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Published March 14, 2013, 11:39 AM

UND players growing beards, skipping haircuts

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — University of North Dakota hockey player Joe Gleason showed up to practice this week looking neat with a fresh haircut. It won't last long.

By: BRAD E. SCHLOSSMAN,Grand Forks Herald, Associated Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — University of North Dakota hockey player Joe Gleason showed up to practice this week looking neat with a fresh haircut. It won't last long.

The postseason begins this weekend with a best-of-three Western Collegiate Hockey Association series against Michigan Tech, and UND players are once again embracing the longtime hockey tradition of growing beards.

Players started growing them after last weekend's regular-season finale at Minnesota State-Mankato and will keep them to the end of the playoffs. They also are adding a new twist to the tradition this year — no more haircuts.

"It's going to get greasy here," Gleason, a senior defenseman, joked to the Grand Forks Herald.

Matt Watkins and Brad Eidsness previously had the most dominant beards on the team, but both have graduated, opening the door for a newcomer to claim the title of the best beard on the team.

The early front-runner is junior goaltender Clarke Saunders, who already has started his beard to go along with a shaved head.

"Clarkie's got a good one going," Gleason said. "He has more hair on his face than he does on his head. It will be good to see how long that gets."

UND alternate captain Corban Knight agreed: "Honestly, I think Clarkie might be pushing Eids for that."

The players aren't just excited to see who has the best beards. They also are looking forward to seeing the worst.

"(Dillon) Simpson's always sucks," Gleason said. "Tate's (Maris) is always brutal. Fratty (Matt Frattin) always used to be the worst, but Simpson and Tate will be the top two."

Knight also guessed that Maris, a senior, would be the worst.

"Tate always brings an embarrassing beard to the table," he said. "I don't think Drake (Caggiula) can grow a hair on his body at all. It's always interesting to see what the younger guys bring to the table in that aspect. But I'm looking forward to seeing how ugly Tate's beard is."

In past years, UND has usually gone with the beards. During the 2008 Frozen Four run to Denver, they went with mustaches. A couple of players on that team had fathers who had mustaches when they played during the 1980s.

Freshman Rocco Grimaldi has grown a mullet for the playoff run the last couple of years but says he will not be doing so this season. He'll just be joining his teammates with the beards.

"We're going with the beards," Gleason said. "No tie-dyed hair or any of that stupid stuff. No more haircuts, either, otherwise guys will get in trouble."

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