Sweep lands UND back at No. 1

UND continued to take care of business Saturday night, finishing off a sweep of a Colorado College team that was much better than the one UND saw in October. With the sweep, UND regained the nation’s No. 1 ranking today. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald – UND finishes successful homestand

Grand Forks Herald – Team still has room to grow

UNDsports.com – Balanced scoring leads UND to sweep

Other notes:

  • UND moved up to No. 2 in the Pairwise after the weekend. It is sitting in great shape there. Because everyone else UND plays is so high in the Pairwise, it almost feels like splits the rest of the way will probably be good enough to get in.
  • UND coach Dave Hakstol is two wins shy of going 11-for-11 in 20-win seasons.
  • Forward Connor Gaarder missed some shifts at the end of the game. Immediately afterwards, Hakstol said he doesn’t believe it’s going to be anything longterm, but he said he can’t say 100 percent right away. The line of Gaarder, Brendan O’Donnell and Austin Poganski was terrific all weekend, even if they didn’t get rewarded for it.
  • The race for the Penrose Cup now takes a turn and becomes more difficult. UND is on the road for six of the last 10 games going against Omaha, Western Michigan and Miami.
  • Colten St. Clair came back into the lineup and immediately provided an impact, setting up Stephane Pattyn’s goal with a nice far pad shot on a rush.
  • A total of 11 players tallied points in the series finale. Only four forwards did not. Three of the four forwards were Gaarder, O’Donnell and Poganski, who may have been UND’s best line.
  • UND had an uncharacteristically low four power-play chances the entire weekend, converting on one of them.
  • I thought Jordan Schmaltz started cranking up his game this weekend, doing some special things with his skating ability to create scoring opportunities. We’ll see if he can keep that up this weekend against Omaha.
  • Nick Schmaltz has three assists in six games since returning from the World Juniors. It will probably help him to have next week off.
  • Keaton Thompson is the defenseman of the week in the NCHC.

Gameday final: UND 5, CC 3

TONIGHT’S VIEWING: Midco Sports Network, Fox College Sports Pacific (DirecTV 608, DISH Network 452), NCHC.tv. Lineup notes: Wade Murphy is out. Colten St. Clair is back in for the first time since Dec. 5. A few lines are juggled. Full lines and live chat are below.

First period

UND 1, Colorado College 0 — Luke Johnson (Paul LaDue, Nick Mattson) 3:50 (pp). UND struggles to get anything set up for the first 1:30 of the power play, but once it does, it converts. Johnson snaps a shot from the top of the circle through a MacMillan screen.

UND 1, Colorado College 1 — Charlie Taft (Peter Stoykewych, Zach Aman) 12:41 (pp). The Tigers even it on their own power play. Fejes is screening McIntyre, so he has trouble controlling the rebound of a point shot and it kicks off to the side, where Taft is there to finish it.

UND 2, Colorado College 1 — Stephane Pattyn (Colten St. Clair, Nick Schmaltz) 13:58. After a terrific shift by the Tigers, UND catches them out of position and goes on a three-on-one. St. Clair, on the right side, shoots far pad and Pattyn finds the rebound.

UND 2, Colorado College 2 — Teemu Kivihalme (Cody Bradley) 18:24 (pp). The Tigers go to 2-for-2 on the power play as Kivihalme blasts one through a Wamsganz screen to even it up.

Second period

UND 3, Colorado College 2 — Mark MacMillan (Michael Parks, Nick Mattson) 17:19. Parks curls out of the corner with the puck and spots MacMillan cutting in the high slot. He puts the pass on MacMillan’s tape and MacMillan snaps one past Marble’s glove.

Third period

UND 4, Colorado College 2 — Bryn Chyzyk (Keaton Thompson, Drake Caggiula) 8:41. Thompson quickly transitions the puck up the ice and UND enters the zone on a rush. Chyzyk releases it from the top of the circle and goes bar down.

UND 4, Colorado College 3 — Aaron Harstad (Matt Hansen, Jaccob Slavin) 18:07 (ex). With the goalie pulled, CC works the puck around top and Harstad blasts one through traffic for the goal.

UND 5, Colorado College 3 — Drake Caggiula 19:33 (en). The Tigers win a draw back, but Caggiula wins the race to the puck and skates it the length of the ice for the empty-netter, fighting off a stick check as he scores it.

