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Brad Elliott Schlossman, Forum Communications, Published September 18 2012

UND hockey captains suspended for season opener

GRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota athletic department sent a stern message Tuesday to the men’s hockey players about their behavior off the ice.

The school suspended the team’s four captains for the season-opening game and placed all the players under probation because of a team party held Saturday night. The school also plans weekly alcohol awareness meetings, and has instituted a mandatory community service program.

No citations were handed out at the party, and no charges have been filed in state district court in Grand Forks over the incident.

But David Jones, an assistant state’s attorney for Grand Forks County, said UND police reports on their investigation were turned into the prosecutor’s office late Monday afternoon.

“I’m expecting a little more documentation,” Jones said Tuesday in explaining the process. He expects to make a decision about whether to bring charges against anyone later in the week.

Until then, he said he can’t comment on the information in the police reports.

“The behavior in this situation was unacceptable,” athletic director Brian Faison said in a statement when the news was announced about 9 a.m. Tuesday.

UND coach Dave Hakstol added: “Recent actions by our team are not a good representation of our place as role models within our community. We have young men of high character in our locker room, but our players, and in particular our leaders, must be accountable for their actions.”

When asked whether the situation was being investigated as a hazing incident, UND spokesman Jayson Hajdu said in a statement: “UND is continuing to gather information. If hazing has been involved, the university will take strong action.”

UND suspended seniors Andrew MacWilliam, Corban Knight, Danny Kristo and Carter Rowney for the first regular-season game, an Oct. 19 contest against Alaska Anchorage in the Brice Goal Rush in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The players will be allowed to play in the two exhibition games that precede the Goal Rush.

The incident comes two weeks after sophomores Dan Senkbeil and Michael Parks were cited for underage drinking. Senkbeil, who also was cited for failing to halt, received a two-week suspension from team activities. He has not yet been cleared to play. Parks’ discipline was handled internally.

Tuesday’s news also comes on the heels of a voter fraud scandal at the state’s other marquee sports program, the North Dakota State University football team. In that case, some Bison players were charged with forging names on two statewide petitions.

In addition to the one-game suspension and all players being on suspension at UND, a weekly team alcohol education program is part of the discipline, as is a mandatory team community service program. The school said any further violations of team rules could result in immediate reduction of scholarship, suspension from competition or expulsion from the program.

A school news release said Faison and Hakstol would not comment further.

Without the captains, UND will only have 18 skaters available for the season-opener, which is the number used to fill out a full lineup. If there are any injuries in the next month, UND will play without a full lineup. As is, UND will play the opener with no seniors and just one junior among its 12 forwards.


Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald