UMD to battle Denver as NCHC Frozen Faceoff returns to St. Paul

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Securing their first National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) sweep of the season last weekend over St. Cloud State University, the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) men’s hockey team has earned themselves a spot back in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals.

The tournament makes its return to the Xcel Energy Center Friday following two years away. The 2020 Frozen Faceoff was canceled due to Covid-19, and protocols moved last year’s NCHC playoffs to Grand Forks.

"It’s nice to have a normal tournament, I mean we haven’t had one for two years," UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said. "The good thing is the last time we were in there we did win. I think it’s great for our players to have that opportunity, well all the teams, but certainly our players to get back there and experience it."

The Bulldogs will open up the action against the University of Denver in their fifth meeting this season. In their last outing UMD pushed through a team wide stomach bug to split their road series with the Pioneers.

"That was so crazy to see our guys actually fight through it," UMD junior goalie Ryan Fanti recalled. "I don’t think people really knew how bad guys were feeling and what was actually going on. It wasn’t like it was two, three guys, it was upwards of half the team."

Healthy, and riding momentum from back-to-back wins, UMD will look to pick up their third win over Denver this season. Puck drop Friday is set for 4:07pm in St. Paul. The winner will face either North Dakota or Western Michigan for the conference title Saturday at 7:38pm.