Three things: Dec. 14

North Dakota has the best fanbase
You know what? I don’t care if you think they are insufferably arrogant. Or obnoxious. Or overbearing. Or any of the host of other pejoratives I’ve heard thrown at North Dakota fans.

It’s time to come right out and say it: North Dakota has the best fanbase in college hockey.

They certainly travel the best, frequently taking up nearly a quarter or more of the seats in the opposing team’s building when North Dakota is on the road. At the 2014 NCHC Frozen Faceoff, most of the fans in the Target Center in Minneapolis seemed to have come to cheer on their beloved North Dakota. At the last Frozen Four USCHO brought me out to cover, 2011 in St. Paul, North Dakota fans were the most raucous, even seemingly louder than the home state’s fans of Minnesota-Duluth.

This rabid following, and willingness to travel untold lengths to see North Dakota, brings out the best in the home team’s fans. Case in point: this weekend’s series against Denver.

As the last words of the Star Spangled Banner are sung in Magness Arena, the North Dakota fans, wearing either green or black jerseys and dominating the end section behind Denver’s starting goaltender, shout out “Sioux!” Yes, I hate that nickname, and am glad it seems to have been consigned to the dustbin of history. It’s not nearly as tone deaf as the Washington Redskins, but still.

Once the game starts, the North Dakota fans seem to dominate the noise meter, cheering their team from the drop of the puck, trying to get North Dakota into the game.

And it forces the Denver fans, who aren’t always very loud, to respond, if only to try to drown out North Dakota’s fans and save themselves from being embarrassed in their own building.

In fact, after Denver’s 4-1 win on Friday, goaltender Evan Cowley even acknowledged how passionate the North Dakota fans are.

“You just try to slow things down and keep the crowd out of it; there’s a lot of NoDak fans,” said Cowley.

Say what you will about North Dakota’s fans, but I’ll bet if you’re honest with yourself, you wish that your team’s fans were devoted enough to travel everywhere to see them play.

So for that, I’ll tip a salute to the best fanbase in college hockey. Rock on North Dakota.

They played some hockey too
Oh yes, Denver and North Dakota played two barnburners in the first series between the two. The teams are so closely matched that it seemed in both games, only a two- or three-minute lapse decided the game.

On Friday, North Dakota trailed 1-0 going into the second period, despite being outplayed for a lot of the first and having to kill a five-minute penalty. In the second, North Dakota seemed to get its legs, and Michael Parks was sprung on a semi-breakaway that Cowley stopped. Parks drew a penalty on Joey LaLeggia, and North Dakota went to work on its power play, but was unable to capitalize.

A couple minutes later, Quentin Shore scored a power-play goal to put Denver up by two, and while North Dakota got one back in the third, they couldn’t get any closer in a 4-1 loss.

On Saturday, North Dakota struck first and held the 1-0 lead after one. At the start of the second period, Denver came in waves, generating a lot of good offensive chances and dominating possession in the offensive zone to the extent it looked like a power play.

However, North Dakota bent, but didn’t break, and then in the span of 1:55, Nick Schmaltz and Drake Caggiula both scored to make it 3-0 North Dakota. Though Denver got one back in the third, they never got any closer.

North Dakota and Denver sit in fourth and fifth in the NCHC, respectively. North Dakota is only two points behind first place Miami and Minnesota-Duluth, and one back of third place Omaha. North Dakota leads Denver by seven points, but the Pioneers have three games (nine potential points) in hand.

Colorado College finally gets a point on the road
Entering this weekend’s series against Western Michigan, Colorado College was 0-8 on the road. In the previous weekend’s series against Minnesota-Duluth, CC had lost a heartbreaker, 3-2 in overtime on Friday and then was dominated on Saturday. CC had a two-goal lead in the second period Friday, but couldn’t hold it.

This Friday against Western Michigan, CC never held a two-goal lead, but the score, and the overtime result, were the same. After CC took a 1-0 lead behind a goal from Teemu Kivhalme, Western answered on goals from Sheldon Dries and Frederik Tiffels. However, Cody Bradley scored an empty-net power-play goal at 19:57 of the third to send the contest to OT.

You almost have to think it would have been easier to take if Bradley didn’t score to send it to OT, as Tiffels scored a power-play goal at 1:58 of the OT to win it for Western.

Unlike last weekend, where CC folded after the heartbreaking loss, this time CC stood strong. Bradley gave the Tigers a lead at 19:19 of the first. Nolan LaPorte answered for Western at 15:58 of the third. Having learned from its previous two OT outings, CC played a solid overtime, with Chase Perry making two saves while CC forced Lukas Hafner to make three saves.

Western did get the extra point, care of a shootout win when Tiffels scored on the fourth Western chance and Sam Rothstein couldn’t answer for CC.

Still, a point on the road is progress. The Tigers have nearly a month’s straight worth of home games in the second half, and they have been better at home in general, but Tigers coach Mike Haviland has to be happy his team at least got a point on the road.