Showing posts with label WCHA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WCHA. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Is the WCHA's Style of Play Scaring off Potential Recruits?

If you're a recruit in the WCHA, you might want to think twice after reading this newspaper article by Matt Wellens, Duluth News Tribune. Former Alaska-Fairbanks sophomore forward Peter Krieger has transferred to UMD and will be eligible for the 2017-18 season. His reason for the transfer, he's tired of the whatever-it-takes style of play. Translation, he's tired of the clutching and grabbing.
“I wish I would have asked the hard questions and really looked at their style of play, because that’s what ultimately caused me to leave,” said Krieger, who mustered only nine goals and 24 assists in two seasons with the Nanooks as a wing. He played center in juniors and high school. “I got along great with the coaching staff, the guys on the team. I have nothing but great things to say about it.”

Krieger described the style of play in the WCHA as hard-working, but not as skilled, with the exception of Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and Bowling Green. He said most teams in the WCHA are staying away from a skilled game to a “whatever-it-takes-to-win” style.
This is a relatively easy problem to fix. It's time for a change, the WCHA needs to hire a new head of officials and move on. Until they do, the status quo will remain the same in the WCHA. Second, they will need to change the focus of the officiating crews in the WCHA.  Thoughts?

Monday, March 09, 2015

WHKY: A letter to WCHA women's hockey

Dear WCHA Women’s Hockey,

We’ve been friends for several years now and it’s been wonderful watching some of the best and most dominant women’s hockey teams in the country under the umbrella of the WCHA. But this weekend’s Final Face-Off left me a little blue.

I spent my Saturday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena watching a two quality women’s hockey games, but I was still left wanting something a little more.  During intermission I wondered why there weren’t any intermission games. No videos before or after honoring previous winners or highlighting the successes or WCHA alumni, coaching staff or programs. How about highlighting the WCHA nominees for the Patty Kaz award? WCHA women’s hockey has so much to be proud of. Why not showcase it?

If you walked around the arena, it didn’t make you feel as if you were in a tournament atmosphere. I know these are little things that might cost a little money and time, but I think it’s worth creating a fan atmosphere.

Maybe the lack of fan engagement is a dollar and cents situation. And I get it, the Final Face-Off can’t be compared to the money or atmosphere of the WCHA Final Five, but the WCHA can do better for women’s hockey. It has to do better. You should strive to be like the Final Five of yester-year even if it seems like an impossible goal. In the same way you ask student-athletes to elevate their game on ice and in the classroom, I’m asking you to do the same for the fan experience.

I applaud the effort to offer the free youth clinic on Saturday morning. I can appreciate the fact that this was an excellent opportunity to advance girls’ hockey. I hope the attendees had an unforgettable experience.

An event such as the Final Face-Off has two opportunities: help grow girls’ hockey and increase and sustain the fan base. You have an exceptional product on the ice. Make the event unforgettable for fans, not just the players.


Jackie – a WCHA women’s hockey fan

Sunday, March 01, 2015

WHKY: North Dakota outlasts Ohio State in triple overtime

Grand Forks, N.D. -- Fans who attended North Dakota's Saturday afternoon game against Ohio State got more than their money's worth in a triple overtime game that ended allowing North Dakota an advancement to the WCHA Final Face-Off.

Saturday's score was more indicative of the play between the two teams more so than North Dakota's 5-2 Friday win.

The goals that drove the teams into overtime play happened in second period. North Dakota's Samantha Hanson broke the scoreless stalemate around halfway through the second. The Buckeyes were able to rally the tying goal with 38 seconds remaining in the period

After OSU's tying goal at the end of the second period. It would take another 63 minutes for North Dakota to complete the sweep and punch their ticket to play, at least, one more game at home. "It was a super grind; start to finish," head coach Brian Idalski said.

The game ended 3:17 seconds into triple overtime when Becca Kohler made a transition play that sent Megan Dufault up ice. Dufault passed the puck cutting through two OSU defense to Amy Menke who put it top shelf on UND's 41st shot on goal.

North Dakota will take a couple days off before they start preparing for the WCHA Final Face-Off that is being hosted at The Ralph on Saturday and Sunday. "The one thing we knew for sure we didn't want was to do was watch other teams play in our rink," Amy Menke said.

Taking a page out of the UND men's hockey program's playbook, the women's team is 22-2-2 sine mid-January.

