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Published March 27, 2010, 01:04 PM

ND college hockey team wins national championship

BOTTINEAU, N.D. (AP) — Winning national championships is becoming second natural for the Dakota College at Bottineau Lumberjacks.

By: MARK Jones, Associated Press

BOTTINEAU, N.D. (AP) — Winning national championships is becoming second natural for the Dakota College at Bottineau Lumberjacks.

The Lumberjacks wrapped up their fourth straight NJCAA Division I hockey title with a 2-1 win over Erie Community College on March 7 in Troy, N.Y.

Dakota College was sparked to its fifth championship in 10 years by the play of three former Williston High School stars — Colby Rehak, Jake Axtman and Casey Gardner.

"It's pretty sweet," Rehak said of the championship.

Rehak, a sophomore, has now been a part of two national championship teams, and says the second one is more gratifying. "It's a lot harder," he said. "The championship game was harder."

The Lumberjacks also defeated Erie for the 2009 championship, winning 4-1.

Rehak says the Lumberjacks assumed the 2010 title game would be a repeat of the 2009 game.

"We overlooked our opponent," he said. "But played decent. They played really well."

Axtman, a freshman, knows he is part of something special.

"It's a pretty good feeling," he said. "Hopefully, they can get a five-peat, so they can get a record."

Gardner is also a freshmen, but could not be reached for comment on this story. He is in Florida preparing for the upcoming baseball season with the Dakota College team.

The key to the Lumberjacks success was constant improvement.

"Just get better every day," Rehak said. "And to be playing our best hockey at the end of the season."

Axtman credits the team's hard work.

"We worked hard as a team," he said. "We just hoped we would be playing our best hockey at the tournament."

Axtman said an adjustment period is needed to go from playing high school hockey to participating on the college level.

"It's a little different," he said. "(College) is a faster pace of hockey."

Rehak is a defenseman, while Axtman and Gardner are forwards for the Lumberjacks.

In the classroom, Rehak and Axtman are currently taking care of their general education courses.

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