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Serratore, Lucia are talking now

DENVER - Air Force coach Frank Serratore said he wouldn't talk to Minnesota coach Don Lucia. Not when Serratore was growing up in Coleraine, Minn., while Lucia was down the road in rival town Grand Rapids. "I don't like to use the word hatred, bu...

DENVER - Air Force coach Frank Serratore said he wouldn't talk to Minnesota coach Don Lucia.

Not when Serratore was growing up in Coleraine, Minn., while Lucia was down the road in rival town Grand Rapids.

"I don't like to use the word hatred, but you didn't hang with guys from other towns," Serratore said. "I was a Greenway (of Coleraine High School) guy and you didn't hang with Hibbing guys. You didn't hang with Eveleth guys. You could date girls from those towns, but you couldn't hang with the guys. He knew who I was and I knew who he was, but we didn't do a lot of chatting."

In recent years, the two coaches have done their share of catching up. They're now good friends, who will face off in the first round of the NCAA tournament at 2:30 p.m. today. They spent Friday afternoon recalling old stories.

Lucia remembers late-night phone conversations with Serratore that lasted until 4 a.m.

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"If you know Frank, you know he's a night owl," Lucia said.

Serratore told stories about Lucia, under-funded while recruiting at Alaska, having to sleep on his "fleabag couch."

"Picture Don Lucia sleeping on somebody else's couch," said Serratore, who was coaching juniors at the time. "We would stay up and talk about hockey and all those games we played in bantam and high school. He's a good man. They don't come much finer than Don Lucia."

Strong UND tie, too

Serratore also knows UND coach Dave Hakstol very well.

As an assistant coach alongside Cary Eades (a current Sioux assistant), the pair recruited Hakstol to come to UND under then-coach Gino Gasparini.

"It's amazing, I have gotten about 15 e-mails from North Dakota fans," Serratore said. "It's not so much to congratulate us. They are just Gopher haters. I got a couple of salty e-mails, so there is no love lost from the North Dakota fans and how they feel about the Gophers. I think it will be good for us and hopefully (our players) won't disappoint (the UND fans)."

Hakstol said: "I have tremendous respect for (Serratore) as a person, as a man, as a family man and I think it's very fitting and deserving that his team is here."

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High-scoring regional?

Hakstol said he didn't know much about Air Force, but he can guarantee that UND, Michigan and Minnesota will play hard on defense. Even so, he acknowledged that this could be a high-scoring regional.

A look at the top point-per-game scorers in the country explains it.

Seven of the top 11 - including the top five - will be playing in Denver this weekend.

Michigan's T.J. Hensick (first), Kevin Porter (third) and Andrew Cogliano (11th) are big scorers, as are Air Force's Eric Ehn (second) and Andrew Ramsey (fifth). UND has Jonathan Toews (fourth) and Ryan Duncan (seventh) in that group.

Minnesota, which isn't represented, led the WCHA in scoring in overall games.

"I don't anticipate our game being a run-and-gun, high-scoring game, but there certainly will be a lot of offensive ability on both sides," Hakstol said. "So the potential for there to be a lot of great opportunities is there, but I don't know how it's going to end up."

Teams talk about

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difficult regional

The West Regional has been called the toughest in the country by most national experts and each team was questioned about it Friday.

"We are excited to get back at the team that beat us last year," said Michigan coach Red Berenson, whose team was knocked out of the NCAA tournament by UND in the first round last season. "I hope we are a different team because we have a lot of the same players that played in that game. They are older and more mature. I think they are more respectful of North Dakota. If we didn't know what we were getting into last year, we know now."

Minnesota goaltender Kellen Briggs said, "When it comes to the draw, it doesn't really matter. To get to the Frozen Four, you have to beat good teams. It doesn't matter where you are or what regional you are in."

Sioux defenseman Taylor Chorney said: "Obviously we've drawn a pretty tough challenge in Michigan. But that's something that we can't control. If you're going to win it all, you're going to have to face all the tough teams anyway. I guess it is a tough draw for us, but we're going to proceed forward."

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