North Dakota will play a familiar exhibition patsy in Manitoba at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Ralph.
UND is 8-0 under coach Dave Hakstol against the Bisons, winning those games by a combined score of 51-17.
Of course, most U.S. Division I teams should beat the Canada's universities. That country's best college-age hockey players aren't going to school but playing juniors or on pro teams.
It seems UND is trying to help those programs, too. North Dakota has three exhibition games against schools in Canada. The other two are Jan. 3-4 when UND travels to British Columbia and Simon Fraser, respectively. Maybe Hakstol is trying to recruit a few players up there, too.
UND also as a fourth exhibition game against the U18 U.S. national team on Oct. 26 at home. So plenty of opportunity to try new lineups or play the end of the bench.
North Dakota is ranked No. 6 in the USCHO web poll and No. 7 in the USA Today poll and picked to finish second in the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
Hakstol has 18 returning lettermen, including an NCAA-high of 15, according to UND media relations, who have been taken in the NHL draft. (The Gophers have 13 NHL draft picks on their roster.) Five of those UND draftees are incoming freshmen.
UND also has four Minnesotans on its roster: two juniors, defenseman Nick Mattson of Chanhassen and forward Connor Gaarder of Edina, sophomore goalie Zane Gothberg of Thief River Falls and freshman defensman Gage Ausmus of East Grand Forks.
Hakstol has had nine winning seasons in a row, and UND has appeared in the NCAA tournament 11 years in a row -- the longest current streak. His overall record is 235-119-37 for a .648 winning percentage. His WCHA mark was 143-82-27, a .621 winning pace.
2013 NCAA champion Yale, after vanquishing the Gophers last March, beat UND 4-1 in a regional final in the NCAA tournament.
UND finished 23-13-7 overall, 14-7-7 WCHA. Its top returning scorer is Rocco Grimaldi (13-23-36), He was a plus-14 player.
TWO FROM U GOING TO ITALY
Two University of Minnesota students, junior Ellie Gleason and sophomore Molly Sparks, have been named to the U.S. women's team that will compete in the 2013 Winter World University Games from Dec. 10-21 in Trentino, Italy.
Not heard those names before? Well, neither of them play for the Gophers. Instead, both are on the U of M women's club team which finished second in the Division I ACHA national tournament in Wooster, Ohio last season. The U lost to Northeastern 3-1 in the title game.
Gleason is a defenseman from Edina, Sparks a forward from Eagan.
The U of M women's club team practices at Mariucci Arena just like the Gophers men's team does.