UND is already a lock for NCAA hockey tournament according to CHN's probability matrix
The Fighting Hawks have surged up the Pairwise Rankings with a six-game winning streak.
GRAND FORKS — The UND hockey team is headed back to the NCAA tournament no matter how the rest of the regular season and conference tournament plays out.
According to the College Hockey News Probability Matrix , which ran 20,000 scenarios of game results between now and the NCAA tournament selection show, there are none that result in UND being left out.
UND is one of eight teams listed as 100 percent in.
The other seven are MSU-Mankato, Michigan, Minnesota, Denver, Western Michigan, Notre Dame and Quinnipiac.
There are 16 teams that make the field, but teams need to be in the top 15 of the Pairwise Rankings, at a minimum, to get in because Atlantic Hockey's playoff champion will take one of the slots.
UND was sitting on the bubble a month ago, but has charged up the Pairwise Rankings with a six-game winning streak.
The Fighting Hawks are currently at No. 5.
According to the Probability Matrix, UND has a 36 percent chance of being a No. 1 seed, a 60 percent chance of being a No. 2 seed and a 4 percent chance of being a No. 3 seed. It will not be a No. 4 seed.
UND's destination for the NCAA regionals could be a mystery until the end this year, because the Fighting Hawks are not hosting one.
The four regionals will be in Loveland, Colo., Allentown, Pa., Worcester, Mass., and Albany, N.Y. Denver will automatically get sent to the Loveland regional as a host.
The full bracket will be announced on March 20.
Everyone to Omaha
National Collegiate Hockey Conference teams are limited to travel rosters of 23 players — 21 skaters and two goalies.
But because the Penrose Cup is on the line this weekend as UND visits Omaha's Baxter Arena (7:07 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday), the league will give UND a waiver to bring its entire roster.
UND will have to declare which four players are not eligible to play in the series. Two will be goalies. Another will be injured forward Gavin Hain.
UND needs one win over the Mavericks to clinch the Penrose Cup outright over second-place Denver. The Pioneers conclude their regular season against rival Colorado College.
The Fighting Hawks have won the Penrose Cup in back-to-back years and are aiming to become the first program to win three in a row.
"We know it's in our own control here," UND forward Judd Caulfield said. "We know we have to go down there and play hard. We're not just going for one. We want to get both games."