Originally created 04/08/00

N. Dakota looks to avenge loss



PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- North Dakota coach Dean Blais hasn't lost too many games the past few years, and each one leaves him thirsting for revenge.

The one that is foremost on his mind these days is last year's loss to Boston College in the NCAA hockey tournament West regional. On Saturday night, Blais gets a chance to get even.

"We talked about it all year that the perfect matchup would be BC, and lo and behold, here we are," Blais said Friday, a day before North Dakota faces Boston College for the NCAA championship.

"I wouldn't say it's a grudge match. But it's one of those ways people get motivated," said Blais, who earlier in the tournament extracted his revenge on Wisconsin for taking away the conference's regular-season title. "When someone beats you, you don't want them to beat you twice."

The Fighting Sioux lead the series with Boston College 8-4. In the most recent matchup, the Eagles won 3-1 to knock North Dakota out of the 1999 NCAA tournament.

It's the only time since 1997 that the Fighting Sioux haven't either won the title or lost to the team that's won it all.

Five players remain from the Fighting Sioux's 1997 national championship team. As the players prepared for this year's final, the seniors were able to lend their experience to the newcomers.

"We've told them what the championship is all about," forward Peter Armbrust said. "But this late in the season, we don't need to be giving them pep talks. We just let them know what it's all about and hopefully they get to experience what we did in '97."

The experience doesn't give North Dakota much of an edge over Boston College. Even though the Eagles haven't won it all since the tournament's second year, 1949, they've been in the Frozen Four each of the last two years, losing twice in overtime.

"Both sides have a rich tradition in college hockey. I think they're two of the real powers in the sport," Boston College coach Jerry York said. "So there can't be much of an advantage there."

In 1998, Michigan beat Boston College 3-2 in overtime in the final at the FleetCenter in Boston. Last year, the Eagles were tied after regulation in the semifinals before falling to eventual national champion Maine 2-1.

"In Boston, we were just glad to be there. It was more of a Cinderella run," forward Blake Bellefeuille said. "The team attitude is different this year. I think we are more positive. We know we have the guys that can go out and win."

York said that his team has no fear of close games, despite the recent close calls. "You can't play like that," he said.

"It does leave a bad taste in your mouth, but we feel like we've paid our dues," Boston College goalie Scott Clemmensen said. "Coming that close like we have, we know how hard it is to just to get to that point."

Clemmensen said a 6-5 overtime victory over Michigan State in the West regional convinced the team that it was not a bad team when forced to play extra time.

"That got us over the hump. It sent a message to our team and it was a real confidence boost," he said. "Even though overtime hasn't been good to us, and even though the tournament's been kind of a letdown in the past, this year we're going to get some bounces."