UMD and North Dakota playing with slim rosters

by Tim Nichols

Old-time hockey came to Grand Forks, N.D., last Saturday, when Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota got together for their series finale.
The game ended with 64 total penalties, adding up to 257 minutes of penalty time. Ten players, five on each side, were ejected from the game for fighting majors. Oh yeah, and the Sioux won the game 4-1.
Minnesota-Duluth coach Mike Sertich was in no mood to talk about the penalty situation, and Sioux coach Dean Blais didn’t return calls. In Sertich’s defense, WCHA public relations director Doug Spencer said coaches are not allowed to talk about the referee’s decisions publicly.
The NCAA policy with fighting states that if a player is assessed a fighting penalty by a referee, he is automatically tossed from that game and suspended from the next game that his team plays in.
North Dakota will do without the services of Brad DeFauw, Tim O’Connell, Trevor Hammer, Jeff Ulmer and Adam Calder for Friday’s match-up with non-conference opponent Clarkson.
The Bulldogs are particularly hurting as they go into their series with WCHA foe, Wisconsin. They will not have Judd Medak, Curtis Bois, Tom Nelson, Jesse Fibiger and Rich Anderson in their roster. Minnesota-Duluth will only have 19 of the regulation 20 players allowed for Friday’s game at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.
“The WCHA has a more severe penalty for fighting,” Spencer said. “The third time you are assessed a fighting penalty, you are out for the year. We’ve never had to use it, but it’s worked for us. The fights are down so significantly, everyone feels pretty good about the way the penalties are called.”
Maybe so, but on Saturday night, somewhere, Eddie Shore and Toe Blake were smiling.
Sleeper time
One of the sleeper teams most hockey writers (this one included) didn’t show much respect for was Denver.
But the Pioneers (4-0-0 overall, 2-0-0 in the conference), are proving the experts wrong.
“We have a different team,” coach George Gwozdecky. “We are returning a lot of players, but we have that old-time attitude of two or three years ago. They are much more willing to do what it takes to win and there is great chemistry on this team.”
Denver boasts nine seniors and serious depth. Leading their squad is MVP candidate Paul Comrie.
“The first guy that pops into people’s heads is Paul Comrie,” Gwozdecky said. “He’s our captain and our leading scorer.”
With the experience of their players, and the determination they are trying to build, the Pioneers are a team on the rise.
But right now, according to Gwozdecky, winning games isn’t the most important criteria for his team’s success.
“What is probably as important as winning is that this team continues to develop a personality and an attitude,” Gwozdecky said. “If we continue to improve, we’ll have a good chance for success. At this point, wins and losses are not as important.”
Denver will host St. Cloud State this weekend at the Denver Coliseum.
M*A*S*H unit
Minnesota will not have Rico Pagel for this weekend’s match-up with Colorado College. He is still nursing a right knee injury and will be out for another 3 to 5 weeks. Erik Wendell, who left the game Saturday in the second period with a bruised shoulder, will suit up and play for the Gophers this weekend.
The Tigers are also missing some personnel. Coach Don Lucia said K.J. Voorhees is out with a hamstring injury, but previously injured players Paul Johnson, Dan Peters and Chris Hartsburg are probable for this weekend.