Gavin Hain set to return for UND against Denver
The Fighting Hawks will still be short heading to Magness Arena for a two-game series against the No. 4 Pioneers.
GRAND FORKS — Gavin Hain has scored a couple of his most memorable collegiate goals against Denver.
His first UND goal came against the Pioneers in December 2018.
Two years later, he scored the overtime winner against Denver in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff semifinals. UND went on to win the tournament for the first time.
So, the Fighting Hawks are a little extra happy to see their fifth-year senior alternate captain skating in practice this week.
UND coach Brad Berry said Hain will make the trip to Denver and play in Friday's series opener at 8:30 p.m. Central (CBS Sports Network) in Magness Arena.
Hain missed UND's last game against Miami on Jan. 28 due to an upper-body injury.
"He's a full go, 100 percent," Berry said. "He's been a full go in practice. Last week, we had a productive week but some guys took some time to get healthy and he was one of them. Since Monday, he's been in full practices here and doing every drill."
Hain has been a key player for the 12-11-4 Fighting Hawks this season.
The Grand Rapids, Minn., product is third on the team with nine goals, trailing only Riese Gaber (16) and Jackson Blake (12). The sixth-round Philadelphia Flyers draft pick has already tallied career highs in goals (nine) and points (12).
Hain is one of the few players on UND's roster who has ever played in Magness Arena with fans present.
The last time UND did that was in November 2019, when it earned a win and a tie against the Pioneers. Hain, Ethan Frisch, Judd Caulfield and Mark Senden are the only players on UND's roster who were a part of that series.
In 2020-21, the Fighting Hawks and Pioneers played a two-game series in Magness behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. UND did not travel to Denver last season.
Despite Hain's return, the Fighting Hawks still won't have a full lineup, though.
Sophomore center Jake Schmaltz, who suffered an upper-body injury on Jan. 27 at Miami, will miss the series.
"Jake will not be available this weekend," Berry said. "But I think he's getting close."
Schmaltz has been skating on his own this week.
The seventh-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins has been a fixture in lineups during his hockey career, playing in 145 consecutive games from Nov. 23, 2019 to Jan. 20, when he missed a game against Minnesota Duluth. That stretch spanned two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League and two at UND.
After this weekend, Schmaltz will have missed five of six games.
UND also will be without forward Dane Montgomery, who has yet to play or practice this season due to a nagging upper-body injury.
That means Berry will have one decision to make with his travel roster.
Due to NCHC travel roster restrictions, UND has to leave four players home every road conference trip. Schmaltz, Montgomery and third goalie Kaleb Johnson are expected to be three of the four.
No suspensions coming from DU-CC melee
There will be no suspensions coming from the Denver-Colorado College melee Saturday night near the end of their rivalry game.
Denver defenseman Justin Lee was issued a five-minute major for facemasking with 19 seconds remaining, while Colorado College forward Noah Laba was called for a two-minute minor for roughing.
The Pioneers don't have any known injuries heading into this weekend's series.
UND at No. 4 Denver
When: 8:30 p.m. Central on Friday, 7 p.m. Central on Saturday.
Where: Magness Arena, Denver.
TV: CBS Sports Network on Friday only.
Stream: NCHChockey.com on Saturday only.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).