Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Recruit Profile: Bryn Chyzyk

Previous Team:  Fargo Force (USHL)
Anticipated Arrival at UND:  2012
Position:  Forward
Birthday:  November 5th, 1992  
Hometown:  Virden, MB, Canada
Height:  5'11"
Weight:  181
Shoots:  Left

Profiles & Press Clippings:
  • He spent the season with the USHL's Fargo Force, where he tallied 49 points (28G, 21A) in 57 regular season games and one assist in six postseason games. He tied for the Fargo team lead with 28 goals (eighth best in the USHL) and he was named USHL Offensive Player of the Week for Week 17.
  • Played with the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, registering 71 points (22G, 49A) in 62 games on his way to earning MJHL Rookie of the Year honors. He was named the league's Week 5 Player of the Week, and his 71 points were the seventh most in the league.
  • He took part in the 2011 MJHL All-Star Game, producing three assists in the contest. He was a Sher-Wood Division All-Star teammate of current Sioux forward Stephane Pattyn.
  • Played for the Southwest Cougars of the Manitoba Midget Hockey League and was second on the team with 57 points (26G, 31A) in 43 games. He led the Cougars in scoring during the playoffs with 11 points (4G, 7A) in eight games.
  • He was named the MMHL Offensive Player of the Week on December 11
2007-08 & 2008-09:
  • Played for Virden (MB) High School, where he produced 26 goals and 29 assists for the Golden Bears.

Tuesday Evening Post

  • Just a few hours after getting word of Fargo Force forward Bryn Chyzyk's collegiate intentions, UND received its second commitment of the day yesterday when Vernon Viper (BCHL) forward Adam Tambellini said he plans to play his college hockey at North Dakota, choosing UND over Michigan, Minnesota, and Penn State. Tambellini, the son of Edmonton Oiler GM Steve Tambellini and brother of former Michigan star Jeff Tambellini, has tallied 38 points (20G, 18A) in 41 games as a Viper rookie. He could potentially arrive in North Dakota as early as next season, but it appears 2013 is the more likely scenario. Tambellini, who was considered to be one of the top non-committed players in North America prior to his commitment, is a Viper teammate of fellow UND recruit Geoff Crisfield. Expect much more on UND's two latest recruits in the next few days when their recruit profiles are published.
  • Apparently New Jersey Devils' general manager Lou Lamoriello is telling other GMs around the league that he will not be dealing Zach Parise prior to the February 27 trade deadline. Instead, if Parise were to be dealt it would be after the season but prior to the July 1st free agency period, which would give the offering team an exclusive negotiating period with the former Sioux star in advance of him becoming an unrestricted free agent. While New Jersey management is doing what most believe is the right thing in keeping Parise in New Jersey as they try to secure a playoff berth, virtually nothing has been done to try to keep their star beyond this season.
  • Jonathan Toews will return to Chicago's lineup tonight when they take on Vancouver in what is the first game of a nine game road trip. Toews missed last Tuesday's game against Nashville with an apparent wrist injury and used the long All-Star weekend to recover. In other good news for Chicago, they will also be getting former Vermont star Patrick Sharp back, who's been out of the lineup since January 8.
  • Jason Blake is questionable for the Anaheim Ducks in their match-up with Phoenix tonight. He is suffering from a lingering foot injury.
  • The National Collegiate Hockey Conference, UND's new hockey home starting with the 2013-14 season, signed an exclusive national television deal with the CBS Sports Network today. There is still much to be determined over the next year and a half in terms of UND's national and regional television presence, but from the way it looks now, the deal with Fox College Sports that allows all North Dakota home games to be broadcast nationally will not be renewed after next season.
  • There was an interesting article in the Duluth News Tribune recently featuring Tyler and Josh Cisar, a high-scoring pair of brothers who play for the Moose Lake Area hockey team. Josh recently scored eight goals in a game, which is the second highest single game total in Minnesota high school hockey history. The record is held by Max Oshie, the great-uncle of former Sioux TJ Oshie. Max set the record in a 1948 game against Thief River Falls. Who was unfortunate enough to be in net that night for TRF? None other than former UND goalie and benefactor extraordinaire Ralph Engelstad.
  • Carter Rowney is the most recent player featured by UND Sports Spotlight:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Evening Post

  • North Dakota received a verbal commitment from Fargo Force forward Bryn Chyzyk today. Chyzyk, who visited UND last Friday during the Wisconsin series, chose North Dakota over future NCHC foes Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth, and Western Michigan. Northern Michigan was also said to be in the mix for a player who has burst onto the USHL scene this season. Chyzyk is currently the second leading scorer for Fargo with 31 points (20G, 11A) in 37 games, and his 20 goals rank as the sixth best in the USHL. For a quick introduction to the latest North Dakota recruit, here is Chyzyk's Force in a Minute feature (CAUTION: Video contains Justin Bieber reference 1 of 2):

  • Luke Johnson and Jack Rowe each had big games this past weekend in USHL action. Johnson had a three point game (1G, 2A) Friday night to help Lincoln to a 5-2 victory over Des Moines, while Rowe had a five assist night Saturday in Cedar Rapids' 6-5 shootout loss to Waterloo. Johnson now has 30 points (10G, 20A) in 32 games this season, while Rowe, after missing the first month of the season due to injury, has 14 points (2G, 12A) in 25 games. He's been playing particularly well as of late, recording 12 points (2G, 10A) and a +8 rating in his last 14 games after recording just two assists and a -5 in his first 11.
  • Luke Voltin returned to the ice last weekend for the first time since leaving the USNTDP, going scoreless in two games with the Des Moines Buccaneers. Voltin was initially claimed off of USHL waivers by the Chicago Steel, who then moved the forward to Des Moines via trade.
  • Jordan Schmaltz took part in an interview on The Pipeline Show last week following the NHL/USHL Top Prospects Game.
  • Fighting Sioux centerman Corban Knight was recently interviewed by Litter Box Cats.  
  • According to a leading Toronto Maple Leaf blog, former Sioux and current Toronto Marlie Matt Frattin is considered one of the top prospects in the Maple Leaf system. Frattin has three goals and an assist in his last four games, including a two goal performance against former linemate Brad Malone's Lake Erie Monsters last Thursday. Malone also had a goal in the 6-2 Marlie win.
  • Chris Porter has been recalled by the St. Louis Blues following a two-game conditioning stint in Peoria (AHL), while Jake Marto is back with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL).
  • Oilers Nation recently caught up with Oklahoma City Baron (AHL) head coach Todd Nelson in order to see how things are going for Edmonton's top farm team, and Nelson gave a glowing report on former Sioux standout Chris VandeVelde: 
Chris VandeVelde has made excellent gains this year. He's a lot better player than he was last year. He's a pretty dominant centerman at this level. And what I mean by dominant is just his play; his all-around game. If you look at his numbers, they're nothing to get all excited about, but what he does for us is he plays a very good defensive role. He does excellent penalty killing for us, and he's strong on draws. He's a big strong centerman, and he has improved drastically from last year.
  • New Jersey Devils' center Travis Zajac has yet to resume skating since being shutdown earlier this month, but GM Lou Lamariello expects Zajac to be back with New Jersey at some point this season. As the article also points out, Zajac's wife gave birth to a baby boy last week, Zenon Nathan Zajac. Meanwhile, In Lou We Trust says New Jersey would be stupid to trade star winger Zach Parise.
  • Jonathan Toews is expected to return to action tomorrow night in Vancouver. The All-Star Break came at a great time for the Chicago center, allowing him some extra time to recuperate from a wrist injury suffered a week and a half ago.
  • ESPN's John Buccigross recently released his list of the Top 100 players in the NHL. North Dakota had two of the top 14, with Toews coming in at number two and Parise at number 14.
  • Matt Greene and the Los Angeles Kings have been playing some very good hockey recently, but perhaps they've been overshadowed a bit by the NBA's Clippers and Lakers. The Fame Makers are looking to change that (CAUTION: Video contains Justin Bieber reference 2 of 2):

