THURSDAY, FEB. 23, 2012
11:20 a.m. MT -- Greetings from Magness Arena in Denver.
UND will practice in about 40 minutes time, which is several hours earlier than the typical Thursday road practice. That's because the team took a charter flight out of Grand Forks late last night in order to have a full Thursday of preparation.
Our flight left at about 9:30 p.m. Central and we were in Denver within about 90 minutes. The bus ride from the Denver airport to our hotel actually took about one-third as long. But all told, two hours from Grand Forks to Denver? Sure beats an early-morning alarm clock, or dealing with all that comes with traveling via commercial airline.
As head coach Dave Hakstol mentioned on Wednesday, Aaron Dell is back practicing and made the trip. His playing status isn't yet known for this weekend. Denver native Tate Maris made the trip as well and would once again serve as Brad Eidsness' backup if Dell doesn't suit up.
Things will get busier tomorrow once the crew from NBC Sports Network rolls into town for Friday's game. As a native Canadian who grew up watching TSN, it'll be neat to have Gord Miller calling our game. Gord was in Grand Forks for the World Junior Championship in 2005 and, by all accounts, was a complete gentleman and professional to work with.
Then on Saturday night, Root Sports Rocky Mountain moves in. So plenty of television dealings for the players and coaches this weekend. Hopefully both viewing audiences are treated to two typical UND-DU battles.
FRIDAY, FEB. 24, 2012
11:19 a.m. MT -- Checking in again from Magness Arena while the team goes through its morning skate.
There were a couple of friendly faces in the stands yesterday during practice. Bill LeCaine, a Fighting Sioux Legends Wall honoree, was at practice and had a chance to catch up with head coach Dave Hakstol.
Also, 2011 senior Jake Marto was in the arena and spent some time with the players following practice. Jake is now playing with the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL, where he is teammates with fellow former Sioux Aaron Schneekloth and Michael Forney. Marto has also had a pair of stints this season with St. John's of the AHL.
Today, Denver native Tate Maris' father is taking in the morning skate along with one of Tate's old coaches.
6:31 p.m. MT -- Brad Eidsness will make his third straight start tonight. Aaron Dell, who did not dress last weekend, will be in the lineup tonight as Eidsness' backup. Junior Tate Maris will not dress.
Otherwise, UND is going with an identical lineup from last weekend against Michigan Tech.
29 Nelson--10 Knight--7 Kristo
16 MacMillan--27 Rowney--15 Parks
28 Pattyn--9 Lamoureux--20 Gleason
8 Senkbeil--13 Gaarder--14 Dickin
4 Forbort--24 Blood
2 MacWilliam--5 Mattson
18 Simpson--22 Panzarella
Scratches: Rodwell, Grimaldi, O'Donnell, Maris
SATURDAY, FEB. 25, 2012
5:30 p.m. MT -- The injury hits keep on coming for UND. Sophomore Taylor Dickin (lower body) will not play tonight, meaning that for an absured sixth time this season, the Sioux sill be forced to dress fewer than 18 skaters.
Tonight UND is without the services of five players (Rodwell, Dickin, Grimaldi, O'Donnell, St. Clair), three of whom are National Hockey League draft picks.
But, as they have done all season, UND will forge ahead without batting an eye. Dave Hakstol is going with the same lineup as last night, minus Dickin. Brad Eidsness will make his fourth straight start between the pipes.
Dickin told me earler tonight that he missed a game earlier this year with a similar injury. By my count, after tonight eight Sioux players will have combined to miss 73 games due to injury this season.
Back to hockey. The buzz downstairs after last night's game was the tremendous showing of Sioux fans in Magness Arena. If you haven't already done so, check out last night's game recap for interviews with Hakstol and Joe Gleason. Both were visibly moved by the continued support of, as Gleason called them, the "best fans in the nation."
Several scouts were also in attendance, including Jacques Martin of the Montreal Canadiens.
SUNDAY, FEB. 26, 2012
1:28 p.m. CT -- I typically don't update the ol' travel blog after the Saturday game, but this road trip didn't exactly end in typical fashion.
The plan was to charter back to Grand Forks immediately following last night's game. However, the pilots deemed it too unsafe due to high winds, so we checked back into our hotel and spent an additional night in Denver.
The alarm clock went off shortly before 7 a.m. Mountain and after a quick breakfast at the hotel, it was back on the bus. We were on the plane somtime between 8:30 and 9, and took off shortly after 9. I can't say for sure, because I was out like a light before we even taxied. Three days (and nights) catching up with one's best friend will do that to a guy. The last thing I remember is an announcement by the pilot declaring, "It's still a little wintery back in Grand Forks." You don't say?
Despite the snowy weather, the flight went off without a hitch and we landed at about 12:30 p.m. Central. On Saturday the temperature approached 60 degrees in Denver. Here? Not so much.
But it sure is nice to be home!