Mark Senden, Gavin Hain cherish fifth year at UND

The Fighting Hawks forwards are the hockey players to spend five years at UND since Chay Genoway from 2006-11.

UND seniors Gavin Hain (left) and Mark Senden pose for a photo at a golf course.
Submitted photo

OMAHA, Neb. — Gavin Hain knew his season was over last January.

He suffered a knee injury that required surgery.

But the senior forward hoped it wasn't the end of his college career.

"I knew, as long as they were going to have me back, I was going to come back," Hain said.

Hain and his classmate, captain Mark Senden, both decided to take advantage of the NCAA ruling that the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season didn't count against anyone's eligibility and return to UND for a fifth season.


They became the first players since defenseman Chay Genoway to play five years at UND.

Genoway was granted a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending injury in the first half of his senior season. Although he could have signed a pro contract, Genoway said he'd come back to UND for 10 years if he could.

UND coach Brad Berry informed Hain and Senden in the second half of last season the team had roster spots open for them in 2022-23 and he wanted them back.

"It's been awesome," Hain said. "A program and a place like this is not something you want to leave as soon as possible. It's obviously special if you get a chance to come back. For me, it feels like another senior year after being robbed of it last year. It hasn't felt like a fifth year. After missing out on so much last year, especially the big parts of last year, due to injury, it has felt more like a senior year. But I've been fortunate to spend five years at this place."

Senden relayed that message to the other players.

"I let everyone know on the team this place here is something special," Senden said. "Never take it for granted. Cherish every moment you have here. Being able to come back for a fifth year was unbelievable. I'm so thankful to have that opportunity just to cherish those little things, those little day-to-day activities you have with the guys in the locker room and creating friendships and brotherhoods that will last a lifetime."

Senden and Hain both took part in Senior Night last season.

They weren't featured Saturday night, but they were acknowledged after playing their final game in Ralph Engelstad Arena.


"It was definitely a lot more real," Senden said. "Last year, I knew I had the option to come back. This year, knowing it was my final departure year, it definitely hit me a little harder than it did last year. It's definitely a little tougher. It's sad, but I've always tried to look at the positive aspect of it. I got five years here. It's one more than most other guys get.

"Just being able to have an extra year of cherishing the special moments and enjoying this place for another year has been great. I'm so happy to be a part of this program, this culture and everything it has to offer."

NCAA Men's Hockey 2023: Omaha v North Dakota MAR 04
UND captain Mark Senden (center) is emotional watching a senior tribute video play after his final game in Ralph Engelstad Arena on March 4, 2023.
Russell Hons / UND athletics

Both players are having their best-career years.

Senden has hit a career high in goals (seven). His 16 points are one shy of his career high.

Hain, who battled injuries throughout his first four years, has career highs in goals (10) and points (15).

"You learn and grow every year," Hain said. "Every day in practice, the coaches put so much time into players and developing guys. If you come in and struggle your first year, you build on top of that each and every year. You keep learning. You keep building your game."

Besides the points, Hain and Senden have been among the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's best defensive forwards since they arrived on campus in 2018-19 and teamed up with Cole Smith.

After Smith graduated in 2020 and advanced to the NHL's Nashville Predators, Hain and Senden continued as linemates. Every time the coaching staff attempted to split them up, they inevitably were back together in short order.


"We've grown the most in the last five years," Hain said. "We'll always have a special bond together with what we went through and our experiences together at UND. We'll always have those memories."

Senden added: "We've had the opportunity to be linemates for five years, roommates, teammates. . . I really cherish our relationship and how we've grown the last five years. It's been a lot of fun. He's a great guy, a great teammate and fun to be around."

The first class of seniors with the opportunity to take advantage of the COVID year and play a fifth season at UND came in 2021, but none returned.

Senden and Hain, the only members left from their freshman class, both returned in 2022.

"Relationships are the biggest thing," Hain said. "It's not just relationships with your teammates and coaches, but you meet a lot of people outside the team and in the community who have done so much for me and the team. I think that's one thing that makes this place so special. Everyone is working for one goal. Everyone's always there for each other and supporting you while you're playing — and I've heard, when you leave, too."

This summer, forward Judd Caulfield and defenseman Ethan Frisch will have to decide whether to return for a fifth year or sign a pro contract. Senior forward Carson Albrecht, meanwhile, still has two years of eligibility left, because he did not play any games as a freshman.

But UND isn't focused on next season yet.

It is hoping to extend this one by winning a best-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series against Omaha this weekend in Baxter Arena — a place Senden has played 21 times in his career already.


"Playoffs is a new season," Hain said. "Everyone gets a clean slate, whether you're a top-ranked team or a bottom-ranked team. The lower you are, you obviously have to go on the road.

"We've had some struggles throughout the year, some ups and downs, but recently, in the last four or five weeks, we've been playing some of our best hockey. We all think that as a team. That gives us confidence. It's a new season. We're playing some of our best hockey. We've been talking lately about how our story has yet to be written."

UND at No. 17 Omaha

When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday, 6:07 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).
Where: Baxter Arena, Omaha.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).

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
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