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NCHC series between Bulldogs, Huskies postponed due to COVID-19 protocols

No make up date has been announced, but the NCHC said in its release that an attempt will be made to reschedule the series.

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Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin talks to his team against Michigan in the Ice Breaker Tournament on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — A second NCHC series has been postponed this week due to COVID-19 protocols, and this time, it involves Minnesota Duluth.

The Bulldogs series against St. Cloud State at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud that was originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday (Jan. 7-8) has been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols at UMD. No make-up date has been set and if the series cannot be rescheduled, it will be declared a no contest.

Season ticket holders will not be refunded for the series, however, fans who purchased single-game tickets can either keep their tickets and use them at the rescheduled games, exchange them for another game at SCSU or request a refund by contacting the SCSU ticket office at 320-308-2137.

The WCHA series between the UMD and SCSU women remains on as scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday and 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

On Tuesday, the NCHC rescheduled a series between Denver and Nebraska Omaha in Omaha. Originally scheduled to take place on Friday and Saturday at Baxter Arena, that series has been shifted to Feb. 4-5. That's when the Bulldogs and Huskies could possibly make up their series, however, the NCHC would also have to push back Western Michigan's trip to SCSU to Feb. 11-12, when both the Broncos and Huskies are scheduled to have a bye.

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Other series across college hockey to be postponed this week include Ohio State at Wisconsin in the Big Ten; nonconference series between Clarkson and Canisius and Bentley and UMass-Lowell; as well as four games in the ECAC involving Union, Dartmouth, RPI and Harvard.

A Division III men's game scheduled for Thursday featuring Wisconsin-Superior at Saint John's in St. Cloud was also called off Wednesday because of COVID-19 protocols.

The Bulldogs entered the 2021-22 season fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and according to coach Scott Sandelin during his press conference a week ago, "pretty much" everyone on the team has received their COVID-10 booster shots. On Tuesday, St. Cloud State coach Brett Larson said that his team is healthy and also fully vaccinated.

Sandelin's press conference scheduled for Wednesday was canceled after it was announced the series with the Huskies was canceled. The Bulldogs coach was asked last week upon returning from the holiday break whether any changes to COVID-19 protocols were instore after what was happening elsewhere in the sports world, but Sandelin said no changes were being made as the program has been told by medical professionals it has been doing the right things since the start of the year.

But that doesn't make the program immune from the virus, Sandelin said, referencing professional leagues with much tighter protocols than college, where student-athletes have to attend classes.

"Everyone's seeing what's going on and we've got to be very careful and do our best to try and avoid that," Sandelin said last week. "But the way it's going, it doesn't seem like it is avoidable. Somewhere along the line, you're going to probably get it, but hopefully we can do our best to stay away from that. We've gone through a couple of cases already where we've had guys miss games, and hopefully that doesn't happen again."

This marks the second outbreak of breakthrough COVID-19 cases within the Bulldogs' men's program, though the first time it resulted in games being rescheduled. UMD traveled to Marquette, Michigan, during the first weekend in December to play the Wildcats without starting goaltender Ryan Fanti, who was out because of COVID-19 protocols. Sophomore defenseman Wyatt Kaiser also missed that series because of COVID-19 protocols.

UMD's next scheduled series is Jan. 14-15 against Miami at Amsoil Arena. The Huskies are scheduled to play at Denver next weekend.

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The eighth-ranked Bulldogs (11-8-1 overall, 4-3-1 NCHC) currently sit fourth in the NCHC with 14 points in eight league games, while the No. 4 Huskies (12-6. 4-4) are two back in fifth with 12 points in eight games. North Dakota leads the league with 24 points in 10 games.

Should the NCHC not complete a full league schedule in 2021-22, it will revert to points per game instead of total points to decide the regular season champion and playoff seeding, just as the league did a year ago during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rink Live reporter Mick Hatten contributed to this report.

This story was originally posted at 11:48 a.m. on Wednesday, January 5, 2022. It was updated with additional information at 3:36 p.m. on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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