THE GAMES: With a home playoff berth in the upcoming Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs already secured, the University of Minnesota Duluth still has its sights set on a much-grander prize -- the MacNaughton Cup. That quest for the 2011-12 WCHA title trophy continues this Friday and Saturday (Feb. 24-25) when the defending NCAA champion Bulldogs host Colorado College in the only two regular season meetings between the two clubs. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. Friday and 7:37 p.m. the following night at AMSOIL Arena (6,726) in downtown Duluth. THE RECORDS: UMD, which is unbeaten in 24 of its last 28 outings (19-4-5), owns a 20-7-5 overall record and a 14-6-4 WCHA mark (good for second place and just two points behind league-leading University of Minnesota) while the Tigers are 16-12-2 in all games and 13-10-1 in league play (tied for fourth place with the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the University of North Dakota). HOW THEY RANK: Here is how UMD and Colorado College stacked up in the latest USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls as well as the PairWise rankings: USCHO.com USA Today PairWise UMD 4th 4th 5th CC 16th RV 19th ON THE AIR: The two Bulldog-Tiger clashes will be carried locally on 94X (94.1/104.3 FM) with Bruce Ciskie handling the play-by-play. The broadcast can also be heard on KQ 105.5 in Grand Rapids/Hibbing and KQ 106.7 in Ely/Virginia as part of the Bulldog Radio Network and is available on the internet at: www.fan1490.com. In addition, My9 (KBJR DT 6.2/KRII DT 11.9) will televise both ends of this weekend’s series. Veteran sports anchor Tom Hansen and former Bulldog puck standout Judd Medak will serve as the on-air talent. My9, which is scheduled to carry 20 games during the 2011-12 regular season, is also available locally on Charter and Mediacom cable. The telecast will be videostreammed as well and can be viewed for a fee through America ONE at www.b2tv.com. THE COACHES: The runnerup for the 2010-11 Spencer Penrose Award (American Hockey Coaches Association NCAA Division I Coach of the Year) and recipient of that honor in 2003-04, Scott Sandelin is in his 12th season behind the UMD bench where he has compiled a 212-207-57 overall record -- including an 90-47-20 mark (a .637 winning percentage) since the 2008-09 opener. Besides capturing the school’s first NCAA championship one year ago and rolling up the team’s best overall record in 19 years (26-10-6), his Bulldogs have posted three consecutive 22-plus win seasons, and advanced to three NCAA tournaments (2004, 2009 and 2011), two Frozen Fours (2004 and 2011) and six of the past nine WCHA Final Five events. In March 2009, UMD became the first play-in game participant to ever claim the Final Five title and, later that spring, strung together a school-record six-game postseason winning streak before it fell to Miami University 2-1 in the NCAA West Regional final. Eight years ago, Sandelin, 47, turned UMD into a NCAA Frozen Four participant for the first time in nearly a generation, marshaling his troops to their most victories (they were 28-13-4 overall) and highest WCHA finish (second place on a 19-7-2 mark) since 1992-93. For his efforts, the Hibbing, Minn., native was chosen the WCHA Coach of the Year as well as the national coach of the year by both insidecollegehockey.com and uscho.com. In 2002-03, Sandelin’s Bulldogs went 22-15-5 overall and captured fifth place in the WCHA with a 14-10-4 mark while experiencing the greatest one-season turnaround of any league club that winter. One year earlier, he guided UMD to a 13-24-1 record in all games -- nearly doubling the number of victories from the previous season (7-28-4). Sandelin officially signed on as a member of the Bulldog staff on March 31, 2000 following six years of assistant coaching deployment at North Dakota. Prior to joining the Fighting Sioux (who won two NCAA titles during his tenure), Sandelin spent the 1993-94 season as the head coach of the Fargo-Moorhead Junior Kings of the Junior Elite Hockey League after working in that same capacity (and doubling as general manager) the previous winter with the American Hockey Association’s Fargo-Moorhead Express. He capped off his four-year playing career at North Dakota in 1985-86 by being named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. An All-WCHA first team pick and an All-American second team selection as a senior, Sandelin went on to play seven years of professional hockey, which included National Hockey League stints with the Montreal Canadiens (1986-88), Philadelphia Flyers (1990-91) and Minnesota North Stars (1991-92). Sandelin, one of just two current WCHA coaches to do time in the NHL, was the Montreal Canadiens’ second-round pick in the 1982 