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.
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.
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’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 PickDDC 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.