UND to start NCHC play minus five players due to injuries
The Fighting Hawks will not have an extra skater for the series against Omaha in Baxter Arena.
OMAHA — Last season, UND surged down the stretch, going 9-1-1 and taking 29 of 33 possible points en route to winning a third-straight Penrose Cup.
That stretch was a stunner, because the Fighting Hawks played significantly shorthanded due to key injuries.
Perhaps it's not quite to the same extent, but this year's team will get its first test in dealing with a wave of injuries.
Although National Collegiate Hockey Conference teams are allowed to bring 23 players on road trips, UND did not carry that many on the plane to Omaha on Thursday because five players are out with injuries.
The biggest one of the group is fifth-year senior forward Gavin Hain, who has arguably been UND's best all-around player during the first month of the season.
Hain is out with a lower-body injury. He will be re-evaluated again next week before the Fighting Hawks host Denver.
Hain enters this weekend ranked second in the NCHC in even-strength goals (five), only one behind St. Cloud State's Grant Cruikshank (six). He's also been a part of UND's best defensive forward line alongside Mark Senden and Louis Jamernik V.
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The other players who will miss this weekend's series against the Mavericks are freshman forward Ben Strinden, senior forward Carson Albrecht, sophomore forward Dane Montgomery and sophomore defenseman Luke Bast.
Strinden sustained an injury when he was hit by Arizona State defenseman Tanner Hickey in the first period of Saturday night's U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Las Vegas. Strinden did not return to the bench after the first intermission. He is day-to-day.
Albrecht sustained an injury before last week's U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game and will remain out. Meanwhile, both Montgomery and Bast have been dealing with nagging upper-body injuries since fall camp. Neither have played a game yet this season.
Because of the injuries, UND will have 19 skaters available for Friday night's series opener against Omaha in Baxter Arena.
Although NCHC teams usually travel with two goaltenders due to travel roster restrictions, UND used the open spots to bring third goalie Kaleb Johnson to Omaha.
For Hain, it's another difficult setback.
Last season, right as he kicked off the best scoring streak of his college career, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in early January. Hain, of Grand Rapids, Minn., missed the entire stretch run and spent the summer rehabbing.
Hain opened the season by scoring four goals in the first three games. He also scored in Las Vegas against Arizona State.
Hain is a sixth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers.
No. 10 UND at Omaha
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: Baxter Arena, Omaha.
Records: UND 3-3-1, Omaha 4-3-1.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).