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UND tangles with first-place Minnesota this weekend.
MHKY Travel Blog: Sioux-Gophers week
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Updated: Monday 01/31/2012 12:09:37 (ET)
by Jayson Hajdu, UND Athletic Media Relations
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THURSDAY, NOV. 3

9:18 p.m. -- My apologies for not having this up sooner.

During the team's first road trip to Wisconsin, I clearly wasn't in midseason form and, um, forgot to do the travel blog. I wish I had a more interesting excuse.

Then today, I woke up on the bus with a massive headache that put me down for the count until practice was nearly over. Thankfully, the players are far tougher than I am. I can report that I rebounded in time for the Thursday steak dinner. Chalk one up to the recuperative powers of free red meat.

Pretty smooth trip so far for the team, though. Freshman defenseman Nick Mattson won the Thursday shootout with a highlight-reel effort. The staff was still talking about it at dinner.

Former Sioux defenseman and current Anaheim Duck Matt Smaby, who is currently on the shelf with a wrist injury, attended Thursday's practice at Mariucci Arena. Smaby will be out of action for a couple of months and will be taking in Friday's game.

It's been a relatively quiet week around the rink considering it is Sioux-Gophers week. The players and coaches are typically low-key anyway, but even media-wise it seemed quieter than usual.

Let's call it the calm before tomorrow's storm.

FRIDAY, NOV. 4

9:13 a.m. -- The fire alarm in the hotel went off shortly after 7 a.m.

And did I mention all of the early morning construction right outside the hotel?

That is all.

5:27 p.m. -- After a solid morning skate, we're finally approaching game time.

In lineup news for UND, freshman Rocco Grimaldi is out tonight. While the defensive corps and goaltending situation remains the same, Grimaldi's absence has resulted in some shuffling up front:

MacMillan-Knight-Kristo
Lamoureux-Rowney-Rodwell
Dickin-Nelson-Parks
Senkbeil-Pattyn-Gleason

Forbort-Blood
MacWilliam-Mattson
Simpson-Panzarella

Dell
Eidsness

Be sure to follow @UNDMHockey for live Twitter updates throughout the weekend.

SATURDAY, NOV. 5

10:32 a.m. -- Well, I can confirm preliminary reports that the sun did indeed come up this morning.

It's easy to be critical after any kind of loss -- we're all guilty of it at times -- but I saw a lot of positives in last night's game, and two in particular stuck with me.

I'll start with the play of Aaron Dell. Dell looked absolutely locked in right from the first shot he faced. With goaltending like Dell provided, UND will have a chance to win every night.

I also continue to be highly impressed by the play of senior defenseman Ben Blood. He is an All-WCHA first team candidate and his play has really reflected that the past few series. His point totals will never jump out and grab anyone, but the way he is controlling the play in the defensive zone reminds me a lot of David Hale in his final season at UND. It's a rare trait for a rugged defenseman to be able to control a game without hitting the scoresheet -- Chris Pronger comes to mind at the NHL level -- but Blood is doing it right now and I'm going to enjoy watching it for the rest of his senior season.

The players are in the middle of the morning skate. It's a new day and a new attitude. There is good energy around the rink. Hopefully that translates to a W and a split tonight.

--------

Brad Schlossman and I discussed this long and hard last night, and we are going to slightly tweak how we approach the in-game chats.

When things aren't going well on the ice, the chats have a tendency to get off track pretty quickly. That isn't any fun for us as moderators, but more importantly it isn't any fun for all of the fans who are trying to have meaningful dialogue with fellow fans.

Beginning tonight, we will be focusing more on pushing through comments that are constructive and stimulate meaningful discussion. Do not interpret that as a ban on critical comments. Those will still be allowed if constructive.. It only means fewer "ranting" comments will make it through, because those are the ones that end up derailing the conversation and distract people from the game.

As Schlossman said so well last night, "I'm tired of being a counselor every Friday and Saturday. Let's get back to talking hockey."

6:07 p.m. -- Good news for a Sioux team struggling to score goals: freshman Rocco Grimaldi is in the lineup tonight. He'll take Taylor Dickin's spot on the left side with Brock Nelson and Michael Parks.

Aaron Dell will also make his fifth straight start in goal.

MacMillan-Knight-Kristo
Lamoureux-Rowney-Kristo
Grimaldi-Nelson-Parks
Senkbeil-Pattyn-Gleason

Forbort-Blood
MacWilliam-Mattson
Simpson-Panzarella

Dell
Eidsness

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