There’s only five weeks to go in the regular season and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings couldn’t be any tighter. Six teams still have a chance at winning the Penrose Cup.
The Saint Cloud State Huskies are sitting atop of the NCHC standings with 26 points. Then there’s a log jam in second place, North Dakota, Denver and Nebraska-Omaha are all in second place with 24 points. Just one point back, in fifth place is Minnesota Duluth with 23 points.
Looks like it will be a dog fight to the end. No pun intended.
Obviously, the standings are a topic of conversation right now. According to UND head coach Dave Hakstol, it was a topic that was also a topic of discussion during the pre-season coaches meetings as well.
“I think that coming into the year, one of the things we talked quietly about in our coaches room is that a team could finish two or three games over .500 and win this league,” Hakstol said. “I have no idea how it’s going to turn out 10 games from now, but that could be the case. It’s pretty tight (conference race).”
Just win baby
A local television reporter asked the head coach what his hockey team had to do to get a sweep this weekend.
“There’s no magic this time of year,” Hakstol said. “We’ve got to have individuals that play well. You’ve got to have everyone that plays well within the team concept and do it for 60 minutes. If you don’t do that, you’re not going to have a chance to win. I think our team has been doing that. We’ve played a full 60 minutes. We’ve been coming out of the gates and playing well with the drop of the puck… Finding little ways to win games, and those critical little moments within games are going to become more and more important as you get to the critical time of the year.”
Crunch time is here for the UND hockey team
Having been around the team for almost three seasons, it doesn’t take long to figure out that the stretch run is already here. There’s a lot of positive energy, but also a sense of urgency and tension surrounding the UND hockey team. The message is clear, win and you’re in.
It’s pretty obvious, it’s all business from here on out. There’s five weeks left in the season, and there’s no room for error. The UND hockey team needs to continue their strong play strong down the stretch. If they continue to play well, they “should” be in the running for a league title, home ice for the NCHC playoffs, and finally a conference playoff title. Also, there’s a shot at a 12th straight NCAA tournament bid. Sounds simple right?