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Wisconsin Recap

    Being on the outside looking in with regard to the national tournament picture, North Dakota came into the weekend knowing that it must defend its home arena during the stretch run if it hopes to earn an NCAA tournament berth. By way of 5-3 and 4-2 victories, the Sioux defended Engelstad Arena and avenged a Badger sweep in Madison earlier this season. Here are a few observations:
    • North Dakota is now 11-3-1 since the Sunday game of the Bemidji State series. Through that game the Sioux were scoring 2.42 goals per game while allowing 3.00. Since then they are scoring 3.53 while allowing 2.60. 
    • Michael Parks was very good this weekend. As a whole he's been very solid all season long, but it appears as though he's finding the form that allowed him to score the sixth most goals in the USHL last season. He had four points (3G, 1A) through the first 21 games, but since then he's produced five points (3G, 2A) in six games.
    • Stephane Pattyn celebrated his 21st birthday in style by scoring his first career goal Friday night. On what was the game-winning goal, he strongly held his position in front of the net and Mario Lamoureux rewarded his efforts by slipping him a pass that Pattyn neatly tucked home.
    • One obvious key to limiting the damage caused by Wisconsin's top guns is to keep the puck off their sticks. UND won 58% of the faceoffs this weekend while holding Justin Schultz and Mark Zengerle, two of the top point producers in the nation, to a combined two points (0G, 2A) and a -4 rating. North Dakota's overall team defense was very good this weekend as well. Wisconsin had a difficult time generating quality scoring chances.
    • Joe Gleason is settling into his forward role quite nicely. He's been very good over the past few games at gaining the offensive zone with speed, and when that happens it really puts the opposing team on its heels. He's a tremendous skater with the invaluable ability to play either defense or forward effectively, but he's really becoming a difference maker while playing up front.
    • Derek Forbort returned to the lineup this weekend, seeing his first action since getting injured during the World Junior Championships. He seemed confident, he played with a bit of an edge, and he had a very nice series. With the upcoming off-week, the team now has two weeks to try and get everyone as healthy as possible for the last month of the regular season and playoffs.
    • The top line of Brock Nelson, Danny Kristo, and Corban Knight picked up where it left off last Saturday. After being held off the scoresheet last Friday in St. Cloud, "The KnightLine" has produced 17 points (7G, 10A) during the team's three game win streak.
    • With Brock Nelson scoring a goal each night, the Fighting Sioux are now 12-2-0 when he scores, 3-8-2 when he does not.
    • Andrew MacWilliam appears to be breaking out offensively. In 20 games prior to flipping the calendar, the junior defenseman had one assist. In the seven games played in 2012, MacWilliam has recorded five points (2G, 3A), including last night's bomb from beyond the blue line. As a unit, North Dakota's defensemen contributed eight points (2G, 6A) against Wisconsin.
    • Based on the play of the goaltenders this weekend, I'd expect the goalie rotation to continue in Duluth. There were several weird, flukey goals scored this weekend, but both Aaron Dell and Brad Eidsness did what they had to do in order to give the team a chance to win.
    • The Sioux are now tied with Colorado College for fourth place in the conference standings. However, the two teams immediately below them in the standings (Michigan Tech and Nebraska-Omaha) have two games in hand on the Sioux. UND is off next weekend, while Michigan Tech travels to Minnesota State and UNO hosts Bemidji State. The following week UNO travels to Michigan Tech while North Dakota takes to the road against Minnesota-Duluth.

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Recruit Profile: Miles Koules

    Current Team:  US National Team Dev. Program Under-18 Team
    Anticipated Arrival at UND:  2012
    Position:  Forward
    Birthday:  June 25th, 1994
    Hometown:  Los Angeles, CA
    Height:  5'10"
    Weight:  187
    Shoots:  Right

    • Commitment Update: Koules has announced his intention to join the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL next season instead of playing for North Dakota.
    • Elite Prospect Profile/Stat Page (2011-12 stats are USHL games only)
    • 2011-12 USHL/International/College combined statistics can be found via The Recruits stat page
    • Future Considerations: Koules Bulking Up
    • NHL.com: Koules Watching Koules
    • USA Hockey: Koules Realizes Dream as a Member of Team USA
    • Dan Sallows: Q&A With Miles Koules
    • Brad Schlossman Blog Commitment Post
    • NHL Entry Draft Eligible in 2012
    • He has gone as high as the first round's 30th overall pick in early 2012 mock drafts.
    • Ranked #151 amongst North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting Service's 2012 Midterm Rankings. Hockey Buzz had this to say about his ranking: "Miles Koules is at 151 on the list, and I couldn't disagree more. The American forward has been greatly misused by the NTDP, and should receive consideration as a 2nd or 3rd round pick. The offensive abilities he has are too much to ignore." 
    • Hockey Buzz Scouting Report #1: A UND Commit, Koules is strong on his skate and shows incredible flashes of offensive talent. Not only can he set up linemates and make them better, he's shown a real ability to shoot the puck with accuracy and a quick release. He's not afraid to drive the net, either. Scouting Report #2: Skill and drive describe the son of former Tampa Bay Lightning owner, Oren Koules. An explosive skater who can zig-zag though traffic, Miles shows a high IQ for the game as well as creativity and vision. He's a gifted shooter who always seems to be creating offense. Not to mention he's as humble as they come. 
    • He was a member of USA Hockey's undefeated championship-winning team at the 2011 Under-18 Four Nations Cup in Monthey, Switzerland, notching one assist in four games.
    • In August of 2011 he and fellow Sioux recruit Jordan Schmaltz took part in the NHL's Research and Development Camp (featuring about 40 of the top 2012 NHL Draft prospects), where he had a very solid performance: The shifty winger impressed several of the scouts with his heady play and his knack around the net. Koules showed off a nice finishing touch, scoring a pair of goals in the scrimmages and clipping eight targets on just 10 shots during the skills competition. He was the winner of the Accuracy Shooting portion of the Skills Competition. Future Considerations scouting report: really caught my eye. He displayed strong puck skills and was at his best with the puck on his stick, creating offense. Although he is somewhat smaller then most of his peers, Koules is not physically intimidated and more then willing to travel into the ‘danger areas’ of the ice.
    • 2010-11: He was a member of the USNTDP Under-17 team. Participating in international, USHL, and collegiate exhibition play, he recorded 26 points (14G, 12A) in 42 games.
    • At the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg, MB, he accounted for eight points (4G, 4A) in 7 games as Team USA earned the tournament's silver medal.
    • In November of 2010 he was a member of the Under-17 Four Nations Cup winning team, leading the tournament in scoring by producing seven points (5G, 2A) in four games. Future Considerations filed this scouting report: skates well with explosive bursts that aids his water bug type game darting in and out of traffic…has good creativity and solid hockey sense…has nice vision and ability to generate offensive chances…has an effective shot although the velocity is only average…produced eight points in six games for a skilled USA squad.
    • In August of 2010 he played on Team USA's Under-17 Select team that won the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Hutwill, Switzerland. He produced four points (3G, 1A) in four games.
    • In June of 2010 he attended USA Hockey's Select 16 Development Camp, where he recorded five points (2G, 3A) in six games while being ranked as the camp's #10 forward by US Hockey Report: deceptive, sneaky player with a good stick. He's strong on the puck, wins a ton of  50/50 battles, and has a good shot. 
    • 2009-10: Competed for the Shattuck-St. Mary's Under-16 team, producing 58 points (20G, 38A) in 53 games. 
    • In July of 2009 he attended USA Hockey's Select 15 Development Camp, where he recorded four points (4G, 0A) in five games.
    • In July of 2008 he participated in USA Hockey's Select 14 Development Camp, picking up two assists in five games.

