Cornell defenseman Cody Haiskanen returns to home state to take on UND
Haiskanen will go head-to-head with another former Fargo Davies player, UND's Tyler Kleven, in a two-game series in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Cody Haiskanen didn't play hockey last season.
Cornell shut down its athletic programs before the year even began out of COVID-19 concerns, leaving the defenseman from Fargo with a decision to make.
Should he attempt to come back for a fifth and final season of college hockey or should he move on?
Haiskanen was already leaning toward coming back when Cornell coach Mike Schafer slipped him a tidbit: A trip to North Dakota was on the schedule for the 2021-22 season.
"That added incentive on top of things," Haiskanen said, "because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Haiskanen, who played prep hockey at Fargo Davies, will get that opportunity this weekend as the No. 5 Fighting Hawks host the No. 14 Big Red at 7:07 p.m. Friday and 6:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
"I've had these couple games marked on my calendar ever since I knew about them," Haiskanen said after practice Thursday night. "It's super exciting. A lot of family and friends are going to be around. I grew up coming to a lot of these games, so I'm really looking forward to (Friday) night."
The Big Red flew to Fargo on Wednesday night and stayed there. On Thursday, they had lunch at Haiskanen's family home before driving to Grand Forks for a 5 p.m. practice.
"This has worked out great for him," Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. "Obviously, during his senior year to come back to North Dakota and play in this rink that he grew up and saw them play obviously is a great opportunity and a great experience for him."
Haiskanen will play against a fellow Fargo Davies player in Tyler Kleven, who is a Fighting Hawks sophomore. He'll also go against Moorhead's Ethan Frisch, a skating partner of his during the summer.
"He was one of the lucky few," Schafer said about Haiskanen's ability to come back for a fifth year. "The Ivy League rule is there is certain progress toward degree, and the guys who were right on track, like Cody, had more flexibility for that senior semester. He was fortunate he was able to do an internship and work toward his degree and we're really happy to have him back."
The 6-foot-4, 202-pound defenseman played three seasons at Fargo Davies, but suffered an injury as a senior that kept him out all but one game.
He played a year of junior hockey in Portage, Man., and another for the Fargo Force before heading to Ithaca, N.Y., where he's been a mainstay for one of the top programs in the country.
Cornell was a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament during his freshman season, but got knocked off by Boston University in the first round. Haiskanen played in 32 of 33 games that season.
As a sophomore, Haiskanen played in 20 games as the Big Red earned a No. 3 seed and came within a game of the NCAA Frozen Four.
As a junior, Cornell was 23-2-4 and the No. 1-ranked team in the polls when the coronavirus pandemic ended the season.
"He's a real solid player," Schafer said of Haiskanen. "He's a kid who his teammates all respect. He comes ready to work every day."
The Big Red enter this weekend's series with a 9-3-1 mark.
"At the beginning of the year, we didn't have much for expectations," Haiskanen said. "We had a new group. We had to get them kind of formed to our culture and caught up to speed real quick, and they did a great job of doing that. So, we've just got to keep trucking, steadily progressing toward the end of the year so we're playing our best hockey, which is what we're working on right now."
No. 14 Cornell at No. 5 UND
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).