two minutes into the contest and then steamrolled the Beavers 5-2. The Fighting Sioux outshot their fellow Green-and-Whiters 38-14.

Last Ten: North Dakota has won the last ten meetings between the teams by a combined score of 40-18. One of the victories came in overtime.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 19-1-1 (.929), including a 12-1-1 (.893) record in games played in Grand Forks. BSU’s lone victory over North Dakota came on February 7, 1990.

Game News and Notes:

UND clinched home ice for the opening round of the WCHA playoffs for the ninth consecutive year, the longest active streak in the league. North Dakota forwards Matt Frattin (97 career points) and Evan Trupp (96 career points) could join UND’s Century Club this weekend. This season, Bemidji State is 9-1-1 when leading after two periods and 1-9-1 when trailing after two periods. The Fighting Sioux senior class has scored nearly half (60 of 121) of the team’s goals this season. The Beavers are riding a five game unbeaten streak (3-0-2). Sophomore Aaron Dell has started the last twenty games in net for North Dakota (14-3-2, 1.84 GAA, .930 SV%, 3 SO in that span).

The Prediction

The afternoon games are always tricky to predict, but North Dakota has been on a roll and the only thing that could derail the train is BSU’s line of Jordan George, Ian Lowe, and Matt Read. I’m seeing two close games, with UND’s depth (watch for scoring from unexpected places this weekend) proving to be the difference. UND 4-2, 3-2.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Weekend Preview: UND vs. St. Cloud State

It’s the middle of February, and St. Cloud State sits behind Alaska-Anchorage in the league standings.

I’m not sure I’m as good at predictions as some of you think I am, for reasons I’m about to illustrate:

Before the season started, I picked St. Cloud to finish 2nd and Anchorage to finish 11th. According to Jim Dahl’s “possible outcomes” thread, SCSU can finish no higher than 3rd, and those possibilities look even more remote with North Dakota coming to town.

In October, the Huskies appeared to be locked and loaded to challenge UND for the league title, with the only question mark on the blue line. At this point in the season, SCSU is loaded with question marks. Bob Motzko’s squad went on a seven-game unbeaten streak, but that was bookended with seven losses by a combined score of 30-10.

The road doesn’t get any easier as SCSU struggles to gain home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. After a home series against the Fighting Sioux, the Huskies host Wisconsin and travel to Denver to close out the regular season.

North Dakota clinched home ice and moved into first place in the league with a home sweep last weekend. UND has the easiest remaining schedule of the MacNaughton contenders, with a home series against Bemidji State and a road trip to Michigan Tech on the schedule.

Since losing defenseman Chay Genoway (lower body injury) and forward Danny Kristo (frostbite), the Fighting Sioux have played some of their best hockey of the season. The return of forwards Brett Hextall and Jason Gregoire from injury has helped in that regard. Gregoire, in particular, has been an offensive catalyst, notching twelve points in eight games since his return to the lineup.

UND goaltender Aaron Dell notched his 20th victory of the season last weekend against Alaska-Anchorage, and has looked steady all season long. In addition to four shutouts, Dell has allowed a single goal in seven other starts. Junior netminder Brad Eidsness might not see the crease again this year.

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. North Dakota swept the series in Grand Forks and will claim the trophy outright with at least one point in the series. The Cup will be awarded in St. Cloud on Saturday. February 19th. Including this year, North Dakota has won at least a share of the Challenge Cup each of the past five seasons.

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: Bob Motzko (6th season at SCSU, 117-88-28, .562)
This Season: 12-14-4, 8-11-3 WCHA (9th)
Last Season: 24-14-5 (NCAA West Regional finalist), 15-9-4 WCHA (3rd)
Pairwise Ranking: t-26th
National Rankings: NR/NR

Team Offense: 2.90 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.00 goal sallowed/game
Power Play: 16.8% (29 of 173)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (110 of 132)

Key Players: Senior F Garrett Roe (6-22-28), Junior F Drew LeBlanc (12-23-35), Junior F Jared Festler (11-7-18), Freshman D Nick Jensen (5-11-16), Senior D Brett Barta (1-10-11), Sophomore G Mike Lee (10-10-3, 2.83 GAA, .905 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 176-92-26, .643)
This Season: 21-8-2, 16-6-0 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: 3rd
National Rankings: #2/#2

Team Offense: 3.71 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.39 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.8% (32 of 162)
Penalty Kill: 85.1% (126 of 148)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (22-13-35), Senior F Brad Malone (9-17-26), Sophomore F Corban Knight (13-18-31), Senior F Evan Trupp (13-15-28), Senior F/D Jake Marto (5-7-12), Junior D Ben Blood (1-6-7), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (20-6-1, 1.99 GAA, .920 SV%, 4 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: December 4, 2010 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota put on the black jerseys and exploded for five first period goals in a rout over visiting St. Cloud State. UND’s 6-2 victory secured the first home sweep of the season for the Fighting Sioux.

Last Meeting in St. Cloud: February 13, 2010. After a scoreless first period, UND erupted for six goals in the middle frame and destroyed the homestanding Huskies, 8-1. Sioux forward Matt Frattin added two goals in the third period.

Most Important Meeting: There are two classic Final Five championship games between the schools:

2001: 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.

2010: SCSU took a 2-0 lead less than a minute into the Final Five title game but couldn’t make it last, falling to North Dakota 5-3. UND became the second team in as many seasons to notch three victories at the WCHA postseason tournament.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 55-29-10 (.638), including a 21-16-5 (.560) record in St. Cloud.

Last Ten: North Dakota holds a 7-3-0 (.700) edge in the last ten meetings between the two teams. UND and SCSU play four regular season games every year under the WCHA’s schedule partner arrangement.

Challenge Cup: The two schools shared the Challenge Cup last season, splitting both regular season series. North Dakota has already claimed at least a share of the Cup with a sweep in Grand Forks earlier this season.

Game News and Notes

In the last meeting between the teams, UND wore black jerseys at home for just the second time ever. St. Cloud State is only 4-7-3 at the National Hockey Center this season, with home victories over Quinnipiac and Bemidji State and a sweep against Michigan Tech. North Dakota is 9-4-1 on the road, with sweeps at Bemidji State, Wisconsin, and MSU-Mankato. The Fighting Sioux have won the last four games between the teams by a combined score of 22-7.

The Prediction

If these two teams met on neutral ice or in Grand Forks, I would predict another Sioux sweep. But UND has struggled on Friday nights in St. Cloud (0-7-3 in their last ten), and I have a feeling that they’ll need to mount a comeback to salvage a tie in the opener. The rematch is all North Dakota. 3-3 tie, UND 5-1.

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 (February 19th) 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.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Alaska-Anchorage

Alaska-Anchorage is looking at their best conference finish in program history. Before the season started, I predicted that the Seawolves would finish 11th out of 12 teams, and I wrote this:

11. Alaska-Anchorage: Ten freshmen and 40 minutes of returning experience in net means the Seawolves will be lucky to win five WCHA games.

So far this year, the six freshman forwards have appeared in a total of 101 games, scoring 18 goals and adding 30 assists. The two freshman blue liners have combined for 40 games, contributing 2 goals and 3 assists. That has taken some of the scoring load off of seniors Tommy Grant and Craig Parkinson and allowed freshmen goaltenders Rob Gunderson and Chris Kamal to grow accustomed to league play.

And I was dead wrong about the win total: UAA has already notched nine wins in the WCHA and is currently tied for 6th place in the league standings (with Colorado College).

Of the top five teams in the league, North Dakota has the easiest schedule remaining. After UAA, the Fighting Sioux will travel to St. Cloud and Michigan Tech and host Bemidji State over the final three weekends of the regular season. Denver has tough tests on the road (Minnesota and Nebraska-Omaha), and Duluth closes out the year with a road trip to Colorado College and a home series against UNO. As you can see, it will be almost impossible for Dean Blais’ squad to gain ground, as they also have Wisconsin at home and a road series at Anchorage. Wisconsin also faces Minnesota and Colorado College over the final month.

Alaska-Anchorage Team Profile

Head Coach: (Dave Shyiak, 6th season at UAA, 61-122-24, .353)

This Season: 10-13-3, 9-11-2 WCHA (t-6th)
Last Season: 11-23-2 overall, 9-17-2 WCHA (t-8th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-25th
National Rankings: NR

Team Offense: 2.38 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.96 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 15.9% (18 of 113)
Penalty Kill: 81.0% (94 of 116)

Key Players: Senior F Tommy Grant (10-13-23), Freshman F Matt Bailey (8-9-17), Freshman F Jordan Kwas (4-13-17), Junior D Curtis Leinweber (4-6-10), Senior D Luka Vidmar (1-8-9), Freshman G Rob Gunderson (6-10-2, 2.72 GAA, .896 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 173-91-26, .641)

This Season: 19-8-2, 14-6-0 WCHA (3rd)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-5th
National Rankings: #5/#5

Team Offense: 3.66 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.48 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.3% (31 of 153)
Penalty Kill: 84.2% (117 of 139)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (21-10-31), Senior F Brad Malone (9-16-25), Sophomore F Corban Knight (12-16-28), Senior F Evan Trupp (11-14-25), Senior F/D Jake Marto (4-6-10), Junior D Ben Blood (1-5-6), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (18-6-1, 2.07 GAA, .918 SV%, 4 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: October 8, 2010 (Anchorage, AK). Midway through the 2nd period at the Kendall Hockey Classic, North Dakota led 5-1. Eight minutes later, the Seawolves were within one. Anchorage got the equalizer early in the 3rd and the game ended 5-5.

Last meeting in Grand Forks: November 15, 2008. UND used two power play goals and a shorthanded marker to defeat the visiting Seawolves, 3-1. UAA won Friday’s opener, 3-2, collecting just their third ever victory in Grand Forks,

Most Important Meeting: March 19, 2004 (St. Paul, MN). The Fighting Sioux and Seawolves met in the semifinal round of the WCHA Final Five, and UND cruised to the championship game with a 4-2 victory.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 40-17-4 (.689) including a 24-3-3 (.850) record in games played in Grand Forks. The Fighting Sioux have only lost twice in the last eleven meetings between the teams (7-2-2), with three of those games going to overtime.