NHL draft (40th choice overall). He served as Team USA’s head coach at the 2005 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships, directing that club to a fourth-place finish, and was an assistant coach for the U.S. at that same event this winter. The all-time winningest coach in Colorado College hockey history, Scott Owens (Colorado College, 1979) is in his 13th year with the Tigers and has a 297-181-43 record -- 20-18-4 versus UMD -- to show for it. He’s also directed the Tigers to a three WCHA regular season championships (2007-08, 2004-05 and 2002-03) and seven NCAA post-season appearances (2010-11, 2007-08, 2005-06, 2004-05, 2002-03, 2001-02 and 2000-01). A four-time letterwinner as a Tiger goaltender, Owens was a member of the Colorado College coaching staff from 1991-95 and served as the Tigers’ associate head coach for the final two years of that stay. He left Colorado Springs in 1991 to take on the head coaching and general manager duties of the United States Hockey League’s Des Moines Buccaneers and in his four winters with that club, Owens posted an overall record of 179-76-9 for a .695 winning percentage. In 1998-99, his Buccaneers racked up a record-setting 62-12-1 mark and skated off with the USHL’s regular-season and playoff titles. They also took runnerup honors at the national Junior A championships after winning that crown the previous year. A native of Madison, Wis., Owens spent six years (1984-90) as the general manager of the USHL’s Madison Capitols, doubling as the team’s head coach his last four seasons. THE RIVALRY: UMD and Colorado College have collided on 170 previous occasions in a rivalry which began on Jan. 4, 1961 at the old Duluth Curling Club. The Tigers hold a somewhat slim 84-79-7 lead in the all-time series, and went 1-0-1 against the Bulldogs one year ago (a 5-4 win and 3-3 tie on Feb. 25-26 in Colorado Springs, Colo.). LAST WEEKEND: The Bulldogs skated away with three of a possible four points in a two-game WCHA set last weekend at Minnesota State University-Mankato as they upended the Mavericks 4-2 in the opener Friday before settling for a 4-4 overtime draw the following evening. A total of 13 Bulldogs collected at least one point in the two-game set, including senior center Travis Oleksuk, who scored twice in the 4-2 triumph and picked up UMD’s final goal on Saturday. Junior defenseman Drew Olson was credited with three assists over the weekend for the Bulldogs, who outshot MSU 70-49. Colorado College traded league wins with visiting Nebraska-Omaha, following up a 4-3 victory Friday by falling 5-3 to the Mavericks one night later. SWAN SONG FOR SEVEN: As part of UMD’s annual Senior Night festivities this Saturday, the seven Bulldog seniors -- centers Jack Connolly and Travis Oleksuk, wingers Cody Danberg and David Grun, defensemen Brady Lamb and Scott Kishel, and goaltender Kenny Reiter -- will be formally recognized during a special first-intermission ceremony. Since enlisting their services with the Bulldogs, that group has collectively enjoyed a sensation four-year run, capturing the school’s first-ever NCAA title last spring and a WCHA playoff crown (2009) in historic fashion, securing a pair of NCAA playoff berths, spending 11 weeks as the No. 1-ranked team in the country, and amassing a 90-47-20 overall record (for a .637 winning percentage). JACKED FOR A RUN AT THE HOBEY: Senior team captain Jack Connolly, who recorded one assist in both ends of the MSU series last weekend, remains second in the NCAA scoring race with 50 points -- two points behind front runner Spencer Abbott of the University of Maine. A finalist for both the 2010-11 Hobey Baker Memorial Award and this year’s Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Connolly now ranks second nationally in assists (33) and tops the WCHA in power play scoring (25 points). For his career, he has amassed 63 goals and 124 assists for 187 points, which puts him in sole possession of 12th place (three points behind the No. 11 occupant, Bill Oleksuk, the father of current Bulldog senior center Travis Oleksuk) on UMD’s all-time scoring charts. Those 187 lifetime points are a hefty 34 more than the next closest active NCAA skater (Yale University’s Brian O’Neill). And talk about consistency: Going back to the start of his sophomore season, Connolly has been held pointless for more than one game in a row only twice (three weeks ago when he was blanked in both ends of the Michigan Tech series, which terminated his school single-season record 22-game scoring streak, and on Jan. 23 and Jan. 29, 2010). Connolly, the nation’s top returning scorer from a year ago (he finished third in the NCAA with a career-high 59 points), was a member of both the All-WCHA first team and WCHA All-Academic Team the past two winters and is