Last season, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference was the top conference in Division I College Hockey. The NCHC sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament and two teams to the NCAA Frozen Four.
One of the reasons the NCHC sent so many teams to the NCAA tourney was their record against non-conference teams. In out of conference play, the NCHC went 59-30-4 (.656). The NCHC’s most impressive feat was their 15-2-0 non-conference record against the Big Ten Hockey Conference.
True to form, there are quite a few attractive NCHC matchups this season.
Let’s take a look at NCHC’S 2015-16 non-conference schedule. Here’re five must-see matchups that should catch your attention.
Five Must-See Non-Conference Matchups
Matchup one: Ice Breaker Tournament.
Game one: North Dakota vs. Lake Superior State.
Game two: North Dakota vs. Maine.
Tourney Teams: Lake Superior State, Maine, Michigan State and North Dakota.
Date: October 9-10, 2015.
Location: Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland, ME.
The University of North Dakota hockey team kicks off the 2015-16 season traveling to the Ice Breaker Tournament in Portland, Maine. This is the 19th annual Ice Breaker Tournament. The Green and White will attempt to win their first Ice Breaker Championship. UND has played in three previous Ice Breaker Tournaments (200, 2008, 2011) and have never won a title.
Game one: All-Time, UND is against the Lake Superior State Lakers 4-0-0 (.500). Last season, UND swept the Lakers in Grand Forks (7-4 W, 3-1 W).
Game two: All-Time, UND has a UND is 12-8-2 (.591) record against the Maine Black Bears. Recently, the Black Bears have had UND’s number. In the last 10 games against the Black Bears, UND is 4-6-0 (.400). Breaking it down further, UND is 1-5-0 (.166) in the last six games against the Black Bears.
Matchup two: Providence vs. Miami University.
Date: October 9-10, 2015.
Location: Steve Cady Arena, Oxford, OH.
Last season, the Providence College Friars eliminated the Miami RedHawks in the semifinals of the NCAA East Regional Championship. The Friars would go on to win the East Regional Championship and the 2015 NCAA National Championship. One can bet that the RedHawks are going to be looking for some sweet revenge.
This will be the second season in a row that the Friars have opened their season against an NCHC team. Last season, UND beat and tied the Friars at Engelstad Arena.
Since the 2011-12 season, the RedHawks are 2-2-2 (.500) against the Friars. On home ice, the RedHawks are 2-1-1 (.625) against the Friars.
Matchup three: University of Minnesota vs. University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Game one location: Minnesota Mariucci Arena, Minneapolis, MN.
Game two location: AMSOIL Arena, Duluth, MN.
Date: October 16-17, 2015.
All-time, the University of Minnesota has a 77-134-17, (.375) record against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
Record aside, Bulldogs fans have to be licking their lips about their upcoming home-and-home series against the Gophers. Why shouldn’t they? In the last two seasons against the Gophers, the Bulldogs have a 5-2-1, (.687) record. In their last 10 games against the Gophers, UMD is 6-3-1, (.650).
Last season, the Bulldogs got the last laugh as they ended the Gophers season (4-1 W) at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Bulldogs return a majority of their core players from last season and should be one of the top teams in the NCHC again this season.
Matchup four: Minnesota Duluth vs. Notre Dame.
Date: October 23-24, 2015.
Location: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN.
Since 2010-11, the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Notre Dame have played in eight games. UMD holds the edge 5-3-0 and has won the last two games in the series.
The Bulldogs haven’t always held the series edge against the Fighting Irish. All-time, the Fighting Irish have a 15-21-4, (.425) record against the Bulldogs.Matchup Five: Denver vs. Boston College and Boston University.
Game one: Denver vs. Boston College.
Location game one: Conte Forum, Boston, MA.
Game two: Denver vs. Boston University.
Game two location: Agganis Arena, Boston, MA.
Date: October 30-31, 2015.
Last season, the NCHC and Hockey East were the dominant conferences in Division I college hockey. While the NCHC had the best non-conference record in the regular season. In the postseason, Hockey East claimed the ultimate prize, the NCAA National Title.
This fall, the Denver Pioneers make the trek east to play Hockey East powers Boston University Terriers and the Boston College Eagles.
The Pioneers are pretty familiar with the Boston College Eagles. Last season, the Pioneers had a 2-1-0, (.666) record against the Eagles. All-time, the Pioneers have a 15-15-2, (.500) record against the Eagles.
The Pioneers and Boston University Terriers haven’t played since the 2012-13 season when the Pioneers lit up the Terriers 6-0. All-time, the Pioneers have a 13-14-2, (.483) record against the Terriers.
Finally, there will be a lot of college hockey fans paying attention to these important non-conference games. These games will have national implication in the Pairwise Rankings.
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.