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Everything you need to know before the UND-Denver series and other playoff matchups

Denver's Jaakko Heikkinen and UND's Matt Kiersted battle in front of the net in a game earlier this season. Photo by Shannon Valerio/University of Denver.

FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2019

No. 19 UND at No. 8 Denver

When: 8:08 p.m. tonight, 8:08 p.m. Saturday, 7:08 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Where: Magness Arena, Denver.

TV: Midco Sports Network (GF Ch. 27/622).

Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).

Webcast: NCHC.tv.

Live blog: GrandForksHerald.com.

Stories to read

UND's travel adventure: After stops in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Raton and Colorado Springs, UND finally arrives in Denver

How will UND use Grant Mismash? UND coach Brad Berry talks about what to expect from the sophomore this weekend

On the road: There are strong odds against road teams winning in playoffs, which suits UND just fine

Award season: UND captain Colton Poolman a finalist for NCHC player of the year; Rhett Gardner hopes to defend title

Tale of the tape

UND

Record: 18-15-2

Ranking: 19

Offense: 2.60 (37th)

Defense: 2.40 (16th)

Power play: 14.9 (50th)

Penalty kill: 79.6 (36th)

Goaltending: .897 (44th)

Denver

Record: 19-10-5

Ranking: 8

Offense: 2.79 (28th)

Defense: 2.15 (10th)

Power play: 15.7 (44th)

Penalty kill: 81.1 (33rd)

Goaltending: .925 (5th)

The focus: Emilio Pettersen

No rookie in the NCHC has more points than Denver freshman Emilio Pettersen, who tallied 26 points in 34 games for the Pioneers. His success has often come hand-in-hand with Denver’s success. The Pioneers are 13-2-4 when he tallies a point this season and just 6-8-1 when he does not. Since UND played at Denver in early February, Pettersen has just four points in 11 games. The Pioneers are averaging just 1.91 goals per game in that span and are 5-4-2. Getting production from Pettersen will be key for the Pioneers.

The pick: UND in three

These two teams have played low-scoring, tight games all season. Two of their four games went to overtime. All signs point to this series going three games and, perhaps, having some overtime involved. But this is arguably the healthiest that UND has been for its games against the Pioneers, and even though the Fighting Hawks haven’t won a series in Magness Arena since 2003, the time may be right. It will be a battle, and it will probably last until Sunday, but don’t be surprised if UND pulls the small upset.

