The North Dakota men's hockey team enters its holiday break in very unfamiliar territory. After closing out the first half of the season with a 13-4-2 (.737) record the team is in its best position to this point of any season under head coach Dave Hakstol. Over the previous 10 years under Hakstol, the team's average record before Christmas is 10-7-2 (.579) with the previous best being a 10-5-3 (.639) start two seasons ago. It's setting up this year's squad to control its own destiny through the 2nd half of the season - something that was far from reach just 365 days ago.
Last season the team stumbled into the holiday season with a 9-7-2 (.555) mark and needed one of its patented red-hot 2nd halves to sneak into the NCAA tournament. Many players, and more importantly the same mentality, is back on this year's squad and that could lead to some magical things - especially if the team can get, and stay healthy, and crank up the usual post-Christmas winning.
Of course, all of those questions will answered in the coming weeks, but fans have to feel good about where this team stands compared to years prior - and with an NCAA regional hosted by UND in Fargo come March - those with tickets already are likely going to feel more comfortable about seeing their team there sooner rather than later.