Courtesy: Shawna Widdel,
UND faces Denver to kick off the final six games of the regular season.
MHKY Travel Blog: Home stretch starts on the road
Courtesy: Jayson Hajdu, UND Athletic Media Relations
Release: 02/21/2013
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3:51 p.m. MT -- BREAKING: We are approaching 24 hours into the latest road trip and it has been completely uneventful. For reals.

Don't get me wrong -- while the tranquility makes for a weak blog, it's also a rather refreshing change.

We took a charter flight out of Grand Forks at about 9:30 p.m. Central last night and it was smooth sailing all the way into Denver despite some apparently rough weather earlier in the evening out here.

We're at Magness Arena now with the team preparing to get on the ice in about 15 minutes. Really looking forward to team dinner tonight at the always-fantastic Denver Chophouse.

Denver is always a hot spot for UND alums and fans, so we have a full administrative contingent on this trip. Athletics director Brian Faison and director of development Steve Brekke flew out early yesterday so they could attend the men's basketball game in Greeley, as well as get together with UND football letterwinner Corey Colehour.

President Kelley and his wife, Marcia, joined us on the team charter, as did newly-hired Champions Club director Mike Mannausau.

Katie Horob, Champions Club assistant director, made her way out to Denver today.

I'm told that former UND standout and longtime NHLer Doug Smail will be among those in attendance this weekend.

That's the Day One report.


10:37 a.m. MT -- Greetings once again from Magness Arena, where the team will hit the ice in about 20 minutes for morning skate.

Yesterday marked another quiet day on the trip, one highlighted by a terrific meal at the Denver Chophouse. After the meal, Hennessy, Mannausau, a friend of mine and myself stayed in the LoDo district to swap stories and solve the world's problems.

This morning before we departed the hotel, UND hockey great Doug Smail was in the lobby visiting with the coaching staff and administrators. One of the greatest players in the history of the program, Smail racked up an astonishing 195 points in just three seasons and led UND to a national title in 1980, earning tournament MVP honors in the process.

Smail went on to enjoy a 13-year NHL career, mostly with the Winnipeg Jets. His best NHL season came in 1984-85, when he scored 31 goals in 80 games. He also spent time with the Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques and Ottawa Senators on his way to playing 845 career games.

We're guessing Smail will be one many UND fans in the crowd tonight for what Denver captain Paul Phillips described as a home game for UND.


11:11 a.m. MT -- Dangit.

As an observer, there are two ways to look at last night's game, and both would be accurate. First, it was a highly entertaining tilt. Second, it was a missed opportunity for crucial points, especially with league-leading St. Cloud State falling to Colorado College.

Inside the locker room, only the latter entered the equation. Head coach Dave Hakstol was as unhappy as he's been all year following a loss. Senior Corban Knight used the word "unacceptable." Knight, by the way, is the first one onto the ice for morning skate as I type this.

Positives? Scoring four times, firing 39 shots on goal and holding the Pioneers to 26 even-strength shots on their own ice are not common occurences.

What does any of this mean for tonight? Nothing, probably, other than tonight's two points are once again crucial. But the slate is wiped clean and that's the beauty of college hockey.

UND fans also once again deserve a stick tap for their incredibly loud efforts last night. Magness Arena had green jerseys everywhere, and they certainly made their presence known.

Any lineup information will be posted here later today.

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