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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co., Published April 24 2012

UND men's hockey player Kristo to return for senior season

GRAND FORKS – One of the most dynamic players in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association is sticking around for his senior season.

University of North Dakota forward Danny Kristo confirmed Tuesday that he will play for the Sioux next season rather than sign with the Montreal Canadiens, who drafted the winger in the second round in 2008.

The Canadiens let Kristo know they wanted to sign him for next season, but they also were supportive of his decision to return.

“It was getting pretty stressful there,” Kristo said. “It was 50-50 the whole time. I had good talks with coach (Dave) Hakstol. He said that whatever I decided, he would support me. I talked to my family, Montreal, the boys here at North Dakota and I came to this conclusion.

“Montreal was supportive of me. They weren’t pressuring me too hard, so that’s pretty cool.”

Kristo had 19 goals and 45 points in 42 games as a junior, finishing second on the team in both goals and points. The Eden Prairie, Minn., product will be the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s active leading career scorer entering next season with 109 points.

He will likely be able to play alongside center Corban Knight for another season.

“Extremely happy to hear that my linemate and good friend is returning for our senior season,” Knight posted on Twitter. “It’s gonna be even more memorable now!”

The Sioux will return five of their top six scorers from last season, when UND finished 26-13-3 overall, won a third straight Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA postseason champs and made it to the NCAA regional final.

The Sioux said goodbye to seniors Mario Lamoureux, Ben Blood and Brad Eidsness, as well as sophomore Brock Nelson, who signed with the New York Islanders.

Knight, Andrew MacWilliam and others have confirmed they will return.

“I think our team will be really strong,” said Kristo, who also discussed his decision with T.J. Oshie, Matt Frattin, Brad Malone and Ben Blood. “I think we have a really good chance of winning the national championship and that would be awesome to be a part of. Obviously, that’s our goal going into every season. It will be nice to have so many returning guys. I think we’ll have a shot at the MacNaughton Cup and we always seem to play well at the Final Five. Obviously, it’s one step at a time.”

The first step for UND is setting its roster for next season. Kristo’s decision moves the Sioux a step closer to doing that.

The Sioux are now only awaiting a decision from goaltender Aaron Dell. UND is prepared for the possibility of Dell signing a pro deal, as it will bring in rookie goalie Zane Gothberg and Alabama-Huntsville transfer Clarke Saunders next season.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald

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