Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Gameday: Burn the Ships

Author Napoleon Hill wrote about The Spanish conquest of the Aztecs and Conquistador Hernán Cortés in his 1937 personal development book Think and Grow Rich.

“Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat. Only by so doing can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a burning desire to win, essential to success.”

Cortés called for his soldiers to burn the ships, never to retreat from battle.

While this excursion is not war, but hockey, the concept of burning the ships was expressed by senior Nick Mattson in last week’s episode of Through These Doors and in a well-penned article by the Grand Forks Herald’s Brad Schlossman. The UND men’s hockey team has sold out and bought in.

The epitome of buying in and selling out for North Dakota was expressed last weekend in an epic 5-on-3 penalty kill on Saturday night against SCSU that saw the Green and White block four shots and rip all momentum from the Huskies en route to a 3-1 win that clinched UND a share of the Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference champions.

This kill unfortunately led to a leg injury to senior leader Mark MacMillan who blocked a rocket shot with his knee off the stick of SCSU’s Jonny Brodzinski, which could be the hardest in all of college hockey. The assistant captain is tied for the team lead in goals for UND this season, but his effort and defensive ability will be missed even more.

While the Green and White will certainly miss the services of one of their senior leaders, at this time of the year, the cliché “next man up” holds true.

With one weekend remaining in the regular season, No. 1 North Dakota is 1 point shy of clinching the Penrose outright. Standing in their way, the Miami RedHawks, who with a sweep in Oxford, Ohio, would share the Penrose with UND and take the No. 1 seed into the conference tournament.

Burn the ships.

Here’s what to watch for in the title-deciding faceoff between UND and Miami in DDC’s “Who? What? How?” preview.

Who will hoist the Penrose Cup this weekend?


Players to watch


Sr. F, Austin Czarnik, 2 goals, 30 assists – 32 points
Jr. F, Riley Barber, 16g, 15a – 31 pts
So. F, Anthony Lewis, 6g, 21a – 27 pts
Jr. F, Sean Kuraly, 16g, 7a – 23 pts

Jr. G, Jay Williams, 16-6-0, .920 save percentage, 1.90 goals against average (7th in NCAA), started in 6-2 L at DU last weekend.
Jr. G, Ryan McKay, 4-5-1, .907 save percentage, 2.81 goals against average, started in 5-3 W at DU last weekend.


UND Jr. F, Drake Caggiula
Jr. F, Drake Caggiula, 15 goals, 16 assists  – 31 points
Sr. F, Michael Parks, 12g, 19a – 31 pts
Jr. D, Jordan Schmaltz, 3g, 22a – 25 pts

Jr. G, Zane McInyre, 24-6-3, 1.93 goals against average (8th in NCAA), .933 save percentage (7th in NCAA). 24 wins lead NCAA.

16 players with at least nine points.


Standout stats


2.97 goals per game (19th in NCAA), 2.18 goals allowed per game (11th in NCAA), 19.3% power play (20th in NCAA), 83.1% penalty kill (30th in NCAA)

+24 in second period, -4 in third, 13-5-1 when scoring first, 7-6-0 when allowing first, +262 in shots


3.39 GPG (7th in NCAA), 2.09 GAG (7th in NCAA), 20.9% PP, 84.1% PK

17-0-3 when scoring first, 20-0-2 when leading after 2.

7-game unbeaten streak is longest current streak in NCAA.

Haven’t allowed a 5-on-5 goal in 259:28 (Third period, Feb. 14 vs. DU).


How’d they get here?

UND's Michael Parks celebrates his goal against Miami in November
(Photo credit: UND Sports)


No. 4 PWR, No. 5 USCHO, 20-11-1 overall, 13-8-1, 41 points, 2nd in NCHC.

Last weekend:

5-3 W, 6-2 L @ Denver.


No. 1 PWR, No. 1 USCHO, 24-6-3 overall, 15-5-2, 47 pts, 1st in NCHC.

