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Berry hopes new nickname won’t distract UND hockey players, fans

GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota men's hockey team may be introduced tonight, for the first time, as the Fighting Hawks. Coach Brad Berry hopes his team won't notice. "I know I won't notice. I will be dialed into the game," he said. ...

GRAND FORKS - The University of North Dakota men’s hockey team may be introduced tonight, for the first time, as the Fighting Hawks.
Coach Brad Berry hopes his team won’t notice.
“I know I won’t notice. I will be dialed into the game,” he said. “I hope our players are, too. I hope they are focusing on the game, because first place is on the line in the NCHC.”
The announcements, scoreboards and press releases may look different this weekend, but UND hopes one thing doesn’t change - its place atop the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings.
No. 4 UND (9-1-2, 4-0-0 NCHC) takes on No. 7 St. Cloud State (8-2, 4-0-0 NCHC) in a top-10 showdown at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, featuring the league’s top two teams and the only ones left without a conference loss. It begins at 6:37 tonight and ends with a game at 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
UND has sweeps of Colorado College and Miami under its belt. St. Cloud State has swept Miami and Western Michigan, hammering the Broncos 11-1 its last time out.
This is a matchup that’s been remarkably even in the National Hockey Center. St. Cloud State hasn’t swept UND in its home building since November 2001. UND hasn’t swept in St. Cloud since November 1998.
“It’s a rink that they recruit to and build to,” Berry said. “It’s an Olympic-sized rink, a bigger rink. They have a lot of quick, fast forwards that are offensively gifted. They recruit to that. They have a lot of success in that building. We have to make sure we come out and we’re prepared to play.”
The Huskies, whose only two losses came at undefeated Quinnipiac, are a veteran team up front, led by senior Kalle Kossila, a member of the 100-point club. Fellow seniors Joey Benik (88 career points) and David Morley (90) will soon join Kossila in the Century Club.
But their biggest key may be senior defenseman Ethan Prow, who returned to the lineup last weekend after missing four games due to an injury. The Huskies have outscored opponents 32-5 with Prow in the lineup. Goals are an even 9-9 without Prow.
“We didn’t have an answer when he was gone,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “It was too early in the year.”
The last meeting between UND and St. Cloud State came in the West Regional final last March. UND won 4-1 in Fargo to earn a trip to the Frozen Four in Boston.
“We have to play the way we do - we’re a fast-paced team, a puck-possession team,” Berry said. “They have a lot of depth at all positions. It starts in goal with Charlie Lindgren. Their forward group is very skilled not only in the offensive zone, but with neutral zone play. They don’t give you a lot through the neutral zone. What you’ll see is a team that transitions the puck very well. We’ll have to make sure we’re clean coming through the neutral zone.”
And whether the announcements say Fighting Hawks or not, Berry hopes fans recognize the same old team.
“We want to make sure nothing changes,” Berry said. “It’s about winning games and it’s about trying to hang banners and win titles. We want to make sure that remains in tact.”
The only matchup
North Dakota and St. Cloud State were paired together in the old Western Collegiate Hockey Association, so they were guaranteed to play against each other every year both at home and on the road.
But that’s not the case in the NCHC.
St. Cloud State doesn’t come to Ralph Engelstad Arena this season, marking the first time in 14 years that the teams’ didn’t play four regular-season games.
Motzko said it was too bad.
“We don’t get to go to North Dakota this year, which means they don’t come here one year,” Motzko said. “You can’t change it, but it is what it is.”
LaDue, Chyzyk practice
UND will likely get two players back in the lineup tonight.
Paul LaDue and Bryn Chyzyk both participated in practice this week and Berry anticipates they’ll be available to play. LaDue and Chyzyk only took part in half of Tuesday’s practice but were full participants by Wednesday.
LaDue, one of UND’s top shutdown defensemen, has three points in 11 games this season. Chyzyk, a senior, has emerged as a top scorer with six goals and nine points in 12 games.
Matt Hrynkiw and Cam Johnson made the trip to St. Cloud and will be the available goaltenders. Johnson hasn’t played since hurting his groin on Oct. 16 against Bemidji State.

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