MEN'S HOCKEY: Intense practices prepare Sioux
The No. 1 priority for the UND men's hockey team, coach Dave Hakstol says, was to keep its intensity during the off week. If Tuesday's practice is any indication, the Sioux accomplished that goal. It was fast-paced and hard-hitting enough that a ...
The No. 1 priority for the UND men's hockey team, coach Dave Hakstol says, was to keep its intensity during the off week.
If Tuesday's practice is any indication, the Sioux accomplished that goal.
It was fast-paced and hard-hitting enough that a scrap broke out between teammates, Hakstol said.
"Every team is different. This is a team that seems to feed off of its intensity level," he said. "We're starting to find out that when we play with a little nasty streak, when we are physical as a team, we play better. To a certain degree, you can't duplicate that at practice and you don't want to beat each other up. But from time to time, if you practice hard, it's going to happen."
Hakstol considers it a good sign as the team prepares for this weekend's series against No. 15 Minnesota-Duluth in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The break was good to heal up some bumps and bruises, which almost put four players on the shelf for the Wisconsin series on Nov. 9-10. Other than that, it wasn't a break the Sioux needed. The players have been chomping at the bit to get back on the ice and play games, Hakstol said.
"I've liked what I've seen so far at practice this week," he said. "We've had good, spirited practices. The scrap shows the sheer intensity that the guys are practicing at."
Ryan Duncan said he spent the off week resting, relaxing and reflecting on UND's 5-3-1 start.
"It's a decent start, but we're not satisfied with a 5-3-1 record," Duncan said. "We feel like we have some improvements to make. Hopefully we'll keep developing and the wins will come more frequently."
It will be determined in the next three weeks whether UND is able to avoid a slow start for a fourth straight season.
The Sioux have key series against top-15 teams Minnesota-Duluth, Denver and Minnesota. After that, it's a two-week break for Christmas.
"I think it's a real important stretch," Hakstol said. "It's one where we are going to have to break down game by game."
A year ago, UND had a similar record after nine games (6-3), but the Sioux hit a tailspin before Christmas, losing seven of eight.
And the season before, the Sioux had an identical 5-3-1 record after nine but struggles at home marked what was considered a slow start. UND lost five of six home games before the break in 2005-06.
Hakstol said the search for a third goaltender has not been completed, but he expects some news soon.
The Sioux are looking for a goalie, mainly for practice reasons, to replace Anthony Grieco, who left school two weeks ago to play in the Ontario Hockey League.
UND could wait until semester break and bring in a goalie at that time or it could pick up a goaltender who already is enrolled in class. The Sioux will do the latter. Hakstol said there are plenty of talented goaltenders on campus who decided not to pursue hockey after high school. They are just looking for the right fit.
"We hoped that we would be able to have more on that right now," Hakstol said. "We're taking the process slow. We're looking at it on two fronts. First, we're looking for the best athlete possible. But we're also adding a personality to the locker room and we want to make sure it fits into this team."
-- Hakstol said he anticipates everyone will be available for this weekend's series. "Ryan Martens might be a little bit of a question mark," Hakstol said. But Martens has practiced all week.
-- Kyle Radke has practiced at both forward and defense recently.
-- Sioux recruits Brett Bruneteau and Ben Blood were traded for each other Wednesday in the United States Hockey League. Bruneteau, a forward, was sent to Des Moines and Blood, a defenseman, to Indiana.
Reach Schlossman at 780-1129, (800) 477-6572 ext. 129 or email@example.com .