Sioux Building Momentum, One Title at a Time
by Dan Myers/CHN Staff
ST. PAUL, Minn. Unlike any team in recent WCHA memory, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux seem like a team on a mission.
Led by a group of seven seniors, including Hobey Baker top-10 finalist Matt Frattin, North Dakota continued its impressive WCHA run, defeating Denver 3-2 in double overtime at the Xcel Energy Center to capture its second Broadmoor Trophy in as many years — and its second trophy of the 2010-11 season.
While teams always prefer to peak as the playoffs begin, the Fighting Sioux seem to be reaching a new peak on a nightly basis.
Take this weekend for example.
After dispatching WCHA bottom feeders Bemidji State and Michigan Tech (the Huskies on consecutive weekends), some questioned whether the Sioux would be mentally ready to handle playing the best the WCHA has to offer.
Playing without its second-leading scorer all weekend, North Dakota answered that question in impressive fashion, dispatching Colorado brethren Colorado College and Denver — both headed to the NCAA tournament — on consecutive nights. All of this with virtually nothing to play for and a No. 1 seed all but assured, something which has tripped up other coasting top seeds in the past.
"All season long, this team has had a clear set of goals that has not left our locker room," said UND head coach Dave Hakstol. "Anybody can make goals. But not every group is willing to put in the hard work and do the little things to accomplish those goals. These [seniors] are willing to do that."
Frattin worked overtime both nights to make up for the absence of forward Jason Gregoire. Frattin scored the game winner both nights — his 34th and 35th of the season, respectively — en route to being named the Final Five's most valuable player. He also added an assist on the weekend.
"That was probably the biggest goal I've scored in my four years of college here," Frattin said of Saturday's winner, a shot which came off a deflected shot from the point.
It's been that kind of run for Frattin, who is now scoring in bunches. Much of the night Saturday — and over the Fighting Sioux's now 13-game unbeaten run (UND last lost Jan. 28) — the puck has somehow seemed to find Frattin's stick in scoring areas. He rifled a pair of snap shots off the post earlier in the game Saturday.
"We have a rule on our team, anyone who carries the puck into the offensive zone with Frattin has to give him the puck," joked Hakstol afterwards. "Evan [Trupp], Matt and Brad [Malone] have a something special going on. The goal they scored last night was a real chemistry goal. Evan knew exactly where he was going with the puck before he even got there, he put it to an area and Matt knew what area to go to.
"It certainly wasn't a surprise that if we were going to get the OT winner tonight, it was going to be one of those three in on it."
So set is North Dakota on washing last year's early NCAA tournament loss out of their mouths, the Fighting SIoux continued what has become a bit of a superstition the last couple of weeks. When the captains were called to accept the Broadmoor Trophy, the seniors all went and posed for a photo with league commissioner Bruce McLeod. Just like last weekend with the MacNaughton Cup, however, nobody touched the championship trophy. They employed an equipment manager to carry the trophy from the table to the ice to pose for a championship photo at center ice.
"There was a little tension there. Aaron Dell almost swiped it when he came into the pile," said senior defenseman Derrick LaPointe. "We won the MacNaughton Cup and we decided as a senior class we weren't going to touch it."
One of the national favorites to capture the big trophy in the very same arena three weeks from now, LaPoint said the group is working towards carrying one trophy around the ice this season.
"We're just saving hopefully for the biggest one."