On the final night of the regular season, UND will get to play for an NCHC championship and the Penrose Cup. The team gave itself that chance thanks to a 2-0 win over Western Michigan in the series opener. Game stories:
Grand Forks Herald
Playoff race notes
– UND has the tiebreaker over St. Cloud State, so a win guarantees UND the No. 1 seed and the league championship.
– Three teams have clinched home ice: UND, SCSU and Omaha.
– The final home ice spot will go to either Duluth or Denver. The Bulldogs are in the driver’s seat. Western Michigan was eliminated from home-ice contention tonight.
– UND and SCSU are guaranteed the top two spots, so UND’s first-round opponent will be either Colorado College or Miami.
- UND stayed at No. 9 in the Pairwise Rankings. Jim Dahl didn’t post a Pairwise predictor this week, but it appears that UND has built a little gap between itself and the tightly-packed group from Nos. 10-13. UND also is very much on the heels of teams at Nos. 7-8.
- UND is now 16-3-1 in the last 20 games dating back to the St. Lawrence loss at home. UND is 10-1 in its 11 home games since that SLU loss as well.
- UND’s 2-0 lead kind of felt more like 5-0 with the way it was limiting Western Michigan’s chances and with the way goalie Zane Gothberg is playing.
- Since Thanksgiving, Gothberg is 13-1-1 with a .936 save percentage and a 1.59 goals-against average. We all knew he could be this good if he eliminated some of the soft goals. He hasn’t given up a soft one in a long time and this is the result. He has allowed six goals in his last five games.
- Since UND made some subtle changes to the power play a few weeks ago, UND is converting at 25.8 percent (8 of 31). Prior to that, UND was at 16.8 percent. One of those new power-play pieces, Steph Pattyn, got the first power-play goal of his career on Friday.
- Paul LaDue added another plus to his resume and is now an absurd +21 in the last 18 games.
- The difference in UND from the start of this run until now looked pretty evident tonight. In December, Western Michigan outshot UND 38-24 and 25-16. Granted, UND was at home tonight, but it flipped the tables and outshot the Broncos 35-18.
- Both the UND men and women reached the 20-win mark within hours of each other on Friday. For women’s coach Brian Idalski, it’s his fourth straight 20-win season. For men’s coach Dave Hakstol, it’s his 10th in 10 years as coach.
- Student turnout was better on Friday, but I’m sure that they are still going to get some seats taken away from them for next season.
- Shot charts are below. You can see how UND dominated the second period.
One thing is for sure: The final weekend in the NCHC is going to be an interesting one. There’s home ice up for grabs, and after Saturday night’s 3-1 St. Cloud State win over UND, the Penrose Cup also is up for grabs. Game stories:
Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Herald column
St. Cloud Times
- UND moved stayed at No. 9 in the Pairwise Rankings after the loss. If you look at Jim Dahl’s latest Pairwise predictor, UND will need to win at least one against Western Michigan to stay in a good spot in the Pairwise heading into the playoffs.
- The Cup dilemma. Where does it go this weekend? Well, as many of you found out two weeks ago when people were posting pictures from both Duluth and Denver with the Penrose Cup, there are two of them. So, I’m assuming they’ll have one ready to go in both Grand Forks and Colorado Springs. The interesting part is that Omaha still could creep into contention if things go its way.
- Clearly, in the series finale, St. Cloud State did a much better job defensively. There were times in the opener where the Huskies didn’t seem too concerned to tie up players in front of the net. But that was much more difficult in the series finale. I thought Husky goalie Ryan Faragher left his share of rebounds again, but UND was unable to get to them this time.
- I thought the best player on either team might have been Zane Gothberg. He made a couple of saves where Husky fans were already standing assuming a goal was about to be scored, including one on Jonny Brodzinski in the first period. Another very good performance by UND’s netminder.
- UND wasn’t pleased with the number of penalties it took in the game. St. Cloud State had five power plays to UND’s two.
- Saturday night’s game (nothing coming easy) should be good preparation for this weekend against Western Michigan. The Broncos are a hard-nosed, physical team. They may be as gritty and tenacious as anyone UND has faced in the league this season. UND swept the Broncos in Kalamazoo, but got outshot by 14 and 9. Gothberg was the difference.
