Asked what he would remember about his 15th UMD team, the fifth to make an NCAA Tournament and the eighth to win 20 or more games, Sandelin started by talking about how this was really "a team," one that didn't have a superstar but had a lot of unselfish players.
Then came the tangent.
"I've had a lot of great teams," Sandelin said. "It's not even about winning. We've had some great kids. This group was pretty special. Unfortunately, they almost got to where they wanted to go. That's the part that's hard for a coach, when you see that. It was a fun group to work with. They worked hard. They cared about each other.
"Like I've said, some things you can't control. I kind of feel like that last game kind of got taken out of our hands. I don't like that, because I think it cheats the kids a little bit. They're the ones that people come to watch. You just want them to play and decide a game. That's the unfortunate thing, that's the thing that probably stings the most. Whether that sounds like whining, I really don't care. Because the bottom line is that for four of those guys, they can't play again.
"Sorry, I went off the deep end a little."
The topic, not surprisingly, came up a couple times at Sandelin's season-ending press conference Wednesday. In this case, he sort of brought it up on his own, but he was asked about it earlier.
"Obviously disappointed, but proud of our team and how we played," he said. "Some things you can't control as we saw. Came up a little short."
Asked about memories of the Minnesota win, Sandelin acknowledged it's a highlight for a lot of people, but also said "I'll remember more the disappointment of losing a game that some other factors came into play, and our kids not advancing to play in Boston."
I haven't brought this up much, largely because I know most of you are UMD fans, you're probably bitter about what happened, and I doubt you need any reminders. Also, the more I think about the way that game ended, the more bitter I get about it. Can only imagine at least a few of you are the same way.
It might be a topic we can discuss more in-depth at some point, but now is not the time. I'm glad the coach said what he said, because frankly the easy way out would be to repeat the "Some things you can't control" line until everyone goes away. Sandelin did a good job elaborating on his frustration without really stepping in something.
For those who haven't heard, UMD's non-conference schedule is as follows for 2015-16:
Sunday night exhibition vs. Lakehead
Opening weekend home and home vs. Bemidji State (Fitzgerald triplets!)
Then a home and home vs. Minnesota
The following weekend, at Notre Dame
Then home vs UMass-Lowell to finish October
The other non-conference series is a two-game set at Northern Michigan in early February. UMD will also host the U.S. Under-18 Team for an exhibition after Christmas.
I have not seen the full schedule, but clearly it will become NCHC-heavy beginning in the first week of November.
According to sources, UMD picked up a verbal commitment from Hibbing/Chisholm defenseman Scott Perunovich this week. Since I reported the commitment on Twitter, Perunovich has made it official. One of the first people to congratulate him on Twitter? Hermantown sophomore Ryan Sandelin. I think you've heard of his dad.
Anyway, Perunovich was one of the top 1998-born players in the Northland last year. As a sophomore for Hibbing, he racked up 56 points on 11 goals and 45 assists in 27 games. Perunovich is likely three to four years away from pulling on a Bulldog jersey, but I've heard nothing but good things about his puck skills and vision.
Former Bluejacket Adam Johnson is the top forward in UMD's 2015 recruiting class. Oh, and Scott Sandelin hails from Hibbing. There's that, too.