Five things to know ahead of UND's showdown with Denver
The top-ranked Fighting Hawks are playing the Pioneers for the second time in five days.
OMAHA, Neb. -- No. 1 UND is set to play No. 9 Denver on Tuesday in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod. It will be the second meeting between the longtime rivals in the last five days.
The game will start at 3:35 p.m. Midco Sports Network and NCHC.tv will carry the game. The Fox (96.1 FM) will have the game on the radio and GrandForksHerald.com will have a live chat.
Here are five things to know ahead of the game:
Denver's uncharacteristic start
The Pioneers are in strange territory with an 0-3 start.
It has been 20 years since they've opened the season with three losses. In 2000-01, Denver was swept by eventual national champion Boston College to open the season, then lost the series opener to eventual Broadmoor Trophy winner St. Cloud State the next week. That Pioneers team ended up going 19-15-4.
Denver is hoping to avoid its first 0-4 start since 1990, when a Frank Serratore-coached Pioneers team opened the season by getting swept by both Minnesota and UND. It also dropped a series opener to Colorado College to go to 0-5.
The Pioneers haven't exactly had an easy start to the schedule, opening with three nationally ranked teams in Minnesota Duluth, UND and St. Cloud State.
UND unbeaten streak vs. Denver
UND has never had an easy time with Denver, so the current run is notable.
After Friday's 4-3 overtime win on a Jordan Kawaguchi goal, the Fighting Hawks extended their unbeaten streak against the Pioneers to five games (4-0-1).
Last season, UND earned a win and tie in Magness Arena, while sweeping the Pioneers in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
It is UND's first five-game unbeaten streak against the Pioneers since 2003-04, when it won five straight.
If UND wins or ties in Tuesday's contest, it will move the unbeaten streak against the Pioneers to six games, something that hasn't happened since UND won eight in a row from 1997-99.
World Junior players gone
This will be the first game for both teams without U.S. World Junior Championship players.
UND rookie defensemen Jake Sanderson and Tyler Kleven left Omaha after Sunday's 8-2 win over Western Michigan to join up with USA Hockey in Plymouth, Mich.
Sanderson played a large role in UND's 4-3 overtime win over Denver on Friday. He scored a power-play goal and set up Ethan Frisch for a key third-period tally. Kleven, a late call to join the U.S. squad , scored his first college goal Sunday against the Broncos.
Denver, meanwhile, will be without sophomore forward Bobby Brink, who had three assists in Denver's first three games, including two against UND. Brink was on the World Junior team last season, too.
Guttman is back
On Friday, UND center Shane Pinto put together a ridiculous night in the faceoff circle , going 18-0.
That competition will get more difficult Tuesday.
Denver's top-line center, Cole Guttman, was a late scratch before Friday's game and did not play. Guttman did play 24 hours later against St. Cloud State, though, and is expected to play against the Fighting Hawks on Tuesday.
That gives Denver considerably more depth at center. Guttman, a Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick, led Denver with 14 goals last season.
UND is the home team
UND will be designated as the home team for Tuesday's game.
That means the Fighting Hawks will be in their white jerseys. But it has more significance than that: It means UND will have last line change and a better ability to dictate matchups after stoppages in play.
It will make it more difficult for Denver coach David Carle to sneak his top players on the ice when UND's most inexperienced defensemen -- who will see a lot of minutes without Sanderson and Kleven -- are out there.