Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Gameday: A Big Fight Feel

It's Rylan Kaip leveling Kyle Turris in the corner.

It's a 2-0 third period deficit in the 2008 Midwest Regional in Madison turning into a 3-2 OT win, sending UND to the Frozen Four on goals by Kaip, Ryan Duncan (PING!) and Andrew Kozek.

It's Dave Hakstol and Mike Eaves arguing on ice.

It's Cary Eades taking on the Wisconsin bench in the infamous Water Bottle Incident.

And for the first time since 2013, it's UND vs. the Wisconsin Badgers from the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.

There's a big fight feel in the air tonight.

These former WCHA foes left for the NCHC and Big 10 to start the 2013-14 season and have gone in opposite directions. The Green and White have made back-to-back Frozen Fours while Wisconsin has seen unprecedented struggles. 

Excuse the cliche, but you can throw that all out the window this weekend.

It's UND vs. Wisconsin.

Here's what to watch for in DDC's weekly "Who? What? How?" series preview.


Players to Watch


Jr. F, Grant Besse 3 goals, 5 assists -- 8 points; Fr. F, Seamus Malone 2g, 5a -- 7pts; Fr. F, Luke Kunin 2g, 4a -- 6pts; Fr. G, Matt Juruski, 2-2-2, 2.84 goals against average, .904 save percentage.


UND Sr. F. Drake Caggiula

Sr. F, Drake Caggiula 2g, 7a -- 9pts; Sr. F, Bryn Chyzyk 5g, 2a -- 7pts; Fr. F, Brock Boeser 5g, 2a -- 7pts (T-2 in NCAA rookie goal scoring); Jr. D, Troy Stecher 2g, 5a -- 7pts; Jr. G, Matt Hyrnkiw, 5-0-1, 1.48 GAA (11th in NCAA), .942 SV PCT (13th in NCAA).


Standout Stats

UND brings in the NCAA's eighth-best scoring defense (1.62 goals against per game) and 16th-best scoring offense (3.62 goals scored per game) into this weekend's series.

UND's 6-0-2 mark is their longest unbeaten streak to start a season since 1999-00.

Wisconsin's sweep of Arizona State last weekend was their first series sweep since March 2014 against Penn State.

The Green and White are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games against the Badgers including a 4-3, 5-1 sweep last November in Madison.


How'd they get here?

UND swept Colorado College last weekend 5-2, 2-0 in Colorado Springs. The No. 1 Green and White are unbeaten on the season with a 6-0-2 record.

Wisconsin got a non-conference sweep of Arizona State 5-1, 2-1 at home. In Friday night's win, the Badgers outshot the D-I rookie Sun Devil team 56-19. They carry a 2-3-3 record to Grand Forks.

The Pick

UND celebrates its comeback 3-2 overtime win over Wisconsin in the
2008 Midwest Regional final in Madison. This is easily DDC's favorite
image from that game. J.P. Lamoreux's celebration is flat out epic.
Boy does this series bring the DDC back down memory lane.

Whether it's covering the 2-0 comeback in the 2008 Midwest Regional with one of his best friends while they both had bleach blonde hair (fun story... feel free to ask), a rowdy series in Madison where DDC watched UND clinch a MacNaughton Cup with a dozen of his fraternity brothers or seeing the Green and White end Wisco's season just one week after the Badgers got UND into the tournament, DDC flat out loves watching these two teams play and he has the honor of being in Grand Forks this weekend, to watch it in person.

Outside of the Minnesota Gophers, this is the one team that DDC hates more than any other. Year after year, big game after big game, playoff battle after playoff battle, UND vs. Wisconsin brings an intensity that few other rivalries in college hockey can bring.

Despite where they are in the national standing and their records, DDC expects a game Badgers team this weekend in Grand Forks.

All of the emotion aside, UND is playing better than Wisconsin.

The Green and White are No. 1 in the country, paced by a dynamic scoring punch and a goaltender playing as well as any the country.

The Badgers got their first sweep in 18+ months at the hands of D-I infant Arizona State.

UND is the better team in every phase, this season and while this series could very well end up being a dog fight, stirring up memories of battles of the past, the talent difference between these two teams can't be ignored.

Bring it, Bucky. It's time for a fight.


Come back after the series for DDC's recap.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Roses and Thorns: Rolling with Rookies

Headlines from from around the NCHC:
- WMU shocks previously unbeaten Omaha
with a 4-2, 6-1 sweep in Kalamazoo.
- DU drops two in Boston against BC and BU.
- St. Cloud sweeps Miami, 3-0, 3-1.
The No. 1 University of North Dakota men's hockey team scored seven goals this weekend in a 5-2, 2-0 sweep against Colorado College this past weekend in Colorado Springs.

All seven of those goals were scored by freshmen. Let that sink in for a second.

In UND's 2014-15 campaign, freshmen netted 20 goals all season. Through eight, unbeaten games so far this season, the green and white rookies have 14 goals.

Youth is being served and it certainly has been fun to watch.

Here's what stood out from UND's National Collegiate Hockey Conference opening series weekend sweep in The Springs.


No. 1 -- The Rookies

Chris Wilkie scored twice on Friday, Shane Gerisch potted goals in both games, Brock Boeser netted his fifth of the season on Friday, Christian Wolanin scored the game-winning goal on Saturday and Rhett Gardner scored his first-career goal in shorthanded, game-winning fashion on Friday, capping a tremendous weekend for the UND rookies. The impact that this class has made has been obvious as all have assimilated quickly to the college game. Not since the vaunted class that included Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan in 2005-06 has the Green and White seen this kind of start from a group of freshmen. If you don't know much about that 05-06 bunch and what they have did at UND and eventually on the professional and international stage, you just don't know hockey. What an impressive start so far for this group of UND rookies.

UND's Troy Stecher looks for the puck during Saturday night's game.
Photo courtesy of The Gazette in Colorado Springs.

No. 2 -- Matt Hyrnkiw

If the rookies are story No. 1 so far this season for UND, Matt Hrynkiw has been story No. 1a. The walk-on and former third-string goaltender was great again this weekend stopping 19 of 21 shots in Friday's win and then shut out the Tigers with a dazzling, 29-save performance in a 2-0 win on Saturday. Hrynkiw notched his second shutout of the season in the second game, one more than Zane McIntyre had in his Mike Richter Award winning season as the nation's top goaltender last year. The Saskatchewan native had 14 saves in the second period of that shutout, his best frame of the season. Hyrnkiw has now won all four of his starts and is 4-0-1 on the year. You know what? Screw one rose... here's a bundle of roses for you, Mr. Hyrnkiw.

No. 3 -- UND's PK

UND Jr. G, Matt Hrynkiw
notched a 29-save shutout
on Saturday night.

Putting it nicely, UND's penalty kill hadn't been great coming into Colorado Springs. This weekend was different. The Green and White killed off 11 of 12 Tiger power plays and showed a lot of grit in protecting Matt Hrynkiw. The 12 penalties is concerning, but if UND keeps up this kind of play on the PK, they can take as many penalties as they like. Great performance from a group that didn't return a lot of PK players from last season.


No. 1 -- Penalties

The aforementioned PK had to be good all weekend or this series could have gone much differently. Too many undisciplined penalties slowed a UND attack that really carried play throughout this weekend. Colorado College isn't very good and if the Green and White intend to take 12 penalties on a weekend against some of the upper echelon NCHC teams, they may not be as successful on the penalty kill. Behind the play and offensive zone penalties can't become a trend for this team.

Thanks for reading. Come back later this week as DDC previews UND's series against the hated Wisconsin Badgers from the Ralph Engelstad Arena.