North Dakota vs. Denver, A Series Preview

This weekend, the University of North Dakota hockey team takes on the Denver Pioneers in an important two-game conference series at Ralph Engelstad Arena. There are four weeks left in the regular season.

Series History

All-time, UND leads the series against the Pioneers 139-119-9 (.537). In Grand Forks, UND leads the series  81-42-6 (.651). In Denver, UND trails in the series 53-70-3 (.433).  At neutral sites, UND trails 5-7-0 (.417).  Under head coach Dave Hakstol, UND trails  in the series 16-18-1 (.471). In the last 10 games against the Pioneers, UND leads 5-4-1 (.550).

Clarke Saunders, (Todd Christensen / DU Athletics)
Clarke Saunders, (Todd Christensen / DU Athletics)

Tale of the tape

#2North Dakota (19-6-2, 10-5-1-0 NCHC) vs. #9 Denver Pioneers (16-9-3, 9-7-0-0 NCHC).
Date: February 13-14, 2015
Game Time: Friday 7:37 p.m. CT, Saturday 7:07 p.m. CT
Location: Ralph Engelstad Arena, Grand Forks ND.
Last time out: DU shut out C.C. 3-0
Last time out: UND was Idle last week
DU Offense: 18h Nationally
DU Defense: 9th Nationally
DU PWR: 9th
DU Last 10 games: 6-4 (.600)
UND Offense: 9th Nationally
UND Defense: 8th Nationally
UND PWR: 2nd
UND Last 10 games: 7-2-1 (.750)
TV: Friday:  Midco Sports Network
Live Streaming: NCHC.TV
TV: Saturday:  Midco Sports Network, FOX College Sports Central, DirecTV (608), DISH Network (452)
Live Streaming: NCHC.TV

Key Players to watch

North Dakota – Forwards: Drake Caggiula (11g-16a—27pts), Michael Parks (9g-18a—27pts), Mark MacMillan (15g-8a—23pts), Nick Schmaltz (3g-16a—19pts), Brendan O’Donnell (10g-5a—15pts), Luke Johnson (6g-8a—14pts), Defense: Jordan Schmaltz (3g-18a—21pts), Paul LaDue (3g-11a—14pts), Tucker Poolman (6g-4a—10pts), Nick Mattson (1g-8a—9pts), Gage Ausmus (2g-2a—4pts). Goalies: Zane McIntyre (19-6-2, 1.96 GAA, .931 SV%), Cam Johnson (0-0-0, 5.54 GAA, .765SV%).

UND Injuries: None reported.

Denver – Forwards: Danton Heinen (10g-19a—29pts), Trevor Moore (13g-13a—26pts), Daniel Doremus (7g-15a—22pts), Quentin Shore (8g-10a—18pts). Defense: Joey LaLeggia (9g-15a—24pts), Nolan Zajac (5g-14a—19pts), Will Butcher (2g-9a—11pts), Adam Plant (0g-7a—7pts). Goalies: Tanner Jaillet (9-4-0, 1.97 GAA and a .927 SV%), Evan Cowley (7-5-1, 2.05 GAA,  and a .927 SV%).

Special teams

Denver University – The Pioneers penalty kill is ranked 8th in the nation (78/89, 87.6%). The Pioneers power play is ranked 6th in the nation (23/102 22.5%).

North Dakota – UND’s penalty kill is ranked 16th in the nation (95/112, 84.8%). UND’s power play is ranked 20th in the nation (24/105, 20.9%).

Four weeks to go

There are four weeks left in the regular season. It’s officially the stretch run. The UND hockey team is already in the playoff mode. Here’s some coach speak from coach Dave Hakstol.

[tweetthis]“Is there a rivalry there? Absolutely! Let’s get at it. Let’s go play. ” [/tweetthis]
“For me it’s like any other series,” Hakstol said. “Let’s talk about the Nebraska-Omaha series. You can go through any series. To me, it’s no different. They’re an opponent, there’re points on the line. They’re coming into our building. Is there a rivalry there? Absolutely! Let’s get at it. Let’s go play. What is it? It’s something different to everybody else.”

UND has four remaining series: Denver (1-1-0), @ Western Michigan (0-0), St. Cloud, (1-1-0) @ Miami (1-1-0). UND has a 3-3-0 record against those four teams. UND has yet to play Western Michigan.

Series prediction

This weekend series will go a long way in determining where UND ends up in the final league standings. UND needs points this weekend. They need to avoid a sweep this weekend. If UND gets swept, they can kiss the regular season championship goodbye.

According to Brad Elliot Schlossman, the last time UND swept the Pioneers was on February 15 -16, 2008 at the Ralph.

I think that UND gets off the schneid this weekend and sweeps the Pioneers. It’s gut check time. UND has been solid during the second half of the season, but they’re going to need to find that second gear and take it up another notch.