Does anyone own PAIRWISE?

Owning a college sports web site doesn’t usually bring with it much intrigue or drama, though having a blog does allow me to share interesting stories about the online college hockey world with you when they do occur.

Does USCHO exclusively own the term “PAIRWISE”, as it relates to college hockey rankings? For now the answer appears to be no, though USCHO has been trying to change that. I first became aware of this effort when USCHO added a small “SM” to their “Pairwise” tables on their site last spring. I dashed off to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to investigate, which you may also want to do so you can follow along:
USCHO’s claim to Pairwise

Mar. 20, 2006

USCHO’s initial application for trademark for “PAIRWISE”

Apr. 17, 2006

The next action in the file, described as “Paper Correspondence Incoming”, came from a bunch of names you might recognize as formerly associated with USCHO: Mike Machnik (founder of HOCKEY-L, now affiliated with CollegeHockeyNews), Adam Wodon (founder of CollegeHockeyNews), John Whelan (developer of some pretty neat hockey ranking analysis tools, wrote USCHO’s Pairwise analysis tools, now with CollegeHockeyNews) and Keith Instone (long-time HOCKEY-L ranking guru, first devised the pairwise technique to mimic the selection process). Their letter raised quite a few objections to USCHO’s application, including the following:

  • Pairwise is a generic mathematical term that describes how the comparison is performed
  • The algorithm, in relation to college hockey, was developed by Keith Instone before USCHO existed
  • USCHO doesn’t use the term “pairwise” in commerce, as they claimed
  • The sample of “advertising” submitted by USCHO was not, indeed, advertising, but a page of hockey rankings
  • Lots of other sites cover college hockey and publish pairwise rankings of teams

Compelling stuff, particularly the first, which is why I was surprised to see the next document…

Sep. 11, 2006 Office Action Outgoing

No mention of the Apr. 17 “Paper Correspondence Incoming”. Notes were pretty much limited to the following:

Office records have been search and no similar registered and pending mark has been found that would bar registration

The wording used to describe the services needs clarification because it is unacceptable as indefinite. Applicant may adopt the following identification of services, if accurate: Providing information in the field of rankings of college hockey teams; and publication of books featuring rankings of college hockey teams.

Though there seemed to be some confusion between the two parties about wording (is USCHO a book or a web site? is PAIRWISE a marketing slogan or the name of a database?), it seemed like USCHO just needed to adopt the suggested description. I start getting ready to scrub the word “pairwise” from and come up with the Power (PWR) rankings (which is what everyone thinks PWR stands for, anyway).

Nov. 22, 2006 Response to Office Action

USCHO seems pleased with the change in wording, though did want to note that they publish a website, not books.

Jan. 25, 2007 Office Action Outgoing

Pointing out that USCHO is a web site, not a book, seemed to have compelled the USPTO to search the web, because it came back now denying the claim:

Registration is refused because the proposed mark merely describes a characteristic and feature of applicant’s goods and services

The proposed mark appears to be generic in connection with the identified services

According to the Internet evidence, a ‘pairwise comparison’ is a problem solving method that allows one to determine the relative order (ranking) of a group of items

The mark… is a commonly used term for ranking college hockey teams

Evidence for the denial included a mountain of captured web pages (what did trademark examiners do 10 years ago?)

Page 1 — The first few pages are from Wikipedia. Really? It was my understanding that students aren’t allowed to cite wikipedia in fifth grade reports, yet the PTO uses it? Ok, let’s see what else they have…

Page 9 — Wiktionary?!? Seriously, will someone buy the PTO a subscription to the OED? I think is free.

Page 10 — Mathworld, that sounds like an amusement park where I could imagine running into Whelan.

Page 12-16 — w00t. I’m particularly impressed that he grabbed our awesome individual team detailed pairwise comparisons table, which I still think is the best on the net.

Jul. 25, 2007 Response to Office Action

Obviously, PAIRWISE is not descriptive of a ranking


Even if the word “Pairwise” has become descriptive of a general process by which items are ordered and ranked by comparing each item to another, the fact that such a process is employed in a specific sport application in which the source of the ranking chooses and assigns weights to selected criteria makes it clear that the word is, at best, suggestive of what makes PAIRWISE rankings better than its competition.

