Frozen Four: Fighting Hawks vs. Pioneers

This Thursday, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks will take on the Denver Pioneers in the semifinals of the NCAA’s Frozen Four. This will be the sixth time the two teams have played this season. The winner will advance to the championship game of the Frozen Four. Loser goes home.

Series History

Stephane Pattyn, (Eric Classen, UND Athletics)
Stephane Pattyn, (Eric Classen, UND Athletics)

All-Time, North Dakota leads the series against Denver 142-122-11 (.536) In Grand Forks, ND, UND leads the series 84-42-7 (.658). In Denver, CO, Denver leads the series 72-53-3 (.426). On neutral ice, Denver leads the series 8-5-1 (.607). In NCAA tourney, the two teams have played six times and Denver leads the series 4-2 (.666). This season the two teams have played five times (4-4-1). Over the last 10 games, the series is tied 4-4-2 (.550)

Seen this Act Before

The Fighting Hawks have seen this act before, they’re making their third straight Frozen Four appearance. This will also be UND’s eighth visit to the Frozen Four in the last 12 years. During that time, UND has a 1-9 (.111) record in the Frozen Four. They’ve only been able to win one semifinal game.

Since the 2004-05 season, UND’s has been one of the most successful teams in Division I hockey. UND’s NCAA tournament record of 19-11 (.633) is second only to Boston College 23-8 (.741). During that time, the only thing to evade UND has been an NCAA title. It’s been 16 years since UND last won a national title and Fighting Hawks Nation is getting antsy. Reading the fan message boards and Twitter, I can conclude that UND fans are tired of watching UND make it to the Frozen Four only to lose in the semifinals.

After watching the Hawks roll over Northeastern 6-2 and Michigan 5-2 two weeks ago, confidence is high that this could be the year that UND finally breaks through and wins that elusive eighth national title. The players know what’s at stake.

A Look at the Numbers

NCAA Frozen Four
Date: Thursday, April 7
Time: 7:30 pm CT
Location: Amalie Arena Tampa, Florida
Television: ESPN2, DirecTV 209, DISH Network 143, TSN2

Clarke Saunders, (Todd Christensen / DU Athletics)
Former UND goalie Clarke Saunders in action against Denver. (Todd Christensen / DU Athletics)

North Dakota Fighting Hawks

North Dakota Record: 32-6-4 (.809)
North Dakota Last Time Out: Beat Northeastern and Michigan (6-2 W, 5-2W)
North Dakota Offense: 7th, 3.64 GPG
North Dakota Defense: 2nd, 1. 68 G/GM
North Dakota Scoring Margin: 4th, 1.79
UND Power Play: 21st, (31/159, 19.5%)
North Dakota Penalty Kill: 6th, (133/154, 86.4%)
North Dakota Penalty Minutes: 20th, (11.3 PIM/G)
North Dakota Final USCHO Ranking: 3
North Dakota Corsi Ranking: 57.5%
North Dakota Pairwise Ranking: 2
North Dakota Record during March: 6-1-1 (.812)
North Dakota Home Record: 16-2-1 (.868)
North Dakota Away Record: 13-3-1 (.794)
North Dakota Neutral Ice: 3-1-2 (.666)
North Dakota Last 10 Games against Pioneers: 4-4-2 (.550)

UND Defenseman Gage Ausmus (Eric Classen/UND Athletics)
UND Defenseman Gage Ausmus (Eric Classen/UND Athletics)

Denver Pioneers

Denver Record: 25-9-6
Denver Last Time Out: Beat BU and Ferris State (6-3 W, 7-2 W)
Denver Offense: 11th, 3.30 GPG
Denver Defense: 13rd, 2.30 G/GM
Denver Scoring Margin: 11th, 1.00
Denver Power Play: 23rd, (26/137, 19.0%)
Denver Penalty Kill: 31st, (100/122, 82.0%)
Denver Penalty Minutes: 52nd, (8.1 PIM/G)
Denver Final USCHO Rankings: 7
Denver Corsi Rankings: 53.1%
Denver Pairwise Ranking: 5
Denver Record during March: 6-1-1 (.812)
Denver Home: 14-2-3 (.708)
Denver Away: 9-7-2 (.611)
Denver Neutral Ice: 2-0-1 (.833)
Denver Last 10 Games against the Fighting Hawks 4-4-2

Players of Note

North Dakota Fighting Hawks: Forwards: Brock Boeser (26g-28a—54pts), Drake Caggiula (21g-25a—46 pts), Nick Schmaltz (10g-34a—44pts), Austin Poganski (9g-15a—24pts), Luke Johnson (11g-10a—21pts), Rhett Gardner (10g-6a—16pts). Defense: Troy Stetcher (8g-20a—28pts), Tucker Poolman (5g-19a—24pts), Paul LaDue (5g-13a—18pts). Goaltenders: Cam Johnson (22-4-2, 1.67 GAA, .934 save percentage), Matt Hrynkiw (10-2-2, 2.13 GAA, .910 save percentage).

Denver Pioneers: Forwards: Danton Heinen (20g-28a—48pts), Dylan Gambrell (17g-30a—47pts), Trevor Moore (11g-33a-44pts), Quentin Shore (13g-15a—28pts). Defense: Will Butcher (8g-23a—31pts), Nolan Zajac (3g-17a—20pts), Blake Hillman (3g-7a—10pts). Goalies: Evan Cowley (8-5-1, 2.07 GAA, .929 save percentage) Tanner Jaillet (17-4—5, 2.25 GAA, .923 save percentage).

The Head Coaches Weigh In

Fighting Hawks head coach Brad Berry on playing the Pioneers.

“We played Denver five times this year, and there’s no secrets regarding each program and what they bring to the table,” coach Berry said. “It’ll be a great NCHC matchup, and within our league there’s eight teams that you see every single weekend of teams matching up, and the parity’s so high that the game is up for grabs.”

Pioneers head coach Jim Montgomery on playing the Fighting Hawks.

“It’s going to be a great hockey game,” Montgomery told the Denver media. “UND plays the right way and they play hard. They’re a good, talented hockey team and we’re going to go at them hard. They’re going to come at us hard too so it’s going to be a pretty good college hockey game.”