As the UMD Bulldogs celebrate a successful season with a trip to the Frozen Four, Scott Sandelin is one of four very focused coaches and they prepare their teams to be ready mentally and physically.

He knew it was true, but still, Scott Sandelin found it hard to believe. With all the great players Minnesota Duluth had produced over the years, no Bulldogs team had won an NCAA championship.

Sandelin watched some of those teams during his childhood in Hibbing, and he played against others during his years at North Dakota. As coach of the Bulldogs in this stage of his life, he would like nothing more than to fill the void with an NCAA title.

"They came close in 1984,'' said Sandelin, 46, referring to the Bulldogs' runner-up finish at the NCAA tournament that year. "To be the first in school history to win it, it would mean everything.''

When Sandelin took over the UMD program in 2000, the Bulldogs had not made a Frozen Four since 1985. In his third season on the job, he led the team to a 22-15-5 record -- its best in a decade -- and guided it to the Frozen Four the following season. He was named the Division I coach of the year in 2003-04 as the Bulldogs beat the Gophers in the NCAA quarterfinals, then fell to Denver in the semifinal game.

UMD followed up with some subpar seasons, but it regained its footing over the past three years, winning at least 22 games in each. This season already has included one milestone, with the Bulldogs moving into the new AMSOIL Arena. In their third NCAA tournament under his command, Sandelin hopes for another grand achievement this week.

"We've been fortunate over the years to get a lot of really good players in here,'' he said. "Growing up where I did, I certainly had high expectations for this program. This has been a good season, but I won't be satisfied until we've won our last game.''

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