David Hoogsteen moved to Nashville four years ago and is immersed in the city's hockey community.

Hoogsteen's 15-year-old son, Ryan, plays for the Nashville Jr. Predators, which keeps the former UND standout around the rinks.

"People are always asking me about North Dakota," said Hoogsteen, who led UND's 1997 NCAA national championship team in scoring. "Down here, we're in SEC country. So, I always compare us to Alabama football or Duke basketball. I'm super excited for this to come to life for people down here and for them to see what Fighting Sioux or Fighting Hawks hockey is all about. Yes, it's about the on-ice product. But it's about the community and the pride.

"I'm proud, excited, honored, and I cannot wait for my friends who live here to see what I've been preaching the last four years."

Hoogsteen's old team will be in his town this weekend as UND plays Penn State in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Bridgestone Arena at 7:07 p.m. Saturday night.

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More than 15,000 UND fans are expected to pour in from at least 46 different states for the game, including hockey alums from several different decades.

"For me, the sense of pride as I get older, honestly, sometimes it's emotional. . . to wear that jersey and be a part of that community," he said. "When I talk about community, I'm talking about everyone. It's my teammates — guys like my brother, Kevin, Ian Kallay, Corey Johnson, Ryan Johnson — all these guys. I'm talking about the community. When I think about UND hockey, I think about Grand Forks and I think about all of the support. I think about people like Charlie Bridgeford and his family, who took me in as one of their own. Being a part of that community is an honor I don't take lightly. The more I talk about it, the more pride I feel about it."

Hoogsteen played at UND from 1995-99, racking up 157 points in 140 games. He had 54 points as a sophomore while leading UND to the MacNaughton Cup as Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season champions, the Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA playoff champs and the NCAA national title.

The Thunder Bay, Ont., product played five seasons professionally. His brother, Kevin, a senior on the 1997 title team, played eight years of pro hockey.

"When you get that jersey, you're family," he said of his college years. "It's not just the players. It's the community and fans. That, to me, makes it special and unique. Give all the credit to the coaching staff. They will not accept anything else other than a certain culture at North Dakota. Yes, UND is great because they get great players. But they're the best team in the country because they have a culture that's extremely difficult to replicate."

Hoogsteen said if he has any messages for the current players, it's to enjoy the moment and take everything in.

"When you put on that jersey every Friday and Saturday night, know that it's not going to last forever," he said. "Take in all the program has to offer. . . the community, the coaching staff. I could go on for hours on this. It's something where you blink and it's over. So, really try to take in all of those special moments."

This week will be a special one for not only the current players, but also a lot of others involved with the program.

It will be extra special for Hoogsteen, a Nashville resident, who can finally show his friends what North Dakota hockey is all about.

"This is a reward for the players, fans and alumni," Hoogsteen said. "It's going to be an exciting weekend. You look at everything to make this weekend successful. First and foremost, it's the coaching staff and players taking care of business Saturday night. We get to ride along, spend a weekend together in a great city, listen to some live music, enjoy each other's company, and ultimately, get two points."

U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game

Who: No. 6 North Dakota vs. Penn State.

When: 7:07 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee.

TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622). Alex Heinert play-by-play, Jake Brandt analysis.

Webcast: NCHC.tv.

Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM). Tim Hennessy play-by-play, Steve Olson analysis.