3-2 UND, 3-2 Denver, 3-2 UND

Individual stats

UND

Scoring

29 Jordan Kawaguchi so f 10-16--26

8 Nick Jones sr f 7-11--18

3 Matt Kiersted so d 7-11--18

6 Colton Poolman jr d 5-12--17

24 J Bernard-Docker fr d 5-11--16

26 Cole Smith jr f 5-11--16

22 Rhett Gardner sr f 8-7--15

19 Mark Senden fr f 6-8--14

2 Gabe Bast so d 5-7--12

27 Ludvig Hoff jr f 3-8--11

10 Gavin Hain fr f 6-3--9

16 Grant Mismash so f 5-4--9

28 Hayden Shaw sr d 3-6--9

18 Collin Adams so f 2-5--7

9 Dixon Bowen jr f 3-3--6

21 Jackson Keane fr f 2-4--6

14 Jasper Weatherby fr f 3-2--5

17 Jonny Tychonick fr d 0-4--4

5 Casey Johnson jr d 2-1--3

4 Andrew Peski jr d 2-1--3

25 Joel Janatuinen sr f 1-2--3

7 Zach Yon jr f 1-1--2

31 Adam Scheel fr g 0-1--1

20 Josh Rieger so d 0-0--0

1 Peter Thome so g 0-0--0

35 Ryan Anderson sr g 0-0--0

Goaltending

31 Adam Scheel fr 13-10-2 2.07 .910

1 Peter Thome so 5-5-0 2.74 .884

35 Ryan Anderson sr 0-0-0 0.00 1.000

Denver

Scoring

13 Liam Finlay jr f 13-19--32

20 Emilio Pettersen fr f 6-20--26

14 Jarid Lukosevicius sr f 16-9--25

19 Cole Guttman fr f 11-10--21

15 Ian Mitchell so d 4-17--21

7 Brett Stapley fr f 5-12--17

11 Tyler Ward fr f 5-9--14

17 Slava Demin fr d 4-10--14

18 Ryan Barrow so f 5-8--13

24 Colin Staub sr f 4-8--12

21 Michael Davies jr d 4-8--12

10 Jaakko Heikkinen so f 4-7--11

9 Tyson McLellan jr f 1-7--8

5 Les Lancaster sr d 4-3--7

12 Kohen Olischefski so f 2-5--7

16 Jake Durflinger so f 3-3--6

4 Griffin Mendel so d 0-4--4

2 Erich Fear jr d 1-2--3

26 Jack Doremus so f 2-0--2

27 Kyle Mayhew fr f 1-1--2

3 Sean Comrie fr d 0-1--1

8 Jared Resseguie fr f 0-1--1

6 Ryan Orgel so d 0-0--0

1 Devin Cooley so g 0-0--0

30 Filip Larsson fr g 0-0--0

31 Michael Corson fr g 0-0--0

Goaltending

1 Devin Cooley so 10-6-2 1.89 .933

30 Filip Larsson fr 9-4-3 2.29 .919

31 Michael Corson fr 0-0-0 0.00 1.000

Other NCHC series

Miami (No. 8 seed) at St. Cloud State (No. 1 seed)

Game times: 7:07 tonight, 6:07 p.m. Saturday, 6:07 p.m. Sunday (if necessary), NCHC.tv.

Season series: SCSU leads 2-0-2.

Outlook: This seems like a slam dunk for St. Cloud State. The Huskies are a perfect 15-0-1 at home this season, bidding to become the first college hockey team to go undefeated at home since Harvard two seasons ago. But Miami has been a thorn in SCSU’s side. They are responsible for two of SCSU’s five non-wins in NCHC play this season, and they’ve upset the Huskies before from this position. In 2014, the first year of the NCHC, No. 8 Miami swept No. 1 SCSU in the first round.

Pick: SCSU in two.

Omaha (No. 7 seed) at Minnesota Duluth (No. 2 seed)

Game times: 7:07 tonight, 7:07 p.m. Saturday, 7:07 p.m. Sunday (if necessary), NCHC.tv.

Season series: Minnesota Duluth leads 2-0.

Outlook: The Bulldogs swept Omaha by a combined score of 10-3 in AmsOil Arena in January. While Omaha has an opportunistic offense, it hasn’t showed enough consistency to sweep. The Mavericks have won just two of 16 road games this season and it’s a longshot to happen this weekend. Omaha is one of just two teams that has never reached the Frozen Faceoff.

Pick: Minnesota Duluth in two.

Colorado College (No. 6 seed) at Western Michigan (No. 3 seed)

Game times: Series is being re-scheduled because of travel difficulties for Colorado College. All games will be on NCHC.tv.

Season series: Tied 1-1.

Outlook: These two teams only played once this season and that meeting happened recently -- a split in Colorado Springs just three weeks ago. Western Michigan won Friday’s game in overtime, then the Tigers caused all sorts of problems for the Broncos on Saturday in an 8-2 CC win. Western Michigan got things going again last weekend, though, and star forward Wade Allison is catching fire (hat trick Saturday) at the right time. The Broncos, ranked No. 13 in the Pairwise Rankings, are looking to jump in front of the NCAA-tournament bubble.

Pick: Western Michigan in three.

Big Ten

Semifinals (single game)

Minnesota (No. 3 seed) at Notre Dame (No. 2 seed)

Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday, Big Ten Network.

Season series: Minnesota leads 3-1.

Outlook: Minnesota is playing its best hockey of the season right now. The Gophers have won five games in a row and seven of the last eight. The question mark is whether Minnesota can generate enough offense against Notre Dame star goalie Cale Morris, who enters the weekend coming off of back-to-back shutouts and on a scoreless streak of 134:05. If Minnesota loses, its season is over. That fate is likely the same for Penn State, which enters tonight ranked No. 15 in the Pairwise Rankings.

Pick: Notre Dame 3-2.

Penn State (No. 4 seed) at Ohio State (No. 1 seed)

Game time: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Big Ten Network.

Season series: Ohio State leads 3-1.

