NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS: For the second straight weekend, six NCHC teams are in action, all facing non-conference competition. Half of the six non-conference series are against Big Ten foes as Colorado College (vs. Michigan State), Minnesota Duluth (vs. Minnesota) and Western Michigan (vs. Michigan) look to improve the NCHC’s 2-4-1 combined record against Big Ten teams so far this season. The NCHC is off to a 15-11-5 start in non-conference play overall this season, with the .565 win percentage second among the six Division I men’s hockey conferences (Big Ten at .708). The NCHC has posted the best combined non-conference winning percentage in four of the last five seasons, including last year at .659.
ON TOP OF THE POLLS: Five NCHC teams are ranked in the USCHO.com Poll, tying for the most from one conference, with Omaha and CC both receiving votes, as well. Denver remains No. 1 in both polls for the second straight week after staying perfect on the season at 6-0-0 with a sweep of Boston College last weekend. With the Pioneers still in the top spot, an NCHC team has now been ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com Poll in 64 of the last 76 weeks dating back to the start of the 2016-17 season. Half of the NCHC teams have held the No. 1 spot during that span (Denver, UMD, North Dakota and St. Cloud State), while the NCHC is home to the last four NCAA National Champions. Only three NCHC teams are ranked in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll, with DU a unanimous No. 1, while UMD sits at No. 8 and St. Cloud State is ranked No. 14.
PERFECT PENALTY KILLING: Only four teams in the country (that have played a game so far) remain perfect on the penalty kill this season and two of them reside in the NCHC in North Dakota and St. Cloud State. UND is 13-for-13 on the penalty kill this season, while SCSU is 4-for-4. Massachusetts and Notre Dame are the other two. Denver is fifth nationally in penalty kill percentage at .960 (24-for-25), giving the NCHC three of the top five penalty kill units in the NCAA. In addition, North Dakota leads the country allowing only 17.25 shots on goal against per game. Denver and SCSU, meanwhile, are two of only four teams in the NCAA with at least two short-handed goals already this season (Wisconsin and Michigan Tech as well).
BOTH ENDS OF THE ICE: Omaha is tied with Wisconsin for the NCAA lead with seven power play goals on the season. The Mavericks are 7-for-22 a man up with the 31.8 percent success rate ranking fifth nationally. On the flip side, Omaha is tied for the NCAA lead allowing only 1.25 goals against per game.
GAME-WINNERS: Only five players in D-I men’s hockey have two game-winning goals already this season and two call the NCHC home in Denver sophomore forward Cole Guttman and Omaha freshman forward Joey Abate. Abate is the lone freshman among the quintet and those are his only goals so far.
FRESHMAN PHENOMS: Freshman goaltenders in the NCHC have gotten off to a strong start. Omaha’s Isaiah Saville leads all NCAA rookie netminders with both a .938 save percentage and a 1.68 goals-against average, while Western Michigan’s Brandon Bussi is second among freshmen with a .935 save percentage. Denver’s Magnus Chrona is second behind Saville nationally in GAA among freshmen at 1.83. Bussi and Chrona rank in the top five among rookies in both categories, while Chrona is the only freshman goalie in the country with two shutouts already.
IRONMEN: The three active NCAA men’s hockey players with the most games played all reside in the NCHC. Denver senior defenseman Michael Davies leads all active NCAA players with 131 career games played, while Minnesota Duluth senior defenseman Nick Wolff has appeared in 127 career games, second among active players. DU senior forward Liam Finlay is tied for third among active players with 126 games played. UMD senior goaltender Hunter Shepard has played 85 straight games in goal for UMD, the longest active games played streak by an NCAA netminder.
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