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All Eight NCHC Teams Back in Action to Open December

By NCHC, 12/02/21, 9:00PM EST

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Three conference series on the slate, while two teams travel for non-conference tilts

This Weekend's Schedule

Friday, Dec. 3

  • No. 1/1 Minnesota Duluth at Northern Michigan, 6:37 p.m. ET (FloSports)
  • *No. 6/5 Western Michigan at Miami, 7:05 p.m. ET (NCHC.tv)
  • *Colorado College at No. 10/10 Omaha, 7:07 p.m. CT (NCHC.tv)
  • *No. 7/7 North Dakota at No. 5/6 St. Cloud State, 7:30 p.m. CT (TV: FOX9+/Midco Sports/NCHC.tv)
  • No. 12/11 Denver at Arizona State, 7:05 p.m. MT (Pac-12 Stream)

Saturday, Dec. 4

  • *No. 6/5 Western Michigan at Miami, 5:05 p.m. ET (NCHC.tv)
  • No. 1/1 Minnesota Duluth at Northern Michigan, 6:37 p.m. ET (FloHockey)
  • *No. 7/7 North Dakota at No. 5/6 St. Cloud State, 6:00 p.m. CT (TV: FOX9+/Midco Sports/NCHC.tv)
  • *Colorado College at No. 10/10 Omaha, 7:07 p.m. CT (NCHC.tv)
  • No. 12/11 Denver at Arizona State, 7:05 p.m. MT (Pac-12 Stream)

* Conference game


NCHC NUMBERS TO KNOW

4: Minnesota Duluth junior goaltender Ryan Fanti recorded four shutouts in the month of November, blanking the opponent in half of his starts last month. In doing so, he earned NCHC Goaltender of the Month and Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) National Goaltender of the Month honors for November after posting a 1.00 GAA and a .957 save percentage in the month. However, UMD has announced he will miss this weekend’s series at Northern Michigan due to COVID-19 protocols.

4.42: Denver leads the country averaging 4.42 goals per game this season. The Pioneers have 53 goals in just 12 games.

5: St. Cloud State is tied for the men’s NCAA hockey lead with five short-handed goals this season, along with Ferris State.

8: Eight NCHC players were named to the 2022 U.S. National Junior Team preliminary roster this week. Four teams are represented with three from Minnesota Duluth, two each from Denver and North Dakota and one from Miami. 

15: Western Michigan grad student forward Ethen Frank leads men’s NCAA hockey with 15 goals this season, as do his 1.07 goals per game. Omaha senior forward Taylor Ward is tied for third nationally with 12 goals, while DU sophomore Carter Savoie is fifth with 11.

22: Omaha leads D-I men’s hockey with 22 power-play goals this season. St. Cloud State is second with 20 PPGs on the year.

25: Western Michigan senior forward Drew Worrad leads all of men’s NCAA hockey with 25 points this season, as do his 1.79 points per game. His 20 assists this season tie for the NCAA lead. 

101: Western Michigan grad student forward Ethen Frank tallied three goals last weekend to join the Century Club with 100 career points. He now has 101 career points (59g/42a) in 134 games. He joins St. Cloud State fifth-year senior Easton Brodzinski as active 100-point scorers with all points in the NCHC. Omaha senior forward Taylor Ward is next in line to reach the club with 97 career points.


NCHC NEWS AND NOTES

PURSUIT OF THE PENROSE RETURNS: After only non-conference play last weekend, six NCHC teams resume their pursuit of the Penrose Cup with conference games this weekend. It’s a top-10 tilt in St. Cloud with No. 7/7 North Dakota visiting No. 5/6 St. Cloud State, while rivals collide in Oxford as No. 6/5 Western Michigan tangles with Miami. Elsewhere, Colorado College and No. 10/10 Omaha both return from bye weeks to face off at Baxter Arena. 

Top-ranked Minnesota Duluth and No. 12/11 Denver both hit the road this weekend for non-conference action. UMD heads to the U.P. to face CCHA foe Northern Michigan, while the Pioneers make a return trip to Tempe, Ariz. for two games at Arizona State, who they already swept in Denver.

NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS: NCHC teams went 6-2-0 in non-conference play over Thanksgiving weekend. NCHC teams have now combined for a .669 win percentage in non-conference play this season, second-best among the six Division I men’s hockey conferences (Big Ten at .685). NCHC teams have gone 42-20-3 in non-conference play to date in non-conference play, with the 42 wins the most among all conferences. (full breakdown on page 12)

Although the NCHC did not play non-conference games last season, the NCHC has posted the best combined non-conference record among conferences in five of the six seasons prior to last year (from 2014-15 through 2019-20). Over the NCHC’s first seven seasons of non-conference play, NCHC teams average a combined .635 win percentage.

POLL POSITIONS: The NCHC leads all conferences with six teams ranked in the USCHO.com Poll for the eighth straight week, including five teams in the top 10. Six NCHC teams are also once again ranked in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll, also the most of any conference. Minnesota Duluth captured the top spot in both polls for the first time this season on Monday, becoming the second NCHC team to be ranked No. 1 this season along with St. Cloud State. All six NCHC teams rank in the top 12 of both polls. 

AGAIN SO SOON?: Omaha completed a four-game, regular-season sweep of Alaska on Nov. 19-20 with 5-2 and 4-2 wins in Fairbanks. Omaha had already swept Alaska a month earlier at Baxter Arena in Omaha with a 3-2 overtime win on Oct. 15 and a 5-1 win on Oct. 17.

Denver will be looking to do the same at Arizona State this weekend after sweeping the Sun Devils in Denver on Oct. 8-9 by scores of 8-3 in the opener and 4-3 a night later.

Two other NCHC teams already played the same opponent this regular season that they played in an exhibition game. North Dakota split with Bemidji State Oct. 15-16 in regular-season play, after UND edged BSU, 2-1, in an exhibition game on Oct. 2 in Grand Forks. Colorado College, meanwhile, split with cross-town rival Air Force on Oct. 29-30 in regular-season play, after CC fell to Air Force, 2-1, on Oct. 2 in an exhibition game at CC’s Robson Arena.

CENTURY CLUBBIN’: Western Michigan grad student forward Ethen Frank tallied three goals last weekend at St. Lawrence to become a member of the Century Club with 100 career points. He now has 101 career points (59g/42a) in 134 games. Frank joins St. Cloud State fifth-year senior Easton Brodzinski as active 100-point scorers with all points scored while playing in the NCHC. 

Omaha senior forward Taylor Ward is next in line to join the club with 97 career points (50g/47a) in 107 career games with the Mavericks.

Brodzinski reached the mark in SCSU’s season-opening win over St. Thomas on Oct. 2. He scored two goals and added an assist against the Tommies, as he now has 107 career points, including 61 goals and 46 assists in 153 career games. 

The only other active NCHC players with 100 career points are fifth-year transfers into the conference. Connor Ford (125 points) plays at North Dakota this year, while Cameron Wright (110 points) plays at Denver after both played at Bowling Green for four years. 

THE GREAT EIGHT: Eight NCHC players were named to the 2022 U.S. National Junior Team preliminary roster on Tuesday. Four teams are represented with three players from Minnesota Duluth, two each from Denver and North Dakota and one from Miami. Half of the eight are sophomores and the other half freshmen, while five are defensemen and three are forwards. 

Two of the eight NCHC players are returning members of last year’s U.S. National Junior Team that took gold at the 2021 World Junior Championship in North Dakota sophomore defensemen Tyler Kleven and Jake Sanderson. The eight players selected for 2022 are:

  • Sean Behrens, Fr., D, Denver (Colorado Avalanche)
  • Dominic James, Fr., F, UMD (draft-eligible)
  • Wyatt Kaiser, So., D, UMD (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • Connor Kelley, So., D, UMD (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • Tyler Kleven, So., D, UND (Ottawa Senators)
  • Carter Mazur, Fr., F, Denver (Detroit Red Wings)
  • Jake Sanderson, So., D, UND (Ottawa Senators)
  • Red Savage, Fr., F, Miami (Detroit Red Wings)

FANTASTIC FANTI: Minnesota Duluth junior goaltender Ryan Fanti recorded four shutouts in the month of November, blanking the opponent in half of his starts last month. In doing so, he earned NCHC Goaltender of the Month and Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) National Goaltender of the Month honors for November after posting a 1.00 GAA and a .957 save percentage in the month. He also earned NCHC Goalie of the Week for the second time in November on Monday. He ranks third nationally with a 1.25 GAA, a .946 save percentage and his four shutouts. However, UMD has announced he will miss this weekend’s series at Northern Michigan due to COVID-19 protocols.

TOP GUNS: The NCHC is home to three of the top seven goal-scorers in D-I men’s NCAA hockey and four of the top six point-per-game scorers in the country. Western Michigan grad student forward Ethen Frank is first nationally with 15 goals, while Omaha senior forward Taylor Ward is tied for third with 12 and Denver sophomore forward Carter Savoie is tied for fifth with 11. Frank’s 1.07 gpg are also tops nationally by himself.

In addition, WMU senior forward Drew Worrad leads the NCAA with 25 points and 1.79 points per game. Savoie is second at 1.58 ppg, while Frank ties for third at 1.57 ppg and Ward is tied for fifth at 1.50 ppg.

LIGHTING THE LAMP: The NCHC is home to three of the top seven scoring teams in men’s NCAA hockey. Denver is first nationally, averaging 4.42 goals per game, while Omaha is sixth at 4.00 gpg. Western Michigan is right behind in seventh averaging 3.93 goals per game.

FRESHMAN PHENOMS: Denver forwards Carter Mazur and Massimo Rizzo are two of five freshmen in men’s NCAA hockey with seven goals this season, which ties for the most goals by any men’s rookie nationally. Mazur was the NCHC Rookie of the Month for November, while Rizzo earned it for October. Rizzo’s 16 points (7g/9a) are second nationally among rookies this season.

POWERFUL POWER PLAY: Four of the most potent power-play units in the country play in the NCHC, led by St. Cloud State, which is tops in D-I men’s hockey with a 33.9 percent success rate (20/59) on the man advantage. Omaha is sixth at 29.3 percent (22/75), while Western Michigan ranks 11th at 25.4 percent (17/67). Denver is tied for 12th nationally at 25.0 percent (13/52). Omaha’s 22 power play goals are the most in the country, while SCSU’s 20 are second-most.

To read more and for team-by-team notes, click here.


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