Saturday morning reading

After a rare Friday night off, it’s game day again for the UND men.

UND is unbeaten in five straight games since a season-opening loss. That loss came at the hands of a Serratore in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Tonight, another Serratore will be in The Ralph with a team that plays a similar style.

I talked to a number of people about the Falcons, including coach Frank Serratore, and they all seem to have roughly the same scouting report:

Air Force’s all-senior top line of Chad Demers (Grafton High School), Cole Gunner (100-plus career points) and Scott Holm drives the team offensively. The trio has combined for 163 points in their careers. They have accounted for about half of the team’s goals this season.

They also can be potent on the power play. The Falcons are converting over 20 percent of their power play chances right now.

Goalie Chris Truehl has been strong by all accounts and has the ability to win games by himself, multiple people told me.

But defensively, and in their own zone, the Falcons have really struggled. Air Force is not overly experienced on the back end and the team has had quite a bit of trouble there. Serratore even mentioned that they’ve left Truehl out to dry way too often.

So the key to this game is to have a lot of zone time and make Air Force defend. Providence coach Nate Leaman said that UND can make it very difficult to defend with their offensive defensemen, too. Serratore is expecting his team to be challenged by UND in that way this weekend.

Another key is staying out of the penalty box. UND coach Dave Hakstol expressed his displeasure with some of the stick penalties that the team has taken. Power plays are a way the Falcons could get into the game offensively.

This game will also feature a North Dakotan coming back to play his last game in Ralph Engelstad Arena. It is Demers, whose best hockey memory happened in the building.

Even though UND didn’t play Friday, there were plenty of notable happenings around the college hockey world. Here’s a sampling:

1. RPI stunned Union 6-1. Excluding empty-net goals, it was the first time that Union had lost by more than a goal since the 2012-13 season, a ridiculous span of 49 games. It was Union’s second straight loss after going unbeaten for 22 games.

2. St. Cloud State beat Minnesota 4-1. The Huskies have knocked off the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation in their last two games. Quite a start for St. Cloud.

3. Michigan made its first trip to Houghton since 1983 and lost to Michigan Tech 4-1. The Huskies are now 5-0 with a resume that includes a sweep of Ferris State (on the road) and a win over Michigan now. They very well may contend for the MacNaughton Cup.

4. Miami beat Duluth in AmsOil Arena 3-2, scoring the game-winning goal on a five-on-three power play with 1:59 to go. The Bulldogs are 0-4 on Fridays this season.

5. Boston University, the biggest turnaround team in the country, outshot Providence 41-18 in winning 4-1. Jack Eichel with a goal and an assist. The super-freshman has 8 points in 4 games this season.

Women’s final: UND 3, UW 3 (UND wins SO)

First period

Wisconsin 1, UND 0 — Sarah Nurse (Katy Josephs) 10:17. Josephs starts a 2-on-1 rush and feeds Nurse in the slot. Nurse one-times it five-hole on Amsley-Benzie.

Wisconsin 2, UND 0 — Katy Josephs (Sydney McKibbon, Sarah Nurse) 18:34. Josephs, a forward, circles the zone and ends up at the top. She fires through a McKibbon screen on top of the crease.

Second period

Wisconsin 2, UND 1 — Gracen Hirschy (Andrea Dalen, Jordan Hampton) :58. Dalen carries the puck in the right circle and throws a puck on net. She finds it again and takes another swat at it. The puck goes to the other side, where Hirschy bats it in.

Wisconsin 2, UND 2 — Andrea Dalen 2:12. Dalen carries the puck from the left circle to behind the net. When she’s behind the net, Dalen attempts to center a pass, but it goes off of Zgraja’s stick and behind Desbiens.

Third period

UND 3, Wisconsin 2 — Becca Kohler (Meghan Dufault, Johanna Fallman) 3:19. Dufault and Kohler enter the zone together and Dufault makes a great play to create space, then dish the puck to Kohler, who rifles a shot just under the crossbar.

UND 3, Wisconsin 3 — Brittany Ammerman (Annie Pankowski, Sydney McKibbon) 19:20 (ex). UND, headed for the empty net, turns the puck over at the red line and Wisconsin comes back down and scores when Ammerman buries a loose puck near the post with 39.3 seconds left.

Overtime

No scoring.

Shootout

UW — Ammerman miss wide
UND — Gardner poke-checked
UW — Pankowski miss wide
UND — Dalen saved
UW — Josephs saved
UND — Kohler GOAL

UND’s lines

51 Becca Kohler–63 Josefine Jakobsen–19 Meghan Dufault
6 Gracen Hirschy–10 Andrea Dalen–13 Layla Marvin
15 Kayla Gardner–25 Leah Jensen–21 Amy Menke
11 Shannon Kaiser–55 Lisa Marvin–14 Marissa Salo

16 Tori Williams–4 Sam LaShomb
22 Tanja Eisenschmid–8 Samantha Hanson
5 Johanna Fallman–7 Jordan Hampton

1 Shelby Amsley-Benzie
29 Lexie Shaw
34 Annie Chipman

Wisconsin’s lines

10 Brittany Ammerman– Katy Hardin–19 Annie Pankowski
24 Karley Sylvester–25 Erika Sowchuk–21 Baylee Wellhausen
16 Sarah Nurse–11 Sydney McKibbon–12 Katy Josephs
20 Mikayla Johnson–9 Molly Doner–27 Rachel Jones

6 Courtney Burke–14 Lauren Williams
13 Katarina Zgraja–23 Kim Drake
2 Mellissa Channell–5 Jenny Ryan

30 Ann-Renee Desbiens
1 Jorie Walters
32 Megan Miller

Matthews lists UND as a finalist

NTDP forward Auston Matthews, a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft (as projected by Hockey News), told USCHO’s Andy Johnson that UND is one of his five finalists.

The other finalists he lists are Boston College, Boston University, Michigan and Denver. Matthews also could go to the WHL, where the Everett Silvertips hold his rights.

Read the article here.

Matthews, an Arizona native, would have to accelerate his school and would be a 2015 recruit.

Because of his high-end pedigree, he’s one to watch in the future.

UND a ‘childhood dream’ for Bowen

Dixon Bowen said he had been talking with several other schools.

“But when it came down to it, UND was always my childhood dream,” he said.

So, Bowen verbally committed to the school over the weekend, ending his recruiting process. He was also considering offers from St. Cloud State and MSU-Mankato.

Bowen is currently playing for the Fargo Force. After a pair of games this weekend, he will return to play his senior year at East Grand Forks. When the prep season ends, he will return to the Force. Fargo’s coaching staff recently asked Bowen to play all year with them, but Bowen declined.

“I gave my word to my coaches that I’m staying in high school this year,” Bowen said.

Bowen will play all of next season with Fargo. His UND arrival date will depend on his development, but it won’t be any earlier than 2016.

Bowen said he wanted to thank all of his coaches, from his youth coaches to his high school coaches to Fargo’s coaches.

“Obviously, UND has a great coaching staff,” he said. “The school is great academically. Their tradition is excellent. They get their players to be the best they can be.”

Bowen said he’s looking forward to joining fellow the current group of five Greater Great Forks players at UND.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to be one of those locals coming to UND.”

West Regional sells out in seconds

The NCAA West Regional in Fargo sold out in less than five seconds after the tickets went on sale at 11 a.m. this morning.

Apparently, the ticket window at Scheels Arena in Fargo opened at 10:55 a.m. and some people were able to get tickets in person. Others were not.

The number of tickets that went on sale today was very, very limited.

UND, the host school, already sold out of its allotment. There are also a number of tickets set aside for the four schools that are in the regional. They will go on sale in March.

Biggest hope for fans may be that a couple of small, Eastern schools that don’t travel well get in the regional and don’t use up their allotments. Otherwise, tickets will likely be going for a huge amount on the secondary market.

Otherwise, fear not, for the NCAA will surely be sending regionals back to empty buildings in Toledo and Grand Rapids in no time.

Stecher named D-man of the week

UND sophomore Troy Stecher is the defenseman of the week in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Stecher had four assists — two in each game — as UND earned a win and a tie against No. 5 Providence last weekend. The Richmond, B.C., product also was part of a penalty-killing unit that went 14-for-15 on the weekend.