Game News and Notes

The Seawolves are one victory away from matching their win total from all of last season. Sioux junior forward Jason Gregoire has eight points (six goals, two assists) in six games since returning from injury on January 14th. UND’s Chay Genoway (lower-body injury) and Danny Kristo (frostbite) will miss this weekend’s action. Sioux forward Taylor Dickin will see his first action of the season.

The Prediction

This feels like a Friday breakout for North Dakota. In Saturday’s rematch, the Seawolves will limit penalties and scoring opportunities but will fall just short of a victory. UND 6-2, 2-1.

Weekend Preview: UND at Colorado College

North Dakota fans might not remember that Colorado College is still a member of the WCHA.

When the league expanded to 12 teams (adding Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha), the unbalanced schedule was tweaked once again, meaning that, outside of St. Cloud State, the Fighting Sioux would host the other conference teams three out of every five seasons.

Despite playing only a two-game road series in 2009-10, North Dakota has only two games scheduled against the Tigers this season, and, you guessed it, the games are in Colorado Springs.

To put this in perspective: the last time Colorado College played at Ralph Engelstad Arena was March 1, 2009. Since that game, UND has hosted Minnesota at REA seven times.

So here’s a Colorado College primer for you: They haven’t made the national tournament since 2008 and haven’t won as much as a game at the WCHA Final Five or the NCAAs since 2005. Their best player (forward Jaden Schwartz; 11-15-26 in 17 games) is out with an injury, and the Tigers don’t have the goaltending that fans have become accustomed to (Joe Howe is no Bachmann, Zaba, or McElhinney). In short, CC’s advantage is more altitude than attitude.

The road doesn’t get any easier for Scott Owen’s club. After this weekend’s action against North Dakota, the Tigers have a home and home with Denver and road trips to Bemidji State and Wisconsin sandwiched around home series against MSU-Mankato and Minnesota-Duluth.

For North Dakota, it’s time to pick up points and secure home ice. After returning from Colorado Springs, the Green and White host Alaska-Anchorage and Bemidji State and travel to St. Cloud State and Michigan Tech to round out the regular season.

Sioux forward Jason Gregoire has been key since returning to the lineup, potting four goals against Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota after missing seven games due to injury.

On the special teams side of things, the Tigers don’t take many penalties and they are clipping along at nearly 24 percent on the power play. On the wide sheet, this could be problematic for UND.

Colorado College Team Profile

Head Coach: Scott Owens (12th season at CC, 272-161-39, .618)
This Season: 14-11-1 Overall, 8-8-0 WCHA (t-6th)
Last Season: 19-17-3 Overall, 12-13-3 WCHA (6th)

Pairwise Ranking: t-18th
National Rankings: #20/NR

Team Offense: 3.42 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.77 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.6% (37 of 157)
Penalty Kill: 85.5% (94 of 110)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rylan Schwartz (6-21-27), Senior F Tyler Johnson (16-12-28), Senior F Stephen Schultz (12-16-28), Junior D Gabe Guentzel (4-13-17), Senior D Ryan Lowery (1-12-13), Sophomore G Joe Howe (11-9-1, 2.70 GAA, .908 SV%, 3 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 173-91-26, .641)
This Season: 18-7-2, 13-5-0 WCHA (t-2nd)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)

Pairwise Ranking: t-2nd
National Rankings: #4/#5

Team Offense: 3.63 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.52 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.8% (30 of 144)
Penalty Kill: 83.7% (108 of 129)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (20-10-30), Senior F Brad Malone (9-15-24), Sophomore F Corban Knight (12-15-27), Senior F Evan Trupp (11-13-24), Senior D Chay Genoway (6-19-25), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-9-9), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (17-5-1, 2.07 GAA, .916 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: February 27, 2010 (Colorado Springs, CO). North Dakota defeated the Tigers 3-2 to complete the road sweep and clinch home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. UND won Friday’s opener in overtime by the identical score.

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, 134-75-10 (.635), although the Tigers hold a 55-47-4 (.538) edge in games played in Colorado Springs. The teams first met in 1948.

Last Ten: North Dakota is 7-2-1 (.750) in the last ten meetings between the teams.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota junior forward Jason Gregoire has five points (4 goals, 1 assist) in his last four games since returning from injury. Remarkably, Colorado College is scoring almost a half-point per game more without Jaden Schwartz in the lineup. Most of that is due to the fact that Alabama-Huntsville was on the schedule. With at least two points this weekend, UND can leapfrog idle Denver and recapture first place in the league standings. North Dakota is 8-3-1 on the road this season, including WCHA sweeps at Bemidji State, MSU-Mankato, and Wisconsin.

The Prediction

It’s difficult to predict games between teams who haven’t played each other much lately. If history is any indication, this weekend’s action will be quick and entertaining. I can’t see North Dakota sweeping at Colorado College two years in a row, so I’ll call it a split. UND 3-2, CC 4-3.

Trivia

Brad Malone is the seventh Sioux player to amass over 300 career penalty minutes. Who are the other six?

Please leave your comments and trivia guesses below. As always, I thank you for reading.

Weekend Preview: North Dakota vs. Nebraska-Omaha

It might very well be a tale of two halves for Nebraska-Omaha. In the first two months of the season, Dean Blais’ squad went 8-1-0, outscoring opponents 40-20 and looking very much like a contender for a #1 seed in the NCAA‘s. Since that time, the Mavs are 4-7-2 and on the bubble to make the national tournament.

