Recapping Week 19 of the NCHC
With all of the other conferences in their respective first-round playoff series last weekend, the NCHC was the only conference with regular season games left.
Last weekend’s games played a big role in determining the matchups for this weekend’s conference playoffs with three teams ending with the same points totals.
SCSU 22-6-6 (1) vs UND 14-12-10 (14)
The St Cloud State University Huskies had the Penrose Cup, and likely number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament locked up when they arrived in Grand Forks last weekend.
On the other side, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks were fighting to keep home-ice advantage in the first round of their conference tournament for the 16th straight year.
Although SCSU did not have much to play for Friday night, they did not show it.
With the goaltenders holding down their respective nets in the first period, the Huskies and Hawks entered the second period tied 0-0.
Jordan Kawaguchi got the Hawks on the board with a goal 10 and a half minutes into the second period.
The Huskies roared back and scored two goals of their own, one from Jon Lizotte and the other from Jimmy Schuldt on the power play giving the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
With four seconds left in the period, The Hawks netted the tying goal to send the game into the final period deadlocked at 2-2.
SCSU took the lead just under halfway through the third period when Ryan Poehling scored on a highlight-reel shot between his legs.
Nick Jones tied the game at 3-3, but Poehling struck once again in overtime to deliver the Huskies a win, 4-3.
With a chance to play at home in the first round of the NCHC playoffs on the line, the Hawks started the scoring again Saturday night.
After a power play goal in the first period, UND had a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.
They extended their lead to 2-0 with yet another power play goal from Rhett Gardner.
The final period saw the lead slip from the Hawks hands as SCSU scored the only two goals of the period to tie the game and send it to overtime.
UND won the shootout 1-0 to secure a victory.
SCSU hosts the Miami University RedHawks this weekend. The Huskies swept their only meetings of the season and outscored the RedHawks 9-2.
The Hawks stay in Grand Forks this weekend where they await the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. The Hawks split their season series with the Mavericks 2-2.
MU 11-18-5 vs DU 18-8-8 (4)
Coming into the weekend, both the MU RedHawks and University of Denver Pioneers were both locked into their seeds for the conference tournament.
DU got out to a fast start Friday.
Dylan Gambrell found the back of the net just over two minutes into the first period on the power play for the Pioneers.
Later in the period, DU scored again on the power play to add to their lead. After one period, the Pioneers had a 2-0 lead.
The Pioneers scored in the first two minutes again in period two, but a Kiefer Sherwood goal a couple minutes later to cut the lead to 3-1.
With another goal, the score was 4-1 heading into the final period of play.
The RedHawks scored two goals towards the end of the period making the score 3-4, but that’s as close as they would get. Two goals, one on an empty net, shut down the Hawks’ comeback attempt.
DU’s defense was stellar allowing nine or fewer shots on net in each period.
While the comeback attempt was thwarted on Friday night, the Hawks were ready to do the same Saturday night.
The game started as poorly as it probably could have for MU. After the first four and a half minutes of the opening period, they were down 0-3.
A goal in the final three minutes of the period for MU cut into the lead and had the score 1-3 after a period.
Karch Bachman came up huge for the Hawks. He scored two goals in the second period to tie the game at 3-3.
Neither team would score in the final period, or either of the overtime periods, so a shootout was needed. MU won, 1-0 in the shootout.
As the lowest seeded team, the RedHawks must travel to St. Cloud, Minnesota this weekend and face SCSU. They haven’t won in St. Cloud since 2013.
The Pioneers remain at home where they welcome in-state rival Colorado College to Denver this weekend. They were 1-1-2 against the Tigers this season.
UNO 17-15-2 (13) vs UMD 19-14-3 (9)
While UNO was trying to overtake UND for the fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the first round, the University of Minnesota Duluth was all but locked into their third seed for the conference tournament and was looking to add to their national resume last weekend.
UMD got the scoring started with a goal just over three minutes into the contest from Joey Anderson.
It was the Mavericks’ game from then on out.
Zach Jordan scored his 16th goal of the season for UNO a few minutes later to tie the game at 1-1.
While on a 5×3 power play, the Mavericks added to their lead in the second period. It was the only score of the period and after two periods, the Mavericks were clinging to a 2-1 lead.
Both Tristan Keck and Steven Spinner scored their 10th goals of the season in the final period en route to a 4-1 victory.
With the win and a UND loss, UNO pulled to a tie in the standings with the Fighting Hawks.
Evan Weninger was unreal in net for the Mavericks. The goaltender was peppered with shots but only allowed one in the net to his 41 saves.
Saturday was the exact opposite game.
UNO kicked off the scoring when Martin Sundberg scored his first goal of his colligate career giving the Mavericks a 1-0 lead.
The second period was when the Bulldogs took over.
Three goals, one from Karson Kuhlman, one from Scott Perunovich and another from Joey Anderson gave UMD a 3-1 lead after two periods.
A second goal from Anderson on an empty-net power play was the only score of the third period leading to a 4-1 victory for the Bulldogs.
The Mavericks were 0-7 on the power play Saturday night which was a big reason why their offense sputtered.
UNO heads to Grand Forks, North Dakota this weekend for their first-round matchup against the Fighting Hawks. They are 3-3 at Ralph Engelstad Arena in the last three seasons.
UMD remains home to face the Western Michigan University Broncos. The Bulldogs went 3-1 against them during the season including a combined 14-1 beatdown two weeks ago in a sweep.
WMU 15-17-2 vs CC 14-15-5
WMU and CC were jockeying with UNO and UND last weekend for the final home seed in the conference tournament last weekend as all four teams were separated by just a few points each.
Austin Rueschhoff got the scoring started Friday evening just under halfway through the period giving the Broncos an early 1-0 lead.
A scoreless second period had the game at 1-0 still heading into the final period of play.
Mason Berg scored to tie the game for the Tigers, and then with just under three minutes remaining, Cole McCaskill gave CC a lead they would not relinquish as they won, 2-1.
Saturday night featured much more scoring.
CC got on the board 1:44 into the opening period to gain an early 1-0 advantage.
Two goals, one from Corey Schueneman on the 5×3 power play and one from Brett Van Os had the Broncos leading 2-1 after one period.
The Broncos offense exploded in the second period.
After giving up a goal three minutes into the second period, WMU scored six unanswered goals from six different players including Van Os’ second goal of the game.
Heading into the final period, the game was all but over as the Broncos were up big, 8-2.
Neither team scored again and WMU won by that same score, 8-2.
The win tied the Broncos with CC and UNO and sent them to Duluth to face the Bulldogs this weekend. The Broncos struggled against the Bulldogs this season winning only one of their four meetings.
CC heads north to Denver for a series with the Pioneers. The Tigers have played the Pioneers closer than they have in recent years and are 1-1-2 against them this season with each of the teams winning in overtime once.
1. Nick Halloran CC 44
1. Henrik Borgström DU 44
3. Dylan Gambrell DU 41
1. Hunter Shepard UMD 19
2. Tanner Jaillet DU 17
3. Evan Weninger UNO 15
1. David Pope UNO 20
2. Nick Halloran CC 19
2. Henrik Borgström DU 19