OMAHA, Neb. — I walked down the street tonight to a local bar/pub to grab a late night dinner. Within a few minutes of being there, the dueling pianos stopped and one of the guys yelled out something about North Dakota fans being in the house.
The bar erupted in cheers. I turned around and saw probably 50 UND fans there enjoying the night, getting ready for this weekend’s series against Nebraska Omaha.
Yes, they’re already here.
More will be coming this afternoon, and in all, there should be a large UND contingent in town this weekend (hopefully the Omaha bars know what’s about to hit them).
Of course, most of the fans are here to check out the outdoor game on Saturday afternoon. Since I’ve received a ton of questions about the outdoor game and the weekend, I put together a little guide to Omaha for Thursday’s paper.
Before the outdoor game, fans will be treated to an indoor game at CenturyLink Center, where these teams played two great games in UND’s last trip here (UND rallied for a 6-5 win on Friday; Omaha scored with less than a second left in regulation to win 1-0 on Saturday).
A lot of the attention is on the outdoor game, but the team is focused on business at hand, which is tonight’s series opener.
In the weekly On The Ice column, I speculate that UND will probably play another novelty game — whether it’s in Canada or outdoors — again somewhere down the line. The column throws out three ideas.
For this week’s Q&A, I got in touch with Jonathan Toews, who is the only former UND player to compete in an NHL Winter Classic outdoors. The Q&A is supposed to be up here, but it is currently erroring out. I’ve sent a note to someone who can hopefully fix it in the morning.
Toews gave a bunch of details about his outdoor experience, said that when he sees people in Sioux jerseys on the road he likes to seek them out and chat with them, and he talks about how much fun he had at UND, especially with his freshman class (six of which have played in the NHL).
Toews said the ice was actually better in his outdoor game than indoor games. A couple of USHL players who skated at T.D. Ameritrade Park on Thursday said that the ice, overall, was good, though it got choppy at the end.
From the Omaha angle, the Mavs say they are also worrying about Friday’s game and not Saturday because of the significance. Mav coach Dean Blais also says North Dakota will be the fastest team UNO has played against this season.
Thursday’s story in the World Herald brings up an interesting note: The sun could possibly be a factor in the goaltenders’ eyes. UND’s goalie will be looking into the sun in the first period. Read more in that story here.
The Omaha paper also has a feature about Josh Archibald, whose father starred at UND.
The USCHO guys are picking a split for the series, just like me.
On the women’s side, UND has a huge series against Bemidji State at home. UND will be playing without four players who are currently overseas at Olympic qualifiers.
Jocelyne Lamoureux is just four points away from breaking the all-time WCHA scoring record this weekend. Read a little about that here.
The Beavers had a rough 3-14-2 start to the season, but they’re 3-4 in the last seven — two of those losses coming in overtime. So they’ve played better lately and will look to take points from a shorthanded UND team that will not dress a full roster.
That’s it for now. As long as everything goes as planned, there will be a pregame video blog up this afternoon. Otherwise, check back for the live chat tonight.