UND Hockey Makes the Final Five

Dillion Simpson Eric Classen, UND Sports

Dillion Simpson
Eric Classen, UND Sports

Grand Forks, ND – With the win tonight, the University of North Dakota (21-11-7) hockey team has made the WCHA Final Five in each of Dave Hakstol’s nine seasons.

What’s even more impressive with UND’s 6-0 win over Michigan Tech, UND has made the Final Five for the 11th-straight year in a row, that’s the longest current streak in the WCHA.

Since coach Hakstol took over the reins in 2004-05, the University of North Dakota hockey team has never lost a first round WCHA playoff series and currently holds 18-4 (.818) record.

Hakstol also holds an impressive 32-9 record in the WCHA playoff games.

After last night’s 2-1 loss to the Michigan Tech Huskies, that streak appeared to be in jeopardy.  In last night’s game, the Michigan Tech Huskies were a miserable team to play against; they clogged up the neutral zone up and gave North Dakota little time and space. Huskies also beat UND to the puck all night long.

Tonight was a different story, the Green and White left little doubt as they were the better team all night long and beat the Huskies to the puck all night long and the Huskies defenders had no answer for UND team speed as they entered the neutral zone with speed and when the Huskies got a chance on Clarke Saunders the UND defense was there to clear the puck.

In the end, UND blew out the Michigan Tech Huskies (13-20-4) and actually ended up pulling the  starting goalie Clarke Saunders with 4:02 left and inserted the backup goalie Tate Maris who’s a very popular third string goalie with his teammates and with the fans as well.

Think about this, Clarke Saunders had a 27 save shutout, when the ever popular Tate Maris entered the game to a standing ovation. That happened. It was a very classy move by the head coach Dave Hakstol.

“I thought the level of play was our most complete of the year, without a question,” Head coach Dave Hakstol said of his team’s 6-0 win over the Michigan Tech Huskies. “We played at a playoff level for three periods tonight and it started right from the drop of the puck.”

An emotional Tate Maris explained what it was like to finally get a taste of game action in the last home game of his college hockey career. “it’s kind of indescribable I guess,” Maris said. I don’t know. I guess I am kind of at a loss for words for it. It’s kind of four years pushed into one night in four minutes there at the end. Pretty surreal, to say the least, it’s just amazing to be out there with your fellow teammates. To be surrounded by those fans, it’s kind of indescribable, just amazing to say the least.”

According to senior forward Corban Knight, tonight was a statement game for the UND hockey team and the head coach challenged the team to be better for 60 minutes tonight.

“We set the bar pretty high tonight with the way we played,” senior forward Corban Knight said. “In order for us to be successful like you said, we need to keep that bar high and make sure we’re working hard to get to that every night, because we’re only going to be playing better teams from here on in.”

Up next for UND is Colorado College who beat DU 4-3. That game will be next Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. central time. UND and Colorado College split the season series 2-2.

Cross-posted at the Hockey Writers Combine.

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