Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Gameday: It's Time to Stretch

Here we go, college hockey fans. We’ve officially hit the stretch run.

Tonight and Saturday, the No. 2 UND men’s hockey team takes on the Colorado College Tigers from the Ralph Engelstad Arena in a National Collegiate Hockey Conference two-game tussle.

This weekend’s series finds these two teams pretty much where they were when they faced each other back in October, with North Dakota near the top of the national rankings while CC continues its search for consistency.

UND entered that early-season series in Colorado Springs with the sting of a stunning 5-1 opening-night loss to Bemidji State still fresh on their minds, but rolled the Tigers 3-1 and 7-2 to earn a sweep.

Since then, not much has changed for the Green and White as they’ve rolled to a 16-5-2 record and a No. 4 Pairwise ranking.

Colorado College has started to show signs of life, earning their first NCHC win of the season last weekend against NCHC-leading Nebraska-Omaha.

The Tigers lost Saturday night’s game against the Mavericks 4-1, but outshot UNO 28-14.

UND rounded out their non-conference season in the Dave Hakstol era with a dominating 7-1, 5-0 weekend sweep over Niagara this past weekend to earn a stellar 9-1-1 record out of the NCHC.

Terrible Tendies

As these two teams dig in for the race to the postseason, the Tigers will look to slow UND’s No. 6 nationally-ranked offensive attack that is clipping at 3.48 goals per game.

To find success this weekend, CC will need to find someone to step up between the pipes.

Freshman Chase Perry and sophomore Tyler Marble have both started 12 games this season for a Tiger team that’s allowing the fourth-most goals per game in country, averaging 4.00 goals allowed per game.

The netminding duo have put up some pretty paltry numbers this year that finds both Perry and Marble in the bottom five out of 79 qualifying goalies in save percentage (Perry .884, Marble .880) and goals against average (Perry 3.64, Marble 3.95).

Junior forward Cody Bradley (8g, 10a –18 points) and dynamic sophomore defenseman Jaccob Slavin (2g, 8a –10 pts) lead the Tiger offense.

Dynamic Depth

Junior forward Drake Caggiula continues to lead UND offensively with 24 points (9g, 15a) while senior assistant captain Mark MacMillan carries the goal scoring lead with 11 for the Green and White.

Depth has been UND’s calling card this season with 10 players entering this weekend’s series with double-digit point totals. Two more, defenseman Troy Stecher and forward Bryn Chyzyk, both of who have missed significant time with injuries, have nine points on the season.

Welcome Back?

Speaking of injuries, UND may have finally turned the corner in a good way as Stecher (leg), junior Colton St. Clair (upper-body injury) and freshman Trevor Olson (mononucleosis) all returned to practice this week. While all three are still very much questionable for this weekend, a return for these three key cogs could prove huge for UND as the stretch run rolls on.

The Man, the Myth, the McIntyre

UND's Zane McIntyre
Defensively for North Dakota, as it has been all season, it starts and ends with goaltender Zane McIntyre.

The junior from DDC’s hometown of Thief River Falls, Minn., was lights out last weekend against Niagara, stopping 42-of-43 shots and was one Friday night softie away from a pair of shutouts.

McIntyre (16-5-2) is tied for most wins in the country and places 10th nationally in both goals against average (1.87) and save percentage  (.933).

The Pick

While CC has certainly grown as a team since these two played in October under first-year head coach Mike Haviland, the Tiger’s goaltending situation looks to be much too shaky to slow a high-flying offense like UND’s.

The Green and White are coming off a weekend that saw them put up 12 goals and DDC expects UND to continue to put pressure forward this weekend.

Throw in North Dakota’s No. 8 ranked defense (allowing just 2.09 goals per game) in front of a goaltender in McIntyre playing better and better by the weekend, this weekend has sweep written all over it.

DDC expects to CC to bring intensity and hustle all weekend, but in the end, UND is playing too well to pick against them.

UND SWEEPS 4-1, 5-2.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Roses and Thorns: Breathing Easy

UND senior forward Mark MacMillan pots a power play
goal on Saturday night. Photo Credit: UND Sports
This past weekend had all the makings of a Pairwise disaster for the UND men’s hockey team.

The Green and White had little to gain and a lot to lose in the rankings with a loss to dead-last ranked Niagara. A loss in either game would have sent UND hurdling down the rankings.

A 7-1, 5-0 sweep later, North Dakota and its fans can breathe easy.

The Green and White dominated the lowly Purple Eagles for a full 120 minutes Friday and Saturday and closed out their non-conference play for 2014-15 with a stellar 9-1-1 record.

