Preview: UND opens the NCAA regional against Michigan

Mar. 29—MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — To get through the NCAA tournament and make it to the end, you're almost certainly going to have to win some down-to-the-wire contests.

In 2016, UND did that.

It was tied 2-2 in the third period of a game with Michigan in the NCAA regional final in Cincinnati when Rhett Gardner broke through with a deflection goal. Coltyn Sanderson added another one and Paul LaDue finished it with an empty-netter.

The next game, it took a Nick Schmaltz goal in the final minute of regulation to get past Denver.

Winning close games in the NCAA tournament is a theme for national championship-winning teams.

A lot of these games are coin flips, and UND is overdue to win a coin-flip game in the NCAA tournament.

Its last three losses in the NCAA tournament: overtime, double overtime, five overtimes. It last won an overtime game in the NCAA tournament in 2014, when Connor Gaarder slipped a goal five-hole on Ferris State in double overtime of the Cincinnati Regional final.

There's not a lot of separation between NCAA tournament teams and it often comes down to a good break at the right time.

A big key for UND will be staying out of the penalty box.

Michigan has the NCAA's best power play on record (since 2000), converting at 35.3 percent.

The other key will be winning the special teams battle.

In the last regional game in 2022, UND had a power-play chance at the end of the third period and start of overtime with an opportunity to win the game. The Fighting Hawks did not convert. Notre Dame did bury its power-play chance in overtime.

The game is set for 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

UND Mich

3.79 (8th) Off 4.21 (3rd)

2.59 (18th) Def 3.05 (38th)

25.7 (9th) PP 35.3 (1st)

81.6 (22nd) PK 78.5 (41st)

51.1 (29th) FO 52.6 (13th)

.902 (27th) SP .899 (32nd)

National rank in parenthesis. Categories are offense (goals per game), defense (goals against per game), power play percentage, penalty kill percentage, faceoff percentage and team save percentage.

UND — None known

Michigan — F Jackson Hallum out (knee)

While Big Ten Player of the Year Gavin Brindley and Winnipeg Jets first-round pick Rutger McGroarty get the headlines, Seamus Casey has been a game-changing presence on the back end. He's smaller at 5-foot-10, but has high-end skating and generates a ton of offense. Casey is just three points back of Denver's Zeev Buium and Boston University's Lane Hutson as the leading defenseman scorer in the nation. UND will need to try to make Casey play more in the defensive zone than the offensive zone.

As the better seed, UND will have last line change. That means Dylan James and his linemates will likely have one of the most important assignments of the night — containing Rutger McGroarty and Gavin Brindley. James, with his electric speed, can be disruptive, and if he has a big game, it would significantly increase UND's odds of winning.

Michigan is one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the country, ranking third nationally in goals per game and first in power play percentage. The most comparable team UND has played this season is Denver. The Fighting Hawks fared well against the Pioneers during the regular season. Expect this game to be up-and-down with momentum swings and a lot of goals.

UND 5, Michigan 4


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A breakdown of the UND-Michigan matchup


9 Jackson Blake (CAR), so, f, 21-38—59

22 Owen McLaughlin (PHI), so, f, 13-25—38

14 Cameron Berg (NYI), jr, f, 20-17—37

17 Riese Gaber, sr, f, 18-16—34

4 Jake Livanavage, fr, d, 5-24—29

7 Garrett Pyke, 5th, d, 3-22—25

26 Dylan James (DET), so, f, 9-10—19

18 Jayden Perron (CAR), fr, f, 11-7—18

28 Hunter Johannes, 5th, f, 11-7—18

29 Jackson Kunz (VAN), jr, f, 8-10—18

27 Louis Jamernik V, sr, f, 8-9—17

6 Logan Britt, 5th, d, 7-7—14

21 Ben Strinden (NSH), so, f, 6-6—12

8 Jake Schmaltz (BOS), jr, f, 1-10—11

25 Abram Wiebe (VGK), fr, d, 1-8—9

2 Bennett Zmolek, so, d, 0-8—8

11 Griffin Ness, sr, f, 3-3—6

20 Keaton Pehrson, 5th, d, 0-6—6

13 Carson Albrecht, sr, f, 2-1—3

32 Ludvig Persson, sr, g, 0-3—3

5 Dane Montgomery, so, f, 1-1—2

15 Nate Benoit (MIN), fr, d, 0-1—1

10 Tanner Komzak, fr, d, 0-0—0

30 Hobie Hedquist, fr, g, 0-0—0

1 Kaleb Johnson, so, g, dnp


32 Ludvig Persson, sr, 21-10-2, 2.47, .906

30 Hobie Hedquist, fr, 5-1, 2.51, .905

1 Kaleb Johnson, so, dnp


2 Rutger McGroarty (WPG), so, f, 16-36—52

4 Gavin Brindley (CBJ), so, f, 24-27—51

26 Seamus Casey (NJD), so, d, 7-38—45

25 Dylan Duke (TBL), jr, f, 22-22—44

13 T.J. Hughes, so, f, 18-26—44

91 Frank Nazar III (CHI), so, f, 16-23—39

17 Garrett Schifsky, fr, f, 16-14—30

9 Nick Moldenhauer (TOR), fr, f, 8-13—21

77 Marshall Warren (MIN), 5th, d, 3-14—17

15 Jacob Truscott (VAN), sr, d, 2-13—15

5 Tyler Duke, so, d, 2-13—15

6 Josh Eernisse, so, f, 8-6—14

33 Kienan Draper, so, f, 4-8—12

93 Mark Estapa, jr, f, 5-3—8

21 Jackson Hallum (VGK), so, f, 3-5—8

73 Ethan Edwards (NJD), jr, d, 2-5—7

22 Philippe Lapointe, sr, f, 1-6—7

63 Luca Fantilli, so, d, 1-6—7

24 Steven Holtz, sr, d, 0-4—4

23 Chase Pletzke, 5th, f, 1-1—2

20 Tanner Rowe, fr, f, 1-0—1

30 Jake Barczewski, 5th, g, 0-1—1

68 Josh Orrico, fr, d, 0-0—0

12 Brendan Miles, so, d, 0-0—0

31 Noah West, sr, g, 0-0—0

29 Andrew Albano, 5th, g, dnp


30 Jake Barczewski, 5th, 18-13-3, 2.83, .907

31 Noah West, sr, 3-1, 3.00, .880

29 Andrew Albano, 5th, dnp