Three NCHC teams begin play in 2018 this weekend, while seven NCHC teams are in action with three conference series and one non-conference clash on the schedule. Two of the NCHC series are top-20 battles as No. 2/2 St. Cloud State hosts No. 12/12 Western Michigan, with SCSU looking to grab sole possession of first place, while No. 20 Miami heads west to face No. 17 Omaha.
After both had byes last weekend, No. 15/15 Minnesota Duluth tangles with Colorado College in Colorado Springs as both begin their new year. In non-conference play, No. 7/8 North Dakota faces WCHA foe Bemidji State in a home-and-home series with Friday's game in Bemidji and Saturday's in Grand Forks.
Individual team previews and links to follow the games are below.
• While six NCHC teams do battle in conference play this weekend, No. 7/8 North Dakota faces WCHA foe Bemidji State in a home-and-home series. Those games are two of only four non-conference contests remaining for NCHC teams, with the other two also against a WCHA opponent in No. 8/6 Minnesota State. NCHC teams are a combined 14-3-4 against WCHA foes this season. Overall, NCHC teams are a combined 46-20-14 in non-conference play this season, with the .662 win percentage second among the six conferences behind only the Big Ten at .688. The NCHC is right on pace to match last year’s non-conference record when teams finished a combined 48-21-14 in the regular season.
• Seven NCHC teams are ranked in the USCHO.com Poll this week with Miami entering for the first time this season. The seven ranked teams are the most from one conference and the most the NCHC has had ranked at one time. With St. Cloud State falling from the top spot to No. 2, it snapped a streak of 21 straight weeks with an NCHC team atop the poll, while it’s only the third week since the start of the 2016-17 season that an NCHC team has not been No. 1 in the USCHO Poll. Half of the NCHC teams have held the No. 1 spot during that span (SCSU, DU, UND and UMD), while only three other NCAA teams have combined. In the Pairwise Ratings, all eight NCHC teams sit in the top 21, including seven in the top 16.
• The NCHC is the only Division I men’s conference in which all of its teams have at least nine wins this season and the NCHC is the only conference to have all of its teams with a .500 record or better. Every other conference has at least two teams with a below .500 overall record.
• The NCHC is home to some of the top-scoring junior classes in the country with five of the top nine residing in the NCHC. The top three scoring junior classes all hail from the NCHC with Denver’s third-years leading the way with both 36 goals and 107 points. St. Cloud State is second with 103 points, while Colorado College is third nationally with 89. North Dakota (76 points, 6th) and Omaha (70, t-8th) also rank in the top nine.
• Four of the top nine offenses in the NCAA play in the NCHC, led by SCSU’s 3.89 goals per game, which rank third in the country. Denver (3.55 gpg) and Western Michigan (3.50 gpg) are sixth and seventh, respectively, while Omaha sits ninth in scoring offense (3.40 gpg). The NCHC also has four of the top eight power play units nationally with Miami, Omaha, Denver and St. Cloud State all sitting fourth through eighth in the country, led by the RedHawks at 25.9 percent.
• According to the KRACH on USCHO.com, NCHC teams have played seven of the eight toughest schedules in the country. Minnesota has faced the toughest, but Miami, WMU and Omaha are second through fourth, respectively, while NCHC teams are also in spots five through eight.
• Denver sophomore forward Henrik Borgström is tied for the NCAA lead with 30 points (15g, 15a), while he and WMU sophomore forward Wade Allison are tied for fourth nationally with 15 goals each. Among defensemen, SCSU junior Jimmy Schuldt leads all NCAA blue liners averaging 1.16 points per game, while his +20 plus/minus leads all NCAA skaters.
• Two NCHC skaters are approaching the century club for points. Denver junior forward Troy Terry sits only six points from 100 with 39 goals and 55 assists for 94 points, while Omaha senior forward Tyler Vesel has 92 career points (34g, 58a), needing eight more to hit the century mark. The only active NCHC player with 100 career points is Denver junior forward Dylan Gambrell (39-77=116).
