Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate.
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ST. PAUL—The UND men's hockey season was put to bed Saturday night at about 8:30 p.m., hours after the team beat Minnesota Duluth 4-1 in the NCHC third-place game. Fighting Hawks fans, who started the day enjoying the pairing of St. Patrick's Day and the final day of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament at the Xcel Energy Center, were left to ponder how the 15-year NCAA tournament streak could end this year. Many years, UND's resume and play in the conference tournament would have been sufficient for an NCAA tournament berth.
ST. PAUL—Everything was on the line for UND late Friday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center. The Fighting Hawks needed to win or the school's streak of 15 straight years in the NCAA tournament was going to be in serious jeopardy. St. Cloud State was in college hockey's Big Dance no matter what. In terms of motivation, there could have been some Husky hunger to play close to home in the Sioux Falls regional or simply knock a storied program like North Dakota out of the national picture.
ST. PAUL -- Everything was on the line for UND late Friday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center. The Fighting Hawks needed to win or the school’s streak of 15 straight years in the NCAA tournament was going to be in serious jeopardy.
Just two games into the season, the Northland Community & Technical College women's basketball team had to make an adjustment. The Pioneers' starting point guard, Janie Wunderlich, suffered a season-ending ACL tear. "We had to figure out how to play our best basketball," Northland coach Shannon Nelson said. "We were dealing with injuries, and you go through some growing pains. We also schedule non-conference as tough as we can."
UND senior and Grand Forks native Johnny Simonson grew up going to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's Final Five at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with his friends and a group of dads. He would wait outside the downtown St. Paul Hotel scoping for autographs of Drew Stafford and Zach Parise. One year, one of the dads convinced former UND defenseman Matt Jones to spook the kids in the hotel and tell them to get to bed.
UND senior and Grand Forks native Johnny Simonson grew up going to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Final Five at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with his friends and a group of dads. He would wait outside the downtown St. Paul Hotel scoping for autographs of Drew Stafford and Zach Parise. One year, one of the dads convinced former UND defenseman Matt Jones to spook the kids in the hotel and tell them to get to bed.
UND junior defender Christian Wolanin is having one of the best seasons from the blue line in program history. He's the team's leading scorer, and he's one goal away from the school record for goals by a defenseman in a season. Who does he credit for this standout season? Defensive pair Colton Poolman. "He makes my job so much easier," Wolanin said. "Without him, I wouldn't be the player I am this year, for sure." Poolman, a sophomore from East Grand Forks, continues to dominate all over the ice yet seems to remain under the radar.
East Grand Forks Senior High guard Cole Anderson admits the team's run-heavy practices aren't always fun. Green Wave coach Josh Perkerwicz thinks his team always has the advantage of being in the best shape based on how they practice. On Thursday night, Senior High's pace reflected those feelings. Anderson scored a game-high 23 points and the Wave's frantic defensive pressure led to a 79-63 win over Bagley in the first round of the Minnesota Section 8AA playoffs.
When the North Star Athletic Association released its men's basketball preseason poll this fall, Mayville State was picked to finish ninth of nine teams in the league. As March Madness plays out months later, it turns out the pollsters missed hard on the Comets. Mayville State, the North Star tournament champions, will play in the NAIA Division II national tournament Thursday at 4 p.m. against the College of Idaho at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls. Mayville State, under first-year coach Darren Tighe, went from 9-18 last year to 18-10 this season.
By the time UND and St. Cloud State started the 3-on-3 portion of overtime late Saturday night, nothing was at stake. Minnesota Duluth had already beaten Nebraska Omaha, while UND had already squeezed out a tie to earn home ice for the first round of the NCHC playoffs. The battle for one NCHC point meant nothing in terms of position in the standings at that point. But when Rhett Gardner scored at 4:14 of 3-on-3 overtime to finish off the 2-2 tie at Ralph Engelstad Arena, it was clear the goal carried some secondary significance.