Outlook: Ohio State is the top seed but enters the tournament reeling. The Buckeyes have one win in their last six games. It's no secret that Penn State will likely get into a high-scoring game. The Nittany Lions rank first nationally in offense, 57th of 60 teams in defense. Ohio State has a Mike Richter Award semifinalist in net in Tommy Nappier, which could help slow down the Nittany Lions. But Penn State, ranked No. 19 in the Pairwise, needs this game a lot more than the Buckeyes.

Pick: Penn State 5-4.

WCHA

Semifinal playoff series (best of three)

Bowling Green (No. 3 seed) at Northern Michigan (No. 2 seed)

Game times: 6:07 tonight, 6:07 p.m. Saturday, 6:07 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Series tied 2-2.

Outlook: This series features two of the top offensive-producing blue liners in the country. Bowling Green's Alec Rauhauser of Bismarck has 83 career points, while Northern Michigan's Philip Beaulieu has 95. Both were named all-conference this week. The Falcons, looking to end their NCAA-tournament drought that dates back to 1990, need to win this series to have a shot. They're currently No. 16 in the Pairwise.

Pick: Bowling Green in three.

Lake Superior State (No. 4 seed) at MSU-Mankato (No. 1 seed)

Game times: 7:07 tonight, 6:07 p.m. Saturday, 7:07 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: MSU-Mankato leads 3-1.

Outlook: At 23-11-2, Lake Superior State has its most wins since the Jeff Jackson era in the 1990s, but it will be a tall task this weekend. MSU-Mankato is 18-1 at home this season. The lone home loss came against Alabama Huntsville in January. And the Mavericks will be hungry to get to the championship series, something they haven't done in the last two years under the new home playoff game format in the WCHA.

Pick: MSU-Mankato in two.

Atlantic Hockey

Quarterfinal playoff series (best of three)

RIT (No. 5 seed) at Sacred Heart (No. 4 seed)

Game time: 6:05 tonight.

Current series: Tied 1-1. Game 3 is tonight.

Outlook: The odd Wednesday-Thursday-Friday series has already featured a pair of high-scoring games. Sacred Heart won the opener 9-4 on Wednesday, while RIT bounced back for a 7-3 win Thursday. Although Sacred Heart lost Game 2, shots on goal were still lopsided in favor of the Pioneers.

Pick: Sacred Heart 3-2.

Robert Morris (No. 8 seed) at Bentley (No. 2 seed)

Game times: 6:05 tonight, 6:05 p.m. Saturday, 6:05 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Bentley leads 2-0.

Outlook: After a 5-11-2 start to the season, Bentley finished 11-2-3. Although Bentley is hot, Robert Morris won't be an easy out. The Colonials have played in three consecutive Atlantic Hockey title games and in four of the last five. Robert Morris is peaking at the right time, too. It is on a five-game unbeaten streak, its longest of the last two seasons.

Pick: Bentley in three.

Army (No. 10 seed) at American International (No. 1 seed)

Game times: 6:05 tonight, 6:05 p.m. Saturday, 6:05 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: American International leads 2-0.

Outlook: Of the 14 playoff series last weekend, home teams and higher seeds went 13-1. The lone upset winner in the first round was Army beating Mercyhurst. But for whatever reason, Army had Mercyhurst's number this season, going 5-0-1 head-to-head. Against everyone outside of Mercyhurst, Army is 6-18-6. But beware, American International. Only one top seed has reached the Atlantic Hockey title game in the last six years, and none have won it.

Pick: American International in three.

Niagara (No. 6 seed) at Air Force (No. 3 seed)

Game times: 8:05 tonight, 8:05 p.m. Saturday, 8:05 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Tied 1-1.

Outlook: The Falcons have won back-to-back Atlantic Hockey titles. Last season, they did it as a No. 5 seed. Expect scoring to be low in this one as the Falcons rank dead last in Atlantic Hockey in goals per game (2.47), and first in goals against per game (2.47). Niagara had some travel issues getting into Colorado Springs for the series.

Pick: Air Force in two.

ECAC

Quarterfinal playoff series (best of three)

Brown (No. 8 seed) at Quinnipiac (No. 1 seed)

Game times: 6 tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Tied 1-1.

