The Penrose Cup has resided in Ralph Engelstad Arena for the last year.
National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Josh Fenton brought it to Grand Forks on Leap Day 2020, UND clinched it that night with a dramatic overtime win over Western Michigan and it hasn't left since then.
It might not have to travel during the pandemic, either.
Thanks to a convincing 4-1 win over Omaha on Friday night, UND has moved within one victory of clinching the trophy that the team has affectionately called the 'Penne Rosa' since winning it for the first time in 2015. It won then Penrose back-to-back in 2016 and is one win away from doing it back-to-back again.
Defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker scored a goal and had three points, while Jasper Weatherby scored for the fifth-straight game and Tyler Kleven and Jackson Keane added goals to increase UND's lead over St. Cloud State atop the league's standings to seven points.
Goalie Adam Scheel returned after a one-game injury absence to stop 24 of 25 shots, including 14 in a busy first period.
"I thought it was a solid game, a lot of good performances from a lot of guys in that locker room," UND coach Brad Berry said. "It's one of those things where we desperately wanted that first one tonight. We got it. Now, we're concentrating on trying to win a game tomorrow to try to hang another banner."
UND (16-4-1) wants to do it at home, too, where it has been nearly unbeatable.
UND is now 25-1 in its last 26 home games dating back to the end of the 2018-19 season. It hasn't lost at home in more than a calendar year and is 5-0 in the building this season, having outscored its opponents 21-4. It has not played a game closer than three goals at home yet this season.
"Over the last couple of years, we've established an identity here at home," Berry said. "I think our guys have played consistently to it. It would be great to do that tomorrow."
Due to the pandemic, only 3,000 fans will be allowed in the building for the potential Penrose-clinching game at 6:07 p.m., which is a far cry from the 11,837 that packed The Ralph for last year's clincher. But after playing the first 14 games of this season behind closed doors, even a limited crowd is a welcome sight for the players.
"Our fans are everything to us," Bernard-Docker said. "Even having 3,000 people in the building right now is amazing. They're a huge reason for our success. Winning it at home would be really cool."
Omaha has been, perhaps, UND's biggest nemesis over the last two seasons.
The Fighting Hawks have lost just nine games over the last two seasons (42-9-1) -- a third of them have been against Omaha. The Mavericks are the only team to have a victory in The Ralph during that time, beating UND 6-3 on Jan. 10, 2020.
But despite some of that success, there's also this: Omaha has played 21 series against UND in program history and it hasn't won any of them. The Mavericks won't win this one, either, but they will try to keep their run of success in Game 2s of series this season. Omaha is 5-0 on the second night of two-game series, including a victory over UND in Omaha three weeks ago.
"It's not going to come easy," Berry said. "We're playing a team that's 5-0 in back-to-back games this year. They haven't lost in their second on a back-to-back. Our guys know that. I firmly believe our guys are going to be excited to have an opportunity to do that at home in front of our fans here. It's going to be hard-fought battle. We know that going in. It's a situation where we're probably going to have to play our best game to get a win tomorrow."
Fenton is expected to travel from the league's headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., to Grand Forks on Saturday morning for a possible Penrose presentation. There are two ways it could happen.
If Colorado College beats St. Cloud State during their noon game, the Fighting Hawks would clinch at least a share of the title and it would be presented no matter the outcome of UND's game. If the Huskies win, then UND needs to beat Omaha in the series finale.
"In our meeting room here, we have all the boxes we need to check," Berry said. "They know how close we are to checking the next one. I firmly believe our guys will be hungry tomorrow."
If UND doesn't win the Penrose on Saturday, it will have two more opportunities to do it: next Friday at Omaha or the regular-season finale on March 5 against the Mavericks in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
But the players want to get it done Saturday, so they can celebrate with the home fans.
"I know it sounds kind of weird to think you don't want to win it on the road, but our plan is to try to win it tomorrow," Keane said. "That's kind of what everyone's been thinking. We don't want to put it to chance. We want to make sure we get it tomorrow and take hold of it."