The Miami University Redhawks had just won the Stanley Cup… or so it seemed after each of their 4 goals scored at The Ralph Engelstad Arena this past weekend. This was obviously a weekend that was circled on their calendars this year. Maybe it was because of the dominating 9-2 embarrassment the previous year or maybe it was because they wanted to prove they belonged in the NCHC by beating one of the consistently premier teams. Either way, the Redhawks looked to have something to prove.
Friday’s game saw THE Miami of Ohio ‘not to be confused with Miami in Florida’ University jump out to a quick 2 goal lead due to a familiar sluggish start by the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota. It was not the welcoming party I was expecting following my relocation to the Grand Cities. However, UND seemed to have grabbed all of the momentum in scoring the next 2 goals to even the game in the 2nd period and getting the crowd rocking. Contributing to this was the most heated exchange of the year for the green and white. Of the events that sparked this was a Miami player literally jumping on the back of a UND player in what could only be conceived as a request for a piggy back ride back to the bench.
At this point, UND had all the momentum and crowd on their side. However, a huge bounce off the back glass in UND’s defensive zone off a shot came right out to a Miami player on the side of the net who slid it in before Zane McIntyre could slide back to cover the post. That seemed to deflate UND and put them back on their heels. They seemed to lose that spark that they had acquired in their comeback and weren’t able to locate it again until about 4-5 minutes left in the tilt. A tipped shot seemingly destined for the net bounced inches wide sending us, the Sioux faithful, into the cold, dark night with nothing but the comforts of our slightly elevated B.A.C. to keep us warm.
Saturday was a much better start by the home team but they still failed to find the early goal. Towards the end of the 1st period senior Nick Mattson made a costly mistake and turned the puck over in his own zone. This led to a scramble in front of the net and what appeared to be a goal by Miami’s Blake Coleman followed by a celebration that could only be paralleled to someone in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Once the puck was in the net Blake skated back to his bench signaling goal over and over again. I can only assume he thought he was a volunteer referee and that his gesture had some meaning behind it. Nonetheless the ref did not agree and gave the NO GOAL signal, much to the 12,000 in attendance’s delight. The replay showed UND’s goalie, Zane McIntyre being pushed into his own net by a Miami Redhawk.
The 2nd period started with what, by Zane’s standards, would be considered a weak goal off a Anthony Louis backhanded shot that found the back of the net. Following that, however, was all UND as Michael Parks made a magnificent toe drag around a couple of opposing defenders to Mark McMillan who evened up the game at one. Then, Drake Caggiula struck 3 minutes later undressing a Miami defender then making no mistake sliding the puck in between the goaltenders legs. Caggiula has truly found a knack for these types of plays and seems to be able to finish them where so many guys mess up because they’re so surprised they walked around the defender so beautifully.
Michael Parks scored one more in the second period and a goal in the 3rd by the now national-leading point scorer Drake Caggiula sent the red and white team back home with a split for their efforts. Overall it was good to see UND get punched in the mouth a few times and come back firing after a quality team took a lead. However, I’d prefer to see a little quicker jump out of the gates and mental preparation for all 60 minutes, especially at home.
UND @ SCSU
The defending Penrose Cup winning St. Cloud State Huskies have not had the start they most likely envisioned to this season, currently sitting a game below .500 at 4-5-1. However, the competition they have faced is quite formidable in the previously #1 ranked Minnesota Gophers, defending national champions Union Dutchmen, and two of the hottest teams to start the year, UMD and Colgate.
For their efforts, SCSU is rewarded with a trip from the #2 nationally ranked Fighting Sioux this weekend. As you’ve most likely read in countless blogs North Dakota does not sweep or get swept in St. Cloud but a split or a win/tie combination are the most likely scenarios.
St. Cloud returns some potent offense from last year’s team lead by Junior Forward Jonny Brodzinski who has 5 goals on the year. This is a guy who has one of the better shots in the nation and can play with some physicality as well using his 6’1″ 215 lb frame. Despite this, SCSU is only scoring 2.30 goals per game and averaging 2.6 against. This would explain their lackluster record to start the year.
On the flip side, UND has picked up right where they left off last year with the defense jumping into plays to create chances all over the ice. I think it can officially be said that UND has transitioned from stay at home defense to the dynamic goal scoring defensive the new college game seems to demand. North Dakota is scoring at a 3.55 goal per game clip and allowing their opponents only 2.00 goals per tilt. These numbers show why they are in fact 8-2-1 to start the season.
UND will be tested in this matchup as SCSU seems to feed off the solid crowd they draw for home games, especially for this series but this rivalry. That being said, the Sioux have been absolutely dynamite on the road. North Dakota’s streak of 15 years without a sweep in St. Cloud is indeed long, but streaks are meant to be broken.
UND 3-1, UND 5-2
Last week’s results left my overall prediction record at 36-14.
Around the NCHC:
Wisconsin @ Colorado College, CC @ Air Force: The first game screams pathetic as the only 2 wins for both teams combined are against Alabama-Huntsville. WISCONSIN WINS. The next night I see CC go to Air Force and pick up a close one CC WINS.
Air Force @ Denver, Wisconsin @ Denver: Denver should be the flat-out better team in both games. Denver wins both.
Western Michigan @ Miami: Western Michigan has struggled a bit to start but shown signs of life recently. I see some hope for the Broncos still left. SPLIT
UMD @ OMAHA: Both teams playing well thus far and I would choose UMD sweep coming off back to back sweeps but since it’s in Omaha I’m saying SPLIT.
This week’s episode of Through These Doors: