Jackson Keane was supposed to be in the lineup Saturday.
The UND junior forward played an outstanding game in Friday's 3-1 win over Western Michigan, setting up the first goal with a slick pass through a defender to spring a two-on-one rush.
Keane's teammates recognized his outstanding night by awarding him the hard hat, which goes to their choice for player of the game.
It was a breakthrough moment for Keane, who had been in-and-out of the lineup all year. Since October, Keane had only played on back-to-back nights one time. But after four months of scratching and clawing for a lineup spot, he had finally earned a spot for an entire series.
"Automatic," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Boom. I had him going in the lineup."
That was until something remarkable happened Saturday morning.
Berry was sitting in the UND coaches room at ice level, preparing for the series finale against Western Michigan. It was Senior Night, an evening where the seniors are recognized with their parents before the game and with a video tribute after the game.
More important, UND had a chance to win the Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular-season champions with a victory.
Berry heard three knocks on the door.
It was Keane.
"Hey coach," Keane said. "I know you're going to have some hard decisions here. I just want you to know that I want to give up my spot if you're thinking about sitting a senior. It's their night. I want you to put them in the lineup."
Berry was caught off guard.
"It took me back," he said. "I got a little emotional."
Berry responded: "Thanks Keaner. Just to let you know, I planned on playing you tonight. I haven't made a decision yet. I'll let you know."
Berry sat back and thought about what happened.
"I'll tell you what, I don't know if I've ever been prouder," he said. "I've had a lot of proud moments here. I don't know if I've ever felt any prouder.
"You can tell who he's the son of. He's the son of Mike and Tammy Keane, who brought their son up the right way. His dad has been through a lot. He's won three Stanley Cups with three different teams for a reason. There's a reason why he acts like that."
Berry went up to Keane later and told him his decision.
Keane was out. All seven seniors were in.
During the pregame meal, Berry told the rest of the team what Keane did that morning.
"I think it caught some guys by surprise a little bit," Berry said. "I think it just reinforced what our culture is here. It's a team-first thing. It's respect for other people. I think it's pretty special what he did, especially at this time of year, when everybody wants to be in the lineup. I know he does, too."
UND ended up winning 2-1 in overtime and celebrated Senior Night with the Penrose Cup -- a perfect evening for Colton Poolman, Andrew Peski, Cole Smith, Dixon Bowen, Zach Yon, Casey Johnson and Westin Michaud.
Berry said he was reluctant to repeat the story because he knows Keane would prefer it stay within the locker room, but he felt it was important for others to get a look at their team's culture.
That wasn't the only thing Keane did Saturday, either.
Michaud's parents were unable to attend Senior Night. They were on the East Coast with Michaud's step brother for his Senior Night.
They had attended Westin's Senior Night last season when he was at Colorado College. Michaud had one year left of playing eligibility, though, and graduate transferred to UND.
Prior to the game, all of the seniors were introduced along with their parents.
Keane, not wanting Michaud to have to stand out there alone, volunteered to greet him on the ice. Michaud later said it shows the closeness of the team.
"I think those things meld us together a little bit tighter," Berry said. "It kind of galvanizes us a little bit more."
No. 2 UND at Omaha
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Baxter Arena, Omaha.
TV: Midco Sports Network (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).