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January 27, 2010 12:14 PM

DU Pioneers hockey team faces tough series at North Dakota

Mike Chambers loves to take a swipe at UND when ever he gets a chance, he seems to have UND derangement syndrome, or maybe he is just desperate for hits on his DU hockey blog. I have to admit that this is one of the better series that UND will see this season. DU has become the villains/evil empire and might have actually surpassed Minnesota Gophers as being our hated rivals. There is also a perception that the DU Pioneers have also become the WCHA golden boys that gets all of the breaks as well. Don't expect Brian Thul, Scott Bokal to ref the games this weekend either. Last season the Pioneers started running their mouth before they even got to Grand Forks, ND. I guess it's starting already. Just for the record UND has not had a fighting major in two plus seasons.
Last Saturday, the then-No. 1-ranked University of Denver hockey team was greeted by the first Kohl Center sellout of the season, losing 4-3 at Wisconsin before a relatively good-natured gathering of 15,237. The Badgers' lively student section undoubtedly made it a difficult place to play for the Pioneers. But the atmosphere in Madison will be considered tame compared with the expected antics that will unfold this weekend against North Dakota in Grand Forks. The Pioneers, who fell to No. 3 in the media polls after failing to win a weekend game for the first time this season, will face the always-willing-to-fight Fighting Sioux, who are ranked fourth. "I wouldn't say we have to make up for it, but they're big games as far as seeing what we're made of," DU senior center Tyler Ruegsegger said. "Having a tough weekend (at Wisconsin) and then going to North Dakota, where there will be an even more hostile arena, is a big challenge." DU captain Rhett Rakh-shani is confident the unwanted baggage left from the Wisconsin series won't be brought to North Dakota. The Pioneers played well only in stretches against Wisconsin. "They're all important from here on out, and this weekend is just as important as next weekend, and so on and so forth," Rakhshani said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing, when you're playing, what the standings are, what you're ranked, what they're ranked. You want to play the same. So we're going to want to bring forth our best game, no matter who we're playing, and that will be the same for North Dakota." [link to the article here]
In case you forgot the story line from last season's games here are a few story lines from the UND and DU series a year ago. It was a hard fought and fun series to watch. League to look at Scrums/Fights
AWAITING THE JURY: Not that he wouldn't have reviewed the video anyway, but University of Denver's melee against North Dakota on Friday did not go unnoticed by WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, who watched the fights unfold live on television from the World Arena press box during CC's tie against St. Cloud. McLeod said any disciplinary action resulting from the episodes, including coach George Gwozdecky's ejection from the game Saturday, wouldn't be determined until he receives a review from Greg Shepherd, the WCHA's supervisor of officials. [Rocky Mountain News]
Gwozdecky reprimanded by school - Sioux Fighters
My thoughts: Gwozdecky is the most mild-mannered coach I know, and in 14 years I've only seen his blood boil twice -- both times against North Dakota and with referee Todd Anderson blowing the whistle. See a pattern there? The "Sioux Fighters" and their fans want minor-league entertainment, Anderson is an emotional official who sometimes jaws at players, and Gwozdecky is a class act. At some point those styles clash, and the mild-mannered coach can't stomach it. It becomes disgusting, and the coach erupts into what he doesn't like. Gwozdecky doesn't deserve anything except a pat on the back for being the way he is 99 percent of the time. He might be embarrased to have been ejected, but shame on DU for throwing him under the bus. I think DU is using Gwozdecky to remind the Sioux that it is better than them. But to publicly scorn your respected coach is a bad way to do that. I can appreciate the Sioux and their fans. They are to North Dakota what football is to Nebraska. The players are hard-nosed and the coaching staff gives them a long leash, maybe too long, but ... I don't hear any apologies from Grand Forks, and there shouldn't be any from Denver. [Denver Post Hockey Blog]
FSN's Rizzo not a fan of Sioux fans

"Honestly, if I'm not covering Denver the next time they go there, I would never have any reason in the world to ever go to a North Dakota hockey game," she told me Tuesday. "(Sioux fans) need to realize they leave a bad taste in an opponent's mouth, or anyone that's going to see the arena for the first time." Rizzo's angst stems from obnoxious and seemingly uncontrollable Fighting Sioux fans -- particularly adults. "It was a little too much for too long," Rizzo said. "It wasn't the student section as much as the older crowd, right on top of the DU bench, and I stood in the hallway going into their locker room. "There were a lot of derogatory comments . . . from men and women, young and old, asking me about Coach Gwozdecky's behavior, calling him a 'Little Man,' asking me 'Why are you really here?' and 'I vote for last night's outfit.' It's one thing to cheer for your own team, I'm all for that, but to constantly berate college athletes that are not being paid to play a sport for the constant length of the game was a little much." Rizzo, who also covers the Colorado Rockies, is in her second season working DU hockey for FSN. Previously, she covered the University of Wisconsin's men and women's hockey teams in Madison for WISC, a CBS affiliate. She worked Badgers games in 2006, the year both UW teams won NCAA championships. "The Kohl Center is just as packed, if not more, than Ralph Engelstad Arena is on any given night, and Badgers fans are equally as passionate about hockey as North Dakota fans, but I lived in Madison for 2 ½ years and never in all of my time covering those teams ever heard Badger fans treat opposing teams the way the North Dakota fans treated Denver," she said. "I never felt uncomfortable in Madison." [Denver Post Hockey Blog]

Cross posted @ Goon's World

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