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College men's hockey preview: Northern Michigan at Minnesota Duluth

Northern Michigan at Minnesota Duluth What: Nonconference seriesWhen: 7:07 p.m. Friday and SaturdayWhere: Amsoil ArenaRecords: Northern Michigan is 11-9-6; UMD is 15-10-1Rankings: Northern Michigan is unranked; the Bulldogs are ranked No. 7 in bo...

Northern Michigan at Minnesota Duluth

What: Nonconference series
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Amsoil Arena
Records: Northern Michigan is 11-9-6; UMD is 15-10-1
Rankings: Northern Michigan is unranked; the Bulldogs are ranked No. 7 in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls
Series: The all-time series is tied 33-33-4, with UMD winning the last meeting, 3-2, on Oct. 9, 2010 in Marquette, Mich.
Coaches: Walt Kyle, in his 13th season at NMU, is 234-215-56; Scott Sandelin, in his 15th season at Minnesota Duluth, is 262-255-68.
TV: My9
Radio: KZIO-FM 94.1/104.3
Internet: www.94xrocks.com (audio); www.nchc.tv (video)
Twitter: @mattwellens

Northern Michigan update: The Wildcats have gone through a roller coaster of a season and that ride continues this weekend in Duluth. They started the year 6-1-1 thanks to a hot start by sophomore goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom, who had a 0.74 goals-against average and .970 save percentage. Dahlstrom, who currently has a 2.18 GAA and .924 save percentage in 21 games, was banged up during back-to-back series in Alaska, though, and ended up missing two games before the holiday break and two after. He returned for six games in January before leaving last Friday’s home win over Alaska-Anchorage and is out this weekend. The Wildcats will turn to either junior Michael Doan (career 3.12 GAA, .901 save percentage in 16 appearances) or sophomore Derek Dun (3.25 GAA, .872 save percentage in no career starts). Meanwhile, Kyle was placed on administrative leave for one week while the university investigated what Kyle called personal issues in his life. He missed the team’s loss and tie at Penn State.
Minnesota Duluth update: This is the Bulldogs’ final nonconference series before closing the regular season with four NCHC series. UMD is 6-4-0 outside of the NCHC, with only two of those games being at Amsoil - a 5-4 OT loss to Minnesota State-Mankato on Oct. 17 and a 2-1 win over Minnesota on Nov. 15. The NCHC, at 51-25-4, has the best nonconference winning percentage (.662) in college hockey going into the weekend with Hockey East (.580) in second and the WCHA (.523) third. The NCHC has a 12-8-1 record against the WCHA, though the Bulldogs are just 2-3 against their former league. Because of the WCHA’s strength this year - it only has a losing record against the NCHC - the Bulldogs haven’t been hindered by those losses and are fifth in the PairWise rankings with six weeks to go before selection Sunday. If the season ended today, they would be a No. 2 seed. The Bulldogs’ winning percentage is tied for 19th in the country, but its strength of schedule is rated No. 1, hence the high ranking. The Bulldogs have beaten six of the top 10 teams in the PairWise rankings.
Quote: “We need to keep winning games. As well as the NCHC is doing, they go hand-in-hand. You win games in the NCHC, you move up in the standings and in the PairWise. Vice-versa, if you lose those games, it hurts you.” - UMD junior defenseman Andy Welinski

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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