Brad Elliott Schlossman
Schlossman is in his 12th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.
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GRAND FORKS — UND sat in the locker room during the second intermission, facing the same situation as a night earlier. There were no fiery speeches. There were no constant reminders of the Friday night meltdown that saw Miami snap UND's 82-game unbeaten streak when leading after two periods. "Not much had to be said," Rhett Gardner said. "We knew what we had to do."
GRAND FORKS — The last time North Dakota lost a game when leading after two periods, Gage Ausmus was just a freshman. It finally happened again Friday night. Miami scored five goals in the third period to beat UND 6-3 in Ralph Engelstad Arena. It was UND's first loss when leading after two since Nov. 1, 2013, snapping a streak of 82 games (77-0-5). That loss was against St. Cloud State in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Brock Boeser may have missed out on winning a gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Championship. But he had good reason for it. Boeser said he opted to have minor wrist surgery on Dec. 14 with the the second half of the University of North Dakota's season in mind. "It was definitely tough (to miss the World Juniors)," Boeser said. "But it was nagging me in the first half. I wanted to get healthy and take a run, with all the guys here, at another national championship. It's a sacrifice I had to make."
The UND men's hockey team is done with the short bus trips for the rest of the regular season. From here, it will be getting on a plane every time it is on the road. And, maybe, that's a good thing? In the last three seasons, UND is 23-5-1 (.810) when it has gone by plane and just 12-9-3 (.563) when it has traveled by bus, including this weekend's two-game sweep of Omaha. Strangely enough, plane rides have become as easy as drives for UND—sometimes easier—because the Fighting Hawks have been chartering all of their flights the last three years.
OMAHA, Neb. — When Dean Blais found out that Brock Boeser and Tyson Jost were playing for North Dakota on Friday night, he didn't panic. "I thought it could work the other way," the Omaha coach said. It didn't. Boeser scored two goals in his first game in almost two months, Jost had more points (goal, assist) than he had hours of sleep the night before and North Dakota handed Blais his most lopsided defeat in 18 years of coaching college hockey — a 9-1 thrashing in front of a sold-out crowd in Baxter Arena.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Colton Poolman has practiced with a new defensive partner for two weeks. They've played one game together. "I think we're kind of starting to get used to each other," Poolman said, "as weird as that sounds." It does sound a little strange, because that new defensive partner is his older brother, Tucker. Until last weekend's New Year's Eve showdown at Union College, the Poolman siblings had never been paired together for a game in their lives.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Mason Morelli grew up hearing stories about the University of North Dakota hockey program. His grandfather is a legend, having scored the overtime winner in the 1959 national championship game, giving UND its first title. His father, Matt, played for four years at the school in the early 1990s. "I wanted to play for them so bad," Mason said. "When I went on my unofficial visit, I was starstruck. I was mesmerized. I always wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad and my grandpa. I always wanted to be a Sioux."
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union fans crammed in Messa Rink on Saturday afternoon. The bleachers were overflowing. Fans sat in the aisles. Others found spots to stand — behind the glass, against a wall, up against poles — anywhere to see the rare showdown between two of the past three NCAA national champions. "This is the most people I've seen in here," one fan said as he tried to find enough room on a bleacher to sit. But the 2,354 people who packed into the old barn were left silent most of the night.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Rick Rypien died at age 27. Derek Boogaard was 28. Wade Belak was 35. It has been five years since three NHL enforcers died in a four-month span, setting off alarm bells in the hockey world that fighting may be causing catastrophic brain injuries to its players. Since then, the alarm bells have kept ringing. Former NHL enforcer Stephen Peat, who suffers from memory loss and headaches, burned down a house by accidentally leaving a blow-torch on. His father told the New York Times that Stephen is a threat to himself.
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — North Dakota players dropped their bags in the locker room. Then, they walked through the lobby to get their first look at Frank Messa Rink on Thursday night. A city league game was just ending and one of the locals stopped to chat with the UND players as he stepped off the ice. "Not quite the same as your rink boys, is it?" he said. No, it's not. The arena where UND will take on Union at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon in a New Year's Eve special seats roughly 2,225 people.