During the 2018-19 season, the University of North Dakota hockey team lost an important two-game, non-conference series to Canisius University. That two-game, non-conference series loss, ended up costing the Fighting Hawks a trip to the NCAA tourney for the second season in a row.
The following season, UND made no mistake. They started the 2019-20 season with a resounding thrashing of the Canisius Golden Griffins, 5-0 and 8-1. The Hawks would go on to win the NCHC regulars season title.
In college hockey, winning non-conference games is important for the Pairwise Rankings and making the NCAA tourney at the end of the season. The task at hand, get the non-conference win. Last night, three Big Ten Teams lost to Atlantic Hockey teams. Those losses could be fatal at the end of the season when it comes to making the NCAA tourney.
On Friday night, Atlantic Hockey shocked the college hockey world with three impressive wins. Bentley beat Ohio State 2-1, Air Force beat Michigan State 3-2 in OT, and Canisius College beat Penn State 4-1. Finally, Michigan Tech beat Wisconsin 5-2. It wasn’t a strong showing for the Big Ten Hockey Conference on Friday night.
— Chris Lerch (@chrislerch) October 9, 2021
UND Stresses Non-Conference Series
Sine the Canisius debacle, the UND coaching staff stresses the importance of non-conference tilts.
“We talk about it right at the beginning of the year,” UND head coach Brad Berry said. “We talked about it going into the first series like this one right away. We don’t even look at them as non-conference series, we look at them as NCHC games because they count just as much and they’re vital to making the national tournament. Whether you’re at home or on the road in non-conference play it, we count them as an NCHC game.”
“It was huge,” Ashton Calder said. “Last game I thought we were a little sloppy at some points, but then we had some good chances that we just didn’t really bury on. Today, we are kind of firing on all cylinders and show during the first period. It was nice and we just kind of kept going with momentum from there. Hopefully, we keep it going.”