Live Blog Men’s Hockey vs. Colorado College

UND’s lines

3 Tucker Poolman–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
29 Bryn Chyzyk–9 Drake Caggiula–27 Luke Johnson
28 Stephane Pattyn–8 Nick Schmaltz–17 Colten St. Clair
21 Brendan O’Donnell–13 Connor Gaarder–14 Austin Poganski

20 Gage Ausmus–24 Jordan Schmaltz
5 Nick Mattson–6 Paul LaDue
4 Keaton Thompson–22 Andrew Panzarella

31 Zane McIntyre
33 Cam Johnson
30 Matt Hrynkiw

Colorado College’s lines

11 Hunter Fejes–13 Cody Bradley–28 Alex Roos
18 Scott Wamsganz–15 Christian Heil–23 Matt Hansen
26 Zach Aman–9 Sam Rothstein–17 Charlie Taft
22 Peter Maric–8 Luc Gerdes–3 Michael King

6 Peter Stoykewych–16 Teemu Kivihalme
5 Jaccob Slavin–7 Garrett Cecere
20 Ian Young–27 Aaron Young

33 Tyler Marble
35 Chase Perry

Friday night rewind

UND moved into second place in the NCHC standings with a win over Colorado College in front of a sold-out crowd in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Game stories:

Herald – Another shorthander gives UND victory

Herald – CC shows depth of NCHC

UNDsports.com – McIntyre stops 30 in UND win

Other notes:

  • UND moved up to No. 3 in the Pairwise Rankings. One more win tonight would put UND in a strong position for the stretch run.
  • Goalie Zane McIntyre was once again outstanding. He stopped 30 of 31 shots. Only allowed a deflection. Made huge saves in the third period through traffic. He has now allowed just 4 goals in the last 4 games.
  • UND is trying to go 4-0 against Colorado College in the regular season for the first time since 1988-89.
  • UND now has nine shorthanded goals, halfway to the school record. The Hrkac Circus tallied 18 in 1986-87.
  • Michael Parks took over the team lead in scoring with a goal and an assist, surpassing Drake Caggiula.
  • Caggiula got the entire building buzzing with his dangle of Garrett Cecere, putting the puck between the defenders legs and nearly burying one five-hole. Caggiula has put the Tigers on the highlight reel a few times before — one of them a similar goal.
  • Did you notice between-the-benches camera man Marv Leier taking a puck to the helmet? Leier has worn a helmet for years, but says this is the first time he took a puck to the head. The puck also broke the camera’s viewfinder. Leier said one other time he had a viewfinder break. Also, big props to Leier for rocking Dave Starman’s Macon Whoopie jersey.
  • UND only ended up getting one power-play chance after getting a ton of them in Colorado Springs. I’m guessing that the second power-play unit is going to be broken up very soon.
  • Colorado College was significantly better than it was in October in the Springs.

Gameday final: UND 2, CC 1

VIEWING INFO: CBS Sports Network. No webcast. Lineup notes: No surprises for UND. Full lines and live chat are below.

First period

Colorado College 1, UND 0 — Alex Roos (Scott Wamsganz, Cody Bradley) 4:01. Wamsganz holds the puck in the zone with a turnaround shot from just inside the blue line. It goes by Roos, who makes a deflection to get the puck past McIntyre.

Second period

UND 1, Colorado College 1 — Mark MacMillan (Michael Parks, Andrew Panzarella) 16:23. MacMillan got the puck behind the net and faked like he was going for a wraparound one way. He slammed on the brakes and went back the other way, burying the puck as Marble had already slid to the other side.

Third period

UND 2, Colorado College 1 — Michael Parks 6:37 (sh). Slavin can’t handle a puck at the point and Parks skates it alone on a breakaway. He fakes a move to the backhand on top of the crease and slams it home with the forehand.

Live Blog Men’s Hockey vs. Colorado College

UND’s lines

3 Tucker Poolman–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
9 Drake Caggiula–8 Nick Schmaltz–29 Bryn Chyzyk
28 Stephane Pattyn–27 Luke Johnson–7 Wade Murphy
21 Brendan O’Donnell–13 Connor Gaarder–14 Austin Poganski

20 Gage Ausmus–24 Jordan Schmaltz
5 Nick Mattson–6 Paul LaDue
4 Keaton Thompson–22 Andrew Panzarella

31 Zane McIntyre
33 Cam Johnson
30 Matt Hrynkiw

Colorado College’s lines

11 Hunter Fejes–13 Cody Bradley–28 Alex Roos
18 Scott Wamsganz–15 Christian Heil–23 Matt Hansen
26 Zach Aman–9 Sam Rothstein–17 Charlie Taft
22 Peter Maric–8 Luc Gerdes–3 Michael King

6 Peter Stoykewych–16 Teemu Kivihalme
5 Jaccob Slavin–7 Garrett Cecere
27 Aaron Harstad–20 Ian Young

33 Tyler Marble
35 Chase Perry

Friday morning reading

TONIGHT’S GAME STARTS at 7:07 p.m., a half hour earlier than the normal Friday home start time due to CBS Sports’ coverage.

