UND completed the 2013 portion of its schedule on Saturday night with a critical third-period rally to beat Northern Michigan 3-1 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
UND extended its winning streak to five games — the second-longest winning streak in the country — as it heads for a lengthy break.
The team had only four games in December, but went 4-0-0. In the last four years, UND is now 17-1-1 in December, which is rather ridiculous, especially for a team that has the reputation of being bad before Christmas. The only December loss in that stretch was overtime, too (Ryan Walters GWG in REA).
Saturday’s game stories:
- UND’s 4-0 month marked the program’s first unbeaten month since last December when it went 5-0-1 and the program’s first perfect month since going 8-0 in March of 2011.
- The two wins over Northern were critical for nonconference purposes. UND had a very average 2-2-2 mark heading into the weekend. It has one last chance to improve that mark against Bemidji State next month. Those also will be key games.
- This was UND’s first sweep at home since January of 2013. Forward Rocco Grimaldi remarked that this was his first chance to do a stick salute at home after a sweep, as he was gone at the World Juniors last January. His was injured for the team’s four sweeps during the year he redshirted. Last year, the team had five home weekends of a win and a tie, but just one sweep.
- A lot was made out of the NCHC using the shootout this season, but UND has not been involved in one yet. There have only been three in NCHC play (CC has been involved in all three), which actually surprises me. I was expecting more. Four of the eight NCHC teams (UND, Miami, Western, Duluth) have not been involved in one yet.
- After the game, UND coach Dave Hakstol admitted what we had all suspected for about a month and a half now: Several players in the lineup are dealing with injuries and this next month will be big for them. The most obvious ones are Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Colten St. Clair and Drake Caggiula. Defenseman Gage Ausmus, who came out for postgame interviews with a large ice bag on his knee, did not skate for three star selection, presumably getting medical attention after the game.
- Hakstol said that the team did not think Caggiula was going to play this weekend as of Friday morning. Apparently, the injury happened Thursday night. It is a lower-body injury as Caggiula was limping after the games.
- UND goaltender Zane Gothberg previously has showed both his high-end ability and his ability to give up some soft goals. In the last five games, we haven’t seen a single soft goal, only his high-end ability. This is the consistency UND needs from Gothberg, especially with this team that isn’t scoring a ton.
- UND has allowed just eight goals in the last five games (and only five even strength). The last four games have come against teams that have been struggling offensively. UND needed to shut them down and did just that.
- UND is 5-0-0 in the last five games. If it gave up just one more goal per game in that stretch, it would be 1-0-4. That shows how small of a margin this team has (as has been discussed previously here). Right now, they are doing a fine job of walking that narrow line.
NCHC nonconference records + remaining games
St. Cloud State 5-1-2 (vs. Minnesota, Mankato/Duluth)
Miami 6-2-2 (done)
North Dakota 4-2-2 (at Bemidji, BEMIDJI)
Denver 5-3-2 (at UMass, BROWN)
Duluth 4-3-1 (vs. Mankato, St. Cloud/Minnesota)
Western Michigan 4-3-3 (vs. Michigan, Michigan State/Michigan Tech)
Omaha 3-5 (at New Hampshire, at New Hampshire)
Colorado College 0-7 (BROWN, PROVIDENCE, PROVIDENCE)
NCHC vs. other leagues + remaining games
10-4-5 vs. WCHA (.658). Three definite games left, potentially five.
5-3-1 vs. Atlantic Hockey (.611). No games left.
8-6 vs. Big Ten (.571). Two definite games left, potentially three.
4-6-2 vs. ECAC (.417). Two games left.
4-7-4 vs. Hockey East (.400). Five games left.