Heads up: WDAY 970 AM (wday.com) has decided to bring back the Saturday Morning Sports Show from 9-11 a.m. with Dom Izzo and Jeff Kolpack. I will be joining them at 10:45 a.m. to talk college hockey. It sounds like that will be a regular spot for the rest of the season for those interested in tuning in.
Obviously the topic will be UND’s 5-2 win over St. Cloud State — and probably in larger part — the fact that coach Dave Hakstol once again has his team surging through the second half of the schedule. The stories from Friday:
Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Herald column on the offense
St. Cloud Times
Other notes and comments:
- UND moved up one spot in the Pairwise to No. 9. As per Jim Dahl’s prediction, UND can move up to the No. 5-7 range with a win Saturday, or else fall to No. 9-11 range with a loss.
- UND has clinched a top-three finish now in the NCHC. If it wins in the series finale, it will clinch first.
- Defenseman Paul LaDue is +20 in the last 16 games. He has the best plus-minus of any defenseman in the nation since Dec. 7 (next closest is +16). He was +3 on Friday.
- Goalie Zane Gothberg is 12-0-2 in his last 14 games. He hasn’t lost a start since Nov. 9. He has only allowed more than two goals once in that stretch (5-3 win over Colorado College).
- With one more win this season, Hakstol will become the only coach to have 20 wins in each of the past 10 seasons. It’s a feat that two of college hockey’s three winningest all-time coaches — Jerry York and Jack Parker — have never done.
- A stat that displays how UND is getting scoring from everywhere in the lineup: Of the 18 players in the lineup Friday, 15 of them have scored goals in the last six games.
- Since Nov. 30, UND ranks fourth nationally in scoring, only behind Boston College, MSU-Mankato and Quinnipiac.
- UND has lost just one of its last nine road games (3-0 at Denver). And UND outshot Denver by 17 in that game. UND is going for its third road sweep of the season Saturday. It has only done that once in the Hakstol era — the 2010-11 team had four road sweeps (Bemidji State, Wisconsin, Mankato, Michigan Tech).
- UND finally got to Ryan Faragher. The goaltender, who had a 6-3-1 record and a .940 career save percentage against UND, was yanked after allowing five goals in the second period.
- UND has outscored its opponent 14-0 in the second period during the last four games — 4-0 vs. Miami, 1-0 vs. Duluth, 4-0 vs. Duluth, 5-0 vs. SCSU.
- Remember when UND was involved in down-to-the-wire, hold-your-breath-til-the-last-second games every day? In the last 10 games, UND has not been within a goal of its opponent (up or down) at the 19:00 mark of the third period.
- The last time UND swept a series in the National Hockey Center, Keaton Thompson was 3 years old.
Trivia question: Of the 59 college hockey teams, how many of them have finished in the top half of their league’s standings (or home-ice position as we call it in the West) for each of the last five seasons?
Answer: Only six.
In another stat the shows the remarkable parity in college hockey these days, only six teams have had top-half finishes for each of the last five years, and two of those streaks are guaranteed to end this season.
Most consecutive top-half finishes
1. North Dakota – 11 (clinched 12th straight)
2. Denver – 10
3. Boston University – 9
4. Miami – 8
5. Air Force – 7 (clinched 8th straight)
6. Yale – 6
Boston University and Miami will both see their streaks end. Neither can finish in the top half. Denver, currently in the bottom half, could see its streak go by the wayside, too.
Boston College, Ferris State and Union all will reach their fifth straight top-half finish this season.
UND officially extended its home-ice streak to a nation-leading 12 years in a row thanks to a 6-2 win over Minnesota Duluth on Saturday night. Come March, UND’s streak of top-half finishes will double every other team in the country outside of Air Force and maybe Denver and Yale.
Must be nice for UND/The Ralph to be able to budget to have that every year.
Anyway, UND clinched home ice with an impressive performance in front of a record AmsOil Arena crowd. Game stories:
Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Herald column on the power play
Duluth News Tribune
UNDsports.com + photos
- UND climbed to No. 10 in the Pairwise Rankings after the weekend sweep of the Bulldogs. That’s exactly where Jim Dahl’s weekly Pairwise forecast pegged UND if it swept.
