Raise your hand if you thought the University of North Dakota hockey team would finish the first half of the 2019-20 season 14-1-2 (.882). Keep your hands up if you thought the UND hockey team would be leading the NCHC after eight games. What’s more impressive, UND has taken 23-of-24 points.
After sweeping WMU (1-0, 8-2), UND now has six series sweeps during the 2019-20 season. UND had four all of last season. Last season, UND didn’t win its 14th game of the season until February 22, 2019.
So, if you just woke up from a 10-month nap. You might be in for a bit of a shock. Seriously. You can take a look for yourself. Below are the standings going into the Christmas break. It’s impressive.
I Don’t Think We Left
Back in November after sweeping St Cloud State, UND head coach Brad Berry turned some heads when he was asked if his team was back. His reply.
“You know what, here’s the deal, everybody asks that,” Berry said. “I don’t think we left. Last year, we had trouble scoring goals. We haven’t changed the way we played in five years here. Now, we’re starting to get some goal production from guys and that’s a big deal. So, I don’t think it’s a surprise, and I don’t think we were ever gone, and I don’t think we’re back. I think we’re a good team that’s going to keep building.”
After watching the Hawks struggle for two seasons, this year has been a breath of fresh air. Once again, UND hockey fans are enjoying watching hockey. Moreover, interest in the program grows with each win. The Fighting Hawks aren’t just gutting out one-goal wins. They’re beating the opposition into submission. The first 17 games of the 2019-20 season have been impressive.
How are they Doing? We now have a body of work to look at. Halfway through the seasons: UND is second nationally in scoring offense 4.18 goals per game. Third in the nation in defense giving up 1.59 goals against per game. UND is second in the nation in scoring margin with +2.59. UND has held the opposition to two or fewer goals in 14-of-17 games.
Comparing UND to other NCHC teams, UND has scored 71 goals, that’s tops in the NCHC. The Hawks next closest competitor is DU with 50 goals. UND also leads the NCHC in goals against with 27. The next closest team is DU with 38. Do you see where this is going? UND leads the league in goal margin with +44. Again, DU is second with 15. No. That’s not a typo. (Link to Stats)
Currently, UND is unbeaten in 13 games, 12-0-1. That’s the nation’s longest current unbeaten streak. Through 17 games, UND has scored eight or more goals three times. Last season, this team couldn’t hit water if they were standing in a boat. Their resurgence is really remarkable.
Historically, UND has been a team that has taken a lot of penalties. This season, UND is ranked 46th nationally in penalty minutes per game with 9.5. That leads the NCHC.
UND’s Special Teams Have Improved
On special teams, UND has improved. North Dakota is ranked 26th nationally on the power play, 13/67 (19.4%). They ranked seventh on the penalty kill, 56/60 (90.0%). UND’s combined special team’s ranking is 17th in the nation. (Link to 2019-20 Stats)
For comparison sake, last season, UND was ranked 52nd on the power play, 21/148 (14.2%). They were ranked eighth on the PK, 115/144 (78.9%). Their combined special team’s ranking was 51st in the nation. (Link to 2018-19 Stats)
Here are the highlights from Saturday’s 8-2 win against WMU.