December 31, 2010 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Sioux beat Bulldogs in Amsoil Opener

by Dan Myers/CHN Staff

DULUTH, Minn. — Thursday night's christening of Duluth's new Amsoil Arena was less like a hockey game and more like an old WWF Wrestlemania.

The game seemed secondary to the action surrounding it, as dignitaries from the storied past of UMD hockey returned to the North Shore to celebrate the rebirth of Bulldog hockey. Newly elected Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, dropped the ceremonial first puck and then moseyed about the press box granting interviews and talking hockey.

And once the game stated, some weird things happened too. While the boxscore will say the first period lasted 20 minutes, in reality, it lasted only 13:35. With just over six minutes remaining, UMD's Mike Connolly went to check North Dakota's Corban Knight into the nearside halfwall. He missed, and when Connolly hit the glass, it shattered on contact.

The fans went to a hockey game and a circus broke out.

"No excuses, we just didn't have it tonight," said UMD captain Mike Montgomery. "We're here to play a hockey game and tonight, it was a little bit of a circus, but at the end of the night, we just gotta play hockey and we didn't do a very good job of that."

When the game was actually going on, North Dakota controlled it. And in a night of firsts for the new arena, the hometown fans are still waiting for the first goal the local squad.

"It was the first run through of a lot of things, nobody really knew what was going on here or there," Montgomery said.

"If you're in the crowd, you feel like you got kicked in the gut," said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin. "But I still don't think at times tonight it seemed like a 5-0 game. We needed to come out with a little more emotion in the third period and I thought tonight, we were pretty flat."

Of course, the Fighting Sioux aren't new to this opening arenas thing. They opened Bemidji State's new arena Oct. 15 with a 5-2 victory. Fortunately for the rest of the WCHA, no new arenas are scheduled to open anytime in the near future.

"We were hoping to come in and mess up there show a little bit," said UND goaltender Aaron Dell, who stopped all 35 shots for his third career shutout. "It's always nice to come in and shut their crowd up a little bit. It kinda sucks for them."

For the Bulldogs, a year and a half's worth of build up and intrigue is finally finished. With a world class facility built and open, and with the return of impact defenseman Justin Faulk imminent from the World Junior tournament, the No. 4 ranked Bulldogs should be primed for the stretch run. Although Thursday's game will count in the Pairwise Rankings, luckily for them, it won't in their quest for a MacNaughton Cup and the No. 1 seed for the WCHA playoffs.

"It'll be nice to settle in now and get into more of a rhythm and get back on track," Montgomery said.

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