As expected, UNO is playing very well at home and found some early success on the road as well, winning four of their first five games away from Omaha. Since November 13th, the Mavericks have only one road victory (1-5-1).

Currently fourth in the WCHA standings, the Mavs will have to improve in order to secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs. After North Dakota, UNO plays Wisconsin, Denver, and Duluth in the second half of the season and points will be hard to come by.

North Dakota is coming off of an intense series split gainst Minnesota and now will host Nebraska-Omaha’s first ever visit to Ralph Engelstad Arena. I don’t expect the Mavs to be wide-eyed or starstruck on Friday night, as Blais will have his team prepared to win a hockey game.

Special teams will be a factor once again this weekend. UND is currently a +11 in combined power play/penalty kill, while UNO sits dead even, having scored AND allowed 18 power play goals this season.

The Fighting Sioux got a big boost last weekend when junior forward Jason Gregoire returned to the lineup. North Dakota looks to be reasonably healthy for the first time in six weeks.

Nebraska-Omaha Team Profile

Head Coach: Dean Blais (2nd season at UNO, 32-24-8, .563)

This Season: 12-8-2, 9-5-2 WCHA (4th)
Last Season: 20-16-6, 13-12-3 CCHA (6th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-14th
National Rankings: #16/#15

Team Offense: 3.32 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.55 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.2% (18 of 89)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (90 of 108)

Key Players: Senior F Rich Purslow (6-13-19), Senior F Matt Ambroz (13-11-24), Senior F Joey Martin (5-17-22), Freshman F Matt White (9-6-15), Senior D Eric Olimb (1-15-16), Sophomore D Bryce Aneloski (2-6-8), Junior G John Faulkner (12-7-2, 2.47 GAA, .912 SV%, 4 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 172-90-26, .642)

This Season: 17-6-2, 12-4-0 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: t-2nd
National Rankings: #2/#2

Team Offense: 3.60 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.32 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.3% (27 of 127)
Penalty Kill: 86.4% (102 of 118)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (20-9-29), Senior F Brad Malone (9-14-23), Sophomore F Corban Knight (12-13-25), Senior F Evan Trupp (9-13-22), Senior D Chay Genoway (4-19-23), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-9-9), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (16-5-1, 1.93 GAA, .922 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: Saturday, November 20th (Omaha, Nebraska). UNO shocked North Dakota by scoring the game’s only goal in the final second of regulation. John Faulkner made 30 saves for the Mavs. UND won Friday’s opener, 6-5.

Most important meeting: Since the two teams have only met twice (and the series is tied at one game a piece), I will call Friday’s opener the most important meeting between the schools.

Game News and Notes

Nebraska-Omaha took only one point from four WCHA games against Bemidji State (0-3-1). UND forward Matt Frattin leads the nation with 20 goals while goaltender Aaron Dell is fifth in the country with a 1.93 goals-against average. Mavericks’ head coach Dean Blais has 294 career collegiate coaching victories. After this two-game road trip at North Dakota, UNO will be at home for the next six games (Alabama-Huntsville, St. Cloud State, Wisconsin).

The Prediction

North Dakota is deeper and is gettng great goaltending, but it is very difficult to outwork a Dean Blais team for two consecutive nights. I have a feeling that UNO will pull out at least one point this weekend. UND 3-2, 3-3 tie.

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Minnesota

During the Dave Hakstol era at North Dakota, the Fighting Sioux have done everything but win a national title. For Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, it’s a case of “what have you done for me lately?” The Golden Gophers’ titles in 2002 and 2003 seem like so long ago, with many fans calling for a change. (Dean Blais, anyone?)

Since Hakstol has been the head coach at UND (beginning in 2004-05), he boasts a 9-6-3 (.583) record against Minnesota in the regular season. More impressively, his playoff mark against the Gophers stands at 5-2-0 (.714). The two losses came on Blake Wheeler’s overtime winner at the 2007 Final Five and in the middle game of a three game WCHA playoff series last year in Grand Forks. Hakstol’s teams have ended Minnesota’s season three times in his six seasons as a head coach: 2004-05 Frozen Four semifinal, 2006-07 West Regional final, and the 2009-10 WCHA first round playoff series.

Over those six seasons, Hakstol has made the NCAA tournament six times (Minnesota: four, missing the last two), has won the MacNaughton Cup once and the Broadmoor Trophy twice, and has brought his team to the Frozen Four four times. Lucia, by contrast, has claimed one Frozen Four visit, two MacNaughton Cup titles, and one Broadmoor Trophy since 2004-05.

It’s true that the games this weekend are about the players, not the coaches. For Minnesota, senior goaltender Alex Kangas will have season-ending surgery, but in the interest of full disclosure, junior Kent Patterson has been the better netminder this season. The issue here is that there is no one behind Patterson with even a minute of college experience. Junior Jake Kremer will be the backup this weekend for the Gophers.

Sioux junior forward Jason Gregoire has not been ruled out for this weekend’s action, and his return could give North Dakota a huge lift. Fellow junior Brett Hextall returned last weekend against Robert Morris after missing the previous five games.