- Since the 0-for-10 power play performance against Omaha, UND has scored a power-play goal in four straight games, going 7 for 21 (33.3 percent).
- Goalie Zane Gothberg is 11-0-1 in his last 12 starts. The last time he lost a start was Nov. 9 at Nebraska Omaha.
- Paul LaDue is +11 in the last six games. He has been outstanding on both ends of the rink for UND.
- In the first eight games after Christmas, UND’s Rocco Grimaldi tallied five points (0.63 ppg). Since being put on a line with Stephane Pattyn, Grimaldi has seven points in four games (1.75 ppg). His production has more than doubled.
- Grimaldi led the team with six shots on goal on Saturday. And he led the team in the physicality department, too, throwing two huge hits including a hip check that upended a Bulldog player.
- Mitch MacMillan, somewhat surprisingly, went back into the lineup this weekend. He finished his weekend with a two-point (1 goal, 1 assist), +3 night. Mitch had 1 point in 11 games this season and hadn’t played since Dec. 7. The coaches must have seen something in practice.
- UND’s top faceoff guys had another nice night. Mark MacMillan went 16-8. Grimaldi went 14-9.
- UND has the most productive D-corps in the nation, averaging 2.93 points per game. New Hampshire’s is second at 2.74 points per game. UND’s D had seven points on Saturday and 10 points for the weekend. It has 18 points in the last three games.
- Very strong showing from UND fans on Saturday night in AmsOil.
- The team that couldn’t do anything easy early in the season suddenly has been on cruise control in the third period during the last three games with big leads.
(Photo courtesy Eric Classen, UND athletics)
UND surged into a first-place tie with St. Cloud State and continued to work on its Pairwise Ranking (up to No. 11 now) with a 3-0 win over Minnesota Duluth in AmsOil Arena on Friday night. Game stories:
Grand Forks Herald
Duluth News Tribune
Other notes and comments:
- UND is now 13-2-1 since that loss at home against St. Lawrence, and the team has led at some point in 15 of the last 16 games. The only team in the nation with a better record since Nov. 30 is Boston College with a ridiculous 17-0-1 mark.
- Zane Gothberg was outstanding and I voted him the first star of the game, despite Luke Johnson’s impressive three-point outing. The Bulldogs had several great chances, but Gothberg was there on all of them. Probably his best game at UND (and his first shutout).
- I know this sounds like a weird comment after the Bulldogs got shutout, but I was really impressed with their forward group. The scary part for the NCHC is that all their top forwards are freshmen or sophomores. It kind of reminds me of the Connolly class a few years back. They are already very good. They will only get better.
- Both UND coach Dave Hakstol and Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said in postgame comments that they thought the game was even and a toss-up. Again, Gothberg probably the difference.
- The area where UND gave Duluth its most trouble was coming out of the zone. Bulldog defensemen had trouble with the forecheck and trouble in the neutral zone at times. The third goal was a bad turnover by the Bulldogs that ended up in the back of the net.
- UND won the faceoff battle 28-21. Its top faceoff guys were Mark MacMillan (12-8) and Rocco Grimaldi (10-6).
- A big key to the game was UND winning the special teams battle. UND got an early power-play goal from Johnson, while holding the Bulldogs scoreless on four chances with the extra man.
- Perhaps it was appropriate that on North Dakota state hockey weekend, five of UND’s seven points came from North Dakotans. Johnson had three points. Paul LaDue and Keaton Thompson each had assists.
- LaDue is plus-10 in his last five games.
- Since Hakstol took over at UND, his team is 21-8-3 against the Bulldogs during his tenure.
- UND has shut out Duluth in two of its four games in AmsOil Arena.
- The Bulldogs dropped to 4-6-3 at home this season. They are in risk of their first losing season at home since 2005-06, when they went 4-13-1 in the DECC.
- Tonight, the 2003-04 Bulldog Frozen Four team will be welcomed back to Duluth. That team was in position to win the MacNaughton Cup with four games to go. The MacNaughton Cup was in the DECC for a series against UND (it could have been presented that weekend) but UND swept the Bulldogs. The MacNaughton Cup made the trip down U.S. Highway 2 to Grand Forks and UND clinched it the next weekend.
