North Dakota hockey
North Dakota may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of hockey dynasties, but the recent success of their hockey program is quickly changing that. In the past decade, the University of North Dakota men’s ice hockey team has established itself as a force to be reckoned with, consistently ranking among the top teams in the country and producing top-tier talent. With a strong team culture, talented players, and top-notch coaching, North Dakota is making a case for being the next dynasty in college hockey.
Since the university’s first national championship win in 1959, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks have steadily been making a name for themselves in the world of college hockey. But it wasn’t until the 2015-2016 season that their true potential as a powerhouse team was realized. Led by head coach Brad Berry, who took over in 2015, the Fighting Hawks dominated the competition with a 34-6-4 record and won their eighth national championship.
The following season, despite losing key players to the NHL, North Dakota showed no signs of slowing down. They ended the regular season with a record of 21-14-3 and made it to the Frozen Four for the second year in a row. While they fell short in the semifinals, their continued success solidified their place as a top contender in college hockey.
One of the reasons for North Dakota’s recent dominance is their strong team culture. The players are not only dedicated to their individual success, but also to the team’s success as a whole. Berry emphasized this culture when he took over as head coach, and it has become a driving force for the players. As senior captain Gage Ausmus said, “it’s about the team, not the individual. We’ve got leaders in the room who lead in different ways and we’ve got guys who are willing to follow.” This selfless mentality has brought the team together and fostered a strong sense of camaraderie, which is crucial for success in any team sport.
Of course, a successful team culture means nothing without talented players. And North Dakota has no shortage of them. The Fighting Hawks have consistently produced top NHL draft picks, with players like Brock Boeser, Troy Stecher, and Nick Schmaltz making the leap from college to the pros in recent years. In fact, North Dakota has had at least one player drafted every year since 1982, with a total of 104 players drafted overall.
This year’s team is no exception, with six players currently on NHL contracts and several others expected to make the jump in the upcoming draft. One notable player is sophomore forward Shane Pinto, who was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 2019 and has already made a big impact at North Dakota. He currently leads the team in points and has quickly become a fan favorite with his impressive on-ice skills and work ethic.
But it’s not just the individual players that make North Dakota a force to be reckoned with. It’s the coaching staff that has helped mold these players into top talent. Brad Berry, along with his assistants Dane Jackson and Karl Goehring, have a combined 20 years of experience at the University of North Dakota and have helped shape the program into what it is today. They have a keen eye for talent and excel at developing players to reach their full potential.
In addition to their success on the ice, North Dakota also boasts impressive facilities and resources for their players. The Ralph Engelstad Arena, where the Fighting Hawks play, is considered one of the best college hockey arenas in the country. The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with top training and recovery equipment, as well as amenities such as a players’ lounge, a golf simulator, and a hydrotherapy room. These resources help keep the players in top physical condition and give them every opportunity to excel on the ice.
The university’s commitment to their hockey program is evident in their investments, and it has paid off in terms of national recognition and success. North Dakota has consistently ranked among the top teams in college hockey and has earned a reputation for producing top talent. They have also created a strong fan following, with sell-out crowds at their home games and a dedicated alumni base.
As North Dakota gears up for the upcoming season, expectations are high once again. The Fighting Hawks are returning several key players and have a talented incoming freshman class. With the strong team culture, top-notch coaching, and talented players, they have the potential to once again be a top contender for the national championship. And if the past decade is any indication, North Dakota is well on their way to establishing themselves as a hockey dynasty in the making.