Last weekend:

3-2 W, 3-1 W vs. St. Cloud State.

Last meeting:

Split Nov. 14-15 in Grand Forks. Miami won 3-2 on Friday and UND got the split with a 4-1 win on Saturday.

The Pick

It’s hard to take emotion out of an article like this. The gut-wrenching loss of MacMillan leaves a gaping hole for a UND team that has prided itself in outworking its opponent. MacMillan is a heart and soul player and his absence won’t go unnoticed.

That being said, depth has been the key to the Green and White’s success all season and DDC believes it will be “next man up” for UND. It will be interesting to see North Dakota’s line combinations this weekend after having the same lineup for over a month. However, DDC’s expects to see a fired up team on Friday that desperately wants to win for their injured leader and to bring the Penrose to Grand Forks while not sharing it with anybody.

On the other side of the ice, Miami is a talented as they come. The forward group led by Czarnik, Barber, Kuraly and Louis is as good as it gets in college hockey. This series in back in November in Grand Forks was high-octane, racehorse hockey and DDC expects to see this again in Oxford. No doubt, these two teams want six points. These two teams want the No. 1 seed in the NCHC tourney. These two teams want the Penrose.

The key difference comes on the backend. While Miami has certainly showed its defensive ability this season with a pair of solid goaltenders, neither Williams or McKay will be in the net for UND. Zane McIntyre will be and he has proven he’s a big-time goalie this season and DDC thinks the junior netminder shows it once again.

This is must-see college hockey.

DDC will take the criticism as a “homer” or whatever you will call him, but this UND team has truly burned the ships.

UND SWEEPS, 4-2, 3-2

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Roses and Thorns: A Piece of the Penrose

NCHC Standings -- 1 Week Remaining:
1) UND, 15-5-2. 47 points
2) Miami, 13-8-1, 1 SO win, 41 pts
3) Nebraska Omaha, 11-8-3, 3 SO wins, 39 pts
4) Denver, 12-9-1, 1 SO win, 38 pts
5) Minnesota Duluth, 11-8-3, 36 pts
6) St. Cloud State, 10-11-1, 31 pts
7) Western Michigan, 5-12-5, 4 SO wins, 24 pts
8) Colorado College, 2-18-2, 8 pts

After a gritty 3-2 win on Friday, the No. 1 UND men’s hockey team led St. Cloud State 1-0 half way through the first period.

But, a pair of minor penalties shortly after brought the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s top-ranked power play to the ice for a 5-on-3 power play for two full minutes. The Huskies netted both their goals on Friday night with the extra man, so needless to say, this was an important two minutes for both teams.

Four body-sacrificing blocks (three by defenseman Troy Stecher) and a handful of saves later, the 12,000 plus at the Ralph Engelstad Arena erupted into a frenzy as UND killed off the pair of penalties.

“That’s a huge part of the game with those guys laying it on the line and everybody that was on the ice during that,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said after the game. “That’s an awful big part of the game, and those guys, probably in that two-minute span, showed what heart and character are all about.”

The huge penalty kill paced a 3-1 North Dakota win for a monster-sized sweep that earned the Green and White at least a share of the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular season champions.

While that penalty kill helped earn an important win, it may have brought a bigger loss for UND.

Senior assistant captain Mark MacMillan had one of those blocks on the 5-on-3 kill, but his injured the forward and forced him to miss the remainder of the game with what appeared to be a leg injury. UND announced Tuesday that MacMillan is out indefinitely with a lower body injury.

MacMillan’s injury aside, it was an eventful sweep on senior weekend for North Dakota. There’s a bunch of roses and one, glaring thorn in DDC’s Roses and Thorns from this past weekend.


Before jumping into the roses, a quick shout out must be given to DDC’s real MVP.