North Dakota plans to take the next couple days off before preparing for face-off against the Wisconsin Badgers at 5:00 on Saturday, March 7. Tickets are available for the WCHA Final Face-Off at The Ralph box office and online.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

UND WHKY: Border battle

Grand Forks, N.D. -- Rewind to Nov. 21 of last year and the North Dakota women's hockey was on a eight-game winless skid. The team was swept by the Minnesota Gopher powerhouse and the newly revitalized Bemidji State program. They had a loss and a tie against Wisconsin.

Nothing seemed to be going right at that point in the season. But since Dec. 12, the team has gone 8-1-1. Most recently tallying back-to-back sweeps of Ohio State and BSU. Last weekend North Dakota was able to pull off a in and tie against the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.

The games that North Dakota has won as of late haven't been high scoring or glamorous, but the program has done enough of the right things to claw themselves back from sixth place in the WCHA to fourth.

The keys to UND's success have been the defense and being backstopped by junior goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie. Amsley-Benzie has allowed only four goals in the last six games and has three shutouts against nationally ranked opponents. She has also been named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week twice since the beginning of 2015.

Currently North Dakota trails Minnesota Duluth in the WCHA standings by three points and is ranked 10th in the Pairwise with only six games remaining in the regular season.

This weekend North Dakota will face rival Minnesota on Friday at 7:07 p.m. and Saturday at 4:07 p.m.. The Gophers are 17-1-4 with the lone loss to Bemidji in Nov. of last year. If UND plans to be successful this weekend against the Gophers they will need carry momentum from the past three weeks and have exceptional goaltending and defense.

UND is hoping to pack The Ralph and break last year's attendance record. Attendees will receive one of these ridiculously fun(ny) foam stick hats. Tickets are available for $1 at The Ralph box office.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

WHKY: North Dakota takes advantage of St. Cloud's woes

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- St. Cloud State University's Lexi Slattery scored late in the third ending the longest scoreless streak in program history. It was too late. North Dakota put up five goals before the shutout ended and tacked on another 21 seconds after Slattery's goal.

Gracen Hirschy, who had two goals on the night, started the scoring around six minutes into the first on an even strength goal. "[We] wanted to play with a lead. That's been very important to us; to get a bit of a cushion and have teams have to open up," head coach Brian Idalski said.

During the second Jakobsen ended her own 11-game scoreless streak by scoring a pair of goals before the game ended. "That's someone that we needed to produce and we're looking for to carry us a little bit," Idalski said. "Getting her to shoot the puck and have her playing with confidence is huge for us going forward."

UND finished yesterday with a dominating 6-1 win, holding St. Cloud to three shots on goal during the first and five in the second. UND carried most of the play throughout the entire game keeping the Huskies in defensive territory.

"I think winning gives you confidence and a lot of things are clicking for us. Systems wise and execution wise we're really doing what we need to do," sophomore defense Halli Krzyaniak said.

North Dakota hopes to carry that momentum into today's game while looking for its first home sweep of the season. UND will host the Huskies in the series finale today at 2:00 p.m. at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

USCHO Top 10 Round Up

As always, it should be interesting how USCHO will choose the men's top 10 tomorrow morning after yet another interesting weekend of college hockey. Here is how I think things will turn out:

1. North Dakota. UND split with Miami this past weekend and were close to sending Friday's game into overtime just missing on some chances late in the third.

2. Boston University. The Terriers had a one game series this weekend against Maine, and would find themselves in the winners circle with a 3-1 score.

3. Minnesota. The Gophers were swept in a home and home series against Minnesota Duluth this weekend so the Gophers lose the top spot.

4. Michigan Tech. The Huskies remain the lone undefeated team in the country with a sweep of Bemidji State this weekend.

5. Colgate. The Raiders beat St. Lawrence Friday and would tie the Clarkson Golden Knights Saturday.

6. UMass Lowell. Lowell split with Penn State this past weekend.

7. Miami. The Red Hawks come off of a split with UND.

8. Denver. The Pioneers come off of an 8-1 victory over Colorado College.

9, Boston College. BC lost in a Tuesday match up against Harvard 6-3 and would beat Michigan State on the road 3-2 Friday.

