If everything went to plan, Chay Genoway would not be at the Xcel Energy Center this weekend. The fifth-year senior had his 2009-2010-season end prematurely after suffering a concussion against St. Cloud State in the captain's ninth game. With a chance to head to the pros as undrafted free agent, Genoway instead decided to take a medical redshirt and to Grand Forks for one last chance at a national championship. Now back in St. Paul for his third Frozen Four, Genoway has no regrets about coming back. "It has been a fun ride so far," Genoway said. "Hopefully we have a lot of memories to come."
Of course, the decision to return is much easier to make when one is returning to a lineup as dangerous as North Dakota. Whether it is senior Brad Malone, junior Jason Gregoire or sophomore Danny Kristo, opposing teams must be careful. Pick one player or line to zone in on and another will make them pay. And then there is Hobey Baker finalist Matt Frattin who led the nation with thirty-six goals a season after being thrown off the team.
Between the pipes for North Dakota is sophomore goalie Aaron Dell, whose play this season cemented him as the number one goalie over incumbent Brad Eidness. Dell has especially played well recently, only giving up one goal in the two regional games and keeping North Dakota alive in the first overtime of the WCHA Final Five Championship.
Conference: Western Collegiate Hockey Association
Record: 32-8-3 (21-6-1 WCHA) WCHA Regular Season Champion
Road to the Frozen Four:
WCHA Tournament Champion (#1 Midwest)
Defeated RPI 6-0 in first round
Defeated Denver 6-1 in regional final
Why North Dakota will win their eighth national championship: It is their tournament to lose. North Dakota is presently on a fifteen-game unbeaten streak, has won both the MacNaughton Trophy (as the WCHA regular season champs) and Broadmoor Trophy (as the WCHA Final Five champs) and is playing four hours from home. Coach Dave Hakstol has his squad operating on all cylinders and despite the added media attention the team has had no egos creep in. Plus it's hard to bet against a team which beat their opponents, including a team which took North Dakota to double-overtime a week before, by a combined score of 12-1.
Why North Dakota won't win: Again, it is their tournament to lose. In a single-game elimination tournament, the best team often doesn't win and no one knows that better than North Dakota. They have been to the Frozen Four five times since their last NCAA hockey championship in 2000 and have suffered some devastating losses (including two blowouts by Boston College) on the big stage. If North Dakota does not play a full sixty minutes, the other teams in the Frozen Four will make sure that they pay.