GRAND RAPIDS — If there is one team that was snake bitten by the coronavirus, it was the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team.
The Fighting Hawks were 26-5-4 and enjoying a marvelous season, having captured the Penrose Cup and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) regular season championship. However, because of the virus, the season was cut short which did not allow for UND to make a run at a national championship.
A member of that team is Gavin Hain, a sophomore from Grand Rapids, who played a contributing role for the Fighting Hawks. While his scoring totals did not open eyes – he had two goals and eight assists but was a plus three on the ice – much of it was because he served on a checking line that played against opponents’ top line most of the time.
“We were more of a third line, a shutdown line that played against the other teams’ first line,” said Hain, 20, a 2017 graduate of Grand Rapids High School.
Overall, Hain said it was a great season for the Fighting Hawks.
“It was a pretty good season, similar to the year before,” said Hain, who scored six goals and had three assists as a freshman in 2018-19. “We won a few more games and got more bounces this year. It,was a very fun year because we didn’t lose many games and we all clicked together as a team. We had good chemistry and it was a lot of fun this year.”
Hain said UND was on the right path the entire season and it is upsetting that the season was cut short.
“The last two years we had not made the NCAA tournament and this year we were looking to make a run and we thought we had a really good chance to do something special,” Hain explained. “With the coronavirus ending the season, it is pretty disappointing for us.”
Hain said he and his teammates are excited for next season with plenty of good players returning plus a good freshman class entering the program.
“I think we are all working to and planning to start where we left off,” Hain said. “Now that we have something to prove about our season this year and we have some unfinished business which is a term we are using so far because of how we were last year and how it ended.
“Personally, with seniors leaving, I think there are some roles and holes to be filled. I hope to fill one of those spots and take on more of a responsibility as far as on our team.”
Hain said he enjoyed growing up in Grand Rapids and playing youth hockey. It could not have got any better, he said, as he culminated his high school career with a state championship in 2017.
“It was a blast growing up in Grand Rapids and playing with the same core of guys all the way through high school,” said Hain. “Having the success that we had made it an awesome experience and being able to cap it off with our first state championship since 1980 for the town was unbelievable and awesome.
“I can’t think of a better youth hockey experience than that.”
Hain – who was a member of the U.S. National U17 and U18 teams – said that state championship is envied by many of his fellow players.
“A lot of them have some jealousy,” Hain – who scored 36 goals and 67 points during his two seasons of high school hockey – laughed. “A lot of my teammates now who are not from Minnesota show envy in a joking kind of way because they never got to experience Minnesota hockey and the Minnesota state tournament. They all know about it. It is just awesome that my teammates and I got to experience (a state championship) when we were in high school.”
Hain, who was drafted in the sixth round (174th overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, in 2018 said the goal following college is to play pro hockey.
“That would be the plan if all goes good,” Hain said about pro hockey. “If everything stays on the right track that would be the hope and that would be the plan. That would be awesome.”