Ok, I think I’m getting it. USCHO is trying to lay claim to PAIRWISE in all caps, differentiated from pairwise, the descriptive term. Huh.

From Tim Brule’s letter:

The success of our PAIRWISE rankings help establish as a definitive source of information about college hockey and consequently increases the traffic to our site. Obviously it is economically benefical to us to have high traffic rankings.

Ah, is this about search results? Let’s google “pairwise hockey“: College Hockey Online::Pairwise College Hockey Online::Pairwise Surprise
College Hockey News: NCAA Tournament Pairwise Comparison Ratings
College Hockey News: Pairwise and KRACH NCAA College Hockey PWR (Pairwise Rankings)

Is USCHO’s new desire to trademark PAIRWISE because CollegeHockeyNews is gaining ground as a source of that information? It hardly seems a coincidence that this occurred so soon after the CHN guys split off.

Sep. 5, 2007 Office Action Outgoing

The examining attorney has also considered the applicant’s arguments carefully but has found them unpersuasive.

The applicant has responded to the refusal by stating that the proposed mark is not descriptive of the applicant’s services. The examining attorney disagrees

The term “PAIRWISE” as used in the mark merely indicates that the pairwise method was used to generate the college hockey team rankings.

Let’s take a look at PTO’s new evidence (much of it from the same source as the previous):
Page 4-6: Is PTO really using a page from USCHO’s site to try to demonstrate that Pairwise is a generic description. I don’t get this one.

Page 7-10: CollegeHockeyNews’s PWR

Page 11-12:’s PWR

Page 18-21, 27-30: Brad’s blog chats about USCHO’s PWR

I think those last three sets of evidence are flawed, for reasons I’ll describe in the next section.

What does Jim make of all of this?

Keep in mind that USCHO wasn’t trying to protect the mathematical formula behind PWR (which by my understanding could have proven difficult), but rather the name “PAIRWISE” when used to describe their rankings using that formula.

Though the formula isn’t their invention, but rather mimics the NCAA Selection Criteria, trademarking their own unique name of their presentation of those rankings strikes me as plausible. Searching the HOCKEY-L archives** may give you fascinating look at the origin of all of this stuff; the first reference I could find to the criteria came from Keith Instone, but the first reference I could find to PAIRWISE or PWR was from Tim Brule (of USCHO).

As to the numerous examples from the Internet of sites using PWR/Pairwise to describe the college hockey rankings, though there was no way for the examiner to know it, the term is likely in use in all of those places specifically because USCHO popularized it. I have no idea if allowing it become part of the college hockey lexicon for 10 years before attempting to trademark it harmed their case, but I can say on behalf of that our PWR rankings are called PWR specifically so people are aware that they use the same methodology as those USCHO calls PAIRWISE (PWR’s very purpose on is to assist people who want to analyze and predict the PAIRWISE rankings by providing detail of the calculations beyond that available from USCHO).

However, that is all likely irrelevant, as the nail in the coffin of USCHO’s claim seemed to be that pairwise is a generic term descriptive of the ranking methodology. Though the first reference I can find to that name did come from Tim Brule on HOCKEY-L, it also predated the creation of USCHO, so it’s not surprising that the rankings were given a descriptive name rather than one chosen with attention to trademark suitability. If only he had chosen Tim’s Rankings for American College Hockey (TRACH).

Final thought — it’s almost impossible to run sites like these without a good IP attorney. Thanks to John (ours).

** While browsing the HOCKEY-L archives, you may stumble upon the Nov 29, 1995, announcement of, which wasn’t yet called, but is a pleasant reminder of our longevity.

Saturday Game React: UND vs. Minnesota

It’s like deja vu all over again. Yet another conference series, yet another split.

Minnesota outplayed North Dakota throughout the first 55 minutes of the contest, and led 4-1 before two Sioux goals in the final four minutes woke up the crowd and had the Gophers on their heels. Minnesota survived the late rally and prevailed, 4-3.

