UMD-Minnesota State Preview

With the sweep of Alaska-Anchorage last weekend, UMD now finds itself on an eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2), helping them climb into a second-place tie in the WCHA standings. The Bulldogs have only given up four goals in their last five games, outscoring opponents 16-4 during that run. After this weekend, UMD won’t play in Duluth again until Alabama-Huntsville comes to town in late-January. Minnesota State comes to Duluth for their first visit to Amsoil Arena with a roster full of injuries – four players are on the shelf. Despite the bad luck, the Mavericks have been able to play better hockey lately, getting their first and second WCHA wins in the last two weekends. However, MSU has one of the toughest conference schedules before the New Year, with games in Duluth and Minneapolis leading up to a series in Mankato against Colorado College just before Christmas.

Records and Rankings:

UMD – 7-3-2 overall, 5-2-1 WCHA; ranked eight in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.

Minnesota State – 2-7-0 overall, 2-4-0 WCHA; unranked in both polls.

Players to Watch: During UMD’s current eight-game unbeaten streak, Jack Connolly and Travis Oleksuk have combined for 22 points to lead the Bulldog offense. Connolly is tied for third in the country with 17 points, while Oleksuk’s 11 goals put him in a tie for second-most in the NCAA. MSU will have to counter the Bulldog attack with great play from goalie Austin Lee and rookie defenseman Zach Palmquist. Lee has all of the Mavericks wins to his credit, and holds a .926 saves percentage in eight games. In addition to his steadiness in his own end, Palmquist adds an offensive spark for the Mavericks, too – he ranks second on the team with six points.

Key Numbers:

5 – The number of years it’s been since Minnesota State last won in Duluth. The Mavericks 7-1 triumph on January 28, 2006 was their last win at the DECC.

10 – Games in a row in which Connolly has at least one point. His career-long streak of 11 games came last season.

146 – Shots UMD goalie Kenny Reiter has faced in the last five games, 142 of which he’s stopped. He has three shutouts during those games, too.

Elsewhere in the WCHA: Wisconsin at Colorado College; Nebraska-Omaha at Denver; Michigan Tech at Alaska-Anchorage; North Dakota at Bemidji State (Saturday/Sunday); Minnesota at St. Cloud State (Friday); St. Cloud State at Minnesota (Saturday).

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