UND, which hasn’t been able to do anything easy this season, gave its fans their most relaxing night of the season, unleashing a 9-2 beat down on Miami in Ralph Engelstad Arena. The game was UND’s largest margin of victory since March 2011, and Miami’s worst defeat in the 15-year tenure of Rico Blasi. Game stories:
Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Herald column on Oshie inspiring UND
- UND moved up to No. 12 in the Pairwise Rankings with the sweep of the RedHawks, passing Minnesota Duluth to be the second-highest team in the NCHC
- With six games to go, UND is still in control of its own destiny in the Penrose Cup race, but St. Cloud State is definitely in the driver’s seat. The Huskies have a series against UND left, but its other two series are against Colorado College and Miami
- UND is 9-1 in its last 10 home games.
- The last time UND chased two goalies in one game was March 2011, when it beat Michigan Tech 11-2 in Houghton. The Huskies played all three of their goalies on that night.
- UND is the second-best team in the nation since Nov. 30. The top five since that point: 1. Boston College 16-0-1 (.971); 2. North Dakota 12-2-1 (.833); 3. Union 14-3-2 (.789); 4. Minnesota 11-2-4 (.765); 5. Bentley 11-3-4 (.722).
- Michael Parks registered his fourth consecutive multi-point game and his fifth in the last six games. All of the sudden, he’s second in the NCHC scoring race, three points back of leader Josh Archibald. Since Christmas, Parks has 6 goals and 14 points in 10 games.
- Mark MacMillan also has been great since Christmas, tallying 13 points in 10 games.
- Zane Gothberg was sharp in his return to the net. Gothberg lost four consecutive starts from Oct. 19 to Nov. 9. He has not lost a start since. Gothberg is 9-0-1 in his last 10.
- There’s been a lot of talk about UND’s power play, especially as of late. But guess who leads the NCHC in power play points (league games)? Yes, it is a UND player. Dillon Simpson. Jordan Schmaltz is tied for third. Simpson also leads the NCHC in defenseman points.
- UND had two goals taken away on reviews. The first one was taken away because MacMillan was called for running into the goalie. The second one was ruled that it was inconclusive whether the puck crossed the line. But it looked like it should have been a good goal to me. The puck went into the jersey of a Miami player, who was halfway in the net. For those asking why it wasn’t a penalty shot — it is because he didn’t actively make a move to cover the puck in the crease.
- The officials also did a review to see if Stephane Pattyn was offsides on the Rocco Grimaldi goal, but replay clearly showed that he was not.
- UND defenseman Nick Mattson on what the reviews did to the team: “We were playing so well that we didn’t think it would take away our momentum. But we thought the refs were going to get their heads ripped off by the crowd. Hopefully, those guys get out of here safely.”
- Pattyn and Grimaldi definitely seem to have some chemistry. Pattyn made a very skilled play to get the puck to Grimaldi on his goal and there were several other flashes.
- Paul LaDue registered a plus-6 rating. Miami’s Taylor Richart, who turned 22 years old on Saturday, registered a minus-6 rating.
- UND coach Dave Hakstol used its grinder line on the power play at the end of the game.
UND moved to 11-2-1 in the last 14 games with a 3-2 win over Miami on Friday night. UND took advantage of a couple of soft goals in the first period and held on to the win, moving up to second in the NCHC standings. Game stories:
Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Herald column on Paul LaDue
- UND moved up a spot to No. 16 in the Pairwise Rankings. In the NCHC standings, it remained three points back of first-place St. Cloud State, but passed Minnesota Duluth.
- UND clearly had the better goaltending on Friday night. That was probably the difference in the game. Clarke Saunders had a real nice bounce-back game for UND. The team is now 5-2 when Saunders starts on Fridays, 0-4 when he starts Saturdays.
- Goaltender Zane Gothberg did dress, though we don’t know his exact level of health. It’s possible that he will be in tonight. The coaches maybe only wanted him to play one game this weekend coming back. And with the stats on Saunders’ Friday vs. Saturday performances, it would make sense to start Saunders on Friday.