10. Minnesota Duluth. UMD looked very impressive this weekend in their sweep of the Golden Gophers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Keep an Eye on Bemidji State Women

The Bemidji State Beavers have put on some very good defensive teams in the past four or five years in the women's hockey front and nothing has changed in this young season either. Giving teams like North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota troubles in the past, is this finally the time for them to crack the top 10 in the USCHO poll? Right now the Bemidji ladies are sitting just outside the top 10, but knocking on the door after starting the season 4-0-0 and rattling off back to back 4-0 shutouts against RPI and Vermont.

Starting 4-0-0 is nothing to bat your eyes at when talking about NCAA Division 1 hockey, but it also must be said that each victory has come outside of the very tough WCHA. However, they did sweep Robert Morris on the road and they beat Vermont a night after Vermont took it to UND at the Ralph.

This group of ladies is one to keep a sharp eye on for the rest of the season. They could be playing spoiler to someone in the WCHA when it comes to making the Final Face-Off this season. Their time unranked could soon be over. They cracked the top ten for me already.

USCHO Women's top 10
1. Wisconsin
2. Minnesota
3. Harvard
4. BC
5. Cornell
6. BU
7. Clarkson
8. Mercyhurst
9. Quinnipiac
10. North Dakota

My Women's top 10
1. Wisconsin
2. Minnesota
3. BC
4. Harvard
5. BU
6. Clarkson
7. Cornell
8. North Dakota
9. Mercyhurst
10. Bemidji State

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Women's Hockey Week One: What We Learned

As the regular season opened last weekend for the UND Women's Hockey Team, we saw a lot of things that are needing to be addressed, some good and some bad. With a split on the weekend, the team would take an early big hit in the pairwise rankings seeing as both games were non-conference.

Friday night the offense was put on display as they fired seven goals past the RPI goaltender. Becca Kohler showed a net front presence once again, leading the team with a hat trick. Sophomore Marissa Salo finally was able to find the net Friday night too. The hard working Salo not only would net her first goal, but get two as well. This was a long time coming for her and it showed UND's depth off very well.

The downside to Friday was the penalties. However, as UND Women's Hockey fans, we should be used to this right? Although they did not surrender a power play goal on the 11 opportunities that RPI was given, still 11 penalties is something that no team wants to have. When it comes to WCHA play, there needs to be a stress on discipline, or it could be a very long season that will have an early end.

Shelby Amsley-Benzie looked like she was in mid season form already, making 20 saves on 21 shots against. She was square to the puck, didn't leave out many rebounds, and seemed very relaxed in her junior season opener. Playing like this, she could be stealing a lot of games for UND this season.

There wasn't many good things to say about Saturday night. It looked as if a completely different team was on the ice. Not many passes were being completed. Terrible turnovers in the defensive zone were committed and the offense looked powerless. I am not docking the play of Vermont because they played very well, but if UND was playing their best game, the score would have likely been very different.

Not one player stood out as excellent Saturday night and very few stood out as decent at that. The top line of Becca Kohler, Meghan Dufault, and Josefine Jakobsen did combine for the lone UND goal, but that would be about all they had to offer. They did have a couple of very late scoring chances, however were not able to put one in. Gracen Hirschy is the player who stood out the most for me, playing the most consistent game out of everyone.

Two of the three Vermont goals were the cause of two very terrible defensive zone turnovers giving goalie Lexie Shaw no chance what so ever to make a save. Breakouts were sloppy and passing was way off target in the Saturday night loss.

If we learned anything from opening weekend, is that game play consistency between nights needs to be way better, or this season could be a very long one up in Grand Forks.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

(Video) Brendan O'Donnell Slashing Penalty

At the 16:57 mark of the third period, Brendan O'Donnell was incorrectly assessed a two-minute minor penalty for slashing. You can see by the video that O'Donnell never should have been given a penalty. That was a blown call by Kevin Shea. Thank God it didn't cost UND the game. 

My six-year old child could tell you that this was a bad penalty. This was a blown call by the Hockey East officiating crew. In my opinion, I thought that Scott Hansen, Kevin Shea made some ticky-tacky calls all night long. Hate to say it, but I would rather have some of the officials that we have had in the WCHA. There's no excuse for this call. 
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Friday, September 27, 2013

NCAA Hockey: Focus on CFB's

Each year, we hear what the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee wants the on-ice officials to focus on. This year is no different. This season, the NCAA wants the officials to project the puck carrier and focus on checking from behind penalties. During the WCHA preseason teleconference, Greg Shepherd, the Head of Officials for the WCHA talked about this.

This is what Greg Shepherd had to say during the WCHA preseason media teleconference on the checking from behind calls.

