MIDWEST REGIONAL FINAL PHOTOS: UMD 3-UND 2

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Check out photos from Kelsey of the five overtime thriller. For more photos click the link below.

Gallery

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What to watch for: Fighting Hawks vs UMD for a trip to the Frozen Four

Photo Credit-Kelsey Lee Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Bulldogs of Minnesota Duluth take on the Fighting Hawks of the University of North Dakota for a Frozen Four spot. Here are three things to watch for as a guide to how the game might progress.

Update: Tonight’s game will be officiated by an ECAC crew.

Who scores first

Well, as everyone watching the Fighting Hawks saw last night, this team is unbeaten when scoring first, so far. North Dakota plays a relentless forecheck and has goal scorers on all of its lines to compliment it. If the Bulldogs score first, then the Fighting Hawks will have to answer back, and show their resolve as they have all season. If the Fighting Hawks score first, then the system-driven Bulldogs will have to open their game up a bit, while staying responsible in their own end. As AIC Head Coach Eric Lang said “in this tournament there are 15 good teams, then there’s North Dakota.” The reality of this point could very well be the difference in the evening for the Bulldogs. As we said of them back in September of the Bulldogs:

“The Bulldogs under coach Scott Sandelin play a consistent game while rolling four quality lines, and their depth players have proven to be nearly as valuable as the stars. Although Minnesota-Duluth can deliver a reserved brand of hockey before transitioning to its counterattacking style, there are several notable prospects on the roster who are legitimate scoring threats no matter the situation or strength on the ice”

Trips to the box

UND outplayed AIC enough in an eight minute stretch to make the other 52 minutes not as impactful, they got quality goaltending and were superb on their penalty kill all night. With that said, UND gave AIC five power play chances, of which they converted on one. In a four goal game, that is not something that will resonate with people, however, in a game against a depth-heavy team like Minnesota Duluth, the chances that one of those penalties could prove costly to the season of the Fighting Hawks rises. The Bulldogs need to play clean as well, given the strength that both of these teams have on the power play.

Duluth sticking to their system vs. UND getting to theirs

In interviews over the season, Sandelin has noted how his group,at times, while still talented and skilled at playing a similar game to North Dakota, has strayed from what has won them the last two national championships. If the Bulldogs, a strong even strength team, can bottle up the Fighting Hawks in their own end and get to what makes them a challenge to play against then in a one game scenario the margin for error in UND gets even smaller. If the Fighting Hawks can get to their game first, and force UMD to defend all night, then the amount of goals they scored against AIC could be the low mark for goals they put home in a single game in Fargo this year.

Regardless of result, the NCHC will get another team in the Frozen Four, and could have as many as three representing it in Pittsburgh this year. This conference is always tough, and while UND is expected to win, and has all the tools to do so, Scott Sandelin’s group will not make their lives easy. Both teams will represent their conference well to a national audience tonight in what promises to be compelling hockey from Fargo, no matter who wins.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Undrafted Free Agents to Watch: Albany Regional

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

In this regional, after Notre Dame had to withdraw due to being in Covid 19 protocols, we have three teams that will compete for a trip to Pittsburgh and a Frozen Four spot. Each team, St Cloud State, Boston University, and Boston College all have a chance to make the Frozen Four, and each team has undrafted free agents that have helped them progress and get to the NCAA Tournament. Like in each of the other three regions, we will look at one undrafted player to watch today.

Previous Articles in this series.

Fargo Region

Bridgeport Region

Loveland Region

St Cloud State Huskies

Easton Brodzinski

The physical power forward helps the Huskies fast group of forwards create offense. One constant force he has brought to this team for the past four years is his ability to create offense using his frame and ability to battle in the corners. From our earlier preview of the NCHC, we said of him. Among NCHC forwards, his game and ability to agitate to create turnovers is similar to the Fighting Hawks’ Jasper Weatherby. If St. Cloud State can knock off Boston University and advance, it is probable that Easton will have a big part in that.

” A power winger from a hockey family, Brodzinski is a senior who expected to be one of the Huskies’ top scoring threats after he led them in goals (12) and points (27) a season ago. He plays a tough and physical style that increases in ferocity during battles in the corners and along the boards.”

For the Huskies to advance past the Terriers, Brodzinski has to be one of their best players today, when the puck drops in about an hour.

Boston University Terriers

Wilmer Skoog

On a team stacked with top-level draft picks, Skoog has made a name for himself in his first full season of playing the men’s game at the Division one level. He plays a game similar to Brodzinski and uses his size to generate offense for his line. Given how well he played at the North American Hockey League level for Minot and Maryland, it is reasonable to think that he has a lot of upside to his game that Terrier fans have not seen yet. While he looks to come back for another season, in a couple of years if he continues on the positive path he is on, it is not unreasonable to expect him to get looks from the next level. The NHL is filled with physical power forwards with upside, and based on Skoog’s ability to carve out a spot in a talented lineup in one and a half seasons of playing the college game, he is an undrafted prospect well worth watching over the next few years.

Boston College Eagles

Marc McLaughlin

The second line forward for the Eagles has been one of their better players this season. Like the Terriers, the Eagles have a lot of top end drafted talent on their team, that has arguably been made even better by the depth that McLaughlin provides. He has 24 points in 23 games, and is plus 16 on the season. On a team that provides high-end skill every night, McLaughlin’s line and Marc himself provide it with a lot of defense, and round out the team a bit better. What is impressive about his work at this level that can translate to the next one is how he plays the game. Teams want discipline in their players, he has taken three minor penalties for six minutes all year. The NHL wants efficient scorers, well 10 goals on 48 shots is a pretty respectable 20.8 percent clip. Finally, they want leaders. McLaughlin is part of a leadership group that helped the Eagles to a number one seed in Hockey East, one of the toughest conferences in this game.

Undrafted Free Agents to watch at the 2021 Fargo Regional

Photo Credit: Kelly Shea-AIC Athletics

This week, we will see four teams converge upon Scheels Arena in Fargo North Dakota to faceoff for a trip to the 2021 Frozen Four in Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks. These teams all have top end talent, and people we will see in the NHL one day. Each team has more than one undrafted free agent worth noting, and we will discuss four undrafted free agents to watch that should have an immediate impact in professional hockey. We selected one from each team to discuss, that we will be watching this weekend.

American International College

Tobias Fladeby

The winger from Asker, Norway has nine goals and 17 total points on the season. Along with his goal scoring prowess, he has proven the ability to do it against the two best teams AIC has played. four of his goals have come against Quinnipiac (2), and Army West Point (2). Head Coach Eric Lang and the staff at AIC love his release and ability to get to key areas of the ice and find the back of the net. If he does not return to AIC, he up front, and Brennan Kapcheck on defense are two of the quietly more popular undrafted free agents on the market that have the speed and skill needed to make the NHL. Fladeby’s greatest skill this past weekend was his off puck awareness. That is, he knows where to go on the ice to get himself space. For AIC to shock some more people in Fargo, he needs to make his presence known this weekend.

University of Michigan

Strauss Mann

If the goaltender decides to go pro, the NHL may be ready for him now. As ESPN Color Analyst for the Fargo Regional, Dave Starman said of what Mann’s game involves, saying that he is. “athletic, aggressive depth, good stick down low, most importantly he is always square to the puck.” He praised how big the 6 feet tall Mann plays, and noted that he reminds him in style of Byron Dafoe. Mann is the Big 10’s Goalie of the Year and a deserving Mike Richter Award Nominee, his ability to keep the Wolverines in what promises to be a close game against the reigning back-to-back national champions, Minnesota Duluth. For all of the star power the Wolverines have, from their numerous high-end draft picks to players that will be drafted in the top 10 this summer, Mann has been the key to this group. If the Wolverines can defeat the Bulldogs, and earn a trip to the Frozen Four, Mann will be a big part of that. His style of play, and fundamental skill lends itself well to the next level, and he should have offers to choose from this summer. If we returns to Ann Arbor, he will have two years of eligibility left.

Minnesota Duluth

Louie Roehl

While Roehl is not the offensive defender that fans of the Minnesota Duluth Men’s Hockey team have been lucky to see in Dylan Samberg or Scott Perunovich, he plays the game the right way, and is superb at making life tough for the skilled forwards he sees on a nightly basis in the NCHC. As we said in our NCHC preview of Roehl “A responsible defender with improved skating to compliment his high hockey IQ, this 5-foot-10 senior may not possess Perunovich’s point-producing upside, but he makes up for it with solid play in his own end. Roehl can be counted on to maintain a slot presence and keeps loose pucks out of harm’s way or show poise under pressure when a line change is in order. Roehl is not flashy by any means, but he should be an intriguing long-term option for an NHL club in need of a mature defensive defenseman at the AHL level.” If Roehl can develop and earn his way up in a system needing veteran leadership, he could work his way to an NHL job within a few years. For now, his calmness under pressure, and ability to make the life of scoring forwards he faces quite tough are two things that the Bulldogs will need as they look to advance to the Frozen Four.

