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Bulldogs make triumphant return to Duluth after winning national title

Bulldog fans have their picture taken with the NCAA championship trophy at Sunday's team homecoming at Amsoil Arena. Holding the trophy is team manager Dale "Hogie" Haagenson. (Steve Kuchera /

With their team bus a bit heavier, thanks to the added weight of a national championship trophy, the Minnesota Duluth men's hockey players returned home Sunday night, bringing a celebration that began Saturday night at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center to Duluth's Amsoil Arena.

About 200 Bulldogs fans gathered at the arena to welcome home the 2010-11 NCAA Division I men's hockey champions -- the first in team history. While they waited, ESPN's broadcast of UMD's historic 3-2 overtime victory over Michigan was replayed on the scoreboard.

Then the team bus pulled into the arena and onto the now-bare floor of Amsoil Arena to the cheers of "UMD ... UMD ... UMD."

The players took turns proudly hoisting their new trophy as they left the bus, and head coach Scott Sandelin thanked the fans for their support throughout the regular and postseasons.

"This championship is not just for our players, it's for our alumni, it's for our university, it's for our community, it's for everybody," Sandelin said. "That's how this group was ... you win as a team.

"These 26 guys believed in each other all year long, and they were the ones who went out and accomplished what no one has done in UMD history. It's going to allow us to hang a banner up there."

A formal celebration ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Amsoil Arena.