DULUTH, Minn. -- UMD junior forward Noah Cates is no stranger to the city of Omaha, Nebraska.
Cates played junior hockey in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers prior to coming to Duluth. He says he's excited to go back to an area he knows well to open their season in the NCHC "Pod" environment.
"I know the area really well, and I love it down there, so I'm really excited," said Cates.
Cates is the 2020-21 captain for UMD, assisted by Louie Roehl, Cole Koepke, and Nick Swaney.
This year's UMD squad may look a little different than last year's, having lost several key players to the professional ranks. That includes star defenseman and Hobey Baker Award winner Scott Perunovich.
The Bulldogs are welcoming a class of six freshmen and two transfers for the 2020-21 season, as they aim to defend their back-to-back national titles.
UMD's freshman class is highlighted by a pair of Minnesota high school standouts in Wyatt Kaiser (Andover) and Blake Biondi (Hermantown). Cates says he expects the college hockey learning curve to hit UMD's youthfulness quickly in Omaha.
"I mean it's tough because we're going to be playing so many games so quickly, and a lot of guys will be learning a lot, but it is what it is. We've got to adjust and make the most of it. I think it'll be good for those young guys to keep getting after it, playing a lot of games in a quick amount of time. It'll be good for them to learn, and they'll have to be quick learners, because it's going to be a lot of games," said Cates.
UMD will play 10 games over the course of three weeks in Omaha, beginning on December 1.