Here’s what stood out to DDC in his weekly Roses and Thorns:

Roses

No. 1 – Zane McIntyre


The junior netminder was a late, third-period softie on Friday short of back-to-back shutouts on the weekend. Although not tested very much all weekend, McIntyre was nearly perfect, stopping 42-of-43 shots and recording his first shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. With the solid weekend, McIntyre’s .933 save percentage is now best in UND single-season history. Already UND’s career leader in save percentage (.927) and goals against average (2.06), we’re running out of superlatives for the all-world goalie.

No. 2 – Slump Breakers


A trio of players broke slumps on Saturday night when Michael Parks netted two goals on Saturday, his first since Dec. 5, Mark MacMillan scored twice and added an assist, recording three points after having just one in five games and Wade Murphy got his first point of the season with an assist in the third. It was great to see the top liners get going again and even better to see the hard-working Murphy finally find the scoresheet.

No. 3 – Senior Captains


What a weekend from UND’s senior captains. Stephane Pattyn scored twice (1g Friday, 1g Saturday), Parks netted two on Saturday and McMillan added four points (2 goals on Saturday, 2a) for an eight-point weekend for the core of the team. On Saturday, all five goals came from the captains. After a cutesy first period for UND that saw too many passes and waste chances, the seniors turned up the heat and found the next three times in the second to pace the sweep. Huge statement from a great group.

No. 4 – UND’s “fourth” Line


The recently-formed line of Austin Poganski, Connor Gaarder and Brendan O’Donnell was dominant on Friday night recording three goals (two from Poganski and one from O’Donnell) and five assists for eight points. A lot can be said for chemistry and these three found each other all night. The freshman Poganski was in the right spot on both goals after big bounces while seniors Gaarder and O’Donnell meshed very well together. DDC would like to see this line stick together.

No. 5 – Bryn Chyzyk


The junior forward scored UND’s first and last goals on Friday night and each goal showed Chyzyk’s growth as a player this season. Chyzyk’s first was a blend of speed and power as he beat the NU netminder 1-on-1. His second, Chyzyk ripped a laser past the goaltender on a short-side wrister, both gorgeous in their own right. This may have been said previously, but if the Virden, Manitoba native doesn’t wear a letter next year for UND, something is wrong.

UND's Stephane Pattyn leads the team back to the bench after celebrating a goal on
Niagara University's Jackson Teichroeb on Friday. Photo Credit: Grand Forks Herald.

Thorns

No. 1 – Lack of Grit for Niagara


For a team that lacks talent, DDC fully expected to see Niagara play a slow, defensive type game in an attempt to plug the middle against an explosive UND offense. That wasn’t the case on the weekend as the Purple Eagles attempted to play an up-tempo, run and gun style that North Dakota blew up right from the beginning of the weekend. That type of play probably works in Atlantic Hockey. Well, no actually, it probably doesn’t since NU has three wins on the year. Hard to believe that was a tournament team just two years ago.

No. 2 – NU Defenseman


Sorry to beat a dead horse on this one, but it’s hard to find a thorn for UND this weekend, so DDC will stick with Niagara. Going out on a limb here… The Purple Eagles are awful on defense. Head coach Dave Burkholder could have easily deployed pylons this weekend. The NU defensemen got blown by wide several times this weekend and left their goaltenders out to dry on multiple goals. Not a good performance from the team from Niagara Falls. DDC must say that the NU D-Man’s feed to North Dakota’s Steph Pattyn for the senior’s Friday night goal was pretty nice.

So, that’s it. Thanks for stopping by and check back in later this week as UND prepares to start the stretch run, welcoming the CC Tigers to the Ralph, this coming weekend.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Gameday: A Must Sweep


Feels like we’ve been here before, doesn’t it?

A highly-ranked UND squad comes into the weekend facing off against a lowly non-conference foe that has struggled to score and keep pucks out of their own net.

While the result ultimately was good, a 7-4, 3-1 sweep against Lake Superior State in early December, UND fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena nearly saw a Pairwise disaster before a furious rally in first of two games against the Lakers.

And here we are, again.  This time, it’s the 59-out-of-59- Pairwise ranked Niagara University Purple Eagles.

The No. 3 UND men’s hockey team wraps up its non-conference schedule tonight and Saturday against a Niagara squad that has struggled mightily this season.

The Purple Eagles (3-15-2) are last in Atlantic Hockey, in the bottom 10 in the country in scoring (1.95 goals per game) and the bottom five in defense (4.00 goals allowed per game), penalty kill (74.2%) and power play (7.4%).

Last week, NU dropped a pair of 4-3 games to Air Force, whom UND needed overtime to beat in November.

Continuing the search for scoring, the Purple Eagles rely on upperclassmen forwards Issac Kohls and Hugo Turcotte, who lead the team with 10 (4g, 6a) and nine points (5g, 4a) respectively. 

