College Hockey:
Frozen Four preview: North Dakota’s eyes squarely on semifinal matchup

With a Hobey Baker Award finalist, the WCHA’s best goaltender and depth in the lineup that goes unmatched, North Dakota easily has what it takes to be Frozen Four champions by late Saturday night.

But the Fighting Sioux coaching staff and its players aren’t thinking about Saturday’s title game. Instead, the focus is Thursday’s semifinal matchup with Michigan.

“I don’t think we have a preference [who the Sioux would play in the title game],” said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. “You control the things you can control, and who you play is definitely something you don’t control.

“Michigan is a great hockey team and we’re just concentrated on preparing ourselves to play our game and the way we’ve played to be successful at this point in the year.”

The Sioux won the WCHA Final Five in mid-March and advanced to the Frozen Four with a 6-0 shutout of Rensselaer and a 6-1 win against Denver in the Midwest Regional.

For UND, it’s one game at a time.

“We really try not to think about who we’re going to play,” said Sioux captain Chay Genoway. “We’ll do our preparation on who we’re playing, and that’s Michigan.”

Genoway missed eight games from Jan. 29 to March 4 with a leg injury. He returned for last game of the regular season, and in the seven games since his return, Genoway has 12 points.

Danny Kristo also missed a lot of action, 10 games from Feb. 11 to March 12, because of frostbite. He scored a goal within the first five minutes of his first game back in the Final Five semis against Colorado College. Kristo has six points in the four games since he returned.

“We’ve had our challenges like anyone else,” Hakstol said. “Injuries have been a challenge for us.”

In the games Genoway and Kristo missed, UND didn’t lose once, and credit for that goes to the depth in the Sioux lineup.

“We really pride ourselves on our depth,” Genoway said. “We feel we can roll four lines and play six [defensemen] and two goalies that can play on any given night. We’re confident we can send a lot of lines and [defensive] pairings that can play in any situation.”

It’s not just depth, but also UND’s willingness to play a physical, smashmouth brand of hockey, and that includes the team’s top scorers.

Matt Frattin, the Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalist with 36 goals and 24 assists for 60 points, uses his 6-foot, 200-pound frame to drop opponents. Ben Blood and Brad Malone are another two top enforcers for UND.

The Sioux have five players with 40 or more points, including Frattin, Corban Knight (14-30–44), Jason Gregoire (25-18–43), Evan Trupp (17-24–41) and Malone (16-24–40).

Aaron Dell won the starting spot in goal early in the season after playing just five games last season. His .924 save percentage and 1.81 goals-against average earned him a spot on the All-WCHA first team.

The next stop is the Xcel Energy Center, which, as evident by the amount of Sioux fans in the building for the Final Five, is like a second home for UND.

“It’s going be an electric atmosphere in there and it will a great atmosphere for both teams to play in,” Hakstol said.

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  • Suture1

    OK SIOUX, time to roll. I hope to see some major physicality out there, Michigan is certainly not used to the smash-mouth hockey the Sioux bring to the table. I’ve read about and seen the depth, but what I like about this Sioux team is they are all so unselfish and many of them know exactly what their role is on this team. Credit for this goes to Hakstol, I hope he wins the Penrose. I am a big Dean Blais fan but even what Dean has done this year I don’t think matches what Hakstol has done. It is one thing to have the horses to win big, it is another to create team chemistry (ie., Miami Heat could use Hak) which Hak has done very nicely.

    I have a question for the Sioux fans, I am flying in from quite a distance for the FF, can we purchase “Fighting Sioux” labeled shirts, hats, jersey’s, etc at the FF? In other words, is the NCAA allowing “Sioux-labeled” items to be sold? I am not privy with all that is going on with the “Sioux” issue so I am wondering if I will be able to purchase Sioux gear (and FF gear with Sioux insignia) at the Arena? If not, does anyone know where I might be able to purchase Sioux clothing in MSP? I am a pragmatic person and am not bringing this matter up for argument…I simply want to buy some Sioux garb for the game(s)….lol….:) LET”S GO SIOUX!!

    • JCKC

      I’m not sure if they will be selling Sioux gear at the games (someone else might be able to answer that question), but in Twin Cities area, check out a Scheels store (I believe there’s one in Eden Prairie), they always have some Sioux gear.

      • Guest

        Scheels has nothing UND related in EP, BUT there is a sports store in the EP mall and at the MOA that will have plenty of Fighting Sioux Gear.

        • Sioux>5

          The College Shop in the Mall of America has a bunch of Sioux gear. I asked the manager their once and he said Sioux is their seconds biggest seller. Go Sioux!!!

          • Suture1

            Thank you all for the info. I am going to the MOA…..G’friend has never been there before….great!! I’ll get my fill of Sioux clothing. Thanks again.

    • Sioux4Life

      I was at the Final Five at the Xcel Center, and they were selling Sioux gear. The NCAA is too greedy to not sell Sioux gear that they’ll receive royalties for.