North Dakota

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Adam Scheel

For the Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team, they are blessed with two goaltenders in Adam Scheel and Peter Thome who are both capable of playing professional hockey. One of them, Adam Scheel, has wrested control of the net all for himself most of the season, and its not hard to see why. The Lakewood, Ohio native has gotten considerably better at maintaining his positioning throughout the game. His biggest improvement is not so much his positioning, but in how he plays the game. That is, he rebounds quickly from goals he allows, and lets the number one team in front of him find a way to get the goal back. Regardless of what he chooses to do, he will most certainly end up at an NHL development camp this summer, and he may earn a contract pretty soon after UND’s season ends. Teams that get athletic goaltenders that know how to manage the ebb and flow of a game, typically like what the see. The Lakewood, Ohio native has all of those traits and more. His ability to manage games is one reason why the Fighting Hawks have a strong enough team to earn their ninth NCAA Division One Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship this season.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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UND Men’s Hockey: Three minor concerns after Colorado College Sweep

The Fighting Hawks of North Dakota are a bit faster than they were last year with players like Riese Gaber coming in right away and scoring goals in bunches. They are a little bigger, with Jasper Weatherby playing the role of shutdown center, and strong in net with Peter Thome and Adam Scheel backing things up quite well for the most part.

With all of that said, the Tigers of Colorado College added to the opus of how to skate with UND, before UND’s next series, it is a good time to look at some nagging areas of concern this team has to have. Yes, they are one of the best in the country, but every team has some flaws to it, and these are flaws not to bar UND from the NCAA Tournament which they will surely make, but flaws that will prevent them from winning many games in it. These are all things we have been watching for and will continue to note.

The undisciplined penalties

This team has one of the best penalty kills in the country, yet relies on it far too much to win games. Routinely some of the penalties this team takes are not due to positioning, or preventing scoring chances, but often meager stick infractions in their offensive zone or the neutral zone. This penalty kill will not keep up its pace all year, and as Ben Copeland showed last night, eventually power plays will convert against you. For this team to win in the NCAA Tournament, a feet not done since 2016, it has to eliminate at least half of the penalties it is taking

The home run passes

UND has talented defenders, some of the best in this game. Every pair has an Ottwa Senators prospect on it, and every pair from time to time tries to make home-run passes through the neutral zone for breakways, and they often become turnovers the other way. Teams will not beat UND grinding them in their own zone, it rarely happens any more and that is a testament to the strong recruiting of its leader, Brad Berry. Teams often have sucess against UND because they have gotten good at being opportunistic, and diagonal home run passes through the neutral zone that set up easy turnovers and a rush the other way will not bring home anything other than disapointment.

Goalie usage

We have always appreciated both Peter Thome and Adam Scheel’s games. To win this season, both of them have to play some games, and we are concerned that Scheel will be overused. If teams with lesser tandems can deploy their goalies more evenly, this one can as well. It is not the tradition of UND to use this, but given the quickly rescheduled games, and the potential for three or four games in some weeks, using the tandem you have will prevent the postseason starter from getting too tired.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Attention NCHC: Beware of Omaha

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Every year for the past three, we have covered the Mavericks of Omaha when they play the Fighting Hawks. Each time in those spans they have put together efforts centered on speed and transition, while needing some timely goaltending. The margins have gotten consistently closer, and the Mavericks have put on tape a road map to beat one of the top teams in the country.

This year is no different, in the need to heed the Mavericks of the NCHC.

As we wrote back in September in our NCHC preview for Steve Kournianos Draft Analyst on these Mavericks:

“The Mavericks display a free-flowing, up-tempo style that is at its best when it forces the opponent to defend on turnovers. Although they were hit hard with several key graduations on defense, the goaltending of starter Isaiah Saville (VGK 5th/2019) will play a critical role in whether or not Omaha can finish above .500 for the first time since 2016. Additionally, coach Mike Gabinet will ice two critical transfers in former North Dakota puck-moving defenseman Jonny Tychonick (OTT 2nd/2018) and ex-Michigan winger Jack Randl (2000). They will join a trio of top-scoring wingers in Tyler Weiss (COL 4th/2018)Taylor Ward (1998), and Kevin Conley (1997). Therefore, scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem considering the notable transfers and returning firepower up front. It should be the Mavericks’ ability to limit the chances against, however, and minimizing the amount of energy Saville has to expend that could swing Omaha into one of its best finishes in recent team history.”

All of this still rings true, and now Omaha has everyone on notice with their strong play in the NCHC Pod. Boasting a 6-3-1 record, these Mavericks seem to be living up to the promise that their previous two iterations had, but never fully capitalized on. The past month showed how we underestimated how far this team has come. We picked the Mavericks fifth in the referenced article, and feel comfortable moving them into the top four at minimum.

