In 16 years at the Division I level, Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold has never had a losing season. Pecknold has led the Bobcats to their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance (and fourth overall), and QU faces a fairly unfamiliar opponent at the West Regional in North Dakota.
Despite Quinnipiac’s recent success and the Bobcats’ deep run in 2013 (national runner-up, losing 4-0 to Yale in the final), UND and QU have never met in the NCAA tournament. The two teams have only faced each other twice: an October 2006 series in Grand Forks that went in the books as a UND sweep. Sioux forwards Ryan Duncan, T.J. Oshie, and Jonathan Toews figured heavily in those results (note: current Quinnipiac forward Devon Toews is no relation to Jonathan).
Before this recent stretch of three straight NCAA tourney bids, the only Quinnipiac appearance on the national scene came in 2001-02, when the team (competing in the MAAC and known as the “Braves”) suffered a 6-1 loss to Cornell in the regional semifinal.
It is fairly difficult to compare teams from different conferences, but there are some measurables. The only common opponent for the two programs this season was St. Cloud State. The Bobcats traveled to St. Cloud in early January and split with the homestanding Huskies (1-0, 2-3). North Dakota has faced SCSU five times this season, winning three of the five contests with each team scoring eleven goals in the season series.
Incidentally, St. Cloud State (who faces Michigan Tech in the other regional semifinal) was the team Quinnipiac defeated by a score of 4-1 at the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four, the only Frozen Four appearance for either of those two programs. Michigan Tech, a former WCHA foe of St. Cloud State and UND, is appearing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1981 but has three national championships (1962, 1965, 1975).
UND has amassed a record of 27-9-3; Quinnipiac, 23-11-4. According to KRACH, North Dakota has played the 8th most difficult schedule in the country this season, while QU comes in at 32nd. Of the tournament participants, only RIT (49th) has played a softer schedule than the Bobcats.
Quinnipiac played seven games this year against teams in the national tournament, going 2-3-2 with two games each against St. Cloud State and Yale and three games against Harvard. By comparison, 22 of North Dakota’s 39 games this year were against six of the other 15 teams in the NCAAs (the five other NCHC schools in the tournament plus a home series against Providence), with UND going 11-8-3 in those games. The Green and White had an even record this season against Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, and Miami and winning records against Nebraska-Omaha, St. Cloud State and Providence.
North Dakota will be without the services of senior forward Mark MacMillan for the rest of the season. The NCHC Defensive Player of the Year sustained a lower body injury while blocking a shot during a key 5-on-3 penalty kill against St. Cloud State. The senior from Penticton, British Columbia, one of five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, finishes his North Dakota career with 99 points in 151 games at UND. The last player to fall one point short of UND’s Century Club was forward Wes Dorey (1997-2001), who collected 47 goals and 52 assists in 140 career games.
There is some intrigue regarding the availability of QU sophomore forward Sam Anas. The Bobcats’ leading scorer (23 goals, 16 assists) did not play last weekend in the ECAC semifinals, and earlier this week, Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold was quoted as saying “right now, we’re moving on without him. Is it 100 percent that he’s not playing? No. We’re dreaming. But it’s very unlikely that he will play”. However, Anas participated in the team practice at Scheels Arena on Thursday (wearing a red non-contact jersey), and afterward, Pecknold opened the press conference by stating that he wasn’t going to comment on injuries or who will be in the lineup on Friday against North Dakota.
UND’s seven senior skaters (forwards Conner Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks, and Stephane Pattyn, along with defensemen Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzerella) have amassed a career record of 100-49-16 (.655) with four straight trips to the NCAA tournament. By comparison, the winningest class under Dave Hakstol was the 2011 class (forwards Matt Frattin, Evan Trupp, Brad Malone, and Brent Davidson and defensemen Chay Genoway, Jake Marto, and Derrick LaPoint), who went 109-48-16 (.676) during their time at UND. Beginning with the incoming freshman class of 2002, every four-year player to wear the Green and White has collected 100 career victories.
On the other side of the ledger, the three Quinnipiac seniors (forward Matthew Peca and defensemen Justin Agosta and Danny Federico) have amassed a record of 97-43-42 at QU, the best four-year mark in program history.
UND junior netminder Zane McIntyre has been showered with accolades over the past week or so. The junior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota was named the NCHC Goaltender of the Year, one of five finalists for the Mike Richter Award (best goaltender), and one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. McIntyre, who now sits 16th in the country in goals-against average (2.05) and 11th in save percentage (.929), has played the third-most minutes in the nation and has 27 victories, good for second among all goaltenders (Jamie Phillips of Michigan Tech has 28).
Only two goalies in North Dakota hockey history have more wins in a season than McIntyre’s 27: Aaron Dell went 30-7-2 in 2010-11, and Eddie Belfour notched 29 victories against only four defeats during his only season in Grand Forks (1986-87). Incidentally, Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux posted a record of 27-11-4 in 2007-08. With 56 career goaltending victories, McIntyre now sits in fourth place on UND’s all-time list. Karl Goehring (1997-2001, 80 wins), Lamoureux (2004-08, 60 wins), and Brad Eidsness (2008-12, 58 wins) hold the top three spots in that category.
It should be noted that Zane McIntyre is also statistically the best goaltender in North Dakota hockey history. His career goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.926) rank as the best all-time at UND. Former goaltending greats Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, Jordan Parise, Aaron Dell, and Karl Goehring round out the top five.
