The UMD Bulldogs are unbeaten in 16 straight. You know this. You're aware they haven't lost since Oct. 15. You're aware who that loss came to. You're aware that it doesn't seem to matter as much now as it did then.
This school-record run started innocently enough, as the Bulldogs got back on the proverbial horse with a win and tie at Providence Oct. 21-22. What's happened since is almost incredible.
The Bulldogs have rallied from 2-0 deficits, a 3-1 deficit, third-period holes, and dealt with stretches where it seemed they couldn't buy a bounce. Now, they're about to finish a run of eight straight road games, and UMD is 5-0-1 so far.
The pollsters and computers have all recognized what's going on in Duluth. UMD is a unanimous No. 1 in both national polls -- conducted by USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine. The Bulldogs have the best winning percentage in the country. UMD leads the way in the computer-generated RPI, as well as the Pairwise -- which mimics the NCAA selection process -- and KRACH -- which many people wish mimicked the NCAA selection process.
There isn't a metric by which UMD isn't the top team in college hockey as they get ready to play at Century Link Center Omaha for the first time ever.
(UMD's other games in Omaha were played at the old Civic Auditorium.)
It might not seem like it should matter, but it's a point of pride for this team, and part of the motivation right now is making sure UMD doesn't fall off the radar.
Nebraska Omaha has struggled a bit this year, but the Mavericks will be a factor in who wins this league. UNO plays an awfully difficult schedule in the second half, and while it will define the Mavericks' season, it will also probably help decide the MacNaughton Cup winner.
For those unaware, UNO has been marketing like crazy to sell out Friday's game. The arena seats nearly 17,000 for hockey, and the school reports just over 2,000 tickets remain for the contest, which will be televised by NBC Sports Network. Popular TSN play-by-play voice Gord Miller will call the game, with Wild television analyst Mike Greenlay working alongside.
At another crisp and fast practice Tuesday, UMD showed no line changes. Defenseman Scott Kishel, who took a puck off his leg late in Saturday's game and had to be helped to the room, was on the ice and appears to be fine. It's the closest thing UMD has seen to an injury scare since freshman Chris Casto left the Minnesota State game Nov. 18 with a lower-body injury. He missed the rest of that game but was back in the lineup for the next game.
(Knock on wood!)
UMD has one more national television game in the regular season after Friday. The Feb. 10 game at home against North Dakota will be on CBS Sports Network.