Friday, Jan. 10
Saturday, Jan. 11
* National Collegiate Hockey Conference game
PENROSE CUP PAST AND PRESENT: After a nearly month-long hiatus, conference play resumes this weekend with all eight NCHC teams in action. All eight teams have only played eight of their 24 conference games so far, but previous history says a look at the current standings can be indicative of the final results. In the NCHC’s first six seasons, the Penrose Cup champion was already in first place as of Jan. 1 four times (2013-14, 2015-16, 2017-18 and 2018-19). In 2016-17, eventual Penrose Cup champion Denver was in second place, only one point out of first, while in 2014-15, eventual champion North Dakota sat in fourth place on Jan. 1, but only two points back of first place. This season, UND heads into the new year with a four-point cushion in first place, which would mark the biggest point total a team has overcame after Jan. 1 to win the Penrose Cup, if UND does not claim the Cup.
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 and are now 16-12-4 in NCHC conference play this season for a .563 win percentage away from home.
ALL THEY DO IS (SCORE TO) WIN: Two players share the national lead for game-winning goals with five each and both reside in the NCHC in North Dakota junior forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Denver sophomore forward Cole Guttman. Four of Kawaguchi’s five game-winners came in November, while Guttman scored both game-winners for DU against UMass last weekend. Kawaguchi has 10 goals on the season, while Guttman has nine and is riding a five-game goal-scoring streak into the weekend (6g, 2a). Omaha freshman forward Joey Abate is tied for third nationally with four game-winning goals this season.
BACK-TO-BACK: Colorado College senior forward Chris Wilkie was named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Player of the Month for December after leading the NCAA with both eight goals and nine points in six games. He’s the second straight NCHC player to earn the honor, as North Dakota junior forward Jordan Kawaguchi was tabbed HCA National Player of the Month for November, after a 16-point, four game-winning-goal month. Wilkie leads the country averaging 0.81 goals per game, while Kawaguchi’s 28 points rank fourth nationally.
WE’RE GOING STREAKING: Top-ranked North Dakota heads into its series with Omaha this weekend on a 15-game unbeaten streak (14-0-1), which is the longest active unbeaten streak in the NCAA. UND is also on a nine-game winning streak in NCAA play, which is the second-longest active win streak in the country, and has won 13 straight home games, a record at Ralph Engelstad Arena. North Dakota ranks in the top three nationally in both offense (4.26 gpg/1st in NCAA) and defense (1.63 gapg/3rd in NCAA) on the season, while only Cornell also ranks in the top five in each category.
NEW YEAR, SAME SUCCESS: On the final full weekend of non-conference play, NCHC teams went 4-2-2 last weekend with only two non-conference series remaining this season among NCHC teams (Western Michigan vs. RPI and Colorado College vs. Air Force). So far this season, NCHC teams have combined to go 45-26-12 in non-conference play, with the .614 win percentage tops among the six Division I men’s hockey conferences. The NCHC has posted the best combined non-conference regular-season win percentage among the conferences four of the last five seasons, including last year at .659.
CENTURY CLUB ACCESS: With three points at Bowling Green last Monday, Miami senior forward and captain Gordie Green became the first active NCHC player to record 100 career points. He now has 42 goals and 59 assists for 101 points in 129 career games. Two other NCHC players are inching closer to the Century Club with Western Michigan senior forward and captain Hugh McGing five away with 95 points (35g, 60a in 129 GP) and St. Cloud State senior defenseman and captain Jack Ahcan seven away at 93 points (18g, 75a in 127 GP).
SCORIN’ SCOTTY: Minnesota Duluth junior defenseman Scott Perunovich, the two-time NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year, ranks tied for second among all NCAA defensemen with 23 points this season. Perunovich’s 21 assists and 1.17 assists per game both lead all NCAA defensemen and rank second nationally among all NCAA skaters.
GOLDEN BOY: North Dakota sophomore defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker won a gold medal with the Canadian National Junior Team at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic, which ended last Sunday. He was the only NCAA hockey player on Team Canada and scored a goal in the tournament, while leading Canada in time on ice, averaging nearly 19 minutes of ice time per game. Four NCHC players played on Team USA, which failed to medal for the first time in five years.
POLL POSITIONS: The NCHC is home to the No. 1 team in the country for the third straight poll after North Dakota remained in the top spot. Three NCHC teams are ranked in the both national polls, all three in the top nine, after Western Michigan fell out of the USCHO.com Poll this week for the first time since Nov. 4.
WHAT A SHOT SHOW: Three NCHC teams rank in the top nine nationally in shots on goal per game. Denver is third in the country and tops in the NCHC in shots on goal per game averaging 35.10 shots on target per game. Western Michigan is fifth nationally in shots on goal (34.56), while Minnesota Duluth is ninth (32.50). North Dakota leads the country in fewest shots on goal allowed per game, giving up only 21.05 shots on goal per game to its opponents, 1.63 shots per game fewer than any other NCAA team.
For more information, including team-specific notes and schedules, click here.