Six players who could make a difference in the UND-Minnesota rivalry series
The Fighting Hawks and Gophers will play a two-game set in 3M Arena at Mariucci this weekend.
MINNEAPOLIS — UND and Minnesota will play the latest edition of their 75-year-old rivalry at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Here are six players who could be difference-makers — three from each team:
F Mark Senden, North Dakota
The UND captain, whose uncle Stuart played at Minnesota, thrived in this series last season.
The Fighting Hawks scored four times against the Gophers in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Senden was in on all four. He had two goals and two assists to help UND to a series split.
Senden might not be the flashiest player, but he can make things happen with his tenacious style, as he did last season.
F Logan Cooley, Minnesota
Cooley, a freshman, is the highest NHL draft pick in college hockey this season.
The Pittsburgh product, who was previously committed to Notre Dame, was selected No. 3 overall this summer by the Arizona Coyotes.
Cooley has blazing speed, good vision and can finish. On the power play, he is a threat from the right dot, but he's done his damage at even strength this season. Through four games, he has four points at even strength and one on the power play.
F Jackson Blake, North Dakota
Big games and big moments don't seem to faze Blake, a UND freshman forward.
Two years ago, he scored the game-winning goal in the Minnesota Class AA boys state championship game, and a few weeks later, scored the game-winning goal in the United States Hockey League's Clark Cup-clinching game.
Blake's father, Jason, had his moments in the rivalry series. Notably, he scored the game-tying goal in the 1998 comeback in Ralph Engelstad Arena. UND was down 3-0 in the third period, but scored five in a row to win. Jason went 10-3-1 against the Gophers while at UND.
Jackson, who went to high school at Eden Prairie, will surely be looking to write his own chapter.
F Matthew Knies, Minnesota
Knies is Minnesota's top returning scorer after tallying 33 points in 33 games as a freshman.
At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, he's a big body and can play a physical game.
The second-round Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick has been adept at putting shots on target this season. He has attempted 18 shots. None have been shot wide of the net. Two have gone in, 15 have been saved and one has been blocked.
The power forward from Arizona plays around the net on the power play and can be tough for opponents to handle with his combination of size and skill.
D Ethan Frisch, North Dakota
The UND senior blue liner has averaged more ice time this season than any player on either UND or Minnesota — 22:56 per game.
Frisch, the reigning National Collegiate Hockey Conference defensive defenseman of the year, will be matched against a lot of Minnesota's high-end players this weekend. But don't discount what the former Moorhead High standout can do on the other end of the rink.
Frisch is smart about when he jumps into offensive plays and is one of the best at picking corners when he has a clean look.
F Jimmy Snuggerud, Minnesota
The freshman forward has been Minnesota's most frequent shooter.
Snuggerud has attempted 29 shots this season, three more than Cooley.
There's good reason for it. He's a pretty good finisher. Snuggerud tallied his first collegiate hat trick against Minnesota State-Mankato two weeks ago in 3M Arena at Mariucci. He leads Minnesota with four goals.
Snuggerud, a right-hander, plays in the left circle on the power play, leaving his one-timer open to receive passes from everyone else on the ice. He's a big threat from that spot.
No. 7 North Dakota at No. 1 Minnesota
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Records: UND 2-1-1, Minnesota 3-1.
TV: Bally Sports North Extra (GF Ch. 339, 639 HD) on Friday, Bally Sports North (GF Ch. 28/623 HD) on Saturday.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM) on Friday; Cat Country (100.3 FM) on Saturday.
Stream: Big Ten Plus.