“We’re playing with a lot of confidence… and if we’re playing the way we want to be playing it’s just part of the Fighting Sioux way that the rest will follow” That was senior forward Connor Gaarder speaking to what has made UND successful in their 6 game home stand to kick off the new year. If the Sioux players are still willing to use the name and logo, they obviously want to keep it alive. I believe as fans we have the responsibility to do the same, but I digress. The home stand saw the Sioux go 5-1 following a sweep that included a 2-1 and 5-3 win against the NCHC’s last place Colorado College Tigers last weekend.
The middling Friday night performances looked to continue for the University of North Dakota when a wrist shot from the point was tipped in by Alex Roos at 4:01. However, this would be the last time a puck left a Tiger stick and subsequently met the back of North Dakota’s net. I would argue that it was probably the ugliest win of the year. The difference being Zane McIntyre making crucial saves and 2 individual efforts that lead to UND goals. The first at 16:23 of the 2nd period when Michael Parks took the puck from the defensive to the offensive zone all alone, held the puck along the boards, then fed a pass to Mark McMillan in the slot who made no mistake. The second individual play at 6:37 of the 3rd saw Michael Parks take a rushed CC pass on the power play, chip it past the Tiger defender Jacob Slavin, and deke out Tyler Marble so badly, Parks had the entire net to score on.
It was another game the Sioux found a way to pull out a win even when they didn’t have their best. This is a great sign for the team, especially when they get into the postseason and one loss spells the end of their season.
Saturday night’s first period was a roller coaster seeing Luke Johnson and Stephane Pattyn score only to be answered promptly by a CC goal. Then, similar to Friday, Michael Parks made a play to hold onto the puck and fed Mark McMillan in the slot for the goal. 8:41 into the 3rd period Bryn Chyzyk created a carbon copy of his goal a weekend earlier by sniping a wrist shot short sided over the goalie’s shoulder beneath the dots. A late goal by CC with a pulled goalie made the game interesting. However, a Caggiula walk in empty net goal allowed The Ralph to fire off the rest of the fireworks for the weekend.
UND @ UNO
The UNO Mavericks have always been a thorn in North Dakota’s side, at least in the regular season. A few bad losses, however, does not a heated rivalry make. Sure, UND and UNO have had their dust ups and fun games but no significant postseason match ups. Despite all this, the Mavericks fan base has dubbed this week as “Hate Week” because UND is coming into town. Maybe someday this rivalry will invoke a hate reaction to me, but at this point UNO is a good matchup who I enjoy playing.
The numbers seem to favor UND in this matchup, with the Sioux outpacing the Maverick’s scoring by a 1/2 goal per game and allowing a 1/2 goal less per game. North Dakota also seems to have the advantage on the power play with a 5% advantage in PP goals and a couple of percentage points more efficient at killing penalties. It is worth stating that UNO’s strength of schedule is at #3 and North Dakota’s is #13, no doubt because of the weak performances of the out of conference opponents.
This makes for a very interesting matchup and will no doubt produce some up and down hockey with all the scoring anyone could hope for. One can only hope that it is done by the team in green and white. I say special teams makes the difference here and I say UND will score at least one goal shorthanded.
UND 4-3 OT, UND 3-2
This week’s great episode of the Through These Doors: