Record: 25-12-5 (15-10-3 WCHA, t-4th place)
NCAA tournament appearances: 25 (40-19, 7 national championships)
Players to watch: F Danny Kristo (20-17—37 in 42 GP), F Evan Trupp (8-26—34 in 42 GP), G Brad Eidsness (24-9-4, 2.09, .915).
Why the Fighting Sioux will get to Detroit: The Sioux are one of the hottest teams in hockey, winners of 12 of their last 13 games. Though that doesn’t always guarantee success this time of year, the Sioux more importantly have the correct attitude to succeed this time of year — playing one game at a time, which is how they were able to win the Final Five despite playing their sixth game in nine days for the championship.
Why the Fighting Sioux will get bounced: As hot as the Sioux are, they’re also a young team and experience can mean a lot come playoff time. Also, even though they will have had six days off by the time the puck drops again, their WCHA playoff grind may come back to bite them.
The inside story: Given their recent play, there really is no one inside story about this year’s edition of the Fighting Sioux. Rather, there are a few small ones.
First: You’ll notice that the players to watch above aren’t necessarily the Sioux’s leading scorers, but rather the players that are probably currently playing their best hockey. Unlike previous versions of UND, this year’s team doesn’t have that one superstar player.
Second: Even though fatigue is mentioned as a reason this team might fall short in its quest for an eighth national title, coach Dave Hakstol almost thinks of it as an excuse.
“The fatigue factor certainly is an obvious one, but [we’ve taken] care of that,” he said. “That’s a nice benefit that we don’t play until Saturday.”
Third: This team is focused. Throughout the Final Five, Hakstol deflected questions about a game that was further in the future than the one on deck. That mind-set got them through the WCHA championship and he hopes it’ll get them even farther.
“It’s no time to relax,” he said. “It’s one goal to get into the national tournament, but we got into the WCHA tournament two weeks ago as one of 10 and said our goal was to win it. Well, we’re in a tournament now as one of 16 and our goal is to win it.”