Saturday Game React: UND vs. Minnesota-Duluth

Yet another split in the conference, with two tough series (at Denver, versus Minnesota) coming up. Hopefully the Sioux can gain points each of the next two weekends to set themselves up for the patented second-half surge (more on that later).

For me, the frustrating part of the game wasn’t the center ice goal to make it 3-2 with 8 minutes remaining. It was that UND played a poor second period (generating only four shots on goal) and put themselves at the mercy of a bounce of the puck.

Up until Drew Akins’ 80 footer (his second goal of the game), North Dakota had played with enough effort and intensity to win or tie the hockey game.

I thought UND carried the play during the two 4 on 4 situations. This is due mostly to the puck-moving defenseman we have across all three defensive pairings.

UND finished 0 for 3 on the power play for the second consecutive night, although there was more rhythm and purpose tonight than last night. The Sioux have now converted only 16% (8 of 50) of man-advantage opportunities on the season. North Dakota killed all three Duluth power plays (and 8 of 9 on the weekend), and now are killing penalties at a 90.7% clip (49 of 54).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Rylan Kaip will equal his career totals (8 goals, 16 assists) this season. He has tallied 4 goals and 1 assist so far.

There are quite a few fans out there who have written off Ryan Duncan, saying that he is not the same player without Jonathan Toews. I am not willing to go that far. He is still scoring a point per contest (3 goals and 8 assists through 11 games), and, along with T.J. Oshie (7-4-11) and Robbie Bina (0-11-11), holds the team scoring lead. Last year he scored 1.33 points per game; as a freshman, he tallied 0.78 points per contest.

UND falls to 6-4-1 (4-4-0 WCHA). Duluth improves to 6-4-2 (5-4-1 WCHA). North Dakota travels to take on the University of Denver next weekend; Duluth heads to Minnesota State University-Mankato for a pair.

And now back to the second-half surge. This is beginning to feel like each of the last three seasons all over again. Or is it?

Part of the October/November frustration is due to the fact that UND hasn’t played very many games (relative to other seasons and to other conference opponents this season). So sitting at 4-4-0 (eight points, 5th place) in the conference feels like a letdown, but three of the four teams above North Dakota have played ten conference games compared to UND’s eight.

In an effort to compare how this team stacks up with years past, let’s take a closer look at the past three seasons, all of which ended with Frozen Four appearances:

2004-2005 October/November record: 9-5-2 (7-4-1 WCHA)
2005-2006 October/November record: 8-5-1 (4-4-0 WCHA)
2006-2007 October/November record: 7-6-1 (5-4-1 WCHA)

And this season in October and November: 6-4-1 (4-4-0 WCHA)

Think of that what you will; I’m merely suggesting that we’ve played tough teams, we’ve competed well in almost every game (Saturday vs. CC being the only exception), and we can clearly get better in every phase. And that’s reason for optimism, not pessimism, in my book.

Thanks for checking out the Saturday Game React. For commentary and analysis of Friday’s game action, click here. I welcome your questions and comments.

Friday Game React: UND vs. Minnesota-Duluth

First of all, this did not play like an 8-3 hockey game. It was tight through two periods, and Duluth carried much of the play, particularily in the second frame. Trupp’s goal to make it 4-3 midway through the second was huge, as the Bulldogs had tied the game with two goals less than three minutes apart and were playing with poise and momentum.

The third period, obviously, was all UND. In addition to the four goals, the Sioux skated better than they had earlier and played to win, as opposed to stretches earlier in the contest during which they played tentatively.

The most important statistics from tonight’s game are that eight different players scored and eight players registered two points. Matt Watkins, Brad Miller, Chris VandeVelde, Matt Frattin, and T.J. Oshie each notched a goal and an assist, and Taylor Chorney, Ryan Duncan, and Robbie Bina tallied two assists each.

Duncan, Oshie, and Bina remain tied for the most points (11) among Sioux players.

Brad Malone did not show up on the scoresheet, but he turned in the most physical game I’ve seen him play since his injury.

Evan Trupp (one goal) continues to impress, and worked his way onto the #1 power play unit tonight. The Sioux power play, unfortunately, finished 0 for 3. Duluth was 1 for 6 with the man advantage, that goal being scored with three seconds remaining in the first period to make the score 3-1 in favor of UND.

