HAMDEN, Conn. — One member of UND's hockey team was not born the last time the program played a game in the state of Connecticut.

The rest were infants or toddlers when UND beat Yale 7-3 behind four points from James Massen on Nov. 2, 2002.

But the Fighting Hawks had a couple of pretty good tour guides on their flight Thursday morning.

UND athletic director Bill Chaves, with a Hartford Whalers hat in tow, traveled with the team back to his home state. Chaves grew up in Hartford and once worked as the sports information director at Quinnipiac.

UND sophomore defenseman Cooper Moore grew up in Cos Cob, Conn. He's just the third UND player to come from the state of Connecticut. The others are New Haven's Frank Morgan (1951-52) and New Hartford's Mike Cichy (2009-11).

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Moore said his parents have since moved to Florida, though, and he hasn't been back to Connecticut in a couple of years. He still has some friends and family in the area who are planning to attend this weekend's series.

Outside of the 2002 game, UND has made one other trip to Connecticut in program history. On Jan. 2-3, 1981, UND played in the Yale Invitational Tournament in New Haven. It beat Vermont 7-5 and Toronto 3-2 in those games.

Marc Chorney played in those games for UND. His son, Marcus, will be playing in these ones for Quinnipiac.

Here are 25 other notes this week in hockey:

1. Quinnipiac's home arena, the People's United Center, opened in January 2007. It has two arenas under its roof — a basketball court on one side and a hockey arena on the other. It also has a picturesque setting out back. Fans in the suites can walk onto a deck between periods and have this view:

The view from behind the People's United Center in Hamden, Conn. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman/Grand Forks Herald
The view from behind the People's United Center in Hamden, Conn. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman/Grand Forks Herald

2. Friday's game marks Quinnipiac's home opener, which means it will be the first time any fans are in the building since Feb. 29, 2020. Quinnipiac had 17 home games last season with 0 attendance. There will be no capacity limit Friday, but fans will be required to wear masks.

3. This series will feature two of last summer's most aggressive teams in the transfer portal. UND added five players, as did Quinnipiac. The Bobcats picked up all fifth-year seniors. Forward Oliver Chau was the second-leading scorer on UMass's NCAA national championship team last season. Defenseman Griffin Mendel was an every day blue liner for Denver (Mendel played against UND seven times last season). Goalie Dylan St. Cyr was a starter at Notre Dame. And the other two, defensemen Tony Stillwell and Brendan Less, played in the Ivy League, but sat out last season.

4. St. Cyr is the son of goaltending legend Manon Rheaume, who became the first female to play in an NHL preseason game in 1992. Rheaume suited up for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Rheaume played goalie in the 1998 Olympics for Canada.

5. Quinnipiac forward Skyler Brind'Amour, an Edmonton Oilers draft pick, is the son of Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour.

6. The Bobcats are carrying 11 defensemen on their roster this season. Eight is the typical number for most college hockey teams.

7. UND's last five trips to the ECAC: at Union (Dec. 31, 2016), at Cornell (Jan. 22-23, 2010), at Harvard (Dec. 5-6, 2008), at Dartmouth (Dec. 29, 2006) and at Yale (Nov. 2, 2002).

8. Because it's not a conference game, UND was not subjected to a limited travel roster. So, the Fighting Hawks brought every forward and defenseman on the trip. Fighting Hawks forward Brendan Budy hasn't played yet this season due to injury, but he appears to be getting close.

9. Two players from last season’s UND squad tallied their first NHL points last weekend. Center Jasper Weatherby scored his first NHL goal for the San Jose Sharks against the Winnipeg Jets, while defenseman Matt Kiersted registered an assist for the Florida Panthers against the New York Islanders.

10. Former UND center and current Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto left Thursday night's game in the first period after a nasty collision into the boards. Pinto came back and played one shift in the second period before leaving for good. Senators coach D.J. Smith didn't have any immediate updates after the game, but indicated the Sens don't believe it's a longterm injury.

11. Former UND defenseman Christian Wolanin was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Sabres this weekend. Wolanin had been playing for the Los Angeles Kings. In Buffalo, Wolanin will be reunited with Drake Caggiula, his teammate on UND’s 2016 NCAA national title team.

12. It's still early this season, but UND is currently drawing more fans per home game (11,550) than either the Ottawa Senators (10,740) or the Buffalo Sabres (7,905).

13. Former UND head coach Dave Hakstol will coach his first game in Seattle on Saturday night. After a five-game road trip to start the season, the Kraken will finally open Climate Pledge Arena against Tucker Poolman, Brock Boeser and the Vancouver Canucks.

14. A pair of former UND players will wear the captain’s ‘C’ in the American Hockey League this season. Brad Malone will serve as the captain of the Bakersfield Condors for the second-straight season, while Dillon Simpson will serve as captain of the Cleveland Monsters.

15. Former Roseau High defenseman Aaron Ness, who played college hockey at Minnesota, is wearing an 'A' for the Providence Bruins.

16. Former UND forward Brendan O'Donnell is on a hot streak in Germany's top league. O'Donnell has eight points in the last seven games and is in the top-20 in the league in scoring. He plays for Dusseldorf.

