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UND coach Brad Berry optimistic his team will get a couple of players back in the lineup this weekend

The Fighting Hawks have a chance to win the Penrose Cup with one victory at Omaha.

Minnesota Duluth Men’s Hockey faces North Dakota at Amsoil Arena Friday
North Dakota defenseman Ethan Frisch (15) controls the puck against Minnesota Duluth on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

GRAND FORKS — UND won't have its full lineup available this weekend as it aims for a third-straight Penrose Cup.

But the Fighting Hawks will be better off than last weekend.

UND coach Brad Berry said he's optimistic that leading scorer Riese Gaber and top-pair defenseman Ethan Frisch will be available for Friday's series opener at Omaha in Baxter Arena.

Gaber, who leads UND with 14 goals and 35 points in 30 games, has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury he sustained while crashing into the boards Feb. 18 at Minnesota Duluth.

Gaber has participated in practice this week.


"Really good chance of playing," Berry said. "He had a full practice today again. That's the second day in a row and it looks very positive for him playing."

Berry said he expects Frisch to play against the Mavericks, too.

"Absolutely, 100 percent," Berry said.

Frisch missed last Saturday's game against Western Michigan with an undisclosed injury after crashing into the boards late Friday night. He has participated in practice this week.

Frisch, of Moorhead, has nine goals and 15 points in 32 games for the Fighting Hawks.

UND (21-11-1) will continue to be without star defenseman Jake Sanderson, though.

Sanderson sustained an upper-body injury Feb. 11 while playing at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. He is skating at practice again, but not ready for games.

Sanderson hasn't played for UND since Jan. 29 and he will finish the regular season playing in just 10 of 24 league games. The No. 5 overall pick of the Ottawa Senators has missed time due to two separate injuries, an illness and the Olympic Games.


"It will be a little more time," Berry said. "He's getting closer and closer here. He's a lot closer than I thought originally, but he will be unavailable for the weekend."

UND has already played 12 league games without Sanderson this season. The Fighting Hawks have taken 31 of a possible 36 points in those games, including 31 of the last 33.

The Fighting Hawks also will be without forward Gavin Hain, whose return is looking less likely this season. Hain participated in UND's Senior Day on Saturday night and remains in a leg brace. He hasn't played since Jan. 7.

UND needs one win over Omaha this weekend to secure the Penrose Cup.

Because the league title is on the line, the NCHC is allowing UND to travel its entire team to Omaha, though it will have to designate which 23 players are allowed to play.

The NCHC quarterfinals begin next weekend. UND will host either Colorado College or Miami in a best-of-three series. The winner will advance to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff in St. Paul.

After that, UND is a lock to be in the NCAA tournament. The Fighting Hawks will be placed in a regional in Loveland, Colo., Allentown, Pa., Worcester, Mass., or Albany, N.Y. The NCAA Frozen Four is in Boston.

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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