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>Gooning It Up

17 February 2007

>In a RWD first, North Dakota’s premier blogger Goon gives us his perspective on former UND player and coach Scott Sandelin. (BTW, he’s our current head coach.) You can also read what I wrote on his blog, although it has nothing to do with Dave Hakstol.

Sioux Fans Still Have Fond Memories of Sandelin
I think it would be safe to say that Fighting Sioux fans have fond memories of current UMD coach Scott Sandelin. Scott Sandelin (the player) played for the Fighting Sioux from 1982 to 1986, playing in 149 games, scoring 16 goals and adding 77 assists for 93 points. Sandelin left UND after 4 years and went on to play professionally in the NHL, AHL, and IHL. During his professional career, Scott Sandelin had a cup of coffee in the NHL, where Sandelin played in 25 NHL games with the Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadians, scoring no goals and adding 4 assists for 4 points.

The Coach
Scott Sandelin was an assistant coach under Dean Blais the last time the Fighting Sioux won the national championship during the 1999-2000 season. In 2000 Sandelin left The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux after experiencing a national title to take over the reins of the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs hockey program from former coaching legend Mike Sertich. Since taking over the reins of the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, Sandelin has a record of 106 (W) –139 (L) –29 (T). Bulldog fans are beginning to become restless: since Sandelin took the Bulldogs to a 2004 Frozen Four, the Bulldogs have had three losing season in a row.
This season there seems to be a current theme that is consistent all over the Internet among Bulldogs fans, seems they are fed up with the current state of their Bulldog team and they are beginning to call for Sandelin’s head. This puzzles me; I believe firing Sandelin would be a mistake and there is no guarantee a new coach would be able to change the fortune of the Bulldog hockey team without the team getting an new arena. In my opinion the Bulldogs need a new arena to be successful in winning the recruiting battles with the bigger WCHA schools. For now, Sandelin appears to be safe as all indications are that the UMD athletic department will not fire Sandelin after the current season because Sandelin signed a new multi year contract in this past summer during the offseason. Also, word has it that the UMD’s athletic department is strapped for cash and doesn’t have enough money to buy out his contract.
Sandelin’s best season coaching in Duluth was during the 2003-2004 season, where Sandelin led the Bulldogs to the Frozen Four before bowing out to eventual national champion Denver University. Coming into this season, many WCHA fans thought UMD had turned the corner and would be a force this season in the WCHA season race. This optimism was brought on after the Bulldogs, who had about 12 freshmen playing in their line up, made the 2006 Final Five by bouncing defending national champion Denver out of the WCHA playoffs in three games, and ending the Pioneers’s NCAA title hopes. All I can say is thank you very much. Nate Ziegelmann led the charge in the post season and led the team to St. Paul.
After Dean Blais left the University of North Dakota during the summer after the 2003-2004 season to coach for Columbus of the NHL, there was a buzz around Grand Forks about who should be the next coach of the Fighting Sioux. There were a fair number of fans that were calling for Sandelin to return to the Fighting Sioux. I have to admit that I was one of fans that was hoping Sandelin would make a return to the program. I was disappointed when the University of North Dakota appointed Hakstol coach without even having a national search for a head coach, to this day you will still hear grumbling around Grand Forks about this subject, but it was muted after Hakstol took the Sioux to two Frozen Fours. That talk resurfaced again this season after the Fighting Sioux got off to a rough start. I just believe that Sandelin is a good coach and is doing a great job in a very competitive league. From top to bottom the WCHA is best league in the NCAA hockey; the margin for error is very small as we can see from this year’s standings.

Goon is a loyal reader of Runnin’ with the Dogs blog and would like to thank RWD for the opportunity to contribute to an awesome blog.

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