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Fighting Sioux vs. Wisconsin: Notes & Links

    North Dakota vs. Wisconsin - Series Notes & Links
    • Friday 7:37 CST/Saturday 7:07 CST
    • The games will be broadcast on a variety of media outlets across the region. Here's the standard Broadcast Information.
    • Brad Schlossman's Friday Morning Reading
    • Series Notes: North Dakota and Wisconsin
    • Sioux Sports says that UND's road to the national tournament is getting steeper. If North Dakota does not want to rely on winning the Final Five to qualify for the NCAA playoffs, the team will have to earn some series sweeps down the stretch.
    • According to Bucky's Fifth Quarter, North Dakota is well aware of Wisconsin's top playmakers.
    • The UW Badger Herald says that the young Badgers will be facing a stiff road challenge this weekend, but if recent history is any indication, Wisconsin could be leaving North Dakota with points. The Badgers are 6-1-1 in their last eight games at Engelstad Arena.
    • With Justin Schultz and Mark Zengerle having big seasons, the Badgers are looking to Tyler Barnes to provide additional production.
    • Wisco defenseman Justin Schultz is the player to watch this weekend. He is the best college hockey player I've seen all season, and he's at the forefront of the race for the Hobey Baker Award. He is currently fifth in the nation with 37 points (12G, 25A), just three off the national lead (UMD's Jack Connolly has 40). His 37 points from the blueline are 11 more than the number two point producing defenseman, Nate Schmidt of Minnesota (26). Leading the way up front for the Badgers is sophomore forward Mark Zengerle, who is tied for second in the nation with 38 points (10G, 28A).
    • Sean Lee and associate head coach Cary Eades recap last weekend's SCSU series and preview the Wisconsin matchup:

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Thursday Evening Post

    This is a bit of a short post, but it's nice to get the links posted as quickly as possible heading into the weekend. Enjoy:
    • For the third time this season Jake Marto has been recalled by the St. Johns IceCaps (AHL). In his previous two stints with St. Johns, Marto has recorded three assists in 12 games, while he has produced five assists in 20 games with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL).
    • There is still no timetable set for the return of injured New Jersey Devil centerman Travis Zajac. Zajac was shut-down after his surgically repaired Achilles tendon became inflamed. He has played in eight games this season, producing one goal and two assists.
    • The Regina Leader-Post published a wonderful story on Kennedy Bobyck, the ten year-old daughter of former Sioux standout Brent Bobyck. While she fully intends to one day suit up for North Dakota, she has more pressing matters to deal with this weekend. Kennedy and family are off to Ottawa where she will be competing in the finals of the Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills Championships during All-Star Weekend. Former Sioux Jonathan Toews will be presenting the championship trophy at the event, as he is the founding member of the Canadian Tire Hockey School.
    • Toews was recently ranked 69th on Bloomberg Businessweek's Power 100, making him the highest ranked hockey player on the list that ranks the 100 most powerful athletes in the world. 
    • There's also some good news on the Toews injury front. General manager Stan Bowman says he expects the Chicago captain to be in the lineup when the Blackhawks resume regular season play next Tuesday against Vancouver. 
    • Lastly, Toews is currently taking on Steven Stamkos in the semi-finals of Real GM's Be a GM contest. He's already taken down Jimmy Howard, Shea Weber, and Alex Ovechkin, so make sure to vote Captain Serious into the finals.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Wednesday Evening Post

    • On the Fighting Sioux injury front, Brendan O'Donnell is out for this weekend's series against Wisconsin, while Derek Forbort is listed as questionable. O'Donnell suffered his upper-body injury against Minnesota, while Forbort is still ailing from an injury he sustained at the World Junior Championships.
    • The first-ever NHL/USHL Top Prospects Game took place yesterday in Muskegon, MI. Team East defeated Team West by a score of 5-3 with over 100 NHL scouts in attendance. Sioux recruit Luke Johnson, one of just three 2013 draft-eligible prospects invited to participate, recorded two assists for Team West, while fellow Sioux recruit Jordan Schmaltz played for Team East.
    • For the second consecutive week, Fargo Force goalkeeper Zane Gothberg was named the USHL Goaltender of the Week after helping the Force pick up three wins, including his third shutout of the season. He has been in net for the duration of Fargo's current nine game win streak, having posted a .943 save percentage and 1.43 GAA during that span. For the season, Gothberg leads USHL netminders in shutouts (3), is second in GAA (2.34) and save percentage (.918) and is third in wins (15).
    • Reel Hockey Scouting has compiled scouting reports for future Sioux defensemen Charlie Pelnik and Jordan Schmaltz. The reports are rather unique in that they feature complete game iso videos of each player. Charlie Pelnik Scouting Report and Jordan Schmaltz Scouting Report
    • Recruit Drake Caggiula, who was nicked up and had to sit out a couple games last weekend, is expected to be back in the Stouffville Spirit (OJHL) lineup this week. Caggiula has recorded 27 points (8G, 19A) in 19 games for the second place Spirit.
    • David Toews has been placed on the Toledo Walleye's (ECHL) IR list with concussion symptoms.
    • With the NHL All-Star break upon us, a few former Sioux have been reassigned to their AHL squads. Joe Finley (Buffalo Sabres) was assigned to Rochester, Taylor Chorney (Edmonton Oilers) to Oklahoma City, and Chris Porter (St. Louis Blues) was sent to Peoria. Porter's stint is officially a two game conditioning assignment, meaning he does not need to clear waivers in order to rejoin the Blues.
    • Mike Commodore was on 590 The Fan's Brady and Lang in the Morning Show, and he discussed what it's been like to play for the Red Wings after coming over from the Columbus Blue Jackets. And while it wasn't discussed on the radio show, Commodore did Tweet his thoughts on the newest Detroit Tiger, Prince Fielder: "Cheli's Chili might want to change those glass windows to plexiglass before opening day. They might be within Fielder's range." Well, Google Earth says Chris Chelios' restaurant is 735 feet from home plate at Comerica Park, so he may not be that far off.
    • A feature published by The Hockey Writers asks whether the New Jersey Devils should trade Zach Parise.
    • Jonathan Toews was placed on IR yesterday, enabling Chicago to call up an extra player from Rockford, their AHL affiliate. Toews also will not be participating in the All-Star Game as he looks to recover from the wrist injury that forced him to miss Tuesday's game against Nashville. Due to the long All-Star break, the IR assignment will not force Toews to miss any additional action if he is ready to go once the NHL resumes regular season play.
    • A Los Angeles Kings blog says the play of assistant captain Matt Greene is often overlooked.

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Monday Evening Post

    • Jonathan Toews did not take part in Blackhawk practice today, and he has been ruled out for Tuesday night's game against Nashville after suffering an upper-body injury last weekend. He is also likely to miss this weekend's All-Star game in order to take advantage of the extra rest. The added rest comes at a good time as Toews' importance to the Blackhawks is immeasurable, and one observer says that unless Sidney Crosby can overcome his concussion issues, Toews is the future of the NHL.
    • Taylor Chorney, recalled from Oklahoma City yesterday, is expected to be in the lineup tonight for Edmonton when they take on San Jose.  
    • TJ Oshie, Chris Porter, and the St. Louis Blues are Western Conference contenders
    • The red-hot play of Fargo Force goaltender Zane Gothberg (nine game win streak) has been receiving a lot of attention as of late, but a few future Sioux blueliners have also been producing some nice numbers in the USHL. Paul LaDue of Lincoln has seven points (3G, 4A) and is a +8 over his last seven games. Keaton Thompson of the USNTDP U-17 team has four points (1G, 3A) and is a +5 in his last five games, while Green Bay's Jordan Schmaltz appears to have found his groove in producing eleven points (3G, 8A) and a +3 in his last seven games.
    • Alabama-Huntsville goaltender Clarke Saunders, who will transfer to UND following this season season, did all he could to keep his team competitive against top-ranked Minnesota-Duluth last weekend. In Friday's 2-1 loss at Amsoil Arena, Saunders stopped 52 of 54 Bulldog shots. On Saturday night he faced 47 more, stopping 43 of them in the Chargers' 4-3 loss. That's a lot of rubber in what was a respectable showing for Huntsville, which is now 2-24-1 on the season. Who did their two wins come against? Saunders' future WCHA/NCHC foes Nebraska-Omaha and Denver.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Sunday Evening Post

    • The Edmonton Oilers recalled Oklahoma City Barons' defenseman Taylor Chorney this morning. Chorney has played 25 games with the Barons, producing three goals, eight assists, and a +4 rating. This will be his second stint in the NHL this season, having previously played two games apiece for the Oilers and St. Louis Blues.
    • Chicago Blackhawk captain Jonathan Toews was forced to leave yesterday's 5-2 loss to Nashville with an apparent upper-body injury. At this point the injury is not expected to keep him out of the lineup for an extended period of time, as head coach Joel Quenneville categorized Toews as day-to-day. With Patrick Sharp already sidelined, Chicago cannot afford to have Toews shelved for very long. The Edmonton Journal considers the former North Dakota star the Hart Trophy frontrunner, while Nashville associate coach Brent Peterson calls Toews "the best two-way player since Mark Messier."
    • The New Jersey Devils may be turning to the NHL for some assistance in meeting their day-to-day financial obligations. Such a scenario does not bode well for a team that is looking to extend the contract of its captain Zach Parise, who says "it's hard to be competitive" if you don't spend to the cap. The more details that surface in regard to New Jersey's financial situation, the less likely it appears that they will be able to keep Parise.
    • The Anaheim Ducks are apparently open to dealing Jason Blake should they receive the right offer. Blake, who is in the final year of his contract, has been playing some terrific hockey since his return from injury. Blake's recent performance may very well be piquing the interest of teams looking to add some depth to their lineup for the stretch run.
    • Brandon Bochenski recorded a hat trick and added two assists in yesterday's KHL All-Star Game. Bochenski and Team Fedorov were able to pull out a 15-11 victory
    • Brock Nelson was recently featured as part of the UND Sports Spotlight series:
    • More than 100 NHL team representatives are expected to be on-hand when recruits Jordan Schmaltz and Luke Johnson take to the ice in Tuesday night's USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
    • Team USA dropped the bronze medal game at the Youth Olympic Games yesterday, losing to Canada 7-5. Recruit Nick Schmaltz had a goal and an assist as Team USA tried to mount a comeback, but a 7-2 deficit after two periods proved to be too steep of a hill for the Under-16 team to climb. In examining the boxscores, goaltending was the difference in Team USA's two medal round losses. The Americans out-shot Russia and Canada by a combined margin of 72-35, yet were outscored 12-7. Nick Schmaltz finished the tournament tied for the team lead in assists (four) and points (six).

    St. Cloud State Recap

    The Fighting Sioux took to the road looking to gain some separation in the chase for home-ice and came away with a split in what was a very entertaining weekend of hockey. St. Cloud State earned a 3-1 victory Friday night behind freshman goaltender Ryan Faragher, while North Dakota bounced back with an exciting 3-2 win Saturday. Here are some observations:
    • Friday night the play was a bit sporadic, but the Sioux came back Saturday with a complete 60:00 game. They had jump from the drop of the puck and didn't let up until the final horn, and that effort gave Dake Hakstol his 200th career victory behind the Fighting Sioux bench. He joins Gino Gasparini and Dean Blais as the only North Dakota head coaches with 200 or more victories. 
    • The goaltending this weekend was very solid for both teams. Ryan Faragher was masterful in making several brilliant saves, including a larcenous effort on Brock Nelson Saturday night. North Dakota's Brad Eidsness and Aaron Dell were also very good as they too had several big saves on the weekend. It will be interesting to see how the SCSU goaltending situation plays out down the stretch with incumbent Mike Lee soon to return from injury. The old adage says a player doesn't lose a job due to injury, but what Faragher has done in Lee's absence cannot be ignored. Expect a goaltender rotation until one of them is markedly better than the other and establishes himself as the number one guy. Perhaps we will see the same situation play out for the Fighting Sioux, as Eidsness' recent play certainly warrants more time in net.
    • Danny Kristo was the best player on the ice this weekend. Saturday night especially he was motoring all over the place in all three zones, and he seemed to have the desire to have the puck on his stick at all times with a willingness to do anything it took to get it there. His puck possession abilities are phenomenal. Corban Knight was also very sharp, as he appears to be getting closer to full-health.
    • It was great to see Michael Parks in the lineup. The way that he went into the corners and pressured pucks might not have been indicative of a player suiting up at less than 100%, but there were definitely  moments where his body language and facial expressions communicated his pain and discomfort.
    • Carter Rowney played a heck of a game Saturday despite not finding the scoresheet. Key to his performance was his shift with about 4:00 left in the game. He was all over the place in helping the Sioux maintain the offensive zone at a time when SCSU was really ramping up the energy and pressure in looking for the game-tying goal.    
    • In the Battle of the Walking (or Skating?) Wounded, it appears as though UND came out of the weekend without adding to their injury list. SCSU wasn't so lucky however. They had two players, Jordy Christian and Cory Thorson, leave and not return during Saturday's game.
    • The weekend results leave North Dakota sitting in sixth place in the WCHA standings with 18 points. The Sioux are one point up on both Michigan Tech and SCSU, with Tech having two games in-hand. Wisconsin is two points back of UND with 16, setting up for a key series this coming weekend at Engelstad Arena. Every conference point is critical at this stage of the season as fifth place (Denver) and ninth place (Wisconsin) are separated by just three points.
    • As always, it was great to see how well the Fighting Sioux faithful travel, as the cheers supporting the road team were much louder than any home team's fan base ever wants to hear in their own building. This was evidenced by Saturday night's third period roar after the officials overturned what would have been the game-tying goal. I did not see the referee wave off the goal following the review, and the response from the National Hockey Center crowd immediately led me to believe that the goal was going to stand. The roar, of course, was the large UND faction celebrating the no-goal.

