Saturday, Dec. 28
Sunday, Dec. 29
Monday, Dec. 30
% Mariucci Classic, Minneapolis, Minn. (University of Minnesota)
$ Ledyard Classic, Hanover, N.H. (Dartmouth College)
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS: After only one NCHC team was in action last weekend, five NCHC teams return to action Saturday through Monday, including four against non-conference foes and one exhibition game. Colorado College and St. Cloud State both take part in in-season tournaments, while Miami and No. 10/11 Minnesota Duluth play road games. The NCHC has posted the best combined non-conference regular-season winning percentage among the six Division I men’s hockey conferences in four of the last five seasons, including last year at .659. This season, NCHC teams have combined to go 36-22-10 in non-conference play so far, with the .603 win percentage ranking second among conferences, just behind Hockey East at .608.
POLL POSITIONS: The NCHC is once again home to the No. 1 team in the country after North Dakota claimed the top spot in the latest national polls (Dec. 16) for the first time this season. Four NCHC teams are ranked in the latest USCHO.com Poll, including three in the top 10. Three NCHC teams remain ranked in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll.
GOING FOR GOLD: Five NCHC players are competing for a gold medal at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic, which started Thursday, Dec. 26 and runs through Jan. 5. Western Michigan sophomore defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, who was on the U.S. silver medal-winning team last year, was named captain of the U.S. National Junior Team, while North Dakota freshman forward Shane Pinto was named U.S. Player of the Game in Thursday’s opening loss to Canada after scoring two goals and adding an assist. UND sophomore defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker was on the winning side Thursday, as he is the lone college hockey player on Canada’s National Junior Team. The other two NCHC players on the U.S. team are Denver freshman forward Bobby Brink, who had an assist Thursday, and Omaha freshman goaltender Isaiah Saville. Bernard-Docker is only the third ever NCHC player to play for Canada, while 31 NCHC players have now suited up for the U.S. National Junior Team, including this year. Team USA is coached by Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin and assisted by St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson.
CAPTAIN AMERICA CALLS NCHC HOME: With Western Michigan sophomore defenseman Mattias Samuelsson being named captain of the U.S. National Junior Team this year, he marks the third straight season Team USA’s captain has come from the NCHC after former Minnesota Duluth defenseman Mikey Anderson held the honor last year and his brother, former UMD forward Joey Anderson, did so in 2018. Former Miami forward Riley Barber also served as the U.S. captain in 2014 giving the NCHC four U.S. National Junior Team captains in seven years.
ALSO ON EUROPEAN VACATION: While five NCHC players are competing at the World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic, Denver junior defenseman and captain Ian Mitchell is playing for Team Canada at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland from Dec. 26-31. Mitchell had an assist in Thursday’s opening win against HC Ocelari Trinec. He’s the only current college hockey player on the roster and marks the second straight season the NCHC has been represented on Team Canada at the Spengler Cup after former Western Michigan forward Colt Conrad played in the six-team invite-only club tournament last year.
CENTURY CLUB ACCESS: No active NCHC players have 100 career points, but three are within seven points of the century club. Miami senior forward and captain Gordie Green has 98 career points and is only two away, while Western Michigan senior forward and captain Hugh McGing is six away with 94 points and St. Cloud State senior defenseman and captain Jack Ahcan has 93 points. Green has 41 goals and 57 assists in 128 career games, while McGing has 35 goals and 59 assists in 127 games and Ahcan has 18 goals and 75 assists also in 127 games. Green is in action on Monday, while Ahcan plays Saturday and Sunday. McGing is idle until Jan. 3.
WE’RE GOING STREAKING: Top-ranked North Dakota heads into its exhibition game with the U.S. Under-18 Team on a 13-game unbeaten streak (12-0-1), which is the longest active unbeaten streak in the NCAA. UND is also on a seven-game winning streak, which is the second-longest active win streak in the country. North Dakota ranks in the top three nationally in both offense (4.18 gpg/1st in NCAA) and defense (1.59 gapg/3rd in NCAA) on the season, while no other NCAA team ranks in the top five in each category.
WHAT A SHOT SHOW: Three NCHC teams rank in the top eight nationally in shots on goal per game. Denver is fourth in the country and tops in the NCHC in shots on goal per game averaging 35.11 shots on target per game. Western Michigan is sixth nationally in shots on goal (33.62), while Minnesota Duluth is eighth (32.56). North Dakota leads the country in fewest shots on goal allowed per game, giving up only 21.88 shots on goal per game to its opponents.
ALL THEY DO IS (SCORE TO) WIN: Four players nationally have scored an NCAA-best four game-winning goals this season and two reside in the NCHC in North Dakota junior forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Omaha freshman forward Joey Abate. All four of Kawaguchi’s game-winners came in November, while Abate’s first four goals this season were game-winners. Both now have seven goals overall on the season.
WHAT HOME-ICE ADVANTAGE?: A third of the way through the 96-game NCHC conference slate and road teams are having more success than home teams in conference play. Road teams went 2-2 in the last conference games on Dec. 13-14, as road teams are now 16-12-4 in NCHC conference play this season for a .563 win percentage away from home.
For more information, including team-specific schedules and notes, click here.