just the second two-time All-American the Bulldogs have ever had in their lineup (defenseman Norm Maciver, in 1985-86, was the other). In addition, he has skated in a UMD-record 157 consecutive games since joining the Bulldog program. Connolly is now the first UMD skater to post back-to-back 50 point seasons since Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Chris Marinucci turned the trick in 1993-94 (61) and 1992-93 (77). ACTIVE NCAA CAREER SCORING LEADERS Player (Yr, School) GP G A TP 1. Jack Connolly (Sr., UMD) 157 63 124 187 2. Brian O’Neill (Sr., Yale) 130 66 87 153 3. Austin Smith (Sr., Colgate) 146 76 75 151 Brian Flynn (Sr., Maine) 144 67 84 151 5. Spencer Abbott (Sr., Maine) 144 49 87 136 6. Cameron Burt (Sr., RIT) 140 42 89 131 7. Kelly Zajac (Sr., Union) 150 37 88 125 8. Chris Connolly (Sr., Boston U.)# 144 36 83 119 9. Justin Florek (Sr., No. Mich.) 152 51 60 111 10. David Vallorani (Sr., UML) 140 39 70 109 Justin Schultz (Jr., Wisconsin) 114 37 72 109 12. Brad Hunt (Sr., BSU) 144 24 84 108 13. Drew Shore (Jr., F, Denver) 112 46 61 107 14. Travis Oleksuk (Sr., UMD) 125 44 62 106 Reilly Smith (Jr., Miami) 114 59 47 106 Andrew Miller (Jr., Yale) 94 22 84 106 #Jack Connolly’s older brother THE OLD ONE-TWO PUNCH: The Bulldogs continue to pace the nation in goals with an average of 3.72 per night and are also the second best team in the WCHA at preventing them (2.56 gpg). T.O. IS STILL ON THE GO: Alternate team captain Travis Oleksuk owns a six-game scoring streak and during that stretch he has accumulated 12 points (four goals and eight assists). Oleksuk, who earlier this month became the 54th member of UMD’s century club (he now has 44 goals and 62 assists in 125 lifetime outings), ranks fourth in the NCAA in both goals (a career-high 20) and scoring (a career-high 44 points) and trails only teammate Jack Connolly in the WCHA points department. He also has six-game winning goals to his 2011-12 credit (to rank third nationally) and 15 for his career, which equals the UMD record set by current Bulldog assistant coach Derek Plante (1989-93). HOW SWEEP IT ISN’T: Since being upended twice at North Dakota on Feb. 19-20, 2010, the Bulldogs have been swept just once in 27 WCHA series (vs. the University of Minnesota on Oct. 14-15, 2011 in Duluth). THE “REIT” STUFF: Senior goaltender Kenny Reiter, a three-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honoree this winter, owns the fifth best winning percentage in the country to date (.707 off an 18-6-5 record), is fourth nationally in victories (a career-best 18) and has logged the 10th most minutes of any NCAA puckstopper (1720:19). The Pittsburgh, Pa., native, who had made 25 straight WCHA starts before sitting out last Friday’s clash at Minnesota State with an illness, also currently ranks fifth in the WCHA in goals against average (2.44) and is seventh in saves percentage (.910). Reiter, a four-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient who earlier this season set a team record for consecutive shutout minutes (166:45 from Nov. 4-12), is now 47-23-10 for his career with the with Bulldogs. That translates into a .650 winning percentage, the second best figure in club history behind All-American Rick Kosti’s .753 mark (60-18-2 between 1983-85). He also holds a share of the team record (with All-American Alex Stalock, 2006-09) for career shutouts with nine and is fifth all-time in victories. Going back to the start of the 2011 NCAA postseason, Reiter has suffered just six losses in 33 appearances (22-6-5). His current career 2.37 goals against average and .912 saves percentage are the best two marks ever compiled by a Bulldog. The 2011 NCAA East Regional Most Outstanding Player, he backstopped the Bulldogs to their first national title last April while turning in the third best single-season goals against average (2.30) and saves percentage (.914) in team history. REITER’S CAREER SHUTOUTS Date Opponent Score Saves 11/11/11 Alaska Anchorage 5-0 27 11/5/11 @Denver 4-0 29 10/29/11 Bemidji State 1-0 23 3/25/11 Union College# 2-0 32 1/21/11 @Michigan Tech 5-0 14 1/14/11 Wisconsin 2-0 22 3/14/10 Colorado College* 4-0 25 1/30/10 Wisconsin 4-0 28 1/2/10 Mercyhurst+ 6-0 26 #NCAA East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.) *WCHA Playoffs +in Burlington, Vt. WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?: Right winger J.T. Brown, who bypassed the entire Minnesota State series while nursing an upper body injury, still paces the nation in plus-minus rating (+25) and is tied for 10th in scoring with 39 points. The reigning Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player and 2010-11 WCHA All-Rookie Team selection has also put a team-best 131 shots on goal this winter -- 19 more than the next closest Bulldog (Brady