Misery at Mariucci continues
Many fans around the NCHC miss rivalries from their teams’ previous conferences. North Dakota fans got to live one out this weekend as the third-ranked Fighting Hawks played twice on the road against old WCHA foe Minnesota.
Coming out of the series, UND fans might feel thankful their team no longer plays in Minneapolis every year.
After a 5-5 tie Friday against the Golden Gophers and a 2-0 loss on Saturday, UND is now winless in its last nine games at Mariucci Arena.
Friday’s game marked a reunion for the two teams after a three-year hiatus in their long-standing rivalry. The rivalry’s passion clearly hadn’t gone away – as evidenced by 11 after-the-whistle penalties Friday – and the rest of the action was just as exciting. UND led four separate times but Minnesota never went away and instead got a game-tying goal from Tom Novak with 1:17 left.
UND did a lot of the right things again in Saturday’s rematch and more than doubled 13th-ranked Minnesota’s shot attempts at 80-38. Gophers goaltender Eric Schierhorn was terrific, however, in making 33 saves and stopping a Brock Boeser penalty shot inside the game’s final minute.
UND hasn’t won on Minnesota’s home ice since Feb. 1, 2008, and the Hawks won’t get another chance to do so until the 2019-20 season. The teams will meet again next season in Grand Forks, N.D., before playing on neutral ice in Las Vegas the season after that.
UND (5-3-1 overall, 0-2) is now winless in its last four games, having been swept at then-No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth on Oct. 28-29. The Fighting Hawks are home this next weekend for another big rivalry series against No. 3 Denver (6-2, 2-0).
Bulldogs thrive in comeback role
Fans that went to both games of this weekend’s series between top-ranked UMD and homestanding St. Cloud State might feel they watched the same story unfold both nights.
SCSU scored in the opening minute of both games. The No. 8 Huskies saw 3-2 leads fall away both nights. Most importantly, UMD won both games by identical 5-3 scores.
The Bulldogs, currently leading the NCHC standings with 12 points, has won its first four league games to mark UMD’s best-ever start in NCHC play. No less satisfying for UMD is the fact that the Bulldogs have won their last six games against SCSU in St. Cloud after having gone 0-10-2 there between 2007 and 2014.
UMD is making a name for itself this season in games’ third periods. The Bulldogs are outscoring opponents 11-2 in those final stretches while outshooting them 98-59. UMD outscored SCSU 3-0 in the third period both Friday and Saturday.
UMD (7-1-2) will hope to keep rolling at home next weekend against a Western Michigan team that’s 5-2-1 overall (2-2 in NCHC play) and fresh off a home sweep of Miami.
Omaha plays catch-up
Speaking early last week, Omaha head coach Dean Blais discussed the importance of UNO starting conference play well this weekend at home against Colorado College.
His Mavericks got the job partially done. Two power-play goals in Saturday’s first period helped UNO in a 6-4 win over the Tigers, one night after CC pulled out a 2-1 win in Friday’s series opener.
Omaha sits third in the country in power-play efficiency so far this season, and the Mavericks showed why early in Saturday’s first period through goals from defenseman Luc Snuggerud and forward Austin Ortega.
UNO later found itself ahead 5-1 before two CC goals late in the second period cut the Mavericks’ lead in half. A Tyler Vesel goal inside the game’s final five minutes helped put the game to bed.
Mavericks forward David Pope finished Saturday’s game with four assists. His four-point night tied a school record and marked the first four-point outing for a UNO player since Matt White did so in 2013.
Friday’s game had provided a different story. CC picked up goals in the first four minutes from Mason Bergh and Kade Kehoe before holding on for a 2-1 victory. The Tigers are 4-1-1 in NCHC series openers against UNO. Another win on Saturday would have boosted CC (3-5, 1-1) to just one game under the .500 mark overall.
The Tigers play at home next weekend against a SCSU (4-4, 0-2) team looking to avenge its two losses to UMD. Omaha (4-3-1, 1-1 NCHC) hits the road to face Miami (3-4-2, 0-2), which has lost each of its last three games.