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Sioux's Malone back home in Maine trip

ORONO, Maine -- Brad Malone always envisioned himself playing college hockey in Alfond Arena. Growing up five hours north of here in Miramichi, N.B., his family would occasionally take trips to watch the University of Maine play. "I've always bee...

ORONO, Maine -- Brad Malone always envisioned himself playing college hockey in Alfond Arena.

Growing up five hours north of here in Miramichi, N.B., his family would occasionally take trips to watch the University of Maine play.

"I've always been a Black Bear fan," Malone said. "I shouldn't say that now, but I watched a lot of games there as a kid because they were so close. So, it's kind of exciting to go back there to that building. As a kid, I could always see myself playing there. Doing it will be pretty special."

Malone will be wearing his No. 22 jersey for the second-ranked Sioux, who will take on the Black Bears at 6:35 tonight and at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Malone is expecting 38 family members and friends in attendance for tonight's game. A couple of more friends will trickle in for Saturday's game.

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Both of his parents, Jim and Vicky, will be there, along with aunts, uncles and cousins. They are all driving down from different parts of0 New Brunswick.

"I'm really excited about seeing everyone again," he said.

This won't be the first family journey to Orono for the Malone family. Nine years ago, they did the same thing to watch Brad's cousin, Ryan, play for St. Cloud State. The Huskies defeated the Black Bears and won the Ice Breaker Invitational at Alfond.

"I remember the whole family making the trip down to see Ryan play," said Brad, who was 12 years old at the time. "It was pretty cool. It's pretty special that they are all coming to watch me play now."

Malone considered playing for the Black Bears when the recruiting process first started. But after moving to Sioux Falls, S.D., to play for the United States Hockey League team there, Malone grew fond of the Midwest. He ended up choosing UND over Wisconsin.

"I have no regrets," Malone said. "It's not like I'm going to be on the ice this weekend wishing I was on the other side."

The team chartered a plane Thursday to Orono, which made for a much quicker trip than Malone's last one to the East Coast. During the summer, teammates Jake Marto and Matt Frattin tagged along in Malone's Honda Civic for a 38-hour, four-day drive to New Brunswick.

"That road trip was fun," Malone said. "(Marto and Frattin) met everyone who is coming down this weekend. Those two are kind of a part of the family now. I think everyone is excited to see those guys play as well.

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"It will be a quick trip. It will be nice to see everyone for a couple of hours after (tonight's) game. But it's also a business trip."

Explosive offense

Through four games, UND is allowing just 18.5 shots per game -- tops in the nation. That defense will be given a strong test against the Black Bears, who are averaging 39 shots and 4.25 goals per game.

Maine (1-1-2) has six players averaging at least a point per game, including 2010 Hobey Baker top three finalist Gustav Nyquist, a junior from Sweden who piled up 61 points in 39 games last season. Junior Spencer Abbott, senior Robby Dee, sophomore Joey Diamond and senior Tanner House also are explosive players.

"They're good," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "I see a veteran team. They seem to play with some very good poise in all different areas. I haven't heard a lot of talk about this side of their team, but they have great team speed. They have several very dynamic players up front.

"Beyond that, they are your typical Maine team. They are solid in all three zones. They have quick, strong sticks. Their specialty teams, especially their power play, are outstanding. They are a legitimate top-end team in the nation."

Briefly

UND last played Maine in 2006 in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Sioux senior defenseman Chay Genoway is the only player on either roster who played in that game. . . UND is 8-1-3 in its last 12 regular season non-conference games. . . In four career road starts, sophomore goalie Aaron Dell is 3-1 with a 1.01 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage. . . UND forwards Corban Knight and Brett Hextall have at least one point in every game this season.

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

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