Chay Genoway left the game early in the second period with an injury and did not return. For much of the game, Brad Malone was double-shifting, playing on the left wing with Darcy Zajac and Matt Frattin and alongside Rylan Kaip and Matt Watkins. Dave Hakstol mentioned in the post-game interview that they had an initial evaluation but do not know how serious it is yet. Genoway is considered doubtful for tomorrow. I would expect Ryan Martens to play tomorrow night.

Robbie Bina continues to play rock solid defensively and contribute on the offensive end. His 11 assists lead the team, and he may well eclipse the staggering numbers from his junior campaign (10-22-32 last season after scoring 1 goal and 16 assists through his first two seasons).

UND was three seconds away from blanking yet another opponent in the first period, and now have given up just two first period goals through ten games.

UMD goaltender Alex Stalock allowed 6 goals on 25 shots and saw his goals-against average jump from 1.97 to 2.37. His save percentage fell from .929 to .915, and he suffered his fourth loss of the season. Backup goaltender (and former Fighting Sioux) Nate Ziegelmann allowed two goals on the three shots he faced in relief.

UND improves to 6-3-1 overall (4-3-0 WCHA). UMD drops to 5-4-2 overall (4-4-1 WCHA). The same two teams play tomorrow night at 7:07 p.m.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your questions and comments. For more information about the matchup between the teams, click here. For reaction and commentary from Saturday’s game action, click here.

A look back at UND vs. Grand Valley

All-time: GVSU leads 3-2
At GVSU: GVSU leads 2-0
At UND: UND leads 1-0
Neutral: Tied 1-1

How GVSU’s past six seasons have ended

2001 – playoff loss vs UND
2002 – National Champ
2003 – National Champ
2004 – playoff loss at UND
2005 – National Champ
2006 – National Champ

How UND’s past six seasons have ended

2001 – National Champ
2002 – Did not make playoffs
2003 – playoff loss vs GVSU
2004 – playoff loss at Pitt St.
2005 – playoff loss at GVSU
2006 – playoff loss at GVSU

December 8, 2001

UND 17, GVSU 14
NCAA National Championship Game
Florence, AL

The Sioux were down 10-14 with 38 seconds left in the game. UND was on its own 41 and facing a fourth down. A missed tackle resulted in a pass to the Sioux tight end completing for 58 yards, setting the Sioux up with a first-and-goal and seconds on the clock. Jed Perkerewiez punched it in for the Sioux, sealing UND’s first national championship.

I was still pruning messages after 60 days and didn’t have a football forum yet. In fact, I think I added it due to the upsurge in interest on the site following UND’s first football national championship.

“Sioux Football, Way to go!” thread

December 13, 2003

UND 3, GVSU 10
NCAA National Championship Game
Florence, AL
Ugly weather and staunch defenses on both sides resulted in very little offensive production this game. The deciding, and only, touchdown came after GVSU returned a UND fumble in the red zone.

GVSU drove to the 1-yard line on the opening drive, but had to settle for a field goal in what would turn out to be the only points of the half.

UND drove to the GVSU 7 to open the second half, but the GVSU defense returned a turnover to the UND 20, setting their offense up for the only TD of the game, giving GVSU a 10-0 lead.

The Sioux again drove into Laker territory, but missed the 43-yard FG attempt when the kicker slipped in the mud. On subsequent drives in the fourth, the Sioux missed a 46-yard FG attempt and nailed a 35-yard one. GVSU missed a 43-yard attempt with about 4 minutes remaining, leaving UND one last chance.

In the game’s final drive, the Sioux were hoping to repeat their 2001 performance as they drove to a 1st-and-10 at the Grand Valley 17. However, the GVSU defense held and GVSU took the honor of having won two of the last three championships instead of UND.

Notably, GVSU did not have home field for any of its post-season games in this championship season. game thread
My photos from the game
My road trip to the game

November 27, 2004

UND 19, GVSU 15
NCAA Quarterfinals
Grand Forks, ND game thread

Between the 2003 and 2004 seasons, the NCAA realigned Division II, putting GVSU and UND in the same region. That meant we had seen the last GVSU vs. UND national championship game, and that the two teams would instead meet in the regionals.

