Looking Back: North Dakota
by Derrik T. Sovak/CHN Correspondent
MILWAUKEE North Dakota was knocking on the door of a national championship for the second time in two years. UND coach Dave Hakstol led his team to Frozen Four appearances in each of his first two years as head coach.
Throughout that time, he has always said, "We're sticking to our game plan, playing the same way we've played all year." Even though the Sioux lost 6-5 to Boston College in the Frozen Four semifinals, Hakstol feels that his team played the way they always have, but admitted that the Sioux were beaten by a better team.
"They're a good team, they capitalized on the chances they had, and they did it a little better than we did," Hakstol said after Thursday's game.
North Dakota is built to go very far next season, but for now, the Sioux are still figuring out what happened this season. The Fighting Sioux are not used to playing teams like Boston College, and that fact was evident by the performance of the young Sioux defense.
"What surprised me the most was how offensive-minded the team was as a whole," said UND defenseman Taylor Chorney. "They were constantly trying to put the puck in the net, and they weren't backing off at all.
"They have a few guys, like any team does, that are fast and hard to play one-on-one."
Chorney's comments echoed junior defenseman, and team captain, Matt Smaby, who was burnt on a goal by Nathan Gerbe.
"I think (it) wasn't the most physical game we've played all year," Smaby said. "They are a smaller team, not the smallest team out there, but it was definitely hard to get a big hit on some of them."
North Dakota's game plan all season, and into seasons past, is to play the body first while keeping mind of where the puck is. Against BC, the Fighting Sioux looked like they were having a little trouble with their game plan.
Boston College played a more wide-open, offensive-minded game; not the physical type that UND would like to play. By keeping the puck moving, and keeping UND's obviously larger players off their backs, BC was able to make it to the final.
"We were aware of their style of game," Smaby said. "I don't think that we made all of the correct adjustments for that." He added, "We knew they were going to come out hard, but we didn't think we'd be heading into the locker room down 3-0 after the first period."
Chorney agreed, saying, "We gave them too many chances, and they scored on those chances. After we were down that much there wasn't much we could do."
The Sioux came within one during the second period, but were unable to tie, let alone grab the go-ahead goal.
Junior forward Drew Stafford was frustrated by the up and down tempo of the game. "They'd get one, then we'd get one — we made it a good game, but they just outplayed us," Stafford said.