    • Hockey God

      The NCAA hates the Sioux, but loves the money much more!

    • ItsBusinessTime

      It’ll be available until it’s sold out. Which will happen. It happened in St. Louis, it’ll definitely happen in MSP.

    • jackson

      u can get frozen four gear for all 4 teams on this web site

    • WCHA Fan

      you can go to the college shop in the mall of america. Its on the first floor right next to sears. they have some stuff there. Other than that, it may be slim pickings.

  • ItsBusinessTime

    I work in Ann Arbor but I’m originally from North Dakota. I grew up a Sioux fan and used to go to hockey camp there every summer. It’s a great place with some great people. I’ll be at the games this weekend and I’d love nothing more than to come back to work on Monday with some bragging rights and to see all of the pompous Michigan fans sulking. SIOUX YEAH YEAH!!!

    • Pacifist Sioux

      Can’t wait for the “Over-rated” chants after Michigan lights up Dell.

      • GeauxSioux

        He may get lit up by Michigan will not outscore North Dakota.

      • ItsBusinessTime

        If you can hear anything from UM besides the band at the Xcel Center on Thursday I will be surprised. It’s going to be a zoo. A green and white zoo.

      • Jason

        pretty bold statement…would probably be merrited if it happens though. Given how much some sioux fans like to talk.

        Don’t get me wrong sioux fans, I like the confidence…but some of you guys are on a totaly differnet level than most fans.

        • Anonymous

          I’d be surprised if there are more than 100 michigan fans… the final five was dominated by Sioux fans. Wait for the national anthem and you will hear it. Michigan might as well be playing in Alaska because they won’t have any crowd compared to Duluth and UND.

    • Mich fan

      Good luck in the game. I grew up in Ann Arbor ,but have lived and worked in WCHA land for 25 plus years. I still wear my Michigan shirt and put up with the pompous ignorant comments all the time. Win or lose I would shake your hand and say good game. Bragging , talking trash or taunting before during or after the game would of got you grounded in the my house. Times have changed.

      • ItsBusinessTime

        Yeah, I work with some big time UM fans. It’s all in good fun with the people that can give it and take it. But I know a few people that love to dish out the “greatness” of UM, but if you say anything negative about them they act like you committed a crime. I love the Sioux and will enjoy rooting for them this weekend, but it’s still just a game. An important one though! lol Good luck!

  • GeauxSioux

    Suture1, the offer still stands.

    • Suture1

      You find me buddy. Heck, I’m told we have a limitless supply……lol…seems too good to be true. Besides, I am sure we will have a few cocktails watching the UMD/ND game. I might be making a big mistake here (I really do not care)….there might be 30 or 40 GeauxSioux people come Thursday….lol.

  • AllAroundHockeyFan

    Great article! But, did anyone notice anything with the slide show? It just goes to show how hated the University of North Dakota is….. every caption about the picture had to do with UND loosing to either Maine, NH, and Yale, but not one picture that had anything to do with UND winning? Thoughts on this?

    • Jordo

      It was the same on Michigan’s “preview” as well. All Leastern teams beating the Blue in the caption.

      I hate USCHO.com

      You have horrible coverage of the Western teams who have earned as much, if not MORE, respect than the Eastern teams. How about you put some of the WCHA, CCHA, and dare I say team bloggers and photographers on the pay roll who are already doing a better job covering the top teams than you. With that said, you are better than INCH, but that is not saying much.

    • Dave

      Yea that is kinda amazing, and rediculous.

    • AllAroundHockeyFan

      I would love to hear what the writer of this blog has to say, but nothing? I guess that is no big surprise seeing as how he just like every other employee of this site can do no wrong…..

    • http://twitter.com/HockeyPhotos Melissa Wade

      The Maine game happens to be the only time I’ve shot North Dakota this season – I swear I did not cause them to lose. USCHO doesn’t pay for me to travel during the regular season – covering that game cost me enough w/ the extra gas – so I haven’t been to the Ralph in several years. If you would like to sponsor my travel to a game and take responsibility for making them win that game, just let me know : )

      • Can’t wait for #8

        You have some really good pictures

    • Paula Weston

      Yes, AllAroundHockeyFan, I have thoughts on this.

      It’s all about USCHO’s vast conspiracy to tilt the whole site East, even when the Frozen Four will be decided among two WCHA and two CCHA teams. Everything you believe about USCHO — its Eastern bias, its complete and total anti-Sioux editorial policy (seriously, it’s in the employee handbook), its efforts to defame Western teams by posting photos from games they lost — is all true.

      In fact, I believe that Melissa Wade and the rest of the USCHO photographers get bonus money to shoot unflattering shots of teams you specifically follow. We have the capability to track that sort of thing, you know.

      Whenever I’m covering a team from the east that plays someone here in CCHA-land, USCHO throws me extra dollars for providing an Eastern slant to the game story. I get double if the visiting team’s from Hockey East.