"Last year in the WCHA we had 47 majors and games for checking from behind," Greg Shepherd said. "If you see a player, his numbers and you hit him from behind into the boards, I don't care if the player gets up or not, thank God that he does. It's going to be five and a game. There's no gray area. The officials will be held accountable to make that call. "

So, my question is, how long will the refs call the checking from behind calls tight before they back off? Thoughts?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Brackets are set, UND going to Grand Rapids

Nice to know that the NCAA went straight by the math and put UND in the East region with Quinnipiac. Uh, wait a minute. Oh course, the NCAA doesn't want to have another all WCHA Frozen Four like they did in 2005, so they doubled up a bunch of WCHA teams in three regionals. Again, giving B.C. an easy shot to the NCAA Frozen Four. B.C. again will travel a grand total of 57 miles.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

WCHA Hockey: What are we doing here?

2003 WCHA Final Five logo

Saint Paul, Minnesota – Recently, I was listening to a weekly podcast of College Hockey Tonight, and the host Scott Williams and Moose Richards were talking about the break of and reformation of the WCHA.
Shameless plug department. First, if you’re not listening to the College Hockey Tonight on KBUN, I highly recommend that you give them a listen. They both know the game of hockey very well and their podcast sound very good, quality wise. You can listen to their podcast by going to KBUN.COM  and all of their podcast from this season are archived on the site.
You can also listen to the podcasts on you smart phone. I listen to most of their podcasts when I work out at the gym or in the car on longer trips.
The gist of the conversation during the podcast in question, “what are we doing here,” host Moose Richards said.
Come to think of it, that is a really good question.
I mean we can go on and on about the B1G and the NCHC and point fingers, but that discussion is probably counter-productive. I understand that the by-laws of the Big Ten require that Minnesota and Wisconsin join their league once they had a sixth hockey team. I just wish there was a way to preserve what we have now.
It’s like having a relationship with someone that works and dumping them and going off with some unknown less attractive option.
The WCHA in its current form is hands down the best league in Division I college hockey. Top to bottom, there is no better league in my opinion. We have a great league here and that’s basically blowing up after this season.
Obviously, none of us can control that, so let’s enjoy the moment.
Last night, I was having a discussion on this subject with person that is fan and media member of a team that’s not moving to another league, his team is staying in the new WCHA. Our conclusion was that they will never be able to replicate what we have currently with the WCHA Final Five, never, not in Detroit with the Big Ten hockey conference tourney, not at the Target Center for the NCHC conference tourney, or even at the Xcel Center for the New WCHA tourney or for the Big Ten hockey conference tourney. I also don’t think that I am going out on a limb by saying, definitely not for the new WCHA tournament in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s not going to happen.
For good or bad, college hockey landscape will change, as we know it.
Speaking of change, the WCHA is also changing the format of their tourney next season as well; the top eight teams in the WCHA make the playoffs, the bottom two teams will not make the playoffs.
Four teams will advance from the first round of the WCHA playoffs and they will play two semifinal games on Friday night and they have a championship game on Saturday. There will be no more Final Five.
The first WCHA tourney will be in Grand Rapids, Michigan starting in 2015. The Xcel Energy Center will host the 2016 WCHA conference tourney. They will rotate between the two sites, for least the foreseeable future.
Former Fighting Sioux and current Wild forward Zach Parise was asked about his thoughts on the changes the WCHA will go through after the season is over.
“I think it’s brutal, if you ask me,” Parise said. “I don’t like it. I was a big fan of that league, and the rivals that were developed in that league; I think it’s a bad idea.”
When asked who he though would win tonight’s Red Baron WCHA Final Five Broadmoor Championship game between Wisconsin and Colorado College. Parise said, “I would say Wisconsin, but I won’t be watching because North Dakota’s not playing.”
So, one more night of one of the best college hockey tourneys and then we all go our separate ways. No UND and Minnesota aren’t playing tonight, but really, does it matter. There no place I would rather be than right here.

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Saturday, March 09, 2013

(Scenarios) Crazy for just another day; WCHA race going down to the wire

This Week in the WCHA

Results of Friday, March 8: Colorado College 0 at Michigan Tech 2 (WCHA); St. Cloud State 4 at Wisconsin 2 (WCHA); Nebraska Omaha 4 at Minnesota Duluth 5 (WCHA); Minnesota 4 at Bemidji State 3 (WCHA); North Dakota 4 at Minnesota State 3 (WCHA); Alaska Anchorage 1 at Denver 7 (WCHA).

