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MIDWEST REGIONAL NOTEBOOK: UND goalie happy to be close to home

CINCINNATI--When Cam Johnson saw the announcement that UND was headed to Ohio, he wasn't disappointed. Most of his teammates would have preferred to stay close to home and play in front of a large UND crowd in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, but n...

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Christian Wolanin (24) andAustin Poganski (14) attempt to get one past Cam Johnson (33) during practiceThursday afternoon at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald

CINCINNATI-When Cam Johnson saw the announcement that UND was headed to Ohio, he wasn't disappointed.

Most of his teammates would have preferred to stay close to home and play in front of a large UND crowd in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, but not Johnson.

"It's pretty close to home, so I'll get to see some family again, which is always nice," said Johnson, who is from Troy, Mich. "I don't mind playing in Ohio."

Johnson played four games this season in the state of Michigan in front of his family and friends, and he was tremendous in all four of them. He went 4-0-0, allowing just three goals in sweeping at Michigan State and at Western Michigan.

Johnson stopped 116 of 119 in his home state for a .975 save percentage. He also went 5-0-1 in the Eastern time zone this season, while his team went 7-0-1 in the Eastern time zone.

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Memories for Madigan

Northeastern coach Jim Madigan was a player on the only Husky team ever to reach the NCAA Frozen Four in 1982.

Northeastern lost to North Dakota 6-2 in the semifinals. That UND team went on to win the national championship.

He said that was in the back of his mind as his team prepared for today's game against the Fighting Hawks. Madigan said he got calls from former teammates this week.

"I have special memories of that 1981-82 team that won a championship in the East and we went through a real strong Bowling Green team," Madigan said. "Then, we played North Dakota. I think they had 10 guys who played in the National Hockey League. They were much bigger and more physical, tougher and meaner than we were."

Madigan said he's focused on this year's matchup, though.

"We are trying to win a national championship. North Dakota is the first game we have to win to advance, so that part is special. In the back of my mind, yeah, that would be nice for me. My teammates from the '82 team have contacted me and brought up the fact that we lost to them. They were much better than us. But yeah, it would be a bit special."

Shootout magic

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UND's practice was uneventful at U.S. Bank Arena, except for the weekly shootout drill.

For the second year in a row, associate coach Dane Jackson won the shootout at the regional. He also won it in Fargo last season.

Including Brad Berry's shootout victory at the NCAA Frozen Four in Boston last season, an assistant coach has won the past three NCAA tournament shootouts.

Ice time

UND players didn't complain about the ice conditions of U.S. Bank Arena, which is usually home to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the East Coast Hockey League.

"The ice is nice," Johnson said. "The rink is a little warm, but the Target Center was warm last weekend. It's not a huge adjustment. It's kind of colder than last weekend, so that's nice."

Notes and quotes

XXX Two players didn't make the trip for UND. Goalie Matej Tomek and forward Mike Gornall both stayed back in Grand Forks because of illness. UND didn't want to risk the rest of the team getting sick.

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XXX A couple of UND players are very familiar with Northeastern star forward Kevin Roy. Paul LaDue and Luke Johnson both played with him for a season with the Lincoln Stars in the United States Hockey League. Roy was the league's most valuable player that season.

XXX There are no players from Ohio in the NCAA Midwest Regional.

XXX A familiar fan attended practice Thursday morning. Danny Cooper, a UND alum who lives in the area, was there with his green UND flag, just as he is for all of the team's trips to Ohio.

XXX Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said travel was a primary issue with Hockey East and a major reason why he gave athletic director Jack Swarbrick his blessing to move to the Big Ten beginning in 2017. "We've been snowed in, got delays going in and out and so did our opponents," he said.

XXX Jackson on trying to stop Michigan's top line: "You can't change the way you play and try to do something different. If we play well, we'll have to make sure we do a good job possessing the puck. If we turn pucks over, that's what makes them better."

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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