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UND's offense a statistical anomaly

UND dropped out of the USCHO national poll Monday afternoon for the first time since January 2014, when it spent six consecutive weeks outside of the top 20.

That team eventually recovered to make a run in the second half of the season and ended up at the NCAA Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

If this year's UND team is going to give itself a chance to get to the NCAA West Regional in Fargo, it's going to need to find ways to turn its strong puck possession game into offensive production and goals. It has not done that yet this season.

UND's statistics reveal a remarkable anomaly in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and in college hockey in general this season.

The other seven NCHC teams are averaging an .800 winning percentage when outshooting teams by 10 or more (39-9-2).

Meanwhile, UND has a baffling .423 winning percentage when outshooting teams by 10 or more (5-7-1). The Fighting Hawks are the only team in the NCHC with a losing record when outshooting opponents by 10-plus.

On Saturday night, UND became the first team in the NCHC this season to lose when outshooting its opponent by 30-plus.

The Fighting Hawks outshot Canisius 49-16 but lost 2-1 in Buffalo's HarborCenter.

"I don't know what to say about it," UND senior center Nick Jones said. "We were around the net a lot. The puck's bouncing around with numbers there. We have the opportunities. We felt like we were shooting the puck a lot and had numbers there. It's obviously disappointing. . . To get all those chances and only get two goals all weekend is obviously frustrating."

The last time UND lost a game when outshooting an opponent by 30 was the 2017 NCAA West Regional, when the Fighting Hawks outshot Boston University 59-29 but lost in overtime.

"It's pretty hard right now," UND captain Colton Poolman said. "I wish we had the answers. For whatever reason, it's not going right now. We're struggling to find goals and it sucks.

"We're not getting rewarded right now. That's kind of life sometimes. We do all the work and maybe the other person gets the promotion or something. It's not getting rewarded for us right now."

UND dropped to No. 22 in the Pairwise Rankings after the two losses to the Golden Griffins. The Fighting Hawks will likely need to post a winning percentage in the neighborhood of .680 to get back into NCAA-tournament contention by the end of the regular season.

"The nice thing is that we have all conference games to go, and we have a lot of good teams in the conference," Jones said. "Every team you beat in your conference, it's great for the Pairwise in general. We've got so many good teams.

"We can't think too far ahead. Obviously, it's a reality, but at the end of the day, we've got to go one game at a time. We've got Colorado College coming up at home and those are two games we're going to need to have."

UND hosts Colorado College at 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad before traveling to Omaha the following week. Then, it plays No. 1 St. Cloud State, No. 3 Denver, No. 14 Western Michigan and No. 5 Minnesota Duluth in a row.

UND coach Brad Berry said there are a few keys to getting more offensive production.

"I think it's continuing on our work ethic," Berry said. "Because I think the one thing is that everybody is going to say, 'Well, you had 50 shots and didn't get any puck luck.' The only way you're going to get puck luck is if you keep that hard mentality and that continuous grind and that tenacity, because if you lay off the gas, you're not going to get it. You've got to work your way through it."

Colorado College at UND

When: 7:37 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Records: UND 9-9-1 (3-5 NCHC), Colorado College 8-10-2 (2-5-1).

TV/radio: Midco Sports Network (GF Ch. 27/622 HD); The Fox (96.1 FM).

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 14th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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