GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Erik Fabian has done this before.
The University of North Dakota women’s hockey assistant coach was a senior alternate captain on the 2006-07 Fighting Sioux men’s team that lost to rival Minnesota in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, then came back and beat the Gophers a week later with a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four on the line.
The scenario has been at the forefront of Fabian’s mind this week.
The Sioux women lost to rival Minnesota in the WCHA playoffs Saturday but are getting another shot at the Gophers with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line Saturday afternoon in Minnesota.
It’s nearly the exact scenario that played out for Fabian five years ago.
“I thought of that immediately when the bracket came out,” he said. “We had a really good idea that we might get Minnesota but didn’t know for sure until it came out. When it did, that’s exactly what my mind went right back to — that year. I’m going to do whatever I can to make that happen again.”
Fabian said that the men’s team was disappointed by losing to the Gophers in the 2007 Final Five, but the squad felt that the West Regional championship game was “our game.” Indeed, the Sioux went on to win that one on a wraparound goal by Chris Porter in overtime.
“Looking back at that, we would have much rather won the game we did,” Fabian said. “It would have been great winning the (conference) tournament, but we would much rather win and go to the Frozen Four than flip the coin the other way. I was pleased with the outcome in that case.”
Success against rival Minnesota is nothing new to Fabian and his teams. During his four-year college career, he scored more than a fourth of his goals against the Gophers. Twice the Sioux ended Minnesota’s season in the national tournament.
Prior to Fabian joining UND’s staff, the Sioux had a 0-28 all-time record against the Gophers. Since Fabian came aboard last season, the Sioux are 5-4.
Now, he hopes for one more win against the Gophers, who enter the tournament with just one loss in the last 15 games and a shutout streak of 200 minutes, 15 seconds (more than three straight games) by Olympic goaltender Noora Raty.
“Mentally, we’re good. We really are,” Fabian said. “If we’re able to carry this throughout the next few days, we’ll be all right and we’ll have a real good outcome this weekend.”
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