Friday rundown: Finally, UND and Cornell get to play
The teams could have met in the 2020 Frozen Four and were supposed to meet last season, but the coronavirus pandemic eliminated those potential showdowns.
GRAND FORKS — Two seasons ago, they could have met in the NCAA Frozen Four.
Cornell was the No. 1-ranked team in the polls. UND was the No. 1-ranked team in the Pairwise. But the coronavirus pandemic abruptly shut down the season in March and that potential meeting between top teams never happened.
Both teams were scheduled to have nearly everyone back for 2020-21. Better yet, the Fighting Hawks and Big Red were scheduled to play in October in Ithaca, N.Y. But once again, the pandemic had other plans.
Cornell canceled its season before it even started and the matchup was delayed again.
This weekend, it's finally happening.
UND and Cornell will play at 7:07 p.m. Friday and 6:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
"Obviously, it's a great place to play," Cornell coach Mike Schafer said after practice Thursday. "They have great, knowledgeable fans. It's a great opportunity for our players to see one of the top programs here in the West and in the country.
"It was disappointing (last year), we had a great opportunity to have a tremendous series back East with two teams that were poised and ready to rock and roll. But that seems like about a decade ago right now."
Both teams look vastly different this season than they would have last season.
UND has 14 new players; Cornell has 11 freshmen.
The Big Red got off to a tremendous 9-1-1 start to this season, but lost twice at Arizona State last weekend. The Sun Devils have been impressive at home the last four years (32-8-1).
"With a young team, we're trying to figure it out," Schafer said. "We didn't have a great practice here today on Thursday, but hopefully that will be left behind us and we'll get ready for these guys (Friday)."
Here are 16 other notes ahead of this weekend:
1. Cornell defenseman Cody Haiskanen, a fifth-year senior, is from Fargo Davies. He's excited about the opportunity to come back to North Dakota . Becoming a fifth-year senior is not easy in the Ivy League. You have to prove that you need the extra time to work toward an academic goal. Haiskanen basically had to withdraw from school and work on an internship last season. For a while, he wasn't even allowed to use the school's weight room or facilities. Haiskanen skates with Tyler Kleven and Ethan Frisch in the offseason.
2. Brenden Locke has been one of Cornell's top players since his freshman year and he's getting hot now. Locke has eight points in his last five games.
3. UND will play at Cornell next season at the same time of year — right after Christmas break.
4. Cornell has four NHL Draft picks on the roster — forward Matt Stienburg (third round, Colorado), forward Justin Ertel (third round, Dallas), forward Jack Malone (sixth round, Vancouver) and defenseman Hank Kempf (seventh round, New York Rangers).
5. COVID-19 is hitting college hockey hard right now. In the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, two of the four series scheduled this weekend are off (Denver at Omaha; Minnesota Duluth at St. Cloud State). Other teams that are shut down due to COVID-19 right now: St. Lawrence, UMass Lowell, Brown and RPI. Wisconsin's series with Ohio State was backed up a day. Yesterday, the Badgers practiced with five forwards, two defensemen and two goalies, according to Todd Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal .
6. It appears spread is happening among teams that play each other. St. Lawrence and Omaha played last weekend and now both are sidelined.
7. CBS Sports Network was scheduled to open its NCHC broadcasts this weekend at Omaha. Because that series was canceled, Alex Heinert will be doing the UND-Cornell series. Heinert will be the play-by-play voice for CBS games this year and is expected to miss a few UND games in January.
8. The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly, but no NCHC schools have yet instituted attendance restrictions. Omaha's Baxter Arena has put in a mask requirement, though.
9. The NCAA released new guidance for winter sports, changing the definition for "fully vaccinated." It now means if you're eligible for the booster shot, you need to get it to be "fully vaccinated." If you're not, and you're deemed a close contact to a positive case, you have to quarantine for a minimum of five days, then test negative. If you're fully vaccinated, you don't need to quarantine unless symptomatic or positive. UND will be regularly testing those who are not fully vaccinated. Any athletes or coaches within 90 days of a positive test will fall under the same parameters as those who are fully vaccinated.
10. Former UND and Thief River Falls goalie Zane McIntyre signed with the Minnesota Wild this week, which is great for him. But it also means he won't be in the mix for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.
11. Former UND goalie Cam Johnson has been called up to the taxi squad for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
12. Notre Dame has recently lost some big-time commits — expected first-round picks Logan Cooley (still uncommitted) and Rutger McGroarty (Michigan) — but it landed a nice one this week with Fargo Force forward Cole Knuble, the son of former NHLer Mike Knuble.
13. One-time UND commit Ethan Bowen of the Chilliwack Chiefs committed to Vermont this week. Bowen is a draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks. Around the time Bowen re-opened his recruitment, UND picked up a commitment from Owen McLaughlin of Sioux City, a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick.
14. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau should come out with 2022 NHL Draft midseason rankings soon. The top draft-eligible UND commits are forward Cole Spicer and defenseman Jake Livanavage. Others that should be in the mix are forward Bowden Singleton, forward Dylan James and defenseman Tyler Dunbar. Scouts think Ben Strinden will get picked as a third-year eligible, but Central Scouting always seems to heavily focus on first-year draft-eligible players, so don't be surprised if Strinden is left off the list.
