UND ends the second-longest opponent drought tonight as it meets up with Lake Superior State for the first time since 1973.
For me, it will be my first time seeing the Lakers play in person. They have never been at any showcases, tournaments or regionals with UND since I started at the Herald.
Longest opponent droughts
48 years — Army
41 years — Lake Superior State
31 years — Colgate
25 years — Alabama Huntsville
23 years — UMass-Lowell
22 years — Bowling Green
A little background on the Lakers: Their leading scorer is from Minot and is a kid who almost did not play college hockey. They have an extremely young team. Last Saturday, they played five freshman D-men and a freshman goalie. The Lakers started the season 0-9 but are 3-4 since then, playing a bit better, according to Schmitt.
This is a series that’s not going to give UND a huge Pairwise bump, but it does have potentially to be a Pairwise killer later in the year if UND loses. Speaking of the Pairwise, Jim Dahl has a great post that shows the fluctuation of the Pairwise based on dates. Check that out here.
Lake State took a sleeper bus to Grand Forks overnight Wednesday night. It’s a long, 12-hour drive, but that’s nothing unusual for the Lakers. They’ve already gone on trips to Pennsylvania, Alabama and Alaska this season.
For this morning’s paper, I wrote a little bit about the pitfalls of recent No. 1-ranked teams. They are 1-6 in the past three weeks. Read that story here.
If you haven’t seen the video, I had fun asking coach Dave Hakstol about the polls this week, and I think he knew it. See it here.
I do believe there’s a chance we will see Cam Johnson start a game in net this weekend. Since we don’t really know much about him, I decided to make him the subject of this week’s “Get to Know” segment, just in case he does play. Find out which teammate is “the most interesting guy” that Johnson has ever played with.
In case you missed the Wednesday update, Brendan O’Donnell is expected to play tonight. Bryn Chyzyk skated this week, but Hakstol did not think he would play tonight as of Wednesday. Tucker Poolman practiced at defense this week.
On to the picks…
Denver at Cornell: Another very interesting nonconference matchup at Lynah Rink for the NCHC. Omaha grabbed a win and a tie there and I see Denver doing the exact same. Denver 3-0, 1-1.
Omaha at Miami: Both of these teams recently showed up at The Ralph, and both had their moments. Miami had last week off, while Omaha played a tough series against UND. Omaha is back on the road and I think that works to Miami’s advantage. RedHawks 3-2, 3-3.
Colorado College at Duluth: Full disclosure here – I was one of the three who voted Duluth No. 1 in the polls this week. The Dogs have been very impressive lately. They lose Sammy Spurrell to an injury, but gain Adam Krause back. It’s tough to see the Tigers going to AmsOil and taking a game. Duluth 4-1, 3-0.
Lake Superior State at UND: Like many nonconference opponents, this is one that UND can either let settle into the game and the Ralph or make them uncomfortable right away. Early UND leads could be problems for Lake Superior State. And right now, I’m not sure if the Lakers are veteran enough to go on the road to a place like this and win. UND 4-2, 4-1.
ESPN’s John Buccigross is expected to be in the house this afternoon as UND takes on Wisconsin in women’s hockey to open a Friday-Sunday series.
The Badgers enter the day on an incredible scoreless streak of 330:56. If anyone is going to finally break through on the Badgers, look for it to be the top line of Becca Kohler, Meghan Dufault and Amy Menke. Since they came together three games ago, they’ve been very good.
Kohler already has career highs in goals and points. She is heavily featured in this week’s preview story. Read that here.
The first time these teams played, UND was up by a goal in the final minute and turned a puck over in the neutral zone while going for an empty-netter. Seconds later, it ended up in the back of UND’s net and Wisconsin grabbed a tie.
This time, the teams will be different as the Badgers were missing two and UND one at the Four Nations Cup.
After going 2-36-1 against Wisconsin in the program’s first 39 games, UND is now 4-4-2 in the last 10 against the Badgers, including wins in each of the last two WCHA semifinal games.
UND also won a game in its last trip to LaBahn a year ago.
Since the team has Saturday off, they are planning on doing homework (finals are coming up and this team has one of the best groups of students I’ve ever covered) and going to a movie.
That’s it for now, here’s some Through These Doors action for you.