Friday morning reading

As it turned out, it probably wasn’t the best week for UND to have one less day to prepare for a weekend series.

The Saturday-Sunday series at Omaha has resulted in a quicker turnaround time for this weekend’s series against Minnesota Duluth, which probably wasn’t welcome news for a team that has been battling numerous injuries and illnesses.

At this point, I really have no idea what to expect on the ice tonight as far as a lineup goes. More players returned to practice as the week progressed, but who knows what we’ll see tonight. If I hear any info during the day, I’ll pass it along.

For Thursday’s paper, I wrote a story about the flu, which was a large reason why 14 players missed practice Tuesday. Read what the coach and players are saying here.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign last weekend was the play of sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, who is starting to emerge as a top defender. Last weekend may have been his best at UND. Read about Schmaltz here.

This week’s “Get to Know” segment is with sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi. Watch and read him answer random questions here.

Power play percentages are down all over the NCHC, which also means that penalty kill percentages are up. Duluth ranks first nationally and UND is third nationally in penalty killing, so that will be one subplot to follow. The Duluth News Tribune wrote a little about that and UND coach Dave Hakstol explained why he thinks that is.

Around the NCHC….

Wisconsin at Miami: Should be a great series between two preseason top-five NCAA teams and two squads that could be at the Frozen Four in April. The game is in Oxford, where Miami has lost just one time this season. Miami wins and ties.

St. Cloud State at Alabama Huntsville: This series was scheduled as a nod to senior Nic Dowd, who is from Huntsville. Playing in his hometown should be a thrill and it shouldn’t be a problem for the Huskies. St. Cloud State sweeps.

Michigan at Nebraska Omaha: This is PasswordisTaco’s upset of the week on the men’s side. I agree with this one. After seeing Omaha last weekend, I’m confident in my preseason statement that the Mavs won’t finish last in the NCHC as predicted. Split.

Western Michigan at Denver: These are a couple of up-and-down teams. Denver is struggling to generate offense with its forwards and Western Michigan goaltender Frank Slubowski is solid. Denver gets one at home, but not both. Split.

Duluth at UND: The Bulldogs have some exciting offensive players who have yet to break out this season. Look for Tony Cameranesi and Austin Farley to get back on track this weekend. On the other side, offense isn’t coming easily for UND, but I think it scratches enough together to get a split this weekend. Split.

That’s it for now. Need some sleep to battle an illness of my own. Look for a game day video blog post this afternoon. I leave you now with this week’s Through These Doors.

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