I wonder if I can even use the phrase “final four” without paying some sort of penalty to the NCAA. Hmmm….

I have two rants before I get to the game action:

Rant Number One: I will NEVER understand why fans leave a game early. Especially this series. Cold outside? Stay ’til the end. Sick? Stay ’til the end. Tired? Stay ’til the end. Team not playing well? Cheer louder and stay ’til the end. Growing up, we learned that the post-game show on the radio was what we listened to as we were stuck in post-game traffic.

Rant Number Two: I also don’t understand why fans throw objects on the ice. Ok, I can look past the gopher (moderately funny), but pompoms and pop? Come on, are we six years old? The only thing that I think is unfortunate about the “any more objects will result in a Sioux penalty” proclamation is this: what’s to stop any of the hundreds of Gopher fans in the arena from chucking almonds on the ice and creating an instant power play for their squad? I think it’s a tough spot for the refs to be in, and we as fans shouldn’t put them there.

Now to the game action:

It was much the same story as Friday night, with Minnesota outshooting and outchancing UND through the first two periods. The difference in Saturday’s game was that the Gophers were up 4-1 after two, with back-breaking goals at the end of each period proving too much for the Fighting Sioux to overcome.

The only area UND excelled at for the game (and the weekend) was in the face-off circle. VandeVelde is much improved on draws, and Zajac continues to win almost 60%.

It’s worth mentioning that Jean-Philippe Lamoureux tied the school record for consecutive starts by a goaltender with his 40th game in a row. I would imagine that he will break the record by starting Friday’s tilt against New Hampshire after the Christmas break, and then get a much-
deserved break on Saturday.

Minnesota outplayed North Dakota for much of this series, and could easily have swept the two games. The Gophers were better in most areas, particularily in the first forty minutes of each game.

Remarkably, in three WCHA home series, UND is 3-0 on Friday and 0-3 on Saturday. On the road in the WCHA, it’s the opposite: 0-3 on Friday and 3-0 on Saturday. Coincidence or trend?

UND falls to 6-6-0 in the WCHA, while Minnesota improves to 5-7-0. The way the conference race looks right now, there are a number of teams bunched up with five to seven losses, and after Colorado College and Denver, the race is still wide open.

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

Friday Game React: UND vs. Minnesota

Lamoureux was the difference in the 4-2 Sioux victory. He kept the game scoreless through two periods, turning aside all 26 shots he faced through the first forty minutes.

Minnesota held a 26-12 advantage in shots on goal through two periods, and finished with a 39-30 edge.

North Dakota has now won 5 of the last 6 meetings between the teams, and has narrowed the gap in the all-time series. Minnesota now sports a record of 129-121-11 (.515) in Sioux/Gopher games, while UND leads the series in Grand Forks, 64-52-7 (.549).

The Fighting Sioux continued their exceptional 4 on 4 play. UND’s second goal (Rylan Kaip from Chris VandeVelde and Robbie Bina) came with each team a man short. North Dakota has the puck-moving defenseman necessary to create chances in this situation.

Rylan Kaip continues his solid two-way play. The senior forward has five goals this season after tallying eight in his first three seasons combined.

I’m not a fan of the Holy Cross references. I understand why fans continue to bring this up, but it shouldn’t come from the PA announcer at the arena. For the record, an announcement was made in the third period that “Holy Cross is off this weekend”.

Minnesota falls to 4-7-0 in WCHA play, equaling the number of conference losses from all of last season, when they finished 18-7-3 to claim the McNaughton Cup. UND is now 6-5-0 in the conference, and hope to pick up points Saturday night after splitting all five conference series to date.

The Gophers fall to 8-8-1 overall, while the Fighting Sioux improve to 8-5-1. The same two teams square off Saturday night at 7:07.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments and suggestions. For more on the matchup between the teams, click here. For background on this great college hockey rivalry, click here. Click here for analysis, commentary, and reaction to Saturday’s game.

Game Preview: UND vs. Minnesota

I wrote in my WCHA Season Preview that the four games between North Dakota and Minnesota might very well decide the race for the McNaughton Cup.

As it looks right now, these games might determine whether one of these squads goes on the road for the first round of the conference playoffs.

UND (7-5-1, 5-5-0 WCHA) is currently in fifth place in the WCHA, while Minnesota (8-7-1, 4-6-0 WCHA) is tied for sixth with Wisconsin. Those standings are a bit misleading, however, as three of the four teams ahead of North Dakota and Minnesota in the league race (Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, and Michigan Tech) have played twelve conference games while the Sioux and the Gophers have each played ten.

That being said, these games are critical for league points, momentum, and the all-important Sioux-Gopher rivalry.

Last season, North Dakota took three of four games from Minnesota, including a regular season sweep at Mariucci Arena and an overtime victory in the NCAA West Regional Final which propelled the Sioux to their third consecutive Frozen Four. Minnesota defeated North Dakota 3-2 in overtime to claim the WCHA Final Five Championship in St. Paul.

Minnesota Team Profile
National Rankings: #15/#17
Head Coach: Don Lucia (9th season at Minnesota, 228-103-30, .673)
This Season: 8-7-1 Overall, 4-6-0 WCHA
Special Teams: Power Play 11.5% (9 of 78), Penalty Kill 83.8% (57-68)
Last Season: 31-10-3 Overall, 18-7-3 WCHA (1st)
Key Players: Sophomore F Jay Barriball (2-8-10), Senior F Ben Gordon (4-9-13), Sophomore F Kyle Okposo (6-4-10), Junior F Blake Wheeler (6-6-12), Freshman D Cade Fairchild (2-8-10), Junior G Jeff Frazee (6-5-0, 2.72 GAA, .896 SV, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile
National Rankings: #7/#8
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 85-50-12, .619)
This Season: 7-5-1 Overall, 5-5-0 WCHA
Specialty Teams: Power Play 16.9% (10 of 59), Penalty Kill 90.9% (60 of 66)
Last Season: 24-14-5 (Frozen Four Semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Players: Junior F Ryan Duncan (5-9-14), Junior F T.J. Oshie (7-6-13), Sophomore F Chris VandeVelde (5-4-9), Senior D Robbie Bina (0-11-11), Junior D Taylor Chorney (0-9-9), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (7-5-1, 1.52 GAA, .940 SV, 4 SO)

By The Numbers
Last Meeting: March 25, 2007 (NCAA West Regional Final, Denver, CO). Chris Porter scores the game-winner at 9:43 of overtime as UND prevails, 3-2, to advance to its third consecutive Frozen Four
Last Meeting in Grand Forks: December 10, 2005. Minnesota defeats UND 4-3 to sweep the weekend series. The Golden Gophers won the series opener by the same score. For the weekend, the Fighting Sioux never had a lead.
Most Important Meeting: March 24, 1979. North Dakota and Minnesota meet to decide the national championship, and the Gophers prevail, 4-3.
All-time Series: Minnesota leads the all-time series, 129-120-11 (.517). UND leads the series in Grand Forks, 63-52-7 (.545).

Game News and Notes
UND goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (who was recently named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week) has now started 38 consecutive games betwen the pipes, two shy of the school record of 40 held by Al Finkelstein (1951-53). Minnesota holds a three game winning streak over North Dakota at Ralhp Engelstad Arena, and is 6-3-1 in the last ten meetings between the teams in Grand Forks.

The Prediction
UND appears to have an edge in goaltending, defensive depth, and special teams. In honor of the three Sioux victories in four opportunities last season, I’m picking three points this weekend for North Dakota. UND 5-2, 2-2 tie.

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Click here for reaction to Friday’s game.  Click here for the Saturday Game React

Sioux/Gopher Week: Hockey Rivalries

Which team do you consider North Dakota’s biggest rival?

I have Minnesota at the top of my list, along with Boston College, Denver, Michigan and Wisconsin.

And what makes some rivalries so intense? For some of the above-mentioned schools, it’s conference affiliation. Minnesota, Denver, and Wisconsin are among the top teams battling it out with North Dakota for the WCHA title year after year. Familiarity breeds contempt, they say.

But why else? Why are Boston College and Michigan on my list? And why has Denver become such a bitter feud while Wisconsin, until this year, has cooled a bit? It all boils down to tournament time.

