UND Hockey eyes return trip to NCAA Tournament

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) -- A new season always brings high hopes and high expectations.

For the University of North Dakota the expectations are simple -- get back to the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s a horrible taste in our moth for sure," Senior Captain Colton Poolman said Wednesday. "It’s something that you can look back and say, 'yep that happened,' but it’s a new season here.”

The Fighting Hawks have missed the national tournament the last two years.

Head Coach Brad Berry is hoping the roster he's composed with youth and experience will help get into the postseason.

“We have a lot of exuberance from our young guys and we’ve got a lot of really good leadership," Berry said. "The other part, too, is guys taking a step that are upperclassmen now. Guys that were sophomores that are a big part of our group here taking another step."

"So I think you’ve got three different kind of groups that are going to merge together and try to get to a common goal.”

Poolman, who came back for his final season said the start to the tournament all begins at home at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"One of the first things we’ve got to do is play hard in this building.," Poolman said. "We’ve given up some splits and some tough games here in the past couple years and that’s not indicative of what this place is and what the fans come here to see."

With seven of their first nine regular season games at home, defending the Ralph will be key. UND went 12-6-1 in 2018-19 at home.

"I think it comes back to building up this place and working from there,” Poolman said.

The last time North Dakota missed the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons, it went on to win the National Championship the following year in 1997.

UND opens the season with an exhibition game October 5 against Manitoba.

The regular season starts with a weekend series against Canisius October 11 and 12.