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UND's Bina looks to Frozen Four

UND vs. Princeton - When: 2 p.m. today - Where: Madison, Wis. - TV: Fox-SN...

UND vs. Princeton

- When: 2 p.m. today

- Where: Madison, Wis.

- TV: Fox-SN

MADISON, Wis. - The World Men's Curling Championship intrigues Robbie Bina, because he's spent the past four years playing the sport. But Bina would like nothing more than to miss the curling finals, which will be held in Grand Forks, N.D., next month.

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There's another place he'd rather be.

"I hope we're down in Denver, and my mind is on that," the North Dakota men's hockey defenseman said.

Bina is talking about the NCAA Frozen Four, a destination reached by the last three Sioux teams.

Bina, a senior who received a medical redshirt for the 2005-06 season, is the only current Sioux player who knows what it's like to miss the Frozen Four.

As a rookie, Bina and the Sioux entered the 2004 tournament as the No. 1 overall seed but lost to Denver 1-0 in the West Regional final. That was the last time the Sioux failed to make college hockey's showcase event.

"We had a great team that year," Bina said of the squad that featured standouts Zach Parise and Brandon Bochenski. "You never know what can happen when you get to tournament time, where anybody can beat you. You can't take anything for granted. You have to come and play every game.

"We played well all year and we were at the top of the nation all year. We just had one game where we couldn't get the puck in the net, and it was over."

Bina doesn't think he needs to remind the current Sioux team of that lesson. UND opens NCAA tournament play at 2 p.m. today against Princeton in the Kohl Center.

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"They all know we have to come out and play our hardest," Bina said. "If I see a little something (I don't like), I'll bring it up to them to make them aware. But we're all in it for one thing."

And that's to get back to the Frozen Four.

That's a big reason why four players turned down contract offers from NHL teams in the offseason - to have another crack at the NCAA tournament, where the Sioux fell to Boston College in the semifinals the past two seasons.

"For us, we've been waiting all year long to get to this point," said defenseman

Taylor Chorney, who could have signed with the Edmonton Oilers. "It's been a long time coming."

"I'm excited," said forward T.J. Oshie, who could have signed with the St. Louis Blues. "I'm confident and excited to see what the team can do and what I can bring to the table."

Today's matchup even excites the normally even-keel head coach.

"There is absolutely nothing routine about this," Dave Hakstol said. "If you take your experience and use it to your advantage in your preparation, it can be a small edge. But experience guarantees you nothing. If anybody is run-of-the-mill about this, boy, I don't know. This is an exciting opportunity. It's the national tournament, and our season is on the line."

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The Grand Forks Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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