Well, Sioux-Week round two is officially here! I'd like to post some of my impressions of the series below:
1) This is a pretty important series for both teams
North Dakota comes into this series the second-hottest team in the league behind UMD. The Sioux are 8-2-1 since being swept by Minnesota at Mariucci.
The Gophers are seemingly headed the opposite direction, having gone 6-6-1 since the UND sweep.
North Dakota can continue their rise through the WCHA ranks with good results this weekend, while Minnesota can re-boot their storybook season with anything better than a road split.
2) North Dakota is good at home
The Sioux are 8-3-2 at home on the year, and they'll have a big and raucous home crowd this weekend coming out to see the best rivalry in college hockey.
3) It will be interesting to see how UND handles the Sioux name now that they're not supposed to use it officially
These will be the first games for the University of North Dakota in the "no Sioux name" era. What will the fans cheer? (most likely the same things they did before). What will the PA announcer announce after goals are scored? (his trademark call - "Here's your University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux SCOOOOOOORINNNNNNGGGGGG!!!" - will have to change). I'm interested to see how both the school and the fans handle it.
4) I expect a split
Although these teams are heading in different directions right now, I don't think North Dakota has the firepower to sweep a good Gopher team, especially with the rash of injuries that the Sioux purportedly have. On the other side of the coin, this Minnesota team has not played a weekend of full 60 minute efforts since the previous North Dakota weekend, and I doubt that they'll play 120 minutes of solid hockey this weekend, either. All in all, I think the Gophers are the better team at the end of the day, but North Dakota is hot, angry and playing at home, so a split is what my head tells me. My heart, of course, says Gopher Sweep.
Let's hope my heart is right. Go Gophers!