After a rare Friday night off, it’s game day again for the UND men.
UND is unbeaten in five straight games since a season-opening loss. That loss came at the hands of a Serratore in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Tonight, another Serratore will be in The Ralph with a team that plays a similar style.
I talked to a number of people about the Falcons, including coach Frank Serratore, and they all seem to have roughly the same scouting report:
Air Force’s all-senior top line of Chad Demers (Grafton High School), Cole Gunner (100-plus career points) and Scott Holm drives the team offensively. The trio has combined for 163 points in their careers. They have accounted for about half of the team’s goals this season.
They also can be potent on the power play. The Falcons are converting over 20 percent of their power play chances right now.
Goalie Chris Truehl has been strong by all accounts and has the ability to win games by himself, multiple people told me.
But defensively, and in their own zone, the Falcons have really struggled. Air Force is not overly experienced on the back end and the team has had quite a bit of trouble there. Serratore even mentioned that they’ve left Truehl out to dry way too often.
So the key to this game is to have a lot of zone time and make Air Force defend. Providence coach Nate Leaman said that UND can make it very difficult to defend with their offensive defensemen, too. Serratore is expecting his team to be challenged by UND in that way this weekend.
Another key is staying out of the penalty box. UND coach Dave Hakstol expressed his displeasure with some of the stick penalties that the team has taken. Power plays are a way the Falcons could get into the game offensively.
This game will also feature a North Dakotan coming back to play his last game in Ralph Engelstad Arena. It is Demers, whose best hockey memory happened in the building.
Even though UND didn’t play Friday, there were plenty of notable happenings around the college hockey world. Here’s a sampling:
1. RPI stunned Union 6-1. Excluding empty-net goals, it was the first time that Union had lost by more than a goal since the 2012-13 season, a ridiculous span of 49 games. It was Union’s second straight loss after going unbeaten for 22 games.
2. St. Cloud State beat Minnesota 4-1. The Huskies have knocked off the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation in their last two games. Quite a start for St. Cloud.
3. Michigan made its first trip to Houghton since 1983 and lost to Michigan Tech 4-1. The Huskies are now 5-0 with a resume that includes a sweep of Ferris State (on the road) and a win over Michigan now. They very well may contend for the MacNaughton Cup.
4. Miami beat Duluth in AmsOil Arena 3-2, scoring the game-winning goal on a five-on-three power play with 1:59 to go. The Bulldogs are 0-4 on Fridays this season.
5. Boston University, the biggest turnaround team in the country, outshot Providence 41-18 in winning 4-1. Jack Eichel with a goal and an assist. The super-freshman has 8 points in 4 games this season.