      It’s all true. The vast anti-West, anti-Sioux (specifically), anti-YOU conspiracy is all true, just as you’ve suspected all along.

      Now, don’t you feel better knowing the truth?

      • College hockey writer for hire

        haha paula weston, you firecraker!

        p.s. please never speak again :)

      • ItsBusinessTime

        I have to admit, that was pretty funny. I like to think I’m the biggest Sioux fan on the planet and I never picked up on what ‘AllAround’ noticed. After having it pointed out though, you guys definitely hit the vault with those pics. There are some pretty extreme folks on here, but everyone needs to realize that it’s usually the same people on here making the same ‘odd’ remarks. Don’t let the words of so few affect your impression of so many.
        I love poking and jabbing on here because people do tend to get fired up to the point that it’s hysterical. I have a question though, and it’s not meant to sound arrogant or to instigate, but how come there aren’t more writers for USCHO in the Minneapolis or Denver area that cover the WCHA? And please don’t use that Theresa Spisak writer as someone credible. After referring to Matt Frattin earlier in the season as a drunken idiot (not sure if I’m quoting accurately, but it was something very similar), I’m surprised she still has a job. And I’m not saying that only because I’m a Sioux fan. If she referred to any collegiate athlete as a drunken anything, I’d have felt the same way. I enjoy the things that USCHO covers in the East because it keeps me up to speed on what’s going on out there, and who’s on the rise, but it seems that I either have to go to the WCHA or CCHA sites if I want to get more detailed info out of those leagues. I haven’t looked, but I’m assuming you’re based on the East coast, but wasn’t sure if you folks were strictly limited to that area mostly. And Melissa Wade…those are good pics. I’m biased, but they really show the quality of our sweaters. I believe they’re the sweetest looking in college hockey. There I go…another Sioux fan believing that everything they do or have is the best. Yep…pretty much.

        • B.D.

          Yes, I laughed as well.

          Note to writers. You are only now witnessing the effects of years of an eastern bias in the media. This has led to a hyper sensitivity in many of us in the west who are used to getting ignored in print and on TV.

          Not saying YOU wrote anything with a bias, but we are prone to look for it since it was so pronounced in years past. Particularly on TV.

          I AM waiting to see how ESPN covers the upcoming UND/Michigan game. I suspect UND will get short shrift while Michigan will be regarded as the established program. If it was a East coast team you could bank on it….

        • http://twitter.com/HockeyPhotos Melissa Wade

          Technically, USCHO is based in Minnesota NOT the East Coast though there is no physical location as far as I know. And there are writers for most of the schools in the “West” including North Dakota.

          • ItsBusinessTime

            Well, I stand corrected then. Maybe since they’re based on Minnesota they should stop ‘over compensating.’ :-) I did that with a pickup truck once…it didn’t get me anywhere.

          • A Sioux Fan

            Melissa, I saw your facebook status regarding how you think BC should be in the Frozen Four based on the fact there are two “ND” schools in the tournament. Don’t come in here with your sthick about how there’s no “Eastern Bias”.

  • http://twitter.com/HockeyPhotos Melissa Wade

    How are the “Leastern” if they beat Michigan? Like I said to the guy upset about the North Dakota/Maine game – I can’t control the outcome of the games I shoot and as travel isn’t covered during the regular season, I cover CCHA and WCHA teams when they visit teams in the greater Boston area (HE, ECAC & Atlantic).

    We did have a photographer providing regular coverage at both a CCHA and a WCHA rink this season.

  • Paula Weston

    And how did my Frozen Four preview of Michigan do that team a disservice or provide some sort of Eastern bias against a team that I’ve covered for 15 years? Or did I have an agenda with that preview (and my preview of Notre Dame) that is somehow hidden even to me and my editors at USCHO?

  • IdemandSiouxRespect

    Maybe Hakstol can put his “finger” on it, but why doesn’t USCHO just immediately attach four or five whines from North Dakota the second they publish an article. Wahhh, we don’t like the pictures. Waaaaah, we don’t like Times New Roman. If they loved us they’d use Verdana. Waaaah, waaah, waaaah, we’re hated. Yes. And well earned.

    • Jdorf40

      I’ve never used Verdana but thanks for the recommendation. It looks amazing.

      Sioux fans are passionate, loyal and yes over the top. I’m one of them. And I love it. If you’re somebody that takes a comment thread from a website personally, or if it really gets to you that bad…maybe you should talk to somebody about it. The last thing we need is for somebody on the other side to feel bullied.

      • B.D.

        I want you to notice something….
        Go to the team pages dealing with Notre Dame and Michigan. They will have few comments from fans.

        Go to the UND and UMD pages. They are filled with comments from Fans.
        If we were to be able to check the page-View counter we would note that the WCHA page views probably dwarf the ECAC and AC page views.

        We enjoy hockey, are passionate about it.
        They are less so.

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