I was supposed to be on a 7 a.m. flight this morning out of Fargo, leaving me plenty of time to get to Chicago and drive to South Bend for this weekend’s series.
That flight has been canceled. I’m now flying out at noon and if everything does not go as planned (and those who know my travel history, it never does), it could be a race to get to the game. I’ll drop some updates on Twitter and try to at least provide some entertainment with my inevitable travel follies.
The series should be a good one. It’s two of the top seven teams in the country.
For UND, scoring goals may be a challenge this weekend. Since Jeff Jackson has taken over at Notre Dame, the Irish have consistently been one of the top defensive teams in the nation. This story details how that’s no different this year. UND coach Dave Hakstol says in that story that UND needs to generate offense off the rush and the forecheck.
Jackson says his biggest concern is getting T.J. Tynan going. Tynan, who was Notre Dame’s best player on the ice two years ago when they came to The Ralph, racked up 95 points in his first two college seasons, but he only has five points in 11 games to start this season.
Thursday’s story was on UND’s attendance this season. With the NHL lockout, UND is currently the top-drawing hockey team in North America. See which team is No. 2 and how UND stacks up worldwide in that story here.
If you want to see this week’s press conferences, both the men’s and women’s side, they have been posted here.
There will be some side notes to this series as well. It features a ton of National Team Development Program products (no, not all of them went to major juniors). Notre Dame’s NTDP alums are Robbie Russo, Stephen Johns, Sam Calabrese, Thomas DiPauli, Bryan Rust and Austin Wuthrich. UND’s are Danny Kristo, Derek Forbort, Nick Mattson and Rocco Grimaldi. Notre Dame’s NTDP connection makes sense, since Jackson helped start the Program.
It will also be a battle of Edina Hornets. Notre Dame’s Hornets are Anders Lee and Steven Fogarty. UND’s Hornets are Joe Gleason and Connor Gaarder.
This week’s notes column features a question about college refs: Do they talk to much? This is not just a WCHA thing, it happens across the country. It led to a pair of extremely long, drawn out games last weekend. Read the column here.
For those of you who get the hard copy of the paper, there’s a Q&A with Jordan Schmaltz, however, I see it is not online. Apologies for that.
This week’s USCHO column is posted here.
Tom Miller and I filmed a pregame video blog earlier this week that should be posted sometime this afternoon while we are attempting to hustle to South Bend, so check back and look for that.
Elsewhere around the league….
Alabama-Huntsville at Nebraska Omaha: How thankful is Dean Blais that Clarke Saunders is no longer at Huntsville? Well, he will be for this weekend at least. Saunders stoned the Mavs in each of the last two years, helping the Chargers pull stunning upsets.
Minnesota at Vermont: This is Minnesota’s first trip to a Hockey East or an ECAC school in eight years. However, that may happen more often in the future. Coach Don Lucia told the Star Tribune this week that he’d like to go East every year.
St. Cloud State at Minnesota-Duluth: UND fans got a good look at the hard-luck Bulldogs last weekend. Things don’t get any easier this weekend for them. A very good St. Cloud State team is heading to Duluth and star forward Ben Hanowski is on the trip. Hanowski missed the last five games.
MSU-Mankato at Wisconsin: Two teams will try to stop the bleeding in Madison. The Badgers have 1 win in 8 games this season. The Mavs have 1 win in their last 6 games. This is the last weekend Wisconsin will play without Nic Kerdiles.
Alaska Anchorage at Bemidji State: The Beavers are looking to snap a four-game losing streak, which included back-to-back overtime heartbreakers against Michigan Tech last weekend. Anchorage should be fresh, having enjoyed a week off.
New Hampshire and Yale at CC and DU: New Hampshire gets Colorado College tonight and Denver on Saturday night, Yale vise versa. I voted UNH No. 1 in the poll last week and this will be another major test for the Wildcats, who have allowed just one goal in the last four games.
On the women’s side, UND hosts Duluth in a key WCHA matchup between two teams who probably feel they should have better records at this point in the year.
One reason there have been struggles for these teams is that they have both gone through many injuries. UND regained the services of Michelle Karvinen last weekend, though, and that provided a significant impact right away.
Duluth basically returned to full health last weekend and it led to a pair of Bulldog wins.
That means it should be a hotly contested series in The Ralph with a lot on the line for both programs (and these are two programs that don’t particularly like each other).
The Herald’s Robb Jeffries will be on hand to cover this series.
Well, that’s it for now. Wish Miller and I some luck in getting to South Bend on time. With obstacles such as my travel history, O’Hare’s knack for delays and cancellations and Chicago’s horrendous traffic, we may need it.