Since 1997, UND has met 12 different teams in NCAA action, and of those twelve, only four (Michigan, Boston College, Ferris State, and Denver) have ended North Dakota’s season. The Fighting Sioux avenged a loss to Michigan in 1998 with playoff wins in 2006 and 2007, while Denver has had UND’s number, defeating the Sioux in 2004 and 2005. Ferris State bounced North Dakota from the 2003 tournament, and the six tournament games between Boston College and UND (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, and 2007) are well-documented.

The teams UND has defeated in NCAA play in that same span include Cornell (1997), Colorado College (1997, 2001), Boston University (1997, 2005), Niagara (2000), Maine (2000), Michigan State (2001), and Holy Cross (2004, 2006). These rivalries are not as intense as the schools listed above, and it is my opinion that it is because these schools have not ended UND’s season on the biggest stage that they are not regarded as such.

Wisconsin and North Dakota have not met in the national tournament since the 1982 title game.

And that leaves us with Minnesota. The 1979 title game between North Dakota and Minnesota, which Minnesota won 4-3, would set off a 25 year span (1980-2004) during which the two schools would not meet in the NCAA tournament. That’s astounding. During that time, Minnesota advanced to the national tournament 20 times (winning titles in 2002 and 2003), and North Dakota advanced to the national tournament 12 times (winning titles in 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, and 2000), and yet they never played each other.

North Dakota has somewhat atoned for the 1979 title game loss with NCAA victories over Minnesota in 2005 and 2007.

Why, for those 25 years, did the two fan bases continue to circle Sioux/Gopher weekend on their calendars? What was it (or more to the point, what is it) about these two programs that causes every regular season matchup to feel like a playoff game and every WCHA Final Five tilt to feel like the Super Bowl? And that’s saying nothing about my heart rate during overtime of the 2007 West Regional Final or the 2005 Frozen Four Semifinal.

What do you think? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Your stories. Your memories of the Sioux/Gopher rivalry. Please leave comments about your favorite games and ones you’d like to forget. It’s your turn. It’s your time. It’s Sioux/Gopher week.

 For a preview of the weekend series between North Dakota and Minnesota, click here.

Saturday Game React: UND vs. Denver

UND’s special teams were special tonight, as the Sioux downed the Pioneers 3-1 at Magness Arena in Denver.

North Dakota used a smothering penalty kill, two power play goals, and a back-breaking shorthanded tally to gain a split of the weekend series.

Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (7-5-1, 1.52 GAA, .940 SV, 4 SO) allowed just one goal on 36 shots and was at his best in the third period, turning aside all 24 shots he faced and helping UND kill all three Denver power plays. Denver outshot North Dakota 24-7 in the third period and 35-26 for the game. Lamoureux, who allowed just two goals and stopped 63 of 65 Pioneer shots in the weekend series, should be in line for the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week award.

Lamoureux, who has played every minute in net for the Fighting Sioux this season, has now started 38 consecutive games and is two shy of the school record of 40, held by Al Finkelstein (1951-53).

Ryan Duncan played his best game of the season, tallying two goals and adding one assist. Chris VandeVelde (1 goal, 1 assist) and T.J. Oshie (2 assists) also played well. Ryan Duncan and T.J. Oshie have now scored 12 goals and 15 assists in seven Sioux victories, and have been held scoreless in five Sioux losses and a scoreless tie.

UND fared much better in the face-off circle tonight, particularily in the first and second periods, when they won 30 of 40 draws (75%). Darcy Zajac was inserted into the lineup tonight, and he, along with VandeVelde and Kaip, were very effective.

The turning point in the game came at the 11:14 mark of the second period. Denver had just scored (Tyler Bozak from Brock Trotter, 10:04), had drawn a penalty (Oshie, hooking, 10:26), and owned all the momentum. Playing shorthanded, Sioux defenseman Joe Finley sent Chris VandeVelde and Ryan Duncan in alone on Peter Mannino, and Duncan made no mistake on the feed from VandeVelde and made the score 3-1 just 70 seconds after Bozak’s goal.

