GRAND FORKS -- The NCAA tournament bracket was revealed Sunday night, March 24. For the second year in a row, the University of North Dakota was not on it.
To that, UND can point back to one fateful weekend in early January.
What seemed bad enough at the time -- UND was swept by Atlantic Hockey’s last-place team, Canisius, in Buffalo’s HarborCenter -- may seem even worse now. It kept the Fighting Hawks out of the NCAA tournament.
Had UND swept Canisius -- instead of being swept -- the Fighting Hawks would not only be in the NCAA tournament, they would be a No. 3 seed.
UND would have landed at No. 12 in the Pairwise Rankings and potentially would have played against Clarkson in the first round of the NCAA West Regional this weekend in Fargo.
But that weekend in Buffalo kept UND out.
Despite out-attempting Canisius 162-74 and outshooting the Golden Griffins 82-30 on that weekend, the Fighting Hawks only mustered two goals in two games against Canisius goaltenders Blake Weyrick and Matt Ladd.
Both games were tied 1-1 going into the third period, but the Golden Griffins scored early in the frame and held onto 3-1 (empty-net goal) and 2-1 wins.
UND finished the season 18-17-2 overall.
With wins over teams ranked No. 1 (St. Cloud State), No. 2 (Minnesota Duluth), No. 3 (MSU-Mankato) and No. 8 (Denver) in the Pairwise, UND had a quality-win bonus of .0065, the fourth-highest in the nation.
While that helped, it wasn’t enough to overcome the losses at Canisius.
UND won’t have to wait long for another shot at the Golden Griffins. The Fighting Hawks open next regular season with a home series against Canisius in Ralph Engelstad Arena.