HAMDEN, Conn. — Connor Ford's last trip to Quinnipiac was a little bit different.
Early last season, Ford and his Bowling Green teammates boarded a sleeper bus late one evening. The plan was to drive through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, a sliver of New York and arrive in Hamden, Conn., at about 8 a.m.
Those plans went awry when the bus ran into a blizzard.
"We woke up at 4 a.m. and we were stopped on the Interstate," Ford said. "I woke up again at 8 a.m. and we were stopped in the same spot. The Interstate was closed through Pennsylvania. We were stuck there for a few hours. Once it opened up, we finished the trip."
It ended up being an 18-hour drive.
Bowling Green and Quinnipiac played a two-game series in front of an empty People's United Center. Not even family members were allowed to attend.
"It was an interesting time, right?" said Ford, who transferred to UND in the summer.
This weekend, things will be more conventional.
On Thursday afternoon, No. 6 UND made its first trip to Connecticut since 2002 — with no travel issues — and will take on No. 7 Quinnipiac in a top-10 showdown at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday (ESPN Plus). It's also a rematch of the 2016 NCAA national championship game in Tampa, Fla.
"It's always a prideful event when you play a very good team and a very good organization like Quinnipiac," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Rand (Pecknold) has been there for a long time and he's done a tremendous job with players coming through his group there. They've had a lot of success. We want to make sure we have a great start to the series and learn how to play on the road.
"We went into a tough environment in Bemidji last week and did relatively well against one of the top-ranked teams in the country and found a way to win a game. We're going to have to try to do the same thing."
The Fighting Hawks and Bobcats are expected to play in front of a packed and raucous People's United Center, where there are no capacity limits this season.
"It's an opportunity," Ford said. "It's an opportunity to showcase what we can do against a top-10 program and to kind of solidify our performance in our nonconference."
When UND players took the ice for practice Thursday afternoon, they didn't have to look far for reminders of the last meeting between the Fighting Hawks and Quinnipiac.
A 2016 NCAA Frozen Four banner hangs above UND's tunnel to the ice.
UND won that game 5-1 behind a three-goal, seven-point night by the top line — Brock Boeser, Nick Schmaltz and Drake Caggiula. All three are now in the NHL.
Quinnipiac reached the final that season behind a veteran team. Eight of the Bobcats' top 10 scorers were upperclassmen.
This season, Quinnipiac likely has its best team since 2016. It is again veteran-laden; the Bobcats have used 16 upperclassmen, three sophomores and two freshmen during their 2-0-1 start.
"I think we have a good senior leadership group," said Quinnipiac senior defenseman Marcus Chorney, whose father, Marc, and brother, Taylor, were All-American defensemen at UND. "We added some key pieces with (five) grad transfers. We have some good young guys, a really deep team. Nobody in the locker room has any doubt about what we can accomplish this year. We're ready to go the distance.
"Oliver Chau came to us from UMass. He was a national champion last year. That's a good voice to have. He kind of brings us all together in that sense. I don't think there's any doubt in our locker room about what we can accomplish."
Quinnipiac opened the season with a 2-2 tie against Boston College, though the Bobcats outshot the Eagles 33-19. They haven't allowed a goal since that, shutting out Northeastern and Vermont. Last Saturday at Vermont, the Bobcats didn't allow a shot on goal for the first 31 minutes, 35 seconds of the game, a school record.
They enter this weekend with a shutout streak of 148:45.
"Our nonconference schedule is very tough and demanding," said Berry, whose team played nationally ranked Bemidji State last weekend and has future nonconference games against nationally ranked Minnesota and Cornell. "Our guys know that. But in the end, it makes you a better team."
UND at Quinnipiac
When: 6 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Frank Perrotti Jr. Arena, Hamden, Conn.
Webcast: ESPN Plus.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).