NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

UND's Canadian experiment

Hockey program looks for victory north of 49th

  • Print

They've blown a few tires on the rocky road during the first half of the NCAA men's hockey season, but the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux have done one important thing.

They've survived.

UND, which has its youngest roster in years, finds itself 7-7 in the WCHA and 9-8-1 overall after winning five of their last six games.

Ten players are gone from last year's squad, including Winnipeg Jets prospect Jason Gregoire and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Matt Frattin.

"I think in terms of the development of our team, it's been a good first half," said UND coach Dave Hakstol, in Winnipeg this week to drum up interest for a Jan. 7 game at the MTS Centre between North Dakota and Clarkson University.

"A month ago, we were kind of on the brink of being in a pretty tough situation. We've battled our way out of that, got our heads above water again and we're starting to figure out what we are as a team.

"Looking at us going into the second half, we control our own destiny and though we're not in great shape, we do control it and I like the direction our team is heading."

The Fighting Sioux -- a nickname to be retired shortly for a variety of reasons, it's worth noting -- have also battled injuries, a luxury they really don't have if they're headed for a sixth appearance in the Frozen Four since Hakstol became head coach in 2004.

Winnipeg product Brendan O'Donnell has missed six games and top offensive prospect Rocco Grimaldi, a second-round pick of the Florida Panthers last June, has played just four times.

Grimaldi is possible for the Winnipeg game but is more likely to return later in January, Hakstol said.

UND will be facing Clarkson for the first time. The Golden Knights are 3-4-2 in ECAC play this season, and 9-7-2 overall.

It's UND's first game in Canada in 59 years and it's believed to be the first time an in-season game between NCAA teams has been played outside the U.S.

"We're coming up here on a business trip," Hakstol said Wednesday. "Non-conference play is very important in your opportunity to get into the national tournament."

The idea to bring an in-season NCAA game to Winnipeg was hatched about four years ago, long before the NHL decided to return to the Manitoba capital.

But Hakstol said Wednesday that the point of the exercise remains as valid as ever.

"It's a city that we have a long history with," Hakstol said. "We've had a lot of players come through our program from Winnipeg and Manitoba.

"My question is why haven't we done it before? Our coaching staff is from different parts of Western Canada. I think it's important to try to come and play a game somewhere in Western Canada and the natural fit is here at the MTS Centre.

"I think a lot of people from Winnipeg and Manitoba have been down to UND and to games in our building. We have a significant number of alums here and it just seems to be a great fit."

Hakstol and several UND officials were in attendance at the NHL game Tuesday between the Jets and the Minnesota Wild.

They may not be expecting the same buzz for an NCAA game on "neutral" ground, but it's clear this is a hockey-mad market.

"It's going to be a lot of fun to bring our guys up here and play a game in that building and most importantly in this city," Hakstol said.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2011 C13

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jaws of life used to free two people after two-car collision

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

How surpised are you by the Bombers’ 4-1 start to the season?

View Results

Ads by Google