North Dakota Final Five Preview

UND has won three straight Broadmoor trophies - Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn (USA Today Sports)

UND is back at the Final Five for the 11th consecutive season, and is in search of its fourth consecutive Broadmoor trophy.

Three-time defending Broadmoor Trophy champion North Dakota is back in St. Paul Paul for the WCHA Final Five. That should come as no surprise to regular attendees of the annual tournament, as this appearance marks UND's 11th consecutive trip to the post-season event.

This time around North Dakota makes the trip as the WCHA's third seed, finishing 14-7-7 in league play, and 21-11-7 overall. UND will play Friday night against Colorado College (16-18-4, 11-13-4 WCHA) who finished eighth in the 12-team WCHA.

CC advanced to St. Paul after knocking off local rival, and fifth seeded Denver in three games last weekend. UND makes their way to the tournament after taking a best-of-three series from 10th seeded Michigan Tech.

North Dakota holds the all-time series lead 139-78-10, but the two teams split their four games against each other this season. UND is 7-2 all-time against the Tigers in the WCHA playoffs, including a perfect 4-0 record at the Final Five.

Senior winger Danny Kristo is UND's most productive player against CC, registering nine goals and 16 points in 11 career games against the Tigers.

North Dakota Projected Lineup:

Brendan O'Donnell-Corban Knight-Danny Kristo
Rocco Grimaldi-Carter Rowney-Michael Parks
Mitch MacMillan-Mark MacMillan-Connor Gaarder
Drake Caggiula-Stephane Pattyn-Colton St. Clair

Derek Forbort-Jordan Schmaltz
Andrew MacWilliam-Dillon Simpson
Nick Mattson-Joe Gleason

Clarke Saunders
Zane Gothberg

North Dakota's production starts up front with their top two players in Kristo and Corban Knight. Kristo was named to the All-WCHA first team, while Knight earned second team honors. Both players received consideration for the player of the year award as well.

One player up front to keep an eye on this weekend is red-shirt freshman Rocco Grimaldi. The shifty winger has nine points in his past eight games, and has been one of North Dakota's best players down the stretch.

Once again UND brings one of the better defensive core's in the country to St. Paul. Captain Andrew MacWilliam is a team leading +6 over the past month, and finished third in the WCHA in blocked shots this season.

In goal you should expect to see Clarke Saunders on Thursday. The transfer from Alabama-Huntsville stopped all 27 shots he faced on Sunday against Michigan Tech in a 6-0 shutout victory.

Winning its fourth straight Broadmoor will not be an easy task this year for North Dakota. If they advance past Colorado College on Thursday it will set up a showdown with rival Minnesota on Friday night.

Regardless of who they play, UND has to be confident this weekend. North Dakota is 32-9 all-time in WCHA playoff games under ninth-year head coach Dave Hakstol, including a 15-5 record at the Final Five.

All games this weekend will be featured on Fox Sports North.

WCHA FINAL FIVE SCHEDULE

Thursday (Quarter-Finals):

2:00 PM -- Wisconsin vs Minnesota State

7:00 PM -- Colorado College vs North Dakota

Friday (Semi-Finals):

2:00 PM -- Wisconsin/Minnesota State winner vs St. Cloud State

7:00 PM -- Colorado College/North Dakota winner vs Minnesota

Saturday (Championship):

7:00 PM -- Semi-final winners

For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Andy on Twitter (@AndyJohnsonB5Q)

You can also reach Andy via e-mail (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)

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