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UND defenseman Ryan Sidorski still digging out of Buffalo blizzard

The Fighting Hawks blue liner was scheduled to come back to Grand Forks on Sunday, but he's still stuck at home.

UND defenseman Ryan Sidorski makes a hit in a game against Western Michigan on Dec. 9, 2022.
Ashley Huss / Western Michigan athletics

GRAND FORKS — Ryan Sidorski was born and raised in Buffalo, so he's seen his share of blizzards.

The UND defenseman recalls the October 2006 blizzard, which hit when trees still had leaves on them. The weight of the snow caused trees to snap, taking out power lines across the city.

"But in terms of snow and visibility," he said, "this is the worst one — by far."

Sidorski, who traveled home for Christmas break on Dec. 17, has been stuck in Buffalo because of a devastating blizzard that has shut down the airport and surrounding highways. The storm has killed 28 people in Erie County as of Tuesday morning, according to The Buffalo News.

"For two days in a row, you couldn't even see 20 feet outside," Sidorski said. "You couldn't see the end of the driveway. The snow was up to the hood on the front of the truck. I was like, 'Yeah, we're not going anywhere for a while.'"


Sidorski said he hasn't gone farther than "a little bit down the street" since Wednesday, when the blizzard started.

"The snow is up to my chest in some areas," Sidorski said. "It drifted so much there are areas where there's a foot of snow and other areas where it's up to my chest. It just depends. The back of my house got hit hard. The front of the houses across the street, it's all the way up their doors. It's up to their windows."

Although he's been snowed in, Sidorski has tried to stay in shape with the second half of the UND hockey season looming.

"Shoveling definitely helps a little bit," Sidorski said, laughing. "I had to pull out some of our COVID workouts from when I was at Union — all the body-weight stuff. I never thought I'd be using those again, but luckily, I saved it."

Sidorski was scheduled to fly back to Grand Forks on Sunday night, but the Buffalo airport has been completely shut down since Saturday. Attempting to fly out of another airport would have been futile, because of road and highway closures.

UND returned to practice Tuesday morning without Sidorski, who is now scheduled to fly Thursday. If he makes that flight as scheduled, he would be in Grand Forks in time to practice once before UND's exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 Team at 4:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"Last night, we had a couple of tractors with plows come move some of the snow so the regular plows can come through," Sidorski said. "I don't think any regular plows could have come by otherwise. Some of the main roads are bad. They're still digging out cars. It's going to be a pain the next couple of days, but I think it's getting better."

Sidorski isn't the only one who has run into travel problems due to the blizzard.


UND equipment manager Dan Johansson, who is from Rochester, N.Y., had his Sunday flight to Grand Forks canceled, too. He's now scheduled to fly back Wednesday.

UND sophomore forward Matteo Costantini, who lives 30 miles outside of Buffalo in St. Catharines Ont., was scheduled to fly out of Buffalo on Monday. Costantini was able to change his flight, though, and fly from Hamilton, Ont., to Winnipeg.

Sidorski is still waiting, though.

"I think being re-booked on Thursday was a blessing in disguise, because if it was earlier, it would have been canceled, too," Sidorski said.

Buffalo's airport is now scheduled to re-open at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Sidorski, a fifth-year senior, has turned out to be a nice find in the transfer portal for the Fighting Hawks. The right-handed defenseman has been rewarded with growing ice time during the first half of the season. Sidorski eclipsed the 20-minute mark in each of UND's last three Saturday games.

While defending is his forte, he's also chipped in five assists in the last 10 games.

"I definitely wish I was there getting some of this rust off," Sidorski said. "I'm excited to get back on the ice and finish off this second half strong."


U.S. Under-18 Team at UND

When: 4:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).
Stream: NCHChockey.com.
Of note: UND will be without forward Jackson Blake (World Juniors) for the game.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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