For starters, I think we owe an apology to Colorado College. When we went to the Springs a little more than a month ago, we were greeted by 65-70 degree temps, little wind and sunny days. Now, they come here to blizzard warnings. Sorry, fellas.
Speaking of the last time UND and Colorado College matched up, if you remember, the Tigers were just seconds away from finishing off a sweep.
That’s why I feel that Dillon Simpson’s extra-attacker, game-tying goal is UND’s biggest goal of the year to this point.
Instead of flying home with a ton of frustration, UND players were happy and feeling good after that Saturday night game, which ended after Drake Caggiula scored in overtime.
UND hasn’t lost since. Colorado College hasn’t won since.
That’s the angle for Friday’s Grand Forks Herald preview. Amazingly, the Tigers are on their longest winless streak in 20 years. That’s hard to believe for a team that’s as offensively explosive as Colorado College.
Was it the devastating loss that sent CC spiraling down? We’ll never know for sure, but that was the start of this streak.
This matchup will be on the smaller, NHL ice sheet. For once, I actually think that’s an advantage for the Tigers (they’ve typically been a team built for the big sheet). UND really dominated the series out in World Arena, outshooting CC by 21 each night. The Tigers had a hard time with UND’s speed, especially with guys like Joe Gleason.
Colorado College has been the worst team in the WCHA defensively. Maybe the smaller rink size can help the Tigers tighten things up defensively this weekend.
UND will get an addition to the lineup this weekend with Rocco Grimaldi returning from World Juniors. Grimaldi talked about his experience — from being the 13th forward to scoring the game-tying and winning goals in the gold medal game — with the Herald this week. Read the Q&A here.
Derek Rodwell is the only player expected to be out with an injury, which means there will be difficult lineup decision for the coaching staff with the availability of Grimaldi, Michael Parks and Mitch MacMillan.
The Tigers would like nothing more than to reverse their fortunes while playing UND this weekend. Coach Scott Owens says that everyone has bought in to turning this thing around.
A column in this weekend’s Colorado Springs Gazette says that Owens is the right guy to help right the ship.
This week’s Q&A is with UND assistant coach Dane Jackson, who will be inducted into the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame during UND’s bye week in February. Jackson was a captain for teams coached by John Tortorella and Bruce Boudreau, both Jack Adams Award winners as the top coach in the NHL.
What was it like playing for Tortorella and Boudreau? Read about it here.
This week’s column is about a unique situation going on right now in Anchorage. Jacques Lamoureux, stationed at a base near Anchorage, gets to play three games on his brother Mario’s ECHL team, the Ontario Reign this week/weekend. Jacques, an Air Force officer stationed in Alaska, was an emergency add to the roster. Find out how it all went down here.
This week’s episode of Through These Doors is posted here. It follows a couple of players on Christmas breaks.
The USCHO weekly column is posted here.
Elsewhere around the league….
Omaha at Denver: Very interesting matchup between teams that are first and third in the WCHA standings right now. Denver appears set to ride Juho Olkinuora in net as far as the Finnish standout will take them. Omaha, meanwhile, has never been in first, in any league, this late in the season.
Wisconsin at MSU-Mankato: The Mavs swept Wisconsin in Kohl Center earlier this year. Now, this matchup has a lot more significance. UW and MSU are a combined 14-1-3 since their last meeting. Wisconsin has not lost since Nic Kerdiles became eligible. The Mavs are 11-1 in the last 12.
Michigan Tech at Minnesota Duluth: The Huskies, unfortunately, had to take a week off after winning the Great Lakes Invitational. Tech won back-to-back 4-0 games in Detroit with rookie Pheonix Copley starting in net. Copley will likely jump back in with his 120+ minute shutout streak going. The Bulldogs will play tonight without suspended players Austin Farley, Wade Bergman and Cody Danberg.
Anchorage at Minnesota: Remember when UND went to Fairbanks to open the season with all of the suspended players? Seems like forever ago, doesn’t it? Well, since then, Anchorage has just one victory. The Seawolves are reeling. The Gophers have wins over Boston College and Notre Dame during Christmas break. They are rolling.
On the women’s side, UND has its hands full going against 20-0 Minnesota. The Gophers have only trailed for 39 seconds all year and they haven’t even played a one-goal game since UND beat them 2-1 in overtime in February of last year.
But if anybody is gonna knock off Minnesota, I think UND has the best opportunity. Read a little bit about that here.
Believe it or not, coach Brian Idalski and his team is 3-1 in his last four games in Ridder Arena. Europeans Michelle Karvinen and Tanja Eisenschmid are back and will play for UND this weekend.
The games will be broadcast in Grand Forks on 1440 AM.
That’s all for now. Check back on the blog this afternoon for a video blog post. Tom Miller and I will give our thoughts on each WCHA matchup and give our picks.