Frozen Four: U-M vs. North Dakota Preview

The No. 2-ranked Michigan Wolverines meet the No. 1-ranked North Dakota Fighting Sioux at 8:30 p.m. in the second NCAA Frozen Four semifinal. GBW breaks down the critical match up hours before game time.

Day: Thursday
Date: Apr. 7, 2011
Location: St. Paul, Minn.
Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
TV: ESPN2

North Dakota
Nickname: Fighting Sioux
Conference: WCHA (Regular Season and Tournament Champions)
Record: 32-8-3
Seed: 1

Key Players
F - Matt Frattin (36-24-60, +28)
F - Jason Gregoire (25-18-43, +26)
F - Corban Knight (14-30-44, +25)
D - Chay Genoway (6-31-37, +11)
G - Aaron Dell (1.82 GAA, .925 Save Percentage)

Michigan
Nickname: Wolverines
Conference: CCHA (Regular Season Champions)
Record: 28-10-4
Seed: 2

Key Players
F - Carl Hagelin (18-30-48, +21)
F - Louie Caporusso (11-19-30, +17)
F - Matt Rust (5-20-25, +17)
D - Jon Merrill (7-17-24, +10)
G - Shawn Hunwick (2.26 GAA, .922 Save Percentage)

North Dakota Offense vs. Michigan Defense
UND Scoring: 4.14 GPG (2nd Nationally)
UND Shots per Game: 33.8
UND Goals by Period: 25-39-29

U-M Scoring Defense: 2.26 GPG (6th Nationally)
U-M Shots Allowed Per Game: 28.8
U-M Goals Allowed By Period: 46-48-46

Summary: North Dakota will be the most offensively talented team that Michigan will face all season. North Dakota's top line has combined to score more than twice as many goals as Michigan's top unit, but that doesn't mean they can't be stopped. As was the case against Colorado College in the Regional Final, a strong Michigan back check is a must to try and limit Fighting Sioux offensive chances.

Michigan Offense vs. North Dakota Defense
U-M Scoring: 3.38 GPG (13th Nationally)
U-M Shots per Game: 33.3
U-M Goals by Period: 46-48-46

UND Scoring Defense: 2.14 GPG (3rd Nationally)
UND Shots Allowed Per Game: 23.9
UND Goals Allowed By Period: 31-30-30

Summary: The Michigan offense took a significant hit when winger David Wohlberg broke his collar bone in the Wolverines second round CCHA Tournament match up against BGSU. Wohlberg was the Wolverines second leading goal scorer on the season on a team with no "go-to" scorer. Michigan's top line will need to match North Dakota's top line in this one to have a chance in this one.

Special Teams
U-M Power Play: 18.2% (27th Nationally)
U-M Penalty Kill: 83.1% (22nd Nationally)

UND Power Play: 23.3% (7th Nationally)
UND Penalty Kill: 86.0% (5th Nationally)

Summary: According to the numbers the Fighting Sioux have the Wolverines beat in just about all facets of special teams, the lone edge for U-M being that the Wolverines are least penalized between the two teams. Should the Wolverines want to advance to the National Championship contest on Saturday night, keeping out of the penalty box will be imperative.

Prediction: North Dakota is the best team in college hockey right now. Michigan isn't far behind, but need to play a near perfect game to advance to the final game of the Frozen Four. Michigan will come out strong, but the Sioux depth will catch up to this Michigan team and send Michigan home disappointed again with a 4-2 loss.

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