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Men's hockey: Questions looming in offseason for Sioux

WORCESTER, Mass. - A season full of adventures for the UND men's hockey team ended here Saturday afternoon with a 3-2 loss to Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

WORCESTER, Mass. - A season full of adventures for the UND men's hockey team ended here Saturday afternoon with a 3-2 loss to Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

That means it's the start of another offseason, and this one provides some burning questions.

Throughout the next six months, the Sioux will have to answer them and those answers could go a long way in determining the fate of the 2010-11 Sioux squad.

Here is a look at the five biggest questions facing UND this offseason:

1. Will Chay Genoway be back?

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This is the million-dollar question.

The UND defenseman was a senior, but is eligible to apply for a medical redshirt after sustaining a concussion in November and not returning for the rest of the season.

Genoway was an All-American as a junior and got off to a great start during his senior year. Should he decide to pursue the medical redshirt, UND could have the most dynamic player in the country on its back end.

Genoway also could decide to turn pro, as there are several teams interested in obtaining his rights.

2. Will anybody leave early?

Last summer was the first time in 10 years that the Sioux didn't lose anyone early to the NHL.

Could that be the case again this summer?

There aren't any underclassmen who appear ready to step into an NHL lineup, so there's a chance that the Sioux could return virtually their entire roster (minus seniors Chris VandeVelde, Darcy Zajac and possibly Genoway).

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But they will have to keep their eye on any possible surprise departures.

3. What will happen with all of the defensemen?

The Sioux had the No. 1 scoring defense in the WCHA this season. The regular defensive corps included sophomore Ben Blood, freshman Andrew MacWilliam, junior Derrick LaPoint, junior Jake Marto, freshman Joe Gleason and sophomore Corey Fienhage.

If Genoway comes back, the Sioux will have seven capable defensemen. And that's not even mentioning the three recruits who have graduated high school and are eligible to come in this fall: Derek Forbort, Dillon Simpson and Nick Mattson.

Forbort is expected to be a top 15 pick in June's NHL draft. Mattson should go in later rounds and Simpson could be a first-rounder in 2011.

4. Who can play center?

UND loses just two forwards, but both of them play vital roles at center.

VandeVelde and Zajac have been anchors at center for two of UND's top three lines all season. Brad Malone has been the other top-three center.

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It seems that it is a wide open field of players to replace those guys at center. Do the Sioux try to move a winger to center - like Jason Gregoire, Brett Hextall, Evan Trupp, Corban Knight or Danny Kristo? Or will Mario Lamoureux or David Toews get a chance to center a scoring line next season?

5. Who will be living in the weight room?

Blood was a No. 6 defenseman as a freshman and didn't play a ton of minutes. Last summer, he spent a ton of time in the weight room and on the ice. The difference was very noticeable.

Blood transformed into a top-pair defenseman who was counted on in every situation. He went against top lines, played on the penalty kill and even saw some power-play time.

Who will dedicate this summer to the weight room? Who will take a similar jump?

The answers will play out in the next six months, and perhaps, lead to a better fate in next year's NCAA tournament.

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 bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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