Series Preview: Minnesota at North Dakota

Minnesota looks to complete the season sweep of North Dakota this weekend in Grand Forks (N.D.). Both teams are nationally ranked and will look to gain momentum for the second half of the WCHA schedule.

Minnesota (15-7-1 overall, 11-3-0 WCHA) at North Dakota (11-8-2 overall, 7-7-0 WCHA)
Grand Forks N.D. – Ralph Engelstad Arena
Friday 7:37 p.m., Saturday 7:07 p.m. CT – Fox Sports North

Quotable: "Well we're in seventh, they're in first. So we need some points. That's it. Bottom line. We left their building at 1-5 in the WCHA so for any of you that think this is about Minnesota, this is about us. That's what we're worried about and concerned with. We've scratched and clawed our way out of a real deep hole. We've slowly got our head above water here. Now we start the second half of our WCHA schedule. It happens to be against Minnesota, a real good hockey team. They're a deep team. They deserve to be where they are in the standings and where they are nationally." – Dave Hakstol on playing Minnesota for a second time this year.

"It's always been a huge rivalry. Every time we play each other, something happens to add to it. There's always a big scrum or a fight at the end of the period. Every time we play each other another piece gets added on to the huge rivalry." – Defenseman Ben Blood on the border rivalry.

PREGAME NOTES

Storyline: Things are much different than when these two teams faced off in early November. North Dakota was near the bottom of the WCHA with a 3-4-1 overall record before being swept by the Gophers in Minneapolis. Since then, North Dakota is 8-4-1, putting them in the middle of the conference. The Gophers will look to get back in the win column after consecutive losses to Northeastern and Notre Dame. As usual, this is the biggest weekend of the year for both teams.

Season to Date: North Dakota is currently 11-8-2 on the year and an even 7-7-0 in conference play. They have been on fire recently, winning eight of their last ten contests with one tie and one overtime loss. The streak has landed North Dakota in the top-20, currently sitting at 17th in the country.

Coaching Preview: Dave Hakstol is in his eight season leading North Dakota and has posted an impressive overall record of 187-93-27. Hakstol has reached the Frozen Four in five of his seven seasons at North Dakota. He holds two regular season WCHA titles and three WCHA playoffs championships. Hakstol's teams are always prepared to play physical, especially against the neighboring Gophers.

Last Meeting: North Dakota last met the Gophers in the first week of November with the Gophers completing the sweep at Mariucci Arena. The opening game resulted in a 2-0 victory for Minnesota while Friday was filled with excitement as the Gophers scored with one minute remaining to take the 3-2 lead and eventual victory.

Series History: Minnesota has faced North Dakota more than any other opponent with a total of 285 games played between the two teams. The Gophers currently hold the edge in the series by a tally of 143-128-14, 52.6 percent.

Minnesota Duo: Brock Nelson of Warroad and Danny Kristo of Eden Prairie lead North Dakota in scoring this year, both averaging 1.14 points per contest. Nelson has totaled 15 goals and nine assists for 24 points while Kristo has added 11 goals and 13 assists.

Background:
Location: Grand Forks, N.D.
Enrollment: 14,697
Conference: WCHA
Mascot: None
Colors: Green, White, and Black
Coach: Dave Hakstol (8th Season)


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