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April 8, 2011 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

Championship Game, First Look: Minnesota-Duluth

News and Notes from Frozen Four Friday

by Dan Myers/CHN Staff

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Head coach Scott Sandelin played against that Bulldog team that was just one win away from a national title in Lake Placid, N.Y. in 1984. He was a sophomore defenseman for North Dakota, who lost to UMD 2-1 in overtime.

"I can never forget about that one, Bill Watson's on our staff and he scored the game-winning goal," Sandelin said. Watson was also the 1985 Hobey Baker Award winner. "He's mentioned that I was on the ice all the time. I told him, 'I had my guy.'"

Other notes

• Sandelin says his team is healthy heading into the championship game and he expects no line up changes. "Health is good," Sandelin said. "Certainly you have bumps and bruises which you should have this time of year."

• The coach was also pleased with Saturday's hour long on-ice session. "I thought it was a good, light-hearted practice," Sandelin said. "I thought we got some things done, we wanted to get them moving around and do some things we might focus on for tomorrow."

• Expect the Bulldogs to enter Saturday's game a little more relaxed than Thursday. Sandelin said it had been awhile since his team had played and attributed much of his team's shaky play over the game's first 10 minutes to nerves. "Starting two weeks ago, every game I've been apart of has been the biggest game of my life," said senior forward Kyle Schmidt. "Tomorrow night's going to be huge, so hopefully I got all the jitters out last night."

• Senior Travis Oleksuk said the team is excited to have finally reached the pinnacle of their season — winning the national championship has been the team's main goal since practice started over six months ago. "This is where we wanted to be, our end goal was we wanted to be here," Oleksuk said. "We need to approach this like any other game."

• The talk of the NCAA tournament has been UMD's potent power play, which has been the difference in getting them to the championship game. Sandelin admitted to watching the selection show and using the publicity — or lack thereof — to UMD's advantage. "I know watching the selection show, there was just a mention of who Union was playing," Sandelin said. "Our guys got a laugh out of that. Our power play didn't make that 24 percent cut like the other three teams."

• In the spirit of publicity, Sandelin said he hopes the college hockey world has taken notice. "We do have a strong tradition, we've had a lot of great players but when you're only in the Frozen Four for the fourth time, not a lot of people may know about you," Sandelin said. "Now, hopefully they do."

• Watch the Bulldogs and you will see most players on the team have chosen to dye their hair a platinum blonde — all except Schmidt, who chose to get blonde tips instead. Why? He plans to get married this summer and Sandelin joked he didn't want to ruin his wedding pictures. No word on whether Schmidt and Oleksuk, who are roommates, plan on discussing wedding plans in order to unwind this evening.

• Tomorrow night's game against Michigan will bring back memories from 10 years ago for Sandelin. The last time the Bulldogs and Wolverines faced off was in October of 2001 at the Maverick Stampede in Omaha, Sandelin's second game as head coach after taking over for Mike Sertich. "I remember calling my wife and I think she was more excited than me," Sandelin said.

• Sandelin didn't stick around after last night's win over Notre Dame, choosing to catch the Michigan-North Dakota game from the comforts of his hotel room. "I was a fan," Sandelin said. "I thought it was a great game."
 

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