KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- The first half of the college hockey season ended Saturday night with UND hammering Western Michigan 8-2 in Lawson Ice Arena.
It extended UND's unbeaten streak to 13 games and put the team at 14-1-2 overall -- the program's best mark at Christmas break since it went 16-1-1 in 2002, Zach Parise's freshman season.
So, the players retreated to their locker room and made a pact.
Although they won't play a game for the next 21 days -- although they'll be apart for a week for the holidays -- they promised to each other to pick up where they left off when they reconvene.
"It's pretty special," UND coach Brad Berry said. "We knew we had a pretty special team coming in here. We had a lot of good players who took a step. We had a lot of good freshmen coming in. But our team has grown a lot through the first half of the season. We've been put in some pretty tough situations on the road and our guys found a way to get the job done each and every night.
"When you look back at all the teams we've had at North Dakota, this probably ranks up there as one of the ones that's really special. We made a pact to our guys in the locker room after here, saying, 'Hey, we're going to take a breath. We're going to get healthy here.' But we made a pact to each other to keep this going."
Displaying the same relentlessness, scoring depth and goaltending that's kept UND unbeaten since Oct. 19 at No. 1-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato, the Fighting Hawks took apart a Broncos team that had only been swept at home twice in the last three-and-a-half years.
Judd Caulfield scored the first two goals of his college career and added an assist, while linemates Shane Pinto (two goals, one assist) and Westin Michaud (one goal, two assist) had three-point nights. UND's other goals came from Jasper Weatherby, Matt Kiersted and Dixon Bowen. Andrew Peski, Zach Yon and Jordan Kawaguchi had two-assist nights.
Defensively, Adam Scheel's shutout streak was broken early in the third period after 118 minutes, 8 seconds and 70 consecutive saves, but the sophomore netminder stopped 27 shots on the night and 68 of 70 shots on the weekend.
"This first half has been amazing," said Michaud, who transferred from Colorado College in the offseason for his final year of college eligibility. "It's something I came here to do. I came here to help this team. They didn't need my help, really. They've showed everything here. I'm just glad I'm pitching in my part. It's exciting. I'm glad I'm here."
Michaud, who also visited Western Michigan and Boston University, said he's happy with his decision.
"Oh yeah, 100 percent I made the right decision," Michaud said. "I've never had so much fun playing hockey as this first half of the season. We've got a great group of guys with the coaching staff leading the way. It's been special. It's a special place here and a special team."
UND's 13-game unbeaten streak is the longest since a 15-game run in 2010-11.
"It's the team-first mentality," Berry said. "There are no egos or agendas in the locker room. There are guys who are going out there and doing the job on a nightly basis and that starts in practice. We talk about habits and details. They work extremely hard in practice without any shortcuts. That's why you're seeing some better offensive production. That's why you're seeing guys dig in defensively."
UND wore its black jerseys for the fourth time this season. It also wore them for a 5-0 home win over Canisius to open the season, a 4-1 victory at Denver and a 3-2 win at Minnesota.
Once again, the Fighting Hawks meant business with them on.
They scored just 93 seconds into the game on a Caulfield slap shot and were up 3-0 within 10 minutes.
UND tacked on one goal in the second and four more in the third.
It marked the fourth time this season that the Fighting Hawks have surpassed the seven-goal mark in a game.
"I thought we've had a great first half," Kiersted said. "We talk about adding to the tradition. That's a thing around UND. We did that tonight.
"I think there's always that belief in the group that we know how good we are. It's just going out and proving it and we've done that so far this year."
UND 8, Western Michigan 2
First period -- 1. UND, Judd Caulfield 1 (Andrew Peski 4, Shane Pinto 6) 1:33; 2. UND, Jasper Weatherby 6 (Zach Yon 2) 7:37; 3. UND, Caulfield 2 (Jordan Kawaguchi 16, Matt Kiersted 10) 9:58 (pp)
Second period -- 4. UND, Pinto 7 (Judd Caulfield 5) 18:23
Third period -- 5. WMU, Cole Gallant 1 (Luke Bafia 4, Brett Van Os 3) :55; 6. UND, Pinto 8 (Westin Michaud 7, Peski 5) 1:14; 7. WMU, Austin Rueschhoff 5 (Hugh McGing 7, Cam Lee 1) 10:14 (pp); 8. Matt Kiersted 2 (Kawaguchi 17, Michaud 8) 16:11 (pp); 9. UND, Dixon Bowen 6 (Yon 3) 18:20; 10. UND, Michaud 7 19:08
Penalties -- McGing, WMU, tripping, 4:16 first; Cole Gallant, WMU, charging major, 8:59 first; Jacob Bernard-Docker, UND, tripping, 10:26 first; Colton Poolman, UND, hooking, 14:49 second; Dawson DiPietro, WMU, slashing the goaltender, 14:49 second; Bernard-Docker, UND, roughing, 14:49 second; Bowen, UND, slashing, 1:55 third; Ethan Frisch, UND, tripping, 10:07 third; Mattias Saumelsson, WMU, checking from behind major, 13:22 third; Samuelsson, WMU, game misconduct, 13:22 third; Grant Mismash, UND, roughing, 13:22 third; McGing, WMU, roughing, 13:22 third
Goalie saves -- UND: Adam Scheel 7-15-5 -- 27; WMU: Brandon Bussi 4-x-x -- 4 (3 GA), Ben Blacker 4-7-9 -- 20 (5 GA)
Penalties-minutes -- UND 5-10, WMU 7-28
Power plays -- UND 3-6, WMU 1-3
Attendance -- 3,359
Referees -- Ryan Hersey and Tom Sterns
Linesmen -- Dan Cohen and Eric Frank