UND swept seven of its first nine series this season.

It was an impressive run that put the Fighting Hawks at 16-1-2 through their first 19 games.

But now, they've played three series in a row without getting a sweep -- a split at home vs. Omaha, a win and tie at Miami and a split at Minnesota Duluth. They're not bad results, for sure. But with the blistering pace this team set in the first half, the Fighting Hawks will surely be looking to get back to sweeping a series this weekend.

It could inch the Fighting Hawks real close to home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and continue their push for a third Penrose Cup in seven years.

There are several storylines to follow as UND chases an eighth weekend sweep.

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No. 1: Will Colorado College keep Chris Wilkie and Nick Halloran on the same line?

Wilkie and Halloran have provided an astounding 40 percent of Colorado College's goals this season. They've been the two big point producers for a team that hasn't gotten as much scoring from its depth as expected.

The last two weekends, Colorado College coach Mike Haviland has put Wilkie and Halloran on a line for one night and split the up for the other. What will he do this weekend?

With UND possessing last line change, Haviland might be more apt to split them up and keep them away from the shutdown line of Gavin Hain, Mark Senden and Cole Smith. But if they're together, you can bet the Senden line will get another big, tough assignment.

No. 2: Can UND exploit Colorado College's statistical nightmare categories?

There are two things that jump out when looking at Colorado College's stats.

The Tigers rank dead last in the country in both penalty kill (by a wide margin) and faceoffs. They probably go hand-in-hand. A lot of lost faceoffs on the penalty kill can lead to possession for the power-play team.

UND's power play is over 20 percent now and it is ranked No. 10 in faceoffs. Can those categories be heavily tilted toward the Fighting Hawks this weekend?

No. 3: Will UND lock it down better defensively?

A lot of attention will be on which goaltender UND will play Friday and Saturday.

Will it be Peter Thome or Adam Scheel?

The bigger question is whether UND can repeat Saturday's defensive performance and limit Colorado College's Grade-A chances.

Colorado College head coach Mike Haviland talks to the media Thursday during NCHC Media Day at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  Clint Austin / The Rink Live
Colorado College head coach Mike Haviland talks to the media Thursday during NCHC Media Day at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Clint Austin / The Rink Live

Follow the games

Colorado College at No. 2 UND

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

Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.

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

Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).

Webcast: NCHC.tv.

Live blog: GrandForksHerald.com.

UND's Matt Kiersted works for the puck as  Colorado College's Troy Conzo defends in a game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
UND's Matt Kiersted works for the puck as Colorado College's Troy Conzo defends in a game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Stories to read

About the opponent: Chris Wilkie returns to The Ralph again and 10 other things to know about Colorado College

Feature: Prior to showdown against his old team, Westin Michaud reflects on his journey to UND

News: UND will be without back-to-back NCHC defenseman of the week against Colorado College

News: Steve Johnson to lead new Minnesota-Crookston ACHA club hockey program

News: Former UND All-American Shelby Amsley-Benzie out of hospital, recovering after being hit by bus

Q&A: UND goaltender Peter Thome reveals who has the hardest shot, what TV shows he's binging and more

From the Gazette: Colorado College players talk about going against Westin Michaud

Pairwise Watch: This week's Pairwise forecasts by Jim Dahl

From last weekend: Rewind: Peter Thome, Jonny Tychonick 'cannonball' into the lineup to lift UND

UND's Hayden Shaw and Colorado College's Kade Kehoe mix it up in front of the UND bench in a previous game in Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
UND's Hayden Shaw and Colorado College's Kade Kehoe mix it up in front of the UND bench in a previous game in Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Tale of the tape

North DakotaStatistical categoryColorado College
19-3-3Record8-13-1
2Poll rankingNR
1Pairwise ranking40
4.16 (1st)Offense2.82 (27th)
2.16 (9th)Defense3.68 (58th)
9.4 (49th)Penalty minutes11.0 (28th)
20.2 (22nd)Power play15.3 (47th)
86.4 (8th)Penalty kill67.9 (60th)
52.9 (10th)Faceoffs41.0 (60th)
59.6 (1st)Corsi (possession)47.4 (41st)
.898 (41st)Goaltending.897 (43rd)

National rank in parenthesis

Injury update

UND will be without back-to-back NCHC defenseman of the week Matt Kiersted, who sustained injuries last weekend in Duluth. Kiersted was in-and-out of practice this week and will be held out for the series against the Tigers, coach Brad Berry confirmed. On the positive side, both Dixon Bowen and Zach Yon returned to practice this week. The availability for Bowen and Yon is unknown, though. Bowen missed last Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury and Yon has been out for the last six games.

Colorado College backup goalie Ryan Ruck did not dress for last weekend's games against Omaha. Junior Jon Flakne, who has played in 23:24 minutes in his career, served as the backup to Matt Vernon. Tiger senior defenseman Kristian Blumenschein also missed last weekend's series.

UND defenseman Matt Kiersted (3) celebrates his game-tying goal in the third period with Jasper Weatherby (14), Mark Senden (19) and Cole Smith (26) last Friday in AmsOil Arena. UND rallied for a 3-2 win. Tyler Schank / Forum News Service
UND defenseman Matt Kiersted (3) celebrates his game-tying goal in the third period with Jasper Weatherby (14), Mark Senden (19) and Cole Smith (26) last Friday in AmsOil Arena. UND rallied for a 3-2 win. Tyler Schank / Forum News Service

The focus: Chris Wilkie

Former UND forward Chris Wilkie is having a monster senior season for Colorado College. Wilkie, who had 12 goals in his first three collegiate seasons combined, already has 17 this season. That ranks second nationally to Northern Michigan’s Griffin Loughran (19). He leads the country in shots on goal (122) and will be engaged coming back to Ralph Engelstad Arena, where he scored once last season for the Tigers.

Colorado College forward Chris Wilkie winds up for a shot. Photo by Colorado College athletics.
Colorado College forward Chris Wilkie winds up for a shot. Photo by Colorado College athletics.

Pick to click: Westin Michaud

Last weekend kicked off a big, meaningful two-week stretch for senior Westin Michaud. He went back to Duluth (he's from nearby Cloquet) to a place where he had never scored in college. Then, he went and scored a goal in both games against the Bulldogs, helping the Fighting Hawks to a split. Michaud is the type of player to rise to big occasions and this weekend will be another one as he faces his former team, Colorado College. Expect Michaud to have a good weekend just like Wilkie did a year ago when he came back to face UND for the first time.

UND's Westin Michaud handles the puck as Huntsville's Lucas Bahn defends in a game earlier this season. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
UND's Westin Michaud handles the puck as Huntsville's Lucas Bahn defends in a game earlier this season. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Prediction: UND sweep

UND ranks No. 1 nationally in scoring offense (4.16 goals per game), while Colorado College ranks No. 58 of 60 college hockey teams in goals allowed per game (3.68). The Tigers have been particularly porous defensively since Christmas (4.62), so the Fighting Hawks should be able to score. The key rests on UND’s team defense, though. Can the Fighting Hawks lock it down like last Saturday’s win against Minnesota Duluth or will Colorado College’s potent seniors -- Wilkie, Halloran and Alex Berardinelli -- get after UND?

UND 5-3, 5-2

Head coach Mike Haviland of Colorado College talks to the referee about a call Friday during the NCHC semifinal game at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Clint Austin / The Rink Live
Head coach Mike Haviland of Colorado College talks to the referee about a call Friday during the NCHC semifinal game at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Clint Austin / The Rink Live


Pairwise Rankings

1. North Dakota 19-3-3

2. Cornell 14-1-4

3. MSU-Mankato 23-4-1

4. Denver 17-4-5

5. Boston College 15-7

6. Penn State 17-8-1

7. UMass 16-8-2

8. Clarkson 17-6-2

9. Providence 14-6-5

10. Ohio State 15-8-3

11. Arizona State 16-9-3

12. Minnesota Duluth 13-9-2

13. Northeastern 13-7-2

14. New Hampshire 13-9-2

15. Northern Michigan 14-8-4

16. UMass Lowell 13-7-5

17. Maine 12-9-4

18. Michigan State 13-12-1

19. Quinnipiac 14-9-1

20. Bemidji State 14-8-4

21. Harvard 9-6-4

22. Western Michigan 11-9-4

23. Dartmouth 10-6-4

24. Michigan 10-11-3

25. Omaha 11-10-5

USCHO rankings

1. Cornell (40 first-place votes) 14-1-4

2. North Dakota (8) 19-3-3

3. MSU-Mankato (2) 23-4-1

4. Denver 17-4-5

5. Boston College 15-7

6. Clarkson 17-6-2

7. UMass 16-8-2

8. Penn State 17-8-1

9. Providence 14-6-5

10. Minnesota Duluth 13-9-2

11. Ohio State 15-8-3

12. Arizona State 16-9-3

13. Northeastern 13-7-2

14. UMass Lowell 13-7-5

15. Northern Michigan 14-8-4

16. Harvard 9-6-4

17. Michigan State 13-12-1

18. Quinnipiac 14-9-1

19. Bemidji State 14-8-4

20. Sacred Heart 16-8-2

Player stats

UND

Scoring

29 Jordan Kawaguchi, jr, f 13-24--37

3 Matt Kiersted, jr, d 4-19--23

11 Westin Michaud, sr, f 12-10--22

18 Collin Adams, jr, f 7-14--21

22 Shane Pinto, fr, f 11-9--20

16 Grant Mismash, jr, f 7-9--16

24 J. Bernard-Docker, so, d 3-13--16

26 Cole Smith, sr, f 9-6--15

14 Jasper Weatherby, so, f 8-5--13

6 Colton Poolman, sr, d 2-9--11

17 Jonny Tychonick, so, d 4-6--10

28 Judd Caulfield, fr, f 3-7--10

10 Gavin Hain, so, f 2-8--10

19 Mark Senden, so, f 4-5--9

8 Harrison Blaisdell, fr, f 2-7--9

9 Dixon Bowen, sr, f 6-2--8

4 Andrew Peski, sr, d 1-6--7

21 Jackson Keane, jr, f 1-3--4

2 Gabe Bast, jr, d 2-1--3

15 Ethan Frisch, fr, d 1-2--3

7 Zach Yon, sr, f 0-3--3

31 Adam Scheel, so, g 0-2--2

20 Josh Rieger, jr, d 1-0--1

5 Casey Johnson, sr, f 1-0--1

1 Peter Thome, jr, g 0-0--0

35 Harrison Feeney, fr, g NA

13 Carson Albrecht, fr, f NA

Goaltending

31 Adam Scheel, so 17-3-2 2.08 .903

1 Peter Thome, jr 2-0-1 1.89 .895

35 Harrison Feeney, fr NA

COLORADO COLLEGE

Scoring

34 Chris Wilkie, sr, f 17-8--25

13 Nick Halloran, sr, f 8-14--22

4 Bryan Yoon, so, d 0-12--12

23 Bailey Conger, jr, f 4-7--11

7 Alex Berardinelli, sr, f 3-8--11

12 Ben Copeland, so, f 3-8--11

21 Grant Cruikshank, so, f 7-3--10

27 Josiah Slavin, fr, f 4-5--9

29 Christiano Versich, jr, f 3-4--7

18 Connor Mayer, fr, d 1-6--7

19 Troy Conzo, jr, f 3-3--6

8 Zach Berzolla, jr, d 1-5--6

24 Jack Gates, jr, f 2-3--5

39 Sam Renlund, fr, f 1-4--5

3 Kristian Blumenschein, sr, d 1-4--5

28 Andrew Gaus, sr, f 2-1--3

10 Patrick Cozzi, fr, f 0-3--3

2 Chad Sasaki, fr, d 1-1--2

**16 Erik Middendorf, so, f 0-2--2

26 Brady Smith, fr, d 1-0--1

37 Casey Staum, fr, d 0-1--1

9 Jackson Ross, so, d 0-1--1

36 McKay Flanagan, jr, d 0-1--1

41 Ryan Ruck, sr, g 0-1--1

25 Brian Williams, jr, f 0-0--0

20 Alex Pernitsky, sr, d 0-0--0

30 Matt Vernon, fr, g 0-0--0

33 Jon Flakne, jr, g NA

Goaltending

30 Matt Vernon, fr 5-9-1 3.56 .901

41 Ryan Ruck, sr 3-4-0 3.52 .900

33 Jon Flakne, jr, g NA

**Returned to junior hockey