Sophomore goaltender Jackson Teichroeb has been the man in the net for Niagara, with all three of the team’s wins.

DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN


Much like the rhetoric coming into the LSSU series, UND (14-5-2, 7-4-1 NCHC) should have a chance to fill the net against a struggling defensive team.

Leading the way for the Green and White, as it has been all season, is the trio of Drake Caggiula, Michael Parks and Mark MacMillan.

Caggiula and MacMillan are tied for the team lead in goals with nine.

In goal, this could be a weekend Green and White fans see backup Cam Johnson, but with the potential of a devastating loss, Zane McIntyre (14-5-2, 2.01 GAA, .930 sv pct) should see action this weekend.


THE PICK

Simply put, this is a must sweep for UND. Coming off a hard-fought conference split against UMD, a letdown cannot be in the plan. While two wins won’t help much, a loss would be a Pairwise nightmare. As always, visitors get a boost from playing in the Ralph in front of a rowdy crowd and Niagara has absolutely nothing to lose. DDC expects the Eagles to come out hard tonight and UND has struggled on Fridays going 1-5-1 in their last seven series starters, but if UND can weather the early push, the Green and White roll the weekend. The talent difference is just too large.

UND SWEEPS, 4-1, 6-0.

 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Roses and Thorns: No Surprises, A Split

NCHC Standings: T-1) Miami, 7-3-0, 21 pts; T-1) UMD, 7-3-0, 21 pts;
3) UNO, 6-3-1-1, 20 pts; 4) UND, 6-3-1, 19 pts; 5) DU, 4-3-0, 12 pts;
6) WMU, 2-6-2-2, 10 pts; 7) SCSU, 2-5-1, 7 pts; 8) CC, 0-8-1, 1 pt
Another trip to Magness Arena. Another split.

The UND men’s hockey team and Denver played another high-energy, heated conference series this weekend as the Pioneers and netminder Evan Cowley took Friday night’s contest 4-1. North Dakota battled back on Saturday for a convincing 3-1 victory, earning the National Collegiate Hockey Conference split.

Here’s what stood out for the DDC in this week’s Rose and Thorns.

Roses

 

No. 1 – Nick Mattson 


The senior defenseman showed some veteran savvy in a big way on Saturday night. After being scratched the previous four games, Mattson netted UND’s first goal of the game and added an assist in the 3-1 victory. With Troy Stecher expected to be out through January, a contributing Mattson would be huge for UND.

No. 2 – Bryn Chyzyk


Chyzyk returned from injury and scored a big goal in Friday night’s game that got UND back in it at 2-1. He added an assist on Saturday. The junior has taken huge strides this season and it was nice seeing Chyzyk continue his good play after missing a good chunk of time with an injury.

No. 3 – Evan Cowley


DU head coach Jim Montgomery said after Saturday night’s 3-1 loss that he planned on using freshman goaltender Tanner Jaillet regardless of Cowley’s performance on Friday. Montgomery may be regretting that decision as Cowley was much better than Jaillet this weekend. The sophomore goalie came up huge on Friday, stopping 29 of 30 shots, also adding an assist. His save on the doorstep on UND’s Connor Gaarder with DU nursing a 2-1 lead in the third kept DU rolling and he earned the 4-1 win.

Thorns


No. 1 – Refereeing/Penalties


Ok. DDC gets it. No excuses. You can’t control the calls on the ice. However, the checking from behind call on UND’s top centerman and assistant captain Mark McMillan that saw the senior get ejected just seven minutes into the game, was flat out awful. Below is the call. You judge for yourself. Losing McMillan, UND was forced to jumble lines, even going as far as pulling Tucker Poolman from the blue line to forward. This call put North Dakota on its heels early on and made a big impact on a rivalry series. Two minutes? Sure. Five? Not a chance. Denver, in DDC’s opinion, was a bit soft on their skates this weekend and a talented power play group took advantage. Look, DDC understands that UND isn’t full of angels and protecting players is very important. However, calls like that shouldn’t be game changers. Call the two. Keep McMillan on the ice. Move on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AviQdFj_rF8

No. 2 – Stephane Pattyn


Pardon me for calling out the captain of this team, but the burley forward has put UND behind the 8-ball a few times this season with silly, after the whistle penalties. The forward did it again on Friday with an unsportsmanlike call. DDC has always loved the grit and gristle that Pattyn has brought to his team, but, UND would prefer to keep its captain out of the box.

