It won’t take long for UND to get a shot at avenging a pair of losses that kept the Fighting Hawks out of the 2019 NCAA tournament.
UND opens next regular season against Canisius College on Oct. 11-12 in Ralph Engelstad Arena, kicking off an opening month of nonconference matchups.
UND lost a pair of games to Canisius in Buffalo’s HarborCenter in January, killing the team’s chances to make the NCAA tournament. Had the Fighting Hawks won both of those games, they would have not only been in the NCAAs, but they would have been a No. 3 seed.
The Canisius series will be followed by three weekends against former Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponents: MSU-Mankato, Bemidji State and Michigan Tech.
UND will play two games in Mankato, it will host Bemidji State for two, then play a single game -- the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game -- against Tech in Grand Forks. It will be the first time that UND has played Michigan Tech since March 17, 2013.
The Fighting Hawks won’t open National Collegiate Hockey Conference play until a Nov. 8-9 series against Miami University in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The marquee series will be Nov. 29-30, Thanksgiving weekend, at Minnesota in Mariucci Arena.
The schedule is packed with home games early.
UND will play seven of its first nine in Ralph Engelstad Arena, where it went 12-6-1 last season.
Here’s a look at the 2019-20 schedule with one item to know about each series:
Oct. 5 -- MANITOBA (exh.)
- UND kicks things off with an exhibition game against Manitoba for the seventh-consecutive season.
Oct. 11-12 -- CANISIUS
- It won’t take long for UND to get a shot at avenging two losses that kept the Fighting Hawks out of the 2019 NCAA tournament. UND opens the regular season with a home series against Canisius, which swept UND in Buffalo's HarborCenter last season.
Oct. 18-19 -- at MSU-Mankato
- This will mark UND’s first trip to Mankato since March 8-9, 2013. The Mavericks came to Grand Forks last season. This could be a marquee series. With MSU defenseman Connor Mackey and forward Marc Michaelis pledging to return next season, the Mavericks will likely start the season with a top-five ranking.
Oct. 25-26 -- BEMIDJI STATE
- UND and Bemidji State have played every year since conference realignment in 2013. Most of the series are home-and-home, with one game being played at each building. However, every three or four years, UND has been getting a full home series. This year, it’s a home series for UND.
Nov. 2 -- MICHIGAN TECH (HoF Game)
- When conference realignment happened in 2013, UND split with six old conference foes: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Bemidji State, Alaska Anchorage, MSU-Mankato and Michigan Tech. UND has played all of them in nonconference except for Michigan Tech. It will finally play against Tech again in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game. Each NCAA team is allowed to play 34 regular-season games. The Hall of Fame Game, the Ice Breaker Invitational and games in Alaska are exempt, though. So, this is an extra game for UND, and it's why only one game is allowed to be played this weekend.
Nov. 8-9 -- MIAMI
- UND will get its first look at the Chris Bergeron-led Miami RedHawks on Nov. 8-9 in Grand Forks. Bergeron was hired to replace Rico Blasi as head coach earlier this month. UND has never played Miami without Blasi behind the bench. The first matchup between the programs came during Blasi's first season of 1999-00. Miami didn’t come to Grand Forks last season, so this will be its first trip to The Ralph since November 2017.
Nov. 15-16 -- at Denver
- UND’s first flight trip of the season is to Denver -- the place where last season ended with an NCHC first-round playoff series loss to the Pioneers. Magness Arena is the only NCHC building that UND hasn’t swept since the start of the league in 2013. It won’t be easy this time. Denver is expected to be a preseason top-five team. But, perhaps, maybe UND won't need to fly into Albuquerque, N.M., this time.
Nov. 22-23 -- ST. CLOUD STATE
- UND hosts St. Cloud State in late November, but for the first time in four years, it won’t be a homecoming series for former Red River teammates Jacob Benson and Jon Lizotte. Both were seniors and graduated. The Huskies will still have some area flavor on their team with Luke Jaycox from Warroad and Brendan Bushy from Thief River Falls.
