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NCHC Frozen Faceoff Championship Preview: Minnesota Duluth vs. North Dakota

2017 NCHC Frozen Faceoff Championship

No. 2 Minnesota Duluth vs. No. 4 North Dakota

When: 7:38 p.m. Saturday

Where: Target Center, Minneapolis

Records: Minnesota Duluth is 24-6-7 overall; North Dakota is 21-14-3.

Rankings: The Bulldogs are No. 3 in the and USA Today/USA Magazine polls; the Fighting Hawks are No. 11 in both polls.

Series: The Fighting Hawks lead the all-time series 144-82-9, though the Bulldogs swept the Hawks during the regular season, winning two games in Duluth in October and two games in Grand Forks in January. UMD has a five-game winning streak against North Dakota dating back to their win over the Hawks last year in the Frozen Faceoff semifinals.

Coaches: Scott Sandelin, in his 17th season at UMD, is 311-283-82; Brad Berry, in his second season at North Dakota, is 55-20-7.

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: WWAX-FM 92.1

Internet: (audio)

Twitter: @mattwellens

UMD update: The Bulldogs are back in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff Championship for the second consecutive season after losing 3-1 in the final to St. Cloud State a year ago. The Bulldogs beat third-seeded Western Michigan in the first semifinal Friday, 5-2, getting three assists from sophomore center Adam Johnson, plus a goal and an assist from senior wing Alex Iafallo, senior wing Kyle Osterberg and sophomore wing Parker Mackay. A win Saturday would give UMD its first conference postseason title since winning the WCHA Final Five in 2009. Iafallo, the league’s regular season scoring champion, enters Saturday’s game riding a 10-game point streak (6-10—15).

North Dakota update: The Fighting Hawks are in their fourth-straight Frozen Four appearance. This is North Dakota’s 15th straight trip to a conference championship weekend dating back to the WCHA Final Five. This is the first time the Hawks have made it out of the semifinals, with their only win at Target Center coming in 2014 in the third place game. The Hawks needed that win in 2014 to reach the NCAA tournament. Of the four NCHC teams participating this weekend in the Frozen Faceoff, the defending national champion Hawks were the only team that was not considered a lock for the NCAA tournament to start. North Dakota got the one win it needed by beating NCHC regular season champion Denver on Friday 1-0 and will host the West Regional in Fargo, N.D. next weekend.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

(218) 723-5317