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MEN'S HOCKEY: Sioux draw Michigan in NCAAs

If Dave Hakstol is going to notch his hat trick - three Frozen Fours in three years as head men's hockey coach at UND - he and his team have a tough road ahead.

If Dave Hakstol is going to notch his hat trick - three Frozen Fours in three years as head men's hockey coach at UND - he and his team have a tough road ahead.

The Sioux were placed in a loaded West Regional on Sunday alongside Air Force, nine-time national champion Michigan and the NCAA tournament's No. 1 overall seed, Minnesota.

UND, seeded third, plays Michigan at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Denver's Pepsi Center in the first round, while Minnesota plays Air Force at 2:30 Saturday afternoon. The winners will play at 5 p.m. Sunday with a trip to the Frozen Four in St. Louis on the line.

"All of the brackets are very competitive and certainly North Dakota-Michigan is going to be highly competitive," Hakstol said. "I think our game is arguably two of the hottest teams in the country. It's going to be a real tough, competitive game."

The region might look familiar. Three of the four teams are the same as last year's West Regional in Grand Forks - the exception being Air Force instead of Holy Cross. UND cruised to a 5-1 win over the Wolverines in the opener, but this weekend's game is expected to be much closer.


Michigan (26-13-1) comes in with the most explosive offense in the country. The Wolverines average 4.22 goals per game, which is tops in the NCAA by a large margin. They are led by the No. 1 scorer in the country, Hobey Baker Award finalist T.J. Hensick.

Their forward lines are deep, as four players average more than a point per game.

They have three first-round picks on the blue line in Jack Johnson (No. 3 overall), Mark Mitera and Chris Summers. And veteran defenseman Matt Hunwick, a member of the gold medalist 2004 U.S. World Junior Championship team, is one of the best.

"They're loaded with talent and they've played extremely well in the second half of the season," said Hakstol, who voted Michigan as the No. 1 team in the nation before the season.

In the other West Regional game, Minnesota plays Air Force, which beat Army in the Atlantic Hockey championship to earn an automatic bid. The Falcons (19-15-5), led by Hobey Baker finalist Eric Ehn, are 0-2 against Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponents this season. They lost to Colorado College and Denver.

The third and final WCHA team to earn an NCAA bid is St. Cloud State, which plays third-seeded Maine in the first round at 5 p.m. Friday. Top-seeded Clarkson and Massachusetts are the other teams in St. Cloud's regional, which will be played in Rochester, N.Y.

Notre Dame is the top seed in the Midwest Regional, which will be played in Grand Rapids, Mich., starting Friday. The Irish drew Alabama-Huntsville in the first round, while Boston University will meet Michigan State in the other Midwest Regional game.

New Hampshire is the top seed and the host of the Northeast Regional. The Wildcats will play Miami on Saturday, while Boston College plays St. Lawrence in the other Northeast Regional game.


West Regional


At Pepsi Center,


Saturday's first round

Air Force (19-15-5) vs. Minnesota (30-9-3), 2:30 p.m.

North Dakota (22-13-5) vs. Michigan (26-13-1), 6:30 p.m.




Semifinal winners, 5 p.m.

Reach Schlossman at 780-1129, (800) 477-6572 ext. 129 or bschlossman@gfherald.com . Read his blog at areavoices.com/undhockey .

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