Nov. 29-30 -- at Minnesota
- One of the best rivalries in college hockey will return on Thanksgiving weekend. The exact dates are still TBD because Minnesota is home that weekend for football. The Gophers have moved series to Friday-Sunday before. This series will be two of four games that UND plays on Olympic-sized ice sheets next season. Olympic ice sheets are 15 feet wider than NHL-sized sheets like Ralph Engelstad Arena. UND and Minnesota still have three years left on their contract after this one. In 2020-21 and 2022-23, they’ll play in Grand Forks. In 2021-22, they’ll play in Mariucci Arena.
Dec. 6-7 -- at Western Michigan
- This may be a great time for UND’s trip to Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich. UND and Western Michigan both play physical, bruising games. Because it’s the last series before Christmas break, players will have three weeks to heal any bumps and bruises before jumping back into regular-season play.
Dec. 28 -- at U.S. Under-18 (exh.)
- In a rare move, UND will travel for an exhibition game to take on the U.S. Under-18 Team in Plymouth, Mich. There will be at least two UND recruits on that team -- defensemen Tyler Kleven of Fargo and Jake Sanderson of Montana.
Jan. 3-4 -- ALABAMA HUNTSVILLE
- This will be the first time that UND takes on Alabama Huntsville since the 2015-16 NCAA national championship season. UND beat the Chargers 1-0 and 4-1 in Ralph Engelstad Arena that season. Drake Caggiula scored a memorable goal Saturday.
Jan. 10-11 -- OMAHA
- The Omaha Mavericks will make their first trip back to Grand Forks since March, when a blizzard forced them to sleep on their bus in Ralph Engelstad Arena after the Saturday-night game.
Jan. 17-18 -- at Miami
- UND has played 10 games in Goggin Ice Arena and is 5-4-1 there all-time. Its only sweep came in March of 2017.
Jan. 24-25 -- at Minnesota Duluth
- This is the only meeting between UND and back-to-back national champion Minnesota Duluth. The Bulldogs don’t come to Grand Forks next season.
Jan. 31-Feb. 1 -- COLORADO COLLEGE
- This is the only meeting between UND and Colorado College in the regular season. Colorado Springs is the lone destination that UND doesn’t travel to this season. That means CC grad transfer Westin Michaud won’t be going back to his old stomping grounds as a member of UND, but UND transfer Chris Wilkie will come back to Grand Forks one more time as a Colorado College Tiger.
Feb. 14-15 -- DENVER
- UND will host Denver after a week off. The Fighting Hawks are 1-3 in the last four years in the first game after its second-half bye week.
Feb. 21-22 -- at St. Cloud State
- This will mark UND’s first trip to St. Cloud State’s National Hockey Center since December 2017. The Fighting Hawks didn’t play there last season -- which may have been a good thing. St. Cloud State went 17-0-1 at home last season and will take a 19-game home unbeaten streak into next season.
Feb. 28-29 -- WESTERN MICHIGAN
- Senior weekend will be in February this season, though UND hopes it won’t be the last time it's at home for the year. Western Michigan will be making its first trip back to Grand Forks since the Broncos earned a rare sweep of UND in Ralph Engelstad Arena last November. In the four years under coach Brad Berry, the Fighting Hawks have only been swept at home twice -- and that was one of them. The Saturday game against Western Michigan also will mark the first time that UND has played a game on Leap Day since 1992. UND also played on Leap Day in 1980 and 1964.
March 6-7 -- at Omaha
- This is Year 2 of the NCHC’s policy that dictates that all teams end the regular season against their travel partner. Last season, Omaha came to Grand Forks for the regular-season finale. This season, it’s UND’s turn to end in Omaha.
March 13-15 -- NCHC first round
- UND’s streak of 16-straight first-round home playoff series came to an end last season. The Fighting Hawks will hope to bring this series back to The Ralph next season.
March 20-21 -- NCHC Frozen Faceoff (St. Paul)
- The Frozen Faceoff will enter Year 3 at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
March 27-29 -- NCAA regionals (TBA)
- Sites for the NCAA regionals are expected to be announced this week.
April 9-11 -- NCAA Frozen Four (Detroit)
- The Frozen Four returns to Detroit for the first time since 2010. UND fans may have some pleasant memories of Detroit Frozen Fours. UND won the 1987 NCAA national championship in Joe Louis Arena. After Detroit, the next two Frozen Fours are Pittsburgh and Boston.