50 minutes before game time and my official head count on attendance is 64. This should be interesting.
The first game should actually be a great test for both teams. Duluth seems better this year, but their results are less than staggering with a loss and tie to Anchorage, and a tie against Lake Superior--though the Lakers could be better than people expect this year.
Meanwhile, Duluth has enough offensive firepower that they should test St. Cloud's five defenseman. The Huskies, like last year, are going to be a team that lives and dies based on their powerplay. UMD typically has a very good penalty kill, they're a pretty brutal 77% so far this year(27/35). Playing on the smaller ice should tend to benefit the team killing the penalty though.
Both teams are pretty desperate for points. Duluth is tied for 8th with one point, while St. Cloud is in the basement with 0. Both has have games in hand on the field, but if they dig themselves in too deep of a hole, it's going to be difficult to dig their way out. The league is tough enough and competitive enough that it's going to be difficult to run off a streak of 6-7 straight wins in league play to make up a lot of ground.