The Wolverines want you to know something, Sioux fans. They aren’t afraid of you.
There’s a lot being made in this Frozen Four of Michigan’s underdog status, something a bit unusual for the Wolverines. Not only is North Dakota the No. 1 seed in the tournament and heavily favored, but St. Paul is practically the Sioux’s backyard. Even though Michigan fans travel well, there’s no doubt that Thursday’s semifinal game will be a hostile environment for the Wolverines.
But they don’t care.
“North Dakota’s going to have a lot of fans there, but we’re not concerned about the rink or who’s coming,” said forward Louie Caporusso. “We’re just going to be concerned about how we’re going to play.
“We’ve played in those types of atmospheres before where the other team’s bringing a lot of noise and a lot of cheers and whatnot, but I don’t think it’s affected us before. We like playing on the road. It’s a road-style atmosphere, so be it.”
“It doesn’t matter where we play,” said Carl Hagelin. “We’re just focused on our task, and our task is to win that game tomorrow. Every guy on the team is excited.
“We know it’s going to be packed tomorrow, and we don’t know if we’ll have more fans than them, but we’ll just go out and play our game.”
Matt Rust said that the key to playing in a sea of green will be remembering something that coach Red Berenson has been preaching to the Wolverines since the West Regional in St. Louis.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of lights, glamour, and all the madness behind the Frozen Four,” said Rust, “but like Coach says every single day, it’s still a hockey game.
“It’s still like playing back at Yost. It’s the same sized rink, playing against an opponent that wants to win just as much as North Dakota does.”
Berenson said that he thinks the Wolverines may get a bit of a boost from Minnesota fans. “I know the animosity between Minnesota and North Dakota. If it was a game at Michigan State, they would be cheering for North Dakota.”