GRAND FORKS - The University of North Dakota outshot Alaska Anchorage 78-32 in a two-game series last season.
You would think those numbers would have led to a pair of easy wins, but it turn out exactly like that.
Both games went to overtime; one ended in a tie, the other in a UND overtime win.
As the Fighting Hawks (5-5-1) prepared to take on Alaska Anchorage (1-8-1) at 7:37 Friday, Nov. 23, and 7:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad Arena, they did so expecting some similarities to last season's series.
It could be a low-scoring series with goals at a premium.
UND ranks eighth in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and 38th nationally, averaging 2.55 goals per game.
Anchorage, meanwhile, ranks dead last in college hockey, averaging just one goal per game. Only one player on the Seawolves team -- senior Jeremiah Luedtke -- has scored more than one goal this season.
On the flip side, both teams have been strong defensively.
UND is allowing opponents just 21 shots on goal per game, second fewest in the nation, only behind Providence.
Anchorage hasn't allowed more than three goals in a game in almost a month. Although the Seawolves are on an eight-game winless streak, they've been able to keep games close and have even grabbed a 0-0 tie.
“They don’t give up much,” UND senior defenseman Hayden Shaw said. “They have really good goaltending. We’ve had a really, really strong week of practice and we’re ready to get going again.”
UND captain Colton Poolman said: “It’s probably going to be a 1-0, 2-1 sort of night, sort of series. It has that feeling. It’s going to be paramount to get that first goal and get that hot start. Maybe, if we don’t have it, they’ll get an early jump and it’s going to be a defensive battle. It’s going to be huge to be ready to go in the first period both nights and carry it through.”
It's highly likely that UND will outshoot the Seawolves both nights, but the challenge will be finishing off plays.
The Fighting Hawks have lost four games this season in which they've outshot their opponent by 10 or more.
“Play inside the dots is going to be crucial this weekend in all three zones,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “We have to try to own that territory in all three zones.
“They’re a good, structured team away from the puck. They don’t give you a whole lot. Their goaltending is very good. It seems like their five-man units out there are tight as a group up and down the ice. We’re going to have to earn everything we get.”
UND has had trouble without its top centermen in the last two years.
Last season, Rhett Gardner missed seven games and UND didn’t win any of them.
This season, Nick Jones has missed three games and UND is 0-3 without him.
The Fighting Hawks will have to try to end that trend this weekend as Jones has been ruled out with a lower-body injury he suffered two weeks ago at Miami University.
UND won its fifth-straight game in the contest where Jones sustained its injury. It hasn’t won since then.
“He’s improving right now,” Berry said. “We have two NCHC weekends after this weekend -- highly impactful weekends -- and believe me, if there’s a chance for him to come in, we’ll do it. I don’t want to say anything before we get to next Monday or Tuesday. Then, I think we’ll have a better outlook on that.”
UND forward Ludvig Hoff, who has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury, is questionable for the weekend.
As UND has done in the past, it will hold a Black Friday ticket sale discount between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. today for the Subway Holiday Classic series against Alaska Anchorage.
Upper bowl tickets will cost $15 for adults and $10 for children.
The offer is available both at the Ralph Engelstad Arena box office and online at ticketmaster.com.
Lower bowl seats will remain at $25 for adults.
There are significantly more seats available for this series than others because the students are out of town for Thanksgiving break.
NCHC officials will hold an auction Saturday night to benefit their Movember campaign, which uses donations to fight men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health.
Among the items being auctioned off are a signed Zach Parise Minnesota Wild jersey, a signed Dustin Byfuglien Winnipeg Jets jersey and a signed Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks jersey.
Parise and Boeser played at UND, while Byfuglien is from Roseau.
Most of the NCHC officials -- and even some supervisors -- have grown mustaches for the month of November, which is part of the campaign.
This is the fourth season the officials have raised money for Movember. They raised $15,000 last season and are hoping to hit $20,000 this season.
When: 7:37 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.
TV/radio: Midco Sports Network (GF Ch. 27/622); The Fox (96.1 FM).
Records: UND 5-5-1, Alaska Anchorage 1-8-1.
Of note: This series is the Subway Holiday Classic. UND is offering tickets at a discounted price, $15, for today’s Black Friday sale.