Fri., Jan. 12 | Broadmoor World Arena | Colorado Springs, Colo. | 7:37 p.m. MT
Sat., Jan. 13 | Broadmoor World Arena | Colorado Springs, Colo. | 6:07 p.m. MT
Records: CC (9-8-3, 3-5-2-1/0 NCHC); UMD (9-9-3, 3-7-0-0 NCHC)
CC Notes | NCHC.tv (both nights) | Live Audio | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.)
Television: CET Sports (Xfinity ch. 105/900) - Friday only
• Colorado College was idle last weekend but split its final non-conference games this season in its last action Dec. 29-30, falling at crosstown rival Air Force, 6-3, before rebounding for a 2-1 win on Saturday, Dec. 30 against Merrimack. CC finished 6-3-1 outside the NCHC, after going 4-6-0 in non-conference play last season.
• The Tigers are 7-2-1 on Saturdays this season and 6-1 in one-goal games, but CC is only 2-6-1 on Fridays this year.
• Colorado College sits at 9-8-3 on the season, giving the Tigers their most wins in a season since 2012-13, when they racked up 18 wins. It’s the highest win total under head coach Mike Haviland. CC has allowed just 10 goals in its nine victories this season.
• Sophomore forward Nick Halloran is riding a career-long four-game goal-scoring streak. He is the first Tiger to score a goal in four consecutive games since Alexander Krushelnyski during the 2013-14 season. Halloran has six goals in his last six games and a career-high 27 points on the season, which tie him for 11th nationally in scoring.
• Colorado College went 1-1-2 against Minnesota Duluth last season, with all four meetings coming with UMD ranked No. 1 in the country. CC lost, 2-1, and tied UMD, 2-2, in Colorado Springs last year.
Fri., Jan. 12 | Baxter Arena | Omaha, Neb. | 8:07 p.m. ET
Sat., Jan. 13 | Baxter Arena | Omaha, Neb. | 8:07 p.m. ET
Records: Miami (9-9-2, 4-5-1-0 NCHC); Omaha (10-9-1, 3-7-0-0 NCHC)
Miami Notes | NCHC.tv (both nights) | Live Audio | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.)
Television: FOX College Sports Central - Friday only
• Miami split its first NCHC series of 2018, topping Denver, 4-3, on Friday, before falling, 4-1, on Saturday. The victory Friday marked Miami’s second win over a top-five opponent this season (Dec. 1 vs. Cornell) and ninth win overall, matching Miami’s win total from all last season.
• With Friday’s victory over DU, Miami improved to 8-2-1 when scoring three or more goals this season, but is only 1-8-1 when netting two goals or fewer. The RedHawks are also now 7-3-0 on Friday nights this season, but have won just twice (2-6-2) on Saturdays.
• Junior defenseman Grant Hutton has notched eight goals this year, tying for the most among NCAA defensemen, while his six power play markers are tied for the fourth most among all players in the country. As a unit, RedHawk defensemen have scored a combined 17 goals, which is tied for the fourth most in the country. Senior blue liner Louie Belpedio, who scored in Friday’s win over Denver, is right behind Hutton with seven goals, tying for fourth among NCAA defensemen.
• Miami went 0-3-1 against Omaha a season ago, though the RedHawks lead the all-time series against the Mavericks, 20-15-6. Miami is 9-8-1 all-time against UNO in Omaha.
Fri., Jan. 12 | Broadmoor World Arena | Colorado Springs, Colo. | 8:37 p.m. CT
Sat., Jan. 13 | Broadmoor World Arena | Colorado Springs, Colo. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Records: UMD (9-9-3, 3-7-0-0 NCHC); CC (9-8-3, 3-5-2-1/0 NCHC)
UMD Notes | NCHC.tv (both nights) | Live Audio | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.)
Television: CET Sports (Xfinity ch. 105/900 in Colorado) - Friday only
• Minnesota Duluth will have its full roster back this weekend for its first NCHC series of 2018 at Colorado College, as five players return from the World Junior Championship after helping lead Team USA to a bronze medal. Sophomore forward Joey Anderson, who was the captain of the U.S. National Junior Team, totaled seven points in the tournament (4g, 3a), while freshman defenseman Dylan Samberg had four points and was a team-best +10, and sophomore forward Riley Tufte and freshman blue liner Scott Perunovich tallied three points each.