During the Pod, this team was shown to play the same style that Mike Gabinet has been using over the past few years. That is, they attack fast, downhill, and care not for staying in their opponent’s end for too long unless they are celebrating a really good goal. Last year, it was jarring to see this team come to Ralph Engelstad Arena and knock off the Fighting Hawks playing this way. This year, that January night proved not to be a one-off, but a positive harbinger of the future for these Mavericks. Saville has gotten better since that game in January, through his improved rebound control and ability to play odd-man rushes, as an example. There are many more as Ward and Conley have each seemed to progress closer to an NHL look following the end of their time in Omaha. They both are catalysts for the speed game Gabinet likes all five skaters to play consistently.

If the Fighting Hawks play a buttoned up system game that relies on cycles and wearing down opponents, Omaha is their polar opposite. The Mavericks gain the zone, and get shots on net, whilst always looking to make the simple pass and carry the puck through the neutral zone instead of dumping the puck in deep. They have a goalie that allows them to play this way in Saville, and when he is on his game, very few in the country can put home anything against him.

How this team plays UND this weekend and beyond in the second half will show how much these Mavericks have grown. How they can play the Fighting Hawks on back-to-back nights and what they do to agitate their system will once again serve as a model for other teams, and come tournament time will probably be used by coaches of other teams to pre-scout ways to beat them, or at least make their lives a bit more difficult on the ice.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

The Fighting Hawks Win the Pod: What’s Next?

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Over the past three weeks, the Fighting Hawks of the University of North Dakota have done quite well for themselves in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod, valuting into first place as we head into the second of half of an always competitive conference. These past few weeks have shown a lot about this team, with the good far outweighing the things that need working on to ensure a long postseason run, should one be played. Let’s look at the good and areas to improve on in the second half here.

The Good

This team has two capable goaltenders that can stymie the opposition. While Adam Scheel stole the show in the Pod, getting the majority of the reps, Fighting Hawks fans saw what happened last year. Peter Thome took Scheel’s job down the stretch, and given the weeks of having three games in three days this year, we think that Thome’s time in net is only just beginning. His “worst” game in the Pod was the loss to the Huskies of St. Cloud State, where the team in front of him did not do much. Both can start at any time, and for now Scheel is the number one. With that said, Thome has played well enough over his time at UND to get some reps in the second half, and should see it.

The depth of this team is even better than a year ago. Missing two defenders to the World Juniors Tournament, in Jake Sanderson and Tyler Kleven, we have seen Ethan Frisch elevate his game into a Tucker Poolman-esque two way star that can contribute offensively. If Frisch can maintain this level of play this season, the NHL may be on his radar for some development camp invites soon, and perhaps a contract. He is smooth-skating, and seems less out of position than some of UND’s more offensively gifted defenders.

With that said, this team has a lot of good to it this year, and we will close with the most intriguing forward on this team. Riese Gaber has been the most electric player for the Fighting Hawks in this pod. He is in a three way tie for first in goals scored nationally, and yet, 31 teams passed on drafting him over 400 times when you include the drafts he has been eligible for selection in. Gaber is wearing Tyson Jost’s number that he wore as a Fighting Hawk, and has a better release than Jost ever had or will have. For a team built around puck possession and grinding a team down, Gaber off the rush is an extra arrow in their quiver that last year’s NCHC Champions did not possess. His shot alters how teams can attack the Fighting Hawks, and how conservative they have to be in defending the top line of UND. Last year, this group lost games where it turned pucks over and gave up a lot of fast break looks. That has happened this year, and will happen in the future, but Gaber on this roster has kept the team in more of those games and helped them win some more in the second half.

What to watch for

With all that good said, these improvements need to happen. This team seems to be turning the puck over a bit more in its own end, which have given teams a lot of grade-a looks. Those turnovers have a cascading effect as they lead into another area of improvement for this team, taking less penalties. The Fighting Hawks average 11.96 penalty minutes per game played, second behind St. Cloud State for most penalty minutes per game. That is another number that needs to come down a bit. While five minute majors and misconducts do affect that, this team can afford to take neither of those in this conference. Eventually, something of this team will regress a little bit as film and scouting over a more series-driven second half, and if the team keeps giving up six power plays per game or so, the penalty kill seems a logical pick.

