TV tonight: None.
Live chat: Come back here and we’ll fire it up around 7 p.m.
Tickets: If you have them, bring Advil with them to combat the 2,500 cowbells.
It’s off to Omaha for one of the country’s marquee series of the weekend. There’s no shortage of storylines with these two top-10 teams. Of course, every organization is writing their own Dean Blais vs. UND stories this week.
I did it on Thursday. This storyÂ details Blais’ early success in Omaha with comments from Blais, Dave Hakstol and UND players. The most amazing stat is that Omaha is 20-3-2 at home under Blais.
While everyone in Grand Forks knows the name of Blais, everyone in Omaha knows the name Bruneteau. Brett Bruneteau’s grandfather and great uncle were hockey pioneers in town. Brett’s father, Rick, helped start the UNO program. And Brett gets to play in the first big-time WCHA series in the city. Former Mavs coach Mike Kemp has known Brett since he was in elementary school and had some very nice things to say about him.
UND has been going with Aaron Dell in goal, but the Sioux are still confident in Brad Eidsness. If you scroll down in the story about Bruneteau, you’ll see whatÂ HakstolÂ and hisÂ players are saying about Dell’s improvement and Eidsness’ game.
This week’s shortÂ Q&A is with defenseman Derek Forbort, who has returned to the lineup after a bout with mono. Forbort is pretty quiet off the ice, but he hasn’t been quiet on the ice.
Kemp said he believes UND is one of just six NCAA hockey schools that Omaha has yet to play. The teams tried to schedule each other in the past, but it never worked out. The World-Herald has a story about that here.
The Omaha paper also has a storyÂ about the North Dakota connections on Omaha’s roster: Blais (UND), Nick Fohr (GF), Tony Turgeon (GF), Alex Simonson (GF)Â and Jordan Willert (Minot). Simonson played on a state runner-up GrandÂ Forks CentralÂ team with Jake Marto when Marto was a senior and Simonson was a freshman. Marto also won a state title playing with Simonson’s older brother, Morgan.
There are also two area connections on the Minnesota side of the river. Senior defensemanÂ Eric Olimb teamed with former Sioux and current St. LouisÂ BlueÂ T.J. Oshie to help Warroad to an undefeated season in 2005 and a state championship. And assistant coach Mike Hastings is from Crookston.
The Sioux will have to look out for Omaha’s all-freshman line this weekend, as well as the veterans who are Omaha’s leading scorers.
Omaha’s columnist wrote a piece on Blais’ expectations for this team. The words “Frozen Four” come up.
This weekend’s other WCHA matchups:
Minnesota at Michigan Tech: The Star Trib has a story on Minnetonka products Max Gardiner and Justin Holl, both of whom expected to be in the USHL this season. The Gophers had last weekend off. Michigan Tech started the season on a five-game unbeaten streak. Now, the Huskies are on a five-game winless streak.
Minnesota-Duluth at Wisconsin: The Badgers are looking to move on fromÂ last weekend’s losses to UND.Â Sean Dolan says the Badgers were a bit scared, while Craig Smith didn’t want to say much about his bizarre penalty late inÂ Saturday’s game. He apologized to coach Mike Eaves. On the other side, Duluth is flying high.Â TheÂ Bulldogs are the new No. 1 and they say that motivates them. The other very interesting storyline in this matchup is Duluth goalie Aaron Crandall going against Wisconsin. Crandall at one time was a UW commit, but the Badgers ended up taking Brett Bennett instead. Crandall is 4-1 with a 1.78 GAA and a .920 save percent.
Bemidji State at Denver: In a strange way, Denver coach George Gwozdecky says Dustin Jackson might return to the lineup after missing all of last year and the start of the season. Luke Salazar also has made a return to the lineup. He had a huge freshman season, was a healthy scratch much of last year, and now he’s back to scoring goals for theÂ Pios. For the Beavers, it’s yet another tall task.
St. Cloud State at Alaska-Anchorage: While the big news on campus is that the students may have saved the football team, St. Cloud State is ready for the Seawolves. The St. Cloud Times, which detailed why 40-point scorer Tony Mosey was out of the lineup for the first game of the season,Â says Travis Novak is one of the fastest playersÂ in the WCHA. The Seawolves, who have played six of the last eight on the road, are finally back at Sullivan Arena.