“Joe (Finley) made a great play; he kind of chipped it up the boards,” said Sioux junior Ryan Duncan. “He had great vision and saw Vandy in the clear and we were able to get a step and get a two-on-0. It doesn’t happen very often, especially against a great team like that.”

“I thought the biggest goal of the game was the shorthanded goal,” added UND head coach Dave Hakstol. “There was a momentum swing there where Denver scored a few minutes before and the crowd was getting into it, and that goal was a critical one.”

That score would hold up the rest of the way despite three Pioneer power plays in the third period. UND was solid every time Denver had the man advantage, killing all seven penalties for the game to raise their season penalty kill percentage to 90.9% (60 of 66). In the last four meetings between the two schools, UND has killed 22 of 23 Pioneer power plays (95.7%).

North Dakota scored twice on the power play (VandeVelde, Duncan) in seven chances, and are now converting 16.9% of power plays (10 of 59) on the season. UND also scored its first shorthanded goal of the year (Duncan).

UND now holds an 11-4-1 record (.719) at Magness Arena since 97-98.

I knew I would be impressed with Denver sophomore forwards Brock Trotter, Tyler Ruegsegger, and Rhett Rakhshani, but I was more impressed with the play of freshman forward Tyler Bozak (8 goals, 4 assists in 14 games). Not only did he score both Pioneer goals on the weekend, he had seven shots on net, won the majority of his draws, and played well all over the ice.

North Dakota has now split five consecutive conference series (@Michigan Tech, Colorado College, @Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth, @Denver) after opening the season with impressive wins over Michigan State and Northeastern and a 0-0, two period tie with Boston College.

Denver falls to 10-4-0 (7-3-0 WCHA) on the season, while North Dakota improves to 7-5-1 (5-5-0 WCHA). The Sioux host the Gophers for a pair next weekend; the Pioneers head to St. Cloud to battle the Huskies.

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

Nokota: State horse would make ideal nickname

The University of North Dakota might soon need to replace the venerable Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. Why not use the official state horse, the Nokota, as the basis for a new nickname and logo? UND could become the Wild Nokotas or the Fighting Nokotas (or whatever adjective is appropriate).

Here are the reasons I believe the Nokota would make an outstanding new nickname for UND:

  1. The Nokota is an athletic horse known for its intelligence, independence, strength, stamina and ability to survive in harsh conditions. Therefore, the Nokota is the ideal symbol for a North Dakota-based athletic team.
  2. The name “Nokota” is a combination of the words “North” and “Dakota,” the name of the state and the university.
  3. The Nokota horse is unique to North Dakota. It’s not likely that any other university would use or adopt this name.
  4. The Nokota horse is indelibly linked to the state’s history, especially to some of the territory’s earliest and most famous inhabitants.
  5. The Nokota is already officially recognized as North Dakota’s state horse. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for the state’s flagship university to adopt the Nokota as the symbol of its athletic teams.
  6. Representing the people of North Dakota, the Nokota is a symbol in which everyone can take pride.
  7. The potential to develop a strong, striking logo and marketing themes based on the Nokota are nearly limitless.
  8. It’s likely that if UND changes its nickname, the vestiges of the old Fighting Sioux logo will remain in Ralph Engelstad Arena. A Nokota logo would not look incongruous next to the Fighting Sioux logo.

I encourage Sioux fans to visit the Nokota Horse Conservancy website to read about the Nokota breed and learn more about the efforts to preserve it. Any increased public exposure the Nokota receives could help raise awareness and assist in the effort to preserve an important part of North Dakota’s past.

UND’s hockey team is known nationwide and its other athletic teams will soon be competing on a national stage in NCAA Division I athletics. By adopting the Nokota horse as a nickname and logo, UND would get a terrific new identity and the efforts to preserve the Nokota horse would receive a boost.

For Your Consideration: The Emeralds

Introducing The University of North Dakota Emeralds. The Emeralds. The UND Emeralds.

Let me be clear about something. I believe discussions and conversations about the Fighting Sioux nickname should continue between UND and leaders of the namesake tribes, but I also feel that it is wise to explore other possibilities, in the interest of generating public support for one or more new nickname ideas.

