|(above) North Dakota comes to Magness Arena this weekend|
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Saturday TV: Root Sports-Rocky Mountain
From: Grand Forks Herald
by Brad Schlossman
University of North Dakota hockey player Danny Kristo remembers getting a talk from three seniors before his first college hockey game.
Chris VandeVelde, Darcy Zajac and Chay Genoway sat down the team’s 10 rookies and explained to them that the season-opening nonconference games against Merrimack could end up determining the University of North Dakota’s postseason fate five months down the line.
“I remember them telling us that these are the games that make or break you at the end of the year,” Kristo said. “It helps to go through it personally, but they drilled that into our brains right away.
“I think that’s why we’re there every year. We know how important those nonconference games are and we’ve had a good nonconference record the last couple years.”
One team that did take care of business in nonconference play this season is the University of Denver. The Pioneers entered a late-December Hall of Fame Game against Boston University on an eight-game winless streak, but managed to knock off the Terriers in a one-game shot.
Denver, which currently sits in solid position at No. 11 in the Pairwise Rankings, would be nine spots lower at No. 20 if it lost to the Terriers.
UND is sitting in strong position at No. 6, thanks in large part to a Friday night win over Boston University at home. UND broke a 2-2 tie in the third period and went on to win 4-2. Had UND lost that game, it would be six spots lower at No. 12.
“The older guys who have been through it understand the ramifications of it and how the Pairwise can change in the last month and a half of the season,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “Without question, we make a very strong point coming into camp in the fall to have an understanding of how everything is put together and how important nonconference games are.”