THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2013
6:01 p.m. Eastern -- It's a balmy 32 degrees in Kalamazoo, Mich., and we only needed a 90-minute charter flight to find such tropical weather.
The last time North Dakota played at Western Michigan was during the 1996-97 season, meaning only trainer Mark Poolman and radio voice Tim Hennessy remain from that trip. The town of Kalamazoo feels a lot like Houghton, and Lawson Ice Arena certainly has its resemblances to Michigan Tech's MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Both city and town definitely have an old-school, blue collar vibe, and by all accounts the arena will be rocking this weekend.
You can check out a few photos of Lawson on our Twitter account @UNDMHockey. The team is in the last few minutes of practice, with CBS Sports Network announcers Ben Holden, Dave Starman and Shireen Saski in attendance. They'll chat with captains Dillon Simpson, Stephane Pattyn and Michael Parks as part of their prep work.
Junior forward Mark MacMillan appears to be a full participant in practice again today. At his Wednesday press conference, coach Dave Hakstol indicated he was hopeful MacMillan could return to the lineup this weekend. We will certainly provide updates on MacMillan's status throughout the weekend.
That's about all for now. Practice is about to end, so I've got help out my CBSSN friends. Stay warm!
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2013
10:32 a.m. Eastern -- It happened again last night.
In the latest from the Our Fans Are Everywhere files, one of the employees of the restaurant where we ate dinner last night happened to be a graduate of UND. The entire team and coaching staff happily autographed his Sioux jersey for him on the way out.
More friendly faces are expected to be in the stands supporting UND this weekend including Greg Johnson, the program's all-time leading scorer who was inducted into the UND Athletics Hall of Fame earlier this fall. Johnson lives in Detroit and will be at tonight's game. Jim Greene, father of former UND captain Matt Greene, will also be making the trip from nearby Grand Ledge, Mich.
We're back at Lawson Ice Arena for a morning skate that will get underway in about 30 minutes. Assistant coach Brad Berry, who was off on a recruiting trip, caught up with the rest of the team following dinner. Coach Berry enjoyed a successful stint as a player here in Kalamazoo with the Michigan K-Wings -- he was a three-time IHL All-Star and three-time K-Wings Defenseman of the Year -- so this is a bit of a homecoming for him.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2013
12:01 p.m. Eastern -- UND has a chance to pick up its first sweep of the season, and for that it can thank the entire lineup. Head coach Dave Hakstol received a complete, 60-minute effort from his squad and the result was a 3-2 NCHC road victory that has UND within a game of the .500 mark, both overall and in conference play.
Junior forward Mark MacMillan does not show up anywhere in the stat sheet, but he certainly injected UND with a healthy dose of energy and speed and played a key role on a penalty kill unit that went 7-for-7. Mark told me last night that he felt really good health-wise.
It was good to see Greg Johnson in the arena last night. Johnson is the program's all-time leading scorer and was a 2013 inductee into UND's Athletics Hall of Fame. He made the trip from Detroit and was one of several UND fans in the stands. Midco Sports Network's Dan Hammer was interviewing many of those fans for a story he's working on for North Dakota Hockey with Dave Hakstol.
While the stands weren't completely full last night, the atmosphere was thoroughly enjoyable thanks to the intimate confines and the wonderful student section known as the "Lawson Lunatics."
It was also great, once again, to work with the CBS Sports Network team of Ben Holden, Dave Starman and Shireen Saski. I've said it before and I'll say it again: that trio is a true treat to work with and their love of college hockey is undeniable. For them, college hockey is a passion rather than just the next assignment.
That crew will be doing the Jan. 10 (Colorado College) and Feb. 14 (Miami) games in Grand Forks, and Ben Holden will be making his first visit to Ralph Engelstad Arena. He's especially jacked now that Tim Horton's has opened. Tim's coffee is to Ben as to Diet Coke is to yours truly.
The team is at Lawson Ice Arena right now for morning skate, while I stay back at the hotel to work on my game notes and other materials for tonight. We will be hopping on a charter flight immediately following tonight's game and should be arriving in Grand Forks around midnight.
Here's hoping it's a happy flight.
For more news updates for the rest of the day, check back here and on Twitter at @UNDMHockey.