Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Gameday: This One's for the Seniors

New weekend, same script.

With just four games remaining in the regular season, the No. 1 UND men’s hockey team has a critical match up against a conference foe with big points on the line.

This weekend, the Green and White welcome the St. Cloud State Huskies into the Ralph Engelstad Arena and UND controls its destiny in the race for the Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular season champions. North Dakota leads the conference by three points over Miami.

While UND may be the team with more to play for in terms of conference play, St. Cloud State’s incentive for wins this weekend comes with national tournament implications, as the Huskies jumped back into PairWise consideration with a big sweep at home against Omaha last weekend.

North Dakota is all but a lock for the NCAA tournament after a sweep last weekend at Western Michigan and with a sweep and some help around the league, could win the Penrose outright on Saturday.

So, needless to say, this series is a big one.

Here’s what to watch for in DDC’s “Who? What? How?” series preview.

Who?

Players to watch


St. Cloud State:

Jr. F, Jonny Brodzinski, 17 goals, 12 assists – 29 points
Jr. F, Joey Benik, 11g, 18a – 29 pts
Jr. F, Kalle Kossila, 4g, 20a – 24 pts

So. G, Charlie Lindgren, 14-13-1, .916 save percentage, 2.30 goals against average

UND:

Jr. F, Drake Caggiula, 15 goals, 16 assists  – 31 points
Sr. F, Michael Parks, 12g, 19a – 31 pts
Sr. F, Mark MacMillan, 16g, 9a – 25 pts

Jr. G, Zane McIntyre, 22-6-3, 1.96 goals against average, .932 save percentage (8th in NCAA). 22 wins are good for No. 2 in the NCAA.

 

Senior Send Off


It's senior weekend for the last class to wear a Fighting Sioux logo. Let that sink in for a second.

UND will honor its seven seniors, Mark MacMillan, Michael Parks, Brendan O’Donnell, Connor Gaarder, Stephane Pattyn, Andrew Panzarella and Nick Mattson, after Saturday night's tilt.

This class deserves every accolade it can get. Here's hoping the Green and White can get six big points for this outstanding, leadership-driven class.



This week, Through These Doors takes a look at UND's senior class.

What?

Standout stats


SCSU:

2.87 goals per game, 2.47 goals allowed per game, 23.4% power play (3rd in NCAA), 79.3% penalty kill (44th in NCAA)

-2 overall in third period, 0-9 on the year when trailing after two periods, 1 short-handed goal on the year

3-0-1 in last four at Ralph Engelstad Arena

UND:

3.42 GPG (7th in NCAA), 2.13 GAG (10th in NCAA), 20.5% PP, 85.0% PK

15-0-3 when scoring first, 18-0-2 when leading after 2, +11 in third, 9 short-handed goals, leads NCAA

Can Mac Hit the Milestone?


MacMillan enters the weekend just one point shy of 100 for his career. He'd be the 85th player for UND to do so.

How?

How’d they get here?


SCSU:

No. 14 PWR, NR USCHO, 15-14-1 overall, 10-9-1, 31 points, 6th in NCHC
Last weekend: 4-3 W, 2-0 W vs. Omaha

UND:

No. 2 PWR, No. 1 USCHO, 22-6-3 overall, 13-5-2, 41 pts, 1st in NCHC
Last weekend: 3-1 W, 3-2 OT win @ Western Michigan

Last meeting:

Two teams split Nov. 21-22 in St. Cloud. SCSU won 3-1 on Friday and UND got the split with a 3-2 win on Saturday.

The Pick

DDC loves to look at the stats when making his pick every week. A few jump out: St. Cloud’s 5th best power play, UND’s 15-0-3 record when scoring the first goal, St. Cloud’s -2 goal differential in the third period, North Dakota’s +11 in the same stat. Important stats, right?

Well, superlatives aside, it’s playoff time and stats can be thrown out the window.

While the Huskies are unbeaten (3-0-1) in their last four against UND in Grand Forks, DDC loves the way the Green and White are getting wins as the stretch run rolls on.

As it has been all season, UND’s success story has one protagonist: Zane McIntyre.

The junior netminder was outstanding last weekend in Kalamazoo, allowing just three goals on the weekend. All three of which came with a WMU extra-attacker on the ice. McIntyre brought his game to a new level last weekend and DDC sees that continuing in this series.

UND shuts down St. Cloud’s dynamic forward group and power play, gets timely scoring from their tremendous depth and inches closer to the Penrose.

UND SWEEPS, 4-2, 3-2


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Roses and Thorns: Getting it Done

NCHC Standings:
1) UND, 13-5-2, 41 points;
2) Miami, 12-7-1 (1 SO win), 38 pts;
t-3) Denver, 11-8-1 (1 SO win, 35 pts;
t-3) UNO, 11-8-1 (1 SO win), 35 pts;
5) UMD, 11-8-1, 34 pts;
6) SCSU, 10-9-1, 31 pts;
7) WMU, 5-11-4 (3 SO wins), 22 pts;
8) CC, 1-18-1, 4 pts.
It wasn’t pretty, but at this time of the season, it doesn’t need to be.The UND men’s hockey team entered into hostile territory against a game Western Michigan squad this past weekend that tested the Green and White physically for 120-plus minutes.

But again, UND did what they have done for most of this season – found a way to win.

After a 3-1 victory on Friday, the No. 1 team in the country led WMU 2-0 with just over four minutes to go. However, the Broncos potted two empty-net goals in a furious finish, the second coming with 30 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Despite the deflating finish to regulation, UND gritted its teeth and fought back as junior Drake Caggiula netted the overtime winner at 3:31 in the extra frame for a 3-2 win.

The sweep earned the Green and White six massive points in the race for the Penrose Cup as North Dakota left Kalamazoo, Mich., three points ahead of Miami on top the NCHC standings with just four games remaining in the regular season.

Here’s what stood out to DDC from Lawson Ice Arena in this week’s Roses and Thorns.

Roses


No. 1 – Zane McIntyre


The UND netminder was simply fantastic this weekend. Several times this series, WMU flexed its muscles with highly-physical play and pressed the North Dakota net, but time and time again, McIntyre stood tall. The junior from Thief River Falls, Minn., allowed just three goals on the weekend, all of which came with the WMU net empty.  McIntyre stopped 69-of-72 shots this weekend en route to NCHC goaltender of the week honors. After a run of less-than-perfect starts, McIntyre was UND’s best player this weekend. The Green and White will continue to be tough to beat if they continue to see McIntyre’s best like they did again this weekend.

No. 2 – Tucker Poolman


The freshman defenseman turned forward didn’t light up the statsheet this weekend, but his physical, up-tempo play led UND. Poolman had a beautiful assist on UND’s first goal on Friday and was a +1 with two shots on Friday. Saturday, Poolman was a +2 and added another shot on goal. While he wasn’t always scoring, he played with an edge against a rough and tumble WMU squad. His active stick was in passing lanes both nights as he was a big part of UND keeping the Broncos at bay.  The freshman has shown his versatility all season long and the weekend was no exception.

No. 3 – UND’s Lockdown Defense


After an impressive performance in the third period on Friday that saw UND shutdown the Broncos as they attempted a comeback, the Green and White continued that play on Saturday. While a late WMU push forced OT, UND’s defensive play was still exceptional. UND won nearly every battle late on Friday and it took two late empty netters to break the Green and White on Saturday. The blown two-goal lead was surely disappointing, but it still doesn’t change how UND played defensively. Again, despite the late struggle, UND left Lawson with six points and the defense was the biggest reason.

DDC's hometown Thief River Falls girls hockey team won the Minnesota Class A
state title on Saturday, their first in team history. (Photo: Youth Hockey Hub)

No. 4 – Thief River Falls Girls Hockey


An extra special shout out goes to DDC’s high school alma mater Thief River Falls as the Prowler girls hockey team topped Blake 3-1 in the Class A state championship game to earn the program’s first state championship. DDC had the honor of coaching several of these young women in baseball when they were children and it was very fun watching them take home the hardware up to Northwest Minnesota. DDC is very proud of his Prowlers.

Thorns


No. 1 – UND’s Power Play


Simply put – yuck. DDC will give Western Michigan all the credit as they shutdown UND’s power play this weekend. The Green and White could not get things going with the extra man going 1-for-13 in the series. There was no time and space to be had and the Broncos held UND down. At times this season, North Dakota has been very good on the power play, but this weekend was a poor performance. Special teams play a huge role come playoff time and UND needs to get their power play clicking and in a hurry.

UND's Keaton Thompson battles for the puck on Saturday. (Photo cred: MLive.com)

No. 2 – Another Blown Lead


For the second weekend in a row, UND blew a two-goal lead on Saturday night. Despite playing lights out defensively for the first fifteen minutes in the third period, North Dakota coughed up the lead and clearly, this trend cannot continue. Western Michigan is not the most talented offensive team in the country but they grinded UND down in the third on Saturday. McIntyre can only do so much. Much like the power play, this needs to be fixed and in a hurry. With high-powered offenses St. Cloud State and Miami left on UND’s schedule, the Green and White can’t afford another third period let down like this Saturday.

So that’s it. Tune in later this week as the St. Cloud State Huskies head north up I-29 to Grand Forks and the Ralph Engelstad Arena for another important NCHC tilt. If all things fall right, UND could be playing for the Penrose Cup on Saturday.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Gameday: Ranting and Rolling ON


For regular fans of the DDC, you may have noticed the weekly Roses and Thorns was missing from your week. For that, DDC must apologize, but he could not bring himself past the frustration that surrounded UND’s four-point weekend against Denver.

For the second week in a row, DDC was forced to do something he hates to do, as it shows his fanboy side: blame the officials for a loss.

It’s time for a rant.

After a 4-2 UND win on Friday that saw an interesting no-goal call, another questionable review kept UND off the board on what looked like a go ahead goal off the stick of Brenden O’Donnell on Saturday night that saw the officials change their explanation on two separate occasions. Did the officials not see the puck in the net on a review as first told to UND coach? Evidently not. Did the referee intend to blow his whistle on the play as was expressed after the game? DDC doesn’t know. If so, why would there be a review? Sigh.

Then, as time ticked down in the final seconds of a 2-2 game, Denver fired a shot towards the UND net. The puck clearly ripped the water bottle on top the goal and caromed into the netting behind the North Dakota net. Wait? A goal? Officials called a goal without seeing the puck go in the net. It was overturned and UND lost in a shootout, but c’mon. How can an official call a goal in an important situation as that WITHOUT seeing the puck in the net?

Shame on you, NCHC officials.

Rant over.

Moving On

Now, back to your regular scheduled DDC programming.

Six games remain in the regular season and UND is back on top of the national ranking. Following the Denver series, the Green and White are locked in a three-way, 35-point tie for the NCHC lead and head to Kalamazoo, Mich., to take on the Western Michigan Broncos.

The last time these two teams faced off was in last season’s NCHC tournament. After a disappointing 3-0 loss to Miami, UND rallied for a convincing 5-0 win over the Broncos in the third-place game, that allowed for Wisconsin’s heroics to get North Dakota into the NCAA tournament. The rest, as they say, is history, on that one.

Here’s what to watch for in this weekend’s pivotal NCHC series in DDC’s weekly “Who? What? How?” weekly preview.

Who?

Players to watch


WMU:

Jr. F, Colton Hargrove, 12 goals, 10 assists – 22 points
So. F, Sheldon Dries, 11g, 11a – 22 pts
Sr. F, Justin Kovacs, 4g, 17a – 21 pts

Jr. G, Lukas Hafner, 10-8-4, .919 save percentage, 2.28 goals against average
Sr. G, Frank Slubowski, 2-4-0, .895 SV PCT, 3.18 GAA, started both games in split vs. Omaha, 4 goals allowed, 61 saves

UND:

Jr. F, Drake Caggiula, 13 goals, 16 assists  – 29 points
Sr. F, Michael Parks, 11g, 18a – 29 pts
Sr. F, Mark MacMillan, 15g, 8a – 23 pts

Jr. G, Zane McInyre, 20-6-3, 2.00 goals against average, .930 save percentage. 20 wins are good for No. 2 in the NCAA.

What?

Standout stats


WMU:

2.75 goals per game, 2.64 goals allowed per game, 23.1% power play (5th in NCAA), 80.9% penalty kill (36th in NCAA), 14.79 blocks per game (8th in NCAA)

3-9-3 when giving up first goal, 9-3-1 when scoring first, -17 in second period, +15 in third, zero short-handed goals

UND:

3.45 GPG (7th in NCAA), 2.17 GAG (9th in NCAA), 21.8% PP (10th in NCAA), 84.7% PK

13-0-3 when scoring first, +13 in second, 9 short-handed goals, leads NCAA

Sr. F. Mark MacMillan
is just three points shy
of 100 for his career.

Can Mac Hit the Milestone?


After a scoreless weekend against Denver, senior forward Mark MacMillan still sits three points shy of 100 for his career.

How?

How’d they get here?


WMU:

No. 23 PWR, NR USCHO, 12-12-4 overall, 5-9-4, 3 shootout wins, 22 points, 7th in NCHC.
Last weekend: 2-1 W, 3-1 L @ Omaha

UND:

No. 2 PWR, No. 1 USCHO, 20-6-3 overall, 11-5-2, 35 pts, T-1st in NCHC
Last weekend: 4-2 W, 3-3 tie (SO loss) vs. Denver

Last meeting: NCHC tournament third place game, 5-0 UND win.

The Pick


Western Michigan, despite their current seventh-place standing in the NCHC, has been playing very well of late. The Broncos are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, including wins over Top 10 teams UMD, Miami and Omaha.

UND will need to bring it this weekend against a physical WMU squad that boasts the nation’s fifth-ranked power play (23.1%) and eighth-best blocks per game (14.8 per game).

North Dakota will need to play fast and break through the Bronco defense to earn these big Penrose points and DDC believes UND will do just that.

The key may be to score early. Western Michigan is just 3-9-3 this season when giving up the first goal of the game. UND? Undefeated at 13-0-1 when scoring first.

Look for the speedy playmakers in Green and White to try and find space. Calling Nick Schmaltz, Mark MacMillan, Drake Caggiula and Bryn Chyzyk. If this group can wheel into the zone and get to the net, UND should be successful this weekend.


UND SWEEPS, 3-1, 4-1.

 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Gameday: No Love Loss



It's Valentine's Day weekend for all the lovebirds around the world, but if he had to guess, DDC knows there won't be much love shown this weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The No. 2 UND men's hockey team welcomes National Collegiate Hockey Conference and longtime foe, No. 9 Denver to Grand Forks with huge Penrose Cup points on the line.

North Dakota trails Omaha by just one point entering the weekend while the Pioneers are fighting for home ice. DU sits in 5th just one point back of Minnesota Duluth for that coveted fourth spot and home ice for the NCHC tournament.

DDC fancies himself a bit of an innovator and brings a new Friday format to his gameday preview this week.

Here's the Who, What and How of this heated rivalry renewed.

Who?

Players to watch


Denver:

Fr. F, Danton Heinen, 10 goals, 19 assists – 29 points
So. F, Trevor Moore, 13g, 13a – 26 pts
Sr. D, Joey LaLeggia, 9g, 15a – 24 pts

Fr. G, Tanner Jaillet, started last 6-out-of-9 games including a 30-save 3-0 shutout win vs. Colorado College last Friday, 30 Saves; 9-4-0, 1.97 gaa, .927 sv pct
So. G, Evan Cowley, got win in split versus UND in November, 7-5-1, 2.05, .927

UND:

Jr. F, Drake Caggiula, 11 goals, 16 assists  – 27 points
Sr. F, Michael Parks, 9g, 18a – 27 pts
Sr. F, Mark MacMillan, 15g, 8a – 23 pts

Jr. G, Zane McInyre, 19-6-2, 1.96 goals against average (11th in NCAA), .931 save percentage (10th in NCAA). 19 wins T-2 in NCAA.

What?

Standout stats


Denver:

3.00 Goals per game, 2.15 goals allowed per game (T-9 in NCAA), 22.5% Power Play (6th in NCAA), 87.6% Penalty Kill (9th in NCAA)

UND:

3.44 GPG (9th in NCAA), 2.14 GAG (8 in NCAA), 20.9% PP, 84.8% PK
DU 4-5-1 on the road, 4-7-1 when giving up first goal.

Milestone Mac?


With three points this weekend, senior forward Mark MacMillan would top the 100 point total for his career.

How?

How’d they get here?

 

Denver:

No. 9 PWR, No. 9 USCHO, 16-9-1 overall, 9-7-0, 27 points, 5th in NCHC.
Beat CC 3-0 last Friday.

UND:

No. 2 PWR, No. 2 USCHO, 19-6-2 overall, 10-5-1, 31 pts, 2nd in NCHC.
Didn’t play last week.

Last meeting: Split, Denver 3-1, UND 4-1, December 12 and 13th in Denver

The Pick


It’s been almost exactly seven years since the Green and White swept the Pioneers. Way back on Feb. 15 and 16, 2008, UND rallied from a 4-1 deficit on Friday night on the heels of an Andrew Kozek hat trick for a 5-4 win and got the sweep with a 4-1 on Saturday. DDC remembers Kozek’s performance very vividly as the forward launched his patented laser wrister twice and buried a rebound to complete the comeback. Not many times has the REA rocked that loud. Here's Koz's second and third goals:



UND could need a performance like Kozek’s to pull off the sweep this weekend as both teams are playing well and points are huge with just eight games to go in the race for the league title.

In the What? section of this preview a big stat stands out to DDC. Denver is just 4-5-1 on the road this season. UND was off last week and DDC thinks the Green and White play at an elite this weekend and the road woes continue for the Pios. Expect to see a heck of a series this weekend. Shutting down the high-paced defensive corps and vaunted power play will be key for UND.

UND sweeps, 3-2, 4-2 


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Roses and Thorns: Putting in the Extra Time


NCHC Standings:
1) UNO, 10-5-1, 32 points (1 SO win);
2) UND, 10-5-1, 31 pts;
3) UMD, 9-6-1, 28 points;
4) Miami, 8-6-1, 26 pts (1 SO win);
5) DU, 8-7-0, 24 pts;
6) SCSU, 7-8-1, 22 pts;
7) WMU, 4-7-4, 19 pts (3 SO wins);
8) CC, 1-13-1, 4 pts.
No. 1 vs. No. 5. 

No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the NCHC.

No. 2 vs. No. 4 in the PairWise.

UND versus Nebraska Omaha had all the makings of a quality National Collegiate Hockey Conference series and boy, did it deliver. 

The two conference foes split the series, each getting an OT winner on consecutive nights. UNO got their winner on Friday night off the stick of Austin Ortega on a 5-on-3 power play, earning a 3-2 win. UND came back the next night as Brenden O’Donnell played OT hero netting his winner with 2:04 gone in the extra frame to get the Green and White the series split.