17. Former UND defenseman Josh Rieger, who is playing his fifth year of college for the University of Calgary, scored goals in his first two games this season. Rieger played 48 college games over four years for UND, scoring twice. Both came at Denver's Magness Arena.

18. Josefine Jakobsen, who played at UND from 2011-15, tallied her 300th point in the top Swedish league this week with a three-point game at Leksand. Jakobsen plays for Djurgardens, where she and fellow former UND forward Andrea Dalen are the top-two all-time leading scorers. Jakobsen also stars for the Danish national team.

19. Former UND forward Harrison Blaisdell, who transferred to New Hampshire this summer, ended a 51-game goal drought Saturday night, scoring his first for the Wildcats in a 5-1 loss at Arizona State. Blaisdell's last goal came on Oct. 18, 2019 at MSU-Mankato. He went top shelf with a backhand on that night, making it two goals in his first three games at UND. He didn't score again as a Fighting Hawk.

20. East Grand Forks Senior High graduate Grant Loven scored his first two goals of the season last Saturday for St. Thomas against Lake Superior State. Loven scored in the second period on the power play and in the third shorthanded. Loven is tied for the scoring lead on the Tommies with three points.

21. A pair of Minn. Section 8 boys alums scored their first British Columbia Hockey League goals in the same game last weekend. East Grand Forks Senior High's Landon Parker scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Wenatchee Wild. Then, Thief River Falls defenseman Evan Bushy scored the overtime winner for Trail.

22. East Grand Forks Senior High graduate and defenseman Taylor Brierley is transferring from Division-I Union College to Division-III Wilkes, which is based in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

23. One thing that jumps out when looking at inter-conference play is that Hockey East is 10-2 against Atlantic Hockey, but 3-13-1 against the four other leagues, including an 0-8 mark against the three Western-based leagues (NCHC, CCHA, Big Ten). Hockey East has three games against the West on Friday: Colorado College at Boston College, Denver at Providence and Michigan State at UMass Lowell.

24. Minnesota has had a rough time with Minnesota Duluth of late, going 1-10-1 in its last 12 against the Bulldogs. But the Big Ten-favored Gophers have an opportunity to stop that skid this weekend with a home-and-home series. Bulldog coach Scott Sandelin thinks the Gophers might be better than a Michigan team that beat the Bulldogs 5-1 last weekend.

25. Overtimes have not been good for the NCHC early this season. The league has played in seven overtime games and has won just one of them (Omaha over Alaska 3-2). The NCHC has lost four (UND, St. Cloud State, Omaha, Miami) and tied two (Colorado College twice).

The focus

Sophomore forward Ty Smilanic is arguably the most highly touted men’s hockey player Quinnipiac has ever recruited to campus. He’s the second-highest NHL draft pick ever to play for the Bobcats (Florida Panthers, third round, No. 74 overall). Smilanic, who was once committed to Denver, played for the U.S. Under-18 Team before joining the Bobcats. Smilanic led the nation in freshman goals last season with 14.

Not everyone on UND's roster needs an introduction to him. Smilanic was teammates for two years at the U.S. Under-17 and Under-18 teams with Jake Sanderson and Tyler Kleven.

"He's a really good player," Sanderson said. "He's fast and skilled. We've got to warn our defensemen about his speed, that's for sure."

Quinnipiac University forward Ty Smilanic. Photo by Quinnipiac athletics.
Quinnipiac University forward Ty Smilanic. Photo by Quinnipiac athletics.

The pick to click

Both UND and Quinnipiac play fast and transition quickly. That style of game means forward Riese Gaber should be UND's biggest threat. Gaber is off to a great start to this season, tallying six points in four games. He has a point in every game so far. With his skill level and speed, look for Gaber to be the one driving the Fighting Hawks' offense this weekend.

UND forward Riese Gaber drives the puck into the Beavers zone ahead of Bemidji State's Nick Cardelli (26) in the first period of an exhibition hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday, October 2, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
UND forward Riese Gaber drives the puck into the Beavers zone ahead of Bemidji State's Nick Cardelli (26) in the first period of an exhibition hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday, October 2, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks HeraldNick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The call

Quinnipiac is probably the best team in the East this season. The Bobcats are a veteran group — they’ve had 16 upperclassmen and five underclassmen play for them this season. They’re talented at every position and they bolstered their group with five transfers. The Bobcats want to make a run at an NCAA title. This weekend will be a good measuring stick to see where UND stacks up against one of the country’s best on the road.

Friday: UND 3, Quinnipiac 2.

Saturday: Quinnipiac 4, UND 2.

The UND men's hockey team walked over the competition during 2015-2016 season. The Fighting Hawks trounced Quinnipiac 5-1 to win college hockey's national championship at the end of the season. File photo / Forum News Service
The UND men's hockey team walked over the competition during 2015-2016 season. The Fighting Hawks trounced Quinnipiac 5-1 to win college hockey's national championship at the end of the season. File photo / Forum News Service