UND falls in NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals to Omaha

Mar. 22—ST. PAUL, Minn. — UND won't be winning both of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference trophies this season.

Those hopes were dashed with a 6-3 loss to Omaha in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals Friday afternoon in Xcel Energy Center.

Omaha forward Zach Urdahl scored three times — once on the power play, once at even strength and once into an empty net — as the Mavericks advanced to the NCHC title game for the first time in program history.

Matt Miller, Jimmy Glynn and Brock Bremer also scored on UND goaltender Hobie Hedquist,

who got the call over regular starter

Ludvig Persson.

UND's poor form in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff continued.

The Fighting Hawks are now 2-7 in semifinal games since the formation of the league in 2013-14 and 1-7 in the Twin Cities.

"There are four very good teams all hungry to try to win this cup and keep momentum going into the NCAA tournament," UND coach Brad Berry said. "For us, we've had a little adversity over the last couple of months and we always seem to respond from it. That's what it's going to have to take. We're going to have to get back on that bus tonight and go home and know we have another life yet. We're not done yet. These guys care. They absolutely care about each other and worked so hard to get to this point.

"We're going to have to play a little tighter together defensively, which will allow us to play in the other team's end. At the end of the day, we're going to be getting after it next weekend wherever we go."

UND's NCAA regional matchup and site will be announced at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

Its hopes of being in Sioux Falls, S.D., are dwindling.

The Fighting Hawks, who won the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champs, likely need a No. 1 seed to do that, because Omaha will be a No. 3 seed and the NCAA tournament committee tries to avoid in-conference matchups in the first round. No. 2 seeds play No. 3 seeds.

But being in a different regional than Omaha might be a good thing.

UND is 1-8 this season against Colorado College and Omaha. It is 25-3-2 against everyone else.

"I give them credit," UND forward Jake Schmaltz said. "They play hard. If you don't play a hard game, you make soft plays. We're going to learn from it and we're going to come out with a fire next weekend and be ready."

UND took the lead just 1:18 into the game, when Jackson Kunz put away a feed from Hobey Baker Award finalist Jackson Blake.

Blake reached 100 career points on the play, becoming the first UND player to join the Century Club since Zach Parise two decades ago.

The only UND players to hit 100 points in fewer games than Blake's 78 are Troy Murray (50), Tony Hrkac (59), Parise (66), Greg Johnson (74) and Perry Berezan (75).

"We got the lead and that's what we wanted early in the game," Berry said. "I thought our puck management going through the middle of the rink was questionable, which led to a power play and then they scored right away to answer. That's a big deal. We didn't have an opportunity to go up two goals because of that power-play goal we gave up. I thought our puck management wasn't sharp in the first period."

Omaha tied it up on Urdahl's first goal with 1:30 left in the first period.

Then, the Mavericks scored at 6:17 and 17:06 of the second period to take the lead for good.

UND's Hunter Johannes and Jake Livanavage scored to pull UND within a goal on two separate occasions, but Omaha answered both of those tallies within two minutes.

"We'll have to take a look at the video and clean up some areas," UND defenseman Keaton Pehrson said. "But we've got to put it behind us. We get extra life here. We're going to the national tournament, four games ahead of us. We need to get our swagger back and play with the juice and energy we have."

UND's attention will turn to the NCAA tournament, where it will attempt to win the program's ninth national championship.

Berry led UND to No. 8 in 2016.

That season, UND lost in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals and tied in the third-place game.

"I'll go back to 2016 when we had (Drake) Caggiula, (Brock) Boeser and (Nick) Schmaltz," Berry said. "When it was crunch time, and we were playing in the national semifinal game against Denver and in the championship game against Quinnipiac, those guys looked at each other and said, 'You know what? Jump on my back. We're going. We're going to take this thing and we're going to go.' I think that's the swagger, and that's what we need. 'Hey, come follow me. It's our time. It's my time to lead right now.' And we have that in our locker room."