UMD’s Hunter Shepard Talks About Sudden End to Bulldogs’ Season
Shepard and the Bulldogs had their season come to an end due to the coronavirus pandemic.
DULUTH, Minn. – Last week, the UMD men’s hockey team was holding their Thursday morning practice, getting set to host Miami of Ohio in the first round of the NCHC playoffs. But shortly after, head coach Scott Sandelin announced to the team that the NCHC had cancelled the entire tournament, including the following week’s Frozen Faceoff in St. Paul.
“It’s actually kind of funny. He came in and told us the news. But then he said, ‘Good practice today’ to kind of keep things light. Could you imagine having to go into the locker room and tell 20-something guys that? I don’t think it’s easy on either ends,” Shepard said.
The NCAA would go on to announce that all championships were cancelled, including the Frozen Four, effectively ending the season for the Bulldogs.
“This is the best part of the year. Playoffs are the best part of the year. You get excited for it at the end of the year. It’s the reason why a lot of the guys came back because we had the team to do something special. And you’re just done. You think you have a few more college games left to play and then it’s just kind of over,” said Shepard.
For Shepard and the three other seniors, the news was devastating as UMD would not even get the opportunity to defend their national title.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in because I think we all just figured they were going to find a way to make it work. That’s what they thought was the right thing to do right now and there’s not a lot we can do about it,” Shepard said.
With his college career over, Shepard says he’s not sure what lies ahead.
“I wish I knew. I guess we’ll see. I’ll just give it some time and things will sort themselves out I’m sure,” said Shepard.
But he’ll have a ton of memories to look back on from a very successful four years at UMD.
“At the end of the day, it’s not a tragedy. It sucks but there’s more important things in life than hockey sometimes. Don’t get me wrong. If there was any way we can play, I’d be the first one to do whatever we had to do to make that happen. But it’s hard to be mad and hard to be sad because there’s nothing really we can do about it,” Shepard said.