FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2013
8:42 a.m. Central (Sioux Falls, S.D.) -- For the first time since the Miami series three weeks ago, it's back to the road for the men's hockey team.
Just like we did last year, the team left a day early to break up the length of the trip and spent the night in Sioux Falls, S.D. The bus pulled out at about 6:30 -- after practice and dinner at Engelstad Arena -- and arrive in Sioux Falls about five hours later.
Something new this time around was the use of a "sleeper bus." It's virtually identical to every other bus we've ever taken, with one important difference: the seats can convert into bunk beds. This ought to come in handy after Sunday night's game when we drive straight back to Grand Forks overnight. It may have changed my outlook on a few of those drives back from Houghton, Mich,, as well.
Our movie doubleheader included The Hangover 3 (not good) and Ted (repeat viewing, but still worth a watch).
We will be having breakfast shortly before getting back on the road to Omaha. Then it's back to the typical road routine: lunch at the hotel, practice, team dinner, etc.
After last year's exteded (by two days) trip, I'm sure weather is on everyone's mind this time around. Sioux Falls actually looks like it has gotten a decent amount of snow the past few days, but Omaha's forecast calls for low 60s/high 50s.
If the guys can replicate everything from last year's trip except the weather, it will be one happy ride home.
1:31 p.m. (Omaha) -- We've arrived safe and sound in Omaha and will be leaving for practice in about 90 minutes.
Earlier this afternoon it was announced that forwards Brendan O'Donnell and Adam Tambellini will not play and are considered week to week with undisclosed injuries. They join forward Colten St. Clair on the shelf; he is out 4-6 weeks with a lower body injury.
So with 12 healthy forwards, it might be all hands on deck up front for UND.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2013
9:22 a.m. -- Finally, game day. Although you wouldn't know it simply by looking at the thermometer, which has been in the low 60s since we arrived. Sure beats blizzards.
The team skated through a relatively brief (30 to 40 minutes) practice yesterday at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. CenturyLink Center Omaha, where the Mavericks play, was unavailable due to the Creighton men's basketball game.
Sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi won the Thursd...er, Friday...shootout. Grimaldi has been held off the scoresheet since opening weekend against Vermont, so maybe this is a sign he's on the verge of breaking out.
At dinner last night, as we were walking into the restaurant, a lady whom nobody seemed to recognize approached Coach Hakstol and introduced herself. Turns out, she is a 1972 graduate of UND and is in town from Kansas City with her husband to watch her alma mater play. Yet another reminder that UND alums, and hockey fans, are everywhere you turn.
The players will be heading to the rink shortly -- we're now moved in to CenturyLink Center -- for game day skate. Equipment manager Andy Rannells and athletic trainer Mark Poolman are over here prepping the locker room for their arrival, as is their usual routine.
More updates later in the day, including lineup information.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2013
11:00 a.m. -- No rest for the weary as, due to today's 5:07 p.m. start time, the team has already finished its morning skate. Everything on the pregame schedule has been bumped up and hour earlier than normal, which makes for a quicker turnaround than one might imagine.
Once again, the team received incredible road support from our fans last night. It wasn't nearly as festive as last year, for multiple reasons, but it was great to see so many green and white jerseys at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Hopefully the faithful will be treated to a different result tonight.
Plenty of good signs last night, though, in what I thought was easily UND's best performance during this 4-game losing skid. Picking out a few of the many bright spots: Jordan Schmaltz and Bryn Chyzyk played arguably their best games since coming to UND, freshman defenseman Troy Stecher was a workhorse, Luke Johnson collected his first career goal, the previously struggling power play went 1-for-3 for the second straight game, and the penalty kill remained dominant.
Yet, despite the positives, UND is staring at four straight losses for the first time since December 2006. It's sports and no season comes without adversities. That 2006-07 team that lost four straight? It went on to qualify for the Frozen Four and boasted the eventual Hobey Baker Award winner.