This past Monday, the DDC household celebrated baby (not so much anymore, unfortunately) DDC’s second birthday.  It’s hard to believe that two years have passed and more great memories of watching UND hockey will come soon enough. Cheers to Emma Jean!

UND's seven seniors (from left to right), Stephane Pattyn, Michael
Parks, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O'Donnell, Connor Gaarder
Andrew Panzarella and Nick Mattson, gather for a photo following
their final regular season home game on Saturday.
Photo Credit: UND Sports

No. 1 – Seniors

For the seven seniors on this year’s squad, their last regular season home series saw UND check off two major goals – secure home ice for the first round of the conference playoffs and clinch the Penrose Cup. While 1 point is needed this weekend against Miami for an outright title, Saturday’s win earned UND at least a share of the league championship. Four of North Dakota’s six goals on the weekend were scored by the senior class. Assistant captain Connor Gaarder was responsible for both game-winning goals. For the last group to wear the Sioux logo, this was a fitting end to an outstanding four years. Captain Steph Pattyn request UND wear the black “business suits” jerseys on Saturday for the first time at home since 2011 and UND certainly took care of business. Despite the injury to MacMillan, the leadership from this group is something special. No doubt, this class will call for the next man up with a player out with injury.

No. 2 – Zane McIntyre and UND’s Defense

For the second weekend in a row, North Dakota did not allow a goal 5-on-5.

Let that sink in for a second.

It has been 250:57 since Denver notched an even-strength goal all the way back in the third period on Feb. 14. UND bottled up an explosive Husky attack for large stretches in both games and the 5-on-3 penalty kill in the first on Saturday showed the character this team possess. It’s been a long time since DDC has seen a team sellout like that on defense and this kind of effort will be hard to beat the rest of the way.

No. 3 – UND’s “4th Line”

UND's Austin Poganski sprawls on the ice after batting in his fourth goal
of the season on Saturday night. Photo Credit: UND Sports.

Depth has been the key to UND’s success all season and the play of their “4th line” of Austin Poganski, Gaarder and Brendan O’Donnell is the epitome of this. This group has been arguably North Dakota’s best line over the past month and they did it again against SCSU, netting three goals on the weekend.

Can we please consider giving this group a name? We’ve had the DOT line and Pony Express in recent memory. DDC heard rumblings of the “GOP” line. That works for him.

Again, with the injury to MacMillan, this line and the depth of the whole team, w

ill need to continue the type of play they’ve been getting over the last handful of games.

No. 4 – The REA Faithful

Wow. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the 5-on-3 kill on Saturday and the following ovation from the REA crowd, figure out a way to watch it. The fans absolutely blew the roof off the Ralph after this PK and that energy didn’t stop for the rest of the game. Recently dubbed “America’s Best Hockey Town”, the fans at the Ralph sure did attest. Watch this as a fan and try not to get chills. This group has surely given this fanbase something to cheer about.


No. 1 – Mac’s Injury

UND F. Mark MacMillan

Not enough can be said about this. MacMillan absolutely sold out his body to block a Jonny Brodzinski shot just above his knee, which is noted as one of the hardest in the country.  While UND brass hasn’t ruled out his return, the injury and subsequent surgery, will more than likely keep MacMillan out for the remainder of his senior season. This is a devastating loss for UND as the forward is the team’s leading goal scorer and a fantastic defensive player. MacMillan is stuck on 99 points for his career at UND and here’s hoping that this injury isn’t Mark’s last memory wearing the Green and White. Here’s to a speedy recovery for one of the heart and soul players of this UND squad.

Check back later this week as UND prepares to wrap up the regular season in Oxford, Ohio. With 1 point in this series, North Dakota would close out the year as NCHC champs out right and head into the NCHC tourney as the No. 1 seed. The Miami University RedHawks look to spoil the party, as a sweep over UND would earn them a share of the Penrose Cup and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

Thanks again for tuning in to DDC. It’s been one year since this blog has been going and it’s surely been a fun ride!