DENVER -- The last time UND boarded a flight for Denver, it ended up in Albuquerque, N.M.

This time, things went as planned.

UND's charter flight took off Thursday morning in Grand Forks and landed at Denver International Airport. So this trip to Denver has already gone better than the last one.

But after going 1-6-1 in its last eight games in Magness Arena, UND made one big change this time.

For more than a decade, UND left for its Colorado trips on Wednesday night to get an extra night of sleep and a few extra hours to get used to the elevation.

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But that hasn't seemed to work recently.

The Fighting Hawks went 1-4-1 in Colorado last season. Going back to the 2015-16 NCAA national championship team, UND is 6-10-2 in the state of Colorado.

This will be UND's only trip to the state during the regular season. Colorado College is the lone National Collegiate Hockey Conference team that UND does not play on the road this season.

The new Colorado travel schedule may be good to test, because one of the regionals is in Loveland, Colo., this season. UND's staff members can assess after this weekend which travel schedule they prefer.

UND skated in Magness Arena late Thursday afternoon. The practice, of course, ended with the weekly shootout competition. The winner was junior Jordan Kawaguchi, who appears to be UND's best penalty shot-taker this season. He has won the shootout twice and has been a finalist another time.

Stories to read

Speaking of Kawaguchi, the Herald ran a feature on his late grandfather, Mas Kawaguchi, who passed away in January. Mas has a remarkable story and you can tell why he has been such a big influence and inspiration for UND's leading scorer. The things some people are able to do through incredible adversity amazes me.

Here are 10 things to know about this weekend's series, including the potential family drama ahead for a UND blogger, Denver's success at home and an injury report.

A former Denver player will be suiting up for UND next season. The signing period opened Wednesday and Brendan Budy inked his National Letter of Intent. Here's the story of Budy, who stayed the course despite an offer from a WHL team in his hometown.

If you missed it early in the week, here's a piece on Collin Adams, who is earning the coaching staff's trust. Interestingly enough, Adams is the only player on the roster who scored a goal in Magness Arena last season. The other players on the roster who have scored in Magness are: Matt Kiersted (1, 2017-18 season), Colton Poolman (1, 2017-18) and Zach Yon (1, 2017-18).

UND travel roster

Because this is a conference game, UND is limited to 23 players on its travel roster. With a 27-man overall roster, that means four players have to stay home.

The four players not on the trip are injured defenseman Gabe Bast (upper body), goalie Harrison Feeney, forward-defenseman Casey Johnson and forward Carson Albrecht, who has yet to play.

Tale of the tape

North Dakota- Statistical category -Denver
7-1-1Record8-1-1
9Ranking2
4.33Offense3.80
1.67Defense2.10
14.7Power play20.8
93.1Penalty kill92.9
.910Goaltending.915

The focus

Denver has a number of weapons that can hurt opponents, but nobody has been more telling of the Pioneers’ success than junior defenseman Ian Mitchell (pictured). Since Jan. 15, 2018, Denver is a staggering 26-3-5 when Mitchell registers a point and an average 17-14-5 when he does not. The Chicago Blackhawks draft pick is a key to Denver’s power play (NCHC-leading six power-play points), which is converting more than 20 percent of its chances.

Denver defenseman Ian Mitchell winds up for a slap shot. Photo by Justin Monaghan/University of Denver.
Denver defenseman Ian Mitchell winds up for a slap shot. Photo by Justin Monaghan/University of Denver.

The pick

UND has earned a lot of splits over the years in Magness Arena, but winning a series -- or getting a sweep -- has been nearly impossible. The Fighting Hawks are 1-6-1 in their last eight games there and haven’t won a series in Magness since November 2003. It seems improbable that it will happen this year with a strong Denver team, but this UND squad also doesn’t have the look of one that’s going to get swept.

Denver 4-3, UND 3-1

Denver freshman forward Cole Guttman shoots the puck over UND goalie Peter Thome and into the glass during the first period of Friday's game in Magness Arena. Photo by Shannon Valerio/University of Denver.
Denver freshman forward Cole Guttman shoots the puck over UND goalie Peter Thome and into the glass during the first period of Friday's game in Magness Arena. Photo by Shannon Valerio/University of Denver.

This weekend's games (Central times)

NCHC

Tonight

North Dakota at Denver, 8:07 p.m. (Altitude)

Omaha at Western Michigan, 6 p.m.

Minnesota Duluth at Miami, 6:05 p.m.

Colorado College at St. Cloud State, 7:37 p.m.

Saturday

North Dakota at Denver, 8:07 p.m. (Midco)

Omaha at Western Michigan, 6 p.m.

Minnesota Duluth at Miami, 6:05 p.m.

Colorado College at St. Cloud State, 6:07 p.m.

Big Ten

Tonight

Penn State at Minnesota, 7 p.m. (FSN-Plus)

Notre Dame at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Michigan at Michigan State, 6 p.m.

Penn State at Minnesota, 7 p.m. (FSN-Plus)

Notre Dame at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.

WCHA

Tonight

Bemidji State at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.

Michigan Tech at Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.

Alaska at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.

Bowling Green at Alaska Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Other games

Tonight

Harvard at Brown, 6 p.m.

Cornell at Clarkson, 6 p.m.

RPI at Princeton, 6 p.m.

Union at Quinnipiac, 6 p.m.

Colgate at St. Lawrence, 6 p.m. (in Canton, N.Y.)

Dartmouth at Yale, 6 p.m.

Robert Morris at Bentley, 6:05 p.m.

Army at Holy Cross, 6:05 p.m.

American International at Mercyhurst, 6:05 p.m.

Sacred Heart at RIT, 6:05 p.m.

UMass Lowell at UConn, 6:05 p.m.

Boston College at Vermont, 6:05 p.m.

Northeastern at Providence, 6:15 p.m.

UMass at Boston University, 6:30 p.m.

New Hampshire at Maine, 6:30 p.m.

Niagara at Canisius, 6:35 p.m.

USCHO rankings

1. MSU-Mankato (25 first-place votes) 8-1-1

2. Denver (15) 8-1-1

3. Cornell (5) 4-0

4. Notre Dame (4) 7-0-1

5. UMass (1) 6-2

6. Minnesota Duluth 4-3-1

7. Clarkson 7-2-1

8. Penn State 7-2

9. North Dakota 7-1-1

10. Providence 5-3-2

11. Ohio State 6-3-1

12. UMass Lowell 7-2-3

13. Harvard 3-0

14. Northeastern 5-3-2

15. Wisconsin 5-5

16. Boston College 5-4

17. Bowling Green 5-4

18. Northern Michigan 6-2-2

19. Omaha 5-2-1

20. Western Michigan 5-3-2

The stats

UND

Scoring leaders

29 Jordan Kawaguchi, jr, f 3-10--13

11 Westin Michaud, sr, f 5-3--8

18 Collin Adams, jr, f 4-4--8

24 J. Bernard-Docker, so, d 1-7--8

8 Harrison Blaisdell, fr, f 2-5--7

6 Colton Poolman, sr, d 1-6--7

3 Matt Kiersted, jr, d 1-6--7

22 Shane Pinto, fr, f 2-4--6

9 Dixon Bowen, sr, f 4-1-5

17 Jonny Tychonick, so, d 3-2--5

16 Grant Mismash, jr, f 2-3--5

26 Cole Smith, sr, f 2-2--4

14 Jasper Weatherby, so, f 2-2--4

19 Mark Senden, so, f 2-2--4

4 Andrew Peski, sr, d 1-3--4

2 Gabe Bast, jr, d 2-1--3

21 Jackson Keane, jr, f 1-2--3

10 Gavin Hain, so, f 1-2--3

28 Judd Caulfield, fr, f 0-1-1

15 Ethan Frisch, fr, d 0-1--1

7 Zach Yon, sr, f 0-0--0

5 Casey Johnson, sr, f 0-0--0

20 Josh Rieger, jr, d 0-0--0

13 Carson Albrecht, fr, f NA

Goaltending

31 Adam Scheel, so 7-1-1 1.66 .910

1 Peter Thome, jr NA

35 Harrison Feeney, fr NA

Denver

Scoring leaders

13 Liam Finlay sr, f 3-8--11

15 Ian Mitchell, jr, d 3-7--10

7 Brett Stapley, so, f 3-6--9

20 Emilio Pettersen, so, f 1-8--9

9 Tyson McLellan, sr, f 4-4--8

37 Hank Crone, so, f 2-6--8

24 Bobby Brink, fr, f 4-3--7

12 Kohen Olischefski, jr, f 3-4--7

18 Ryan Barrow, jr, f 3-2--5

19 Cole Guttman, so, f 3-2--5

10 Jaakko Heikkinen, jr, f 2-3--5

16 Jake Durflinger, jr, f 2-2--4

11 Tyler Ward, so, f 2-2--4

4 Griffin Mendel, jr, d 1-3--4

28 Brett Edwards, fr, f 1-2--3

17 Slava Demin, so, d 1-1--2

32 Justin Lee, fr, d 0-2--2

21 Michael Davies, sr, d 0-1--1

27 Kyle Mayhew, so, d 0-0--0

26 Jack Doremus, jr, f 0-0--0

23 Lane Krenzen, fr, d 0-0--0

8 Jay Feiwell, fr, f 0-0--0

2 Erich Fear, sr, d NA

Goaltending

30 Magnus Chrona, fr 7-1-1 2.20 .913

31 Michael Corson, so 1-0-0 0.00 1.000

1 Devin Cooley, jr NA