“Let’s get at it, let’s go play” said Dave Hakstol at his weekly press conference. The Sioux hockey coach seemed to be tired of the same old questions that he hears hundreds of times a season. I can’t say I blame him, because I’m getting sick of hearing them too, let’s go play and allow the game to do the talking. A week off is good for a hockey team to get rest but it is bad for reporters that seem obligated to ask tired questions with tired answers to fill their quote quota.
Let’s go over one of these questions that will undoubtedly be asked to every player multiple times:
“What makes this series exciting?” They say a pictures worth a thousand words so here’s a full feature for the reporters:
By my count, that’s 4,000 words which should be enough for a multi-page feature, you can thank me later.
Entering this series, both teams are sitting inside the NCAA tournament field. The University of North Dakota currently at #2 and Denver University at #9. Both teams are scoring at a fairly decent clip with UND leading at 3.44 goals per game to Denver’s 3.00. UND currently has 12 players with at least 10 points while Denver has 9 players with at least 10 points. Because of the scoring depth that seemingly comes from every line, I’ll give the edge to UND in the offensive category.
On defense, the teams are identical with both allowing 2.15 goals per tilt. Denver has had a rotation of goalies with Tanner Jaillet having 9 wins and Evan Cowley with 7. Recently, Jaillet has taken the reins but the goalie rotation seems to depend on which way the wind(and pot smoke) is blowing in Colorado lately. On the other side, Zane McIntyre has earned all 19 of the Sioux wins this year. Because of the more steady presence on the back-end I have to give the defensive edge to UND as well.
Denver has the slight edge going 22.5% to North Dakota’s 20.9% and they’re PK is slightly better at 87% to 85%. On the penalty kill, Denver has allowed 11 goals on 89 chances while UND has allowed 17 on 112 chances. So while it may look like Denver is the better team on the face of the statistic, it does not tell the whole picture. As has been widely reported, North Dakota leads the nation in short-handed goals with 9. Meanwhile, Denver has only managed one goal while down a man. So, UND has a -8 goal differential while killing penalties this year, while Denver is a -10. I’d prefer UND’s -8 differential myself if I have to choose. Because of this I’m going to call special teams a wash as the Pios have better power play numbers.
I could see this series coming down to the wire for both games, similar to the UNO series a couple of weekends ago. However, this time the good guys will be on home ice where they are 11-3-2 on the year. Denver has definitely struggled on the road going a measly 4-5-2. That’s a pretty awful road record for a team looking to get some road wins.
UND 4-3, UND 3-1