15. The only other NCHC action this weekend is Miami hosting Colorado College.
16. The U.S. Olympic Team named its assistant coaches this week — Crookston's Mike Hastings, the head coach at MSU-Mankato, and St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson will be on David Quinn's staff. Both Minnesota State and St. Cloud State's programs will heavily rely upon coaches from this area in their absence. Todd Knott of Red Lake Falls is the top assistant at Mankato and Nick Oliver of Roseau is an assistant at St. Cloud State.
Tale of the tape
Offense: 3.37 (17th)
Defense: 2.84 (30th)
Power play: 23.9 (12th)
Penalty kill: 79.7 (35th)
Goaltending: .884 (47th)
Offense: 3.85 (4th)
Defense: 2.46 (17th)
Power play: 17.0 (35th)
Penalty kill: 87.8 (11th)
Goaltending: .902 (28th)
The focus: Cornell F Matt Stienburg
The highest-drafted forward in this weekend’s series will be Cornell junior Matt Stienburg. The Colorado Avalanche selected Stienburg with the opening pick of the third round, No. 63 overall, in the 2019 NHL Draft. It's the same organization where his father, Trevor, played (though he played for the Quebec Nordiques). Stienburg, of Halifax, N.S., is having a breakout junior season. He leads Cornell in goals (8), assists (11), points (19) and game-winning goals (3), and he's third in the nation in points per game. Stienburg had an 11-game point streak snapped Sunday against Arizona State. It was the longest point streak by a Cornell player since the 1990-91 season.
The pick to click: UND F Riese Gaber
During last Saturday's exhibition, one player was clearly generating nearly every chance for UND — sophomore forward Riese Gaber. He looked explosive with his speed and has a knack for snapping shots toward the net quickly. He wasn't rewarded against the U.S. Under-18 Team, but if he plays like that again, he'll get on the scoresheet.
The call: UND sweep
This hasn’t been your typical low-scoring but defensively excellent Cornell team. This Big Red squad has put up big offensive numbers this season. Only Denver, Northern Michigan and Michigan have scored more goals per game than Cornell. UND’s defense and goaltending will be challenged by the Big Red, who have averaged 4.4 goals in their last 10 games.
Friday: UND 3, Cornell 2
Saturday: UND 5, Cornell 3
17 Riese Gaber, so, f 8-12--20
26 Jake Sanderson, so, d 6-13--19
21 Connor Ford, 5th, f 3-13--16
16 Ashton Calder, sr, f 7-7--14
27 Louis Jamernik, so, f 7-5--12
8 Jake Schmaltz, fr, f 5-7--12
19 Mark Senden, sr, f 3-8--11
18 Matteo Costantini, fr, f 5-5--10
10 Gavin Hain, sr, f 6-3--9
28 Judd Caulfield, jr, f 3-5--8
15 Ethan Frisch, jr, d 3-4--7
25 Tyler Kleven, so, d 4-2--6
7 Chris Jandric, sr, d 0-6--6
29 Jackson Kunz, fr, f 2-2--4
4 Cooper Moore, so, d 0-4--4
2 Brady Ferner, sr, d 0-3--3
20 Nick Portz, fr, f 1-2--3
11 Griffin Ness, so, f 0-2--2
9 Brendan Budy, jr, f 1-0--1
6 Brent Johnson, fr, d 0-1--1
13 Carson Albrecht, jr, f 0-0--0
5 Dane Montgomery, fr, f 0-0--0
24 Luke Bast, fr, d 0-0--0
33 Zach Driscoll, 5th, g 0-0--0
32 Jakob Hellsten, fr, g 0-0–0
35 Harrison Feeney, jr, g DNP
1 Kaleb Johnson, fr, g DNP
33 Zach Driscoll 12-6-0 2.58 .893
32 Jakob Hellsten, fr 1-0-0 3.30 .882
35 Harrison Feeney, jr DNP
1 Kaleb Johnson, fr DNP
20 Matt Stienburg, jr, f 8-11–19
15 Max Andreev, sr, f 7-10–17
28 Brenden Locke, 5th, f 4-8–12
29 Ben Berard, jr, f 6-4–10
24 Sam Malinski, jr, d 3-7–10
10 Travis Mitchell, jr, d 2-6–8
12 Tim Rego, so, d 2-6–8
26 Ondrej Psenicka, fr, f 6-1–7
13 Jack Malone, jr, f 3-3–6
11 Kyle Betts, 5th, f 1-5–6
22 Kyle Penney, fr, f 3-2–5
14 Ben Tupker, jr, f 1-3–4
21 Zach Tupker, jr, f 1-3–4
4 Hank Kempf, fr, d 0-4–4
18 Justin Ertel, fr, f 1-2–3
5 Sebastian Dirven, jr, d 0-3–3
6 Kyler Kovich, fr, f 1-1–2
3 Cody Haiskanen, 5th, d 0-2–2
23 Liam Motley, sr, f 1-0–1
19 Sullivan Mack, fr, f 0-1–1
8 Jack Lagerstrom, so, d 0-0–0
17 Zach Bramwell, sr, f 0-0–0
9 Jack O’Leary, fr, f 0-0–0
33 Nate McDonald, sr, g 0-0–0
34 Joe Howe, fr, g 0-0–0
30 Ian Shane, fr, g 0-0–0
33 Nate McDonald, sr 5-1-1 2.50 .896
34 Joe Howe, fr 4-2-0 2.35 .905
30 Ian Shane, fr 0-0-0 0.00 1.000