Lamb). Brown is the first Bulldog to record two hat tricks in the same season (three goals at Nebraska Omaha on Jan. 13 and four goals at Alaska Anchorage three weeks ago) since MacGregor Sharp did it in 2008-09. THAT’S A PLUS: In addition to Brown, three other Bulldogs rank among the top 23 leaders nationally in plus-minus rating -- senior center Travis Oleksuk, tied for fourth at +21), senior defenseman Scott Kishel (tied for 14th at +18) and senior center Jack Connolly (both tied for 18th at +17). GET SHORTIE: The Bulldogs have scored the fewest handed shorthanded goals (one) of any WCHA club in 2011-12, but have also given up a league-low two of their own (both at home against Michigan Tech University on Jan. 27 and the University of Notre Dame on Oct. 8). AT THE HEAD OF THEIR CLASS: Three Bulldogs -- sophomore goaltender Aaron Crandall, redshirted freshman defenseman Luke McManus and senior goaltender Kenny Reiter -- were among the 61 men to earn a WCHA Scholar Athlete Award for 2011-12. Reiter, attained that distinguished honor for a fourth time (something only four other league players have ever done since the award’s inception in 2005-06) while Crandall was a 2010-11 honoree. LEAD ‘DOGS: Since the 2010-11 opener, UMD is 32-1-3 (12-0-2 this winter) when taking a lead into the final period of play with the lone loss coming at the hands of Bemidji State University at the WCHA Final Five last March. IRON JACK: When he took his first faceoff against North Dakota on Feb. 10, 2012, senior center Jack Connolly established a new UMD record for consecutive games played with 154. That was one more appearance than the previous recordholder, Jeff Scissons, made between 1996-2000. The following is a listing of active Bulldog ironman streaks. Name Games Streak Started Jack Connolly 157 10/10/08 Travis Oleksuk 106 11/6/09 David Grun 94 1/8/10 Keegan Flaherty 72 10/15/10 HOME, SWEET HOME: UMD is averaging 6,455 spectators a night during its first full season at AMSOIL Arena. Only six other schools in the country -- the University of Wisconsin (11,773), North Dakota (11,335), the University of Minnesota (9,514), Nebraska-Omaha (7,468), Colorado College (6,963), and Boston College (6,574) -- have drawn more. Since moving into that new $80-million, 6,726-seat downtown facility on Dec. 30, 2010, the Bulldogs have rolled up a 15-9-3 record there (10-5-1 in 2011-12). FREE HOCKEY: The Bulldogs are now unbeaten in 33 of their last 37 overtime games (13-4-20, 0-1-5 in 2011-12) stretching back to the start of the 2008-09 season. A school-record 15 of UMD’s 42 engagements last winter (35.7 percent) required an extra session, and UMD was 7-2-6 in those. The seven sudden-death victories also eclipsed the previous club standard of five set in 1984-85. Senior Travis Oleksuk leads all active Bulldogs in career overtime goals with three and also assisted on Kyle Schmidt’s sudden-death score in UMD’s 3-2 win over Michigan in the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four title game. Player OT Goals Travis Oleksuk 3 J.T. Brown 1 Jack Connolly 1 Cody Danberg 1 ONE CLASS ACT: Jack Connolly is one of 10 NCAA I hockey players -- and the lone WCHA representative --- who has been chosen as finalists for the 2011-12 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The award is presented annually to an NCAA I athlete in 10 sports (men’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s lacrosse, softball, football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball) based on achievement in the “Four C’s” -- classroom, character, community and competition. Connolly, UMD’s second Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award finalist (Andrew Carroll was the first in 2008-09), maintains a 3.30 cumulative GPA as a communication major and will graduate this May. THEIR BEST PERIOD. PERIOD: The Bulldogs have outscored the opposition 44-26 in the third period this season (27-11 on the road). Those 44 goals are tops among all WCHA schools. PLENTY OF SENIOR MOMENTS: UMD continues to sport the highest-scoring senior class in the NCAA. The seven Bulldogs in the group, including goaltender Kenny Reiter (three assists) and left winger Cody Danberg, who has been out of action with injuries since the 2011-12 opener, have combined to produce 48 goals and 94 assists for 142 points. BOMBS AWAY: The Bulldogs have outshot the opposition in all but eight of their 32 games this season and are fourth in the country in shots with a 35.3 per game average. EIGHT WAS GREAT: After holding down the No. 1 spot in the uscho.com poll since Dec. 5, the Bulldogs dropped to third three weeks ago. That eight-week run marked the longest stretch a Bulldog club had ever resided atop any national poll. (They enjoyed three-week stays as the nation’s top dog in both 