College Hockey Game of the Week: No. 1 Minnesota vs No. 7 North Dakota

Story posted October 20, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Joshua Bartosik

Only a few weeks into the college hockey season, and one of the most anticipated matchups of the season is already upon us.

The No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers will travel to Ralph Engelstad Arena to take on the No. 7 North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

Both of these teams are coming off of NCAA tournament appearances last season, with the Golden Gophers reaching the Frozen Four in the process.

The Fighting Hawks are looking to bounce back after a 0-1-1 weekend against No. 3 Quinnipiac, giving up eleven goals in the process.

North Dakota is led by defenseman Chris Jandric, whose seven points are tied for third in the nation.

The green and white have one of the best offenses in the country, averaging 4.25 goals per game in the early going and a power play operating at nearly 30 percent.

Senior forward Gavin Hain leads the charge on offense, whose four goals are tied for third in the nation.

Between the pipes for North Dakota is Drew DeRidder, the transfer from Michigan State. His .912 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average have led the way so far for the Fighting Hawks.

As for the Golden Gophers, they are coming off a bye week after they split a series with in-state rival No. 2 Minnesota State.

Minnesota also have a lethal offense, averaging four goals a game themselves. Jimmy Snuggerud has the hot stick for the Golden Gophers, with four goals to open the season including a hat trick against Minnesota State.

Third overall pick in the NHL Draft Logan Cooley has five points in four games to add to the immense depth of the Gophers. Minnesota has 12 players with two or more points already in the beginning of the season.

Justen Close is back as goaltender for Minnesota after taking over halfway through last season when Jack Lafontaine signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. Close has been lights out so far, posting a .941 save percentage and a 1.34 goals against average.

This series will all come down to the special teams play for both of these squads. While both teams post very impressive power play percentages, North Dakota has a massive edge on the penalty kill.

The Fighting Hawks’ penalty kill is a stout 92.9 percent, while the Golden Gophers are a dreadful 84.6 percent on the penalty kill. If Minnesota makes any mistakes, North Dakota will be able to pounce on it without a second thought.

Minnesota aims to stay ahead of the competition in the Big Ten like Michigan and Ohio State while North Dakota is seeking a big bounce back series. With two high scoring contests paired with shutdown defenses and goaltending, this series has the potential to be one of the best of the season.

Joshua Bartosik is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email