Games for Saturday, March 9: Colorado College at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 7:07 pm ET; Minnesota at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; North Dakota at Minnesota State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; St. Cloud State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Nebraska Omaha at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT.

Games for Sunday, March 10: Alaska Anchorage at Denver (WCHA), 11:07 am MT.

It looks like North Dakota is either going to play the Bemidji State Beavers or the Michigan Tech Huskies in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. 

North Dakota (35 points, at Minnesota State):
- Seeded 2nd with a win and a Minnesota tie or loss.
- Seeded 2nd with a tie and a Minnesota loss.
- Seeded 3rd with a win and a Minnesota win.
- Seeded 3rd with a tie and a Minnesota win or tie.
- Seeded 3rd with a loss.

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Gophers get past Beavers

Western Collegiate Hockey Association logo
Western Collegiate Hockey Association logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bemidji, Minnesota – This weekend, is the last time the Gophers will ever play the Bemidji State Beavers as members of the WCHA, ever.
Two summers ago, the college hockey landscape changed forever. That discussion, however, is for another day.
Next season, the Gophers will come back to play the Beavers at the Sanford Center as members of Big Ten Hockey Conference. The Beavers will remain in the new version of the WCHA.
Last weekend, the Beavers defensive style of play kept UND bottled up and gave them fits.
Fast forward to this weekend, the Beavers again were giving another team fits, this time that same tenacious fore-check was on display at the Sanford Center in Bemidji and the Beavers were getting in the Gophers shooting lanes and taking away their time and space. It was a beaut to watch as the Beavers were giving the highly touted Gophers forwards little room to roam.
Through one period of hockey, the Gophers and Beavers exchanged goals and played an evenly matched game of hockey. The Beavers outshot the Gophers 13-10 in the first period
The second period would prove to be rough sledding in the early going for the Beavers, as they had to a kill a five-on-three power play. Unfortunately, the Beavers luck would run out at the 02:21 mark of the second period as Nick Bjudstad would score his first of two goals on the power play.
The Beavers would continue to work hard and beat the Gophers to the puck and that hard work would finally pay off as the Beavers would eventually tie the score at the 18:17 mark of the second period with a goal from Beaver freshman Cory Ward. Ward’s goal was an example of what happens when you go hard to the net.
The Gophers would out shoot the Beavers in the second period 9-8.
The opportunistic Cory Ward, would score his second of the game at the 2:30 mark of the second period, to give the Beavers a momentary 3-2 lead.
Freshman Cory Ward (Las Vegas, Nevada) has been hot as of late and has points in four of his last five games (3g-3a—6pts).
“The last couple of weeks we’ve played like that, we’ve played really well,” Ward said.  “I feel like everything is coming together. Playing against teams like that we’ve stepped our game up and that’s really important going into the playoffs in our position.”
The Beavers would miss a golden opportunity go up 4-2, on a breakaway by senior forward Jordan George.  That was a key play that would come back to haunt the Beavers.
The Gophers would tie the game four minutes later with a goal by Justin Holl.
The game wouldn’t stay tied for long as the Golden Gophers would go on the power play at the 14:54 mark of the third period with untimely and bad penalty from sophomore defenseman Sam Rendle.
The Gophers would make the Beavers pay 0:31 seconds later when Nick Bjudstad would get his second power play goal of the night.
The Gophers (23-7-4, 15-7-5 WCHA) would score two third-period goals in about seven minutes and 27 seconds to lead the Gophers to a heart breaking 4-3 loss.
The Beavers (6-19-8, 5-15-7 WCHA) gave the Gophers everything they could handle and at times they were the better of the two teams, but untimely penalties by the Beavers did them in. You cannot give the Beavers power play too many chances.
Bemidji State Beavers head coach Tom Serratore on his team’s play.
“I thought we played a pretty good 60 minute game,” Serratore said. “I thought we had good possession time. I thought we went to the net well. I thought we had good scoring chances. Guys made plays. Obviously, again the thing that tough to swallow is that third period lead and you give it up.  We’ve done that too much this year.”
Cross-posted at the Hockey Writers Combine... 

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Series ticket packages for first round of WCHA playoffs on sale Tuesday

Western Collegiate Hockey Association logo
Western Collegiate Hockey Association logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Series ticket packages for the University of North Dakota's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) first-round playoff series will go on sale to the general public and UND students on Tuesday, March 6, at 10 a.m. Central.

