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UND and MSU are among five teams still vying for the MacNaughton Cup.
MHKY Travel Blog: It all comes down to this
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Updated: Monday 03/09/2013 16:56:43 (ET)
by Jayson Hajdu, UND Athletic Media Relations
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THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 2013

Bus Movie: The Town

3:31 p.m. -- We have arrived in Mankato for the final weekend of the regular season. Only two teams (one of which is UND) have clinched home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs and five teams (one of which is UND) remain in contention for the MacNaughton Cup as the league's regular season champions. No big deal, eh?

The bus pulled out of Engelstad Arena at about 8 a.m. and things were relatively uneventful, other than one unnamed underclassman asking me what Cracker Jack is. For real.

I also found that the drive to Mankato goes much quicker when you sleep for the first two and a half hours. Thanks, NyQuil.

The team will be walking over to the arena shortly for practice, and then it's off to team dinner after that.

In addition to what should be a tremendous hockey series, I'm also looking forward to catching up with a couple of my mentors: my predecessor, Dan Benson, who is now the University Relations director at MSU, and my colleague and fellow Canuck, Paul Allan, the longtime SID for the Mavericks.

I had the opportunity to work under Dan as both a student and full-time employee, and "PA" is one of the longest-tenured hockey SIDs in the country. I've learned a great deal from both over the years and it will be nice to visit with them both.

FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 2013

12:55 p.m. -- Happy gameday from sunny Mankato.

Balloting for the WCHA men's awards is due on Sunday and the talk of the team last night during and after dinner was league awards. The buzz wasn't about the men's awards though, which will be announced next Thursday, but the women's awards. Once word started circulating that UND's Jocelyne Lamoureux, the league's all-time leading scorer, was named to the All-WCHA Second Team, several men's players suddenly became interested in the voting process.

The men's players were unhappy with what they perceived to be a slight to one of the best female hockey players in the world. It was interesting to see how legitimately upset they were over Lamoureux being left off the first team. If fans ever wondered how much the men's program respects the women's program at UND, there's your answer.

6:16 p.m. -- Greetings from the Verizon Wireless Center, where I just watched UND's women's hockey team defeat Wisconsin 2-1 to advance to the WCHA Final Face-Off championship game and, hopefully, the NCAA tournament.

I might add that I had 3-4 players from the men's team huddled behind me, watching over my shoulder. Clearly it was a huge game for the ladies, and they came through. Again.

On to the men's game, which will see freshman Zane Gothberg start in goal. The only lineup change for UND is at left wing on the top two lines. Drake Caggiula will skate with Corban Knight and Danny Kristo, while Rocco Grimaldi will reunite with Carter Rowney and Michael Parks.

UND Lineup
Caggiula-Knight-Kristo
Grimaldi-Rowney-Parks
Mi. MacMillan-Ma. MacMillan-Gaarder
Rodwell-Pattyn-St. Clair

MacWilliam-Simpson
Forbort-Schmaltz
Mattson-Gleason

Gothberg
Saunders

SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 2013

4:54 -- Back at the Verizon Wireless Center for tonight's regular season finale.

UND survived a pretty good punch from Minnesota State last night, coming out on the right end of a 4-3 win. It wasn't a masterpiece, but as a senior Carter Rowney put it following the game, "A win is a win."

Tonight, one fairly significant change to the lineup as Brendan O'Donnell goes in for Drake Caggiula on the left side with Corban Knight and Danny Kristo. It will be the first game Caggiula has sat out all season.

UND Lineup
O'Donnell-Knight-Kristo
Grimaldi-Rowney-Parks
Mi. MacMillan-Ma. MacMillan-Gaarder
Rodwell-Pattyn-St. Clair

MacWilliam-Simpson
Forbort-Schmaltz
Mattson-Gleason

Gothberg
Saunders

We'll also be keeping an eye on the weather tonight. It has rained non-stop since last night, and up to an inch of snow is expected tonight, which could delay or postpone our trip back to Grand Forks. Again. But as of now, it's full steam ahead.

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