Five highlights from around the country:
1. St. Cloud State is battling for the MacNaughton Cup and the Huskies will need to stay in that battle in order to make the NCAA tournament. The Huskies finished a near disastrous nonconference season by getting swept by Northern Michigan, which is 2-9-3 vs. CCHA and 6-1 vs. WCHA.
2. Wisconsin used a Derek Lee goal in the second period to beat Anchorage 1-0 and extend its unbeaten streak to eight games. The Badgers have not lost since Nic Kerdiles joined the lineup.
3. Quinnipiac’s incredible run continued with a 6-2 win over Harvard. The Bobcats are now on a 14-game unbeaten streak (13-0-1) and appear very much in position to earn an at-large NCAA bid if they don’t win the ECAC postseason title. That means we could have one fewer at-large bid this season.
4. A couple of years ago, Maine sold out Alfond Arena for a series against UND and promptly swept the Sioux in front of a crazy crowd. Times have changed quickly. The Black Bears have still yet to win at Alfond this year, dropping to 0-6-2 after losing 5-2 to Merrimack on Saturday.
5. Red-hot Minnesota State-Mankato took care of business in nonconference play over the holidays, beating Brown, UConn and a Jon Gillies-less Providence team. The Mavs aren’t exactly playing powerhouses right now, but it’s still impressive to take care of business. They are now 11-1 in the last 12.
WCHA top performers
2 points — Danny Kristo, UND, 1 goal, 1 assist
2 points — Danny Mattson, BSU, 1 goal, 1 assist
Shutout — Stephon Williams, MSU, 24 saves
Shutout — Joel Rumpel, UW, 12 saves
UND 3, Holy Cross 2
UND rallied with two goals in the third period to beat Holy Cross and finish off a nonconference sweep and the team’s first home sweep of the season. Game stories:
- Corban Knight continued his unbelievable run, extending his point streak to 15 games with two assists. On top of that, he was a ridiculous 21-3 in the faceoff circle. At 1.53 points per game — and all of the things he does away from the puck (and away from the ice) — he’s officially a postseason awards candidate.
- Danny Kristo really isn’t getting a ton of press, but he’s at 1.39 points per game, which trails only Knight and Omaha’s Ryan Walters. He came up with the big play Saturday night with a perfect snap shot for a power-play goal.
- If you thought Clarke Saunders was bored during the first period Friday, how about the second period on Saturday? Holy Cross had two shots on goal, but didn’t even attempt a shot below the dots. The closest shot attempt came from the top of the circle.
- Michael Parks has done a nice job jumping back into play. Not only does he have a goal in each game, Parks led the team with a remarkable nine shots on goal Saturday night.
- Saunders maybe made the play of the day, robbing Brandon Nunn (the Crusaders’ best player) on a breakaway attempt in the third period to preserve a 3-2 UND lead and the win.
- UND finished nonconference play 5-3, which is solid, because splits against Boston University and Notre Dame aren’t bad results.
- Dillon Simpson made one defensive play where he skated back into a rush and got his stick on a Holy Cross player’s stick. It was notable because I don’t think that’s a play he could have made a year or two ago. Simpson has worked hard on his footwork and it has really been noticeable this year.
- Both games this weekend were pretty short — 2:05 and 2:10. Referees Tom Sterns and Matt Ulwelling were efficient in their penalty calls and there weren’t a lot of extra-curriculars.
- UND once again becomes Holy Cross fans now that the Crusaders are going back to Atlantic Hockey play the rest of the way. The better Holy Cross plays, the more it will help UND.