The first such meeting occurred in Grand Forks, as GVSU had lost two games in the regular season. GVSU led 9-3 going into the fourth, when the scoring seesaw began. A 34 yard drive culminating in a Sioux field goal was answered by a 76 yard Laker drive for a TD, bringing the score to 15-6 GVSU (missed PAT). The Sioux answered with a 68 yard TD drive, the first UND TD against the Laker defense in seven quarters, leaving the Lakers with a 15-12 lead (on another missed PAT). The game was decided when UND sacked GVSU’s quarterback and forced a fumble, setting up a UND possession that would lead to the game-winning TD.

November 19, 2005

UND 3, GVSU 17
NCAA 2nd Round
Allendale, MI

The stat of the game:
Fumbles Lost: UND 3, GVSU 0

In UND’s first trip to Lubbers Stadium, GVSU scored TDs on consecutive drives of 85 and 69 yards with the wind in the 2nd quarter. Those two scores proved to be the margin of victory, as the Laker defense kept UND out of the end zone, including a four-down stop against the Sioux on a 1st and goal from the 3.

The Sioux were plagued by a slow start, as GVSU posted 208 yards of offense in the first half, while UND posted only 105. UND ended the game with 332 yards of total offense to GVSU’s 286.

December 2, 2006

UND 20, GVSU 30
NCAA Quarterfinals
Allendale, MI

Sioux comeback bid falls short game thread

GVSU media relations’ description of this game opens:
“The play of the game between Grand Valley State and North Dakota might have come just after the coin toss. Grand Valley State won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, while the Fighting Sioux decided to go against the wind in the first quarter. That decision proved costly.”

I proposed early on that we played the wind wrong, while others noted bigger problems.

The bottom-line to this game is GVSU came out ready to play and used the wind advantage to run up the score to 27-0 by the end of the first. UND clawed back, scoring 20 points in the remaining three quarters, but also left plenty of points on the field.

I wonder what UND could have done if it GVSU hadn’t had the luxury of defending a 27 point lead for the final three quarters, but there’s no doubt that the team that played better football won this day.

Game Preview: UND vs. Minnesota-Duluth

Coming into the 2007-2008 season, both the Sioux and the Bulldogs were hoping to avoid the early-departure bug that has bitten so many conference teams in recent history.

It has been well-documented that North Dakota avoided a mass exodus of underclassmen, as Taylor Chorney (8-23-31 last season), Joe Finley (1-6-7), T.J. Oshie (17-35-52), and Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan (31-26-57) all passed up professional contracts to return to UND. Only Jonathan Toews (18-28-46) and Brian Lee (2-24-26) gave up eligibility to turn pro, leaving the Fighting Sioux with enough depth and talent to compete for an upper-division finish.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, unexpectedly lost two key underclassmen in forward Mason Raymond (14-32-46) and defenseman Matt Niskanen (9-22-31), who gave up their final two seasons of eligibility to join the professional ranks. These two losses, along with the graduation loss of Bryan McGregor (16-12-28), leave Minnesota-Duluth with only two 20-point scorers [F MacGregor Sharp (11-16-27) and D Josh Meyers (11-13-24)] from a year ago. UND, by contrast, returns five twenty-point players [F Ryan Duncan, F T.J. Oshie, D Robbie Bina (10-22-32), D Taylor Chorney, and F Brad Miller (10-14-24)].

According to Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin, the lack of top-end talent may be a mixed blessing for his club.

“We might not have that one big line or that one dynamic player,” Sandelin said, adding that the team will have to hope for production from everyone as well as look for a few players to break out offensively.

North Dakota has had the better of the results between the two teams recently, going unbeaten (7-0-1) in their last eight meetings. The two teams will also play a weekend series in Duluth on March 1-2, 2008.