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Friday Afternoon Links

    I figured I could squeeze in one last batch of links before hopping on I-94 eastbound for this weekend's series against St. Cloud State. Enjoy the reading, have a great weekend, and here's to wishing the Fighting Sioux, both men and women, the best of luck against SCSU.
    • This morning Team USA and Nick Schmaltz doubled up Russia on shots but eventually dropped a 5-2 decision in the semifinals of the Youth Olympic Games. They will play the loser of this afternoon's Canada-Finland semifinal in tomorrow's bronze medal game.
    • The NHL recently published a nice feature on the USHL's Top Prospects Game, while the USHL announced the team breakdown for the inaugural event. Sioux recruits Jordan Schmaltz and Luke Johnson are scheduled to take part in the game, which will be played Tuesday, January 24 in Muskegon, MI.
    • Aaron Schneekloth has been at or near the top of all offensive categories among ECHL defensemen this season, making him one of the driving forces behind the Colorado Eagles' running and gunning defensive corps.
    • The Anaheim Ducks are currently among the hottest teams in the NHL, having gone unbeaten (6-0-1) in their last seven games. The Hockey Writers examine what's turned their season around, while an Anaheim fan blog identifies Jason Blake as a main catalyst of the Ducks' resurgence. 
    • The Chicago Blackhawks have been getting some unexpected production out of rookies like Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes, but one observer says the consistent performance of captain Jonathan Toews is the key to Chicago's success. Toews, who is perhaps the most complete player in the league, was recently named to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game for his first-half performance, and one of his duties on All-Star Weekend will be to take part in the Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills National Championship.
    • Toews' Blackhawks, Mike Commodore's Detroit Red Wings, and TJ Oshie & Chris Porter's St. Louis Blues are all looking to become the Masters of the Midwest.
    • In Lou We Trust provides a rather extensive statistical breakdown in comparing Zach Parise's production this season to his previous four.
    • The 23rd Annual Terry Casey Memorial Cup is underway in Great Falls, MT. The high school hockey tournament honors former Fighting Sioux All-American Terry Casey, who was a native of Great Falls. Casey's #12 is one of just two numbers to have been retired by the North Dakota men's hockey program. Ralph Engelstad's #23 is the other.

    Fighting Sioux vs. St. Cloud State: Notes & Links

    UND (12-9-2, 8-8-0 WCHA)  vs. St. Cloud State (9-11-4, 6-7-3 WCHA) - Series Notes & Links:

    • Gametime: Friday 7:37 CST/Saturday 7:07 CST
    • As always, the games will be broadcast over the radio airwaves via the UND Radio Network, but there will be no television coverage regionally. In the St. Cloud area the games will be broadcast on Charter channel 87, while in the Twin Cities Comcast will carry the series on channels 13 (St. Paul) and 23 (Minneapolis). The game is also available via webcast at B2Live for $8.00.
    • Series notes in PDF: North Dakota and St. Cloud State
    • Brad Schlossman's Friday Morning Reading
    • The big news that came out Thursday afternoon was that much-heralded freshman Rocco Grimaldi will have season-ending knee surgery. Grimaldi's two month shutdown was not enough for the knee to heal on its own, leading to the decision to move forward with the surgery. He joins Derek Rodwell as Sioux who have had their seasons ended prematurely, and freshman Brendan O'Donnell (out against SCSU) will know more on the severity of his injury next week. Derek Forbort is also out this weekend, while Michael Parks is traveling with the team and will be a gameday decision.
    • While St. Cloud State goaltender Mike Lee is close to returning from a lower-body injury, it won't happen against North Dakota. The Huskies will continue to rely on freshman Ryan Faragher in Lee's absence. Faragher, of course, played a gem of a game against the Sioux back in October, making 44 saves in a 4-0 SCSU win. Drew LeBlanc, SCSU's offensive leader, is also out this weekend.
    • This is a mighty important series in the fight for first round home-ice. North Dakota currently sits in seventh place with 16 points while SCSU sits one spot behind with 15. Michigan Tech, currently in sixth place with 17 points, plays Saturday night in a non-conference game against Northern Michigan.
    • Jordy Christian has taken on a blue-collar role for the Huskies. Christian is the son of former Sioux Ed Christian and is the cousin of Brock Nelson. 
    • Fighting Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol will be looking to pick up career victory number 200 this weekend. If he does, he will join Gino Gasparini and Dean Blais as the only coaches in program history to achieve that mark.
    • Danny Kristo is closing in on the Fighting Sioux Century Club. He currently has 89 career points.
    • The St. Cloud Times chronicles what is most likely to be the final time the Fighting Sioux jersey will be worn on the ice at the National Hockey Center.
    • From the For What It's Worth Department, UND is not the only school engaged in a nickname controversy. This story is almost too rich to make up.
    • Inside College Hockey says emotions were running high around the WCHA last weekend.
    • UND Athletic Dept. Travel Blog
    • St. Cloud Times Series Preview
    • USCHO's This Week in the WCHA
    • USCHO's Weekend Picks
    • CHN's Tale of the Tape
    • CHN's WCHA Power Rankings
    • INCH's First Shift
    • INCH's Friday Four-Cast
    • WCHA Weekly Press Release
    • Inside Hockey Series Preview
    • Sioux Sports Series Preview
    • Lastly, here's Episode 11 of Through These Doors:

