Ice Hockey

Trip to North Dakota - Day Two

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 373-1262
FOR RELEASE: Friday, March 9, 2001

Friday, March 9 – According to head coach Ron Kuhl, as Hudson Valley Community College skated through their debut North Dakota-based practice, the effects of an exhausting cross-country trip diminished.

"The level of energy rose as practice went on," Kuhl said. Hudson Valley's hockey team arrived in Bottineau, N.D. Thursday evening to vie for the junior college national championship. Their trip lasted an overwhelming 18 hours, and nearly all the Vikings needed roughly 12 hours of sleep to combat the tiredness caused by a travel itinerary that incorporated three planes and two buses.

"The first day is real tough," said Schenectady's B.J. Sheehan, who will start between the pipes against MSU-Bottineau (11-13-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday. "You're real tired, all you want to do is sleep. Today's practice was tough at the beginning, but at the end we started getting our skills back."

"They've got to get used to the speed of the puck on the ice, all the little nuances," Kuhl said. "Every set of boards is like a human being; they all react differently. And this is a much darker rink than we're used to."

While the Community Arena, nicknamed the Lumberdome, may not be as bright as Troy's Conway Ice Arena, the Vikings have been in the spotlight since arriving in Bottineau.

Signs announcing the tournament schedule and supporting the hometown Lumberjacks decorate nearly every storefront. It seems half the locals sport Bottineau gear and eyeball Hudson Valley's squad whenever they venture beyond their hotel. The area residents are friendly, chatty even, but in the course of a conversation, they make their love of Bottineau hockey clear.

"It's a small rink and they're going to pack them in here," Kuhl said. "It'll be fun. This group loves it. There's nothing like playing in front of a lot of people when they're quiet. That's what we want. It gets your juices charged. When we played at Canton, we were up 5-2. Then it was 6-2, and all the fans started leaving the rink. There's no greater feeling in the world than when you watch the other team's fans start shuffling out of the rink."

Hudson Valley (22-4) and Bottineau will play a pair of games, with a 20-minute mini game at the end of the second contest if the series is tied. The second game is slated for 7 p.m. Sunday.

In this quaint Midwestern town, where two winter sports rule – hockey and snowmobiling – Kuhl has just one hope once the puck drops Saturday.

"We need to take the crowd out of the game early," he said. "Send them home. Let them go snowmobiling."