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Why Louis Jamernik V won't go through Senior Night festivities this weekend

Feb. 28—GRAND FORKS — Senior days have become a tricky thing in the era of fifth-year COVID seniors.

The UND hockey team settled on a plan last season, deciding to honor fourth-year seniors.

That doesn't necessarily mean those players aren't coming back for a fifth year.

Gavin Hain, Mark Senden and Carson Albrecht are examples of players who went through their senior days as fourth-years and returned for a fifth season, taking advantage of the COVID-impacted 2020-21 season, which doesn't count against anyone's eligibility.

The plan will remain the same for UND's regular-season home finale against Western Michigan on Saturday night in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

UND will honor three fourth-year seniors — captain Riese Gaber, forward Griffin Ness and goaltender Ludvig Persson.

The Fighting Hawks also will honor fifth-year senior transfer Hunter Johannes, because he did not receive a senior day last season at Lindenwood.

UND's other fifth-year senior transfers — Garrett Pyke (Alaska), Keaton Pehrson (Michigan) and Logan Britt (Sacred Heart) — were recognized at their previous stops.

That means there's one senior left — Louis Jamernik V.

Jamernik is in a unique situation.

He came to UND halfway through the 2020-21 season.

The NCAA had already ruled the 2020-21 season would not count against anybody's eligibility, and Jamernik's junior hockey team wasn't playing in Alberta due to COVID restrictions. So, he opted to take that free semester and come to college early.

Jamernik said because of his mid-season arrival, he always felt like part of the 2021-22 freshman class.

Therefore, he's opting not to take Senior Day on Saturday.

"It goes way back to when I first came here in December (2020)," Jamernik said. "(The coaches) said, 'Hey Jammer, we'd love for you to come up. This is a COVID year. It's a write-off year. You can still have four years after that.' That's always been my plan.

"In my mind, I've always been with the junior class. I've always felt that's my class. I'm close with Nesser and Gaber, really close with those guys, but I feel that's their class. Being able to do it next year will be more special for me."

Jamernik said he plans to return to UND for 2024-25.

Although he'll have enough credits to graduate this summer, he still will finish two aviation classes — Instrument Flight Instructor and Advanced Aircraft Operations — before graduating with a commercial aviation degree.

Jamernik is hoping to do some flight instructing in the spring semester.

On the ice, he knows UND will be strong next season.

"We're losing some huge components," Jamernik said. "But it makes me excited with who we've got coming back."

First, he's worried about trying to bring the Penrose Cup back to Grand Forks for the fourth time in five years. If UND sweeps the series against Western Michigan and gets help in the Denver-St. Cloud State series, it could potentially happen Saturday night. Otherwise, the Fighting Hawks will aim to do it in Omaha.

"When you look inside The Ralph, there are two colored banners for a reason," Jamernik said, referring to league championships and national championships. "The chance to hang another white banner would be huge. We talk about it every year. That's our expectation every single year — to win a Penrose. To have a chance to do that is awesome."

When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.

TV: CBS Sports (Friday); Midco Sports (Saturday).

Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).

Stream: NCHChockey.com on Saturday only.