With so much attention being paid to the outdoor game at TD Ameritrade Park, some might forget tonight's "prelude" at the CenturyLink Center between North Dakota and UNO. The 6:30 pm game will be televised by NBC Sports Network, and with 2000 or more North Dakota fans in town, it'll be quite the atmosphere.
Even without the outdoor game, it would be a big weekend. #7 North Dakota sits two points behind the 14th ranked Mavs in the WCHA standings, and UNO desperately needs wins against top-quality opponents to improve their RPI and PairWise rankings. At this point, UNO isn't even near the bubble for the NCAA tournament, so the Mavs have their work cut out for them. That sweep by Quinnipiac over the holidays really, really hurt.
The two names to watch out for NoDak are seniors Danny Kristo and Corban Knight. Kristo is tied with UNO's Ryan Walters for third nationally in goals scored, while Knight is tied with Walters for second nationally in assists. Dakota fans have filled the online Hobey Baker voting with over 23,559 votes for Knight compared to only 4,620 votes for Walters.
Weather continues to look pretty good. It may rain Saturday night and Sunday, but right now, it looks more likely that the sun will be out during the afternoon. Temperatures could top 50 degrees, though a stiff southeast wind could affect the game.
Yesterday, the USHL teams took to the outdoor rink to break in the ice. The Lincoln Stars apparently went first, early in the afternoon.
Today, those unfortunate nets were strung up behind each goal. I understand the safety reasons why they are there, but with the seating so far away in a baseball stadium, I was hoping they wouldn't be necessary. The grounds crew also flooded the rink with more water over the lunch hour.
Everything seems to be shaping up for a huge weekend of hockey in Omaha.