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NCHC Tournament Opens with Quarterfinal Series this Weekend

By NCHC, 03/10/16, 8:00PM EST

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Best-of-three series run March 11-13 with winners advancing to the Frozen Faceoff

The third annual NCHC Tournament gets underway this weekend with four best-of-three quarterfinal series Friday-Sunday on campus sites. Two of the series are rematches from last weekend while one series is a quarterfinal rematch from the first two seasons. The winners then advance to the Frozen Faceoff at Target Center March 18-19 where a champion will be crowned.

Top-seeded and Penrose Cup champions No. 2/2 North Dakota hosts eighth-seeded Colorado College in the quarterfinals for the third straight season at Ralph Engelstad Arena. UND needed three games to win the series in 2014 and only two games last season. The Fighting Hawks went 3-0-1 against the Tigers this season.

Second-seeded No. 5/5 St. Cloud State welcomes seventh-seeded Western Michigan for a series at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. This will mark the first ever postseason meetings between the teams. The Huskies swept the season series 4-0 by a combined score of 31-8.

Third-seeded No. 6/6 Denver, which is riding a nine-game winning streak, hosts No. 17 Omaha, the No. 6 seed, for a second straight weekend. The Pioneers swept UNO at Magness Arena last weekend where they'll meet again this weekend. Denver went 4-0-0 against Omaha this season and also won a 2014 NCHC Quarterfinal series at Omaha as the No. 6 seed.

The final series is also a rematch of last weekend with fifth-seeded Miami returning to face fourth-seeded No. 20/15 Minnesota Duluth at AMSOIL Arena. UMD swept the RedHawks last weekend in Duluth and are 3-0-1 against Miami this season.

All NCHC Quarterfinal games will be streamed on NCHC.tv. Fans without access can purchase the Playoff Pass to get access to all games and the Frozen Faceoff Third-Place Game.

Individual team previews, along with links to follow the games, are below.

NCHC NEWS AND NOTES

• North Dakota captured the Penrose Cup outright for a second straight season, winning the NCHC regular-season championship with a 19-4-1-0/1 record and 59 points. The 19 conference wins and 59 points are both conference records, besting UND’s 16 wins and 50 points last season. The regular-season crown is UND’s 17th in program history, the most of any NCAA Division I men’s program.

• Of the four quarterfinal series this weekend, two are rematches from the final weekend of the regular season with Miami returning to face No. 20/15 Minnesota Duluth and No. 17 Omaha heading back to take on No. 6/6 Denver. The home team (UMD and DU) swept both series last weekend. The Pioneers also defeated Omaha in the 2014 NCHC Quarterfinals, winning at Omaha in three games. Although they didn’t meet last weekend, top-seeded North Dakota is hosting Colorado College for the third straight season in the NCHC Quarterfinals with UND winning both previous NCHC postseason series.

• North Dakota’s 28 wins this season are the most in the country, while St. Cloud State is second nationally with 27 wins. No other team has more than 25 wins this year. UND is in the midst of its 14th straight 20-win season, which is the second-longest active streak in the country behind only Denver, which has 21 wins this season, marking its 15th straight 20-win season.

• Three NCHC teams head into the postseason riding extended winning streaks. Denver has won nine straight games, which ties for the longest active streak in the NCAA, giving up a goal or less in each of its last seven games. DU is also 14-1-1 in its last 16 games, second-best in the country over that span behind only Northeastern’s 15-1-1 mark since Jan. 8. North Dakota enters the NCHC Playoffs on a six-game winning streak while UMD is riding a four-game win streak into the quarterfinals.

• UND freshman forward Brock Boeser captured the NCHC scoring and goal-scoring titles with 35 points and 20 goals in 24 conference games. The 35 points are a NCHC record for conference play (was Omaha’s Josh Archibald with 32 in 2013-14). Boeser is the first freshman to win the NCHC scoring or goal-scoring title. UMD sophomore Kasimir Kaskisuo posted the top goals-against average in NCHC play with a 1.69 GAA, which shatters current Miami senior Jay Williams’ record mark of 2.12 from last season. UND sophomore Cam Johnson finished with the top save percentage in NCHC play at .935, also a conference record, topping former Omaha goalie Ryan Massa’s mark of .933 last season.

• NCHC teams have played the seven toughest schedules in the country this season according to the KRACH Ratings, led by Western Michigan, which has played the toughest NCAA slate to date. The next six toughest schedules in the NCAA are Minnesota Duluth, Denver, Miami, Colorado College, Omaha and St. Cloud State, respectively. 


Colorado College at No. 2/2 North Dakota

NCHC Quarterfinals: Best-of-Three Series
Friday, March 11 | Ralph Engelstad Arena | Grand Forks, N.D. | 7:37 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 12 | Ralph Engelstad Arena | Grand Forks, N.D. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 13 | Ralph Engelstad Arena | Grand Forks, N.D. | 7:07 p.m. CT (if necessary)
NCHC.tv (all games) | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.) | Live Stats (Sun.)
Television: Midco Sports Network - all three games

No. 8 seed
Record: 6-27-1, 4-19-1-0 NCHC
CC NotesLive Audio

• Colorado College finished the regular season on a nine-game losing streak after being swept by St. Cloud State. In Friday’s 5-2 loss, junior forward Matt Hansen and freshman defenseman Ben Israel each posted the first two-point game of his career with a goal and an assist each. On Saturday, fellow rookie blue liner Cole McCaskill notched his first career multi-point game with a goal and an assist.