- Miami’s Jay Williams did not have a good night and the RedHawks’ goaltending issues continue. This is the second straight Friday night that Miami has yanked its starting goalie. Last week, it was Ryan McKay. Miami has been splitting starters, so expect McKay to play tonight. He was good at the end of Friday and he beat UND earlier this season.
- Miami is now 3-11-2 in its last 16 games and is shockingly alone in last place right now in the NCHC.
- Michael Parks is now the team leader in scoring. He has multi-point games in four of the last five. He has multi-point games in five of nine games since Christmas (he only had one before Christmas). He has 6-6–12 in the 9 games in the second half of the season and a team-leading +9 rating.
- Mark MacMillan continues his great play as well. Since getting healthy, he is 5-6–11 in 9 games. In the first half, as he battled injuries, he was 3-2–5 in 14 games.
- The play of Parks and MacMillan is one of the biggest reasons for UND’s turnaround. They are +14 in the second half of the season. They were -9 in the first half.
- Connor Gaarder went 12-2 in the faceoff circle — the best night in his career that I can remember.
- Stephane Pattyn is one of the new pieces on the power play. UND coach Dave Hakstol said that one area UND struggled with was gaining puck possession on the power play. That’s an area that Pattyn excels at, hence the change. Pattyn also has showed the ability to pick corners of the net this year. His goals have been nice ones.
- UND was able to finally score on the power play, which was much better at gaining possession and setting it up than a week earlier.
- UND did a pretty good job on Miami’s top line of Anthony Louis, Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber. Louis and Barber were held without a point. Czarnik had an assist on the extra-attacker goal.
Another night in the NCHC and another shuffle at the top of the standings. After UND’s 6-3 loss to Omaha, it dropped into a tie for third place. The difference between first and sixth is four points with four weeks to go. Game stories:
Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Herald column on Archibald/Zombo
Omaha World Herald
- UND dropped to No. 17 in the Pairwise Rankings with the loss.
- UND moved to 11-2-1 in its last 14 games and lost at home for the first time since November, snapping its seven-game home winning streak.
- Early in the game, Omaha coach Dean Blais was messing around with line changes, not putting his lines on the ice, as well as putting parts of two lines in an effort to get last change on the road. He was warned about it, and I believe this is what the original bench minor was called for. Then, he wouldn’t send a player to the penalty box, hence the ejection.
- The only other time a coach has been ejected in The Ralph was George Gwozdecky a few years ago. Gwozdecky ended up coming to the press box, putting on a headset and communicating with the bench, which earned him a suspension. Blais sat in the Zamboni room and watched it on TV. Blais frequently played pinochle with the ice crew in the Zamboni room when he was at UND.
- Saturday’s game was the first time in more than four years that UND lost a game it led by two-plus goals. The last time was January 2010, when UND led Denver 2-0 in the second period and lost 3-2.
- Obviously, goaltender Clarke Saunders was not as sharp as he was on Friday night. There are probably three he would like back — the one he dropped and Dominic Zombo put in, and two change-ups by Josh Archibald. Saunders has played back-to-back nights on three occasions this year. UND is 3-0 on the first night in those games, 0-3 on the second night.
- UND coach Dave Hakstol said his team has responded well from things like that this season, but it did not respond well on Saturday night. UND was outshot 12-5 in the third period.
- UND’s power play obviously was bad on Saturday night and went 0-for-10 on the weekend. UND had great trouble with zone entry and puck retrieval. If they get it set up, they are pretty good, but they haven’t been able to set it up. They tried a new zone entry Saturday — one similar to the one that the Buffalo Sabres use — but it didn’t have a lot of success.
- The student section was not good on Friday night, but was much better on Saturday. That makes me think that a large number of students went to the Justin Timberlake concert in Fargo on Friday night.
- Archibald is now third nationally in goals with 21, trailing only Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau (24) and RPI’s Ryan Haggerty (22). Archibald may be the frontrunner at this point for NCHC player of the year.
- UND has two home series and two road series remaining. UND has the old CCHA teams at home — Miami and Western Michigan. It has the Minnesota schools on the road — Duluth and St. Cloud.
