Back from a 2009-10 season lost to injuries, the Gophers' Jay Barriball and UND's Chay Genoway renew a rivalry.
Ask Jay Barriball and Chay Genoway about their most memorable Gophers-North Dakota games, and each quickly gives the same answer: two games in late March 2007.
Barriball's Gophers beat North Dakota 3-2 in overtime for the WCHA Final Five championship; Blake Wheeler's diving goal was the game-winner. Then, eight days later, Genoway's Fighting Sioux got revenge in an NCAA West Regional final, winning by the same score in overtime.
Barriball and Genoway were freshmen. Now they are rare fifth-year seniors and team captains as the Gophers and North Dakota renew their border rivalry this weekend in Grand Forks, N.D.
Since Genoway's arrival, the Sioux lead the series 10-4-3.
"There have been some good moments with them and some bad moments I'd like to forget," Barriball said, "but it's been a good rivalry since I've been here."
Veterans such as Barriball and Genoway keep it ever so. Barriball is a forward, Genoway a defenseman. Otherwise, they are a lot alike.
"Jay is a competitive young man, similar to Chay in size and stature," Sioux coach Dave Hakstol said. "A good player. If along with skill, you blend in 4 1/2 years of experience, it's a good formula for success."
Gophers coach Don Lucia agrees and is impressed by Genoway. "He can basically play 30 minutes a night," Lucia said, "never seems to get tired and can really control play because the puck always seems to be on his stick."
Last season ended early for both captains. Barriball played five games before a freak accident in practice required knee surgery. Genoway played nine games, then was checked from behind against St. Cloud State. A concussion from the hit and continuing headaches kept him sidelined.
The NCAA granted both an extra season of eligibility because of medical hardship. So far, they are taking full advantage.
Barriball scored nine goals and had three assists in the Gophers' first 10 games. He went six games without a goal before scoring twice in his past four games. The 5-9, 179-pounder leads the Gophers in goals with 11 and points with 21.
"Jay competes hard," said Genoway, the same height as Barriball but 2 pounds lighter. "There is a reason he wears the 'C'. He's a guy we have to watch for."
Opponents better be aware of Genoway, too. He also has 21 points on four goals and 17 assists, which ranks third nationally for defensemen.
"He is their rock on the defensive side," Barriball said. "He is not the biggest guy, but he plays with an edge."
Simply playing is what matters most to Genoway. He would prefer to forget last winter and spring, when his hockey future was in doubt. "I felt so hopeless," he said. "I could not do anything to help the team. I was around a lot, and I stressed out more and more. And with a head injury, stress is a bad thing to have."
When he rejoined the Sioux, he melded well with this season's six seniors, Hakstol said.
"Chay has a great ability to self-analyze and be critical without knocking himself down," Hakstol said, referring to Genoway's early-season play, "but I never saw a lack of confidence."
Genoway is on a nine-game point-scoring streak, while Barriball has points in four of the past five games, including a goal on a deflection the last game. And both have embraced the team camaraderie they missed last season.
"What I missed most last season was practicing and being in the locker room with the guys," Barriball said, "and battling with them every Friday and Saturday night. It has been a blast coming back this year."
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