Minnesota-Duluth Team Profile
National Rankings: #15/#12
Head Coach: Scott Sandelin (8th season at UMD, 114-146-33, .445)
This Season: 5-3-2 Overall, 4-3-1 WCHA
Special Teams: Power Play 9.3% (4 of 43), Penalty Kill 88.7% (47 of 53)
Last Season: 13-21-5, 8-16-4 WCHA (9th)
Key Returning Players: Junior F Michael Gergen (2-3-5), Junior D Josh Meyers (4-4-8), Junior F MacGregor Sharp (2-5-7), Sophomore G Alex Stalock (5-3-2, 1.97 GAA, .929 SV, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile
National Rankings: #6/#5
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 83-48-12, .622)
This Season: 5-3-1 Overall, 3-3-0 WCHA
Specialty Teams: Power Play 18.2% (8 of 44), Penalty Kill 91.1% (41 of 45)
Last Season: 24-14-5 (Frozen Four semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Returning Players: Junior F Ryan Duncan (3-6-9), Junior F T.J. Oshie (6-3-9), Junior D Taylor Chorney (0-7-7), Senior D Robbie Bina (0-9-9), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (5-3-1, 1.29 GAA, .948 SV, 4 SO)

By The Numbers
Last Meeting: February 17, 2007 (Grand Forks, ND). UND’s Ryan Duncan scores the only goal of the contest at 3:14 of the opening period, and North Dakota prevails 1-0 to take three of four points from the weekend series. Duncan also scored the game-tying goal in Friday’s contest, a 2-2 deadlock.
Most Important Meeting: March 22, 1984. Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota meet in a National Semifinal game in Lake Placid, New York. The Bulldogs defeat the Fighting Sioux 2-1 in overtime to advance to the title game. UND goes on to defeat Michigan State 6-5 (OT) for third place, while Duluth falls to Bowling Green 5-4 in four overtimes, the longest championship game ever played.
All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 125-69-8 (.639), including a 72-30-2 (.702) mark in Grand Forks and a 8-1-2 (.818) record at the new Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Game News and Notes
North Dakota holds a 13-1-1 record against Duluth over the past four seasons. UMD sophomore goaltender Alex Stalock, who had four assists last season, has never faced the Fighting Sioux. UND is 11-2-1 in games on Thanksgiving weekend in the past ten seasons. The Sioux have allowed just one 1st period goal all season.

The Prediction
North Dakota has the top-end talent and an edge in special teams situations that should translate into two victories. If they can maintain their intensity after a week off and keep the crowd involved through their physical play, it will be a long weekend for the Bulldogs. UND 3-2, 4-1.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your questions and comments. For reaction to Friday’s contest, click here. For reaction to Saturday’s game, click here.

Lakers Vs. Sioux VI

Well, Jim wanted to get an opinion of a Grand Valley State University Laker fan on the upcoming football game between GVSU and UND, and just general thoughts on the quick little rivalry, and well, I figured I might as well give it a shot.  All in all, it has been a flat out blast playing you guys and it’s just not going to be the same next year looking at the playoff brackets without North Dakota in the mix.  So, here are some thoughts on some of our past matchups, and a little look back at it all. 

Sure the 2001 NC game really hurt for us when we’re up with like a minute left and then GV blitzes and misses that tackle that lets the Sioux make that long gain in which leads to the go ahead score for the Sioux.  That really sucked, and well, they would pull my GVSU fan card if I didn’t mention the fact that if Curt Anes was healthy, the Lakers would have put up a lot more points on the Sioux defense that day. 

2003, now that was a game there.  Back and forth all day, and us poor Laker fans having visions of 2001 running through our minds on that last UND drive.  Luck for us, we get that interception to seal the win that year. 

2004, Well, this is the year when I started to have a low opinion of the NCAA when they shifted the GLIAC west into the Northwest region along with the NCC.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this rivalry, is that they’re all a bunch of bums and idiots down there in Indianapolis.  I could say worse about them, but I’m sure you all have an even lower opinion of them than what I do.  With that shift, it ruined a great possible championship game matchup and left it at best, a regional final game.  Not what this matchup deserves, but eh, I guess we were spoiled in just meeting up twice in Alabama now weren’t we?  Still, it was a pretty close game, with the Sioux getting the better of the Lakers that time.

