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Fighting Sioux visit Winnipeg

by Kristi Hennessy / Winnipeg Jets

On January 7, 2012, the city of Winnipeg and the MTS Centre is hosting the U.S. College Hockey Classic, a Division 1 men’s hockey game featuring the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux and the Clarkson University Golden Knights.

The game marks UND’s first game on Canadian soil since December 30, 1953. The game will be a regular season game for both teams.

The Fighting Sioux have won 15 WCHA championships, the most conference titles of any NCAA men’s hockey program and seven national championships, tied for second‐most in NCAA history. Only Michigan, with nine titles, has won more.

Forward Brendan O'Donnell
The College Classic will be a special and unique game for every player, but extra special for a few select Manitobans. Both Brendan O'Donnell and Taylor Dickin are Winnipeg natives and Stephane Pattyn is from Ste. Anne, Manitoba. O’Donnell has had this date circled on the calendar since the game was announced.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” said O’Donnell. “It’ll be my first time playing back in Winnipeg for a couple years now. To play in front of a lot of friends and family will be really fun.”

O’Donnell was young boy when he last went to a Winnipeg Jets game but has more than enough friends and family that have shared what it’s been like so far this season.

“I was only three or four when I went to a couple games so I don’t remember much,” he explained. “But I do know when the city got the team back there was a lot of buzz around the city, you could feel it. It was something really special.

“I have a lot of friends that go to the games and after every game I get a text saying how unbelievable the crowd and the atmosphere was. My parents have also been to a few games and they keep me updated and tell me how loud it gets. I’m going to my first game on December 23rd so I’m really looking forward to that.”

Stephane Pattyn
Stephane Pattyn, a left-winger on UND is from Ste. Anne, Manitoba. He too will have several familiar faces in the crowd cheering him on.

“I have a lot of family and friends coming up to watch,” said Pattyn. “It’ll be a great experience with a new team in town. Just from watching games on TV, you can see the energy and atmosphere at the rink. I’m just excited to get up there and see how it is for us.

“I’m sure a lot of people from down here will make the drive up there so I think it’ll be loud. We have a loud building here too so I think with an extra couple thousand people it would really get our energy going.”

Pattyn says that although he doesn’t really remember much about being a Jets’ fan, he did get to go to a game, thanks to his father.

“My dad took me to a game when I was really young and I remember is that it was the Blackhawks. My dad has always been a huge follower, he watches every game on TV and he’s been to a few games.”

Forward Mario Lamoureux- Captain
Mario Lamoureux, captain of the Sioux, was born and raised in Grand Forks, ND. He said he truly loves playing college hockey in North Dakota and can see a lot of similarities in the city of Winnipeg.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Lamoureux of playing for UND. “We have a really proud organization. I think our fans are really proud of the team every year and it makes it a lot more special to play in a place where people truly care about what we’re doing.

“I think it’s very comparable to Winnipeg in an obviously much smaller scale but I think everyone in the town is very proud and supportive of the team and I think it’s the same way in Winnipeg.”

Lamoureux, along with everyone else on the roster is very excited for the upcoming road trip and expects to see a lot of fans make the drive across the border to watch their Fighting Sioux.

“It’s going to be awesome,” he grinned. “To be able to go up to Canada and play in Winnipeg where people are crazy about hockey will be cool. It’s going to be a great experience for us. I think everyone on the team is excited- it’ll be a fun road trip for us.

“It doesn’t really matter where we go in the country, we always have a great following and I hope that trend continues when we go to Winnipeg. Hopefully a lot of people will be making the trip up there from the area and I assume we have a few fans up in Winnipeg as well.”

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