College Hockey Series of the Week: No. 7 North Dakota vs. No. 5 St. Cloud State
Two of college hockey’s top programs are preparing to square off in an exciting NCHC battle.
Both squads have shown flashes of national championship-level teams while also stumbling in a few areas.
For the Fighting Hawks, they have been flying in NCHC play going 5-1 thus far.
They have proven themselves against some of the best teams in the nation with wins over No. 4 Quinnipiac, No. 12 Denver, No. 11 Minnesota and even No. 1 Minnesota Duluth.
North Dakota has won four of their last six total matchups.
After a hot start to the season and being ranked as the No. 1 team in the country for a bit St. Cloud State has lost three games in a row.
In those three games, the Huskies have only managed to score four goals including being shut out in their last time out. St. Cloud State has had the burden of playing two of the hotter teams in college hockey in No. 6 Western Michigan and No. 10 Omaha.
On the bright side for St. Cloud State, their power play has been the best in the country coming in at just under 34%. If the Huskies can get back to drawing penalties, they should be able to rediscover their offense.
North Dakota is led from the back by superstar defenseman Jake Sanderson. The sophomore and first-round draft pick is leading his team in points with 16 which is also the second-most by a defenseman in the country.
St. Cloud State is led by senior forward Kevin Fitzgerald who also has 16 points which leads his team.
In goal, the Huskies feature David Hrenak who is 8-4 on the season boasting a .927 save percentage and 1.83 goals-against-average.
North Dakota has started Zach Driscoll in net for all 15 of their games this season and while he has a respectable 2.42 goals-against average, he has a not-so-great save percentage at .895.
St. Cloud State came out of the gates looking like a team searching for vengeance and a title that barely eluded them in last season’s final. They have the tools and veteran leadership to make another run at the title.
However, North Dakota has hung up there with the best squads all season long getting great production from their best player.
This series is a huge opportunity for St. Cloud State to get back into gear in conference play and in general. The Huskies will be on home ice and North Dakota has proven to be vulnerable at times on the road.
Either way, this is a massive series that will have major implications not only for the NCHC but all of college hockey.
Maclain Young is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.