UND assistant athletics director for media relations Jayson Hajdu takes Fighting Sioux fans behind the scenes with his men's hockey travel blog during each road trip of the 2010-11 season.
THURSDAY, OCT. 14
9:29 p.m. -- BAM! That's the sound that awoke me from a deep -- and I mean DEEP -- nap on the bus this afternoon just outside of Erskine, Minn. The sound was unmistakable: our bus had been hit. As I shook the nap grogginess, the only question was 'What exactly hit us?'
It turned out that while our bus made it's precautionary stop in front of a railway crossing, we were slammed into from behind by a car at a fairly high speed. Apparently, the driver was a beet truck driver heading home from his shift and had dozed off at the wheel. By the time he opened his eyes, it was too late to react.
Amazingly, the driver seemed to have escaped serious injury. You wouldn't have known it by looking at the car, which was totaled. Everyone on the bus was fine, although the players who were sitting in the back row are a little sore after being jarred pretty significantly.
Once it was clear everyone was okay, associate head coach Cary Eades, never one to pass up the chance for a good one-liner, quipped, "They've gotta crack down on all this hitting from behind." It was a light moment in what could have been a very, very bad situation. Coach Eades had been one of the first people off the bus and immediately checked on the driver, who insisted he was fine.
The bus was leaking coolant, so we had to wait approximately an hour for an area school bus to pick us up and take us the rest of the way to Bemidji. It was interesting to watch 20-plus players fiddling with various high-tech gadgets ranging from laptops to iPhones to iPods while jammed into a little yellow school bus.
The eery part of the whole situation is prior to leaving Engelstad Arena, Derrick LaPoint, Brad Eidsness and myself were discussing the horrific 1986 Swift Current Broncos bus crash, as well as our own personal harrowing bus tales we've experienced over the years. With the thousands upon thousands of bus trips taken by teams each year, often through dark nights and on wintery roads, it's amazing there aren't more accidents.
So here is a tip of the hat to Gerry Eggers and all of the other bus drivers who keep our Fighting Sioux teams safe on the highways each year.
On a lighter note, we dropped the gear off before dinner and got our first look of the Bemidji Regional Event Center. Bob Peters and the entire BSU community should be very proud. It's a beautiful arena and it looks like it will trap the noise very well.
I'm looking forward to a memorable weekend on the ice.
FRIDAY, OCT. 15
10:21 a.m. - Good morning from the Bemidji Regional Event Center.
My mom e-mailed me last night to let me know I had spelled 'leaking' wrong in my first blog entry. Just goes to show you're never too old to learn something from your mom. For the record, I do know that it's 'leaking,' not 'leeking.' I blame my fat fingers.
Anyway, I had someone ask me via Twitter (shameless plug alert: www.twitter.com/undsid) if the Sioux would be ready. I think so. Morning skate is all business right now, so I'll take that as a good sign. There will be a lot of hoopla surrounding the game, so I would think whichever team can best keep its focus on the actual game can use the first 10 minutes to its advantage. Just something to watch.
2:49 p.m. - I just received confirmation that this weekend's series will be available on most Midcontinent Cable systems in North Dakota on channel 597.
I understand many are frustrated by the lack of television details this week, but we've been having a heck of a time trying to get availability confirmation. The last thing we'd want to do is announce any sort of TV arrangements that haven't yet been confirmed. It would only cause greater confusion.
So that's the TV scoop for now. Don't forget, you can also catch Tim Hennessy's call of the game on the Fighting Sioux Radio Network (96.1 FM in Grand Forks). Live audio of the broadcast is free at FightingSioux.com. You can also join myself and the Grand Forks Herald's Brad Schlossman for our live in-game chat tonight on FightingSioux.com.
3:57 p.m. - Let's try this again since, apparently, my last crack at this entry didn't save.
I decided to come to the rink early to check out the women's game between BSU and top-ranked Mercyhurst. After waiting more than 35 minutes for a taxi that said it'd be there in 10-15, I decided to hoof it. It's a beautiful walk along the lake from the hotel to the arena, but not long after I started, Coach Eades drove by and gave me a lift. Impeccable timing, as always.
On my way in to the arena I ran into none other than Rob Bollinger, who was obviously beaming with pride while showing some people around the concourse. Rob is a busy man today so there wasn't time but for a 'hello' and a handshake, but hopefully I can catch up with him at some other point this weekend.
There are a pair of Fighting Sioux ties in the women's game. Former UND two-sport star Casie Hanson (hockey, softball), one of the most decorated student-athletes to even wear the Kelly green and white, is now a graduate assistant coach with BSU. And on the Mercyhurst is bench is former UND assistant Paul Colontino, now the associate head coach for the top-ranked Lakers. Paul is a good friend and one of the best people in college athletics, and I'm looking forward to catching up on old times later tonight.
10:59 p.m. - Prior to the season, UND head coach Dave Hakstol was not shy about predicting big years from forwards Matt Frattin and Jason Gregoire. It's officially time to believe the hype. Frattin and Gregoire were once again the best players on the ice (Corban Knight was no slouch either) in UND's 5-2 win at Bemidji State tonight.
The explosive Frattin notched his second career hat trick while the steady Gregoire chipped in with a pair.
This morning at breakfast, Coach Eades called Frattin to our table, showed him some video on his laptop and implored Frattin to shoot the puck more often.
"Don't worry about being selfish," Eades pleaded, "just shoot the puck whenever you get the chance."
Frattin, who possesses one of the heaviest shots in college hockey, obliged. Two of his three goals were on rocket wrist shots from the blueline while on the power-play. He finished the night with seven shots on goal and dominated in every way imaginable. The Edmonton, Alberta, native now has 14 goals in his last 16 games dating back to the Saturday night game in St. Cloud last February.
Gregoire, meanwhile, did his thing in all three zones, scored twice at even strength and played a big role in a penalty kill unit that went 4-for-4.
If those two can bring those kind of performances every night, UND will have at minimum two reliable scoring lines to turn to.
SATURDAY, OCT. 16
6:30 p.m. - Thirty minuntes to game time. I apologize for the lack of bloggage, but today was about as uneventful as a game day on the road could be.
The Sioux women just wrapped up a road sweep of third-ranked Minnesota today, the program's first ever wins over the Gophers. A giant stick salute for Brian Idalski, his staff and his players for a milestone achievement. UND has already knocked off the nation's No. 1, 3 and 4 teams this year. Wow.
Coach Idalski has brought the program a long way in a short time and it is nice to see his hard work paying off.
While I celebrate today's sweep with pride and excitement, I can't help but think of some of the dark days the program has previously gone through. I was the team's media relations director in those early years and I saw first-hand how incredibly difficult those hard times were on several people I'm proud to call friends. Their efforts in getting the program off the ground should not be forgotten.
Time to start the gameday chat. Please join us!