2005 and 2006, The Sioux travel to Lubbers both times and well, now it’s pretty well established that post season matchups between our two schools are destine to happen for as long as both of us are in Division Two.  The Lakers managed to get the better of the Sioux both times out on the icy windswept field of Lubbers stadium, but they were both games were everybody’s mettle was tested.  No sissy paddy cake games like what some other regions are like.  Both were some hard hitting games where the snot was sent flying on both sides and a few players wanting to get a license plate number of that truck that hit them. 

And so, it brings us to 2007.  And well, as I’m sure you’re all aware of, it will be the last time the Lakers and Sioux will have this donnybrook in the playoffs.  The Sioux will be moving on to D1, and well, us here in Laker land will be sad to see you guys go.  But for the Sioux, it’s a wise move for them, given your facilities, fan base, and general support you guys have in North Dakota.  Plus, that Ag College to the south going up to D1 did put a lot of pressure on UND to move up.  All in all, you guys will be missed by Division Two.  You guys were a great example of what D2 should be.  UND has been great competition for GVSU and made the Lakers raise their game up.

For those of you that do make it to the game, I’ll see you out at the Tailgater before the game.  Just ask around in the Irwin Lot for the one they call the Monster.  For those of you unable to make it, you’ll probably get to see me on TV. 

Sioux Records — End of the regular season

My third, but hopefully not final, post in the 2007 Fighting Sioux Football Records installment series. I know I haven’t tired of this subject, I hope you haven’t either.

The regular season ended with an aerial assault in South Dakota, we can now look at where this phenomenally prolific offense falls in the regular season single-season record books.

UND 2007 Football Cumulative Stats
UND Football Records

Final Regular Season Records for 2007 Fighting Sioux


Rushing TDs 12 (T-#6 all time)
Rushing yds 1456 (#4 all time)
All purpose yds 1949 (#1 all time)
TDs scored 15 (T-#4 all time)


Receiving TDs 12 (#1 all time)
Receiving yds 1142 yds (#2 all time)
All purpose yds 1850 (#2 all time)
TDs scored 12 (T-#9 all time)


Passing TDs 24 (#1 all time)
Passing yds 2573 (#1 all time)
Single season completion percentage .687 (#1 all time)

Off-the-cuff thoughts

  • Remember in August when people were concerned about whether Freund was ready?
  • At the risk of repeating myself, what’s the impact on the record books if we’d gotten that 11th game against East Stroudsburg?

Two swings and two misses

If it’s true that hell has no fury like a woman scorned, then recent events show that a scorned media runs a close second.

The Fargo Forum took a tawdry cheap-shot at Grand Forks District Judge Lawrence Jahnke for a ruling he made in North Dakota’s lawsuit against the NCAA. The Grand Forks Herald singled out UND’s administration in general and Phil Harmeson, vice president for general administration, in particular for “obsessive secrecy” regarding athletic director Tom Buning’s resignation. In both cases, the media’s ire is off target.

Judge Jahnke’s ruling to keep the documents sealed in the lawsuit against the NCAA was immediately followed by a front-page story in the Forum about the judge’s membership in UND’s Golden Feather Club in the early 60s when he attended the university as an undergraduate. The newspaper also ran an editorial cartoon showing Jahnke with “Go Sioux!” written across the back of his judicial robes.

While I agreed with the Forum’s position that the records should have been open to the public, portraying Jahnke as a closet Sioux fan was an obvious low blow. It would have been different if UND and the state had supported closing the records, but the exact opposite was true. It was the NCAA that fought to keep them sealed. Therefore, tarring Jahnke with the brush of favoritism doesn’t even make sense, but that didn’t stop the Forum from extracting its pound of flesh for a ruling that went against the media.

In the case of Buning’s resignation, I agree that there were mistakes made, but they came from many different quarters, beginning with Buning himself. Both the Herald and the Forum have criticized UND’s administration for the paucity of information released regarding the events surrounding Buning’s departure. Such criticism is, at best, disingenuous.

It didn’t take much of a sleuth to deduce that North Dakota University System employee privacy policy and the federal Family Medical Leave Act prevented UND from providing an explanation for Buning’s sudden absence. UND’s administration couldn’t say anything without violating state policy and federal law on employee privacy rights.

 Yes, it’s disconcerting to not know how a public institution is handling turmoil with a high-profile position such as the athletic director. Again, my preference is for openness, especially where my tax dollars and my children’s education are involved.  However, the Herald does its readers, UND and itself a disservice by failing to even mention the primary reason for the secrecy surrounding Buning’s sudden departure.

 Would the media have approved if UND had violated Buning’s privacy rights? I doubt it. And how is it that the one person who could have explained what was happening and why – Buning – escapes all criticism in the Herald’s editorial?

This is not to absolve UND’s administration of responsibility for the mistakes it made in handling the Buning situation. The greatest error was in not publicly addressing problems in the athletic department when they first came to light. But even if that had happened, it’s entirely possible that the outcome would have been the same.

Any objective analysis of events would reveal a variety of factors that played roles in the less-than-satisfactory resolution of Buning’s tenure at UND. Some of them were of his making, some came from outside influences and some came from within UND.

So while I understand the media’s disdain for secrecy at public institutions and its desire to discourage secretive behavior by public officials, I also know that it has powerful remedies at its disposal, such as appealing Jahnke’s ruling to the North Dakota Supreme Court and using the state open records law.

Unfairly labeling and scapegoating people trying to do their jobs under difficult conditions only serves to foster distrust and discourage the very openness and cooperation the media claims to desire.

Saturday Game React: UND vs. Wisconsin

It seems only fitting that the Wisconsin hockey broadcast featured the “water bottle incident” during the first intermission, as these two teams combined for 172 penalty minutes, most coming within the final four minutes of the hockey game.

Sioux captain Rylan Kaip’s charge behind the Badger net ignited the largest round of fisticuffs, as all five skaters on each side were given game misconducts and shown the exit doors.

Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves seemed particularly miffed at the physical play, as his post-game handshake with the North Dakota coaching staff turned heated. A video of this altercation can be seen here. My guess is he was upset at Kaip charging a player with his head down, and also with Matt Watkins’ take-down of freshman phenom Kyle Turris. What he didn’t see from the bench, however, was that Turris had slashed Watkins across the wrist as the two were skating away from the boards.

“From the bench, the whole thing bothered me how it unfolded and carried on,” Eaves said. “I was just disappointed and I expressed it to him. How often do you see that in college hockey?”

North Dakota outshot Wisconsin 34-22 in this one, including 13-6 in the first period, as UND staked a 2-0 lead on a beautiful power-play goal by Chris VandeVelde and a late tally by T.J. Oshie. VandeVelde’s goal, a top-shelf backhander at 10:21, came just six seconds into a Sioux power play. Oshie’s goal, the eventual game-winner, came with under three seconds remaining in the opening period. T.J Oshie now has 14 career game-winning goals, third on UND’s all-time list behind only Mark Taylor (18) and Brandon Bochenski (15).

“We didn’t have a lot of spark coming out of the locker room,” Wisconsin senior captain Davis Drewiske said. “It’s disappointing that we could not match them from the start.”

“We were able to make some plays,” said UND senior Robbie Bina, who tallied assists on goals by VandeVelde and Andrew Kozek. “They weren’t tic-tac-toe or anything like that. It was nice to get out there, get a goal first and go from there. We were able to raise our level a little bit more tonight.”

At 14:21 of the second period, Brad Miller came close to making the score 3-0, but the referee ruled that the puck had not crossed the line before Wisconsin goalie Shane Connelly swatted it out of midair with his stick. The overhead video appeared to show a bit of white between the flipping puck and the goal line, but it was very close. The play was reviewed, and ruled no goal.

Andrew Kozek showed a nifty toe-drag move and rifled a wrist shot off the pipe and crossbar to make the score 3-0 later in the second period. Robbie Bina made a nice play to get the puck up the ice to Kozek streaking down the left wing.

“It was a tale of two different nights for me,” Connelly said. “They had some pretty good looks and took advantage of it. I made all those saves (43) last night and don’t get the bounces tonight. I had chances, but they buried their opportunities.”

The Badgers, scoreless on their first seven power plays, finally cashed in on the man advantage with just over two minutes remaining, spoiling Jean-Philippe Lamoureux’s chance at a fifth shutout in nine games. North Dakota’s penalty kill was particularly impressive in the second period, killing three consecutive penalties. UND finished 1 for 4 on the power play.

UND is now killing penalties at a rate of 91.1% (41 of 45), and scoring on 18.2% of power plays (8 of 44). Wisconsin’s power play percentage falls to 30.2% (13 of 43) after going 2 for 11 on the weekend, while their penalty kill has an 85.4% success rate (41 of 48).

The Sioux have given up only one first period goal this season after blanking the Badgers in both opening frames this weekend.

As UND head coach Dave Hakstol said in the post-game interview, this weekend was the best 120 minutes of hockey North Dakota has played to this point. He deemed the 5-3-1 overall record “acceptable”, given the quality of competition. He is pleased that the team is making progress in all areas.

The Ryan Duncan-VandeVelde-Oshie line registered 2 goals and 2 assists, Robbie Bina notched two assists and now has nine through nine games, and Andrew Kozek (1 goal) now has five goals this year and continues to display the quicker, more accurate wrist shot that was missing from his game last season. Evan Trupp had his best weekend, and the Matt Frattin-Darcy Zajac-Brad Malone line may be together for a while, as they created opportunities all weekend long.

UND moves to 5-3-1 (3-3-0 WCHA) on the year, while Wisconsin falls to 5-3-0 (2-2-0 WCHA). North Dakota is off next weekend, and returns to game action November 23-24 when they host the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs for a pair at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The Badgers head to Colorado Springs to face the Tigers in WCHA action.

Thank you for reading this edition of the Game React. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Friday Game React: UND vs. Wisconsin

Well, it was one of those nights. Again.

For the second game in a row, UND struggled offensively.  Let me put it another way: UND generated chances, scoring opportunities, and odd-man rushes, but did nothing more than chip some paint off the posts and crossbar.

The final shots on goal were UND 43, UW 24, including 25 Sioux shots in the third period alone. UND must have attempted 70 shots or more, with many blocked by Wisconsin or sent off target.

As Coach Hakstol mentioned in his post-game interview, the prevailing feeling was that if North Dakota could get one past Connelly, the floodgates would open. But it was not to be. The junior netminder stopped all 43 shots sent his way for his fifth career shutout in 22 games.

Even down 2-0 with 14 minutes to play, the ice seemed to be tilted in North Dakota’s favor. UND was winning the majority of the draws and getting to most of the loose pucks. The back-breaker goal happened after one of very few defensive zone face-offs for UND, a draw they lost, and the puck was in the back of the net for a 3-0 Wisconsin lead with 5:22 to go.

Bright spots for UND:
-North Dakota had exactly the start they needed. They controlled the opening period and took the crowd out of the game. Many in the press box remarked that the score could have been 3-0 UND after one.
-The Frattin-Zajac-Malone line clicked from the get-go. They added a physical presence, created offense, and drew penalties. Expect more from this line going forward.
-Freshman defenseman Derrick LaPoint and Jake Marto were paired together on the blue line for the second consecutive game, and handled their responsibilities very well.

It appeared as if North Dakota backed off the physical play after the first two penalties to Zach Jones. UND will need to crash the net and take the body tomorrow night if they expect a different result.

UND finished 0 for 5 with the man advantage, while Wisconsin scored once on three power play opportunities.

Wisconsin improves to 4-2-0 (2-1-0 WCHA), while North Dakota falls to 4-3-1 (2-3-0 WCHA). The same two teams battle tomorrow night at the Kohl Center. Incidentally, UND now has a 4-11-0 record at the Kohl Center.

For a comparison and complete preview of the weekend series, click here. I thank you for reading, and welcome your comments and suggestions.

Game Preview: UND vs. Wisconsin

Sioux versus Badgers in Madtown. High-powered offense meets the nation’s top defense. Sound familiar?

Not exactly.

This time around, the nation’s best defense belongs to North Dakota, allowing just 1.29 goals per game, while Wisconsin boasts the country’s second highest scoring offense, tallying 4.67 goals per contest. And though Wisconsin has had the better of the netminding in recent memory (think Elliot, Bruckler, and Melanson), UND brings in Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, whose eye-popping .958 save percentage, 1.06 goals-against average, and four shutouts lead the nation. Top scorers? No Sioux player ranks in the top 20 nationally, while Wisconsin freshman phenom Kyle Turris leads the nation in points (13) and assists (8), despite playing in only 6 games thus far.

