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Bison hoping to get back on track

Tucked away on the wall in the John E. Carlson Coliseum are banners attesting to the success of hockey in years past at North Dakota State. Some are faded. Some are tattered. But the success is there, nonetheless.

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Tucked away on the wall in the John E. Carlson Coliseum are banners attesting to the success of hockey in years past at North Dakota State. Some are faded. Some are tattered. But the success is there, nonetheless.

A total of eight national club championship banners adorn the wall. NDSU won five straight titles from 1985-89, and added three more in 1991, '93 and '94. The program was disbanded following the 1998-99 season.

Brian Wilke is hoping history will repeat itself as NDSU returns to hockey after a five-year absence.

It didn't Sunday. Minot State defeated the Bison 6-3 in NDSU's first game of the season.

"We're going to get better," said Wilkie, who coached at Minot State for nine seasons before becoming the Bison coach.

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Justin Hills scored a pair of goals for the Bison, and Brent Miller scored the other. Former Fargo South standout Adam Kankelfritz notched two assists in the game.

"For the most part, things went well," Kankelfritz said. "We did a lot of things well. Now, we've got a game under our belts and we know what to work on."

One of those things will be adapting to a different style of play than most of the Bison are used to.

"Coaching (Minot State) for nine years, I knew what to expect," Wilkie said. "Theirs is a more clutch and grab style because speed is an issue."

That was proven all night. The teams combined for 29 penalties in the game.

Sunday's showing was just the beginning of what Wilkie hopes will become a model program in a short time.

"Our goal is a simple one," Wilkie said. "We want to qualify for the ACHA national tournament next year."

A total of 21 players are currently on the roster, including six from North Dakota and two from Moorhead.

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The move to reinstate hockey at NDSU came in the last couple of years after a push to move NDSU hockey to Division I failed.

"There were a number of kids on campus who wanted to play some serious hockey," Wilkie said.

The NDSU Student Senate committed funds to the new program to get it off and running.

"We also raise some money on our own," Wilkie said. "We want to put on a professional front in everything we do as a program. We can't really afford to treat this as a club sport.

"There are a lot of people who have invested time, efforts and money into this program in the past," he added. "We have to show them there is a reason to support it in the future. And I think they will if they see a professional approach being taken."

Wilkie said a women's team at NDSU is also getting formed. There are 17 women out for the team, which will play a limited schedule this season.

"We're a work in progress," Wilkie said.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, MSU, Bill Johnson (Matt Samson), 9:51.

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SECOND PERIOD: 2. MSU, Trevor Popowich (Johnson), 5:02. 3, MSU, Nathan Morrice (Josh Slind), 9:14. 4. NDSU, Brent Miller (Erick Ross, Chris Prescott), 18:38. 5. MSU, Bill Johnson (Popowich), .19:47.

THIRD PERIOD: 6. NDSU, Justin Hills (Nick Backes, Adam Kankelfritz), 2:36. 7. MSU, Popowich (Morrice), 3:35. 8. NDSU, Hills (Kankelfritz, Nick Krebsbach, 15:37. 9. MSU, Justin Cantlon (Morrice, Kent Kirkhammer), 19:11.

SAVES: MSU, Brett Thomas 10-9-13--32, NDSU, Taylor Fontaine 7-14-15--36.

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