College hockey teams are allowed to play 34 regular-season games.
But there are ways to get a couple extras.
The Ice Breaker Invitational, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game and games played in the state of Alaska are considered exempt games and don't count toward that 34-game limit. There's also the NCAA-allowable, once-every-four-years opportunity to play foreign exhibition games. If you play in any of those, you can sneak in an extra game or two.
UND has always coveted those exempt games going back three head coaches -- Dean Blais, Dave Hakstol and now Brad Berry -- and two decades. The last time UND completed a season without playing an exempt game was 1998-99.
Back in the old Western Collegiate Hockey Association days, it wasn't as difficult to find exempt games. UND was in the same conference as Alaska Anchorage and played at Sullivan Arena for league-scheduled games more than half of the seasons. So, those exempt games were built into the schedule.
But when the WCHA broke up in 2013, UND's push to find exempt games became more difficult.
During that first season, UND used its foreign trip allowance -- something the NCAA permits teams to do once every four years -- to go to Burnaby, B.C., and play a pair of exhibition games.
It also has made a trip to Alaska Anchorage for a nonconference series and worked its way into an Ice Breaker in Portland, Maine.
But perhaps nothing has been as important to UND's quest for exempt games than its relationship with the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.
UND will host Michigan Tech at 7:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad Arena in this year's U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game. It will mark the fourth time that UND has played in the showcase game since 2014.
How did this arrangement happen?
A few years ago, UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena signed a contract with the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame -- located in Eveleth, Minn. -- to host the game four times in a seven-year span.
UND is paying the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame a rights fee of $400,000 (or $100,000 per game). It also has to pay a guarantee to the opponent. Because UND makes more money than that each home game, it is a profitable venture for UND.
The four-year contract called for UND to host the event in 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2022.
This year's event was supposed to be hosted by the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, but because of scheduling issues, the Xcel Center opted to sell the game to UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena for $100,000.
While UND hosted RPI in Grand Forks in 2016 -- and it is hosting this weekend's game against the Huskies in The Ralph -- it has started using its Hall of Fame Games to play destination events.
Last season, the Fighting Hawks played rival Minnesota in Las Vegas.
Next season, UND is working to nail down a game against Penn State in Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. UND is waiting for the venue to finalize the deal before it is announced.
The 2022 event also will likely end up being a destination game. While different cities have been thrown around as options, UND and The Ralph haven't settled on one yet. Among the cities that have been discussed are Seattle and Las Vegas.
By hosting the exempt U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game this weekend, UND will play 35 regular-season games this season (the exemption also is the reason why only one game is allowed to be played this weekend instead of two).
There's probably another reason why UND has enjoyed playing in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game: It has won almost all of them.
The Fighting Hawks have won the last six they've participated in, including a thumping of then-defending national champion Michigan State in 2007, a rout of Minnesota Duluth in the AmsOil Arena opener in 2010 and a win over the Gophers in front of a raucous Vegas crowd last October.
The last time UND lost in a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game was in October 2001 in the first-ever game in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Minnesota beat UND 7-5 that night.
This season, UND will use the event to rekindle an old WCHA rivalry.
"We expect their best for a one-game shot here at The Ralph," said Berry, who didn't rule out the possibility of a trip to Houghton, Mich., in the future. "We've done things with Mankato and Bemidji, old rivals, and I'm sure with Joe (Shawhan, Tech's coach) coming into the building here on Saturday, we'll talk even more."
UND in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game
2019-20 -- vs. Michigan Tech, 7:07 p.m. Saturday, Ralph Engelstad Arena, Midco SN, NCHC.tv, The Fox (96.1 FM).
2018-19 -- UND 3, Minnesota 1 (in Las Vegas, Orleans Arena)
2016-17 -- UND 5, RPI 2 (in Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2014-15 -- UND 3, Air Force 2, OT (in Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2010-11 -- UND 5, Minnesota Duluth 0 (in Duluth, AmsOil Arena opening)
2007-08 -- UND 6, Michigan State 0 (in Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2003-04 -- UND 3, Minnesota Duluth 2 (in Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2001-02 -- Minnesota 7, UND 5 (in Ralph Engelstad Arena, building opening)
1992-93 -- Minnesota Duluth 4, UND 3 (in Eveleth, Minn., exhibition game)
1988-89 -- UND 2, Minnesota Duluth 2, tie (in Eveleth, Minn., exhibition game)
1978-79 -- Minnesota 5, UND 3 (in Eveleth, Minn., exhibition game)
UND's history of exempt games since 1999
2019-20 -- U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (vs. Michigan Tech, Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2018-19 -- U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (vs. Minnesota, Las Vegas)
2017-18 -- at Alaska Anchorage
2016-17 -- U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (vs. RPI, Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2015-16 -- Ice Breaker Invitational (in Portland, Maine, vs. Lake Superior State and Maine)
2014-15 -- U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (vs. Air Force, Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2013-14 -- Foreign trip (vs. U of British Columbia, Simon Fraser in Burnaby, B.C.)
2012-13 -- at Alaska Fairbanks tournament (vs. UAA, UAF)
2011-12 -- Ice Breaker Invitational (in Grand Forks, vs. Air Force and Boston College); at Alaska Anchorage
2010-11 -- at Alaska Anchorage tournament (vs. UAA, UAF); U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (at Minnesota Duluth, AmsOil Arena opening)
2009-10 -- at Alaska Anchorage
2008-09 -- at Ice Breaker Invitational (in Boston, vs. Boston University and UMass); at Alaska Anchorage
2007-08 -- U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (vs. Michigan State, Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2006-07 -- at Alaska Anchorage
2005-06 -- at Alaska Anchorage
2004-05 -- at Alaska Anchorage
2003-04 -- U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (vs. Minnesota Duluth, Ralph Engelstad Arena)
2002-03 -- at Alaska Anchorage
2001-02 -- U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (vs. Minnesota, Ralph Engelstad Arena opening)
2000-01 -- Ice Breaker Invitational (at Ann Arbor, Mich., vs. New Hampshire and Michigan); at Alaska Anchorage
1999-00 -- at Alaska Anchorage