Senior class leads Sioux into playoffsGRAND FORKS — Two weeks ago, University of North Dakota hockey coach Dave Hakstol walked into the locker room and asked that one or two of his seniors come to a booster lunch on a Friday afternoon.
By: Brad Schlossman, Forum Communications Co.
GRAND FORKS — Two weeks ago, University of North Dakota hockey coach Dave Hakstol walked into the locker room and asked that one or two of his seniors come to a booster lunch on a Friday afternoon.
When he got there, all seven seniors had showed up.
In typical form, this group stuck together.
They are the first class ever at UND to play four years without losing anyone along the way. Nobody got cut, nobody transferred, nobody left for the pros early.
In fact, the class that started with Jake Marto, Derrick LaPoint, Brad Malone, Evan Trupp, Matt Frattin and Brent Davidson even added a member this year with captain Chay Genoway accepting a medical redshirt.
“That’s special,” Hakstol said, “especially in today’s age. It doesn’t happen all that often. To have a class stay together and grow up in the four years together isn’t real common. There’s a real special bond within this class. They are really making the best of it.”
UND’s senior class is the only one in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association this year that made it through four years together.
The seniors have many highlights together, including playing in an NCAA Frozen Four. But ask them for their best memories and they are likely to tell you other stories.
They’ll tell you about the time when Marto and Frattin jumped in Malone’s Honda Civic and drove 38 hours from Grand Forks to Malone’s hometown of Miramichi, New Brunswick. It took them four days.
They’ll tell you about the time when they all left study hall together and walked outside to get a ride home with Marto and couldn’t find the car.
“His car absolutely disappeared,” Frattin said. “We eventually found it. It was under a huge snow bank. The upperclassmen had completely covered it with snow. It took us a while to dig it out. It was pretty funny. I’m not going to forget that.”
Genoway remembers when this group arrived, specifically the players being inseparable.
“They’ve been a tight group ever since they showed up,” he said. “There are a lot of different personalities. The biggest thing with them is that I’ve seen all six of them mature over their four years. They’ve come so far and it’s cool to see their game on the ice. They’ve come so far. It’s pretty neat. I can’t say enough about every one of them.
“For the six seniors to accept me into their senior class this year has been amazing,” he said. “They are just an incredible group of guys. I’m looking forward to a fun run here. It’s not over yet.”
This weekend’s best-of-three first-round playoff series against Michigan Tech will be the last time they play at Ralph Engelstad Arena, though.
“Every night we’ve been here has been special,” LaPoint said. “It’s amazing. Some nights, when there aren’t as many students, there are always families who come and pick up the slack. You don’t see that anywhere else in the country, especially for college teams and even some pro teams. It’s pretty amazing what this place is for support. It will be missed greatly.”
Trupp, who notched his 100th career point last weekend, added: “It’s been an honor and just a lot of fun. No matter where you go — whether it’s here or Boston or Alaska or Denver — you can go as far as you want and you’ll always have a good group of Sioux fans there.
“There are a lot of great memories here,” he said. “Hopefully, the best are to come.”
Hakstol said he’s happy with the way the seniors are leading the team down the stretch. All of them have carved out ever-day roles on a team that is unbeaten in nine straight games and ranked No. 1 in the country.
“That’s maybe one of the things that’s gratifying to watch about this class,” Hakstol said. “Nobody is on cruise control. It’s the exact opposite. These guys have a real appreciation for what’s at hand for them. They are taking advantage every day.”
And if they have their way, they will have about a month left together.
“It has been a special four years together,” LaPoint said. “We’ve had a lot of fun together and a lot of good laughs. But we go to work and get the job done when it counts.
“There’s still that one hole left, though,” he said of a national title. “It’s the biggest one. This is our last year, our last chance to get it.”
Schlossman is a sports reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.