UND Hockey: Win or Season is Over

Photo Credit: Eric J. Burton, Sin Bin Photography

UND Hockey: Win or Season is Over

North Dakota

UND Hockey: Win or Season is Over

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Wednesday, at the end of the hockey press conference, University of North Dakota head coach Brad Berry told the media, “See you next week.”

For that to happen, the Fighting Hawks needs to win their first-round series in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs. It’s a tall order, but not impossible. Should be a fun weekend of hockey.

The Mission is Simple, Win

Moving forward. Wednesday, the UND hockey started their journey to Denver, Colorado to take on the Pioneers in a best-of-three National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff series. This is the first time in 17 years UND has been on the road for the first round of the playoffs.

That trip has started off with a hitch. On Wednesday, the Denver International Airport was closed. So, change of plans. UND decided to fly to Albuquerque, NM, and bus to Denver. Yes, the team has made it safely to the great state of Colorado.

UND hockey fans are in unchartered waters. If you don’t believe me. From this week’s UND game notes — North Dakota is playing on the road in the first round of the conference playoffs for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Breaking a string of 16 straight years in which UND hosted the opening round. During that impressive run, UND compiled up an impressive 32-6 (.842) mark. Including a 10-1 (.909) mark in the NCHC. UND won all 16 of those series.

What’s even more daunting, UND hasn’t swept in Denver in Denver since November 21-22, 2003. In the last 10 games, UND is 3-4-3 (.450) against the Pioneers. This season, UND is 10-8-1 against ranked teams and 8-7-1 that aren’t ranked. In the last 10 games UND played in, eight were against teams ahead of them in the NCHC standings. During the last 10 games, UND was 5-4-1 (.550).

As I noted earlier, this team likes playing against the teams ahead of them in the standings and the USCHO rankings. With that said, the Fighting Hawks are ready for a tough challenge.

“Things haven’t come easy this year and our guys, through thick and thin they stuck together,” Berry said. “We feel we’re playing our best hockey right now and finally getting a few bounces here and there. You can feel the momentum in our room. We’ve had two unbelievably sharp practices this week and you know we’re going on that plane with confidence this weekend to win two games.”

Pairwise Jail

UND’s problems are well documented. On January 4-5, 2019, UND lost a pair of non-conference games (1-3 L, 1-2 L) to the Canisius College Golden Griffins. That series has put UND is in Pairwise jail.

What could’ve been?

If UND had won one of those games, they’d be 14th in the Pairwise Rankings. If they’d swept Canisius they’d currently be sitting in eighth place.

Just Win

Defenseman Colton Poolman. (Photo Credit: Eric J. Burton, Sin Bin Photography)

Moving forward, it’s pretty clear what has to happen for UND to advance to the NCAA playoffs. Just Win. UND’s captain, junior defenseman Colton Poolman laid out what has to happen for the Fighting Hawks season to continue. It’s pretty simple, right?

“Right now, we need we need this weekend, for sure,” Poolman said. “Whether it takes two or three games, we have to go into this weekend thinking that our lives are on the line, which they are. If we don’t end up doing very well this weekend, we probably won’t be making NCAA’s. Obviously, it’s do or die time right now.”

UND Players Up for Awards

On Thursday, the NCHC announced it’s finalists for the 10 individual awards for the 2018-19 season.

Player of the Year
Colton Poolman, Jr., D, UND
Jimmy Schuldt, Sr., D, SCSU
Hunter Shepard, Jr., G, UMD

Herb Brooks Coach of the Year
Brett Larson, SCSU
Andy Murray, WMU
Scott Sandelin, UMD

Senior Scholar-Athlete Award
Mason Bergh, F, CC
Fredrik Olofsson, F, Omaha
Jimmy Schuldt, D, SCSU

Rookie of the Year
Noah Cates, F, UMD
Taylor Ward, F, Omaha

Goaltender of the Year
Dávid Hrenák, So., SCSU
Filip Larsson, Fr., Denver
Alex Leclerc, Jr., CC
Hunter Shepard, Jr., UMD

Forward of the Year
Jarid Lukosevicius, Sr., Denver
Mason Morelli, Sr., Omaha
Patrick Newell, Sr., SCSU

Defensive Defenseman of the Year
Mikey Anderson, So., UMD
Colton Poolman, Jr., UND
Jimmy Schuldt, Sr., SCSU

Offensive Defenseman of the Year
Jack Ahcan, Jr., SCSU
Scott Perunovich, So., UMD
Jimmy Schuldt, Sr., SCSU

Defensive Forward of the Year
Rhett Gardner, Sr., UND
Blake Lizotte, So., SCSU
Josh Melnick, Sr., Miami
Justin Richards, So., UMD

NCHC Three Stars Award
Trevor Gorsuch, Sr., G, WMU
Alex Leclerc, Jr., G, CC
Hunter Shepard, Jr., G, UMD

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