Series of the Week: North Dakota vs. Omaha
In this strange 2020-2021 season, there has been quite a bit of shakeup in the national rankings, but one thing has remained constant. North Dakota is ranked inside the top five.
No. 2 North Dakota (12-3-1) will head back to Omaha’s Baxter Arena, which was the site of the NCHC bubble at the beginning of the season. The Fighting Hawks take on the No. 9 Omaha Mavericks (9-4-1) in a huge two-game tilt.
Brad Berry’s Fighting Hawks were poised to win a national championship last season before the shutdown and are back in the same spot once again.
The offense that averages 3.66 goals per game and ranks No. 9 nationally is led by the two-headed monster that is Shane Pinto and Jordan Kawaguchi.
Pinto, a Long Island native, is a draft pick of the Ottawa Senators and has 19 points through 16 games. Kawaguchi has 18 points and is poised to be picked up by an NHL team at the end of the season.
Islanders prospect, Colin Adams, and Predators prospect, Grant Mismash are also extremely prolific in the goals department as they have teamed up for 14 goals and 31 points.
Matt Kiersted and Jacob Bernard-Docker have been two of the better defensemen in the country as Kierstad has 13 assists and the Senators prospect in Bernard-Docker has a plus-minus of plus-12.
Jake Sanderson, the fifth overall pick of the Ottawa Senators in the 2020 NHL draft, has also shown signs of brilliance in just nine games played.
Adam Scheel has been a steady and reliable presence in net for North Dakota as he boasts a 11-2-1 record with a goals-against-average of 1.77 and a save percentage of .928.
Omaha has had its fair share of struggles over the years, but the Mavericks have found themselves in a position where taking those bumps and bruises has finally paid off.
The Mavericks have just three seniors and are led by experienced sophomores and juniors who make up a large amount of the scoring production and average 3.46 goals per game.
Chayse Primeau is one of those juniors who has a knack for making plays happen and has 13 points on the season to show for it.
Taylor Ward is another junior who can light the lamp in the blink-of-an-eye and has seven goals, while freshman Matt Miller scored six times for second on the team in goals.
Defensemen Jonny Tychonick is a player for Omaha that has deep ties to the opposition and will look to have a big weekend.
He spent two seasons at North Dakota and contributed as one of the most underrated defensemen in the NCHC and plays with a chip on his shoulder.
Vegas Golden Knights prospect, Isaiah Saville, has been holding down the fort in net for the Mavericks and has had himself a solid season thus far with a record of 7-4-1, a goals-against-average of 2.18 and a save percentage of .928.
North Dakota has lived up to its No. 2 ranking through 16 games and is poised to take that next step forward towards getting back to No. 1.
With the decline of Denver and Western Michigan this season, Omaha has been able to slowly creep its way up the conference standings and give the other powers like St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth a run for its money.
However, North Dakota is ranked No. 2 in the nation for a reason.
The Fighting Hawks have too much firepower in almost every aspect of their game and will overwhelm the scrappy Mavericks in what should be a weekend sweep.
Prediction: North Dakota sweep
Game 1: North Dakota 4, Omaha 2
Game 2: North Dakota 3, Omaha 1
Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.