Three things: Feb. 1

No. 1 vs. No 2 was all it was cracked up to be
The marquee series of the weekend pitted No. 1 North Dakota against No. 5 Omaha. Coincidentally, the two teams were also second and first, respectively, in the NCHC. For once, such a series delievered, as they split, with both games being decided in overtime.

On Friday, Omaha took a two-goal lead into the third period, only to see North Dakota score twice to tie it, the tying goal being scored by Drage Caggiula with only 48 seconds left in the game.

However, the rally was ultimately futile, as Austin Ortego scored his nation-leading ninth game-winning goal with only 33 seconds left in the overtime. Ortega’s heroics led Omaha coach Dean Blais to say, “Austin Ortega’s got a horeshoe in his pocket.”

Saturday was the reverse of Friday, with an Omaha rally falling short. North Dakota took a 2-1 lead into the third. Omaha tied it on a power play at 4:00 of the third, but Stephane Pattyn scored at 9:15 to put North Dakota up 3-2. At 16:16, Brian Cooper scored a power-play goal to tie it for Omaha.

This time, it was North Dakota’s big player who made the big play, as Brendan O’Donnell scored the game-winner at 2:04. When O’Donnell scores, North Dakota is 19-0-1.

Omaha has a one-point lead on North Dakota in the race for the Penrose Cup, with one month remaining in the season. Both teams are 10-5-1, but Omaha has an extra point thanks to winning a shootout against North Dakota in the first game between the two teams back on Nov. 28.

Omaha has series left against Western Michigan, St. Cloud State, Minnesota-Duluth, and Colorado College, while North Dakota has Denver, Western Michigan, St. Cloud, and Miami left.

Signs of life from St. Cloud
St. Cloud State has not had a memorable season so far in defense of its Penrose Cup title, but the Huskies took another step forward with a dominating sweep of Colorado College on the road. St. Cloud scored 13 goals in the series while holding the Tigers to just two goals.

Kalle Kossila led the way for the Huskies in Friday’s 7-1 win with one goal and three assists. Leading scorer Jonny Brodzinski added a pair of goals and an assist, while Joey Benik had a goal and two assists.

On Saturday, Brodzinksi stayed hot with two more goals and an assist in St. Cloud’s 6-1 win. David Morley added two goals to go with his two assists on Friday, and Ethan Prow had three assists after notching two on Friday.

St. Cloud is now in sixth in the NCHC, two points behind Denver and four behind Miami, though both of those teams have a game in hand on the Huskies. St. Cloud is also three points ahead of seventh-place Western Michigan.

PairWise positioning
The NCHC has the best out-of-conference record this season, and it shows in the PairWise rankings. As of today, half of the the top 10 teams in the PairWise are NCHC squads. North Dakota is at two, Omaha is tied for third, Minnesota-Duluth is fifth, Miami is eighth, and Denver is tied for ninth. On the outside looking in are Western Michigan at 22 and St. Cloud at 25.

Of the remaining top 16 teams, five are from Hockey East, three are from the WCHA, two are from the ECAC, and one is from the Big Ten. However, the five from Hockey East would not make it, as Vermont is at 16, and would be displaced by the AHC auto-bid winner.

While there is still a lot of hockey left to be played, it is very possible that the NCHC could have five, and even six, teams in the NCAA tournament come March.

38 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t think ND has anything to play for here, way from home, in what will probably be a blase’ environment. I would not be shocked at all for MT to come of this weekend with at at least a point. Trap games.

  2. UNO leads the nation in shutouts (6) and their goaltending is “average”?

    Plus, Faulkner has taken a shutout into the 3rd period of 12 games (more than 1/3 of UNO’s entire schedule), and UNO’s goaltending is “average”?

    Right.

    How about, if we had better defensemen and took a few less penalties we’d have the best goaltending in the NCAA? That sounds a lot more like it to me.

    If Faulkner isn’t the WCHA goaltender of the year, there’s something really wrong here.

    • Faulkner won’t be goaltender of the year because sorry but the WCHA doesn’t have that award. We have a “goaltending champion” which goes to the goalie with the best goals against average in league play, and it’s looking like that will be Aaron Dell. So sorry. Faulkner will have to settle for *maybe* one of the all-wcha awards.

    • As a UNO fan, I almost made the same post. But his GAA is 2.50 and save percentage is 91.1. Those are fair numbers but there are 6 other WCHA goalies ahead of him in the same categories and having a similar amount of games. So that’s middle of the pack and does not equate to goaltender of the year. Don’t get me wrong, he can steal games. I’ve seen it numerous times this year. And if he gets on a roll, UNO has a good chance to do some damage.

