FROZEN FOUR: Sioux fond of this pond

ST. PAUL -- UND's seniors conducted their final practice at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Tuesday afternoon, then boarded a bus bound for another arena that may start feeling like home.

ST. PAUL -- UND's seniors conducted their final practice at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Tuesday afternoon, then boarded a bus bound for another arena that may start feeling like home.

The Xcel Energy Center, host of this year's NCAA Frozen Four, is a building very familiar for this Sioux team.

UND won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five here just three weeks ago to successfully defend its Broadmoor Trophy. The Sioux have won five consecutive games here over the past two seasons entering Thursday night's semifinal game against Michigan.

"Playing (at Xcel) the last few years in the Final Five and having some success the last couple years is definitely good for us," UND senior defenseman Derrick LaPoint said. "I think it's going to be a good atmosphere for both teams on Thursday. I don't know if there are really any advantages, but we definitely have a little bit of comfort with the place."

In March, the Sioux beat Colorado College 4-3 in the Final Five semifinals, then topped the University of Denver 3-2 in double overtime to win the WCHA's postseason tournament. The arena was flooded with Sioux fans, who made a lot of noise during the tournament.


"I'm not sure if we're going to have as many fans as we did at the Final Five," UND captain Chay Genoway said. "I'm sure it's going to be harder for them to get tickets for something like this. We're expecting them to be there, though. They are always loud. They always travel well. We're pretty excited for them to be there."

Genoway said the team feels comfortable at the arena, which usually serves as home to the NHL's Minnesota Wild.

"Even the seats and the background help a player a little bit," Genoway said, "knowing the bounces of the boards. . . those are all small things that might help a little bit. There's a lot more to the game, though. Worrying about Michigan is going to be the biggest thing."

The Xcel Center has hosted a Frozen Four once before in 2002. The hometown Minnesota Gophers won it in thrilling fashion, beating Maine in overtime in the national championship game.

The Gophers won't be there this weekend -- they didn't even make the NCAA tournament this year -- but area teams are well represented. Besides UND, which has an enormous alumni base in the Twin Cities, Minnesota-Duluth is expected to bring a lot of fans.

Notre Dame and Michigan, the other two Frozen Four teams, also have large alumni bases that could travel to St. Paul.

"It's going to be played in a great atmosphere and in a great venue," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "I think it's a great venue for the Frozen Four and it will be one heck of an atmosphere for all of the games that are played (at the Frozen Four)."

Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to .



When: Thursday, Saturday.

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul.

Thursday's first semifinal: Minnesota-Duluth vs. Notre Dame, 4 p.m.

Thursday's second semifinal: UND vs. Michigan, 7:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN2 (GF Channel 26).

Radio: The Fox (96.1); KNOX (1310 AM).


Xcel Energy Center
A record crowd of 19,463, the largest to ever watch a WCHA game at the time, packed the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to the 2007 WCHA Final Five championship game won by Minnesota 3-2 over North Dakota. Herald file photo by John Stennes.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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