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Wednesday Evening Post

    • Here's the latest Fighting Sioux injury update: Derek Forbort, Brendan O'Donnell, Rocco Grimaldi, and Derek Rodwell are all out for this weekend. Michael Parks hasn't officially been ruled out but more than likely will not see action against St. Cloud State. Don't expect any sympathy from the Huskies, however. Number one goaltender Mike Lee and their top forward Drew LeBlanc have both been sidelined for long stretches due to injury, while forwards Cam Reid and Mitch MacMillan both left the team over the holiday break. MacMillan, of course, has since joined North Dakota but will not be able to play until next January.
    • Former Fighting Sioux All-American & assistant coach John Marks was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame tonight. Marks, who currently serves as head coach of the USHL's Fargo Force, is the ECHL's all-time leader in games coached, wins, and seasons spent behind the bench. ECHL Press Release
    • Earlier this week it was announced that Brandon Bochenski was named to the KHL All-Star Game. He's having a strong season for Barys Astana as his 42 points currently rank sixth in the league while his 19 goals are fourth best. For those of you not familiar with the Russian "super-league," here's a not-so-glamourous look at the top hockey league not based in North America.
    • Want a great stat line? Here is Jason Blake's from Sunday's victory against Vancouver: 2 goals, 1 assist, +3, and 10 shots, all in just 13 minutes of ice time. After missing 34 games this season, it seems he's doing all he can to make up for lost time. The Ducks are hosting Dave Tippet's Phoenix Coyotes tonight.
    • TJ Oshie of the high-riding St. Louis Blues took part in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch fan Q&A session today. Much like I was during my days at UND, Oshie fesses up to being quite the collector of campus parking citations.
    • Though he was recently sent down to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, Matt Frattin certainly got his licks in while playing with the Maple Leafs. He makes two appearances in the NHL's 25 Biggest Hits from the first half of the season.
    • With two goals in the Blackhawks' 6-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres tonight, Jonathan Toews extended his point streak to five games. During the streak he has produced four goals and three assists in leading Chicago to a 4-0-1 record
    • As Buffalo continues to struggle amid high expecations, speculation says both Derek Roy and Drew Stafford could be on the trading block. The Edmonton Journal asks whether Stafford would be a good fit for the Oilers.
    • Russia handed Team USA a 7-1 defeat today in the final game of preliminary round play at the Youth Olympic Games. The good news (or bad news?) is that Nick Schmaltz and the Americans will have a chance to exact their revenge on Russia as the two teams meet again on Friday in the tournament semifinals. In four preliminary games Schmaltz produced a team-leading four points (1G, 3A). His three assists also lead Team USA.
    • Nothing official has been reported in terms of Luke Voltin's move to the Chicago Steel. My guess is that it's a paperwork thing and that it is just a matter of time before it is announced.

    Luke Voltin To Join USHL's Chicago Steel

    Recruit Luke Voltin tweeted this afternoon that he will not pursue the WHL option but will instead begin playing in the USHL as soon as he can so that he can honor his commitment to North Dakota. As Slightly Chilled's Ryan S. Clark details in this post concerning Voltin, there is a bit of an involved process for Voltin to transition from the USNTDP to another USHL team. Nothing specific has been released in terms of what led to his dismissal from the Under-17 team.

    Ryan S. Clark has tweeted that Voltin will be joining the USHL's Chicago Steel.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Tuesday Evening Post

    • TJ Oshie scored a dynamite goal last night to put the streaking St. Louis Blues atop the NHL's Western Conference. The play started with a face-off win deep inside their own zone, and some slick passing and great spacing gave Oshie the opportunity to receive and bury a beautiful pass from David Perron. It was going to take a special play to beat either Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak or his Stars counterpart Kari Lehtonen, and Oshie and his linemates were able to get it done and provide what turned out to be the only goal in a 1-0 thriller. The St. Louis Game Time blog calls it the Blues' Goal of the Year (So Far) and goes so far as to say that last night's win could be a turning point for the franchise. It's been quite the in-season turnaround for St. Louis. In the thirteen games with Davis Payne behind the bench, the Blues went 6-7-0. Since Payne was replaced with Ken Hitchcock, the Blues have soared to the top of the West by going 21-5-6 Oshie is currently tied for the team lead in goals with 14 and is second on the team in points with 30. Here's the goal from Monday night:
    • Detroit defenseman Mike Commodore returned to the Red Wings' lineup tonight against the Dallas Stars. It's the first action for Commodore since taking a shot to his right foot Sunday, January 8.
    • The emerging play of Chicago Blackhawk winger Viktor Stalberg is meshing nicely with superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
    • Though the New Jersey Devils continue their strong play and are now threatening to move into the top four of the Eastern Conference, trade rumors continue to swirl around captain Zach Parise, and they will only intensify as we approach the February 27 trade deadline. In Lou We Trust speculates what it would take for other teams to land Parise, while St. Louis might have the necessary components to make Parise a Blue. The situation has the cash-strapped Devils in a bit of a tough situation as it's awfully hard to imagine that they'd deal Parise in the heat of a playoff race. On the other hand, they certainly don't want to see him walk as an unrestriceted free agent this summer. Whatever happens, it will be one of the top NHL story lines over the course of the next several months.
    • Last weekend's North Dakota-Minnesota series was featured in the NY Times.
    • Zane Gothberg had another outstanding game last night for the Fargo Force, posting his third shutout of the season and the second in his last five games. The reigning USHL Goaltender of the Week stopped all 27 shots he faced in leading the Force to a 4-0 win against Sioux Falls. Gothberg and the Force are riding a seven game win streak, during which time the future Sioux netminder has a 1.41 GAA and .946 Save %.
    • Nick Schmaltz had a goal and an assist to lead Team USA to a 5-4 win over Finland in the Youth Olympic Games. The Americans, who now sit at 2-1-0, will close out preliminary round play Wednesday against Russia.
    • There has been no substantiation at this point, but it is being rumored that North Dakota recruit Luke Voltin has been dismissed from the USNTDP Under-17 team. Chris Dilks of the Western College Hockey Blog first reported the news, and Voltin no longer appears on the team's official roster. He has played in 25 games with the U-17 team, producing five goals and seven assists. Updates will be posted as information is made available.

      Monday, January 16, 2012

      Monday Evening Post

      • As a result of Saturday night's handshake altercation, UND defenseman Ben Blood has been stripped of his assistant captaincy, and head coach Dave Hakstol said the possibility remains that additional disciplinary measures could be handed out. Blood said he "understands and respects the punishment." Corban Knight and Andrew MacWilliam will continue to serve as North Dakota's assistant captains. Danny Kristo, meanwhile, apologized for his Friday night actions via Twitter.
      • In another blow to UND's depth, freshman forward Brendan O'Donnell's upper-body injury appears to be significant and he will be re-evaluated within the next couple of days. Michael Parks was also injured in last weekend's series against Minnesota and will be evaluated later this week. Derek Rodwell is already out for the season, Rocco Grimaldi and Derek Forbort were held out of the lineup last weekend, while Corban Knight and Mario Lamoureux played despite being banged-up.
      • Freshman Connor Gaarder was recently featured in this UND Sports Profile:
      • Recruit Zane Gothberg was named the USHL's Goaltender of the Week for his stellar play with the Fargo Force over the weekend. Gothberg won both of his starts and is currently riding a 6-0-0 streak during which he has posted a 1.65 GAA and .937 Save %. 
      • In more USHL news, the league announced today that its Top Prospects Game will be webcast live and free on Fast Hockey. Sioux recruits Jordan Schmaltz and Luke Johnson are scheduled to participate in the event that takes place January 24 in Muskegon, MI.
      • After notching two assists in Friday's 5-3 win over Chicago, Jordan Schmaltz sat out Green Bay's Saturday game due to the flu, while Stouffville Spirit forward Drake Caggiula suffered a lower-body injury in yesterday's contest and is listed as day-to-day.
      Nick Schmaltz Battles Against Canada's Eric Cornel - Getty Images
      • Recruit Nick Schmaltz (above) and Team USA had the day off today following yesterday's 5-1 loss to Canada at the Youth Olympic Games. The loss dropped the Americans to 1-1-0 in preliminary play, which they will wrap up by taking on Finland tomorrow and Russia on Wednesday. Schmaltz has two assists thus far during the tournament.
      • Anaheim Duck forward Jason Blake continues to impress since returning from his lacerated wrist tendon injury, scoring twice and adding an assist in last night's 4-2 win over Vancouver. Blake has been playing on the Ducks' third as he works his way back into game condition, and last night that line gave the Canucks fits.
      • Jonathan Toews had a strong weekend, helping Chicago earn three out of a possible four points. He had a goal in Saturday's OT loss to Detroit, while his goal and assist led the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over San Jose last night. 
      • Battling it out with Chicago and Detroit for Central Division supremecy is resurgent St. Louis, and Blues' star TJ Oshie's career-best year is a big reason why.
      • Matt Greene scored the game-winning goal Saturday night in the Los Angeles Kings' 4-1 victory over Calgary. It was the third goal of the season for the big defenseman, who had never scored more than two in a season prior to Saturday. The Mayor's Manor touched on Greene's accomplishment in its The Good, The Bad, and The Something feature.
      • Zach Parise could become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and that prospect already has a number of teams drooling over the New Jersey star. One of the things that makes Parise such a coveted player is his ability to play in all situations, and those abilities have been on full display this season as he and the Devils have been the league's best penalty killers. New Jersey is the only team in the league with a kill percentage greater than 90%, and both Parise and Devils' rookie Adam Henrique have more shorthanded points than they do on the power play.
      • Joe Finley received his third call up of the season when Buffalo summoned the big blue liner for Saturday's tilt with the New York Islanders. The Sabres dropped a 4-2 decision.
      • Former Sioux All-American Brandon Bochenski was recently named to the KHL All-Star Game. He will play for the East All-Stars, whose forward group also includes one of the all-time great Russians in Sergei Federov, along with recent World Junior Championship standout Evgeny Kuznetsov. Bochenski currently plays for Barys Astana, for whom he has recorded 40 points (18G, 22A) in 36 games.
      • Former Sioux goaltender Anthony Grieco and HC Asiago recently wrapped up play in the 2012 Continental Cup Super Finals in Rouen, France. Asiago had a rough go of it, dropping all three of its Super Finals contests, including both of Grieco's starts.