No. 3 – Coltyn Sanderson


Sanderson didn’t directly do anything to earn a spot on DDC’s thorns this week, but that may be precisely why he’s on this list.  Once again, Sanderson was completely invisible on Friday night and freshman Johnny Simonson took his spot on Saturday and in DDC’s opinion, it should stay that way going forward. Sanderson’s lack of skill isn’t hurting the team, as the junior doesn’t see much of the ice, but Simonson is simply a better option.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Gameday: As Must See As Must See Can Be

College hockey rivalries in the west have taken a bit of a hit over the last two years with the berth of the Big 10 and National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Rivalry series like Michigan vs. Miami and of course, UND vs. Minnesota have taken a hit with realignment.
Other rivalries are budding with the likes of Nebraska-Omaha, Western Michigan and St. Cloud State.

However, with all of this change, one rivalry has certainly stayed the same.

Heated foes in No. 10 Denver and No. 1 North Dakota renew pleasantries tonight and Saturday from Magness Arena in Denver in a bout of teams that have a history of epic battles and bad blood.



Here’s a quick refresher to remind DU and UND fans alike what this rivalry has been like over the years.


From Feb. 16, 2008, UND forward Kyle Radke annihilates Denver forward Brandon Vossberg. A couple things to note here: At 12 seconds of the video, Radke hears the crowd roar and runs back out of the tunnel to pummel Vossberg. Just a vicious beat down. One not to be forgotten. Starting at 1:37, you can see DDC waiving DU off the ice on the very far left of the row. Vintage sweater. Oh, college.

Powerful Pios

Denver comes into this weekend’s series on a roll offensively. The nation’s 11th-best scoring offense (3.38 goals per game) has been particularly lethal with the extra man.

Sr. D Joey LaLeggia
paces DU's blueline
The Pioneers boast the No. 4 power play in the country, converting at a stellar 27.6% clip.

Leading the charge for Denver offensively are a couple of old faces and one new one.

Senior defenseman, and preseason all-NCHC pick by both the media and DDC, Joey LaLeggia (5g, 6a – 11pts) leads the attack from the blueline while fellow senior Daniel Doremus (4g, 11a – 15pts) takes care of the forward group.

Freshman forward Danton Heinen leads the Pioneers in points with 16 (6g, 10a).
Denver (9-4, 3-2 NCHC) has seen two netminders emerge to replace all-world goaltender Sam Brittain.

Sophomore Evan Cowley (6-4, 1.98 goals against, .922 save percentage) leads the Pios statistically, however, the last two Denver wins have been backstopped by freshman Tanner Jaillet, including a 3-1 at Cornell last Friday. Cowley took the loss 4-1 on Friday.

UND Finds Depth

UND Jr. F. Drake Caggiula leads
the nation's No. 10 offense
Leading the way for UND’s No. 10 ranked offense (3.41 goals per game) has been junior Drake Caggiula.

The dynamic forward’s 21 points (7g, 14a) puts him in the top ten in the country while senior Michael Parks (6g, 13a – 19pts) and freshman Nick Schmaltz (2g, 12a – 14pts) also provide scoring spark for North Dakota.

UND (12-3-2, 5-2-1 NCHC) showed its depth last weekend in a 7-4, 3-1 sweep over Lake Superior State as defenseman Jordan Schmaltz (5 points) and Tucker Poolman (3 points) both took home National Collegiate Hockey Conference weekly honors.

Schmaltz earned defensemen of the week with a three-assist night on Friday, adding a goal and an assist on Saturday. Poolman was named the NCHC rookie of the week after notching two huge power play goals on Friday and coming back with an assist in Saturday’s win.

Backstopping the UND attack, junior Zane McIntyre earned the Green and White’s third NCHC honor of the week.

McIntyre allowed two goals this past weekend en route to earning conference goaltending weekly honors.

The Pick

UND will be without arguably its best defenseman this weekend in sophomore Troy Stecher who went down with a leg injury in Saturday night’s win over LSSU. This loss hurts North Dakota greatly, but it’s next man up for UND. Veterans Nick Mattson and Andrew Panzerella could both be thrusted into action against a team who knows how to put the puck in the net.

North Dakota seemed to get its power play back on track in last weekend’s sweep, going 5-for-8 and will likely have its chances with the extra man as Denver’s 16.9 penalty minutes a game is the fifth-highest in the country. The Pios have struggled on the penalty kill, as well, stopping just 84.7% of their opponent’s power plays.

This weekend should provide some high-octane energy and passion and is as much as can’t-miss-TV as college hockey has going today.

UND will look to score in bunches against an average defensive attack, but the loss of Stecher could deter that a bit. As much as it pains him to make this call, DDC sees a split this weekend at Magness in what should be two extremely competitive games.


UND wins 4-2 on Friday, Denver earns the split 3-2 on Saturday.