At this week’s press conference, senior Danny Kristo gave an interesting look into the UND-Denver rivalry, which will be renewed this weekend at Magness Arena.
While Minnesota obviously is Rival No. 1, Denver has started moving in as Rival No. 2 for UND.
Kristo said that one of the elements to the North Dakota-Minnesota rivalry is the Twin Cities players playing against each other. He said that for the Western Canadian players, the Denver series is just as big.
Over the years, both DU and UND have heavily recruited top players from British Columbia and Alberta. A handful of them battled against each other in the AJHL years ago. Perhaps that leads to some of the animosity between the teams.
It’s no secret that UND captain Andrew MacWilliam particularly gets fired up for this series (he will be going up against former Camrose Kodiaks teammate Shawn Ostrow).
But besides the rivalry aspect, the series is a big one. If UND gets swept, it will tumble to sixth in the standings, one point out of going on the road in the first round of the playoffs. A sweep and it’s possible that UND could vault into first place, depending on how St. Cloud State does in Colorado Springs.
This series also will be huge for the Pairwise Rankings. I’ll be writing a story about the Pairwise for Thursday’s paper.
On the women’s side, UND is 10th in the Pairwise and could jump Wisconsin and back into eighth if it sweeps Minnesota Duluth this weekend. That won’t be an easy task as the Bulldogs are probably the best team UND has played since Wisconsin in mid-January.
I’ll be writing a feature on Jordan Slavin, who blew out her knee each of the last two years and wasn’t able to participate in the stretch run of the season. She’s finally healthy, feeling great and helping a UND team that’s won eight straight games.
When asked about the team’s goals for the remainder of the season, Slavin had a simple answer. “Win nine straight games and shake the president’s hand,” she said.