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Dave Kolpack / Associated Press , Published October 04 2012

"North Dakota" on jerseys, but men's hockey roster lacks ND players

GRAND FORKS – After several years of controversy over the Fighting Sioux nickname and American Indian head logo that adorned the team’s jerseys, one of the perennial powerhouses in college hockey is now known as just North Dakota.

Funny thing, though. For the first time in more than 30 years, there are no North Dakota natives on the roster.

Instead, it’s probably the team’s most geographically diverse lineup yet, with players from Minnesota (6), Alberta (5), Manitoba (3), Ontario (2), British Columbia (2), California (2), Missouri, Arizona, Wisconsin, Saskatchewan, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

“When you look at the players that are coming from non-traditional areas, I think melting pot maybe is the right word,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “You used to look at our roster and you would see western Canada and Midwestern United States making up 90 to 95 percent of it.

“I think the real key point is, guys walk into that locker room and they become part of the tradition here,” he said.

Freshman Colten St. Clair, an Arizona native, spent three years playing junior hockey in Fargo and last year redshirted with UND because of academic issues. He joked that he has spent enough time in the state to be a quasi-native.

“I might be the closest thing to it,” St. Clair said, laughing. “I might as well be the (local) guy this year.”

The North Dakota drought should be short-lived. Cousins Luke Johnson and Paul LaDue, of Grand Forks, have committed to UND for next year. Another home state product, Keaton Thompson of Devils Lake, is slated to play UND in one or two years.

NCAA rules prohibit Hakstol from talking specifically about those recruits, but he light-heartedly said he was willing to “predict a one-year hiatus” from in-state talent.

What the Grand Forks school will not have is a nickname for at least three years, an order from the state Legislature after it rescinded a bill that would have made the Fighting Sioux nickname a state law. The nickname was officially retired this summer after a long fight with the NCAA about it.

The NCAA is allowing thousands of Sioux logos in the Ralph Engelstad Arena to stay in place, including those on brass medallions on chairs and a 10-foot sketch in the granite floor of the foyer. However, a massive emblem that had been painted into center ice has been replaced by “NORTH DAKOTA” in green block letters.

The end of the logo won’t change the team’s “style of play or routine,” senior Joe Gleason said.

“We really just have to focus on the hockey,” Gleason said. “It is pretty much done, but a little bit of that will always be deep in our hearts.”

Said St. Clair, “It is what it is. We’ve got to move forward.”