      Sunday, January 15, 2012

      Minnesota Recap

      North Dakota was looking to exact a measure of revenge this weekend after being swept by the University of Minnesota earlier this season. After producing a thrilling 2-1 victory Friday night in an electrified Ralph Engelstad Arena, UND's hopes of a sweep were dashed by way of Saturday's 6-2 Minnesota win. Here are a few thoughts:
      • Aaron Dell played very well Friday night, but he allowed some goals Saturday that we've come to expect him to save, eventually being replaced by Brad Eidsness to start the third period. Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson also didn't seem to be himself early on Saturday, but he settled down and was solid down the stretch.
      • Outside of Danny Kristo's checking from behind penalty, the Sioux played with a lot of poise Friday as the young lineup did not seem to have any problem adjusting to the intensity of the rivalry. Saturday was a different story however, as North Dakota suffered let downs in several key areas. The passing was not as crisp, the power play struggled in maintaining possession, there were too many odd-man chances, and, as mentioned earlier, the goaltending was not as solid. Ups and downs tend to happen on a night to night basis, and Minnesota did what good teams do, which is to capitalize on the opportunities presented to them.
      • Minnesota's fifth goal on Saturday, coming late in the second period, was a back-breaker. After falling behind 4-0 the Sioux were able to scratch back to within a couple of goals, and in doing so they brought the crowd back to life, which seemed to rattle the Gophers. A third unanswered goal by North Dakota would have blown the roof off the place, but Minnesota was able to stymie the comeback with a deflating goal that came with under a minute to play in the period.
      • Brendan O'Donnell skated off the ice Saturday night with what appeared to be an upper-body injury, but no update on his status has been reported. 
      • Brock Nelson was a treat to watch this weekend. His hands and instincts are tremendous, and he has a deceptively quick shot that he can release from a variety of angles. 
      • Things got ugly at the end of Saturday's game as Ben Blood was tripped while the teams mingled in front of the benches after the final horn sounded. Then, in the handshake line Blood took a shot at Minnesota's Kyle Rau and eventually wound up engaging in a brief tussle with Seth Ambroz. The teams were eventually separated and ushered into their locker rooms with no further issue. The intensity of the series and the agitating style with which Rau chooses to play obviously spurred Blood, and it is unfortunate that a handshake skirmish was the end result. Here's to hoping these two teams meet again in this year's Final Five.

      Saturday, January 14, 2012

      Recruit Profile: Chris Wilkie

      Current Team:  Tri-City Storm (USHL)
      Anticipated Arrival at UND:  2014
      Position:  Forward
      Birthday:  July 10, 1996
      Hometown:  Omaha, NE
      Height:  5' 11"
      Weight:  183 Lbs.
      Shoots:  Right

      Profiles & Press Clippings
      • He will play for the Tri-City Storn of the USHL.
      • In September he was listed as a B skater on the NHL Central Scouting Service's Preliminary Watchlist for the 2014 NHL Draft.
      • He played for the USA Hockey NTDP Under-17 team, recording 31 points (13G, 18A) in 56 games.
      • In Febraury 2013 he and Team USA participated in the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Jarvenpaa, Finland. He produced one assist in four tournament games as Team USA finished the event with a 2-2 record.
      • He played for the bronze medal-winning Team USA at the 2013 World Under-17 Challenge in Victoriaville/Drummondville, Quebec. He recorded nine points (3G, 6A) in six tournament games. He was a teammate of fellow UND recruit Austin Poganski.
      • In November 2012, he was a member of the undefeated gold medal winning team at the Under-17 Four Nations Tournament in Monthey, Switzerland. He recorded two points (1G, 1A) in four tournament games.
      • In July of 2012 he took part in the USA Hockey Select 16 Development Camp, registering eight points (2G, 6A) in five games on his way to earning a spot in the camp All-Star game. Russ Bitely of The Examiner offered up this review of Wilkie's play:
      You can see that Wilkie can play the game with some great offensive upside and some sure firepower in his shot. He definitely has some nice mitts, creates opportunity with the puck, and a good playmaker. Not a surprise that the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota will get his services in a few years. He has some slick puck skills and hockey sense that all scouts drool over.

      • Playing for the Omaha U-16 AAA Lancers, he led the North American Prospect Hockey League in scoring by producing 48 points (22G, 26A) in 18 regular season games.  He also led the NAPHL in postseason scoring with 13 points (3G, 10A) in four games and earned All-NAPHL First Team and All-Academic Team honors.
      • He was named the Prospect Hockey League's Under-16 Pointstreak Peak Performer following this season's December PHL event in Dallas. Press Release
      • He appeared in one game with the USHL's Lincoln Stars.
      • In July of 2011 he participated in USA Hockey's Select 15 Development Camp, finishing the camp tied for fourth in scoring with 10 points (3G, 7A) in five games. The US Hockey Report ranked him as the #17 forward at the camp and had this to say about his performance: Worked for his points. Competes. A native of the Cornhusker state. Played last winter for Omaha U16.
      • He spent the regular season with the Omaha U-16 Lancers, playing in 20 games and recording 8 points (3G, 5A).
      • His Omaha Jr Maverick AA team won USA Hockey's 2010 Bantam Tier II National Championship. He finished the tournament tied for fifth in scoring with 10 points (5G, 5A) in six games, including scoring the championship winning goal with just four seconds remaining in the title game.

      Saturday Morning Coffee

      • The Fighting Sioux earned a thrilling 2-1 victory over arch-rival Minnesota last night. North Dakota welcomed Corban Knight back to the lineup, Andrew MacWilliam scored his first career goal, and smooth operator Brock Nelson potted the game-winner in what was an outstanding hockey game. Outside of Danny Kristo's major and game misconduct for checking Ben Marshall from behind, a young Sioux lineup played with an awful lot of poise and control in a very tense game. The atmosphere in The Ralph was electric last night as head coach Dave Hakstol picked up victory number 199. Tonight he looks to join Gino Gasparini (392) and Dean Blais (262) as the only coaches in school history to earn 200 wins. More thoughts on the series forthcoming in the Series Recap.
      • North Dakota picked up a verbal commitment yesterday from Omaha AAA Under-16 star Chris Wilkie. Wilkie is an Omaha native who currently leads the North American Prospect Hockey League (NAPHL) in scoring, goals, assists, power-play goals, and power-play assists. He is a high school sophomore who at this point would be scheduled to join UND in 2014. In 16 games he has recorded 38 points (17G, 21A) in leading the Lancers to a 12-3-1 record. He is an Omaha teammate of Minot's Alex Schoenborn and Williston's Austin Hingtgen. There is a recruit profile in the works that should hopefully be posted later today or tomorrow.
      • Recruit Nick Schmaltz and Team USA opened the 2012 Youth Winter Olympic Games with a 7-2 victory over host country Austria early this morning. Schmaltz pitched in with two assists while winning 75% (9 of 12) of his face-offs. The American Under-16ers will take on Canada tomorrow.
      • Sioux recruits playing in the USHL performed well last night. Paul LaDue had two goals and an assist while teammate Luke Johnson added two assists in Lincoln's 6-2 victory over Sioux City. Jordan Schmaltz contributed two assists to Green Bay's 5-3 win against Chicago, Jack Rowe recorded an assist in Cedar Rapids' 6-5 loss to Waterloo, and Miles Koules scored a goal as the Team USA Under-18ers lost to Indiana 4-3. Zane Gothberg continued his recent stretch of outstanding play by stopping 23 of 24 shots in Fargo's 8-1 thrashing of Tri-City. Over his last five games Gothberg has a 1.57 GAA and a save percentage of .943 in leading the Force to a 5-0-0 record.
      • Speaking of the USHL, Matt Greene recently discussed what playing in the league meant to his development as a hockey player.
      • Matt Frattin was the overtime hero last night for the Toronto Marlies (AHL).
      • Jason Blake scored his first goal of the season in Anaheim's 5-0 win in Edmonton last night.
      • Zach Parise says he understands the frustration Travis Zajac is currently going through in dealing with his Achilles tendon injury.

      Friday, January 13, 2012

      What's Your Favorite Sioux-Gopher Memory?

      The greatest rivalry in all of college hockey is about to be renewed tonight, and that begs the question, what is your favorite Sioux-Gopher memory? Countless memories, both joyous and heartbreaking, come to mind when trying to pick a rivalry-defining moment. But after a great deal of reflection, I've settled on my top three:

      #3: February 15, 1998 - The Comeback:

      "They just turned it up. They got their 'A' game back and kicked our butts."
                                                                               - Minnesota coach Doug Woog

      After having lost the night before, Minnesota was looking to salvage a split in a rare Sunday game at Old Engelstad Arena. The Sioux came out flat, a rare occasion considering they had outscored their opponents 86-38 while having won 14 of their previous 15 contests. The defending national champions, led by 1998 WCHA Player of the Year Curtis Murphy and fellow All-Americans Jason Blake & Karl Goehring, fell behind 3-0 in the first period and there was little to suggest that the Sioux would be able to mount any sort of comeback against goaltender Steve DeBus and the Gophers.

      Then, Murphy's power play goal just under 7:00 into the third period ignited both the team and the crowd, and less than eight minutes later the Engelstad Arena crowd was in a delirious frenzy after goals by Blake and Jeff and Jay Panzer gave the Sioux a 4-3 lead. The five-goal third period was capped with an empty netter, and Minnesota was forced to head back home without a point.

      If memory serves, I believe that was the game that gave birth to "Welcome to the Jungle" as the unofficial "get off your tail and make some noise" song, and at one point, the crowd was so fired up that the noise caused Midwest Sports Channel's cameras to shake during the broadcast. To this day I have never heard a Fighting Sioux crowd as loud as it was that day.

       #2: March 17 & 25, 2007 - Reversal of Fortune:

      “I just took a whack at it. I couldn’t believe when the crowd started going crazy. I didn’t see it go in.”
                                                                                                                 - Minnesota forward Blake Wheeler

      After winning the WCHA regular season title, Minnesota entered the 2007 WCHA Final Five Championship game looking to avenge the home sweep North Dakota had served up earlier that season. Minnesota was the #2 ranked team in the nation, and the red hot Sioux were ranked #7 after a second-half surge that had seen them go 15-2-4.

      A scoreless first period was followed by a second period that saw Minnesota take a 2-1 lead. After Ryan Duncan tied the game for the Sioux early in the third, both teams went scoreless until this happened:

      Wheeler's lunging swipe propelled Minnesota to the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament, where they were placed in the West Regional along with their favorite neighbor, North Dakota. After each team did its part by winning their first round game, a rematch of the previous week's Final Five championship would decide which team would get to punch its ticket for St. Louis and the Frozen Four.

      "Nobody likes to lose the WCHA championship game and it kind of stuck with us all week."
                                                                                                 - North Dakota forward Chris Porter

      Each team scored in the first period, and after a scoreless second period North Dakota took a 2-1 lead early in the third on a Robbie Bina power play goal. The Sioux held the tenuous one-goal lead for over ten minutes, until a power play goal by Jay Barriball evened the score. Neither team scored the rest of the way, setting up overtime drama for the second time on just 8 days. North Dakota was applying good pressure in the extra session, and they started planning for St. Louis because of this:

      Perhaps the most memorable aspect of these two games was their proximity not only on the calendar, but within the games themselves. In more than 133 minutes of action, neither team was able to enjoy more than a one goal cushion, leading to some very dramatic and intense play.

      #1: February 2 & 3, 1996 - Giant Killers:

      "The only time that game was close was when the referee dropped the opening puck."
                                                                                               - Minnesota coach Doug Woog

      My number one memory of the Sioux-Gopher rivalry comes from the first weekend I'd ever seen the two teams play in person. Top-ranked Minnesota came into Engelstad Arena a confident bunch, having won 12 straight and going unbeaten in their last 20. Led by eventual Hobey Baker Award winner Brian Bonin, Minnesota looked to deliver a knockout punch to a North Dakota team that had scored just eight goals while staggering through a four game losing streak. Furthermore, the Gophers had not given up a goal in over 192 minutes.

      Well, it didn't take another four games to score eight goals, as North Dakota came out with guns blazing. When Billy Trew scored halfway into Friday's 1st period, the offensive barrage was on and didn't let up until the Sioux had the sweep. By the time the dust settled the Fighting Sioux had lit the lamp 15 times via 8-2 (Friday) and 7-5 (Saturday) victories. The sweep not only ended the Gophers' impressive unbeaten streak, but it marked the beginning of a tailspin that saw them lose six of eight games.

      Those are my favorites. What are yours?

      Fighting Sioux vs. Minnesota: Notes & Links

      North Dakota vs. Minnesota - Series Notes & Links: