Series of the Week: No.4 Minnesota-Duluth vs No.7 Denver
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference has proven once again that it has legitimate Frozen Four contenders. Two of those teams, No.4 Minnesota Duluth (17-7-2) and No.7 Denver (15-6-4), will square off yet again after each side took a game in a late November series in Denver.
This series between the Pioneers and Bulldogs will take place in Duluth at AMSOIL Arena and features of number of players on both sides that are NHL prospects.
Sophomore defensemen Scott Perunovich only lit the lamp three times so far, but he has 21 assists and is second on the team in points with 24.
Justin Richards, on the other hand, is Duluth’s points leader with 25. The sophomore forward has scored eight goals along with dishing out 17 assists on a team that is No.11 in scoring offense in the country.
Parker Mackay and Nick Swaney are Duluth’s co-leaders in goals with 11. The senior forward Mackay has played many games in the maroon and gold and is easily one of the most prolific players whenever he is on the ice.
Senior forward Peter Krieger and sophomore forward Nick Swaney have combined for 35 points this season and they are two weapons when going on an attack.
In net, Hunter Shepard has been performing at an extremely competitive level and is currently fifth in the country in terms of goals allowed per game surrendering an average of just 1.75.
To complement the goals allowed average, Shepard has a save percentage of .924 and has given up just 45 goals in 26 games played.
For the Pioneers, they have hit a bit of a dry-spell, accumulating a record of 1-2-2 since January 12. Since that date, Denver has tied Colorado College and North Dakota, lost to Western Michigan twice and beat North Dakota.
If Denver really wants to push themselves towards the top of the NCHC standings, it begins now. They currently sit in fourth place behind St. Cloud State, Minnesota-Duluth and Western Michigan.
The Pioneers currently have the 19th scoring offense in the nation, racking up 3.02 goals per game after being inside the top 15 earlier in the season.
Senior forward Jarid Lukosevicius has had a wonderful career in the crimson and gold and he currently leads his team in goals with 13.
Junior Liam Finlay and freshman Emilio Pettersen have been dynamic totaling 48 points as a battery.
Finlay is second on the team in both goals and assists with 12 goals and 14 assists, respectively.
The Norwegian native Pettersen is a 2018 sixth-round selection of the Calgary Flames and is just a mere 18 years old. He leads the team in assists with 16.
Head Coach David Carle also has some serious flexibility when it comes to deciding on a goaltender.
Sophomore Devin Cooley and freshmen Filip Larsson have both been steady in the 2018-2019 campaign.
While between the pipes, Cooley retains a record of 8-4-1, a save percentage of .929, a goals against average of 2.08 and has allowed 28 goals.
Larsson, on the other hand, is a 2016 sixth-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings and has made the most of his opportunities when they have been presented throughout the season.
The Swedish net-minder has a record of 7-2-3, a save percentage of .923, a goals against average of 2.29 and has allowed 26 goals.
When these two teams meet on the ice, it just sends a much different feeling through the air. The crowd can sense the energy and the players typically rise up to the occasion.
The college hockey world will turn its attention to the Bulldogs and Pioneers duking it out for 120 minutes, or maybe even more once it’s all said and done.
Look for both sides to come out flying and assert their physicality right from the first puck-drop. Expect both goalies to come out strong and don’t be surprised if both games are tightly contested.
Christopher Hess is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in history. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.