MEN'S HOCKEY: UND ready to get serious against University of British Columbia
BURNABY, B.C. -- Dave Hakstol didn't get far off the ice Thursday before he started getting chirped. Standing right outside the glass was longtime NHL player Garry Valk -- and he wasn't too impressed with the UND head coach's move in the team's w...
BURNABY, B.C. -- Dave Hakstol didn't get far off the ice Thursday before he started getting chirped.
Standing right outside the glass was longtime NHL player Garry Valk -- and he wasn't too impressed with the UND head coach's move in the team's weekly shootout competition.
On the other end of the ice, UND junior Stephane Pattyn pretended like he was going to grab a drink of water, but instead sprayed it in the direction of a visitor watching practice -- his former UND teammate, Corban Knight.
Sure, there's plenty of business for UND to conduct on this trip to the Pacific Northwest, but they are also having some fun with it.
"It's such a nice experience," said UND assistant coach Dane Jackson, who is from nearby Castlegar, B.C. "Our guys have put in so much time and effort. It's so intense usually. It's kind of nice to be able to do some fun stuff with them and do some things that are a little looser.
"Obviously, come game day, we'll be ready to play. But it's going to be nice, for a couple of days, to be around our guys in a little more relaxed environment."
UND will get down to business Friday when it takes on the University of British Columbia at 9 p.m. in an exhibition game. UBC is a Canadian college team comparable to the University of Manitoba, a frequent UND preseason opponent. UBC tied Denver in an exhibition last season.
On Saturday, UND will take on Simon Fraser University at 9 p.m. Simon Fraser, which got swept by UBC to start the season, is led in scoring by a former American International player.
The exhibition games allow UND to get some game action before next weekend's regular-season series against Colorado College. If not for the Vancouver trip, UND would have been off for an entire month.
It's also giving UND a chance to connect with some fans from the arena and a lot of former players like Valk and Knight.
Valk, who played 13 years in the NHL for Vancouver, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Chicago, was teammates with Hakstol and Jackson at UND in the early 1990s. He coaches hockey and works in sports media in Vancouver.
Knight is playing with the Calgary Flames' top minor league club, the Abbotsford Heat. Abbotsford is about 45 minutes away from Vancouver.
UND is expecting to see even more former players in the stands this weekend, including 1980 national champion Mark Taylor and former goaltender Brad Eidsness, who is studying law in the area.
Several UND players were born and raised in the area, including Troy Stecher (Richmond), Adam Tambellini (Port Moody), the MacMillan brothers (Penticton), Wade Murphy (Victoria) and Jackson.
"It's going to be nice to play in front of lots of friends and family," Tambellini said. "We have a lot of guys from this area on our team. When we signed up to play at North Dakota, we didn't think we'd get the chance to play in Vancouver ever. So, it's going to be pretty cool for some of the local guys to play in front of some family and friends."
The team flew in Wednesday night and attended the NHL game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Tampa Bay Lightning -- a unique experience for Jackson.
Jackson played two seasons for the Canucks in the 1990s, and he also served as team captain for current Vancouver coach John Tortorella when the two were in the AHL with the Rochester Americans. Tortorella lined up tickets for Jackson's parents to attend the game.
"He's been a great mentor," Jackson said. "He's always taken time for me. We have a pretty close bond. He's a pretty neat man."
Simon Fraser officials have talked about their excitement in getting UND to come to town. Last season, they brought club programs from Arizona State and Oklahoma to town for this tournament. This year, UND and Princeton are the guests.
"It's going to be a huge eye-opener for parents and their kids to be able to come and watch North Dakota and Princeton," Simon Fraser coach Mark Coletta told the Province newspaper. "The University of North Dakota is to hockey what Duke is to basketball and Alabama is to football."
Schlossman reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1129, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1129 or send e-mail to email@example.com .