There is an excellent article by Brad Schlossman here that discusses why Zane changed his name from Gothberg to McIntyre and how much his mother and grandmother have influenced him, both on and off the ice.
Perhaps the biggest reason for UND’s success this season has been North Dakota’s ability to hold a lead. During the 2014-15 campaign, Dave Hakstol’s squad is unbeaten (23-0-2) when leading after the first forty minutes of play. In fact, over the past seven years, North Dakota is converting almost 90 percent of second intermission leads into victories and has just seven losses in the last 153 such situations (136-7-10). The last time UND lost when leading after two periods of play was November 1st, 2013 against visiting St. Cloud State, when a 1-0 lead turned into a 3-2 defeat.
Dave Hakstol, a National Coach of the Year finalist for the eighth time, was recently named the NCHC Coach of the Year and has now won twenty or more games in each of his first eleven seasons behind the North Dakota bench. That mark is easily the longest current streak in men’s hockey (Jerry York is second with six straight seasons of twenty or more wins, and UMass-Lowell’s Norm Bazin, Minnesota’s Don Lucia, and Quinnipiac’s Rand Pecknold have four). Since Dave Hakstol was hired (2004-05), his teams are 52-23 (.693) in the postseason (conference and NCAA tournaments). UND’s 25-win season is Hakstol’s eighth in his eleven years behind the North Dakota bench.
Quinnipiac Team Profile
Head Coach: Rand Pecknold (21st season at QU, 414-259-76, .603)
National Ranking: #11/#11
This Season: 23-11-4 overall, 16-3-3 ECAC (1st)
Last Ten Games: 5-3-2
Last Season: 24-10-6 overall (NCAA East Region semifinalist), 12-6-4 ECAC (3rd)
Team Offense: 2.76 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.24 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.6% (29 of 148)
Penalty Kill: 87.9% (124 of 141)
Key Players: Sophomore F Sam Anas (23-16-39), Senior F Matthew Peca (7-29-36), Junior F Travis St. Denis (15-18-33), Freshman F Landon Smith (15-16-31), Senior D Justin Agosta (3-19-22), Sophmore F Devon Toews (4-16-20), Junior G Michael Garteig (22-9-3, 2.00 GAA, .918 SV%, 5 SO)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 287-142-43, .654)
National Rankings: #3/#3
This Season: 27-9-3 overall, 16-6-2-0 NCHC (1st)
Last Ten Games: 7-3-0
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)
Team Offense: 3.26 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.23 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.6% (31 of 158)
Penalty Kill: 84.5% (131 of 155)
Key Players: Junior F Drake Caggiula (16-17-33), Senior F Michael Parks (12-20-32), Freshman F Nick Schmaltz (5-21-26), Senior F Brendan O’Donnell (13-7-20), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (4-23-27), Sophomore D Paul LaDue (5-16-21), Senior D Nick Mattson (4-16-20), Junior G Zane McIntyre (27-9-3, 2.05 GAA, .929 SV%, 1 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: October 7, 2006 (Grand Forks, ND). A late Quinnipiac power play goal got the Bobcats within a goal, but the damage had been done by then. T.J. Oshie assisted on all three Jonathan Toews goals (remarkably, the only hat trick of his Fighting Sioux career) and Ryan Duncan had a three point night (1 g, 2 a) in a 4-2 North Dakota victory. UND blew out the Bobcats 6-1 in Friday’s opener despite only one goal from the Oshie-Toews-Duncan (D.O.T.) line.
Most Important Meeting: Friday’s NCAA West Regional semifinal is the most important meeting between the two programs.
All-time Series: The two teams have only played two games (the aforementioned October 2006 series in Grand Forks), with North Dakota sweeping the Bobcats by a combined score of 10-3.
Game News and Notes
North Dakota is 11-2 in one-goal games this season. Teams that bus to their regional site (in-state) are 25-15 in NCAA regional games since 2008 (#1 seeds are 9-1); teams that fly are 39-54 over that same time period. Quinnipiac has competed at the Division I level since the 1999-2000 season; that was the year UND won its seventh national championship. North Dakota has played exactly one game in Fargo, a 5-1 victory over the Fargo Flyers on January 18th, 1947. That contest was UND’s second-ever game as a Division I hockey program.
Dave Hakstol has experimented with the lines coming into this matchup, and it will be interested to see how and when he shortens the bench as the game progresses. Quinnipiac will give UND fits with its overall team speed, and Zane McIntyre will need to be up to the challenge as the Bobcats generate several odd-man rushes per game. The partisan green and white crowd at Scheels Arena should give North Dakota the push it needs to advance to the regional final. UND 3, QU 2.
In the first regional semifinal (a battle of the Huskies), I’ve got St. Cloud State and Michigan Tech in a tight contest, with St. Cloud’s power play making the difference. SCSU 3, MTU 2.
Pregame Events (from UNDsports.com)
The North Dakota Champions Club is hosting an official UND pregame party at Fargo Billiards and Gastro Pub. The pregame party starts three hours prior to any game in which UND is participating.
Parking at SCHEELS Arena is limited and fans are encouraged to consider alternate parking options. A shuttle service will run between Fargo Billiards and Gastro Pub, Anderson Softball Complex on 45th Street South, Bulldog Tap, and SCHEELS Arena. Shuttles will begin two hours before the first game of each day and will continue until one hour after the final game ends.