By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — Saturday night the NCAA came to town for the inaugural U.S. College Hockey Classic between the #19 nationally-ranked North Dakota Fighting Sioux and the Clarkson University Golden Knights.
The Sioux battled to a 3-1 victory in front of 7,075 at MTS Centre to improve to 11-8-2 on the season. It is the first time UND has played a men’s hockey game on Canadian soil since December 30, 1953.
Trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes on a goal from Clarkson’s Julien Cayer of Longueuil, Quebec, the Sioux’s Carter Rowney of Sexsmith, Alberta potted a pair in the second — including the game winner — to give UND the lead headed into the third.
Penticton, British Columbia’s Mark MacMillan added the Sioux’s third in the game’s final minute.
The Canadian talent is thick on UND’s roster, including a handful of Manitoba-born skaters.
Sioux forwards Brendan O’Donnell and Taylor Dickin hail from Winnipeg, while Stephane Pattyn is from Ste. Anne, Manitoba. O’Donnell (Winnipeg South Blues), Pattyn (Portage Terriers), and Dickin (Selkirk Steelers) are all former MJHL (Manitoba Junior Hockey League) standouts.
O’Donnell was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 6th round (156th overall) in the 2010 NHL entry draft.
“Being from Canada, there’s a lot of pressure to play CHL (the Canadian Hockey League, consisting of the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), said O’Donnell.
“I saw my first UND game when I was about 10 years old. Once I saw that, it’s always been a dream of mine. When they came recruiting, it was an easy decision.”
One of the advantages to playing US college hockey is the ability for young players to gain an education while playing at an elite level.
“Getting an education is a big part of life,” added the 19-year-old centreman. “Having that in your back pocket once hockey is done is huge.”
UND has produced several impressive Manitoba-born professional hockey talents, including 20-year NHL veteran James Patrick, Chicago Blackhawks All-Star captain Jonathon Toews, and Hall of Fame goaltender Ed Belfour.
Clarkson University has a student body of roughly 3,000 and is located in Potsdam, New York, while the University of North Dakota is headquartered in Grand Forks and boasts a student body of over 14,000.
Winnipeg Jets chairman Mark Chipman is a UND alumnus.