When a team’s season ends earlier than expected, it’s human nature to view the year from the lens of the final defeat and see it as a letdown.
That feeling of disappointment only intensifies when the team in question carries high expectations and has an unprecedented history of success.
Therefore, it’s understandable for fans of UND Hockey to feel frustrated with how the 2018-19 season played out.
This vintage of North Dakota was strong in defense and one of the nation’s best at puck possession, but they struggled to score all season and had to deal with a myriad of injuries to key players, a combination that made results inconsistent at best, especially on the road.
That up-and-down form landed UND a fifth-place finish in the NCHC standings and on the fringes of gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, a hope that was abruptly ended with a quarterfinal exit in the NCHC playoffs at the hands of Denver, the first time North Dakota failed to get out of the opening round of their conference tournament in 17 years.
Still, while it’s easy to be disappointed at the season’s returns, it’s also harsh to label this year a failure for the nation’s best college hockey program.
It’s easy to forget in hindsight, but UND won ten games against ranked teams, including five that are shoo-ins to make the NCAA Tournament. Young players took big steps forward. Veterans led with pride. Vegas happened.
(See? It wasn’t that bad.)
To help put the season in perspective – and to attempt to explain why things didn’t end better – the award-winning Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald joined me this week on the latest edition of the Midco Sports Network Podcast.
Listen to our (long) conversation below, and be sure to subscribe to our MidcoSN Podcast feed on i-Tunes or Soundcloud!