So what to make of this apparent role reversal? Is this some sort of early-season anamoly, where statistics do all sorts of crazy things? Maybe. A look inside the schedule reveals that while the teams sport almost identical records (UND 4-2-1, UW 4-2-0), the teams have taken different early-season paths. Both squads have split with Michigan Tech; beyond that, the Fighting Sioux have faced a much tougher schedule.

UND has played 4 games against top-10 teams (vs. Michigan State, at Boston College, 2 vs. Colorado College), while Wisconsin has played #12 Notre Dame and three games against teams in the “others receiving votes” category (vs. Ohio State, 2 vs. Robert Morris). The 15 goals Wisconsin scored in their home series against Robert Morris, and specifically the 8 power play goals on 17 opportunities, have catapulted them to the top of most offensive categories. Kyle Turris, for example, collected 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) on Robert Morris weekend.

Wisconsin Team Profile
National Rankings: #10/#10
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (6th season at UW, 111-80-23, .572)
This Season: 4-2-0 Overall, 1-1-0 WCHA
Special Teams: Power Play 34.4% (11 of 32), Penalty Kill 84.6% (33 of 39)
Last Season: 19-18-4, 12-13-3 WCHA (6th)
Key Returning Players: Junior F Ben Street (3-7-10), Sophomore F Michael Davies (2-2-4), Freshman F Kyle Turris (5-8-13), Senior D Kyle Klubertanz (4-4-8), Junior G Shane Connelly (3-2-0, 2.60, .897)

North Dakota Team Profile
National Rankings: #3/#4
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 82-47-12, .624)
This Season: 4-2-1 Overall, 2-2-0 WCHA
Specialty Teams: Power Play 20.0% (7 of 35), Penalty Kill 94.1% (32 of 34)
Last Season: 24-14-5 (Frozen Four semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Returning Players: Junior F Ryan Duncan (3-5-8), Junior F T.J. Oshie (5-2-7), Junior D Taylor Chorney (0-7-7), Senior D Robbie Bina (0-7-7), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (4-2-1, 1.06 GAA, .958 SV, 4 SO)

By The Numbers
Last Meeting: December 9, 2006. Wisconsin defeats North Dakota 4-2 in Grand Forks to complete a two-game sweep of the Fighting Sioux. The Badgers won the first game, 4-3.
Last Meeting in Madison: October 14, 2006. Wisconsin defeats North Dakota 1-0 at the Kohl Center to earn a split of the weekend series. UND won the first game, 3-2 (OT).
Most Important Meeting: March 27, 1982. A 2-2 tie after two periods turns into a 5-2 Sioux victory, as Phil Sykes nets a hat trick and leads UND to its fourth National Championship.
All-time Series: Wisconsin leads the all-time series, 79-56-10 (.579), including a 42-21-3 mark (.659) in Madison and a 10-4 record (.714) at the Kohl Center.

Game News and Notes
Badger defensemen have scored 10 goals through 6 games, a number that equals their total from all of last season. North Dakota has only allowed one first period goal in seven games. Wisconsin failed to make the NCAA tournament last year after winning the national championship in 2006. After this weekend’s action, the Badgers head to Colorado Springs for a two-game set with #9 Colorado College. The following weekend, Wisconsin will compete against #2 Michigan and #4/#3 Michigan State in the College Hockey Showcase. UND is idle next weekend and hosts Minnesota-Duluth on November 23rd and 24th. Jean-Philippe Lamoureux has started 32 consecutive games, and needs one start to move alone into second place on UND’s all-time list. Al Finklelstein holds the Sioux start streak record with 40. WCHA teams have a combined 22-5-4 mark (.774) in non-conference action this season.

The Prediction
On neutral ice, I would lean toward three points for the Sioux, but at the Kohl Center, a split is the norm. The Badger offense comes back down to earth, but both sides earn two points. North Dakota 4-2 Friday, Wisconsin 3-2 Saturday.

For reaction to Friday’s game action, click here. Check back after Saturday’s contest for more analysis and commentary. Thank you for reading and, as always, I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.