Outlook: Brown has put together a surprising season, going .500 in the ECAC. It knocked out Princeton in two games last weekend, but the challenge is greater this weekend. Brown will have to beat a deep Quinnipiac team that has withstood the loss of injured defenseman Brandon Fortunato.

Pick: Quinnipiac in two.

Union (No. 7 seed) at Cornell (No. 2 seed)

Game times: 6 tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Cornell leads 2-0.

Outlook: This is a huge series for those watching the NCAA-tournament bubble. Cornell is at No. 12 in the Pairwise and Union is at No. 17. If Union loses this series, it would knock the Dutchmen out. If the Big Red lose, it will put their tournament lives in jeopardy.

Pick: Cornell in three.

Yale (No. 6 seed) at Clarkson (No. 3 seed)

Game times: 6 tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Tied 1-1.

Outlook: Yale has put together an average season (15-13-3), but prolific-scoring senior Joe Snively isn't going quietly. The seventh-leading career scorer in the nation (139 points) has six points in his last four games for the Bulldogs.

Pick: Yale in three.

Dartmouth (No. 5 seed) at Harvard (No. 4 seed)

Game times: 6 tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Tied 1-1.

Outlook: These teams opened the season with a wild 7-6 overtime game that Dartmouth's Quin Foreman, the team's leading scorer, won just 18 seconds into the extra session. Now, this weekend will be the end of the line for one of these teams.

Pick: Harvard in two.

Hockey East

Quarterfinal playoff series (best of three)

New Hampshire (No. 8 seed) at UMass (No. 1 seed)

Game times: 6 tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: UMass leads 2-0.

Outlook: Since their 18-3 start, the Minutemen have cooled off a little bit, finishing the season 8-5. But they're 15-1 at home and 11-7 on the road. This weekend's series is at home against a New Hampshire team that's given up four-plus goals in four of the last six games. New Hampshire has won just three games away from home this season: at Dartmouth, at Merrimack and at Vermont. Merrimack and Vermont were the two teams who didn't make the Hockey East playoffs.

Pick: UMass in two.

Boston College (No. 7 seed) at Providence (No. 2 seed)

Game times: 6 tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Boston College leads 2-0.

Outlook: Boston College is in a tailspin, winning just one of its last eight games heading into the postseason. Boston College's struggling offense will now have to generate against the best defensive team in Hockey East, a Mike Richter Award semifinalist in Hayden Hawkey and a team that generally dominates possession. 

Pick: Providence in three.

Maine (No. 6 seed) at Northeastern (No. 3 seed)

Game times: 6 tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Northeastern leads 2-0.

Outlook: This matchup features two of the hottest teams in Hockey East. The Black Bears have lost just once in the last seven games. Northeastern has lost just once in the last eight. If Maine is going to win, it needs star goalie Jeremy Swayman, a Boston Bruins pick, to be on top of his game.

Pick: Northeastern in three.

Boston University (No. 5 seed) at UMass Lowell (No. 4 seed)

Game times: 6:15 tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

Season series: Tied 1-1.

Outlook: UMass Lowell went on a 10-game unbeaten streak during the middle of the season that ended with back-to-back shutouts of Boston College and UMass. Since then, Lowell has one win in seven games. Boston University and its four first-round draft picks could make a run in the Hockey East tournament to get a bid into the NCAAs for a second-straight season.

Pick: Boston University in three.

Pairwise Rankings

  1. St. Cloud State 27-4-3
  2. UMass 26-8
  3. MSU-Mankato 29-7-2
  4. Minnesota Duluth 21-11-2
  5. Quinnipiac 25-7-2
  6. Ohio State 20-9-5
  7. Denver 19-10-5
  8. Northeastern 23-10-1
  9. Providence 21-9-6
  10. Arizona State 21-12-1
  11. Clarkson 22-10-2
  12. Cornell 17-8-4
  13. Western Michigan 20-13-1
  14. Harvard 17-9-3
  15. Notre Dame 20-13-3
  16. Bowling Green 23-9-5
  17. Union 19-11-6
  18. North Dakota 18-15-2
  19. Penn State 21-14-2
  20. UMass Lowell 18-11-5
  21. Minnesota 18-15-4
  22. Lake Superior State 23-11-2
  23. Northern Michigan 21-14-2
  24. Colorado College 15-17-4
  25. Maine 15-15-4
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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