If UND doesn’t finish in fourth place, it will be the first time UND hasn’t hosted a conference playoff series since the 2001-02 season. Ironically, that was the last time UND failed to make the conference championship and the NCAA tourney.
The Fighting Hawks control their own destiny, but their room for error is very small. They need to sweep the Miami RedHawks if they want to host a playoff series. That might not be as daunting of a task as it seems. The RedHawks haven’t won in six games and are 4-8-2 in 2017. Unfortunately, the Fighting Hawks record isn’t much better, they’re 6-8-0 in 2017.
Also, UND needs help from the other teams in the Pairwise Ranking if they want to make the NCAA tourney. At the present time, UND is sitting in 16th.
The time for talking is over. Now would be a good time for the Hawks to kick it into gear if they want to make the Frozen Faceoff and the NCAA tourney. There are four guaranteed games remaining, so time is winding down.
“I don’t know about time running out,” head coach Brad Berry said. “I know it is winding down in games… we’ve been doing well on the road. We just have to make sure we play well as a team from the drop of the puck.”
With their season on the line, UND needed to show more urgency and for some reason, they didn’t. If they want to keep playing in March, they’re going to need to figure out how to play more consistent and for a full 60 minutes.
We talked about it all day,” coach Berry said. “We got in here at 10 in the morning and through the whole day preparing for meetings and things like that, we talked about the urgency and taking another step forward, home ice, Pairwise and everything.
“It’s not about pressure. We’re all about big games and playing in them and knowing what the impact of the games are.”
The loss didn’t sit well with the players.
“It’s tough to swallow,” senior captain Gage Ausmus said. “That’s hockey. Every team is different. Right now, every guy in the locker room needs to realize what is on the line and what’s at stake here.”