• Freshman goalie Jacob Nehama made 50 saves on Friday against SCSU, the second-most in one game in his career. He made 52 saves Oct. 16 at UMass Lowell.

• Colorado College has played the fifth-toughest schedule in the country, trailing only NCHC teams in that category. CC played 16 of its 34 regular-season games against teams ranked in the Top 10 of the USCHO.com poll at the time they met.

• Colorado College is 58-78 all-time in conference postseason play and 1-4 in the NCHC first-round series, with all five games against North Dakota. CC faces UND for the third straight year in the NCHC Playoffs.

• Seniors Hunter Fejes (4g,4a) and Cody Bradley (1g,7a) lead the Tigers with eight career points against North Dakota.

No. 1 seed
Record: 28-5-3, 19-4-1-0/1 NCHC
UND Notes | Live Audio 

• UND extended its winning streak to six games with a sweep of Western Michigan, clinching the Penrose Cup outright for a second straight season as regular-season champions. The regular-season crown is UND’s 17th in program history, the most of any NCAA Division I men’s program.

• Three UND skaters totaled four points in Friday’s 8-1 win over WMU with freshman forward Brock Boeser (2g, 2a) and sophomore forward Nick Schmaltz (1g, 3a) each tying a career high for points while freshman forward Chris Wilkie set a career high with his four points (2g, 2a). Boeser won the NCHC scoring title with 35 points in conference play, and also won the goal-scoring title with 20, with the 35 points a NCHC record.

• For the third straight season, North Dakota will host Colorado College in the NCHC Quarterfinals. UND has won both series with the Tigers, needing three games in 2014 and only two games last season.

• UND has lost just once in the last 14 meetings with CC, that being a 3-2 OT loss in Game Two of the 2014 NCHC Quarterfinals.


Western Michigan at No. 5/5 St. Cloud State

NCHC Quarterfinals: Best-of-Three Series
Friday, March 11 | Herb Brooks National Hockey Center | St. Cloud, Minn. | 7:37 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 12 | Herb Brooks National Hockey Center | St. Cloud, Minn. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 13 | Herb Brooks National Hockey Center | St. Cloud, Minn. | 7:07 p.m. CT (if necessary)
NCHC.tv (all games) | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.) | Live Stats (Sun.)
Television: SCSU Sports Network/Charter Cable. ch. 426/823 - all three games

No. 7 seed
Record: 8-23-3, 5-18-1-1/0 NCHC
WMU Notes | Live Audio

• Western Michigan was swept at North Dakota to close the regular season as the Broncos enter the postseason on a four-game losing skid and are only 1-11-0 in their last 12 games.  

• WMU’s four goals in the 5-4 Saturday loss are the most scored against North Dakota since joining the NCHC. The previous high was two goals, scored in multiple games. The four goals were also the most goals scored in a loss this season by the Broncos. WMU had previously been 6-0 when tallying at least four goals.

• The seventh-seeded Broncos head to St. Cloud State for their NCHC Quarterfinal series this weekend. WMU is 0-4 against the Huskies this season with WMU averaging just 2.0 goals per game in those contests, while giving up 7.75 goals per game to SCSU.   

• The Broncos are 1-1 in road series in the NCHC Quarterfinals. Last season WMU fell in three games at Miami. In 2014, the Broncos swept Minnesota Duluth on the road.

No. 2 seed
Record: 27-8-1, 17-6-1-1/0 NCHC
SCSU Notes | Live Audio

• SCSU ended the regular season with a sweep at Colorado College, giving the Huskies 27 wins, which equal the most by a SCSU team in the regular season in team DI history. The Huskies also hit 27 regular-season wins back-to-back in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons. The 27 wins ranks third best in team history overall as the SCSU record for most wins in a season is 31 (31-9-1) in 2000-01. 

• SCSU set a team record by scoring four short-handed goals during its 9-3 win over CC Saturday. SCSU scored three of the short-handed goals on the same penalty kill in the second period. SCSU now has seven shorties this season after only one all of last season.

• Junior goalie Charlie Lindgren set a SCSU record with his 26th win of the year in net Saturday, which leads all NCAA goaltenders this season.

• SCSU is 4-0-0 against WMU this season, outscoring the Broncos a combined 31-8 in those games. This will be the first ever postseason meeting between the teams.


