While my Thanksgiving was spent mostly on airplanes and in airports trying to get back to Denver, I hope you all had a great day and didn't kill yourselves eating delicious food.
Now, we still have a hockey series this weekend, as do a lot of WCHA teams. Albeit, most are out of conference, but still.
The Sioux get a chance to earn some pairwise respect when they face Notre Dame this weekend, who isn't a bad team. They are sitting at the top of the CCHA with a .750 winning percentage and an overall win/loss record of 9-3-1. This is a different Notre Dame team then the Sioux faced last year; but this is a different Sioux team as well.
North Dakota is, by all regards, doing pretty well this season. An overtime loss and a .3 second loss prevent them from having 18 points and being at the top of the WCHA. Right now, they are in third place, behind Denver and Duluth. Considering they have played a ridiculously tough schedule so far, I'm pretty satisfied with where they are right now. But getting swept by Maine is going to hurt them later in the pairwise, and if they get swept by Notre Dame this weekend, that's going to smart a lot. Remember, in the NCAA playoff scenario, to be a lock, you have to finish in the top 11. You have to assume someone will win every conference championship that isn't ranked in the top in pairwise. It's early though for a pairwise discussion, so let's move on.
Aaron Dell will most likely get the nods both nights. While I would like to see Brad Eidsness get a start this weekend, this series is too crucial for the Sioux. They have to come out with a sweep if they hope to remain in serious contention for the pairwise later in the year. With how shaky Brad has been in net, I think it would be foolish to do a rotation this weekend. You can make the argument that if Eids goes out and has a big game and gets the win, it would allow him to regain his confidence, but if he goes out there and sucks, the Sioux not only lose a game, but they also probably lose the opportunity to go with two goalies this season. It's a tough decision; one I'm certainly glad that I don't have to make.
Hextall needs to get some points. He's been pointless in his last 7 games. He needs to find the back of the net or help out his team. He's usually lethal on the powerplay, so if the Sioux can get some PP time, that might be the spark he needs.
Danny Kristo needs to get it going too. Sure he's got one goal, but let's see him score some more, please. Also, let's keep getting the puck to Frattin. He was leading the nation in goals until some dink from Niagara retook the lead on Tuesday. Let's see him score this weekend in a big way, shall we? Eidsness compared Frattin's shot to Andrew Kozek's wrist shot, which was potent and lethal.
Schloss linked an article about the Notre Dame players possibly playing with a chip on their shoulder due to their disappointing performance last year. Coach Jeff Jackson almost seems to be using the 12 freshman he has in a competition game. And it seems to be working. I've always respected Jeff Jackson as a coach and recruiter and it looks to me like he's turning the program back on the right track.
The other thing Schloss mentioned is how UND needs to get some garbage goals. I'm a big fan of garbage goals; in my opinion, you need to score goals however you can. Teams like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Boston College do not rely on the garbage goals. BU, North Dakota, Miami of Ohio, and Sparty are teams that are willing to bang in the garbage on the doorstep. It's time to get the puck to the point, grab the rebounds, and bang it home. I've been saying all year that someone needs to step up and do this. Gregoire, Hextall, and Trupp seem like perfect players to get this trend going this year.
That's all for now, see you tomorrow.