The 2011-12 Fighting Sioux displayed a tremendous amount of character, heart, and perseverance in battling through a trying season during which they were confronted with a dizzying series of personnel challenges. Rather than folding under the weight of these challenges, the team met them head-on and, from the depths of the WCHA standings, fought its way into national championship contention, earning itself a Final Five Championship and a top seed in the NCAA tournament along the way.
This team never quit believing that it could win a national championship, and it never quit believing it could become one of the great teams in this program's rich and storied history. While they may have fallen a few wins short of their ultimate goal, they built themselves into a team that is as easy for Fighting Sioux fans to be proud of as any in recent memory.
In other Fighting Sioux hockey news:
- The United States of Hockey posted a review of last weekend's NCAA regional action, including commentary on Danny Kristo's strong play.
- Travis Zajac returned to the New Jersey Devil lineup last night, and he played well in managed minutes. He had an assist in 13:31 of ice time, and he won 62.5% of his draws. He was a guest on NHL Live today where he spent a couple minutes discussing his return from injury:
- Zajac's New Jersey teammate Zach Parise scored his 30th goal of the season last night, making him the first former Sioux to reach the 30 goal mark five times as an NHLer. Dave Christian did it four times.
- As mentioned in a previous post, Chris VandeVelde scored his first career NHL goal yesterday. The USHL issued this release on the former Lincoln Star, and it includes video of his sneaky wrister.
- Jonathan Toews is ramping up the intensity of his workouts and he looks to return to Chicago's lineup in the near future.
- Last night was Ed Belfour Heritage Night in Chicago. A brief video documenting the event can be viewed here, while the Blackhawk organization published a nice piece on the undrafted, yet undaunted former Sioux goaltender.
- Matt Frattin was a full participant in Maple Leaf practice today, after which he chatted about his foot injury, North Dakota's NCAA tournament fate, and who holds college hockey bragging rights inside the Maple Leaf lockeroom:
- Once the season is over, expect Frattin to rejoin the Toronto Marlies (AHL) for their playoff run.
- An NHL scout recently projected the first round of this summer's upcoming NHL Draft, and he had Sioux recruit Jordan Schmaltz going 17th overall to Los Angeles, where Matt Greene is a blue line stalwart and Derek Forbort is a top defense prospect.
- Recruit Zane Gothberg of the Fargo Force was named the USHL's Goaltender of the Week for the third time this season, and expect him to be among the top candidates for the league's Goaltender of the Year award. Force head coach John Marks thinks Gothberg has the potential to become UND's number one goalie sooner rather than later.
- Recruits Charlie Pelnik and Nick Schmaltz are off to New York this week for the 2012 Under-16 National Championships. The tournament runs Wednesday through Sunday, and Pelnik's Shattuck-St. Mary's team is scheduled to take on Schmaltz and Chicago Mission Friday evening.