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UND, Minnesota Duluth prepare for rare showdown between top-ranked teams

GRAND FORKS -- No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in college hockey have been rare in the last decade. But there's one ahead this weekend. When the University of North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth meet this weekend in AmsOil Arena on the banks of Lake Super...

GRAND FORKS - No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in college hockey have been rare in the last decade.

But there's one ahead this weekend.

When the University of North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth meet this weekend in AmsOil Arena on the banks of Lake Superior, it will mark the first two-game series between the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in college hockey in the last nine seasons.

The last one occurred in February 2008, when No. 1 Miami hosted No. 2 Michigan for a series in Oxford, Ohio.

Since then, only two single games have been played between teams ranked first and second nationally.

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The most recent was the 2014 national championship game, when No. 1 Union beat No. 2 Minnesota 7-4 in Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.

In 2013, No. 1 Minnesota beat No. 2 Notre Dame on a Tuesday night in Mariucci Arena in a regular-season matchup.

UND hasn't been involved in a 1-2 matchup since October 2000, when it tied Michigan 5-5 on the season's first weekend. Minnesota Duluth has never played in a 1-2 game.

In this week's U.S. College Hockey Online poll, UND is a unanimous No. 1, receiving all 50 first-place votes. The defending national champion Fighting Hawks are off to a 5-0 start after sweeping series against Canisius and Bemidji State at home, while beating RPI in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Minnesota Duluth, which only played an exhibition game last weekend, is ranked second. The Bulldogs are 3-1-2 overall with the lone loss coming against No. 7 Notre Dame.

This weekend's matchup - 6:07 p.m. Friday (FSN North) and 6:07 p.m. Saturday (NCHC.tv) - will continue a strong rivalry between the teams.

UND is 17-1-1 in its last 19 games going back to last season. The lone loss occurred against Minnesota Duluth in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff at the Target Center.

Minnesota Duluth, meanwhile, will try to get on track at AmsOil Arena against UND.

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Last season, UND goalie Cam Johnson stopped all 78 Bulldog shots on the weekend as the Fighting Hawks earned a pair of sweeps.

In all, UND is 6-1 in AmsOil Arena, including a win in the rink's first game in December 2010.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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