Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy -- Where North Dakota differs, and which comes as no surprise, is that they have both the highest shooting percentage and save percentage in the league. Looking at the roster, you'd have to say that maybe shooting 8.8 percent at evens is a little bit high even for a team that talented — and with Mark MacMillan potentially done for the year, even more so — but Zane McIntyre was always going to be stopping about .940 at evens. He's just that good, and given the fact that his team concedes an inordinate number of shot attempts (42.3 per game, third-most in the conference) he's utterly crucial to their ongoing success. If he was even a little worse, let's say he allowed an extra five goals in 32 games this season, we're not having a discussion about North Dakota being the top team in the country; their shot generation is decidedly middle of the pack on a national level, so the fact that they have 73 even-strength goals goes a long way.All season long, I keep hearing how UND isn't as good as their record. Their record is inflated by their out of conference record. So, what about the other 22 games they have played so far? I guess UND winning the Penrose Cup is a mirage, didn't happen, right
Of course, only about 25 or 30 percent of most games is played at 5-on-5, so you have to consider special teams quality as well. Here too, North Dakota doesn't exactly impress in comparison with its conference rivals; its 20.9 percent conversion rate on power plays is fourth in the conference behind St. Cloud, Denver, and Colorado College (somehow). Its PK is, not surprisingly, the best by a decent margin, because McIntyre has an .872 save percentage when down a man. The NCHC average is .863. But North Dakota takes a lot of penalties (second-most in the conference) and draws the the third-most. Their power play opportunity differential for the season is plus-1.
Also, we heard from the SBN College Hockey experts that once UND got into the meat of their schedule they would come back down to earth a bit. That hasn't happened yet, either.
Let's not forget that UND has only lost twice in 2015. Breaking it down further, UND has won four games in a row and five-of-six games. They have a 3-1-0 record against SCSU, 2-0 record against WMU, 2-1-1 record against UNO and DU. They currently have a 1-1 record against UMD and MU.
Let's review, UND went tot he NCAA tourney last year. Of course, they were the last team in NCAA tournament, and then promptly went to the Frozen Four. That was a fluke I guess. UND returns most of the team from last year and some of the pundits are shocked.
I think the NCHC is a tough conference and UND has proven they deserve the recognition they have gotten this year. I also don't think the UND hockey team is afraid to play anyone in the country. Not this team.