We came into this past weekend with UNO one point ahead of UND in the NCHC. We leave with the same. It was a heck-of-a-series from Omaha and there were certainly some standout performance. Here’s what caught DDC’s eye this past weekend.

Roses


No. 1 – Ryan Massa


One storylines coming into this series was the goaltending battle between Massa and UND’s Zane McIntyre. While McIntyre was good this weekend, UNO’s Massa was flat out great. Stopping 71 out of 77 on the weekend, the senior made 29 of those saves in the third period or OT. Without Massa this weekend, UNO would have, no, not could have – would have – not walked away with a split. UND peppered the net all weekend and Massa was up to the challenge. This is a big-time goaltender and if he stays at this level with his game, the Mavericks could have a deep NCAA run in their future.

UND Senior Brenden O'Donnell is mobbed by his teammates
after scoring his overtime winner on Saturday night.

No. 2 – UND’s Seniors


As they have all season, the seniors in Green and White stepped up when their team needed them most. After a heart-wrenching OT loss after battling back down 2-0 and tying it with an extra-attacker goal with less than a minute to go, UND desperately needed a win on Saturday night. And again, the seniors delivered as UND’s four goals came off the stick of North Dakota’s top class. Mark McMillian scored twice, Stephane Pattyn added a goal in the third and O’Donnell’s netted the OT winner. When the stakes are high, this class is at its best. That certainly bodes well for UND down the stretch.

No. 3 – Battle Level


What a series. These two teams turned up the heat this weekend as a high-flying series delivered on its billing. This was playoff level hockey. DDC said it on Friday night, he’ll take UND’s compete level every game. More often than not, that type of play will earn a win. UNO got a more of the bounces this weekend, but that takes nothing away from the Mavericks. They brought their A-game this weekend. But, DDC is of the opinion, when UND plays with the compete level they played at all weekend, they are the toughest team in the country to play against. Can we do that again? What a great, playoff hockey type weekend.

Thorns


No. 1 – Officiating


DDC isn’t normally a guy to chirp about officiating. It’s incredibly challenging to be an official at any level, let alone NCAA. But, in DDC’s opinion, they dropped the ball this weekend. Inconsistent calls on stick penalties and checking penalties marred a great series. UNO getting a 5-on-3 in overtime is something that just almost never happens. Did McMillan deserve a cross check on the penalty that got it to a 5-on-3? Sure. DDC doesn’t disagree. However, UNO’s Ortega made the penalty look crippling and it certainly wasn’t and was definitely embellished. On Saturday night, a phantom bench minor for Too Many Men on the Ice led to UNO’s tying goal with just over three minutes left. Replay showed it being a missed call. Two huge plays and two huge calls. The search for consistency continues.

No. 2 – UND’s Power Play


Austin Ortega scores the OT winner to beat UND in overtime on Friday.
(Photo credit: OMAVS.com
While the Green and White were 20% on the weekend (2/10), there’s too much talent on the ice with the extra man for UND for inconsistency to reign like it did this weekend. A lot of the credit goes to an extremely aggressive UNO penalty kill that pressured the passing lanes, but UND is too talented to struggle like they did at times this past weekend. Blue line play has been critica
l for North Dakota this season and they have been the trigger for the power play all year. Expect to see a bit of a shakeup for UND’s PP group after the bye week.


No. 3 – Puck Luck


Clang, clang, clang. UND heard a lot of that his weekend, especially on Friday, as Troy Stecher and Keaton Thompson both rang pipes that drew booth reviews. Another play that stood out was a bounce, again off the pipe, that landed to the left of Massa, laid flat in the crease for three seconds and was whiffed on by a UND player crashing to the net. DDC is well aware that UND has gotten their fair share of bounces this season, this weekend it did not get many. Despite the split, Friday night’s game could have certainly gone UND’s way.

After a stressful series for fans and team alike, the bye may have not come at a better time for UND. Don’t worry, DDC fans! We’ll still be here later this week with a look at the stretch run. Thanks for reading.