• Sophomore goaltender Hunter Shepard has three shutouts this season and in his career, after earning the third Dec. 29 vs. Yale. The three whitewashes lead the NCHC and tie for sixth nationally.
• UMD has the NCHC’s highest-scoring freshman class, as the rookies have combined for 54 points (11g, 43a), which rank sixth nationally among rookie classes. Defensemen have notched 35 of those points, which is tops among NCAA rookie blue lines.
• The Bulldogs were just 1-1-2 against Colorado College last season, but did earn a win and a tie in Colorado Springs.
Fri., Jan. 12 | Sanford Center | Bemidji, Minn. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Sat., Jan. 13 | Ralph Engelstad Arena | Grand Forks, N.D. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Records: UND (11-6-5, 6-4-2-0/2 NCHC); BSU (11-6-5, 8-4-4-2 WCHA)
UND Notes | WCHA.tv (Fri.) | NCHC.tv (Sat. only) | Live Audio | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.)
Television: Midco Sports Network - Saturday only
• North Dakota split its first NCHC series of 2018, falling in the opener to Omaha, 4-1, before rebounding for a 7-0 blanking on Saturday. Freshman goaltender Peter Thome recorded his first career shutout in the win Saturday, making 15 saves, while it was UND’s second whitewash of the season. Thome became UND’s first freshman to pitch a shutout since current San Jose Shark Aaron Dell did it on Oct. 23, 2009 at Alaska Anchorage.
• Sophomore defenseman Andrew Peski collected his first collegiate goal in last Saturday’s win over Omaha, finding the net in his 49th career game. Peski also picked up an assist for his first collegiate multi-point game and was a career-best plus-3.
• North Dakota leads the country in faceoff percentage, winning 56.3 percent of its draws. UND is third in the NCAA, allowing only 24.05 shots on goal against per game.
• North Dakota is 30-3-4 all-time against Bemidji State, going 6-1-3 against BSU in the last 10 meetings. UND is 9-1-2 all-time in Bemidji and 21-2-2 all-time in Grand Forks against the Beavers.
Fri., Jan. 12 | Baxter Arena | Omaha, Neb. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Sat., Jan. 13 | Baxter Arena | Omaha, Neb. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Records: Omaha (10-9-1, 3-7-0-0 NCHC); Miami (9-9-2, 4-5-1-0 NCHC)
Omaha Notes | NCHC.tv (both nights) | Live Audio | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.)
Television: FOX College Sports Central and NET - Friday only
• Omaha opened its 2018 NCHC campaign with a split at North Dakota, topping the Fighting Hawks, 4-1, on Friday, before falling on Saturday, 7-0. Friday’s win improved Omaha to 8-2-0 in series openers this season, however Saturday marked the third time the Mavericks have been held scoreless in a game this season, all in series finales. Omaha is just 2-7-1 in series finales this season.
• Senior forward Luke Nogard scored his third game-winning goal of the season in Friday’s win, moving him into a tie for the NCHC lead. He now has six goals on the season, after entering the year with one career goal in his first three years at Omaha.
• Senior forward David Pope scored a power play goal in Friday’s win, giving him seven power play goals this year, which lead the NCHC and tie for second nationally. The goal stretched his point streak to five games with nine points (4g, 5a) in that span, before it was snapped in Saturday’s shutout.
• Omaha is 15-20-6 all-time against the RedHawks, including 8-9-1 in Omaha. Last year, the Mavericks went 3-0-1 against Miami.
Friday, Jan. 12 | Herb Brooks National Hockey Center | St. Cloud, Minn. | 7:37 p.m. CT
Saturday, Jan. 13 | Herb Brooks National Hockey Center | St. Cloud, Minn. | 7:07 p.m. CT
Records: SCSU (13-3-3, 7-2-1-0 NCHC); WMU (11-8-1, 6-4-0-0 NCHC)
SCSU Notes | NCHC.tv (both nights) | Live Audio | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.)
Television: Charter Cable channel 426/823 (in Minnesota) - both nights
• St. Cloud State split its home-and-home series with in-state rival Minnesota last weekend, winning the opener in St. Cloud on Saturday, 5-2, before falling, 2-0, on Sunday in Minneapolis. With Saturday’s win, SCSU improved to 10-0-1 at home this season, with the .955 home win percentage tops in the country. Sunday marked the first time SCSU was shut out this season, and also marked the Huskies first non-conference loss of the season (6-1-2).