UND started December at 3-5 in league play and in the bottom half of the NCHC standings. At the moment, UND is now tied for first place. After a strong goaltending performance by Clarke Saunders and a good enough effort from everyone else, UND is 10-1-1 in the last 12 games and is back in the mix. Game stories:
Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Herald column on the impact of Michael Parks
Omaha World Herald
- UND actually dropped a spot to No. 16 in the Pairwise Rankings because other teams around them won. But make no mistake – the win, in the end, will be very important.
- UND has won seven straight home games now and has a league-best 9-4-1 home record. Omaha is now 2-7-2 in its last 11.
- One reason for the sloppy play by both teams last night – the ice conditions were not very good. I heard a lot of people comment on how cold it was in the building last night. I’m convinced that they knew the ice wasn’t great and they dropped the temp to try to fix that.
- Both teams had their share of lucky bounces. UND’s good fortune plays: 1. Paul LaDue getting his stick on Dominic Zombo’s attempt with and empty net. 2. After a giveaway in UND’s end, Tanner Lane found a rebound next to Saunders’ pad and made an outstanding play to flip it over, but the puck basically landed on the line and did not cross.
- Omaha’s good fortune plays: 1. Ryan Walters’ goal in the third period, which shot in the air, landed on Saunders’ back and rolled in. 2. Luke Johnson not scoring on Rocco Grimaldi’s backdoor feed in the third period. He will score on that play 90 times out of 100.
- Other oddities in the game: Walters scored his first even-strength goal of the season in the third period and his first in 30 games. Brendan O’Donnell snapped a 14-game goal drought. Brian Cooper scored his first college goal in 57 games for Omaha. And Michael Parks went top shelf for a goal.
- I thought that Connor Gaarder’s game misconduct for checking from behind ended up being a significant part of the game for UND. In the first period, his line was UND’s best. After that, the Derek Rodwell-Stephane Pattyn unit wasn’t the same.
- I’ll go with Paul LaDue as UND’s unsung player of the game. Not only did he save the Zombo goal, he was strong all night. He made another play to muscle a guy off the puck on the top of the crease without taking a penalty. LaDue received a lot of notoriety coming in for his offense, but his defensive play stood out last night.
- Another big key to the game was coming out of the second period tied 1-1. UND did not play a good period, got outshot 18-5, but Saunders was great. I also lost track of how many 3-on-2 rushes that Omaha had in that period. But the Mavs failed to get good scoring chances out of most of them. The ice conditions may have been a factor in that.
- UND’s first three power plays were not good. UND had a lot of trouble with zone entry and puck retrieval. The fourth one was good, though UND couldn’t get one to go. But UND’s penalty kill came up big. Omaha didn’t get many scoring chances on its three power plays, including a five-minute major.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Andrew Panzarella in tonight for Wade Murphy. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Omaha changes goalies, even though their guy played fine.
For just the second time since 2011, UND was swept at home over the weekend by the No. 1 Gophers.
Minnesota converted on its first five power-play chances of the weekend (3-for-3 on Friday, 2-for-2 to start Saturday) en route to the sweep.
The Gophers have a ton of team speed and UND had trouble keeping up, especially minus its three Olympians and injured forward Meghan Dufault. There were also plenty of good signs from the young players who appear to have bright futures.
A few notes and comments from the weekend:
1. UND is now tied for eighth in the Pairwise, which means the next three weeks are very, very important. It all starts this weekend with the biggest games of them all at Duluth. Like UND, the Bulldogs are missing a couple of players at the Olympics like defensemen Tea Villila and Lara Stalder.
2. Leah Jensen returned to the lineup and played both games. She played limited minutes on the fourth line, though. UND will probably try to increase her role as time goes on.
3. UND definitely missed Dufault and her speed against the Gophers and it would be of great help to have her against the Bulldogs.
4. UND continues to split starts with the goaltenders. Usually, coaches like to go with one come the end of the season, but that has to be a difficult decision right now with both of them playing well.
5. UND has received two goals from forwards in the last three games (Josefine Jakobsen and Becca Kohler). Granted, two of those games have come against the best team in the country, but even so, they will need to get some more scoring up front during the next three-week span.