After missing the NCAA playoffs the two previous seasons, the 2019-20 University of North Dakota hockey team was well on it’s way to returning to the NCAA tourney.
The Fighting Hawks finished the regular season 26-5-4 and first in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings, three points clear of second-place UMD. They also finished atop of the Pairwise Rankings. All the planets were aligning.
Then, prior to the start of the NCHC tournament, the COVID-19 virus outbreak started a chain of events. The NCHC canceled the rest of the college hockey season. The NCAA canceled all of its tournaments, ending UND’s chance at winning a ninth NCAA title. It just didn’t seem fair. We’ll never get to find out how this would’ve unfolded. We move on.
Fast forward to the offseason. Now we wait. Everything is in limbo as the world waits for the Coronavirus to run its course. While we’re waiting, there’s been some positive developments.
This past week, the Hawks coaching staff found out that their top-two scorers are returning for their senior seasons. Entering the 2020-21 season, Matt Kiersted and Jordan Kawaguchi will be on board to help UND defend the Penrose Cup. Both players announced this week that they will be back.
Pinto Coming Back?
UND waits for a couple of other players. Last week, UND head coach Brad Berry gave UND fans hope when he sent out this tweet. Congrats to Shane Pinto. Can’t wait until we Get After It again.
Yes, it would appear there’s some unfinished business.
In 33 games, Kawaguchi scored (15g-30a—45pts), he was also a plus-21. Five of Kawaguchi’s 15 goals were game-winning goals.
In 33 games, Kiersted scored (6g-23a—29pts), he was also a plus-22. Two of his goals came on the power play.
Adams and Mismash to Return
Today, UND fans got some more good news. Forwards Collin Adams and Grant Mismash said they’ll return for senior seasons. That means the famed MAK line of Grant Mismash, Collin Adams and Jordan Kawaguchi will be intact for their senior season. The Hawks top forward line scored (35g-58a–93pts), they were also an impressive plus-63. The junior trio also scored 12 game-winning goals.
Hang in There
Right now, our nation is going through a tough time, however, there’s hope for the future. Yes, the last three weeks have been very stressful, depressing and trying. Hopefully, this will pass, and we can get back to our normal lives. Without sports, life is dull and lacks meaning.
Next year’s senior class is going to be a talented group full of leaders and experienced players. To quote former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brent Favre, “the pieces are in place.”