Preview: The NCHC Frozen Faceoff hasn't been easy for No. 1 seeds

Mar. 22—ST. PAUL, Minn. — The National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff hasn't been easy for the Penrose Cup champions.

Only one team in the 11-year history of the conference has won both the regular-season and postseason titles in the same season.

That was the 2020-21 UND Fighting Hawks squad.

They had a little bit of an advantage. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the playoffs were in Ralph Engelstad Arena that season.

This UND team will try to do it in Xcel Energy Center.

The Fighting Hawks are two wins away after last weekend's sweep of Miami University in the quarterfinals.

UND will take on Omaha at 4 p.m. Friday in Xcel Energy Center in a semifinal game. Denver plays St. Cloud State in the other semifinal game.

What does UND coach Brad Berry want to see from his team?

"Intensity, compete and being relentless — the things that make up our culture and how we play as our identity of our team," Berry said. "I saw that (Thursday) in practice. I saw that earlier this week in practice. I saw that before we played Miami. Guys are excited to play. This is a fun time of year. This is where you reap your reward for battling hard all year. You've got to make it fun. You've got to make it enjoyable. But you've got to have a business-like approach to it and I think our guys have both."

Omaha is 3-1 this season against UND.

The teams split a series in Grand Forks in January with Omaha winning the opener in overtime and UND taking the series finale. Two weeks ago, Omaha swept UND in Baxter Arena.

"We want to win every game and we want to have that mindset no matter what's on the table," UND alternate captain Louis Jamernik V said. "We know that the regional is there for us, but we still have that first seed at stake. We want to put ourselves in the best position to have a good seeding."

UND Omaha

3.82 (8th) Off 2.92 (32nd)

2.50 (14th) Def 2.76 (25th)

25.8 (9th) PP 17.8 (44th)

82.4 (19th) PK 77.8 (44th)

51.3 (25th) FO 53.7 (9th)

.905 (22nd) SP .910 (15th)

National rank in parenthesis. Categories are offense (goals per game), defense (goals against per game), power play percentage, penalty kill percentage, faceoff percentage and team save percentage.

UND — G Ludvig Persson probable (undisclosed)

Omaha — none known

Sullivan, a fifth-year senior, has solid point totals with seven goals and 14 points this season. But his value has been massive on the defensive end. Sullivan takes all the important defensive zone draws and he wins them at an incredible rate. He has 410 overall faceoff wins. He'll become the NCHC's leader today (he's three behind Tim Washe of Western Michigan). His win rate is 59.7 percent. Sullivan also has played more penalty kill time than anyone on Omaha. So, watch for Sullivan's value defensively.

It's usually the big-time players that make big plays on the big stage. Remember the 2011 Final Five? It was Matt Frattin who made the big plays including the double overtime winner in the championship. Remember 2012? It was Brock Nelson who went off that weekend. Jackson Blake has already won a state championship at the Xcel Energy Center. He's won a Clark Cup in the USHL, a Penrose Cup in the NCHC. Blake has a tendency to shine in big moments.

Omaha swept UND two weeks ago and looked pretty good in doing so. But this weekend, UND is playing for a little bit more and head coach Brad Berry will have last line change to better dictate matchups. Intensity should be high on both sides, but the Fighting Hawks probably need a win to be placed in Sioux Falls, which would be their preference.

In the night game, St. Cloud State needs to win to keep hopes alive for an NCAA tournament berth. But Denver has been playing well lately, taking six of seven without Massimo Rizzo or Carter King. The Pioneers may get King back this weekend, which would be a big boost.

UND 4, Omaha 2

Denver 5, St. Cloud State 3


Thursday's practice report from Xcel Energy Center


Five storylines to follow at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff


UND, Omaha players have state championship game history at the X


Jackson Blake named NCHC Player of the Year


Grand Forks business leaders launch NIL collective


UND not expected to announce starting goaltender until Friday


NCHC semifinal game could determine whether UND is a No. 1 seed


Jackson Blake named Hobey Baker Award finalist


T.J. Oshie plays in 1,000th NHL regular-season game


Multiple-time transfers will be eligible immediately without a waiver this year


NCAA transfer portal tracker


Previewing the NCHC Frozen Faceoff


9 Jackson Blake (CAR), so, f, 21-36—57

22 Owen McLaughlin (PHI), so, f, 13-24—37

14 Cameron Berg (NYI), jr, f, 20-16—36

17 Riese Gaber, sr, f, 18-16—34

4 Jake Livanavage, fr, d, 4-24—28

7 Garrett Pyke, 5th, d, 3-22—25

26 Dylan James (DET), so, f, 9-10—19

18 Jayden Perron (CAR), fr, f, 11-7—18

28 Hunter Johannes, 5th, f, 10-7—17

27 Louis Jamernik V, sr, f, 8-9—17

29 Jackson Kunz (VAN), jr, f, 7-10—17

6 Logan Britt, 5th, d, 7-6—13

21 Ben Strinden (NSH), so, f, 6-5—11

8 Jake Schmaltz (BOS), jr, f, 1-10—11

25 Abram Wiebe (VGK), fr, d, 1-8—9

2 Bennett Zmolek, so, d, 0-8—8

11 Griffin Ness, sr, f, 3-3—6

20 Keaton Pehrson, 5th, d, 0-6—6

13 Carson Albrecht, sr, f, 2-1—3

32 Ludvig Persson, sr, g, 0-3—3

5 Dane Montgomery, so, f, 1-1—2

15 Nate Benoit (MIN), fr, d, 0-1—1

10 Tanner Komzak, fr, d, 0-0—0

30 Hobie Hedquist, fr, g, 0-0—0

1 Kaleb Johnson, so, g, dnp


32 Ludvig Persson, sr, 21-10-2, 2.47, .906

30 Hobie Hedquist, fr, 5-0, 2.05, .919

1 Kaleb Johnson, so, dnp


71 Tanner Ludtke (ARI), fr, f, 11-17—28

28 Jack Randl, 5th, f, 13-12—25

19 Ty Mueller (VAN), jr, f, 10-15—25

7 Griffin Ludtke, so, d, 4-20—24

6 Zach Urdahl, jr, f, 10-11—21

27 Matt Miller, sr, f, 6-12—18

26 Brock Bremer, sr, f, 6-11—17

2 Joaquim Lemay (WSH), so, d, 4-12—16

22 Jimmy Glynn, sr, f, 8-6—14

11 Nolan Sullivan, 5th, f, 7-7—14

3 Kirby Proctor, 5th, d, 7-7—14

14 Jesse Lansdell, 5th, f, 3-9—12

10 Jacob Guevin, so, d, 3-8—11

23 Victor Mancini (NYR), jr, d, 4-6—10

8 Ray Fust, so, f, 4-5—9

12 Nolan Krenzen, sr, d, 2-7—9

21 Tyler Rollwagen, so, f, 3-5—8

13 Jacob Slipec, so, f, 2-2—4

15 Noah Ellis (VGK), so, d, 0-3—3

18 Michael Abgrall, so, f, 0-3—3

9 Dominic Vidoli, sr, d, 1-1—2

16 Cam Mitchell, so, f, 0-1—1

24 Charlie Lurie, fr, f, 0-1—1

30 Simon Latkoczy, so, g, 0-0—0

32 Seth Eisele, 5th, g, 0-0—0

1 Will Craig, fr, g, dnp


30 Simon Latkoczy, so, 18-10-3, 2.62, .913

32 Seth Eisele, 5th, 4-1-1, 2.37, .919

1 Will Craig, fr, dnp