Friday, April 1, 2016

Frozen Four Preview: North Dakota

In the other Frozen Four semifinal, we have two NCHC teams, North Dakota and Denver.  North Dakota is the other No. 1 seed left so let's talk about them first.  The Fighting Hawks as they are now known are like Boston College, one of the best programs in the nation.  This is their third Frozen Four in a row.  In 2014, they lost a heartbreaker to their rivals Minnesota in the semifinal, on a last second goal in the third period.  In 2015, they were beaten by Boston University in the semifinal.  First year head coach Brad Berry, hopes that this will be the year North Dakota breaks through for the title.

The University of North Dakota was founded in 1883 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  It was founded six years before North Dakota officially became a state.  According to Wikipedia outside of their hockey program, the school is best known for their Aerospace program.  This is a program that trains pilots and air traffic controls.  They also are the first university to offer a degree in unmanned aircraft operations.

The school's original mascot was the Fighting Sioux but was forced to change that name.  They went a couple of years without a mascot and just within the last calendar year settled on the Fighting Hawks. Though it is the more politically correct mascot, most fans still are holding onto the Sioux.  The main cheer or motto for the team is "Fight on Sioux."  Fans replace the word "Brave" with "Sioux" at the end of the national anthem. 

The Ralph!
The Fighting Hawks play at Ralph Engelstad Arena.  The venue seats 11,643 people and rather well as it has been called the "Taj Mahal of Hockey."  The arena was built in 2001 and cost $104 million dollars.  The Great One, Wayne Gretzky has called it "one of the most beautiful buildings in North America."  The arena is on campus like Boston College.  It sounds like a great place to watch hockey if you can get a ticket.  The fans of the Fighting Hawks are some of the best in the country, they will follow the team wherever they go!

North Dakota opened their season at the Ice Breaker in Portland, Maine.  They won the first game 5-2 against Lake Superior State.  They skated to a 1-1 OT tie against the host, the Maine Black Bears. 

After the Ice Breaker, the Fighting Hawks played a home and home against Bemidji State.  The first game the teams tied 4-4 in OT.  In the second game, which was North Dakota's first home game, the Fighting Hawks won 5-2.  If you were curious, Bemidji is a city in northern Minnesota with a pretty decent hockey program.

Next, North Dakota was back out east to face the Catamounts of Vermont.  The Fighting Hawks swept the series pretty easily 2-0 and 5-2.  The road trip continued with North Dakota's first NCHC opponent of the year, Colorado College.  The Fighting Hawks took both games in Colorado, 5-2 and 2-0.

North Dakota was finally home for a change with a series against Wisconsin.  The teams split the two games, both with 3-1 victories.  Next, the Fighting Hawks welcomed Miami to "The Ralph."  North Dakota won the first game 6-2 and won the second game in OT, 4-3.  Miami is also in the NCHC.

Back on the road again, North Dakota was at St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  In the clash of the two main powers of the NCHC, the Fighting Hawks took the first game 4-3.  In the second game, things did not go as planned, it was a 6-1 victory for the Huskies. 

Next stop on the Fighting Hawks Tour of America (just kidding) was East Lansing.  The Spartans were the second Big Ten opponent on the schedule.  North Dakota swept the series, 3-1 and 4-1.  The Fighting Hawks made short work of the Spartans and it was time to go back home.

Waiting in Grand Forks for the Fighting Hawks were the Pioneers of Denver.  One of the up and coming programs of the NCHC and the opponent for North Dakota's next game in the Frozen Four.  North Dakota was ready, easily sweeping the Pioneers, 5-1 and 4-0.

The next opponent on the schedule was Minnesota Duluth.  The Fighting Hawks continued their winning ways with a couple of 3-0 victories. 

North Dakota headed back home for a series against Alabama - Huntsville.  The Fighting Hawks won the series 1-0 and 4-1.  To run the winning streak to eight games.  They played an exhibition game against the US Under-18 team next, and won 4-1.

The winning streak ended with a 4-3 OT loss against Nebraska Omaha.  Revenge was dealt swiftly by the Fighting Hawks, winning the next game against Nebraska Omaha 5-1. 

The home-stand continued with a series against Colorado College.  North Dakota won the first game in a shootout.  The Fighting Hawks came out much better in the second game, winning 5-1. 

North Dakota was back on the road with a series against Western Michigan.  The Fighting Hawks won the series 2-1 and 2-0.  Next, was a stop in Denver. The Pioneers got revenge on the Fighting Hawks by sweeping them 6-4 and 4-1.  It was the first back to back losses on the season for North Dakota.

A quick trip home for two game against Minnesota Duluth was next on the agenda.  North Dakota won both games 2-1.  The first game was won in OT and the second was won in regulation. 

Next, the Fighting Hawks traveled to Omaha.  North Dakota impressively won 4-2 and 4-1.  They closed out the regular season at home against Western Michigan.  The Fighting Hawks took down the Broncos 8-1 and 5-4.

North Dakota opened the NCHC tournament with the destruction of Colorado College.  Coupled by the fact they were playing at home and they were the best team facing the worst team, the Fighting Hawks won the series 7-1 and 5-1.  They were upset in the semifinals by Minnesota Duluth 4-2.  In the third place game, they skated to a 1-1 OT tie against Denver.

North Dakota travelled to Cincinnati for the Midwest Region, where they were the No. 1 seed.  In the first game, the Fighting Hawks handled Northeastern 6-2.  In the second game, they were too much for the Michigan Wolverines in a 5-2 victory.  Michigan was the Fighting Hawks third opponent from the Big Ten.  They will play Denver April 7th at 8:30 PM.  The teams split the season series and tied 1-1 in OT in the NCHC Third Place Game.  It should be a great game in Tampa!

No comments:

Post a Comment