It is in that context that I offer for your consideration The Emeralds.

Any new name must pass muster in a number of different areas to make a final list. The guidelines which follow come directly from the task force charged with finding a new nickname at Arkansas State University. I’m not suggesting that the University of North Dakota will work under the same exact framework, but at this stage guidelines such as these will inform and direct our discussion.

The name selected must not conflict with the school colors.
This name fares very strongly here. The Emerald name would enhance the strong connection between UND and the color green.

The name selected must be suitable for use with both men’s and women’s teams (non-gender specific).

The name selected should not be one that invites derision, humor or double meaning.
Aside from the fact that emeralds are considered brittle, I couldn’t think of anything else to include here.

The name selected should be one that will stand the test of time.
As the 55th anniversary theme, I think it’s safe to say that emeralds are a symbol of longevity.

The name selected should be one that suggests pride, courage and a strong competitive spirit and one that inspires the creation of effective imagery and logos for use in promotion and marketing efforts.
I’m not sure about pride, courage, and competitive spirit. An emerald is typically something one would be proud to own or wear. Admittedly, the name Emeralds does not fare well on this particular issue.

In terms of effective imagery and logos, I feel it passes the test. The emerald can be effectively combined with the existing crossed “ND” logo or on its own as a primary or secondary logo . The marketing possibilities are nearly endless. The club sections can be the Emerald Isle, we could call Grand Forks (unofficially) the Emerald City, and fans 55 and older could belong to the Emerald Club.

The name selected will be distinctive and, if possible, unique to our conference, region and nation.
Distinctive, yes. It immediately evokes the color green, which many would argue must remain in any new nickname and logo design. It doesn’t make one think of North Dakota, but it is unique to our conference and region. There is an Emerald Bowl in the BCS (formerly 1-A),  but I found no collegiate or professional team with the “Emerald” nickname.

I recognize that no one name will resonate with all interested parties, and I expect that this idea will be no different. Please feel free to comment, dissect, offer alternatives, or avoid the discussion altogether. It’s up to you.

Friday Game React: UND vs. Denver

Faceoffs. Often overlooked, but critically important.

Tonight, a face-off win at the beginning of a DU power play in the second period set up the only goal of the contest, as Pioneer freshman forward Tyler Bozak won the draw back to Chris Butler and tipped Butler’s shot from the point past Lamoureux for the game-winner. Bozak and the rest of the Pioneers were strong in the face-off circle all night, winning 33 of 55 (60%). Aside from the power-play goal, the most critical face-off win came in the Pioneers end with under 30 seconds remaining and Lamoureux pulled for the extra attacker.

North Dakota put one past Mannino with under a minute remaining in the hockey game, but the puck did not completely cross the goal line. It was ruled no goal on the ice, and that ruling held up to video review.

This game featured two of the best goaltenders in the conference, as Lamoureux and Mannino seemed to match each other with one brilliant save after another. Both defenses chipped in, blocking 15 shots each, and the pipes came in handy for both sides. Mannino, who improved to 10-3-0 while notching his third shutout of the season, saw his goals-against average drop to 1.55 to go with a sparkling save percentage of .940. Lamoureux, who fell to 6-5-1, has almost identical marks of 1.56 and .936.

When T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan are held scoreless, UND is 0-5-1. In six Sioux victories, Oshie and Duncan have combined for 10 goals and 12 assists.

UND killed four of five Pioneer power plays, and was held scoreless on two opportunities with the man advantage. The Sioux have scored on 15.4% of power play chances and killed penalties at a 89.8% clip on the season. Denver’s season numbers are very similar, standing at 13.4% and 89.7%, respectively.

UND surely missed Darcy Zajac in the face-off department. Look for him to be back in the lineup tomorrow night.

Brad Malone continues to be North Dakota’s most consistently physical forward.

T.J. Oshie and Andrew Kozek both appeared to be injured during the game. It remains to be seen whether either one will miss any time. Kyle Radke would likely step in tomorrow night if Oshie or Kozek can’t go.

