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Despite recent success, UMD men still feel like underdog against Minnesota

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The rivalry has been one-sided, but the team that's been winning says it still feels like it has something to prove this coming weekend.

University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) men's hockey team has gone (8-1-1) in its last 10 games against in-state rival Minnesota, but that hasn't changed the team's approach leading to this Friday's season-opener.

"We still have a little bit of an underdog approach in our locker room," sophomore forward Joey Anderson said, "which is exactly how we want it. We want to outwork teams, and that's the mentality we want."

It's fine with head coach Scott Sandelin, too, as long as one thing remains the same.

"We've got a lot of Minnesota kids, so there's probably some pride on the line too," he said. "When you play in this program, you don't like Minnesota. Period."

One of those Minnesota-born kids is Hermantown, Minn. native Dylan Samberg, who will likely be making his collegiate debut on Friday night.

"I've been watching the Bulldogs forever, ever since I was little," he said, "and the Gophers are definitely one team I've always wanted to play."

One of the questions that remains headed in this weekend's 2017 Icebreaker Tournament is goaltending, but Sandelin did have assurances for UMD fans everywhere on Wednesday.

"Someone will start in goal," he said, smirking.

Who that is, we'll find out Friday. The two most likely candidates are sophomores Nick Deery and Hunter Shepard, both of whom say preparation will be the big key.

"We just have to work hard. It's a healthy competition, and whatever happens happens," Deery said. "That doesn't take away from your practice habits. You've got to come in day in and day out doing the right things."

"I don't think my mindset really changes at all. I prepare like I'm going to play," said Shepard, a Cohasset, Minn. native. "You never know when you're going to get in there. If you're competitive, you're going to battle in practice either way."

UMD-Minnesota is scheduled as the late game on Friday, with puck drop at 7:37 p.m. Michigan Tech and Union will play the early game, with that scheduled for 4:07 p.m. All games this weekend can be seen live on My 9 Sports.

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