2010-11 and in 1985-86). BULLDOG BITS: This marks the third straight year UMD has nailed down a home berth in the WCHA playoffs ... Left winger Caleb Herbert, one of 12 Bulldogs to take part in all 32 games to date, has produced the sixth highest scoring yield (25 points on 10 goals and 16 assists) of any WCHA rookie at the moment ... The last time UMD and Colorado College squared off in Duluth (March 14, 2010), then sophomore netminder Kenny Reiter stopped all 25 Tiger shots en route to a 4-0 victory in the third, and decisive game of the best-of-three WCHA playoff series ... Junior defenseman Drew Olson celebrated game No. 100 with the Bulldogs last Saturday in Mankato by turning in his first two-point night (both assists) as a collegian ... UMD has converted six of its 19 power play opportunities over the past four games (31.6 percent) ... Sophomore goaltender Aaron Crandall stopped 16 of 18 Mavericks shots last Friday while posting his first WCHA victory in nearly a year (Feb. 19, 2011 at Minnesota State-Mankato). In 10 lifetime road appearances, Crandall is 7-2-1 with a 2.28 goals against average and a .912 saves percentage -- a noticeable contrast to his home numbers (5-2-0, 3.48 and .857 in 10 outings). One of those road defeats came at the hands of Colorado College (5-4 on Feb. 25, 2011 in Colorado Springs). He and his younger brother, rookie left winger Justin Crandall, are the first siblings to play together for the Bulldogs in 11 years (Ryan and Adam Coole) ... Over the past two seasons, the Bulldogs are unbeaten in 31 of the 33 outings junior winger and good luck charm Mike Seidel has marked in the points column (26-2-5) ... UMD’s 17-game unbeaten streak, which came to an end on Jan. 14 at Nebraska-Omaha, was three games better than the previous team record set between Jan. 2-Feb. 21, 2004. (The Bulldogs, who went 13-0-1 during that torrid stretch, proceeded to earn a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four that same season) ... After going his first two seasons -- 74 games worth -- without a goal, junior right winger Keegan Flaherty has scored six times in 2011-12 and recorded the Bulldogs’ lone shorthanded tally thus far (Dec. 2 at Michigan Tech, one of only two shorties the Huskies have allowed thus far) ... Senior center Jack Connolly paces the 2011-12 Bulldogs in home scoring with 26 points (a team-best 11 goals and 15 assists) while Travis Oleksuk is next with 20 points ... In their seven losses thus far in 2011-12, the Bulldogs have connected on just five of their 34 power play opportunities (14.7 percent) while the opposition is a sizzling 12-for-30 (40.0 percent) with the man advantage ... The three-game losing streak which the Bulldogs extinguished at Providence College earlier this season was their longest slump since Feb. 19-26, 2010 when they also dropped three straight outings, including a pair to North Dakota. UMD was one of just two teams in the entire country (Boston College was the other) who went through the entire 2010-11 season without suffering any back-to-back losses... The 2011-12 active UMD roster (junior center Aaron Jamnick, a transfer from Providence College, has to sit out all of this season per NCAA rules) consists of seven seniors, six juniors, five sophomores, and seven freshmen ... Sophomore defenseman Tim Smith is the first UMD newcomer with previous Division I experience (Providence College in 2009) since Jesse Unkelsbay, who joined UMD as junior in 2002-03 following two years at Alaska Anchorage ... When rookie defenseman Derik Johnson hit the ice for the first against Minnesota back it October, it completed the ninth father-son combination to play for the Bulldogs. Derik’s father, Jim Johnson, also patrolled the UMD blueline and during his senior season in 1984-85 served as team captain before going on to enjoy a 13-year National Hockey League career. (He currently is an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals). The father of senior center Travis Oleksuk -- Bill Oleksuk -- also played for the Bulldogs and captained UMD in 1981-82. He’s currently the school’s 11th all-time leading scorer ... UMD posted a 6-1-1 non-conference record in 2011-12 for a .813 wining percentage. The last time a Bulldog club turned in a better mark was in 1995-96 (4-0-0) ... The 5-0 setback to Michigan Tech last month was the Bulldogs’ first loss by a shut out in 105 WCHA games. The last club to hold UMD scoreless in league play prior to that was North Dakota, which skated off with a 2-0 triumph on March 1, 2008 in Duluth ... Junior defenseman Wade Bergman is expected to take part in his 100th career game this Saturday night. NEXT UP: The Bulldogs will bid farewell to the 2011-12 regular season with a pair of WCHA showdowns at St. Cloud State University on March 2-3.