Nonconference play is over for UND. Now, the team is off to chase an NCHC championship, and this weekend will be an important one if UND is to win the Penrose Cup.

It seems pretty clear that Colorado College is going to end up finishing last this season. No, the Tigers aren’t your typical last-place team, but still, they will very likely be the last-place team.

If UND wants to win the Penrose, I believe it’s vital that the team gains six points this weekend before starting a daunting stretch to close out the regular season.

The biggest difference in Colorado College between October (when UND and CC first met) and now? That would be the special teams, which have been a strength lately for CC. They were a disaster in October.

UND has used the same lineup the past few games, and it could do the same tonight against the Tigers, though as players work their way back into the lineup, it inevitably is going to change.

Tonight, expect Tucker Poolman to remain at forward for even strength play, though. Poolman has done just about everything UND has asked this season. I wrote about that for Thursday’s paper. Read that here.

This week’s Q&A is with Brendan O’Donnell, who was injured as a freshman during the Final Five. He explained what he was doing during UND’s huge comeback win over Minnesota. Read that here.

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s preview says the Tigers are eager for another shot at UND because Colorado College likes the way it is playing right now.

On to this week’s picks…

Duluth at North Star College Cup: The Bulldogs have just one win in their last five games, but I still think the Bulldogs are an elite team. I think they get back on track this weekend and win the tournament. Duluth 4, Bemidji State 1. Duluth 3, Minnesota 2.

Denver at Miami: In Denver’s last action, it swept St. Cloud State. In Miami’s last action, it got swept by St. Cloud State. Don’t read too much into it, though. With a week off and being back at home, the RedHawks get one. Miami 3-0, Denver 3-2.

Western Michigan at St. Cloud State: The Broncos are one of the country’s hottest teams, going 7-1-2 in their last 10. They just took 5 of 6 points in Duluth. The Huskies haven’t been able to gain traction but they rarely get swept at home. SCSU 3-2, Western Michigan 4-1.

Colorado College at UND: The Tigers are coming off of their best weekend of the season, splitting with first-place Omaha. The Tigers outshot Omaha badly in the loss, too. But this UND team has preached consistency lately, and if UND can maintain that, I think it gets a sweep. UND 3-2, 4-1.

UND getting healthier

UND may not have a full roster of players available this weekend, but the team is at least trending in that direction.

Everyone is back skating, including Troy Stecher, Colten St. Clair and Trevor Olson.

Stecher, who injured his leg in December, is still limited.

St. Clair, who sustained an upper-body injury, was able to remove the no-contact jersey today for the first time.

Olson, who had mono and missed the last four games, also was skating.

UND coach Dave Hakstol did say that Tucker Poolman will remain at left wing for Friday’s game. Look for a story on Poolman in Thursday’s Herald.

Weekend rewind

UND took care of business winning 7-1 and 5-0 against Niagara over the weekend. With the wins, UND moved up to No. 4 in the Pairwise rankings (one loss would have plummeted UND to No. 10).

As I wrote in Sunday morning’s paper, UND did a terrific job of taking care of business in nonconference play this season. Yes, its schedule ended up being a lot weaker than anticipated, but UND still did a great job going 9-0-1 after that season-opening loss to Bemidji State.

That puts UND in a strong position with all conference games remaining. Because of the NCHC’s success in nonconference play, there will be opportunities to increase the RPI down the stretch.

Sometimes, it’s hard to take too much away from a pair of blowout wins against an overmatched team, but here are some of my thoughts from the weekend:

  • UND was finally able to play with the lead on back-to-back nights at home. That hasn’t been the case a lot this season and it was important not to let Niagara settle in. Coming into the weekend, UND had allowed the first goal at home seven times in 12 games.
  • Three of the four lines played well this weekend. The one that didn’t seem to generate a whole lot was the Stephane Pattyn-Luke Johnson-Wade Murphy unit. My first thought is that we won’t see this unit again together this weekend, but then again, UND has scored 5, 7 and 5 goals in the last three games.
  • The second power play unit finally got one to go on Saturday night, but that unit hasn’t been very good lately. Also wouldn’t be shocked to see a couple changes there.
  • I’m guessing Niagara was pretty disappointed to see Zane McIntyre in goal against on Saturday. He’s playing terrific right now and he’s putting himself in the mix for postseason awards. How high could those awards go? Well, ask me in a month after UND goes through a grind of a schedule.
  • Could Tucker Poolman play forward the rest of the season? With a deep defensive corps, I don’t think it’s totally out of the question.