• Junior defenseman Jimmy Schuldt is tied for the lead among NCAA defensemen with 22 points (6g, 16a), while his 1.16 points per game this season lead all blue liners by himself. Schuldt also leads all NCAA skaters with a +20 plus/minus, +3 better than any other player.
• Freshman forward Blake Lizotte tallied a career-high three assists in Saturday’s win vs. Minnesota, after entering with six helpers all season.
• SCSU ranks third in the country, scoring 3.89 goals per game. The Huskies rank fifth nationally, allowing 2.11 goals per game. SCSU and Cornell are the only two teams to rank in the top 5 of both categories.
• St. Cloud State is 7-0-1 against WMU in their last eight meetings, including going 1-0-1 in the lone match-ups last year.
Friday, Jan. 12 | Herb Brooks National Hockey Center | St. Cloud, Minn. | 8:37 p.m. ET
Saturday, Jan. 13 | Herb Brooks National Hockey Center | St. Cloud, Minn. | 8:07 p.m. ET
Records: WMU (11-8-1, 6-4-0-0 NCHC); SCSU (13-3-3, 7-2-1-0 NCHC)
WMU Notes | NCHC.tv (both nights) | Live Audio | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.)
• Western Michigan was idle last weekend, but topped Bowling Green, 5-2, on the road in its last outing Dec. 28 to complete a home-and-home sweep of the Falcons. The Broncos finished non-conference play with a 5-4-1 record this season after going 7-0-3 outside the NCHC a season ago in the regular season.
• Sophomore forward Wade Allison has eight points (4g, 4a) in his last three games, while the Philadelphia Flyers draft pick has 28 points on the season, which tie for seventh in the NCAA. His 15 goals this year tie for the NCHC lead and tie for fourth in the country. Allison has already well surpassed his freshman goal total of 12 from last year. He is one of only three NCAA players with two hat tricks this season. Should Allison get 12 more points this season to reach the 40-point barrier, he would be the first Bronco to do so since Patrick Galivan tallied 47 in the 2008-09 season.
• Western Michigan is 3-10-3 all-time against this week’s opponent, St. Cloud State, with two wins on the road. The entire series between the schools has occurred during head coach Andy Murray’s tenure at WMU.
• The Broncos are 0-7-1 in their last eight meetings with the Huskies, with the last win coming on Jan. 24, 2015 at SCSU, 3-2.
Fri., Jan. 19 | Magness Arena | Denver, Colo. | 7:05 p.m. MT
Sat., Jan. 20 | Magness Arena | Denver, Colo. | 7:05 p.m. MT
Records: Denver (12-6-4, 6-4-2-1/0 NCHC); Omaha (10-9-1, 3-7-0-0 NCHC)
NCHC.tv (both nights) | Live Stats (Fri.) | Live Stats (Sat.)
Television: Altitude 2 - Friday; Altitude - Saturday
• Denver split its series at Miami last weekend, falling, 4-3, in Friday’s opener, before bouncing back for a 4-1 win on Saturday. The Pioneers have now split each of their last three weekends. However, Denver has limited its opponents to one or fewer goals in six of its last 10 games.
• The Pioneers outshot Miami 47-19 and 33-25, respectively, in their series. Denver has now outshot its opponent each of the last eight games. The Pioneers have combined to outshoot their opponents 314-194 during that stretch. Denver is averaging the second-most shots on goal per game in the NCAA (36.5).
• DU is the least penalized team in the country, being whistled for only 7.77 penalty minutes per game.
• After recording only one point in five games (Dec. 1-15), sophomore forward Henrik Borgström is on a five-game point streak with two goals and five assists in that span. He is tied for first nationally with 30 points (15g, 15a) this season. After recording only one point through seven games (Nov. 18-Dec. 16), junior forward Jarid Lukosevicius has four goals and two assists in his last four games.
• Denver has won 10 straight over the Mavericks, all since the start of the 2015-16 season, with six of those games coming in Denver.