No. 17 Omaha at No. 6/6 Denver

NCHC Quarterfinals: Best-of-Three Series
Friday, March 11 | Magness Arena | Denver, Colo. | 7:36 p.m. MT
Saturday, March 12 | Magness Arena | Denver, Colo. | 7:06 p.m. MT
Sunday, March 13 | Magness Arena | Denver, Colo. | 7:06 p.m. MT (if necessary)
NCHC.tv (all games) | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.) | Live Stats (Sun.)
Television: None

No. 6 seed
Record: 18-15-1, 8-15-1-0 NCHC
Omaha Notes | Live Audio

• The Mavericks were swept for the third straight weekend, losing 3-0 and 2-1 at Denver last weekend. They have now lost a season-high six straight games.

•  Junior forward Jake Guentzel finished the regular season in a three-way tie for third in NCHC scoring overall with a career-best 17 goals and 25 assists for a career-high 42 points.

• Junior goaltender Kirk Thompson made a career-high 44 saves in Saturday’s 2-1 loss. Freshman forward Fredrik Olofsson had Omaha’s lone goal of the weekend in Saturday’s defeat.

• The sixth-seeded Mavericks return to Denver this weekend for a best-of-three NCHC Quarterfinal series. Omaha is 9-19-2 all-time against the Pioneers including a record of 2-10-2 in Denver. UNO is 0-4-0 against DU this season, getting outscored a combined 12-4.

• This will be the second NCHC Playoff meeting and second ever conference tournament meeting between Omaha and DU. Denver won a best-of-three quarterfinal series 2-1 in Omaha in March of 2014.

No. 3 seed
Record: 21-8-5, 17-5-2-0 NCHC
Denver Notes 

• Denver extended its win streak to nine games, the longest active win streak in the NCAA, with 3-0 and 2-1 wins over Omaha last weekend. DU is 14-1-1 in its last 16 games and eclipsed the 20-win plateau for the 15th straight season, which is the longest active 20-win streak in the NCAA. DU has only allowed one goal or less in each of its last seven games.

• Sophomore forward Danton Heinen had an assist in each game against the Mavericks. He is now riding a 12-game point streak with 23 points (9g, 14a) during the streak. He notched six points (2g, 4a) total in his 13 games prior to this 12-game point streak.

• Freshman forward Dylan Gambrell tallied three points against Omaha (2g, 1a). He is now riding a 13-game point streak also with 23 points in that span (9g, 14a), while he has also scored a goal in seven straight games (eight goals total).

• Denver faces Omaha for a second straight weekend, hosting the Mavs for a NCHC Quarterfinal series. DU is 4-0-0 against Omaha this season with two shutouts by sophomore goalie Tanner Jaillet. Denver beat UNO in a 2014 NCHC Quarterfinal series in Omaha.


Miami at No. 20/15 Minnesota Duluth

NCHC Quarterfinals: Best-of-Three Series
Friday, March 11 | AMSOIL Arena | Duluth, Minn. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 12 | AMSOIL Arena | Duluth, Minn. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 13 | AMSOIL Arena | Duluth, Minn. | 7:07 p.m. CT (if necessary)
NCHC.tv (all games) | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.) | Live Stats (Sun.)
Television: My9 (in Duluth) - all games

No. 5 seed
Record: 15-16-3, 9-13-2-2/0 NCHC
Miami Notes 

• Miami opens NCHC postseason play where it ended the regular season, at Minnesota Duluth in the NCHC Quarterfinals 4-5 match-up. The RedHawks went 0-3-1 against the Bulldogs this season, scoring just four goals in the four meetings.

•  Senior goaltender Jay Williams has allowed two goals or fewer in 11 of his 16 starts since Jan. 3, going 10-5-1 in that span with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.

• Senior forward Sean Kuraly has picked up 17 points (4g, 13a) and is +11 the past 18 games after recording just six points (2g, 4a) and a -5 rating in the first 16 games of the year.

• Freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood has scored six goals in his last eight games after notching Miami’s only goal Saturday at UMD to grab the team lead in goal scoring with 11 goals.

• Miami has advanced to the semifinals of its conference tournament six straight seasons. Miami is 7-2 in the NCHC Tournament, reaching the finals twice and claiming the 2015 Frozen Faceoff title.

No. 4 seed
Record: 15-14-5, 11-10-3-1/0 NCHC
UMD Notes | Live Audio

• For the second time in the three-year existence of the NCHC, UMD will host a quarterfinal round playoff series as the Bulldogs will host Miami, the same club they closed out the regular season with last weekend in Duluth. UMD swept the RedHawks with 5-0 and 3-1 wins.

• The Bulldogs, who are riding a season-long-tying four-game winning streak, will be seeking their first-ever NCHC playoff victory, having been ousted in two straight games by host Denver one year ago and Western Michigan at AMSOIL Arena in 2014. 

• Sophomore goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo finished as the NCHC’s goals-against average leader for 2015-16 conference play with a 1.69 GAA. He became just the third Bulldog to ever pace his respective league in that department, joining Rick Kosti (1983-84) and Alex Stalock (2008-09) from UMD’s WCHA days. Kaskisuo matched a program single-season record with his fifth shutout of the year last Friday against Miami.

• UMD is unbeaten in six of its last seven meetings with Miami (5-1-1), including going 3-0-1 this season. The Bulldogs have outscored the RedHawks a combined 14-4 in four meetings this season.

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