View From North Dakota

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The Gophers host rival North Dakota this weekend at Mariucci Arena. Minnesota leads the all-time series 140-128-14 and split with North Dakota last season. To find out a little bit more about one of Minnesota's biggest rivals we talked with Grand Forks Herald reporter Brad Elliott Schlossman. You can follow Brad on Twitter here.
GS: Brad, you know North Dakota hockey almost as well as anyone. Can you give us a scouting report on this year's team?

BES: The Sioux lost 294 points off of last year's team and many players are trying to adjust to new roles. It was expected that UND's big, physical defensive corps and the goaltending of Aaron Dell would lead the team early in the season, but it hasn't played out that way. The Sioux rank 10th among WCHA teams in scoring defense. Expect that part to improve as the season goes along. They have some dynamic, speedy players up front that can score at any time in Danny Kristo and Rocco Grimaldi. Corban Knight is a solid all-around centerman who usually wins a large percentage of faceoffs. And guys like Carter Rowney, Derek Rodwell and Mario Lamoureux may not pack much of a scoring punch, but they typically find themselves on physical, grinding lines that try to wear out opponents.

GS: Who is one player that Gophers fans should pay attention to?

BES: Freshman defenseman Nick Mattson. It has been five years since Mattson has played a game in the Twin Cities. At that time, he was a blue liner for Chaska High School. He went on to play two years in Ann Arbor, Mich., with the U.S. Under-18 team and two years with Indiana in the USHL. Mattson graduated from high school in 2010 and played one extra year in the USHL and that year had made him ready to be an impact player right away. Behind Ben Blood, Mattson is UND's best offensive weapon from the blue line. He keeps it simple in his own zone and has potential to create highlight reel plays in the offensive zone. Watch for the spin move he sometimes uses to leave forecheckers behind.

GS: Finish this sentence for us, North Dakota will win if...

BES: can shut out Minnesota's power play. The Gophers are scoring a ton of goals and the power play, converting at 35.9 percent, is a huge reason for it. Minnesota will surely score its share of goals this weekend, but if UND can force the Gophers to do it at five-on-five -- and make the Gophers execute perfectly to score -- it will go a long way in helping the Sioux come away with points.

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