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.


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.


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:
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.