UND senior forward Matt Frattin continues his torrid goal-scoring pace. His Hobey-worthy point totals now stand at 20 goals and 8 assists in 23 games. His assist numbers could be a bit higher, but it’s tough to collect helpers when the coaches ask you to shoot all the time and all of your shots go in, leaving no rebounds for your teammates.

Special teams will be critical this weekend, just as they were in last season’s WCHA first round playoff series. North Dakota won games one and three, holding the Gophers scoreless on eight power play opportunities. In Minnesota’s game two victory, they converted three of four chances with the man advantage. For the season, UND is a +9 in combined special teams play, while Lucia’s squad is a -5. The Fighting Sioux have also scored five shorthanded goals this season, while the Gophers have notched two.

Minnesota Team Profile

Head Coach: Don Lucia (12th season at Minnesota, 283-153-50, .634)

This Season: 9-8-3 overall, 6-6-2 WCHA (t-6th)
Last Season: 18-19-2 overall (missed NCAA tournament), 12-14-2 WCHA (7th)
PairWise Ranking: 24th
National Rankings: NR/NR

Team Offense: 3.15 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.05 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.8% (17 of 78)
Penalty Kill: 74.4% (64 of 86)

Key Players: Senior F Jay Barriball (11-10-21), Senior F Jacob Cepis (7-11-18), Senior F Mike Hoeffel (8-8-16), Senior D Cade Fairchild (3-8-11), Senior D Kevin Wehrs (1-7-8), Junior G Kent Patterson (7-3-3, 2.50 GAA, .918 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 171-89-26, .643)

This Season: 16-5-2, 11-3-0 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
PairWise Ranking: t-2nd
National Rankings: #2/#2

Team Offense: 3.65 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.35 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.0% (23 of 115)
Penalty Kill: 86.8 (92 of 106)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (20-8-28), Senior F Brad Malone (7-13-20), Sophomore F Corban Knight (11-13-24), Senior F Evan Trupp (8-11-19), Senior D Chay Genoway (4-17-21), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-9-9), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (15-4-1, 1.92 GAA, .922 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: March 14, 2010 (Grand Forks, ND). In game three of the first round WCHA playoff series, North Dakota prevailed 4-1 to end Minnesota’s season and advance to the WCHA Final Five. UND would claim the Broadmoor Trophy six days later after dispatching Minnesota-Duluth, Denver, and St. Cloud State. The Sioux and Gophers split the first two playoff games, with North Dakota winning 6-0 on Friday night and Minnesota rebounding with a 4-2 victory on Saturday.

Most important meeting: March 24, 1979 (Detroit, MI). North Dakota and Minnesota met to decide the national championship, and the Gophers prevailed, 4-3.

All-time: Minnesota leads the all-time series, 132-127-14 (.509), but North Dakota holds a 69-54-8 (.557) advantage in games played in Grand Forks.

Last Ten: North Dakota is 5-4-1 in the last ten meetings between the teams. Three of the last ten games have gone to overtime.

Game News and Notes

Minnesota has played to overtime in its last three games, losing to Union and tying Minnesota-Duluth and Ferris State. North Dakota’s Evan Trupp, Jason Gregoire, and Chay Genoway each have nine career points against the Maroon and Gold. The Gophers have not won a game this season when trailing after one period of play (0-6-0). This weekend is a White Out Weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena, with Fighting Sioux fans encouraged to wear white to both games. In an effort to minimize traffic and congestion at the arena, Gopher fans are asked to arrive at 10:37 p.m.

The Prediction

The teams are not evenly matched, but the intensity will be there on both sides. Officiating and special teams will be key, and I have a feeling Minnesota will take the opener before North Dakota’s talent shines in the rematch. UMN 3-2, UND 4-1.

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Robert Morris

If Robert Morris steals a game at Ralph Engelstad Arena this weekend, it will be a monumental upset. To date, the Colonials have played the softest schedule in men’s hockey. A weaker schedule than Bentley, American International, Sacred Heart, and all the rest.

By contrast, North Dakota has played the nation’s toughest slate of games and are unbeaten in their last seven (6-0-1). The Fighting Sioux boast the nation’s winningest goaltender (Aaron Dell, 13 victories) and goal scoring leader (Matt Frattin, 18 goals). UND is perched atop the WCHA and poised for a second half run to the MacNaughton Cup.

Robert Morris is a new member of Atlantic Hockey this season and is currently in second place. A sparkling 5-0 record in non-conference play has the Colonials looking for their first winning season in program history. It is worth noting that the five wins came against Ohio State, Colgate (2), and Alabama-Huntsville (2).

UND needs two victories to improve on a 3-2-2 non-conference record. Two losses at Maine and ties against Alaska-Anchorage and Notre Dame are blemishes that may prove costly when seeds are announced for the NCAA tournament.

On the injury front, there has been no update on Sioux forward Jason Gregoire. Fellow forward Brett Hextall is expected to play this weekend after missing the past five games. Freshmen Derek Forbort and Brock Nelson are back in Grand Forks and should be ready to go after earning bronze medals at the World Junior Championships.

After this weekend’s series, UND plays host to Minnesota and Nebraska-Omaha on back-to-back weekends before heading to Colorado College at the end of January.

