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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co., Published October 21 2010

Men's hockey: Sioux look forward to Maine

GRAND FORKS – Dave Hakstol hasn’t forgotten his last trip to Orono, Maine.

It’s the place of his first road trip, first game and first victory as head coach of North Dakota.

Other memories include the rowdy, sold-out Alfond Arena crowd, the growing experience for his team and a slight incident at the weekly Thursday dinner.

“I remember Matt Greene and Andy Schneider ordering lobster at market price … I hope we don’t see that again,” Hakstol said with a laugh.

Whatever happens, it’s time for another road adventure for the North Dakota men’s hockey team. They’ve had plenty to start the season.

The Sioux (3-0-1) opened two weeks ago with a long trip to Anchorage, where they feasted on fresh salmon at the Kendall Hockey Classic banquet before winning the tournament.

Last week, their quick trip to Bemidji turned out to be an adventure when a car slammed into the back of the team bus on Highway 2. Nobody was hurt, but the team had to wait for a school bus to take them the rest of the way.

Today, they will head out on a charter flight from Grand Forks to Bangor – a town eight miles southwest of Orono. The No. 2 Sioux take on No. 12 Maine at 6:35 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.

It will mark the first time in program history that the Sioux have played six road games to open the season. By the time North Dakota returns to Grand Forks during the early hours of Sunday morning, it will have traveled 7,410 miles.

“I guess it will make the home opener that much more sweet,” UND junior forward Jason Gregoire said. “It’s been a tough start. But being on the road has been a really good challenge for us. It’s really pushed us in practice when we’re home. I think we’re answering the bell this year. We just have to keep it going.”

Some of the players, like captain Chay Genoway, say they enjoy the travel.

“I think it’s fun,” Genoway said. “It’s just fun to be playing hockey again. I think we’re excited to go (to Maine). It’s fun to go on the road with your teammates. We’re excited to be together.”

BU, Vermont scheduled

In the future, North Dakota probably won’t rack up this many frequent flier miles in the opening month, but high-profile series – at home and on the road – will continue.

Hakstol said he has started scheduling nonconference matchups as far out as 2015-16. Among the matchups in the works: Alaska (Fairbanks), Boston University and Vermont.

“We try to build our schedule with a couple of different things in mind,” Hakstol said. “We want to challenge our teams by going into some tough buildings and by hosting some very good teams. That helps you get better throughout the year. If you can have some success, it helps build your Pairwise Ranking come the end of the year.

“We always consider value for our fans home and away. Maine will be back (in Grand Forks) next year. We try to take all of those factors into account.”

Schlossman writes for The Grand Forks Herald