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MEN'S HOCKEY: Sioux still not satisfied

The mood around Ralph Engelstad Arena this week may not be what you expect from a team that just won back-to-back games for the first time in two months.

The mood around Ralph Engelstad Arena this week may not be what you expect from a team that just won back-to-back games for the first time in two months.

"They were two good wins, but it certainly doesn't change the feeling we have around here," UND men's hockey coach Dave Hakstol said.

Hakstol admitted that the feeling he had after UND's pair of losses to Michigan Tech in mid-December never left him. And the team's assistant captain, Erik Fabian, said that he, too, had thoughts of those losses in his mind over Christmas break.

Not even a holiday tournament title and a pair of wins over nationally ranked teams have erased those sentiments. UND, 9-10-1, still feels like a desperate team.

"Last weekend was good," Hakstol said. "But in order for those wins to count or mean anything to us later in the year, we have to put ourselves in good position in the league."

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Hakstol hopes that process starts at 8:37 tonight against Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

UND enters the two-game series at 5-8-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and in seventh place. After a strong start, the Sioux are 1-7 in their last eight league games.

It's not going to get any easier for UND, either.

During the second half, the Sioux play four road series. They come against Colorado College, Minnesota, Denver and St. Cloud State - the top four teams in the league.

This weekend, UND will travel to World Arena in Colorado Springs - a place the team hasn't had a lot of success. The Sioux are 2-8 in their last 10 games in World Arena. They earned a split with the Tigers last season.

"Personally, I've never played in the elevation before," Sioux freshman forward Chris VandeVelde said. "(World Arena) is going to be a tough place to play. I guess it is harder to breathe there. Short, quick shifts are important. We need to stay fresh and stay energized. We have four solid lines. We need to keep them rolling."

Each team

missing players

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UND will play without forward Jonathan Toews and defensemen Taylor Chorney and Brian Lee - all of whom are playing in the World Junior Championship. But the Sioux aren't alone in missing players.

Colorado College will play without standout freshman forward Billy Sweatt, who also is at the World Junior tournament.

The Tigers struggled without Sweatt earlier this season when the Illinois native was out with mononucleosis. In all, the Tigers have played seven games without Sweatt this season. With him, they are 9-3-1. Without him, Colorado College is 3-4.

Briefly

-- Last weekend, Rylan Kaip got his first goal of the season. Hakstol said he's hoping first goals from VandeVelde and Michael Forney follow close behind. "It's January now. We need to see them get their firsts of the year," Hakstol said. "We want to see them do it sooner rather than later. That's not to put any pressure on them in any way, but we need everyone to produce."

-- Hakstol on his impressions of Colorado College, a team the Sioux split with earlier this season in Grand Forks: "They are a team that's deceivingly skilled. Certainly, their top line is a real catalyst for them. They generate a lot of offense with real skilled players on 'D.' Those are some of the things we'll have to be aware of. They are a good team. They get up and down the rink. They are constructed to play well on the big ice surface and they do that."

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

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