Finally, back at home

GRAND FORKS -- After more than 7,400 miles on the road and trips to each end of the continent, the University of North Dakota men's hockey team is finally ready to play a meaningful game at home.

GRAND FORKS -- After more than 7,400 miles on the road and trips to each end of the continent, the University of North Dakota men's hockey team is finally ready to play a meaningful game at home.

Tonight's game against the University of Denver ends a month on the road -- the longest stretch ever to start a season.

"It feels good to be back," defenseman Ben Blood said. "I think we all felt that when we unpacked our gear here early Sunday morning."

Goalie Brad Eidsness added: "It's tough to be on the road three weekends in a row, not really ever settling down with school or hockey. It seems like you're moving a lot. It will be nice to be home in our own building with our fans."

And coach Dave Hakstol said: "It's been a long time. It will be nice to get back in front of family, friends and great fans here. The bottom line is that we've been on the road, we stubbed our toes last weekend in a tough building against a good team. We've got to get ourselves back on track coming home against another good team in Denver."


Denver had UND's number during the regular season last year. The Pioneers swept UND both in Denver and in Grand Forks. Prior to that, nobody had swept the Sioux in Engelstad Arena in more than four years.

"That's in the back of our heads, for sure," defenseman Jake Marto said. "I think a lot of the guys are thinking about that."

The Pioneers will have a much different look than last year, though. Goalie Marc Cheverie, defenseman Patrick Wiercioch and forward Joe Colborne all signed early in the offseason, while standouts Tyler Ruegsegger and Rhett Rakhshani graduated.

"It will be exciting," UND forward Matt Frattin said. "I think since I've been here, we've kept on building up a rivalry with them. It brings out the best in both teams and the fans get excited."

Sioux looking

for improvement

After last weekend's losses at Maine, Hakstol was asked what UND can do better this weekend.

"Everything," he said. "I'm not kidding. Everything. We were very sporadic in all areas of the game. We -- that starts with me -- didn't handle some of the adversity that we knew we would run into very well, especially early on Friday.


"We got ourselves into a bit of a hole. We created some of our own problems. We ran into things that were out of our control. We didn't deal with those things the way we expect to as a team."

The Sioux (3-2-1) will look to tighten things up defensively after giving up 11 goals to the Black Bears.

"I think we know they are going to be close games," Blood said. "Every little mistake is going to count and whoever makes the most mistakes is going to lose. They always have a lot of offense. It's going to be important to be sound defensively."


Tonight is Ed Belfour Night at Ralph Engelstad Arena. He will drop the ceremonial first puck and be inducted into the UND Hall of Fame on Saturday morning. ... A collector's cup featuring the 1959 national championship team and Belfour will be available this weekend.

Schlossman is a sports reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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