West Regionals- ‘Neutral Site’

The fans and students alike could not have asked for a better performance from UND at the NCAA’s “neutral site” of Fargo, North Dakota.  They responded at the end of the weekend with numerous chants from “Sioux For-ever” to the “Skate for Eight” shown in the above video.  I’m starting to ascertain why East Coast fans enjoy “neutral sites”.  Place a regional within 300 miles of Grand Forks, ND every year and you will see a repeat performance from the green and white faithful and most likely from the team.  There was an undeniable sense that the fans were not going to allow the Sioux to be ousted in their own “neutral site” regional.  And the boys did not let their fans down with their play in a pair of 4-1 to wins against the regular season ECAC Champs Quinnipiac Bobcats and the conference rival SCSU Huskies.

Some takeaways from the weekend:

– The fan support was phenomenal. Scheels Arena seemed to be composed of the most die-hard fans willing to pay the premium price ($400-$1000) to attend the games.   I didn’t notice any Quinnipiac fans there.  Every time the sliver of SCSU fans tried to start a chant UND’s student section would drown them out by just making noise or starting a chant of their own.  Attending the games truly made you glow with pride at being part of the amazing Sioux fanbase.

– Despite the unbelievably successful event, I still imagined what the event would feel like 80 miles North in an arena twice the size.  I suppose it would feel like the 2006 West Regionals.  Time will tell if moving back to campus sites is an option, but if not UND will be putting bids in for the Fargo regional much more often.

– Quinnipiac seemed to get shots to the net but Zane stood tall early and didn’t allow them to get momentum.  That allowed UND to get the 1st goal of the game and from there it was all downhill.  The 3rd goal, which was the 10th shorthanded goal of the season, was a thing of beauty with Stecher saucering a pass to Caggiula for the dagger.

– St. Cloud scored 90 seconds into the regional final game which seemed to be a good recipe to shut the crowd up.  However, the fans almost immediately started a “Let’s Go Sioux” chant.  It was a pretty cool moment.

-Andrew Panzarella scoring a goal was a good snapshot how deep this team is.  His goal blew the roof off the place.

– The dagger was Luke Johnson’s bad angle shot that hit the crossbar and landed near the goal line.   Although Luke received credit for the goal I don’t believe it goes in without Michael Parks diving to swipe it through the goalie’s glove.

Here is another video from the beginning of the game from my seats:

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