The dogs return to the stands for UND's key win over Denver
Urko Pinto, Lucius Feeney, Phil Keane and Bauer and Bella Bast were on hand for the Fighting Hawks' game in Magness Arena.
DENVER -- When the UND men's hockey team takes the ice for pregame warmups in Denver's Magness Arena, it is used to looking up at the north end and seeing a wall of green and white.
That's where the large Colorado alumni base sits, stands, chants and cheers its way through the semi-annual two-game series between the rivals.
That wasn't the case Monday night. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, no fans were allowed to attend the series.
But the dogs -- UND's good-luck charms this season -- showed up just in time.
Urko Pinto, Lucius Feeney, Phil Keane and Bauer and Bella Bast were sitting directly behind UND's bench during the Fighting Hawks' 5-1 win over Denver in the series finale in Magness Arena.
"That was an automatic," defenseman Matt Kiersted said. "We knew we were going to win when we saw the dogs in the stands."
The dogs -- or the cardboard cutouts of them, rather -- became good-luck charms during the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod in December.
The league offered fans an opportunity to send in cardboard cutouts of themselves -- or their pets -- to sit in the otherwise-empty seats. Several UND players' families submitted cardboard cutouts of their family dogs.
Urko is forward Shane Pinto's 14-year-old pug. Phil is forward Jackson Keane's 4-year-old English Mastiff. Lucius is goalie Harrison Feeney's 3-year-old bulldog. Bauer and Bella are defenseman Gabe Bast's dogs.
The dogs were scattered throughout the stands in Omaha's Baxter Arena for the start of the Pod, but after UND went 3-2-1 during the first seven games, UND's players decided they should be sitting together in the front row.
"We just came off a loss," Pinto said. "Me and Jackson and Feens thought maybe we should put them together for good luck."
After moving them together, the Fighting Hawks went 4-0 to end the Pod with wins over Western Michigan, St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth and Miami.
'It took them a while to walk here'
The dogs were not in the stands for last weekend's series at Colorado College or for UND's 4-1 loss Sunday night to Denver in Magness Arena. But they were back in the seats, sitting together, for Monday night's key game, which vaulted the Fighting Hawks into first place in the NCHC standings.
"It was great to see a few fans up there in the stands," said UND forward Mark Senden, who had a career-high four points. "It was kind of funny to see them up there in warmups. It was good. It brought a little extra energy to the bench."
When asked why the dogs weren't in the stands for Sunday's game, a team source said: "It took them a while to walk here."
UND is now 5-0 with the dogs sitting together. That's an even better record than the 3-0-1 mark with their black jerseys.
The dogs have witnessed wins over Western Michigan, St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth, Miami and Denver.
The only NCHC teams that haven't had to face UND with the dogs sitting together in the stands are Colorado College and Omaha, which happen to be UND's next two opponents.
The Tigers are scheduled to come to Ralph Engelstad Arena for a two-game series Saturday and Sunday. Then, UND is slated to play at Omaha on Jan. 29-30.
Will the dogs be there?
"I think they're going to have to be in the stands the rest of the year," Kiersted said.