UND headed to Green Bay to play RPI
ST. PAUL - For the first time in three years, UND won't be headed to the East Coast for the NCAA regionals.
The top-ranked Sioux will play RPI in the first round in Green Bay, Wis., at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Denver and Western Michigan also are in the Midwest Regional. The games will be on ESPN3 and UND is working on an arrangement to get it syndicated in North Dakota.
RPI is led by Hobey Baker Award finalist Chase Polacek of Edina, Minn., Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick Allan York in goal and Moorhead native and Nashville Predators draft pick Jeff Foss back on the blue line.
The Engineers, coached by former Denver assistant Seth Appert, went 20-12-5.
The Sioux, who were featured on ESPN2's selection show, enter the tournament with a 30-8-3 record. UND won the MacNaughton Cup as the regular-season champion of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and the Broadmoor Trophy as the playoff champion in the league.
ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose said on ESPN's SportsCenter that he believes UND is the team to beat.
"I love North Dakota," Melrose said. "Their defense is like an NHL defense. They are 6-3, 6-4. . . they all move very well. They've got (Matt) Frattin, who I believe is the best player in college hockey. The pros are just waiting for him. You've got (Chay) Genoway and (Danny) Kristo. . . they are keep, fast and I like their goaltending. I like North Dakota. I like the talent level and how good of skaters they are."
The Sioux also were pictured in Ralph Engelstad Arena watching the selection show and host John Buccigross interviewed UND's Hobey Baker Award finalist, Matt Frattin.
Melrose called Frattin, "the best player in college hockey," and said he should win the Hobey.
"Frattin is a great example of North Dakota," Melrose said. "That team is going to make a lot of guys NHL players. It's tough to re-tool every year, but North Dakota does that. Frattin is an unbelievable player and a real pro prospect."
Defending national champion Boston College will be playing in the St. Louis regional. The Eagles will take on Colorado College in the first round. Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha play in the other game in that regional.
No. 1 overall seed Yale will be at home in the Bridgeport, Ct., regional. Yale takes on Grand Forks native Jacques Lamoureux and Air Force in the first round. Union and Minnesota-Duluth are the other teams in that regional.
Annual power Miami is the No. 1 seed in the Manchester, N.H., regional and will take on host New Hampshire in the first round. Merrimack will play Notre Dame in the other game in Manchester.
The Frozen Four will be held in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center on April 7-9.