Robert Morris Team Profile

Head Coach: Derek Schooley (7th season at RMU, 81-118-28, .419)
This Season: 12-5-2, 7-5-2 Atlantic Hockey (2nd)
Last Season: 10-19-6, 6-9-3 CHA (2nd)
PairWise Ranking: NR
National Rankings: NR/NR
Team Offense: 3.32 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.32 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.4% (18 of 93)
Penalty Kill: 85.2% (69 of 81)
Key Players: Senior F Nathan Longpre (9-18-27), Senior F Chris Kushner (6-12-18), Junior F Adam Brace (5-9-14), Senior D Denny Urban (7-18-25), Junior D James Lyle (2-4-6), Junior G Brooks Ostergard (10-4-1, 2.32 GAA, .921 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 169-89-26, .641)
This Season: 14-5-2, 11-3-0 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
PairWise Ranking: #2
National Rankings: #2/#2
Team Offense: 3.52 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.52 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.9% (20 of 106)
Penalty Kill: 85.6% (83 of 97)
Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (18-8-26), Senior F Brad Malone (7-11-18), Sophomore F Corban Knight (9-11-20), Senior F Evan Trupp (7-10-17), Senior D Chay Genoway (4-14-18), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-9-9), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (13-4-1, 2.09 GAA, .912 SV%, 2 SO)

By The Numbers

Robert Morris and North Dakota have never met, so this section is noticeably shorter than normal. 2010-2011 is the Colonials’ seventh at the Division I level.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota has not won an overtime game this season (0-1-2). The Fighting Sioux have allowed the first goal in 14 games this season, and have compiled a sparkling 10-3-1 record in those games. Robert Morris has never finished a hockey season with a winning record. UND has not lost when leading after two periods this season (10-0-0). Sioux forward Matt Frattin leads the NCAA with 18 goals.

The Prediction

I feel like RMU will make one game close, and my instinct tells me it will be a battle on Saturday night after a Friday rout. UND 6-1, 3-2.

Terry Casey Tribute

Prior to Friday night’s series opener, Terry Casey’s #12 jersey will be hung in the rafters at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Casey finished his North Dakota hockey career with 118 points in 88 games and was named a first-team All-American after his senior year. Casey was selected to the 1968 U.S. Olympic hockey team, but died in a car accident in July 1967. His jersey has been retired since 1968.

Weekend Preview: North Dakota at MSU-Mankato

It’s been a different sort of first half for North Dakota. In head coach Dave Hakstol‘s first six seasons, UND has gone into the Christmas break with an average of 6.2 WCHA losses. Heading into Mankato this weekend (their last conference action until January), the Fighting Sioux sport a 9-3-0 league record.

It’s also worth noting that two of those three conference losses were an overtime loss against Duluth and a last-second heartbreaking defeat in Omaha.

In non-conference action, the Green and White hit a two-game skid at Maine but performed well otherwise and have an even 2-2-2 mark against Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska, Maine, and Notre Dame. The “non-conference” game at Duluth to open the Bulldogs’ new arena and a home series against Robert Morris will be important second-half contests if UND has designs on a high seed in the NCAA tournament.

Minnesota-State Mankato has come on lately, winning its last four games (@UMass-Lowell, vs. Minnesota). The Mavs have been road warriors, playing eight consecutive games away from Alltel Center. Before last weekend’s series against the Gophers, the Landcows’ last home game was October 23rd.

It’s been feast or famine in the goal scoring department for Jutting’s squad. In six victories, MSU-M has averaged 4.0 goals per game. In six defeats, the Mavericks have scored an average of 1.3 goals.

Mankato has only one player with more than four goals on the season (Justin Jokinen, 6) while North Dakota’s top lamp-lighters are Matt Frattin (15) and Corban Knight (9).

In injury news, Sioux forwards Brett Hextall and Jason Gregoire will be out of the lineup once again. Look for senior forward Brett Davidson to play up front this weekend after a strong Saturday night against St. Cloud State.

MSU-Mankato Team Profile

Head Coach: Troy Jutting (11th season at MSUM, 164-188-51, .470)
This Season: 6-6-4, 4-6-2 WCHA (t-6th)
Last Season: 16-20-3, 9-17-2 WCHA (t-8th)

PairWise Ranking: NR
National Rankings: NR/NR

Team Offense: 2.81 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.25 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.1% (11 of 78)
Penalty Kill: 81.2% (69 of 85)

Key Players: Freshman F Chase Grant (4-6-10), Junior F Michael Dorr (4-6-10), Senior F Andrew Sackrison (3-5-8), Senior D Kurt Davis (4-9-13), Senior F Ben Youds (2-2-4), Sophomore G Phil Cook (5-6-2, 3.03 GAA, .913 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 166-89-26, .637)
This Season: 11-5-2, 9-3-0 WCHA (2nd)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)

PairWise Ranking: #4
National Rankings: #5/#5

Team Offense: 3.39 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.67 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.3% (17 of 93)
Penalty Kill: 85.9% (67 of 78)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (15-7-22), Junior F Jason Gregoire (6-7-13), Sophomore F Corban Knight (9-8-17), Senior F Evan Trupp (5-8-13), Senior D Chay Genoway (3-12-15), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-8-8), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (10-4-1, 2.18 GAA, .902 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: January 9, 2010 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota got two goals from Jason Gregoire for the second consecutive game and completed the sweep of the visiting Mavs, 3-2. The Fighting Sioux won Friday’s opener, 4-1.

