Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published March 14 2013
Going for four: UND seniors looking for title after winning WCHA postseason 3 straight timesGRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota’s seniors talked this week about what it takes to be successful in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.
They have a pretty good idea.
UND has won three straight Broadmoor Trophies and will enter this weekend’s first-round playoff series against Michigan Tech on the longest league playoff winning streak ever – 13 games.
The senior class has won the WCHA postseason championship every year they’ve been in college, and tonight, they start their quest to go four-for-four.
“We seem to always play our best at this time of year,” senior defenseman Joe Gleason said. “Guys finally start to get comfortable and settle into their roles. I think that has a lot to do with seeing certain guys click.”
UND has twice been the No. 4 seed and once the top seed during its last three Broadmoors. This year, UND goes in with the No. 3 seed and a 19-10-7 overall record.
“This weekend is a clean slate,” UND senior Corban Knight said. “Obviously, we’ve had some success in the last couple years, but this is a new year, a different team and different guys. I don’t think any of us have that in the back of our mind at all. We’re pretty focused on the weekend.
“The great thing about playoffs is that anything can happen. It doesn’t matter what team you’re playing against, especially in this league. The WCHA is so close, especially this year. I don’t think any of us are looking at our past success and banking on that at all.”
This will mark the fourth time in six years that UND has hosted Michigan Tech in a first-round series and it’s the second time the teams have met this season, but the Huskies may not look familiar to UND.
When UND swept Tech in December, the Huskies were struggling in net with a .884 team save percentage. Senior Kevin Genoe played both games and started 10 of 17 in the first half.
Since then, the Huskies have a .923 save percentage, led by freshman Pheonix Copley, who has started 15 of 17 games in the second half.
Michigan Tech’s power play was struggling at 16.9 percent when UND was in town. Since then, the Huskies are at 28.1 percent and they have the best power play in the nation since Jan. 1.
“They are more complete in the way they’re playing,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “They’re still the same hard-working team. They’re just more complete in their game and you expect that at playoff time.”
And for the seniors, it’s one last weekend to play in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
“It’s something that’s too hard of a topic to even talk about,” Gleason said.
Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald