This past weekend, the University of North Dakota was unceremoniously swept by Western Michigan (4-2, 3-2) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. With the untimely sweep, the Fighting Hawks are now in danger of being on the road for the first round of the NCHC playoffs.
For the last 14 seasons, UND has played the first round of the playoffs in the friendly confines of Ralph Engelstad Arena. Now, the Hawks are flirting with history, as they haven’t traveled for the first round of the conference playoffs since the 2001-02 season. That’s also the last time UND missed the NCAA playoffs and the conference championship.
If the NCAA playoffs started today, UND would probably make the tourney, barring any unseen surprises in the other conference tourneys. They don’t have a lot of room for error. The Hawks are definitely a bubble team, and from here on out, they need wins. They may need to make it to the Target Center to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Ironically, that last time UND missed the NCAA playoffs, they just missed winning back-to-back NCAA championships and opened a new building that they currently call home. After winning a NCAA title in 2016, their program’s eighth, the 2016-17 season has been a bit troublesome. The Hawks could end up on the outside looking in.
First things first: UND is tied for fifth place in the NCHC standings with the University of Nebraska-Omaha. This weekend, the Hawks entertain the Mavericks in an important two-game conference series. A sweep for either team would be huge. If UND has aspirations of making the NCAA tourney, they can’t afford to have another pointless weekend.
With the regular season coming to an end, we’re getting down to crunch time. College Hockey’s version of March Madness is almost here. With the impending conference tourneys and NCAA playoffs quickly approaching, the Hawks are looking to clean a few things up and regain their scoring touch. Fans can panic if they want to.