College hockey: UND could struggle with encore, like other champs
The University of North Dakota is entering the season with the title of college hockey national champions. With that comes a challenge.
UND will try to buck a recent trend of the post-title hangover in college hockey.
Six of the last 11 national champions have failed to make the NCAA tournament the following season. None of the last 11 champions have reached the NCAA Frozen Four the next year.
Only one of the past eight national champs have won a game the following season in the NCAA tournament.
"Other teams know that you're the national champion," UND coach Brad Berry said. "And they will have to bring their best game for you. The opponent will be ready. As far as individual performances go, they will know who the players are to watch and key on. There won't be any secrets in that way."
Historically, it has been a tough road for UND title teams, too.
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UND has never repeated as college hockey national champions, despite winning eight in total. Five of the previous seven national championship teams missed the NCAA tournament. The sixth lost its first game in the NCAAs.
The only team to come back the next year and win a game in the national tournament was the 2000-01 squad, which lost to Boston College in overtime in the championship game.
One obvious reason for the championship hangovers has been the turnover of rosters.
Most championship teams are either senior-laden or stacked with NHL-bound young talent. After the title, seniors move on and underclassmen often sign pro deals.
That's what happened in Grand Forks, North Dakota, this summer.
In addition to the graduation of Drake Caggiula, Bryn Chyzyk, Coltyn Sanderson and Colten St. Clair, five Fighting Hawks signed NHL deals early.
Sophomore Nick Schmaltz and junior Luke Johnson signed with the Chicago Blackhawks. Junior Paul LaDue signed with the Los Angeles Kings. Junior Troy Stecher signed with the Vancouver Canucks. And junior Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks.
That leaves big holes and big minutes to fill.
But there's another part to the championship hangovers, Berry says.
"The other thing is that coming off of a national championship — you don't like to think it — but the mental side figures into it," he said. "We talked about it in the summer. We've talked about it in the fall. And that's turning the page and make sure we go through the process.
"We use the word 'process' extremely regularly here as far as making sure, every day, we come in and don't take any shortcuts or cut any corners. It's about doing the things that give you success. As much as the physical side that goes into it, the mental side is huge."
For the last 15 years, UND has always come up short in its bid for a national championship — most of those years ended in the Frozen Four.
That always fueled the team through offseason workouts and aiming at the next season.
Although Frozen Four heartbreak won't be the fuel this season, Berry says there will be another thing driving the team.
"I think having a taste of it," he said about winning the title. "We went through the process last year. There were ups and downs, adversity with injuries and a bunch of things went on. Knowing that the season is long, knowing what you have to put in during the summer to get to where you want to go helps.
"Nothing is taken for granted — team-wise or individually as far as ice time is concerned," Berry added. "We have to make sure we don't skip any [part] of what we did last year. We're going to have to tweak and change a few things with what we want to do, because that's what you should do when you go forward, but knowing what gave us success, you have to rely on that."
THE NEXT SEASON
- 2005 Denver: 21-15-3, missed NCAAs.
- 2006 Wisconsin: 19-18-4, missed NCAAs.
- 2007 Michigan State: 25-12-5, lost in NCAA regional final.
- 2008 Boston College: 18-14-5, missed NCAAs.
- 2009 Boston University: 18-17-3, missed NCAAs.
- 2010 Boston College: 30-8-1, lost in NCAA first round.
- 2011 Minnesota Duluth: 25-10-6, lost in NCAA regional final.
- 2012 Boston College: 22-12-4, lost in NCAA first round.
- 2013 Yale: 17-11-5, missed NCAAs.
- 2014 Union: 19-18-2, missed NCAAs.
- 2015 Providence: 27-7-4, lost in NCAA first round.
- 2016 North Dakota: TBD.
This article was written by Brad Elliott Schlossman from Grand Forks Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.