ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of North Dakota men's hockey team landed in New Mexico on Wednesday night, March 13.

Yes, you read that correctly.

UND left Grand Forks on Wednesday afternoon before the blizzard arrived but the team was unable to land at Denver International Airport because of a massive snowstorm in Colorado.

The wide-ranging storm made it unsafe to land at other Colorado airports, so the team's flight was diverted to Albuquerque. It landed at 7 p.m. Central.

The team then boarded a bus for the roughly 500 miles journey from Albuquerque to Denver for its best-of-three National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff series against the University of Denver (8:08 p.m. Friday, March 15; 8:08 p.m. Saturday March 16; and 7:08 p.m. Sunday, March 17, in Magness Arena).

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UND drove to Raton, N.M., near the Colorado border on Wednesday night, arriving around midnight. Then, the team managed to get as far as Colorado Springs on Thursday -- practicing at the Air Force Academy in the afternoon.

Had UND been unable to leave Wednesday, it may not have been able to get out of Grand Forks until Friday morning because of weather. That likely would have backed up the playoff series to Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

The series is still on as scheduled and will be televised on Midco Sports Network.

Believe it or not, this was not the first time the UND hockey team has been in Albuquerque.

In December of 1948, UND played a two-game series against Michigan in Albuquerque. UND, in just the program's third year, was swept by the Wolverines. The players on that UND team included Ginny Christian, Ralph Engelstad, Dan McKinnon, John Noah and Cal Marvin.

UND wasn't the only team with travel problems ahead of a playoff series.

Colorado College was scheduled to fly out of Denver on Wednesday to get to its playoff series against Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, Mich. But the Tigers got stuck when Denver International Airport shut down.

These travel follies have been the latest in a season full of them.

Last weekend, Omaha got stuck in Grand Forks after Interstate 29 closed due to blizzard conditions. Because there were almost no hotel rooms available in town, the Mavericks stayed on their sleeper bus parked inside Ralph Engelstad Arena.

A couple of weeks earlier, St. Cloud State ended up eating a team dinner at a county jail after getting stuck coming home from Omaha. Local law enforcement helped out the Huskies and fed them.

Denver had to postpone a game at Colorado College earlier this season after getting stuck in traffic for five hours during a storm. That game was made up two weeks ago.

Western Michigan also was forced to bus to Omaha after having a flight canceled.



NCHC quarterfinal series

  • When: 8:08 p.m. Friday, 8:08 p.m. Saturday and 7:08 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

  • Where: Magness Arena, Denver.

  • Records: UND 18-15-2 (No. 5 seed), Denver 19-10-5 (No. 4 seed).

  • Of note: UND needs to win this series to keep its season alive.