April 5, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

The Backbone

Genoway Fought Off Adversity to Lead North Dakota Back to Frozen Four

by Justin Magill/CHN Writer

Coming off a season where he was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, Chay Genoway and North Dakota appeared to be on track for another title run in the 2009-10 season.

In the ninth game of the season, with a 7-1-0 record, the captain of the Fighting Sioux had one of the nation's most storied programs running smoothly. But in a matter of seconds, Genoway's season was over when he was hit from behind by St. Cloud State's Aaron Marvin. A team that was under his watch had to do without its star — Genoway was diagnosed with a concussion that he wasn't able to recover from that season.

"I felt my season was taken away from me," Genoway said. "It didn't seem right not playing hockey and I was just determined to get back."

North Dakota went on a run late last season and became the second straight team to win three games in the WCHA Final Five and take home the Broadmoor Trophy. In a nice gesture, the Fighting Sioux captain, even though not dressed to play, went out on the ice to accept the trophy.

Fast forward to this year, Genoway was granted a medical redshirt to play in his fifth season after having his senior year cut short.

Not regarded as a Hober Baker candidate as he was a year ago, Genoway has taken on his role as leader on the ice once again and led North Dakota to three championships already this season. It has been a process of chipping away at each practice, each game, making sure to cross off each goal as the season progressed.

If the Fighting Sioux wins the national championship, which starts with a semifinal game against Michigan on Thursday, the script would be complete and satisfying for Genoway, who was removed from the game ever so abrubtly.

"It is what I came back for," Genoway said. "With the way things have gone this season, I knew I made the right decision. We have guys that work hard and are determined to win."

His calm personality and demeanor on the ice is one of the assets Genoway brings to the table. A highly-skilled defenseman, who can mix in a flair of offense, yet not get lost in his role as one of the best defensive players in the country.

"Chay (Genoway) is an easy person to cheer for," North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol said. "He is a great person to be around and deserves all the good things that happen to him.

"He does things the right way, plays the game the way it is supposed to be. When he came back and was healthy enough to play, there was no question Chay was going to go at it the way he has."

With teammates such as Matt Frattin taking home the individual honors and others having the spotlight whether positive or negative, Genoway has taken a back seat to it after an impressive junior season.

"It's all about what our team does from here on out," Genoway said. "We have won regular season and Final Five championships, but have yet to win the national title. I don't think things could get better than they are right now."

The Fighting Sioux have been at or near the top of the national rankings all season and have maintained their goal of staying in the present, which has worked well. It won the MacNaughton Cup, Broadmoor Trophy and Midwest Regional championships already.

What has become a tradition for its program, North Dakota had another late-season run, but was in position with a strong start to contend for the WCHA regular season title.

Last year, after Genoway went down the Fighting Sioux went in a lull until the second half of the season.

Now as the top-ranked team in the nation, Genoway's comeback has a chance to be complete — if he can lead his team to a national title, the program's eighth, and ride off in the sunset as one of the most respected players in Fighting Sioux hockey.

"You can't help but be happy for him," Hakstol said. "He had an unfortunate injury happen last year, so to have the season our team has had and Chay be a part of it is truly something special."

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