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How UND hockey will handle Senior Day this season

Things aren't as straightforward in the era of fifth-year seniors.

111922 S GFH UNDMHKYP10018.jpg
UND forward Judd Caulfield (28) greets young fans following the Fighting Hawks' pregame warmups before taking on the Miami Redhawks in a home hockey matchup at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Friday, November 18, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Senior Days used to be simple.

Schools honored players as their college eligibility expired at the end of their senior seasons.

But now, being a senior doesn't necessarily spell the end.

The NCAA ruled the 2020-21 COVID-altered season doesn't count against anyone's eligibility, so those who suited up that year could potentially return for a fifth season — if the school has room on its roster.

That notably happened for UND last season. Forwards Gavin Hain and Mark Senden were recognized on Senior Day. Both ended up getting an offer to return for their fifth years and both took it.


UND has now settled on a new course of action for Senior Day in the COVID-year era.

It will primarily recognize players at the end of their fourth years and ones who have not had Senior Day sendoffs yet.

For UND, that will be forward Judd Caulfield, forward Carson Albrecht, defenseman Ethan Frisch and defeseman Chris Jandric on Saturday night.

"It's just a dream come true, playing at UND," Caulfield said. "I always dreamt as a kid playing here. You grow up going to the games on Fridays and Saturdays, always following the team. It's really just an unreal experience. It's even better than what I imagined, too. All the guys, the coaching staff, the teammates, they've all been amazing to me. It's something you can't take for granted. I'm truly grateful for the time I've spent here."

The fact that Caulfield, Frisch and Albrecht are going through Senior Day doesn't necessarily mean their careers at UND are over. All three have a year of college eligibility remaining.

"I think this week is just a lot of reflection about the group we have right now and the class I came through with," Frisch said. "Obviously, it won't be the same next year — whether that means I'm here or not. That's not a decision I've made yet. But it's just more of a reflection on my time here thus far and the guys I've done it with. Obviously, it's an emotional week, but we'll still go about it business-like."

Caulfield added: "I'm still up in the air. I'm not really sure what's going to be happening next year, so it's kind of taking it day by day and see where it goes."

UND coach Brad Berry said he's had discussions with Caulfield and Frisch, who both could garner pro attention.


Caulfield is a fifth-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Frisch is an undrafted free agent.

"We do that throughout the year," Berry said. "As it comes closer, we had those conversations a few weeks back. We'll revisit it again here just before the playoffs start. You also include the NHL teams if they're drafted, where the NHL teams think they stand, and having a communication with not only the player but the NHL team.

"With a free agent, that's a tougher thing to read, but it's open dialogue. It's something you don't want to focus on from a day-to-day basis, but maybe just re-connect every couple weeks of where it's at."

This weekend, the seniors are going to reflect on their ride.

Caulfield, Frisch and Albrecht won Penrose Cups as National Collegiate Hockey Conference champions during their first three seasons.

"It's definitely pretty emotional," Caulfield said. "We've been here for four years, created some great relationships along the way and it's a sad time, but at the same time, we have a lot of season ahead of us. We have two big games this weekend to give us some momentum going into the playoffs."

Frisch added: "It's been pretty incredible. My recruitment started pretty early — before the (early recruiting) rule. When I was in bantams and North Dakota called and I got to come on a couple unofficial visits here, it was pretty special. Me and my family knew pretty much right away this was the spot for me. It felt like home."

Jandric had a winding path to UND.


He played two seasons at Alaska (Fairbanks), then sat out the 2020-21 season and went into the transfer portal.

Jandric transferred to UND in the summer of 2021 and has been a key defender for the Fighting Hawks the last two seasons.

"I definitely did not expect to be here," Jandric said. "But I'm so thankful and grateful to be here with everyone. I have nothing but great things to say about this place. I was just fortunate to be one of the 27 guys that were able to experience it this year."

Jandric said it has been "surreal" to play at UND.

"On and off the ice, it's been amazing," he said. "The coaching staff has helped me out amazingly. The team has been awesome, too, grouping me in, so it's been fun.

"It's tough; it's definitely an emotional (week)."

UND will have a smaller recognition for the players whose eligibility is expiring — Hain, Senden, UMass transfer Ty Farmer, Michigan State transfer Drew DeRidder and Union transfer Ryan Sidorski. All of them have already been a part of senior celebrations.

For that group of five and Jandric, this weekend will mark their final games in The Ralph.


UND will be on the road for the first round of the conference playoffs for just the second time in the last 20 years and will not have any home games scheduled after Senior Night.

UND, No. 21 in the Pairwise Rankings, might have to win the NCHC Frozen Faceoff to reach the NCAA tournament.

"The possibilities are pretty endless right now — where we could be or who we're playing," Frisch said. "We know what we've got to do. We can't control what other teams are doing, but we can control the way we play for 120 minutes this weekend starting on Friday."

NCAA Men's Hockey 2023: MN Duluth v North Dakota JAN 21
UND defenseman Ethan Frisch makes a check on Minnesota Duluth forward Ben Steeves on Jan. 21, 2023, in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Russell Hons / UND athletics

No. 14 Omaha at UND

When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).
Stream: NCHChockey.com.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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