UND men's hockey: Home ice in the WCHA hangs in the balance

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- It has been 3,276 days since the UND men's hockey team has played a road game in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- It has been 3,276 days since the UND men's hockey team has played a road game in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

One-third of the current Sioux players were 10 years old on March 9, 2001, when Minnesota finished off a two-game sweep of UND on an overtime goal by Keith Ballard.

The longest streak of top-five WCHA finishes may be on the line this weekend, however, when UND takes on Colorado College at World Arena.

The teams are tied for the fifth and final spot for home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Both have four league games left in the regular season. This weekend, they're going head-to-head. UND closes at home against last-place Michigan Tech, while Colorado College closes with a home-and-home series against first-place Denver.

"It's hard to predict what's in store, but we have four games left to solidify home ice," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "Right now, the last three of those four don't matter. (Tonight) is an important one for us. We have to go into someone else's building and play very well."


Hard to beat on their homefront

That hasn't been easy to do in Colorado Springs. The Tigers, always a team built for speed, play on an Olympic-sized ice sheet and they use the extra 15 feet to their advantage. No team has come here and swept the Tigers in a regular-season series since the 2006-07 season.

But UND appears to be peaking, winning three games in a row over top-10 ranked teams by a combined score of 18-4. In those three games, the Sioux have made up six points on the Tigers.

"The whole time, we were still in a position where we controlled our own destiny," UND forward Brett Hextall said. "We knew that if we played well enough, we could earn that spot. Now, it comes down to us and CC this weekend. I don't think anyone really has to say how big it is for that spot."

If UND and Colorado College finish tied in the standings, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition. If they split this weekend, the next tiebreaker will be most conference wins (they currently have identical 11-10-3 WCHA marks). The third tiebreaker would be goal differential in conference games. UND is plus-31. Colorado College is plus-eight.

Recruits get high marks

A pair of UND recruits have been named the rookies of the year in their junior leagues and another one has been tabbed as the top 2010 college hockey recruit in the country.

Dillon Simpson, a 16-year-old defenseman from Edmonton, is the rookie of the year in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Despite being the second-youngest defenseman in the league, he was one of the top blue line scorers with 10 goals and 31 assists.


Brendan O'Donnell, a 17-year-old forward from Winnipeg, is the rookie of the year in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. O'Donnell is the top rookie scorer in the league.

Defenseman recruit Derek Forbort, a Duluth product currently playing with the U.S. Under-18 team, has been named the top 2010 recruit in the country by Red Line Report also projected Forbort as the No. 4 overall pick in this summer's draft.

WCHA looking into hit

Aaron Marvin, the St. Cloud State player who illegally checked Chay Genoway in November causing the UND captain to suffer a concussion, is under scrutiny again because of a hit that occurred last weekend.

Marvin put a check on Wisconsin captain Blake Geoffrion last Saturday that left the league's top goal scorer with a concussion. Marvin attempted to hit Geoffrion from the side, but his shoulder caught Geoffrion's head. Geoffrion fell to the ground and didn't play in the last half of the game.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Geoffrion will not play this weekend as the Badgers travel to Michigan Tech. No suspension had been announced as of Thursday afternoon, but the league previously said it would crack down on hits to the head.

Genoway still hasn't played for the Sioux and there is no timetable on a possible return.



This weekend's games won't be televised. They are available through a webcast on The Herald also will have a live blog going at . . Just as UND did last weekend, Colorado College will celebrate an anniversary of a national champion team. Four members of the 1950 national championship Tiger squad are expected to be in World Arena on Saturday. . . The college career of Roseau, Minn., native Brian McMillin is coming to a close. The Colorado College senior is having his best year with six goals and six assists in 31 games.

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

UND at Colorado College

When: 8:37 tonight, 8:07 p.m. Saturday.

Where: World Arena, Colorado Springs.

Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).

Records: UND 16-11-5 (11-10-3 WCHA); Colorado College 17-12-3 (11-10-3).

Of note: UND and Colorado College are tied for fifth, the final spot for home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

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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