The University of North Dakota has a chance to start their season unbeaten in their first 8 games. The last time UND went unbeaten for this long of a stretch to start the season, you ask? The 1999-2000 season that ended in the most recent national championship for the program. I’m always one for trying to find a good omen, no matter how obscure, that points to my team taking home the ultimate prize so I couldn’t resist. In case that isn’t enough to sway you, the last time UND won the title their goalie was under 6 feet tall. The current goalie, 3rd stringer walk-on, Matt Hrynkiw is also under 6 feet tall and is being coached by the 2000 national championship goaltender Karl Goehring… compelling stuff, right?
Last weekend in Vermont, UND showed that they have no problem outscoring teams no matter who is in between the pipes. This team seems to be able to score goals in bunches on one end of the ice and shut it down defensively on the other end. UND came out of Friday with a 2-0 shutout win that didn’t severely test the junior net-minder while creating plenty of chances while cycling the puck in the Vermont zone.
Saturday’s game played more competitively with UND and Vermont exchanging goals until UND got the game-winner on a tipped goal by Christian Wolanin. This sent the freshman on a skate that looked like he wasn’t sure how to celebrate according to Tim Hennessey. Hopefully, Mr. Wolanin scores some more game-winners so he can clean up his goal celebrations. Despite being heavily outshot in the 2nd period, UND was able to hold a lead going into the 3rd period. From there, they stepped on the gas and buried the Catamounts resulting in a 5-2 finish and road sweep.
UND @ CC (Colorado Springs, CO @ World Arena)
UND travels to the land of 6,000+ ft this weekend and will face the woeful Tigers of the tiny liberal arts school, Colorado College. In the last few years, it seems as though the CC Tigers have been working too much on their slack-lining to put together a competitive team. After finishing dead last in the NCHC last year, they look to continue that tradition with an 0-6 start and acting as a weight on the NCHC out-of-conference record. As a result, these games are must win for UND. The Tigers are looking like they will continue their tradition of terribleness this year so a loss or even a tie could really hurt the Pairwise Ranking come March when the field is set for the NCAA tournament.
Per Brad Schlossman, CC starts with 5 freshman on the blue line which is in stark contrast to the 5 experienced NHL draft picks starting for UND’s d corps. Also, CC’s goalies Tyler Marble and Jacob Nehama have save percentages of .877 & .904 respectively. If UND continues to outshoot and outplay CC as it has its first 4 opponents of they year, a 4 or 5 goal win each night should be the result. However, in college hockey we all know that any goalie can get confidence and seem to be unbeatable. The key for UND’s squad is to not get frustrated if a few chances don’t get buried right away and to keep at it because eventually the goals should come. The Tigers will probably look to play a trap game with freshmen defense and UND will look to open it up.
Some early standouts for North Dakota are Bryn Chyzyk who already has 5 goals in 6 games, which is only 2 goals short of his season total last year and Brock Boeser, who I believe will lead the country in freshman goals. Also, Matt Hrynkiw has shown that he can backstop a college hockey team which is great depth to have even if Cam Johnson and/or 3rd round pick Matej Tomek eventually take the reins.
There’s no reason to think UND shouldn’t handily sweep the team that couldn’t must a goal all of last weekend.
UND 4-1, UND 6-0
GAMEDAY SONG(In honor of the type of game CC would like to play):