Olympic timeline for NCAA players clearing up
USA Hockey is not expected to ask players to report until February
GRAND FORKS — If UND defenseman Jake Sanderson accepts USA Hockey's offer and joins Team USA for the Olympic Games — and the expectation is that most, if not all, college hockey players will accept offers — he shouldn't miss any of UND's January contests.
The U.S. Olympic Team is not expected to convene until February.
If Sanderson goes to the Beijing Olympics, he will likely miss between two and six games depending on USA's performance, travel arrangements home and any alterations to UND's schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sanderson would for sure miss UND's home series against Colorado College on Feb. 4-5.
After that, it's up in the air.
USA's first game at the Olympics is Feb. 10. It also has pool play games scheduled for Feb. 12 and 13. Qualification playoffs are scheduled for Feb. 15, the quarterfinals Feb. 16, semifinals Feb. 18 and the medal games Feb. 19 (bronze) and 20 (gold).
UND has the weekend of Feb. 11-12 off — for now (you never know about the potential for schedule shifts due to COVID-19 postponements).
The Fighting Hawks are scheduled to play at Minnesota Duluth on Feb. 18-19 and home against Western Michigan on Feb. 25-26.
If USA is bounced from the tournament early, Olympic players could potentially be back by the Feb. 18-19 weekend. If not, they should be back by Feb. 25-26 barring travel issues.
USA Hockey is expecting to name the Olympic roster by mid-January.
Because the NHL pulled out of the Olympics, USA Hockey and Hockey Canada are both expected to field rosters that include current college players as well as pros currently playing in Europe.
The Athletic reported earlier this week that Michigan's Owen Power has accepted an invite to play for Team Canada.
In 2018, UND lost one active roster player for four games to the Olympics. Norwegian Ludvig Hoff went to PyeongChang, South Korea.
WJC final day
Sanderson and Tyler Kleven hoped to be spending Wednesday night in Edmonton competing for a second-straight World Junior Championship gold.
But the event was canceled last week due to four COVID-19 positives across the teams. The U.S. only played one game at the under-20 event.
"It was a pretty massive letdown," said Kleven, a sophomore defenseman from Fargo. "You work so hard to put yourself in position to play on the World Junior team. It was obviously a huge honor to play for the USA, but I think the weeks that I was there, I got a lot better practicing with the best under-20 guys in the U.S. But, yeah, I'm definitely pretty sad about not getting a chance to win another gold medal."
After the event was canceled, Kleven said he flew from Red Deer, Alberta to Winnipeg, then drove across the border to Grand Forks.
Kleven played in USA's exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 Team last Saturday. Sanderson missed the game to spend extra time with his family in Alberta.
Three players expected back
UND coach Brad Berry said he anticipates the three players who missed Saturday's exhibition — Sanderson, forward Louis Jamernik and goalie Zach Driscoll — will be available for the series against Cornell at 7:07 p.m. Friday and 6:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
"All three will be in the lineup," Berry said. "All three will be ready to go."
Next season's schedule is full
UND was scheduled to play Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., last season, but it was wiped out due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Berry confirmed that series has now been rescheduled for next season. The Fighting Hawks and Big Red will play in Lynah Rink in January 2023 coming out of Christmas break.
That means next season's schedule is full.
In nonconference, UND will play the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game against Arizona State in Las Vegas, a home-and-home series against Bemidji State and two-game series at Minnesota, home against Holy Cross, home against Quinnipiac and at Cornell.