Westin Michaud's adventurous trip to Lawson helped change a rule in the NCHC

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St. Cloud State goaltender David Hrenak (34) blocks a first period shot by UND's Westin Michaud Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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It used to be a common sight before college hockey games.

In empty arenas, roughly 70 minutes before the start of the game, a handful of players would go on the ice in their tennis shoes and stick-handle pucks, sometimes shooting them at a net or the boards or passing them with teammates.

That hasn't happened this season.

UND senior forward Westin Michaud is, in part, to blame.

An amusing incident during a first-round playoff series at Western Michigan's Lawson Ice Arena helped prompt the National Collegiate Hockey Conference to send out a new rule that asks players to remain off the ice until official pregame warmups or risk a penalty.


Michaud played for Colorado College last season. Prior to Game 1 of their playoff series, Michaud noticed that Western Michigan had nearly a dozen players on the ice before the games and would often shoot the puck across the red line and into Colorado College's end.

Michaud and Tiger goalie Alex Leclerc didn't like when it went into their net, so Michaud turned Colorado College's net around so Western Michigan players couldn't shoot the puck in the net. He then stayed on the ice longer than any Western Michigan players to make sure nothing changed.

Before Game 2, it heated up.

Both sides were shooting pucks across the red line. Before Michaud left the ice, he turned Colorado College's net upside down, so, once again, the Bronco players couldn't shoot it in the net. But after Michaud skated off the ice, one of the ice workers put the net back in its place and on its pegs.

One of the Western Michigan players shot the puck into Colorado College's net. Michaud saw it and wasn't very happy. So, he walked back on the ice and attempted to carry the net back to Colorado College's locker room.

Arena workers were yelling at Michaud to drop the net, but he didn't care.

"They weren't calling penalties," he said.

Michaud managed to squeeze part of the net through the small doorway in the corner before it got stuck. Arena workers eventually got it back on the ice and in its place.


Western Michigan's student section -- nicknamed the 'Lawson Lunatics' -- all watched this scene play out before both Games 1 and 2, making Michaud a target of their chants all weekend.

"I got in the penalty box a couple times that weekend, and once, I grabbed a water bottle and rinsed their whole student section," Michaud said. "It just escalated through the whole building. It was electric atmosphere. Good comedy. My parents were there and everybody knew who they were."

Players on both sides were told before Game 3 that they'd be penalized if they stepped on the ice before warmups. Both teams respected it. Colorado College won the series in three games. Michaud scored in the decisive third game, a 3-2 Tiger victory.

Then, the league sent out the new rule prior to this season that players can no longer be on the ice prior to warmups.

Michaud transferred to UND in the offseason, but the Lawson Lunatics didn't forget last year's incident when Michaud stepped on the ice for warmups last Friday.

"Oh, 100 percent, they remembered," said Michaud, who was once again a target of chants all weekend.

Michaud said he had fun with the Lunatics, even playing rock-paper-scissors with some of them before the game. Michaud again scored in Lawson as UND swept the two-game series.

"That's why I love playing there," Michaud said. "Their students are engaged. Little things like that get me going."

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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