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Sioux make bid for title; Bulldogs make strides for respectability

The pupil came to study at the foot of the master last weekend. Score two for the master. UMD coach Scott Sandelin obviously intends to institute the same principles that have made North Dakota the dominant team in the WCHA, principles Sandelin h...

The pupil came to study at the foot of the master last weekend. Score two for the master.
UMD coach Scott Sandelin obviously intends to institute the same principles that have made North Dakota the dominant team in the WCHA, principles Sandelin helped enforce during his six years as Dean Blais' assistant with the Fighting Sioux. It was no surprise that North Dakota beat the Bulldogs both games, 5-3 and 5-2, but both games were hard-fought, showing both how far UMD has come under Sandelin, and also underscoring just how far the Bulldogs have to go.
"It takes a little while to adjust, but I thought we played a little better, and a little smarter," said Sandelin. "The kids battled and worked hard. We've played some good games against some very good teams. But we're getting better. Instead of getting no bounces, we got some bounces."
The Bulldogs put up a stirring battle both nights, but dropped to 1-7 in WCHA play, going into this weekend's nonconference trip to Vermont, where they will play New Hampshire and Vermont. The Fighting Sioux extended their unbeaten surge to seven games (6-0-1), and are 7-2-1, a point behind first-place Minnesota, a team the Sioux beat and tied last week.
Outside of the existing Engelstad Arena, which might be the best college hockey rink in the country, several of the largest cranes ever seen in the nation towered above the erector-set skeletal array of parts a couple of blocks away, which will be the new Engelstad Arena, by far the best college hockey arena in the land. It will be an $80-million structure, with 48 suites -- 46 of which have already been sold at $28,000 for three years. There will be granite floors with marble inlays, tiled walls, and it will have 350 television sets showing the patrons what's going on, even while they're at concession stands or in the rest rooms.
Meanwhile, UMD can't quite match that for off-ice clout. The Bulldogs are still trying to figure out how to get a modest structure built on campus, but that's far from Sandelin's concern at the present time. He is simply striving for getting his players all headed in the same direction, hopefully the direction North Dakota has been taking for the last four years, during which they've won three league titles and a runner-up slot, plus two NCAA championships.
Sandelin has stressed a no-nonsense, work-ethic code of discipline, off the ice and on. For the weekend, the Bulldogs worked consistently hard, but, as Sandelin knows only too well, teams don't outwork North Dakota under Blais. While the Bulldogs worked hard, the Sioux worked hard and scored goals.
Sophomore goaltender Rob Anderson extricated himself from Sandelin's doghouse with his performance both nights. He played the first game and was nothing short of spectacular, holding the Bulldogs in the game despite being outshot 44-17, and the outcome was uncertain until Ryan Bayda's empty-net goal with 16 seconds to go for the 5-3 score.
Mark Carlson, Nate Anderson and Jon Francisco got the goals, bringing UMD back from deficits of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 to make it close. But the Sioux got goals from Bryan Lundbohm -- who was inexplicably left alone for several seconds -- and from Tim Skarperud, Trevor Hammer, Jason Notermann and Bayda.
After the first game, Sandelin acknowledged that a disciplinary move had rendered Anderson to the second man in the goaltending rotation with freshman Adam Coole just before Game 1 at Minnesota. But, Sandelin obviously wasn't about to hold any grudge, and when Anderson played well in the second game against Michigan Tech, he gave him his start at North Dakota. In that second Tech game, Sandelin also benched captain Derek Derow and awarded the captaincy to defenseman Andy Reierson.
Derow didn't exactly come out flying in the first game at North Dakota, and he played sparingly after the first period. Meanwhile, right after the first Sioux game, Michael Miskovich waited in the hallway outside the UMD dressing room to talk to Sandelin. "Miskie wanted to apologize for not keeping the puck in the zone," said Sandelin.
In the second game, Miskovich was rewarded for his diligence by scoring the first goal to give UMD a 1-0 lead, and Derow seemed to buy into the message with a hustling performance that began with an assist on the play. However, penalty problems bedeviled the Bulldogs. Ace Sioux defenseman Travis Roche tied it with a power-play goal before the first period ended, and Bayda and Lundbohm made it 3-1 with two more power-play goals on Coole in the second period.
Later in the second period, Coole stopped the goal-crashing rush of Kevin Spiewak, but suffered a dislocated thumb in the collision and left the game in pain. Anderson came in and made another spirited effort, blocking all 11 shots he faced in the second period and only yielding a goal by Lundbohm, who swatted a Wes Dorey pass out of the air for a goal midway through the third period.
By then, Tom Nelson had scored to bring UMD within 3-2 to open the third period, and again the Bulldogs came on, making up for a 35-16 shot deficit after two periods with a 15-4 edge themselves in the third. If Lundbohm's second goal of the game was the clincher, Roche's second of the game came into an empty net with 28 seconds to go.
"You've got to give them credit," said Lundbohm, a junior from Roseau who boosted his WCHA-leading goal total to 16 goals -- same as the total of UMD's 12 forwards who played Saturday. "They did a good job of not letting us get to the net. We needed to get a couple bounces on the power play to beat 'em."

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