If North Dakota gains a split tomorrow night, it will mark the fifth consecutive series split to open the WCHA season. UND previously split weekend series with Michigan Tech, Colorado College, Wisconsin, and Minnesota-Duluth.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments and suggestions. For an in-depth look at the match-up between the teams, click here. Check back after Saturday’s contest for more reaction, analysis, and commentary.

Game Preview: UND vs. Denver

There’s no question that these two teams have history: bad blood, controversy, and postseason clashes. But rather than looking at the past, both schools are treating this weekend’s action as an important series that will affect the conference race and the national picture.

After narrowly missing out on last year’s NCAA tournament (and the West Regional held at Pepsi Center in Denver), the Pioneers seem poised for a run toward this year’s Frozen Four, also held at Pepsi Center.

Denver has a number of impressive wins on the young season, including 5-1 and 4-1 wins over Minnesota at Mariucci Arena and home sweeps of Maine and Minnesota State-Mankato. They are led offensively by their trio of super sophs (Brock Trotter, Tyler Ruegsegger, and Rhett Rakhshani), who have tallied 16 goals and 21 assists through 12 games.

North Dakota has four consecutive conference splits (@Michigan Tech, Colorado College, @Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth) after opening the season with impressive wins over Michigan State and Northeastern and a 0-0, two period tie with Boston College.

UND has fared well recently in Denver, posting a 10-3-1 record (.875) at Magness Arena since 97-98.

Denver Team Profile
National Rankings: #3/#3
Head Coach: George Gwozdecky (14th season at DU, 306-194-40, .604)
This Season: 9-3-0 Overall, 6-2-0 WCHA
Special Teams: Power Play 12.9% (8 of 62), Penalty Kill 89.3% (50 of 56)
Last Season: 21-15-4, 13-11-4 WCHA (4th)
Key Players: Sophomore F Brock Trotter (6-8-14), Sophomore F Tyler Ruegsegger (7-6-13), Freshman F Tyler Bozak (6-4-10), Sophomore F Rhett Rakhshani (3-7-10), Junior D Chris Butler (0-5-5), Senior G Peter Mannino (9-3-0, 1.68 GAA, .935 SV, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile
National Rankings: #8/#8
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 84-49-12, .621)
This Season: 6-4-1 Overall, 4-4-0 WCHA
Specialty Teams: Power Play 16% (8 of 50), Penalty Kill 90.7% (49 of 54)
Last Season: 24-14-5 (Frozen Four semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Players: Junior F Ryan Duncan (3-8-11), Junior F T.J. Oshie (7-4-11), Sophomore F Chris VandeVelde (4-3-7), Senior D Robbie Bina (0-11-11), Junior D Taylor Chorney (0-9-9), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (6-4-1, 1.61 GAA, .933 SV, 4 SO)

By The Numbers
Last Meeting: February 24, 2007. UND wins 3-0 in Denver to salvage a split in the only series between the two schools last season. Denver won the first game, 4-3 in overtime.
Most Important Meeting: It’s hard to pick just one game, as the two teams have played four times for the national title. Denver defeated UND for the national championship in 1958, 1968, and 2005, while the Sioux downed the Pioneers in 1963.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 125-108-7 (.535). DU leads the series in Denver, 63-48-3 (.566).

Game News and Notes
UND goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux has now started 36 consecutive games betwen the pipes, four shy of the school record of 40 held by Al Finkelstein (1951-53). Denver netminder Peter Mannino has been named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week three times this season. North Dakota forward Chris VandeVelde has been the team’s best face-off man, winning over 55% of his draws this season. During their two-game series last February, UND held Denver scoreless on 11 power play opportunities. Denver sophomore sensations Trotter, Ruegsegger, and Rakhshani combined for 41 goals and 69 assists in 40 games last season, and are ahead of that scoring pace through 12 games this season.

The Prediction
Both schools bring a great deal of talent to the ice. If UND has an edge, it’s on the blue line, both in terms of experience and offensive punch. These games will be tightly contested, and a split is all but inevitable. UND 4-3, DU 4-2.

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Click here for reaction to Friday’s game action. Please check back after Saturday’s contest for more analysis, and commentary.