Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Gameday: A Top 5 Tussle

This past Friday, the UND men’s hockey team was still reeling from a eye-opening home-and-home split at the hands of unranked Bemidji State and were staring down an important NCHC season-opening series in Colorado Springs.

What a difference a week makes.

A 3-1 and 7-2 win and a series sweep over Colorado College later, all things look right for No. 3 North Dakota heading into a pivotal non-conference series against No. 5 Providence tonight and Saturday from the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.

For the first time since 2011, the REA faithful welcome a Top 5 ranked team and the ranking is justified for the Friars. UND hasn't played Providence College since 1989.


Jr. G. Jon Gillies
Providence, the media’s preseason team to beat in Hockey East, is a veteran team that returns five 20-point forwards from last year’s squad that lost to eventual national champion Union in the East Region final.

Junior co-captains Ross Mauermann, the Friars leading scorer last year with 36 points (19g, 17a), and Noel Acciari (11g, 11a) pace the Providence offense.

However, it all starts between the pipes for Providence as junior stalwart Jon Gillies leads the Friars. An all-Hockey East preseason pick, Gillies was third in the nation last year in save percentage posting a miniscule .931.

The 6’5”, 215 pound and Mike Richter Award watch list goalie, Gillies looks more like an enforcer than a goaltender, but athletically, he’s as good as anyone in the country.


The Friars are 1-1 on the season following a non-conference split with Ohio State two weeks ago and an exhibition tie against the U.S. Under 18 team last Thursday.

If Providence sports a weakness at all, it may be on the blue line where since-departed Steven Shamanski and Kevin Hart led the team in minutes last season. That said, four regular contributors return, led by John Gilmour, and freshmen Jake Walman and Logan Day have made an early impact.


On the green and white side of the ice, UND seemed to get its offense rolling against Colorado College, netting 10 goals, five of which came from assistant captain Mark MacMillan.

After a two-goal performance in Friday’s 3-1 win, the senior centerman exploded for a five-point night including his first-career hat trick to pace a 7-2 UND blowout win. The seven-point weekend earned MacMillan NCHC offensive player of the week honors.

Joining MacMillan, sophomore defenseman Paul LaDue’s five-point (2g, 3a) weekend  earned him top defensive honors for the week in the NCHC.
North Dakota
Jr. G. Zane McIntyre


Ok, so DDC has talked about Gillies, the Friars offensive depth, UND’s increased offensive output and a Top 5 matchup, but what is he forgetting?

Zane McIntyre might have something to say about that.

After a shaky start got him yanked against in the season opener against Bemidji State, the junior netminder is 3-0 with a 1.33 goals against average and .953 save percentage.

What a matchup in between the pipes. Gillies and McIntyre. Gillies has never lost a game on consecutive nights in his Friar career. McIntyre has had it happen once. So, split, right?

UND laid an absolute egg in their first shot in front of their home crowd, getting dominated 5-1 against an unranked BSU. Since then, North Dakota has batten down the hatches defensively and found a way to score some goals. DDC thinks a hyped crowd could make the difference.

McIntyre has been lights out after the hiccup against the Beavers and DDC thinks he’s the difference this weekend as the green and white look to show the home crowd some love.

UND SWEEPS 2-0, 3-2.