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Poolman named NCHC defensive defenseman of the year

Tucker Poolman has racked up the points offensively this season.

He became UND's first 30-point defenseman since Chay Genoway in 2010-11 two weeks ago when he tallied four points in a game at Miami.

But his defensive abilities have not been overlooked.

Poolman, the East Grand Forks Senior High graduate, was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's defensive defenseman of the year on Thursday at the Muse Events Center in downtown Minneapolis.

Poolman, who also earned first-team all-NCHC honors, was recognized at the league's annual awards banquet.

Poolman and goalie Matt Hrynkiw, who won the NCHC's sportsmanship award, were UND's major award winners this season.

Poolman, a Winnipeg Jets draft pick, finished with a plus-17 rating, the best of any Fighting Hawk defenseman. The next closest to him were his younger brother, Colton, and sophomore Christian Wolanin at plus-7.

Other major award winners included player of the year and offensive defenseman of the year Will Butcher of Denver, rookie of the year Henrik Borgstrom of Denver, coach of the year Andy Murray of Western Michigan, goalie of the year Tanner Jaillet of Denver, forward of the year Anthony Louis of Miami and defensive forward of the year Dominic Toninato of Minnesota Duluth.

Five-year deal nearing end

Fans attending this year's NCHC Frozen Faceoff at the Target Center will notice major renovations going on at the building.

Part of First Avenue is blocked off due to the construction project, which will change the look of the Target Center, which opened in 1990.

But will this be the longterm home of the league?

That question will soon be answered.

The NCHC signed a five-year deal with the Target Center to host its postseason tournament. That deal ends after next season.

With the Big Ten pulling out of its back-and-forth between the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and Joe Louis Arena in Detroit to go to home sites, the Minnesota Wild's home venue would now be available for the NCHC.

This will mark the fourth year of the event being held at the Target Center, home of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Streak still going

This trip has become commonplace for UND.

It is the 15th year that it has won a first-round league playoffs series to reach the Twin Cities in March.

The first 11 years of that run came in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, resulting in a trip to the Xcel Energy Center. The last four came in the NCHC.

The only other NCHC team to reach the Target Center in all four years is Denver. The Pioneers have a four-year run in making it to the Twin Cities. They lost a first-round series in their last year in the WCHA.

Minnesota Duluth is making its second-straight trip to the Target Center and this is Western Michigan's first trip in three years

No repeat winners

There has never been a two-time winner of the Frozen Faceoff.

Denver won the inaugural tournament in 2014, topping Miami 4-3 to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Miami came back to win it in 2015, topping St. Cloud State 3-2 in the championship game.

St. Cloud State came back to win it in 2016, topping Minnesota Duluth 3-1 in the finals.

The RedHawks and Huskies did not make it this season, so unless Denver wins it, there will be a fourth different winner in four years.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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