Last Meeting in Mankato: October 18, 2008. North Dakota turned the special teams tables on Mankato by scoring three power play goals and adding a late shorthander for a 4-3 victory. MSU-M won Friday’s opener 5-1 on the strength of three shorthanded tallies.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 33-10-7 (.730), including a 12-4-4 (.700) record in games played in Mankato.

Last ten: North Dakota has a sparkling 9-1-0 (.900) record in the last ten contests, and has lost just once in the last 16 meetings (14-1-1).

Game News and Notes

North Dakota has allowed the first goal in 12 of 18 contests this year and has a record of 8-3-1 in those games. The Mavericks have killed off the last 13 opponent power play opportunities, while North Dakota was held without a power play marker in 11 chances last weekend against St. Cloud State. UND has not lost when leading after two periods this season (8-0-0). Sioux forward Matt Frattin is tied for the NCAA goal-scoring lead with 15.

The Prediction

If North Dakota were healthy, I would pick a sweep. If North Dakota were at home, I would pick a sweep. The Fighting Sioux are banged up and on the road, and I’m picking a sweep. These are the road games good teams need to win to become great teams. UND 4-3, 4-2.

Weekend Preview: UND vs. St. Cloud State

North Dakota has played by far the toughest schedule in the country to this point, battling five teams (two games each) in the top 13 in the pairwise rankings. Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth, Notre Dame, Denver, and Maine would all make the tournament (along with North Dakota) if the season ended today.

St. Cloud State has faced three opponents in the same category (Miami [OH], Minnesota, and Nebraska-Omaha), for a total of six games.

UND went 4-5-1 against top-tier opponents, losing one game in overtime and another in the final second of regulation. St. Cloud has a record of 1-3-2 against its toughest opponents.

Why, then, is North Dakota a top-ten team in the polls and in the pairwise, while St. Cloud is looking at a second-division WCHA finish?

The answer is in the rest of the schedule. The Fighting Sioux are 5-0-1 against Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Wisconsin, and Bemidji State, while the Huskies are a pedestrian 4-4-0 against RIT, Clarkson, Quinnipiac, and Alaska-Anchorage.

SCSU is currently in 7th place in the WCHA, but that’s a bit misleading since they’ve only played eight league games while more than half of the teams in the conference (and six of the seven teams tied or above in the standings) have played ten.

After this weekend, the two teams play one more WCHA series (UND at MSU-Mankato, SCSU vs. Colorado College) before the Christmas break, and both squads would like to pick up conference points this weekend to set themselves up for a second half run.

On the injury front, UND forward Brett Hextall will miss this weekend’s games with an undisclosed injury, while two other (unnamed) Sioux players are questionable for the series.

St. Cloud State Team Profile

Head Coach: Bob Motzko (6th season at SCSU, 110-81-26, .567)
This Season: 5-7-2, 3-4-1 WCHA (t-7th)
Last Season: 24-14-5 (NCAA West Regional finalist), 15-9-4 WCHA (3rd)

PairWise Ranking: NR
National Rankings: NR/NR

Team Offense: 2.86 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.07 goal sallowed/game
Power Play: 17.0% (16 of 94)
Penalty Kill: 81.7% (49 of 60)

Key Players: Senior F Garrett Roe (2-8-10), Junior F Drew LeBlanc (5-12-17), Junior F Jared Festler (6-3-9), Freshman D Nick Jensen (2-7-9), Senior D Chris Hepp (1-2-3), Sophomore G Mike Lee (3-4-1, 3.27 GAA, .887 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 164-89-26, .634)
This Season: 9-5-2, 7-3-0 WCHA (3rd)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)

PairWise Ranking: # 7
National Rankings: # 7/# 7

Team Offense: 3.14 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.86 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.7% (17 of 82)
Penalty Kill: 84.7% (61 of 72)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (13-4-17), Junior F Jason Gregoire (6-7-13), Sophomore F Corban Knight (8-8-16), Senior F Evan Trupp (4-7-11), Senior D Chay Genoway (3-10-13), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-8-8), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (8-4-1, 2.29 GAA, .899 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 20, 2010 (St. Paul, MN). In the Final Five title game, SCSU won the opening minute 2-0 and the Fighting Sioux won the remaining 59 minutes by a score of 5-1. It was North Dakota’s third victory in three nights at the tournament.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: November 14, 2009. One night after St. Cloud junior forward Aaron Marvin met North Dakota senior defenseman Chay Genoway with a high elbow, the visiting Huskies posted a 3-2 victory over North Dakota. SCSU goaltender Dan Dunn made 46 saves and withstood a furious Sioux comeback after St. Cloud took an early 3-0 lead.

Most Important Meeting: There are two classic Final Five championship games between the schools:

2001: 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.

2010: SCSU took a 2-0 lead less than a minute into the Final Five title game but couldn’t make it last, falling to North Dakota 5-3. UND became the second team in as many seasons to notch three victories at the WCHA postseason tournament.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 53-29-10 (.630), including a 27-12-5 (.670) mark on home ice and a record of 8-3-3 (.679) in games played in the new Ralph Engelstad Arena since it opened in 2001.

