UND MEN'S HOCKEY: Sioux eye another Broadmoor title

ST. PAUL -- Only one team has had a chance to check out the Broadmoor Trophy since it was redesigned after the 2009 season. The hardware, in the shape of the famous Colorado Springs hotel, has found a home at UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena for the...

UND Sioux logo
UND Sioux logo

ST. PAUL -- Only one team has had a chance to check out the Broadmoor Trophy since it was redesigned after the 2009 season.

The hardware, in the shape of the famous Colorado Springs hotel, has found a home at UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena for the past 24 months.

The Sioux are back-to-back Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff champions. They've won 10 straight league playoff games -- tying the longest streak in the last 17 years. And while they won't be the favorite when the WCHA Final Five begins today, they expect to have a target on their back.

"I think whenever someone is the defending champ of anything, whether it's league play or the playoff championship, you have a little extra on the line," junior Joe Gleason said. "I think that most teams always give us their hardest game. That's just the style of game we play and teams play against us."

The Sioux, who take on St. Cloud State in a quarterfinal game at 7:07 tonight in the Xcel Energy Center, have mastered the month of March in recent years.


Since 2010, they are 19-2 in March.

Junior goaltender Aaron Dell is 7-1 with a 1.07 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage during his eight-career March starts. Senior goalie Brad Eidsness is 10-2 with a 1.76 GAA and a .929 save percentage in March during his career.

"It's always an exciting tournament," said Eidsness, who has been splitting starts with Dell. "It's a great celebration of college hockey and the strengths of our game.

"We just have to continue playing the way we've been playing. We have to play to our strengths. St. Cloud is playing really well over there. I don't think we're going to change too many things up. We're pretty much where we're at."

Although UND (22-12-3) has had plenty of success in March and at the Final Five, the team won't be taking that into consideration this weekend.

"We don't look past anything and we don't look in the past," Sioux defenseman Joe Gleason said. "That was an unbelievable thing to do for my freshman and sophomore years -- to win that tournament -- but every year is a new year. You can't look at that at all. It's not a factor at all."

Pairwise talk

There's plenty of added incentive for UND this weekend. The Sioux want to strengthen their case to make the NCAA tournament.


UND currently sits at No. 11 in the Pairwise Rankings. If the Sioux lose to the Huskies, there's still a 63 percent chance that they finish there, which would secure an NCAA bid, according to Jim Dahl of -- an expert on the rankings.

But a loss would force the Sioux to sit back and hope there aren't upset winners in other conference tournaments, which award automatic bids to the NCAA tournament to playoff champions.

"Right now, everything is on the line," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "We've got to keep winning in order to get into the tournament. This is a real important night for us. I believe a win (tonight) may not completely get us there, but would go a long way to securing a national tournament berth. It also would give us a chance to play again Friday in the Xcel Energy Center."

According to Dahl's calculations, UND can mathematically secure an NCAA bid if the Sioux beat St. Cloud State and Denver beats Michigan Tech today.

Mike Lee is back

St. Cloud State goaltender Mike Lee, who led Roseau High School to a state championship in the Xcel Energy Center and helped the Huskies to their only NCAA victory in program history in the building, heads to the Final Five as the hottest goalie in the league.

Lee has a 1.68 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage during his last six starts.

The junior missed a couple of months with a lower-body injury. In his absence, St. Cloud State went 8-9-3. However, they are 7-2-1 in the last 10 games.


Lee's save percentage of .930 for the season leads the WCHA.

Next up on his list: Break through the UND hex.

Lee is 0-5-1 in his career against the Sioux and has been pulled in two of those starts. He was in net for the 2010 WCHA championship game, which UND won 5-3.

St. Cloud State backup goalie Ryan Faragher stopped 85 of 86 shots in his two victories over the Sioux this season. Lee missed all four games between UND and St. Cloud State.

"They're a tenacious, hard-working team," Hakstol said. "They have real good skill throughout their lineup. (Nick) Jensen really brings some offense from the back end, along with a couple of other guys. And since Mike Lee has come back, their goaltending has gotten even more solid. They are a complete hockey team playing hard and they are hard to play against."

Home dominance

For the second year in a row, UND finished with the best home record in the WCHA.

The Sioux lost just four of 22 games in Ralph Engelstad Arena, posting a mark of 15-4-3 (.750) in its home rink. They ended the season on an eight-game home unbeaten streak.


UND's mark edged Minnesota (17-6, .739) for the best home record this season.

Last season, UND went 15-4-1 (.775), edging Denver's mark of 16-4-2 (.772).

"Every year I've been here, we've had a lot of success at home," goalie Brad Eidsness said. "Part of it is the fans. They play a huge role. It's a really tough building for teams to come into. It's probably not the easiest place to get to, either. Every team has a bit of a trip and I don't think it's an enjoyable trip for a lot of teams when they get here.

"It's a great place to play. It's certainly a building I'm upset that I don't get to play in again."

UND has gone five straight years without losing more than five home games, going 72-21-11 (.745) in that stretch.

"It's a place where our guys take a lot of pride in developing and holding a home-ice advantage," Hakstol said. "I think our fans are a huge factor in that. This is an exciting place for our guys to play and call home. We take a lot of pride in doing that -- defending our home ice and making sure this is a tough building for other teams to come into."

Selection Sunday

The 16-team NCAA tournament field will be announced at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU.


The selection show will be broadcasted by ESPN's John Buccigross, Barry Melrose and Aaron Ward.

The four regional sites are St. Paul, Green Bay, Wis., Worcester, Mass., and Bridgeport, Conn.

Minnesota is hosting the regional at the Xcel Energy Center, which means they are guaranteed to be placed there. The Gophers have missed three consecutive NCAA tournaments -- two of which they hosted regionals.

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

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