This weekend, the top-ranked North Dakota travels to Denver, Colorado, to take on their arch rival Denver in a two-game conference series. UND enters the weekend unbeaten in five games (4-0-1, .900). This is the final conference series of 2014. UND will be off until January 3, 2015, when they play an exhibition game against U.S. Under-18 team
All-time, UND has a 138-118-9 (.537) record against Denver. On home ice, UND leads 81-42-6 (.651). In Denver, UND trails the series 52-69-3 (.431). At neutral sites, UND trails Denver 5-7-0 (.417). Under head coach Dave Hakstol, UND has 15-17-1 (.470) record against Denver. Last 10 games, UND leads the series 6-3-1 (.650). For those keeping track at home, the last four games of the series have been played in Denver (2-2, .500).
Tale of the tape
#1 North Dakota (12-3-1, 5-2-1 NCHC) vs. #11 Denver (9-4-0, 3-2-0 NCHC).
Date: December 12-13, 2014
Game Time: Friday 7:37, Saturday 7:07 p.m. MT
Location: Magness Arena, Denver Colorado
Last time out: Denver split with Cornel (1-4 L, 3-1 W)
Last time out: UND swept Lake State (7-4 W, 3-1)
DU Offense: 11th Nationally
DU Defense: 22th Nationally
UND Offense: 10th Nationally
UND Defense: 13th Nationally
TV: Friday – ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain, DirecTV (channel 683), DISH Network (channel 414)
TV: Saturday – None
Live Streaming: NCHC.TV
UND series notes
Denver series notes
Key players to watch
North Dakota – Forwards: Drake Caggiula (7g-14a—21pts), Michael Parks (6g-13a—19pts), Mark MacMillan (8g-7a—15pts), Nick Schmaltz (2g-12a—14pts), Luke Johnson (4g-5a—9pts), Brendan O’Donnell (5g-2a—7pts). Defense: Jordan Schmaltz (3g-11a—14pts), Tucker Poolman (5g-2a—7pts), Paul LaDue (3g-6a—9pts), Gage Ausmus (2g-1a—3pts). Goalies: Zane McIntyre (12-3-2, 1.94 GAA, .929 SV%), Cam Johnson (0-0-0, 5.54 GAA, .765 SV%).
UND Injuries: Troy Stecher (1g-8a—9pts) 6-8 weeks (lower-body injury).
Denver – Forward: Danton Heinen (6g-10a—16pts), Daniel Doremus (4g-11a—15pts), Trevor Moore (5g-9a—14pts), Quentin Shore (5g-6a—11pts). Defense: Joey LaLeggia (5g-6a—11pts), Nolan Zajac (3g-7a—10pts). Goalies: Evan Cowley (6-4-0, 1.98 GAA, .922 Sv%, Tanner Jaillet (3-0-0, 2.34 GAA, .909 SV%).
Denver – The Pioneers penalty kill is ranked 27th in the nation (50/59, 84.7%). The Pioneers power play is ranked 4th in the nation (16/58, 27.6%).
North Dakota – UND’s penalty kill is ranked 14th in the nation (66/75, 88.0%). UND’s power play is ranked 10th in the nation (18/78, 23.1%).
The players talk about their opponent
UND defenseman Gage Ausmus talked about the upcoming series against Denver.
“It’s obviously a tough environment to play in,” Ausmus said. “They’re a very good team. They have a lot of similarities to our team. They’re really deep on forwards and their defenseman are very offensive.”
As a fan, Ausmus also had some good memories of the UND and DU series.
“I was as the game where Gwozdecky, when he was coaching for Denver, he walked on the ice. I think that was a huge part of the rivalry. It’s always been a pretty fun matchup between us, too. I think that will continue for years to come.”
Senior forward Michael Parks is looking forward to the series against Denver.
“We’ve had some really good battles, and some Final Five championships against them,” Michael Parks said. “It always seems to be a pretty good game to play in. It’s definitely a rivalry. They’re always one of the top programs and we really enjoy playing them.”
You can give me a hard time if you want, but I think a series split is realistic. Denver and UND have spit the last three series they have played in Denver. Lastly, Denver is hard to sweep on home ice. So, I am going with the split 4-1 UND and 3-2 Denver.
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.