Tonight the 17th ranked University of North Dakota; formerly known as the Fighting Sioux hockey team, hosts the No. 5th ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers in a two-game series at Ralph Engelstad Arena (7:37 tonight, 7:07 p.m. Saturday); it will be the last time these two teams play at the Ralph Engelstad Arena as WCHA foes.
Here are some of the stories of significance leading up to this historic series between UND and UMN. Roman Augustoviz and Chris Miller of the Star and Tribune break down their picks for this weekend’s WCHA series.
Chris: So Roman tells me one of my favorite hockey teams can’t use its nickname any more and I say “What? I have to call them the Charleston hockey club now? And what’s the story with that dog?” Prediction: Two ties.
Roman: The Gophers have either beat or played everybody close. Six of their seven losses have been by one goal. So Chris is not being totally silly be forecasting two ties. U beat UND 2-0 and 3-2 in series at Mariucci in early November.
But UND is surging, 7-1-1 in its last nine games and it’s after Christmas now. Coach Dave Hakstol’s team always get better. His teams have a winning percentage of .577 before Christmas in his eight years at UND, and .707 after. He needs two wins to reach 200. Gino Gasparini is the winning coach at North Dakota with 392 wins, Blais is next with 262. Prediction: Split
Roman Augustoviz from the Star Tribune has a story about the Erratic Gophers hockey team remains a mystery [Star Tribune]
Brad Schlossman has a bunch of good stuff to read leading up to the tilt at the REA; UND – Minnesota week: One last WCHA tilt at The Ralph [Grand Forks Herald]
UND Men’s hockey: UND, Gophers to resume rivalry [Grand Forks Herald]
UND Men’s Hockey: Finding a way to get it done [Grand Forks Herald]
Here is the Gophers Puck Live Podcast. [Click to Listen]
Here is the link to KFAN and Cardinal’s Country Clomp Feast [KFAN.COM]
Tyler Buckentine and Brian Halverson from USCHO.COM broke down this weekend’s series between UND and UMN.
No. 5 Minnesota (15-7-1, 11-3-0 WCHA) at No. 17 North Dakota (11-8-2, 7-7-0 WCHA)
Tyler: The Gophers have played rather sluggish since Christmas, with home losses to Northeastern, and then Notre Dame last weekend. What a great time to have a rivalry game on the schedule to wake Minnesota up. UND isn’t head-and-shoulders above the Gophers in the physical play department as evidenced by the first two games between these teams in November. UND is banged up but slowly getting healthier but nothing will slow the team down this weekend. This one’s going to be fun to watch as always and I don’t see either team letting the other grab a big edge all weekend. Split
Brian: Minnesota holds a 5-3-2 edge over the series’ last 10 games but North Dakota is 6-3-1 vs. the Gophers in the most recent 10 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The last time Minnesota traveled to Grand Forks holding a double-digit lead in the rankings, No. 17 UND swept the seventh-ranked Gophers (5-3, 7-3) on Jan. 9-10, 2009. Neither team has swept a four-game season series since Minnesota managed the feat in 1991-92 (4-2, 8-2 in Mpls.; 10-1, 5-3 in GF) and it won’t happen this year either. North Dakota, winners of seven of its past nine (7-1-1) games, sweeps the series.
Nate Wells from SBNation has this write up on the Minnesota Gophers. Gophers Hockey: Erratic Play Catches Up To Minnesota In 4-3 Loss [Daily Gopher]
Sean Lee talks to assistant UND coach Carey Eades about the Gophers, Canada and the Packers [UND Sports]