Omaha ends UND’s seven-game winning streak; Fighting Hawks will share Penrose with Denver – The Rink Live

OMAHA, Neb. – The last time UND lost a game in regulation and had no National College Hockey Conference points was in mid-January.

The Fighting Hawks had lost four straight games by then, scored just twice in nearly 200 minutes, and the direction of the season seemed to be at a crossroads.

It took 42 days and 12 games for that to happen again.

UND’s 11-game point streak and seven-game winning streak was finally ended Saturday night in a 4-1 loss to Omaha at Baxter Arena.

After this defeat, the tenor of the season was a little different.

A night earlier, UND had won the Penrose Cup as National College Hockey Conference champions for the third straight season, and the Fighting Hawks still held a strong position in the pairing standings at No. 6.

They were, however, forced to share the league title with Denver. The Pioneers tied UND’s 53 league points by beating Colorado College on Saturday night.

“We wanted to get it straight away,” said UND junior forward Judd Caulfield, who scored the team’s only goal on Saturday. “But at the end of the day, it is what it is. It’s a regular season championship and we know that in the future we have more titles than we want to accomplish here.”

Now, UND (22-12-1) will kick off the playoffs with a best-of-three quarterfinal series against Colorado College next weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

It was a familiar game. Colorado College made spring break trips to Grand Forks in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2021 and now 2022. The Tigers were halfway to Grand Forks in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic ended the season .

“I’m really excited,” said UND captain Mark Senden. “I’m delighted that everything is going here with the playoffs and I can’t wait to be home next weekend. Moving forward, it’s just day by day, coming to the rink every days, come to work and come to compete.”

The Fighting Hawks hope they’ll be a little healthier by then.

On Saturday, they played without alternate captain Gavin Hain for a 15th straight game, star defender Jake Sanderson for a 10th straight game, leading scorer Riese Gaber for a fifth straight game, top pair defender Ethan Frisch for a third consecutive match. game and starting goaltender Zach Driscoll, who rested after carrying the load all the way through the stretch.

This shattered roster climbed to the top of the standings, but eventually encountered a stumbling block in the regular season finale.

The Mavericks used two goals and an assist from Chayse Primeau and goals from Jack Randl and Nate Knoepke to beat the Fighting Hawks.

“I thought it wasn’t our best,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “But I think they played really well. It was their senior night, their last game in this building this year, and they played from start to finish. We had some pushes in the game but not enough. I think it’s a situation where we have to know our identity. We have to make sure we come back to it next weekend.

Omaha took the lead late in the first period, taking advantage of poor play by freshman goaltender Jakob Hellsten. The rookie went into the corner to play the puck, but handed it to the Mavericks. Hellsten made a save on Omaha’s Taylor Ward, diving into the net, but Primeau scored easily on the rebound.

The Mavericks added two more in the second period to open a 3-0 lead.

At 3:55, Primeau landed a long rebound off the back wall. At 1:38, Jack Randl scored a power play goal on a rebound up front.

UND cut the lead to 3-1 when Caulfield rebounded from a Jake Schmaltz shot just eight seconds after a power play chance.

The Mavericks, however, put the game aside in the third. Moments after a power play ended in Omaha, defenseman Nate Knoepke fired a shot on the corner of the net for his first of the season at 8:49.

“I thought Omaha came out and played really strong,” Caulfield said. “We didn’t quite match their intensity at times. They kind of took advantage of it. We just have to know, going forward, that we have to bring it to every shift. We don’t We can’t take shifts because come to the playoffs, everyone’s going to bring their best, so we know we have to bring ours.

Having won the Penrose Cup again, UND now have another trophy to try and defend. The Fighting Hawks won the NCHC playoffs last season at Ralph Engelstad Arena – the same location where this year’s playoff route will begin.

“We got the ice cream home,” Berry said. “That’s what we wanted out of our regular season schedule. We deserved it. Now we want to make sure we take advantage of it.”