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UND, NCHC to open season in Omaha

UND, NCHC to open season in Omaha

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The University of North Dakota hockey team will pick up where it left off.

North Dakota will open the 2020-21 season where last season came to an early end.

UND skated off the ice on March 7 in Omaha, Neb., having posted a 5-0 victory over Nebraska-Omaha to clinch the National Collegiate Hockey Conference title in the regular-season finale, clinching the No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference tournament.

The postseason never happened. UND finished 26-5-4 and was in the No. 1 spot in the Pairwise rankings when the rest of the season was wiped out by COVID-19.

When the NCHC opens its new season, UND -- along with all seven other conference teams -- will be at Baxter Arena in Omaha as the league will open the season with a three-week season at a pod in Omaha.

The NCHC announced on Friday a two-part schedule for the upcoming season, starting at Baxter Arena. Teams will play 10 games at the hub, beginning Dec. 1.

The league divided the schools in two geographic divisions. North Dakota is in the West, along with Colorado College, Denver and Nebraska-Omaha. The East consists of Miami (Ohio), Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan. Teams will play division foes six times apiece and each cross-division rival twice for a 26-game season slate.

To limit travel, the games against the other division will all be played in Omaha as part of their 10-game pod schedule.

The second half of the season, running from January through March, will consist of home and road games against divisional foes.

“Throughout the past eight months we have learned to adjust and think creatively about how we live our personal and professional lives,” NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton said. “I’m proud of our membership for their entrepreneurial spirit to build a concept grounded in health and safety that we believe gives a group of deserving student-athletes the best opportunity to conduct a successful season.”

Play in the pod will begin on Dec. 1 with games held throughout each week. In addition to the eight games against the other division teams, each team will also play two games against one divisional opponent in Omaha. The complete schedule will be released in the coming weeks. There are currently no plans to change the conference tournament. A decision on possible non-conference games will be made at a later date.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha will handle medical support and COVID-19 testing for student-athletes, staff and officials.

With the pod beginning in December, some member schools will have already finished their fall semester or be offering the majority of classes through remote learning at that time. Game schedules in the pod will be set with the schools’ final exam periods in mind and any academic support needed by athletes will be provided by Nebraska-Omaha staff.

Games in the pod will be available with a subscription to NCHC.tv.

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