Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nick Mattson and Jordan Schmaltz Honored by USHL

North Dakota recruits Nick Mattson and Jordan Schmaltz were recently honored by the USHL for their outstanding play over the past season. Mattson was named the USHL Defenseman of the Year after an outstanding season with the Indiana Ice. He finished third overall in the league in Plus/Minus with a +33, and he was tops in the category among defensemen. He also had 6 goals to go along with 30 assists in 57 regular season games for the Ice, who were eliminated from the USHL playoffs last Saturday. Mattson (6-1, 185, Chanhassen, MN) spent two years with Indiana and was a member of the USNTDP Under-18 team that won gold at the 2009 World Championships hosted by Fargo. He is expected to join the Fighting Sioux in the fall of 2011.

Schmaltz was named to the USHL All-Rookie team after leading all league defenseman in scoring this past season. His hot play down the stretch led the Sioux City Musketeers into the Clark Clup playoffs before being eliminated by Sioux Falls in the first round. Schmaltz (6-2, 175, Verona, WI) is expected to arrive in North Dakota in 2012.

USHL All-Rookie Team

Sunday, April 24, 2011

THN Future Watch 2011

The Hockey News' Future Watch 2011 is on newsstands now and both North Dakota and the WCHA are well represented. Below is a summary of relevant content:

Top 50 Prospects:
Ranking - Player - Position - NHL Team - (WCHA Affiliation)
#17 - Brendan Smith - D - Detroit (Wisconsin)
#21 - Nick Leddy - D - Chicago (Minnesota)
#23 - Jaden Schwartz - C - St. Louis (Colorado College)
#26 - Nick Bjugstad - C - Florida (Minnesota)
#33 - Justin Faulk - D - Carolina (Minnesota-Duluth)
#45 - Joe Colborne - C - Boston (Denver)
#46 - Beau Bennett - RW - Pittsburgh (Denver)
#49 - Derek Forbort - D - Los Angeles (North Dakota)

Golden Comeback

Team USA After Winning Gold (Photo Courtesy of www.usahockey.com)

Team USA completed a hat trick three years in the making as it won it's third consecutive Under-18 World Championship today in Germany. After surviving a three goal comeback against Canada in yesterday's semifinals, the Americans provided their own come from behind magic today with two third period goals to rally from a 3-1 deficit and send the game into overtime. The game winner came just 6:06 into the overtime period courtesy of Connor Murphy, who finished the game with two goals and an assist.

JT Miller contributed two assists in today's gold medal game, led Team USA in scoring over the course of the tournament, and finished tied for third overall in scoring with 13 points (4 G, 9 A) in 6 games (2.17 PPG). Rocco Grimaldi had one assist today and finished the tournament with 8 points (6 Games-2 G-6 A-1.33 PPG), which tied for third on Team USA and tied for eleventh overall. Both Miller and Grimaldi are expected to join the University of North Dakota men's hockey team this fall.

Game Sheet

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hextall Signs, Team USA U-18's To Play For Gold

UND junior winger Brett Hextall signed a two year NHL entry level contract yesterday with the Phoenix Coyotes, forgoing his senior year of collegiate eligibility. Hextall was a sixth round pick of the Coyotes in the 2008 entry draft, and his intense, energetic, and abrasive play will be missed next season.

GF Herald on the Signing

Team USA will play for the gold tomorrow afternoon against Sweden after dispatching of Canada today in the Under-18 World Championships. Team USA led 4-1 heading into the 3rd period, but Canada scored three unanswered, including two extra skater goals in the last 1:35 of regulation, to send the game into overtime. It was a short overtime period however, as Tyler Biggs (Miami-Ohio recruit) scored 4:22 into the extra session to send the Americans into the gold medal game. Sioux recruit JT Miller continued his stellar play by notching a goal and two assists in the victory while fellow UND commit Rocco Grimaldi was kept off the scoresheet.

Below is a brief interview of Miller after Team USA's prelim win over Russia earlier in the week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Counting on Mister Kristo

For the third consecutive day the University of North Dakota received welcome news from a key underclassman.

Danny Kristo announced today that he will return to the University of North Dakota for his junior season rather than sign a professional contract with the Montreal Canadiens organization. Kristo, who was the 2010 WCHA freshman of the year, will be a key offensive player for the Sioux next season. After struggling to get the puck across the goal line early in the season, Kristo began displaying the offensive skills that have made him one of the top prospects in the Montreal system. He tallied 8 goals and 20 assists despite missing 10 games due to a severe case of frostbite.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Let There Be Blood...

B. Blood  (AP Photo/Grand Forks Herald, Sarah Kolberg)

As per GF Herald beat writer Brad Elliott Schlossman's blog, Sioux defenseman Ben Blood will return to UND for his senior season rather than sign a professional contract. Blood's NHL rights are held by the Ottawa Senators.

The return of Blood, paired with WCHA Goaltender of the Year Aaron Dell's decision to return to UND for his junior year, will certainly make the defensive end of the ice a strength for the Sioux next season. The Sioux also return veteran defensemen Andrew MacWilliam, Derek Forbort, Dillon Simpson and Joe Gleason, while incoming recruits Nick Mattson (Indiana-USHL) and Andrew Panzarella (Waterloo-USHL) will be counted upon to contribute significant minutes as well. Mattson and Panzarella were both USHL all-stars this past season.

Force Take Pelnik; Miller & Grimaldi Propel Team USA

The Fargo Force selected North Dakota recruit Charlie (Christopher) Pelnik today in the 1st Round (10th Overall) of the USHL Futures Draft. Pelnik is a 6-4, 185 pound defenseman from Cary, NC who spent this past season with the Carolina Junior Hurricanes Midget U16 AAA team.

In the Under-18 World Championships, Team USA completed Preliminary play with a perfect 4-0 record by defeating the host team Germany 7-3 today. Rocco Grimaldi and JT Miller continued their stellar play as each Sioux recruit notched a goal and two assists. Through the four games of Prelim play, Miller leads Team USA in scoring and is fifth overall in the tournament with 8 points (3 G, 5 A) while Grimaldi is tied for 6th overall with 7 points (2 G, 5 A).

Team USA, having earned automatic passage to the semifinal round by winning Group A, will face the winner of Thursday's Canada-Germany quarterfinal matchup. Both Sweden and Canada finished Group B Preliminary play at 3-1, but Sweden earned the quarterfinal bye with a 4-2 head-to-head victory over Team Canada today. The semifinal round takes place Saturday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Team USA Under-18's Remain Undefeated

Team USA sits at 3-0 in the Under-18 World Championships after defeating Russia today 4-3. North Dakota recruit JT Miller scored twice and Rocco Grimaldi earned an assist on the game winning goal, which came with under a minute remaining in regulation. The next action for Team USA is against tournament host Germany Tuesday afternoon. 

Game Summary/Boxscore (PDF)

Malone Assists, St. Clair Scores, USHL Playoff Update

Former Sioux Brad Malone recorded an assist in his first professional game as the Lake Erie Monsters defeated the Manitoba Moose 6-4 in game 1 of their American Hockey League playoff series. Malone's assist came on a goal scored by Ryan Stoa.

Game Summary

North Dakota 2011 commit Colten St. Clair scored a goal as the Fargo Force completed a sweep of the Lincoln Stars in the first round of the USHL playoffs.

Game Story

2011 commit Nick Mattson's Indiana Ice took out Andrew Panzarella (also a 2011 commit) and the Waterloo Black Hawks in a USHL playoff first round sweep.

Also swept in the first round of the USHL playoffs was Team USA, which featured 2012 commits Stefan Matteau and Miles Koules. Sweep courtesy of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

Jordan Schmaltz (2012 commit) and Sioux City fell to Sioux Falls Sunday evening in the rubber match of their first round USHL series.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Team USA 2-0 at Under-18 World Championships

R. Grimaldi at World Under-18's.
Team USA's Under-18 team moved to 2-0 in preliminary round play at the World Championships with an 8-1 win over Slovakia yesterday. North Dakota incoming 2011 verbals Rocco Grimaldi (1G, 1A) and JT Miller (2A) each had 2 points and connected with each other for the first goal of the game (second assist went to Seth Jones, son of former NBA'er Popeye Jones). They are off today and will take on Russia Sunday at 12:30 PM.

Team USA Schedule, Results, Roster, etc.

Welcome, About, First Post, etc...

Welcome to my blog. (What do I say here?! This kinda has the awkwardness of a first date...) Anyway, I'm not quite sure how it's going to go, but I'm gonna give this blogging thing a try. Why? Well, I guess over the years I've spent endless hours keeping tabs on UND's men's hockey program, and I figured I may as well attempt to produce some form of tangible result of my rubedom. I've never played organized hockey at any level, so I certainly do not consider myself any form of expert on the sport. I'm just a fan with an amateur opinion that's looking to share some of the information I come across.

What will you find here? At this point it's very much a work in progress, but boiled down, eventually you'll find some info on past players; stats, stories, and assorted nuggets on the current year's team; and whatever pertinent information I come across relating to prospective players. There'll also be some random posts on hockey in general, and perhaps even life in general. So, if you've made it this far, my apologies and gratefulness are extended simultaneously, and I hope you'll be back with relative frequency. And, as always, your feedback, suggestions, and general commentary are always encouraged and greatly appreciated.