|UND and Minnesota renew pleasantries this weekend in Grand Forks for the first time since 2013. (Photo: UND sports)|
It's memories of Matt Frattin steamrolling Kevin Wehrs. It's Blake Wheeler with an improbable diving goal for a Final Five Gophers victory. It's Chris Porter potting an overtime winner one week later to send the Fighting Sioux to the Frozen Four. It's Robbie Bina's 180-foot bouncing puck for a goal in Mariucci. It's 0.6.
It's in-game and postgame scrums. It's intensity. It's passion. It's the best college hockey has to give.
It's UND vs. Minnesota and simply put, it's The Rivalry.
No. 4 North Dakota and No. 7 Minnesota faceoff this weekend and for the first time since 2013, the Gophers travel up to Grand Forks to take on UND. Frankly, there's really not much else that needs to be said about it as all who read this know what this series is all about.
Strap it on, boys and girls. This one will be fun.
Here's what to watch for in DDC's weekly "Who? What? How?" series preview.
Players to Watch
|Fr. F. Casey Mittelstadt|
was the 8th-overall pick
in the 2017 NHL Draft
of the Buffalo Sabres.
Minnesota Golden Gophers:
Jr. F, Tommy Novak, 1 goal, 3 assists -- 4 points; So. F, Rem Pitlick, 1g, 3a -- 4 pts; Fr. F, Brannon McManus, 3g, 0a -- 3 pts; Fr. F, Casey Mittelstadt, 2g, 1a -- 3 pts; Jr. F, Tyler Sheehy and Fr. F. Scott Reedy both likely out this weekend due to injury; Jr. G, Eric Shierhorn, 2-2-0, 2.50 goals against average, .918 save percentage.
University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks:
Jr. F, Rhett Gardner, 1g, 2a -- 3 pts; Jr. D, Christian Wolanin, 1g, 2a -- 3 pts; Jr. F, Joel Janautinen, 0g, 3a -- 3 pts; Jr. F, Shane Gersich, 1g, 1a -- 2 pts; Fr. F, Collin Adams, 2g, 0a -- 2 pts; Fr. F, Grant Mismash, 1g, 1a -- 2 pts; Sr. G, Cam Johnson, 3-0-1, 1.23 GAA, .938 SV PCT.
The Gophers are averaging 19 penalty minutes per game, tied for 4th-most nationally.
Minnesota is tied for 13th in the nation in team scoring with a 3.00 goals per game average.
The Gophers have allowed six power play goals in 18 chances this season. The 66.7% penalty kill is tied for 50th out of 54 teams.
UND is tied for 4th in team defense, nationally allowing just 1.25 goals per game and are 7th in Penalty Kill at 93.8%.
Senior netminder Cam Johnson is tied for 8th nationally with a 1.23 goals against average.
The Fighting Hawks are allowing just 20.25 shots on goals per game, the best mark in the NCAA.
How’d they get here?
No. 7 Minnesota (2-2-0; 1-1-0 BTHC) split at home against Penn State last weekend, losing 3-1 on Friday and winning 6-3 on Sunday. Freshman Brannon McManus notched his first three career goals for his first collegiate hat trick in Sunday's win.
No. 4 UND (3-0-1) swept St. Lawrence last weekend at home, 2-1 and 6-1. The Green and White had six different scorers in Saturday night's win. Senior goalie Cam Johnson and Freshman forward Grant Mismash were tabbed as NCHC goaltender and rookie of the week with their performances against St. Lawrence.
Ranked 4th and 7th respectively, this will be UND and Minnesota's first meeting since January 18-19, 2013 in which the two teams faceoff as Top 10 teams in the polls. That was the last time the Gophers took on UND in Grand Forks.
It started in his youth with players like Jay and Jeff Panzer rolling over Minnesota in the old REA. Through high school, DDC watched players like Grant Potulny, Thomas Vanek and Phil Kessel rip his heart out with crushing losses.
Moving into college, DDC experienced blowout wins behind the vaunted DOT and Pony Express lines and pure jubilation on the backs of Fighting Sioux sweeps in Mariucci and Chris Porter's OT winner in the 2007 West Regional final with a dozen of his closest friends.
|Ok, that's better.|
Post college, the historic tilts continued. The Timeout game in the WCHA Final Five semis. The Gopher win a week later at the X to send Minny to the Frozen Four. Then, of course, 0.6.
Year after year, game after game, this Rivalry has brought out the best in both teams and DDC ultimately expects this weekend to be no different.
With this weekend continuing a 7-year run of these two teams facing off each year, will another name be added to UND vs. Minnesota legend? Paging Shane Gersich. Austin Poganski. Paging Casey Mittelstadt. Rem Pitlick. Rivalry legends Chris Porter, Matt Frattin, Justin Holl and Blake Wheeler are waiting to hear from you.
|Let's. Frickin'. Go.|
Both teams have started fairly well, with each ranked in the Top 10 in the country. While trends of Minnesota starting cold in special teams play and UND lacking scoring punch from expected team leaders in Shane Gersich and Austin Poganski have arisen, throw that out the window. Big players play big in big games.
DDC fully expects to get Minnesota's best this weekend and the Gophers know the Ralph Engelstad Arena will be bedlam, this weekend.
With how early this season is, DDC could just as well play it safe and pick a split between two good teams in a huge rivalry, but that wouldn't be DDC's style, would it?
This weekend, it comes down to not only who's on the ice, but who's in the stands. With junior captain Tyler Sheehy and dynamic freshman Scott Reedy out this weekend, UND has a bit of an advantage in depth. Couple that with about 12,000 rabid fans getting to watch The Rivalry at home for the first time since 2013, DDC sees the stands as a big difference maker.