A few items around the country that stand out:

1. Western Michigan is quietly one of the hottest teams in the country. The last two weekends, they’ve swept Notre Dame and taken five of six points at Minnesota Duluth. Overall, the Broncos have lost one time in their last 10 games. Look out for them.

2. Minnesota has an absolutely huge weekend coming up. Potentially, it could play Pairwise No. 1 MSU-Mankato and Pairwise No. 5 Duluth. Would give the Gophers a great chance to move up from their spot at No. 18. After that, it’s all conference play for the Gophers.

3. Colorado College got its first NCHC win of the season Friday night, beating first-place Omaha 4-3. The next night, Omaha earned the split with a 4-1 victory, but the Tigers actually outshot the Mavs 28-14 in that game. Holding an Omaha team that sometimes likes to shoot from anywhere to just 14 shots is pretty outstanding.

4. MSU-Mankato is 13-1-1 in the last 15 games. But the North Star College Cup will be a battle for the Mavs.

5. Michigan has won five games in a row now. The last three? 4-3, 7-5 and 10-6. Yes, they can score. And yes, it appears defense is a problem.

A big night in the NHL

Tonight, former UND players scored in six of the seven NHL games — every contest that had a former UND player in the lineup.

Islanders 7, Flyers 4: Chris VandeVelde tallied his third goal in the last five games.

Hurricanes 4, Maple Leafs 1: Brad Malone scored his third goal of the year against his former UND linemate, Matt Frattin.

Blues 3, Avalanche 1: T.J. Oshie tallied No. 13 of the year for St. Louis.

Blue Jackets 3, Wild 1: Zach Parise scored the lone goal for Minnesota.

Flames 2, Kings 1: Matt Greene, yes, Matt Greene scored the lone goal for the Kings.

Devils 5, Sharks 2: Travis Zajac finished the night by scoring against the Sharks.

Canucks 2, Panthers 1: No former UND players were in this one.

Gameday final: UND 5, Niagara 0

TONIGHT’S VIEWING: Midco Sports Network, NCHC.tv. Lineup notes: UND going with the same lineup as Friday night. Niagara makes massive changes up front to every line. Full lines and live chat below.

First period

No scoring.

Second period

UND 1, Niagara 0 — Michael Parks (Jordan Schmaltz) 9:42. Parks enters the zone up the left wing, torches Cecere wide and takes the puck to the far post, where he puts it in to snap a six-game goal drought.

UND 2, Niagara 0 — Mark MacMillan (Luke Johnson, Nick Mattson) 13:12 (pp). Johnson takes a shot from the point that Teichroeb stops, but he leaves the rebound off to the side of the crease, where MacMillan gets it and picks the top half of the net.

UND 3, Niagara 0 — Stephane Pattyn (Keaton Thompson, Wade Murphy) 19:21. Murphy chips a puck back to Thompson, whose blast is re-directed by Pattyn for the goal.

Third period

UND 4, Niagara 0 — Mark MacMillan (Tucker Poolman, Paul LaDue) 3:10. LaDue launches a bomb from the point that gets tipped by Poolman to the side of the net, where MacMillan uses his quick hands to tap it in from a sharp angle.

UND 5, Niagara 0 — Michael Parks (Mark MacMillan, Tucker Poolman) 13:22. UND enters the zone on a two-on-two rush with MacMillan carrying the puck on the left side. He gets to bottom of the left circle and makes a perfect feed to Parks, who is cutting to the net. Parks easily taps it home for his second of the night.

Live Blog Men’s Hockey vs. Niagara

UND’s lines

3 Tucker Poolman–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
29 Bryn Chyzyk–9 Drake Caggiula–8 Nick Schmaltz
28 Stephane Pattyn–27 Luke Johnson–7 Wade Murphy
21 Brendan O’Donnell–13 Connor Gaarder–14 Austin Poganski

5 Nick Mattson–6 Paul LaDue
20 Gage Ausmus–24 Jordan Schmaltz
4 Keaton Thompson–22 Andrew Panzarella

31 Zane McIntyre
33 Cam Johnson
30 Matt Hrynkiw

Niagara’s lines

15 Stanislav Dzakhov–19 Hugo Turcotte–27 Isaac Kohls
11 Derian Plouffe–21 T.J. Sarcona–8 Stephen Pietrobon
22 Luke Edwards–12 Sam Alfieri–10 Dan Kolenda
25 Matt Dineen–28 Brock Edwards–23 Matt Chartrain

7 Nick Cecere–3 Vince Muto
29 Keegan Harper–9 Kevin Patterson
24 Matt Chiarantano–2 Lawrence Smith

30 Jackson Teichroeb
1 Adrian Ignagni