Last Ten: North Dakota holds a 6-3-1 (.650) edge in the last ten meetings between the two teams. UND and SCSU play four regular season games every year under the WCHA’s schedule partner arrangement.

Challenge Cup: The two schools shared the Challenge Cup last season, splitting both regular season series.

Game News and Notes

UND is 8-0-0 all-time when Mario Lamoureux scores a goal (so here’s hoping he doesn’t shadow box anybody). The junior forward has scored three goals in five career games against the Huskies. SCSU netminder Mike Lee is expected to start Friday’s opener despite being lit up in three games against North Dakota last season (0-3, 6.70 GAA, .835 SV%). Fighting Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol has 99 career WCHA victories to his credit.

The Prediction

This one hinges on the health in North Dakota’s locker room. If one of the (unnamed) players unable to go this weekend is who I believe he is, then we could be looking at a split. I was spot on with my three point prediction last weekend against the Fighting Irish, so we’ll try it again. The Fighting Sioux will have better success against goaltender Mike Lee on Friday than they will against his counterpart (Dan Dunn) on Saturday, so we’ll go with UND 5-2, 3-3 tie.

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 SiouxSports.com, I would like to invite you to the UND/SCSU pre-game social on Saturday afternoon from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Southgate Grill and Bar (a smoke-free venue). This is a great opportunity to meet fans on both sides of the rivalry, view the Challenge Cup, and win fabulous door prizes. This event is free and open to all fans 21 and older.

Weekend Preview: UND vs. Notre Dame

Last weekend, North Dakota played Nebraska-Omaha, a team in its first WCHA season after 13 years in the CCHA. This weekend, a former WCHA team rolls into town in first place in the CCHA.

Notre Dame was a member of the WCHA from 1971-1981, posting three winning seasons in ten campaigns. The Fighting Irish have had more success lately, winning the CCHA league title twice in the past four seasons.

The two teams figure to make the NCAA field of 16, and this weekend’s games are critically important for pairwise comparisons and seeding in the tournament.

North Dakota has an edge in experience over the visiting Golden Domers, boasting thirteen upperclassmen to Notre Dame’s eight. It will be interesting to see how the Fighting Irish respond if North Dakota takes an early lead in either game.

Notre Dame Team Profile

Head Coach: Jeff Jackson (6th season at Notre Dame, 125-68-23, .632)
This Season: 9-3-1, 7-2-1-1 CCHA (1st)
Last Season: 13-17-8, 9-12-7-2 CCHA (9th)

Pairwise Ranking: #4
National Rankings: #11/#11

Team Offense: 3.77 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.54 goal sallowed/game
Power Play: 14.3% (10 of 70)
Penalty Kill:89.8 % (53 of 59)

Key Players: Freshman F T.J. Tynan (7-9-16), Senior F Ben Ryan (2-14-16), Senior F Ryan Genteel (1-15-16), Senior D Joe Lavin (3-4-7), Junior D Sean Lorenz (2-3-5), Sophomore G Mike Johnson (7-2-1, 2.30 GAA, .915 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 163-89-25, .634)
This Season: 8-5-1, 7-3-0 WCHA (3rd)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)

Pairwise Ranking: #9
National Rankings: #9/#10

Team Offense: 3.14 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.86 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 22.1% (15 of 68)
Penalty Kill: 84.4% (54 of 64)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (12-3-15), Junior F Jason Gregoire (4-6-10), Sophomore F Corban Knight (7-7-14), Senior F Evan Trupp (3-7-10), Senior D Chay Genoway (2-9-11), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (7-4-0, 2.26 GAA, .895 SV%, 1 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: January 3, 2010 (Hoffman Estates, IL). The Fighting Sioux and Fighting Irish battled to a 3-3 tie at Notre Dame’s Shillelagh Tournament. The homestanding Irish won a shootout to determine the winner of the tournament.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: January 3, 1999. Notre Dame captured the second game 4-3 after UND won the opener 8-1. The series was played at the old Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Last Ten: North Dakota has a 7-1-2 (.800) record over the past ten games.

Most Important Meeting: March 15, 1980. In WCHA playoff action, the Fighting Sioux dispatched with Notre Dame with a 7-4 victory after winning the opener 10-4. UND would go on to win its third national championship two weeks later.

All-time Series: Notre Dame leads the all-time series 16-15-2 (.515). The Fighting Irish won 15 of the first 20 meetings between the two teams, but UND has almost evened the ledger with a 10-1-2 mark over the past thirteen games.

Game News and Notes

UND sophomore net minder Aaron Dell leads all WCHA goaltenders with a 1.91 goals-against average in league play. Notre Dame has never played a game at the new Ralph Engelstad Arena. 16 players on the current Sioux roster played against Notre Dame last year. The Fighting Irish appeared in the national championship game in 2008, falling 4-1 to Boston College. North Dakota senior forward Matt Frattin has scored 22 goals in his last 26 games.

The Prediction

This series feels like a split, but the last-second loss at Omaha last weekend is not sitting well with Hakstol’s crew, and the Fighting Irish will be happy to take a point. North Dakota 5-2, 2-2 tie.