For the season, Stecher is tied for the team lead with six assists and a plus-four rating.

Regional tickets go on sale tomorrow

Tickets for the West Regional in Fargo’s Scheels Arena will go on sale at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday).

The tickets, sold as three-game packages, may be purchased at www.ncaa.com/frozenfour. The games will be played on March 27-28. Prices are not listed on the website.

If UND makes the NCAA tournament, it will automatically be placed in the West Regional because it is hosting it.

The other regionals will be held in South Bend, Ind., Manchester, N.H., and Providence, R.I.

Bowen commits to UND

UND has landed another local player.

East Grand Forks Senior High’s Dixon Bowen verbally committed to UND on Sunday, ending his recruiting process.

Bowen, the son of former UND player and assistant coach Jeff Bowen, is the third East Grand Forks player to commit to the team in the last three years. Gage Ausmus is a sophomore on UND’s current team while Tucker Poolman is a freshman.

Bowen led the Green Wave to its first state hockey championship last season as a junior. He will return to the team as a senior this year. Bowen has been playing with the Fargo Force before the season. He has two points in eight games for the Force.

Saturday night rewind

Five notables from around the country:

1. St. Cloud State finally snapped Union’s 22-game unbeaten streak, becoming the first team to beat the Dutchmen since January. The Huskies won the game 3-2 and outshot Union 39-24.

2. Miami outshot St. Lawrence 53-11, but it wasn’t until Shot No. 53 that the RedHawks earned the victory. Sean Kuraly scored in overtime to give Miami a series split. Clearly St. Lawrence goalie Kyle Hayton was fantastic this weekend, giving the Saints a chance on two nights that they were badly outshot.

3. Minnesota Duluth and its talented group of forwards finally got to Denver goalie Evan Cowley on Saturday night, chasing Cowley in the third period after allowing five goals. All four lines got on the scoresheet for the Bulldogs.

4. A third different opponent blew out Colorado College for the third game in a row. This time, it was New Hampshire beating the Tigers by four goals. The Tigers have allowed 19 goals in their last three games.

5. After going 170-plus minutes without a goal, Western Michigan snapped that stretch and went on to hand Alaska Fairbanks its first loss of the season. Nolan LaPorte scored a pair of power-play goals for the Broncos.

NCHC top performers

OT winner — Sean Kuraly, Miami
3 points — Nolan LaPorte, WMU (2 goals, 1 assist)
2 points — Colton Hargrove, WMU (1 goal, 1 assist)
2 points — Cody Bradley, CC (1 goal, 1 assist)
2 points — Austin Farley, Duluth (1 goal, 1 assist)
2 points — Cal Decowski, Duluth (1 goal, 1 assist)
2 points — Sammy Spurrell, Duluth (1 goal, 1 assist)

UND 2, Providence 2

Providence scored an extra-attacker goal with :38.3 seconds left in regulation and UND made the tie hold up by killing a Friar power play at the end of overtime. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks Herald column on MacMillan’s absence

USCHO

UNDsports.com

Other notes:

  • As disappointing as it was for the team to give up a late, tying goal, in the end, a win and a tie against Providence will be a good result for the team.
  • While Providence provided an opportunity to gain in the Pairwise, the rest of UND’s nonconference opponents will only provide a chance to plummet with losses. UND’s final four nonconference opponents currently have a combined record of 2-22. Both of those wins are by Air Force, which comes to The Ralph on Saturday.
  • I thought both goaltenders were outstanding and as advertised on Saturday. Jon Gillies came up big for the Friars several times. Zane McIntyre did the same, most notably gloving a golden chance off the stick of Niko Rufo during the third period.
  • Bryn Chyzyk is clearly at a different level than last season. He’s a lot faster. He has been showing that on the penalty kill and he showed it by torching a Friar defenseman on the outside, leading to Austin Poganski’s first-career goal.
  • Troy Stecher made his case for NCHC defenseman of the week by registering two assists on each night.
  • With Tucker Poolman settling in on defense, the coaching staff has more difficult decisions to make on the blue line for the Air Force game.
  • Providence defenseman Kyle McKenzie blocked eight shots himself on Saturday night. UND blocked 11 as a team. In all, Providence had 26 blocked shots to UND’s 11.