Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Morning Coffee

After a couple of weeks off, it's time to do some catching up. Perhaps a lot of this is old news to some of you, but hopefully there are a few links that will be of interest. Since the last post...
  • UND announced its incoming class of freshmen (and a transfer) for the 2012-13 season. It's a very promising mix of talent that should blend nicely with a strong group of returnees. Also worth remembering is that in addition to the six newcomers, we will also get our first glimpse of Colten St. Clair, Mitch MacMillan (eligible Spring semester), and a healthy Rocco Grimaldi. All of this is enough for Inside College Hockey to rank North Dakota third in its very early preseason rankings.
  • Incoming freshman goaltender Zane Gothberg was named the USHL's Co-Goaltender of the Year. The Fargo Force goalie was the league's regular season leader in Save % (.921) and Shutouts (7) while finishing second in Goals Against Average (2.22). Additionally, his playoff GAA (1.78) and Save % (.942) led the league. He shared top goaltender honors with Green Bay's Ryan McKay. 
  • Former Sioux associate head coach Cary Eades was named the head coach and general manager of the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede. This is Eades' second stint in the USHL, having previously served as the HC/GM of the Dubuque Fighting Saints for a very successful two-year tenure in the early 1990's. Eades is a flat-out winner, and expect him to achieve big things in South Dakota, where he'll surely help grow the sport in a state with a promising future on the ice.
  • Chuck Schwartz of Bucky's 5th Quarter attended USA Hockey's Central District Midget Festival, and in his individual notes he says UND recruit Chris Wilkie was "one of the best players" at the event. Wilkie is anticipated to arrive on campus in the fall of 2014 and will play for the USNTDP's Under-17 team this upcoming season. Everything I've heard/read about Wilkie has been very positive - lots of skill, welcomes the physical game, incredible motor, tremendous work ethic.
NHL Playoff Update:
  • Matt Greene and the Los Angeles Kings advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals after eliminating the Phoenix Coyotes in five games. Greene, who has his sights firmly set on the Cup, will be making his second trip to The Finals. The former Sioux captain was a member of the Edmonton Oilers when they came up just short against Carolina in the 2006 Finals, losing in seven games.
  • Greene and LA's ecstasy, of course, is the agony of Dave Tippett and the Phoenix Coyotes. Phoenix made a strong run to the Western Conference Finals but a sluggish start to the series was too much to overcome against a strong Los Angeles team. Regardless of how the season ended, Tippett and the Coyotes should be proud of their season, which was forged from an uncertain and chaotic situation. Tippett and Coyote GM Don Maloney have somehow made it work in the desert, while a trio from Phoenix's staff has international roots that run deep.
  • The New Jersey Devils are one win away from joining Los Angeles in the Stanley Cup Finals as they lead the New York Rangers three games to two in the Eastern Conference Finals. Former Sioux Zach Parise and Travis Zajac have played lead roles in New Jersey's fantastic playoff run, sharing the team lead with seven goals apiece, a total that is eclipsed league-wide only by Philadelphia's Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere, who have eight each. The Devils will look to eliminate New York tonight (7:00 CDT).
  • Parise, whose DNA is riddled with hockey smarts, is the second leading scorer for the Devils during the postseason with 14 points (7-7). He is among a trio of Americans looking to become the first US-born captain (and just the second ever) to win The Cup since the Dallas Stars' Derian Hatcher hoisted sport's greatest trophy in 1999. Despite (and perhaps, because of) New Jersey's extended playoff run, Parise's impending free agency status remains attractive fodder for the media. The Detroit News ponders what Red Wing life would be like with Parise and Ryan Suter in the fold, but might New Jersey's postseason success be enough to keep him a Devil? The Star Tribune, meanwhile, examines the potential of Parise returning to Minnesota.
  • Life is good for Zajac, who is third on the team with 12 postseason points (7-5). His strong playoff contributions are a bit of a redemption story following an injury-plagued regular season.
AHL Playoff Update:
  • Matt Frattin and the Toronto Marlies have taken a three game to one series lead over Chris VandeVelde, Taylor Chorney and the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL's Western Conference Finals. Frattin has been fantastic in the postseason as he is tied for the league lead with eight goals, while VandeVelde is T-5th with five. Frattin, who possesses a nice arsenal of offensive weapons, is part of the contingent of Toronto "Young Guns" leaving its mark on the AHL Playoffs. Game five takes place tonight in Toronto at 6:00 CDT.
  • St. John's was swept by Norfolk in the Eastern Conference Finals. Jason Gregoire and Jake Marto did not appear in the postseason for the IceCaps. 
USHL Playoff Update:
  • Jordan Schmaltz was The Last Man Standing among North Dakota recruits, and he stood for as long as he could. Schmaltz and the Green Bay Gamblers defeated Waterloo Wednesday night in the decisive game five of the USHL's Clark Cup Finals, thereby capping a tremendous USHL career for the incoming UND defenseman. He finished the postseason T-1st in +/- among defensemen (+10) and he was T-2nd among blueliners in points (2-5-7). The next question regarding Schmaltz is where he will be selected in June's NHL Entry Draft. Here are a few draft prospect profiles from Last Word on SportsHockey Prospectus (#46), and NHL Mock Draft.

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