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Sweep of UND a rare occurrence in recent years

GRAND FORKS -- University of North Dakota fans were stunned to see the men's hockey team get swept, even if it was by the No. 2-ranked team in the nation on the road.

GRAND FORKS - University of North Dakota fans were stunned to see the men's hockey team get swept, even if it was by the No. 2-ranked team in the nation on the road.

There's good reason for it.

It has been a very rare occurrence in recent years.

UND has been swept just three times since Nov. 5, 2011-a span of five years. The sweeps occurred in November 2013 against St. Cloud State, February 2016 at Denver and last weekend at Duluth.

That's three sweeps in the span of 88 series.

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For context, compare that to other National Collegiate Hockey Conference teams during that same timeframe.

Denver has been swept six times, St. Cloud State 11 times, Miami 13 times, Minnesota Duluth 13 times, Omaha 19 times, Western Michigan 21 times and Colorado College 37 times.

That's because the Fighting Hawks have been particularly dominant after a loss or tie in the last three years.

Going back to Thanksgiving 2013, UND is 26-3-2 record following a loss or a tie. Its longest winless streak has been two games. It has happened four times since Thanksgiving 2013 and the responses have all been pretty good. Consider:

- In March 2014, after losing back-to-back games in the Target Center to St. Cloud State and Denver, UND won two games the following weekend in the NCAA Midwest Regional over Wisconsin and Ferris State to earn a trip to the Frozen Four.

- UND tied back-to-back games against Maine and Bemidji State in October of 2015, then reeled off five consecutive wins-four coming on the road.

- In February, UND was swept at Denver. It won the next eight games to clinch the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions.

- In March, UND lost to Minnesota Duluth and tied Denver at the Target Center. Then, it didn't lose the rest of the season, marching to the program's eighth national championship.

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During that same span, other NCHC teams have posted winless streaks of four games (St. Cloud State), five (Minnesota Duluth), six (Denver), seven (Miami), eight (Omaha), 11 (Western Michigan) and 13 (Colorado College).

UND will try to end its rare, two-game losing streak Friday night when it takes on rival Minnesota in Mariucci Arena at 7 p.m.

"We're going to go back to The Ralph and prepare for a pretty tough week of practice, I'm sure," UND forward Johnny Simonson said after Saturday's 3-0 loss to the Bulldogs. "Our team is going to get up for next week."

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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