BUFFALO -- Once again, Minnesota Wild prospect Nick Swaney can call himself a national champion.
Swaney, a sophomore forward at Minnesota Duluth, helped the Bulldogs defend their title as college hockey's best Saturday night, as UMD defeated Massachusetts by a 3-0 score in Buffalo, New York. Duluth became the first team since Denver in 2004-05 to repeat as national champions.
Only knowing college championship success doesn't make the feeling any easier to describe, Swaney said.
"It's hard to even put into words," Swaney told Wild.com. "Memories that we'll have the rest of our lives and it's hard to put into words what we're all feeling right now. It's so amazing. Being able to lift that trophy again is something special."
The Lakeville native had a game-high four shots on goal. Swaney's best chance came in the second period on a partial breakaway. Facing a Minutemen team that featured Hobey Baker Award winner Cale Makar, Minnesota Duluth was able to get ahead early and go from there. The Bulldogs allowed a total of three goals in four NCAA Tournament games.
"Coming in we knew (Massachusetts) was a great team. You have to give it to them, they battled all year long," he said. "Once you get off to a quick start, it affects the game. For us, we're able to hold teams off, and if we're able to play our game, obviously, good things happen. That's why we're national champions"
Swaney, whom Minnesota picked seventh round of the 2017 NHL Draft, ends his sophomore season with 15 goals and 25 points while playing on Duluth's top line.
Being able to hold the national championship trophy and reflect on the year-long journey to do so again after winning the 2018 NCAA title at Xcel Energy Center was a remarkable experience, Swaney said; the final seconds on the bench were difficult, as time felt like it slowed down.
Eventually, the clock at KeyBank Center hit zero and he was able to celebrate his school's third national championship in men's hockey.
"Right now, it's hard," Swaney said when asked to compare the two titles. "We won it again, the emotions going through our heads and everything ... it feels pretty awesome."