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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service , Published January 23 2013

UND player's former teammates become foes

GRAND FORKS – Mitch MacMillan has an idea of what to expect this weekend.

“In juniors, I got traded and played against former teammates,” he said. “It’s not a new situation for me.”

MacMillan will once again be going up against former teammates this weekend when the University of North Dakota hosts St. Cloud State in a two-game series (7:37 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday, Ralph Engelstad Arena).

MacMillan played his first year and a half of college hockey with the Huskies before deciding to transfer to Grand Forks.

While playing with the Huskies, MacMillan tallied four goals and 11 points in 42 games. He was often a healthy scratch and didn’t receive much ice time. So, last Christmas, the Penticton, B.C., product decided to look for a new home.

He found it at UND, where his younger brother, Mark, was a freshman forward.

MacMillan had to sit out one year due to NCAA transfer rules. He became eligible a couple of weeks ago.

The last three games, MacMillan has played left wing on the top line alongside Hobey Baker Award candidates Corban Knight and Danny Kristo.

“It’s good. … It’s been fun,” MacMillan said. “I think we’ve been playing well together. We just need to keep it up this weekend.”

MacMillan said he talked to a couple of his former teammates this week. Some of them, he said, were supportive when he announced he was going to transfer schools.

Others were not and criticized MacMillan on Twitter.

“Some guys supported me,” MacMillan said. “Each person has their own opinion. I did what I had to do to further my hockey career. At the end of the day, if they didn’t like it, that’s their own thing to deal with.”

MacMillan also knows this game is much bigger than a match against his old team.

St. Cloud State currently is tied for first in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings with Minnesota. UND is two points back in a three-way tie for third. All three teams are aiming to win the MacNaughton Cup one last time before leaving the WCHA.

“Coming off of last weekend, just getting one point,” MacMillan said, “four points would be huge for us and help us in the Pairwise and the standings.”

And MacMillan said grabbing some points in the series would feel good.

“I’m looking forward to it, but in the same sense, I’m going to approach it as any other weekend,” he said. “I’m not nervous at all.

“You’ve got to take it in as any other game, it’s just a regular, old opponent.”

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald