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Corban Knight, Clarke Saunders and UND face Michigan Tech to close out the first half.
Travel blog: Ho-ho-Houghton
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Updated: Friday 12/15/2012 16:30:17 (ET)
by Jayson Hajdu, UND Athletic Media Relations
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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2012

8:57 p.m. Eastern -- Greetings from Houghton, Michigan, where UND will face its final test prior to the Christmas break.

The team actually departed at 7:30 last night following practice in order to break up a long drive into two days. We arrived in Duluth shortly after midnight and called it a day. By 9:30 this morning, we were back on the road. Althought it's a long haul, it's also a scenic one, lined with hills and snow-topped trees.

The trip was also made more tolerable by the players' movie choices: Ted and Slap Shot.

The team got in a brisk, high-tempo practice this afternoon at MacInnes Student Ice Arena, capped off by sophomore Andrew Panzarella winning the weekly Thursday Showdown. In fact, Panzarella was one of four defensemen who advanced past the first round, including Nick Mattson, Jordan Schmaltz and Andrew MacWilliam.

MacWilliam had the quote of the day following his goal. After sniping the top corner on Zane Gothberg, a shot that elicited legitimate oohs and ahs from his teammates, MacWilliam sheepishly quipped, "I was going 5-hole."

After a terrific steak dinner, it's back to the hotel tonight. With final exams now in the books, if you'll pardon the pun, I'm guessing the players are looking forward to a relaxing night devoid of studying or traveling.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2012

3:54 p.m. Eastern -- My apologies for the late update today. Tim Hennessy and I have been glued to the television all afternoon in the wake of the horrific Connecticut school shooting. This is one of those days on which sports is both unimportant and important, all at the same time.

Unimportant because so many people, as I type this, are experiencing the worst day of their lives, a real-life nightmare, and a game suddenly becomes extremely trivial in the big picture. There are things in life worth getting legimitately angry over. A one-goal deficit, a missed empty net, or a defensive zone turnover in a college hockey game should not be among them.

But sports are also important because they give us some small measure of escape for two or three hours. On this particularly dark day, a hockey game will (temporarily) give us something to cheer about.

And that's still worth something.

5:27 p.m. Eastern -- Time to talk some hockey.

Coach Dave Hakstol is going with the same lineup as last Saturday, which means Andrew Panzarella is in for Nick Mattson on the blueline, and Clarke Saunders starts in goal:

UND Lineup
MacMillan-Knight-Kristo
Caggiula-Rowney-Grimaldi
O'Donnell-St. Clair-Gaarder
Senkbeil-Pattyn-Rodwell

MacWilliam-Panzarella
Simpson-Gleason
Forbort-Schmaltz

Saunders
Gothberg

Scratches: Mattson, Parks, Mitch MacMillan, Sanderson, Chyzyk, Maris
Referees: Scott Bokal, Matt Ulwelling
Linesemen: Dan Juopperi, Ed Moberg

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2012

5:25 p.m. Eastern -- The players have just emerged from their pre-game video meeting and we are approximately an hour-and-a-half away from dropping the puck on the final game of the first half.

Much has been made this week about this being UND's final series before the Christmas break, and many wondered whether the players would be looking ahead to their break. Last night was certainly a decisive answer. Personally, I'm expecting another focused effort tonight. During last night's postgame interviews, the players were already talking about tonight's game and the need to "finish the job."

As far as the lineup, the only roster change is Nick Mattson going back in after sitting the past two games in favor of Andrew Panzarella. Connor Gaarder and Colten St. Clair have also switched spots on the third line.

UND Lineup:
MacMillan-Knight-Kristo
Caggiula-Rowney-Grimaldi
O'Donnell-Gaarder-St. Clair
Senkbeil-Pattyn-Rodwell

MacWilliam-Mattson
Simpson-Gleason
Forbort-Schmaltz

Saunders
Gothberg

Out: Parks, Panzarella, Mitch MacMillan, Sanderson, Chyzyk, Maris
Referees: Scott Bokal, Matt Ulwelling
Linesmen: Dan Juopperi, Ed Moberg

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