A powerhouse hockey team from the University of North Dakota, captained by Chilliwack Chiefs all-time great Jordan Kawaguchi, has won the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) title.
A Fighting Hawks squad that also includes Chiefs alums Harrison Blaisdell and Cooper Moore upended the St. Cloud State Huskies by a 5-3 count in Tuesday night’s championship match at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, ND.
Kawaguchi had one of the goals in the historic win, marking the first time North Dakota has won the Frozen Faceoff championship, and the first time in the eight-year history of the NCHC that one team has captured both the regular season and tournament titles.
North Dakota captured the Penrose Cup as the regular season’s best with an 18-5-1 record.
On Tuesday night Kawaguchi’s Fighting Hawks scored three times in 122 seconds early in the third period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 advantage.
The Abbotsford product had the second goal in that flurry and added an empty netter in the final minute to seal the victory.
“It’s pretty special to win our last (game) in the Ralph,” said Kawaguchi, one of five seniors set to graduate from UND’s lineup at season’s end.
North Dakota coach Brad Berry had praise for his captain after the game.
“Tonight I thought he looked like he got shot out of a cannon,” the bench boss said. “I think that goes to the leadership side of it as far as him being a captain and showing the way.”
The Fighting Hawks now turn their attention to national matters. The field of 16 teams that will skate in the NCAA tournament will be announced Sunday night, televised on ESPN-U.