With all of this said, if not for Boston College’s pedigree and Minnesota’s results, this team would be ranked number one in the nation after a grueling three week stretch of games. There is still work to do for this group, but this team does so from a good vantage point.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

UND Hockey: The good, and what to watch in the NCHC Pod next

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team has played to a 3-1 record in the NCHC Pod in Omaha, designed to replicate the secure environment of the NHL bubbles while allowing student-athletes to work on academics as needed and able. So far, once entering the bubble, no team has had games canceled, although the schedule was adjusted to allow Colorado College more time to get to Omaha after their progam dealt with some positive COVID-19 cases recently.

Today, the Fighting Hawks battled the Denver Pioneers for the second time in the bubble and came up short. Carter Savoie put home his fifth marker of the season in just four games as he took a feed from Cole Guttman and beat UND netminder Adam Scheel clean on the glove side. The Fighting Hawks came back from a two goal deficit thanks to goals from Jordan Kawaguchi on the power play, and a rebound banged home by Collin Adams.

This game was similar in intensity to UND’s overtime winner against the Pioneers a few nights ago. In that game Kawaguchi found the back of the net in close during the extra frame. The Fighting Hawks also beat an upstart Miami of Ohio squad to open things up, and toyed with a depeleted Western Michigan side on Sunday without one of the best goalies in the conference, Brandon Bussi.

The great

The game today against the Pioneers combined with the other three shows us a reccuring theme of this team, they are annoying to play against and incredibly persistent. The Fiighting Hawks under Head Coach Brad Berry have been best when banging in rebounds and agitating for space in front of the net. Some goals will be of the more skilled variety, like freshman wunderkind defender Jake Sanderson’s snipe on the power play against the Pioneers in the UND win. On that play though, look at the front of the net. Jasper Weatherby screened Magnus Chrona and made that snipe easier to pull off. This team relies on net front presence and rebounds to win games. Also, on its back end, Sanderson and Tyler Kleven, both high end Senators prospects, look to have all the tools needed to suceed as Fighting Hawks before making their ways north with fellow Senators’ prospect Shane Pinto and Jacob Bernard-Docker to play with program alum Christian Wolanin. Both have shown speed, skill, and physicality in their three games in the pod. Unfortunayely for the Fighting Hawks, they are without them for the duration of the pod as both are trying to make the World Juniors Squad for Team USA.

In addition, this team has two goaltenders ready to play in the AHL now and earn NHL time soon after in Peter Thome and Adam Scheel. Both have their strengths and areas to improve. Scheel’s stick work and ability to not over expose himself on plays are key traits for anyone to have, and we think he will earn a pro deal when he leaves campus. Thome, a Blue Jackets’ prospect, has sterling rebound control and has improved at limiting exposure, he also gets side to side a bit faster than Scheel, but again both can play pro hockey now, and any difference between goalies with a small sample size would be not wise to over analyze.

Do not forget the returners to this team either. Jasper Weatherby is a first-line center at this level playing on the third line with second line power play time. On any other program’s roster outside of the top five schools in the country, Weatherby is one of the most talked about players. Here, the Sharks’ prospect swims under the radar as he continues his quiet physical game disrupting goalies’ vision and playing key minutes.

This team has had so many good things in its first four games, that we went with things that stood out to us. Leave some thoughts if you want to in the comments here, or on our twitter page. Follow us at SeamoreSports.

Things to keep an eye on

Again, we are four games into this season, and the Fighting Hawks have three wins to their name. Anything said herein are simply some things we have noticed that we will watch going forward that could merit concern if they become trends.

First off, in the loss today, two of Denver’s three goals came off power plays, and not even power plays resulting from denying goals, but from an after the whistle slash by Gabe Bast, and a five minute major for checking from behind from Brendan Budy. The Fighting Hawks project as one of the best teams in the country at full and even strength, giving players like Carter Savoie time and space on the power play can mitigate this team’s biggest strength without much effort.

Second, without Sanderson and Kleven, Josh Rieger and Cooper More will have to step into some big moments early. Rieger has experience at this level, but will eat up a lot more ice time, and More is a freshman still learning the next level. Both have looked good, and both will need to help fill the gap left by Sanderson and Kleven. With that said, the Fighting Hawks are one of the deepest teams in the country at every position and Rieger and Moore, like Weatherby would probably have bigger roles elsewhere right now, so we expect them to be more than capable of holding up their end.

This team next takes the ice Thursday evening against the last team to win a National Championship, the always tough to play Bulldogs of Minnesota Duluth. We will learn a lot about how this team deals with adversity coming off its first loss of the season, and what to expect going forward in the next few games of the Pod. This team has a lot of talent and potential, and yet still has a lot to prove moving forward.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across UND Athletics, please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell