Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Gameday: A Trip Down I-94

8-2-1 and 5-0.


Which trend will continue as the No. 2 UND men’s hockey team takes on the No. 16 St. Cloud State Huskies tonight and Saturday?

North Dakota is rolling coming into this weekend’s National Collegiate Hockey Conference tilt with that 8-2-1 record, going 5-0 on the road for the first time since the 1980-81 season However, UND is just 1-5-1 in its last seven games against St. Cloud.

Highs and lows

It’s been an up and down year thus far for the Huskies as they enter the weekend a very average 4-5-1 after a win and shootout loss this past weekend at Western Michigan.

At its high, St. Cloud knocked off previously unbeaten and No. 1 ranked Minnesota.

At its low, the Huskies got swept at home against UMD.
Jonny Brodzinski

Which team shows up this weekend against the Green and White will ultimately come down to a talented forward group.

Junior forwards Jonny Brodzinski (5g, 3a), Joey Benik (5g, 3a) and Kalle Kossila (2g, 6a) lead the Huskies with eight points while Senior defenseman and assistant captain Andrew Prochno (2g, 5a) is just behind the SCSU top line with seven.

Their explosive offense has been aided by a tremendous power play unit that is clipping at a 25% (11-out-of-44) rate this year, good for sixth-best in the country.

Sophomore goaltender Charlie Lindgren paces the Husky defense with a 4-5 record, 2.49 goals against average and .909 save percentage.

Top line vs. Top line

UND Jr. F. Drake Caggiula
is tied for the national lead
in points with 16.
The talented Benik, Kossila, Brodzinski line will certainly see its equal this weekend at the Herb Brooks Center.

The top line of seniors Michael Parks and Mark MacMillan and junior Drake Caggiula reunited this past weekend with MacMillan’s return from a wrist injury and it didn’t take long for the trio to get reacquainted.

The line recorded four points in a 2-2 tie on Friday and a whopping seven in a 4-1 victory on Saturday to earn a split with Miami in Grand Forks.

Caggiula leads the way for the nation’s seventh-best scoring team (3.55 goals a game) and is tied for first in the country in scoring with 16 points (6g, 10a). Parks (5g, 9a) and MacMillan (6g, 4a) are right behind him with 14 and 10 points respectively.

Between the pipes, it’s all Zane McIntyre.

The junior stalwart has been as steady as steady goes this season with a 8-2-1 record, 1.95 goals against average and .928 save percentage.

McIntyre had a rough start to open the year, getting yanked in the second period after giving up four goals in an embarrassing 5-1 home loss to Bemidji State.

Since that game, however, the netminder is 8-1-1 with a tiny 1.67 GAA and stellar .935 SV PCT.

The Pick

With all this talk about offense, it’s easy to forget about the talent on the blue lines. DDC believes this is where the weekend is won and frankly, UND’s is better than St. Cloud’s.

Sophomore defenseman Paul LaDue returned from injury against Miami and was very quiet and seemed to be getting his legs underneath him. North Dakota fans know what this kid is like when he gets going. LaDue will be a key cog this weekend for the Green and White.

The offenses on both ends of the ice will get theirs this weekend, but DDC believes  UND’s ability to play shutdown defense while providing offense at the same time, ultimately makes the difference.

DDC has been much maligned this season for picking a sweep every week, but, you know what? He’s only been wrong on two weekends. Call him a homer if you want, but DDC thinks UND is playing great hockey right now. The 1-5-1 trend falls by the wayside and a 2-0 streak starts for the Green and White in St. Cloud.

UND SWEEPS … 4-3, 5-3.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Roses and Thorns: UND/Miami Split

Welcome back to the DDC and to your first installment of the weekly Roses and Thorns.

In a throwback to his fraternity days, each week, DDC will take a look back at what stood out, both good and bad, from the weekend's series.

How it went down

The split was a safe call as the No. 2 UND and No. 7 Miami faced off this past weekend in Grand Forks, at that's what the Ralph Engelstad Arena faithful saw.

The RedHawks jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in Friday night's tilt and while North Dakota battled back to even the game, Miami finished strong en route to a 3-2 win.

On Saturday, UND came back strong, paced by a three-goal second period, to earn a 4-1 win and a NCHC series split.

And now on to the Roses and Thorns:


Rose No. 1 -- Troy Stecher

DDC's No. 1 Rose goes to Troy Stetcher. The sophomore blue liner was held off the scoresheet this weekend, but was a key cog defensively for North Dakota against a juggernaut Miami Top 6 forward group. Stetcher brought physicality, speed, playmaking, penalty killing, an active stick and lock down defensive play for 120 minutes and helped to keep an extremely talented team at bay. Is there any doubt this kid wears a letter next year? DDC doesn't think so.

Rose No. 2 -- UND's Top Line

The line of Mark MacMillan, Michael Parks and Drake Caggiula gets DDC second rose. These three had themselves a weekend. MacMillan played his first series in three weeks and netted a goal and two assists, showing little rust from his time off. Caggiula potted three goals, two on Saturday, and added two assists for a five-point weekend. The junior, who scored a shorthanded goal on Friday and a highlight reel goal on Saturday that ended up being the game-winner, now leads the NCHC is scoring. Parks had three points on the weekend and made strong play after strong play on both ends of the ice. Kudos to this line with 11 points on the weekend.

Here's a clip of Caggiula's game-winner. Make sure you pick up your breezers from the ice, Mr. RedHawk defender.

Rose No. 3 -- Zane McIntyre

With the rose No. 3 of the weekend, DDC goes with Zane McIntyre. The junior netminder made some key saves in Saturday night's game before UND's big second period. This guy just flat out gets it done every weekend. Although he has a penchant for a softie here and there, North Dakota would be nothing without this guy between the pipes.


Thorn No. 1 -- The Power Play

Although UND netted a PPG for their last goal of the weekend, listless might be an understatement to describe this group on the weekend. Missing dynamic freshman Nick Schmaltz, the power play unit struggled to develop all weekend, going 1-for-8 on the weekend and a paltry 0-for-5 on Friday. Schmaltz has done a lot to command attention on the power play and makes some nifty passes to set plays up. Hopefully, another week of practice will get this unit going.

Thorn No. 2 -- Nick Mattson

The senior defenseman sat on Friday night and was inserted on Saturday night in the search for more offense. As far as DDC's concerned, he could have stayed in the stands. Mattson got destroyed with a hit for what turned about to be a disallowed goal, but nonetheless, a senior cannot let that play happen. He also made a couple of untimely pinches and got beat wide on more than one occasion. The offensive ability is there, but so far this year in DDC's opinion, Mattson has showed nothing that deserves to keep him out there on a nightly basis. Plays like this are unfortunately becoming the norm.

Thorn No. 3 -- Slow Starts

Getting down 2-0 early in the first period against a team as talented Miami simply cannot happen. Although UND battled back to tie it in the second, slow starts and late scrambles has become a slight trend. Saturday night saw a smaller slow start, this time at the beginning of the second period, and it lead to a Miami 1-0 lead. Getting into a routine of playing catch up is something to avoid for North Dakota.

So, that's it. Thanks again for reading and check back later this week as UND travels down I-94 to take on NCHC foe St. Cloud State at the Herb Brooks Center in St. Cloud.