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Men's hockey: Sioux line is together on and off the ice

When Matt Frattin was back home in Edmonton during the first half of the season, he could count on getting a phone call about every other day. Junior classmate Brad Malone and roommate Evan Trupp, close friends since the day they stepped on campu...

When Matt Frattin was back home in Edmonton during the first half of the season, he could count on getting a phone call about every other day.

Junior classmate Brad Malone and roommate Evan Trupp, close friends since the day they stepped on campus in the fall of 2007, made sure to keep in touch and encourage Frattin, who was serving a team-imposed suspension.

"It's great to have friends like that," Frattin said, "friends you'll have for the rest of your life."

Those friends got back together when Frattin was reinstated in late December. And since coach Dave Hakstol decided to put them on the same line three weeks ago, the trio and the Sioux have taken off.

Trupp, Malone and Frattin have combined for 20 points in the six games they've played together, helping the Sioux to a 5-1 record. The only loss during that span was a 4-3 defeat to St. Cloud State in a game where UND launched 96 shot attempts.

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Despite UND's season-long, five-game winning streak, Hakstol has been changing lines in search of the best combinations. He hasn't touched that one, though, as the Sioux prepare for this weekend's WCHA series against Michigan Tech.

Their statistics tell the story:

n Frattin had no goals in his first 10 games back on campus. Since he's been placed with Trupp and Malone, he has five goals in six games.

n Malone had two points in the 11 games before joining Frattin and Trupp. He had four points last weekend alone.

n Trupp had three points in the nine games before joining his best friends on a line. Trupp now has six points in the last five games.

Their success has sparked the team's success. UND scored nine goals in the six games prior to that line being put together. The Sioux have scored 27 goals in the six games since.

"They're playing well and they're playing hard," Hakstol said. "That's what you have to do. At this time of year, we're looking for performances that help us win. Those guys have done a good job together, clicked together, played consistent together. They have to continue to do it and I'm confident that they will."

They're an easy-going bunch, notorious pranksters off the ice.

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"Those guys speak the same language," Hakstol joked, "and it's something I don't understand."

When they get on the ice, they are a difficult matchup for opponents.

Trupp is a creative playmaker with a never-ending supply of skilled moves. Malone is a physical power forward with good hands. His screens are impossible for goalies to see around. Frattin also brings a physical presence and his wrist shot is the hardest on the team.

"It seems like we're gelling," Frattin said. "It's a lot easier playing with guys who like having fun just like you do. If you make a bad mistake, the other guys are there to get you ready for the next shift."

Hakstol said their friendship has helped their play on the ice.

"There's something to that," Hakstol said. "It doesn't always work that way. But good friends off the ice care about each other on the ice. That helps them push each other and hold each other accountable on the ice. You can really be honest in those situations when you do have a good, strong relationship."

Malone agrees.

"We can give each other some negative attitude and not take it the wrong way," he said.

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Malone said that as the first semester ended, he quietly tried to hint to Hakstol that Frattin was ready to rejoin the team.

"When I heard he was coming back, it was a pretty exciting day," Malone said. "He did all the right things in the first half to get back and make a contribution. . . and things are starting to pay off."

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

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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