Weekend roster not certain

Men’s hockey team facing adversity with players remaining out of lineup.

After an uncomfortable, eight hour bus ride from Omaha, Neb., back to Grand Forks at the end of last weekend, an illness stricken UND men’s hockey team is fighting to overcome more than just a weekend split.

With only 11 skaters on the ice for practice Tuesday afternoon, a prediction of how many more will be available for this weekend’s home series against Minnesota-Duluth is difficult to determine.

“The numbers are a little depleted, but it is what it is,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “We’ve got a game Friday night we’re preparing for — whatever the numbers are.”

Saturday night, UND fell to the Mavericks 4-2 and dropped itself into a four-game losing streak — the longest in nearly a decade.

But the Green and White rallied back Sunday evening for a 3-2 victory despite multiple absences in the lineup due to illness and injuries.

“You get all kinds of different things that come at you during the season,” Hakstol said. “We had a few different things to deal with in Sunday night’s game, and we had a few added during the game, but the guys stepped up to the challenges.

“They gutted it out and went out and did the job together. They found a way to get a good win for our team — a win that was much needed.”

Junior defenseman Nick Mattson is familiar with the 2011-12 season slump.

“The whole world probably thought we were the worst team in college hockey, and we got through it,” Mattson said. “So, just from that, you gain a little bit of poise and perspective and some confidence. We’re going to get through this, and we’re going to be a better team because of it.”

Sunday’s game provided not only a victory for the team, but a boost to carry it through to the next series.

This weekend, the team will play with as many skaters as it can — hoping to secure a different outcome from its two losses in its last home series.

“You never want to lose, and after one game you want to win the next one,” Mattson said. “There were just so many negative vibes around our team, I felt like, and no one wanted to be at the rink. So many outside people doubted us, and there was not a lot of confidence.

“Once you finally break through that — you finally get some confidence back — there’s some positivity. We’re all happy to be here and looking forward to another big win hopefully.”

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].