This past weekend, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks lost and tied in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s Frozen Faceoff. All-time, UND has a 1-4-1 (.250) record in the Frozen Faceoff. There’s one thing to consider. The last two seasons, UND already had an NCAA number one seed locked up before the Frozen Faceoff began.
This may be a reason why UND has had a lackluster record in the Frozen Faceoff. They didn’t need to win to advance. Following recent history in the Frozen Faceoff, the fourth-seeded Bulldogs beat the Fighting Hawks 4-2 in the semi-finals. Here are three things that stuck out.
Bulldogs Finally Solve Cam Johnson
This past season, the Hawks won the season series 4-0-0 against the Bulldogs. In four games against the Bulldogs sophomore goalie Cam Johnson was (4-0-0, 0.49 GAA and .986 save percentage). In those four games, Johnson gave up a grand total of two goals and stopped 137-of-139 shots.
In the semi-finals against UMD, the Bulldogs finally solved Johnson who gave up four goals on 22 shots. Like his teammates, Johnson was a bit slow and a split second late and, in the end, his luck ran about against the Bulldogs. That being said, even with the loss to the Bulldogs, Johnson had a great season (20-4-2, 1.64 GAA, .935 save percentage). Currently, Johnson is second in the nation in goals-against average and seventh in save percentage.
Target Center: A House of Horrors
Since the inception of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, the Target Center has been a house of horrors for UND. The Fighting Hawks won the Penrose Cup two of the first three seasons. However, in the conference tourney, UND has yet to experience the same success. In the conference semi-finals, UND has yet to win a game.
Think about this, UND has won back-to-back Penrose trophies, but they’ve never made it to the championship game of the Frozen Faceoff. During that same time, UND has won the most games of any team in the NCHC.
For some reason, the NCHC tournament championship has been their Kryptonite. The only time UND has won was during the first year when UND needed a win and help to make the NCAA tourney. The Fighting Hawks are also 1-1-1 in the consolation game.
Bulldogs Prove They Belong
The Bulldogs were predicted to win the Penrose Cup when the season began. That prediction didn’t come true, the Bulldogs had a rough patch during the middle of the season. Late in the season, the Bulldogs made a push and advanced to the Frozen Faceoff to salvage their season.
Entering the semi-final game against the Fighting Hawks, the Bulldogs needed wins to qualify for the NCAA tourney. Some of the hockey pundits had predicted that the Bulldogs might have to win the Frozen Faceoff to make the NCAA playoffs.
In the end, a Minnesota Gophers loss in the Big Ten championship game punched the Bulldogs ticket. Based on their late season performance, the Bulldogs proved they belonged in the NCAA tourney and went on a 7-3-0 run over the last 10 games of the season. The Bulldogs are going to be a tough out in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
On defense, Andy Welinski (Anaheim Ducks) and Carson Soucy (Minnesota Wild) are two of the better defensemen in the NCHC. They’re miserable to play against and take away the opposing forwards’ time and space. Both are very good with their sticks and get in the shooting lanes and cause havoc in the defensive zone.