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MEN'S HOCKEY: LaPoint eager for homecoming

MADISON, Wis. - Joe Finley bumped into the father of UND rookie defenseman Derrick LaPoint a couple of weeks ago and they discussed this weekend's men's hockey series in Wisconsin.

MADISON, Wis. - Joe Finley bumped into the father of UND rookie defenseman Derrick LaPoint a couple of weeks ago and they discussed this weekend's men's hockey series in Wisconsin.

"He said there would be a strong following for Derrick. . . . hundreds of people," Finley said, eliciting laughs from media members.

Only thing is that Finley wasn't kidding.

LaPoint, an Eau Claire, Wis., native, said there could be more than 150 people in the stands tonight to watch him play as his Sioux take on the Badgers in the Kohl Center (7:07 p.m.).

Among fans making the three-hour trip will be his former teammates, coaches, teachers and family.


"It will be nice to be back in my home state with my history there," LaPoint said. "But business is business. We've got to play hockey first and worry about all of the extra stuff after the game."

LaPoint had a storied high school hockey career as a member of Eau Claire North. He won the state's player of the year award as a senior, a season in which he led North to the state tournament.

In the first round of state, LaPoint played 50 minutes, 30 seconds of a 51-minute game, only sitting briefly for a shift in the first period. He didn't come off the ice at all in the second or third period.

LaPoint, the all-time defenseman scoring champion at North, was recruited by Wisconsin but said he thought UND was a better fit. LaPoint's brother, Nate, has been a manager with the Sioux team for a few seasons.

LaPoint said he didn't know what to expect this weekend from Badger fans, who are notoriously hostile toward visitors. When Verona, Wis., native Phil Kessel returned as a member of the Minnesota Gophers two seasons ago, he was booed every time he touched the puck.

"I know some people were bothered by the fact that I chose North Dakota, so I'm kind of expecting the worst," LaPoint said. "But that doesn't bother me. It's all about the game."

Sioux will watch

for Badgers' Turris


Kyle Turris came to Wisconsin with all kinds of hype and accolades. About a month into the season, he's found a way to exceed all of those lofty expectations.

Turris, the No. 3 overall pick in this summer's draft, is the leading scorer in the country with 13 points in six games. He's scored four of his five goals on the power play.

"I don't think you expect that kind of start," Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said. "You never know what you're going to get from a kid. But hopefully it continues."

Coach Dave Hakstol said the Sioux will have to be aware of where Turris is on the ice.

"Turris is a world-class player," Hakstol said. "He's come into the league and taken advantage of an opportunity, and he's off to a really good start."

TRF's Bendickson

getting expanded role

Former Thief River Falls standout Aaron Bendickson, a Badger sophomore, finished last season with a miniscule stat line - 34 games, no goals and three assists.


Here's an indication of what coach Eaves thinks about Bendickson's improvement in the offseason: last weekend, Eaves put the small, speedy winger on the top line with Turris and standout junior Ben Street (10 points in six games).

"Bendy did a tremendous job training this summer," Eaves said. "We're still trying to find his top level. We're going to try him in different places and give him some more responsibilities."

Bendickson scored his first career goal in the season opener against defending CCHA champion Notre Dame. The goal came midway through the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie. It stood as the game winner.


-- Saturday's game will be televised by Fox Sports Net in Wisconsin, which means it is available to those with DirecTV.

-- Wisconsin sophomore forward Blake Geoffrion, the grandson of NHL Hall of Famer Bernie Geoffrion, has six points in six games, which matches his point total from his rookie year.

-- Badger rookie forward Patrick Johnson, the son of Miracle on Ice team star Mark Johnson, is wearing his father's No. 10.

-- Finley on playing in the Kohl Center: "They have great fan support. The student section is unbelievable. I know, personally, I enjoy going in there to play. It's a great atmosphere, hostile, and everything you look for in a big-time college hockey game. There will be plenty of excitement. Hopefully we can take that and direct it toward ourselves and take some energy from that."


-- No WCHA team has a losing record. The league is 22-5-4 in nonconference play.

Reach Schlossman at 780-1129, (800) 477-6572 ext. 129 or bschlossman@gfherald.com .||?Page=002 Column=009 Loose,0057.01?||

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