Friday morning reading

For a little over a decade, UND and Northern Michigan were frequent opponents as members of the WCHA. But since the Wildcats left the league in 1997, they haven’t had a single matchup against UND.

Their drought of 17 years without a game is the eighth-longest of any opponent for UND. But that will come to an end tonight as the teams meet at 7:37 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Longest time between games (Number of total matchups)

47 years — Army (1)
40 years — Lake Superior State (2)
30 years — Colgate (1)
25 years — Providence (13)
24 years — Alabama Huntsville (2)
22 years — UMass-Lowell (9)
21 years — Bowling Green (9)
17 years — Northern Michigan (53)

Also of note, there are eight teams in college hockey that UND has never played against: American International, Bentley, UConn, Mercyhurst, Penn State, RIT, Sacred Heart and Union.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Which opponent, that has never been in a league with UND, has had the most games played against UND? (Answer at bottom of post).

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SCOUTING REPORT ON NORTHERN MICHIGAN

Since it has been so long between matchups, Northern Michigan is pretty unfamiliar to most UND fans.

In looking at the Wildcats’ stats and talking to one person who has seen them play this season, here’s what you need to know.

Northern Michigan’s strength is in goal. It has a freshman goalie from Sweden named Mathias Dahlstrom, who has a .929 save percentage. Word is that he was outstanding last weekend in Mankato. That’s the Wildcats’ biggest strength.

Up front, senior forward Stephan Vigier is their to-go guy. He has 10 goals. Nobody else has more than five.

Generating offense has been the big problem for the Wildcats. Their power play has actually been all right, but they’ve only scored one even-strength goal in the last four games. That dip coincides when senior captain C.J. Ludwig (yes, Craig’s son) went down with an injury. He’ll be out the rest of the year.

Northern Michigan ranks 52nd nationally in even-strength goals per game (1.25), which could help UND build on the strong defensive game it put together last weekend in Kalamazoo.

NEXT MONTH HUGE FOR PAIRWISE

In the next four weeks, a huge chunk of the remaining nonconference games for NCHC teams will be played. They could play a large role in how many teams the league will get into the NCAA tournament.

Right now, things aren’t looking too bright for the NCHC. St. Cloud State would be the only team in the tournament if it started today.

There is some time to make up ground, and the league can start this weekend.

OTHER STORIES OF NOTE

There’s a story in the Mining Journal about the struggles of WCHA teams to schedule home nonconference games. Check out the breakdown for this year for that league.

Here’s a sidebar about how a lot of the bigger schools want to do two-for-ones (two series in the bigger school’s arena, one in the smaller school). This weekend’s series with the Wildcats is just a one-year deal.

The Mining Journal also has a series preview here.

WEEKEND PREDICTIONS

Denver at RPI: Interesting matchup with the Pioneers heading east to take on former DU assistant coach Seth Appert and RPI. DU has been able to rattle off some close wins lately, but I think its good fortune runs out here. RPI is a solid team. RPI win and tie.

Colorado College at Wisconsin: PasswordisTaco says the Tigers get one of these games in Kohl Center. I don’t see it. The Tigers had a great weekend at home against Omaha last weekend, but now they have to go play a strong, veteran Badgers team in Kohl. Wisconsin sweep.

Western Michigan at Minnesota Duluth: The Broncos need to find offense this weekend and they need to find a way to win close games. The Bulldogs are 2-5 in their last seven, but they’ve played a very difficult schedule. I think things turn around for the Dogs at home. Duluth win in regulation, win in shootout.

Union at St. Cloud State: Great matchup between two of the hottest teams in the country. Union has won eight straight. The Huskies are unbeaten in seven. St. Cloud State been one of the few bright spots for the NCHC in nonconference play and against the ECAC. I still think Union steals one out of the National Hockey Center. Split.

Northern Michigan at UND: This is a decent matchup for UND with Northern’s struggles to score, but we all know that this UND squad won’t be able to do anything easily. Expected two tight games. UND win and tie.

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On the women’s side, UND heads to MSU-Mankato for its last series before the break. The team does have an exhibition game next weekend, but no regular-season games until Jan. 11 at Wisconsin.

Good news for UND: Injured forward Michelle Karvinen is expected to be back in the lineup tonight. UND held her out last weekend for precautionary reasons.

For this week’s paper, I wrote a feature about UND rookie defenseman Gracen Hirschy, who has added offense instantly from the back end. Read it here.

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Trivia answer: It’s a tie between Boston University and Boston College. UND has played both of them 23 times. It has played Maine 22 times. You have to keep in mind that schools such as Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame all had stints in the WCHA, disqualifying them.

17 thoughts on “Friday morning reading

  1. Great post, as always.

    Does history (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) figure at all into the non-conference scheduling process? Is there a sense of novelty or intrigue that prompts coaches and ADs to try and schedule matchups against long-lost opponents? Or is the process completely trumped by economics, fan familiarity, logistics, etc.? OR, and I say this fearful of the answer, are there political barriers, personal grudges, or malicious forces at work that stall matchups for up to 47 (!) years or more?

  2. Here’s a tougher one: Which non-NCAA opponent has UND played the most official (non-exhibition) games against, and how many times did they play?

  3. I had BC pegged and also thought about Maine.

    Bemidji would have probably been the winner had it not joined the WCHA very recently.

  4. The trivia question is a bit misleading. From 1984-89, UND played BC and BU every year as part of the interlocking schedule between the WCHA and Hockey East. Tho technically not in the same leagues, results of games between teams in those leagues counted in the standings of their respective leagues

  5. Does anybody know – is there bad blood between UND and Michigan and/or Michigan State. They used to be in WCHA together, then separated. I can’t remember playing them in non-conference hockey.

  6. BC and BU would still be tied for first even if you don’t count the “league” games, as they only played 7 of those against each team. They also played 7 of those “league” games against Maine, Northeastern, New Hampshire, and Lowell. Played 5 against Providence. If you eliminate all of those Hockey East teams, then the answer is St. Lawrence with 14.

  7. Dustin, for non NCAA tournament games, UND has played Michigan 4 times since the teams left the same conference, and has played Michigan State 5 times.

    • HA! I just got done looking that up myself. None of those matchups were true non-conference, though. All of them were played at a neutral site as part of a (non-NCAA) tournament, except a game against Michigan in 2000, which was at Yost, but part of the Icebreaker tournament. I guess my point is, it’s been since 1981 since Michigan or Michigan State has been to Grand Forks, and I’m wondering why is that the case.

      • UND and Michigan State played 1 game against each other at The Ralph on 10/13/2007 as a non-conference game. This was the year after Michigan State won their last National Championship and the Sioux won that game 6-0.

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