Student tickets will be available online only at General public ticket packages can be purchased by calling 1-800-745-3000, logging on to or by visiting the UND Ticket Office at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. The ticket office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

UND students will receive an e-mail with a keyword needed to purchase a series ticket package. Student ticket packages will be held for students until the student pre-sale ends on Thursday, March 7 at 5 p.m. All unsold student tickets will then be released to the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 8. Students may purchase up to four reserved seating student tickets per UND student ID.

Series ticket packages are $40 for adults and $20 for students and youth.

Single-game WCHA first-round playoff tickets will go one sale on Friday, March 8 at 10 a.m. Single-game tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and youth. Single-game tickets are subject to availability.

The first round of the WCHA playoffs take place March 15, 16 and 17 (if necessary). Game times are 7:37 p.m. on Friday and 7:07 on Saturday and Sunday. All times Central. UND's first-round opponent has not yet been determined.

UND clinched home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs with a 2-2 overtime tie Saturday night against Bemidji State. It is the 11th straight year UND will host the first round, the longest active streak in the league.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

UND vs. Denver; College Hockey’s Hatfield-McCoy feud

Fighting Sioux (University of North Dakota) vs...
Fighting Sioux (University of North Dakota) vs. Denver Pioneers (University of Denver, #14 Tom May), WCHA Final FIVE 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This season, since the NHL lockout has been over, NBC Sports Network has been doing a weekly rivalry game on Wednesdays nights between the various NHL teams.
This Friday night, there will be another rivalry game on NBC Sports Network between college hockey’s versions of the historicHatfield-McCoy feud.
Actually, both games will be on television this weekend, when the University of North Dakota (16-8-6, 11-5-6 WCHA) travels to Denver, Colorado to play their heated rival the Denver Pioneers (15-9-5, 10-7-5 WCHA) in a pivotal two game series, this series will go a long way in determining seeding for the WCHA playoffs.
As I mentioned earlier, Friday’s game will be on NBC Sports Network at 9:00 PM (CT) and Saturday’s game will be on Root Sports at 8:00 (CT).
Also at stake this weekend, is the all-important Pairwise rankings. A couple of wins would solidify either team’s standings for the NCAA playoffs and a couple of losses could knock you down a place or two.
Over the course of the last ten seasons North Dakota and Denver have had some entertaining games.
If you go on and conduct a search, you would literally find hours of videos of goals, scrums and dustups between Denver and North Dakota.  I can only imagine that we will be able to add a few more videos to that collection when this weekend is over.
North Dakota and Denver have a history in the playoffs and the Green and White have beaten DU in the final game of the last two WCHA Final Fives. North Dakota also has a 7-2-0 record the last 10 games against Denver.
One could say that it’s gut check time, but it’s also crunch time as well.
Freshman forward Rocco Grimaldi, who has played in a series against the Denver Pioneers earlier in the season at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, was asked why he thought the games between the Denver Pioneers and North Dakota were so intense.
“I think both teams are extremely competitive and well coached,” Grimaldi said. “Overall good teams offensively and defensively, the better the games are the more you build a rivalry with that team, I guess. When you have good games all the time, when you play someone, eventually rivalries are built.”
Senior forward Danny Kristo was more to the point when asked about the rivalry between the two teams.
“I think Mac [Andrew MacWilliam] hates these guys the most,” Kristo said. “I don’t need to beat around the bush but I don’t think our coaching staffs like each other too much, either. Obviously, both teams have a lot of respect for each other because both teams are always there at the end of the year.”
During an earlier series between the two teams, sophomore forward Steph Pattyn had this to say about playing against the Denver Pioneers.
“It’s kind of a personal rivalry for a couple of our guys,” Pattyn said.  “I know that Mac [Andrew MacWilliam] just really doesn’t like these guys.”
This is a series that gets everyone’s blood boiling. The fans of both teams love these games. The coaches and players involved in this rivalry love the games as well. You can bet that all of the body-checks will be finished, when these two teams meet this weekend. Emotions will run high, and you can also count on a few dust-ups and scrums happening between the two teams.
When it’s all said and done, the team that plays with the most discipline will probably prevail this weekend.
Denver is leading the WCHA in penalty minutes with 496 and that total could be a lot higher when the weekend is over. North Dakota is sitting in number three spot with 475.
Let the feud, err, I mean rivalry begin.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

WCHA Power Rankings: Week 19

Western Collegiate Hockey Association logo
Western Collegiate Hockey Association logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is the week 19 WCHA Power Rankings. This season, I have been doing the WCHA Power Rankings with Taylor Seibel, who is a contributor for College Hockey Weekly.