  3. Yep, UNH has a chance to win their fourth HE regular season title in five years…during which BC won two NATIONAL titles and went to four title games. Go UNH – the Atlanta Braves of college hockey.

  4. congrats to all of College Hockey…Krieder’s injury just opened the door for someone to actually challenge BC in the NCAA’s this year…no more Frozen Four blowout!

    ESPN execs. rejoice!

  5. Why is it that all season long they don’t give tech a chance in heck to win anything, but all of a sudden they are predicting a win against the Sioux in one of the upcoming two weekends? I understand they beat us two years ago in the Ralph, but I firmly believe that this year the Sioux are better than they were two years ago, and at the same time I think Tech is worse than two years ago. True, upsets can always happen, but I think the Sioux are just too deep of a team and playing too well this time of year for that to happen. Long story short, I’m wondering why they picked a team that is #1 in every poll and #2 in the pairwise to be one of the few teams to drop one against Tech?

  6. i think that pairwise crap is bullshit…maine doesnt loose at all this weekend,, bu cc,rpi all loose at least 1 game..and maine drops in pairwise..yeah it was umass but at their home..

  7. Hell of a series this weekend. UNO has a good team. I expect ND to move down a spot or two and UNO to move up one. Couple of things this weekend.

    1. Don’t know what was going on with not showing any replay this weekend on suspect calls??? Maybe replay technology hasn’t reached Nebraska yet or the guy in the back at CenturyLink was asleep???

    2. Friday nights penalties in OT. Who calls two penalties on one team in OT? The first penalty looked soft and the second penalty even more soft. Someone needs to tell Ortega that he isn’t playing soccer anymore and dives are frowned upon.

    All good though, it was the outcome I was expecting. Go Sioux!

    • If these “close” calls regarded a decision on whether a goal was scored, and should “legally” stand, there is a good reason replay was not shown at the arena. The NCHC simply does not allow these calls to be shown again. I don’t know if this is an NCAA rule but it is throughout our league.

    • I am a big UND fan but they go lazy on Friday night in OT. The first call was totally a boneheaded play and the second while it was exaggerated (for sure) you just can’t cross check a guy in front of the net when the puck is going behind the net, no reason for it and you just give the kid a chance to try and draw one on you. I expected a split as well but if they could have just not lost focus for a few minutes I think UND could have gotten out of there with at least one more point and frankly that might be the difference between the higher seed at the NCHC tourney in March.

      • Totally agree. Why give the refs any reason to call a penalty. Both boneheaded plays. And neither penalty would of prevented a goal.
        But what a series. Watched the gophers and bucky between breaks. Night and day between the 2 games. Pace was 5 times better in Omaha.

        • I’m going to head out on a limb and also say that a few Omaha fans, not all, were worse than goophs fans. I’ve never had a Minnesota fan get right in my face after a win like they wanted to fight.

    • Those replays are never shown at CenturyLink. I’m sure it is a conference rule of some sort. If not, it is simply something that is done in Omaha.

      • All good. The conference/NCAA need to make it more like the pros. If I am going to be paying money to go to the games, I would like to see the replays or I could just stay at home and watch all of the replays I want, ya know?

          • Good ol Don Adam came strolling through the hotel bar after the game. Definitely wanted to have a few words for him. They talk about wanting to cut down on embellishment but do nothing. Yeah, the second call in OT was a cross check, but cmon, that guy immediately crumbled to the ground. Guy should have won a gold medal for diving. Take them both to the box.
            Plus, did you see that “contact” to the head penalty between DU and UMD? Talk about a phantom call…….

          • That’s what I’m thinkin. Not to condone what Mac did, but that was a dive on top of a crosscheck. How do you give a 5 on 3 in OT, ever? Wasn’t too long ago you had to draw blood to earn a trip to the box, and even then it was iffy. That being said, Omaha is one helluva good team for 11 frosh in the lineup.

  8. Another normal week in our league, Candace. Teams from the best conference beating up on each other. No such thing as a “soft touch” that you can expect to sweep.

  9. I like how the NCHC has half of the top 10 in the PWR, and the best non-conf record by a bunch. It’s definitely a tight race for that #1 overall seed,cuz RMU isn’t scaring anybody. I know the tourney is still way out, but, having the Sioux as the #1 overall in Fargo would be tasty. No team will look forward to that regional regardless.

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