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NCHC Week 9 Round-Up: Stars, Highlights, and Thoughts

Three stars of the week, highlights you should probably know about, and my thoughts before next weekend's action.

St. Cloud State Sits Atop the NCHC Standings | Photo Credit
St. Cloud State Sits Atop the NCHC Standings | Photo Credit
Matt Christians

For the first time since the league's formation, all eight National Collegiate Hockey Conference teams will play conference games on the same weekend with four NCHC match-ups on deck.  After three road teams found victories on Friday, only two of the three completed a road sweep Saturday.

St. Cloud State sprung into first place in the standings by leaping over Nebraska Omaha after a 4-2 conquest at Minnesota Duluth in the Bulldog’s first-ever home NCHC contest.

Weekend Scoreboard

Away Home Friday Saturday Notes
St. Cloud State Minnesota Duluth 4-2 SCSU 5-1 SCSU SCSU Sweeps
Denver Miami 3-1 DU 4-2 Miami Split
North Dakota Western Michigan 3-2 UND 3-2 UND UND Sweeps
Nebraska Omaha Colorado College 4-2 CC 3-3 TIE UNO Wins Shootout 2-1

Three Stars

Luke Johnson - F - North Dakota

The Chicago Blackhawks prospect was one of three NCHC players to score 4 points over the weekend, including 2 power play goals.  The 6-foot freshman ended a 5-game dry streak where he didn't tally a point, breaking it with two goals on Friday and two assists on Saturday.  North Dakota swept Western Michigan this past weekend in two 3-2 games.

Kevin Gravel - D - St. Cloud State

The Los Angeles Kings prospect helped the Huskies sweep Minnesota Duluth this past weekend with three assists while skating at a weekend high of +5, pushing his season +/- rating to +11.  The 6-foot-4, 200 pound blue-liner was a constant disturbance to Minnesota Duluth's offensive plans and played a large role in turning Bulldog shots away from the net.

Zane Gothberg - G - North Dakota

Gothberg, a Thief River Falls, Minnesota native and Boston Bruins prospect was North Dakota's wall between the pipes this past weekend in their sweep of Western Michigan.  Turning away 36 shots on the first night and 23 on the second, Gothberg managed to post a .937 save percentage while allowing two goals in each night's action.

Highlights & Thoughts

The biggest news surround the NCHC is the naming of the Championship weekend, which was announced during the CBS Sports Network broadcast of North Dakota and Western Michigan on Friday night.  After two rounds of voting and receiving over 800 ballots, NCHC fans have selected the "NCHC Frozen Faceoff" for championship weekend title.  The inaugural NCHC Frozen Faceoff will take place March 21-22, 2014 at theTarget Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This wouldn't have been the weekend I would have predicted Colorado College to turn their losing ways around, but they gave a hot Nebraska Omaha team a run for their money.  After defeating the Mavericks on Friday in a 4-2 triumph, the Tigers went on to tie UNO on Saturday night, falling in the shootout by a 2-1 deficit in four rounds.

Extending their unbeaten streak to seven games and keeping a perfect record on the road, the St. Cloud State Huskies swept Minnesota Duluth at Amsoil Arena for the first time in the new arena, and first time in Duluth since the 2006-07 season when the Huskies triumphed over the Bulldogs in a 4-0 Friday night, and 4-2 Saturday night trounce.  St. Cloud State continues to sit at the top of the winning percentage chart with a .857 stat, highest among any other college hockey team.

As we're getting closer to that mid-season point, we're starting to watch North Dakota figure out what they need to do to find wins on a night-to-night basis.  Falling behind on both nights, UND battled back to defeat Western Michigan on Friday and Saturday in two 3-2 games.  Freshman Luke Johnson tallied two points in each game while netminder Zane Gothberg picked up both wins.

NCHC Standings

Team GP Wins Losses Ties Points
St. Cloud State 8 6 1 1 19
Nebraska Omaha 8 5 2 1 17
North Dakota 10 5 5 0 15
Denver 8 4 3 1 14
Colorado College 10 2 5 3 10
Miami 8 3 5 0 9
Minnesota Duluth 6 2 4 0 6
Western Michigan 6 2 4 0 6

Before you go...

After the very first weekend of complete NCHC action, next weekend will feature only one conference series between Western Michigan and Minnesota Duluth.  Saturday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota will air on national TV via CBS Sports Network.

As for non-conference play - Colorado College will venture to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers, North Dakota will host a series with Northern Michigan, St. Cloud State will welcome Union College, and Denver will travel east to take on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers in Troy, New York.



Matt Christians covers Minnesota Duluth and the NCHC for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also give him a follow here ->