1.  Saint Cloud State – (18-11-1, WCHA 15-6-1) – This past weekend, the Huskies were off. This weekend, the Huskies travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado to play the Colorado College Tigers.
2. Minnesota – (20-6-4, WCHA 12-6-4) – This past weekend, the Minnesota Gophers split (3-2 W – 2-3 L) their weekend series with the Wisconsin Badgers. The Gophers won indoors at the Kohl Center on Friday night, and then lost to the Badgers at the Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon. This weekend, the Gophers entertain the slumping Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs who have won one game, in their last eight (1-6-1).
3University of North Dakota – (16-8-6, WCHA 11-5-6) – This past weekend, UND was off. This weekend, the University of North Dakota travels to Denver, to play the Pioneers in an important two game series at Magness Arena in Denver, Colorado.
4. Minnesota State Mankato – (20-9-3, WCHA 14-9-1) – This past weekend, the Mavericks swept (4-2 W – 6-1 W) the Michigan Tech Huskies at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato. This weekend, the Mavericks are off.
5.   Denver University – (15-9-5, WCHA 10-7-5) – This past weekend, the Denver Pioneers were off. This weekend, the Pioneers entertain the University of North Dakota in a pivotal two game series at the Magness Arena in Denver, Colorado.
6. Nebraska Omaha – (18-12-2, WCHA 14-8-2) – This past weekend, the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks swept (3-0 – 6-5 O.T. W) the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves at Sullivan Arena. This weekend, the Mavericks have an exhibition game against the U-18 team.
7.  Wisconsin – (13-10-7, WCHA 10-7-7) – This past weekend, the Wisconsin Badgers split (2-3 L – 3-2 W) their weekend series with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Badgers lost at the Kohl Center on Friday night, before winning on Sunday afternoon at the Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field.  This weekend, the Badgers entertain non-conference foe Penn State at the Kohl Center.
8.  Colorado College – (11-14-5, WCHA 8-10-4) – This past weekend, the Colorado College Tigers were off. This weekend, the Tigers entertain the Saint Cloud State Huskies at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
9. Minnesota Duluth – (10-16-4, WCHA 8-12-4) – This past weekend, the Bulldogs took a single point (2-4 L – 1-1 T) in their weekend series with the Bemidji State Beavers at the Sanford Center. This weekend, the Bulldogs travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota to play the Gophers. The Bulldogs are winless in their last six games and have only won one game in their last eight games 1-6-1.
10. Michigan Tech – (10-16-4, WCHA 6-14-4) – This past week, the Huskies beat (8-2) the Northern Michigan Wildcats in Houghton, Michigan on Tuesday night in a nonconference tilt, and then this past weekend, the Huskies were swept (2-4 L – 1-6 L) in their weekend series with Minnesota State Mavericks at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato. This weekend, the Huskies are off.
11. Bemidji State – (6-17-7, WCHA 5-13-6) – This past weekend, the Beavers took (4-2 W – 1-1 T) three points from the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs at the Sanford Center. This weekend the Beavers are off. The Beavers got their first win since December 15, 2012 when they beat the Denver Pioneers 5-1 on December 12, 2012
12. Alaska Anchorage – (4-19-7, WCHA 2-18-6) – This past weekend, Seawolves were swept (0-3 L – 5-6 O.T. L) by the Omaha Mavericks at the Sullivan arena. This weekend, the Seawolves are off.
Taylor Seibel’s WCHA Power Rankings 
1. St. Cloud State – (18-11-1, 15-6-1 WCHA) – The Huskies were off this past weekend.  St. Cloud also received some help from Wisconsin on Sunday, to give the Huskies a bit of breathing room in the race for the MacNaughton Cup.  SCSU’s magic number is now 9 points to clinch a share of the Cup.  The Huskies will look to reduce that number this weekend as they travel to Colorado Springs to take on the CC Tigers.
2. Minnesota – (20-6-4, 12-6-4 WCHA) – The Gophers played very well on Friday in Madison at the Kohl Center, earning a 3-2 victory, but were edged out by the Badgers on Sunday in Chicago.  The loss hurt the Gophers chances at defending the Cup, but Minnesota fans should keep in mind that bigger prizes are still within their reach.  Minnesota squares off against in-state rival Minnesota Duluth at Mariucci Arena this weekend in WCHA play.
3. North Dakota – (16-8-6, 11-5-6 WCHA) – North Dakota was off this past weekend.  UND still has an outside shot at winning the conference, but it will likely take a perfect run over their next 3 weekends.  Given Coach Hakstol’s track record in the months of February and March, that is certainly a doable task.  It will all start next weekend, as North Dakota travels to the Mile High City to take on the University of Denver in a renewal of a bitter rivalry.
4. Nebraska Omaha – (18-12-2, 14-8-2 WCHA) – The Mavericks of Omaha used some late game heroics to sweep Alaska Anchorage this weekend, temporarily vaulting UNO up to second place in the conference.  The Mavs sit just a point behind St. Cloud in the race for the MacNaughton, but they have played 2 more games.  That will change after this upcoming weekend, as Omaha squares off against the USA Under-18 Team in an exhibition on Friday.
5. Minnesota State – (20-9-3, 14-9-1 WCHA) – What a difference a year makes!  Predicted by many to finish in the bottom quarter of the conference, the Mavs of Mankato have been tremendous this season.  Following a weekend sweep of Michigan Tech, the Mavs are sitting in third place in the conference, albeit having played two more games than both Minnesota and North Dakota, each of whom are just one point behind.  Next weekend, Mankato is off.
6. Wisconsin – (13-10-7, 10-7-7 WCHA) – The Badgers hosted arguably the best team in college hockey this weekend, and managed to skate away with a split.  Wisconsin has been playing very well of late, losing only twice in conference play since the beginning of December.  The streak has the Badgers in position to make a charge for home ice in the first round and a top-half finish in the WCHA.  However, Wisconsin will take a step away from WCHA play next weekend, as the Badgers host Penn State in non-conference action.
7. Denver – (15-9-5, 10-7-5 WCHA) – The Pioneers were off this weekend.  Denver currently sits just outside the top half of the conference, but they have 2 games in hand over Wisconsin, who sits just ahead of the Pios.  DU is capable of beating anyone in the country, or losing to anyone in the country.  That could come in very handy over the next two weekends, as Denver hosts North Dakota this weekend, and travels to Minnesota the following weekend.
8. Colorado College – (11-14-5, 8-10-4 WCHA) – Colorado College was off this weekend.  The Tigers have been on a roller coaster of ride this season in conference play, as they started the season on fire, cooled off tremendously, and now are playing solid, but only have 1 win and 3 ties in their last 4 games.  The road doesn’t get any easier, as WCHA leading St. Cloud State comes to town next weekend to take on CC in a critical series for both squads
9. Minnesota Duluth – (10-16-4, 8-12-4 WCHA) – The Bulldogs were only able to gain 3 points against in-state rival Bemidji State this weekend, effectively eliminating the Bulldogs from home ice contention.  Minnesota Duluth is talented, but very young.  Four of Duluth’s Top Six scorers are underclassmen, and their number one goalie is also a freshman.  This is not likely to be Duluth’s year, but they still have the opportunity to play spoiler next weekend at Minnesota.
10. Bemidji State – (6-17-7, 5-13-6 WCHA) – The Beavers surprised many this weekend, as they took three points against Minnesota Duluth.  Their victory on Friday was their first Friday victory of the season, and their first win since December 15th.  Bemidji is off next weekend, and they have a brutal finish to conference play, as they travel to North Dakota in two weeks, and then host Minnesota the following week.
11. Michigan Tech – (10-16-4, 6-14-4 WCHA) – The Huskies traveled to Mankato this weekend, and they were swept by the Mavericks in convincing fashion.  It has been a disappointing year for Tech, as many, including this writer, believed they had what it took to be a home-ice team.  The Huskies have next weekend off to lick their wounds before traveling out to St. Cloud to take on the Huskies March 1st and 2nd.
12. Alaska Anchorage – (4-19-7, 2-18-6 WCHA) – The Seawolves nearly upset Nebraska Omaha on Saturday, but fell in OT.  The loss meant getting swept at home for only the third time this season.  UAA knew this season would likely be a difficult one, and it has been.  The Seawolves have next weekend off to prepare for in-state rival Alaska in the Governor’s Cup.

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