Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Morning Coffee

  • Miles Koules announced via Twitter yesterday that he has opted to play for the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers next season. The one-time committed Sioux recruit is the third US NTDP alum in the past nine months to back-out of a commitment to play for North Dakota in order to jump to Candian major juniors, joining JT Miller and Stefan Matteau. An increased opportunity for ice-time and game action factored into his change of plans, and expect more on the reasoning behind Koules' decision Monday. 
NHL Playoff Updates:

  • Former Sioux captain Matt Greene and the Los Angeles Kings, the Western Conference's eighth seed, continued their strong postseason run by defeating the St. Louis Blues 3-1 last night. Greene became the unlikely hero when he scored the shorthanded game-winning goal by "lumbering" up the ice and chipping in a Dustin Brown rebound. Greene's shorty was just the second postseason shorthanded goal by a defenseman in Kings' history, with Rob Blake scoring the other back in 1993. TJ Oshie assisted on the lone goal for St. Louis, while Chris Porter did not dress. Check out Greene's goal right here:

  • The New Jersey Devils open their second round series against Philadelphia this afternoon, and Devil head coach Peter DeBoer has decided to shake up his line combinations, including moving captain Zach Parise to the second line. The move is intended to spark the second line, which was relatively quiet in the first round, as Parise makes a lot of plays that can get a team headed in the right direction. Meanwhile Travis Zajac, who was one of the first round's standouts, could be the "X-Factor" against the Flyers.
AHL Playoff Update:
  • Five former Sioux remain standing after the first round of the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs. The St. John's IceCaps (Jason Gregoire, Jake Marto) eliminated Syracuse (Matt Smaby) Friday night, though none of the trio of former Sioux played during the series. Oklahoma City (Chris VandeVelde, Taylor Chorney) and Toronto (Matt Frattin) have also advanced to the conference semifinals, which begin Tuesday.
USHL Playoff Updates:
  • Lincoln (Paul LaDue, Luke Johnson) eliminated Fargo (Zane Gothberg, Bryn Chyzyk) with a 3-2 overtime victory Friday night. The Stars move on to the Western Conference Finals, where they will face the Waterloo Blackhawks, who feature a potential Sioux recruit in defenseman Ian McCoshen. Earlier this season McCoshen said he had narrowed his collegiate choices down to Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, and North Dakota. The schedule has not yet been set for this series, but as the top seed in the conference, Lincoln will have the home-ice advantage. 
  • Despite the loss, Gothberg had what is probably the best season between the pipes in the short history of the Fargo Force franchise, and Slightly Chilled touched upon what Gothberg meant to his team. He finished the postseason with a 1.78 GAA and .942 Save % in six games, and expect to hear his name called when the USHL hands out its  regular season awards.
  • In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Indiana Ice will be taking on the Green Bay Gamblers and Sioux recruit Jordan Schmaltz. That series begins Thursday in Green Bay. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Former Sioux Round One Highlights

Here are some highlight reel plays from the first round of the NHL and AHL playoffs:

Jonathan Toews scores four minutes into his first game back from concussion:

First Toews wins the faceoff, then he wins the game:

Travis Zajac settles down a hot puck and swiftly finds the back of the net:

Zach Parise scores on a double deflection:

Following a great backcheck and chip along the boards by Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk threads a perfect pass to Zajac, who nets the overtime game-winner:

Matt Frattin steals the puck along the boards and sets up teammate Jerry D'Amigo for the game-winning goal:

And my personal favorite from the first round comes from TJ Oshie, who skates around a number of Sharks prior to setting up David Backes:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Morning Coffee

  • As I’m sure everyone has heard, Danny Kristo announced his intentions to return to North Dakota for his senior year, and the Montreal Gazette says that he feels he has some unfinished business at the collegiate level.
  • The Fighting Sioux received a commitment from Weyburn Red Wing (SJHL) captain Coltyn Sanderson for the 2012-13 season. Learn a bit more about the latest Sioux recruit via his Recruit Profile.
  • After playing this past season with the AHL’s Portland Pirates, former Sioux Hobey Baker Award winner Ryan Duncan will head back to Europe next season in order to rejoin EC Salzburg (Austria Tier 1). Duncan spent the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons with Salzburg, producing 111 pts (43G, 68A) in 99 regular season games. Duncan, who registered 36 points (14G, 22A) in 64 games with Portland, feels his “style of play is better suited for the European game.”
  • Speaking of Austria’s tier 1 league, former Sioux All-American defenseman Curtis Murphy and EHC Linz  recently won the league’s play-off championship. EHC Linz went 12-5 in winning three best-of-seven playoff series, eliminating former Sioux netminder JP Lamoureux’s Olimpija Ljubljana squad in the semifinals. Murphy led all league defensemen in scoring during both the regular season and playoffs by producing 44 points (16G, 28A) in 50 regular season games and 13 points (2G, 11A) in 17 playoff games.
  • Lee Goren's Skelleftea squad fell to Brynas in the finals of the Swedish Elite League, losing out four games to two. Goren missed the last several games of the championship series due to a concussion, but he was able to produce 13 points (5G, 8A) in 14 games prior to his injury.
  • After a 17 -year professional career, former Sioux Darcy Mitani has decided to retire. He spent the majority of his pro career playing in Asia, and he retires as the all-time leading scorer in the Asia Hockey League with 372 points (131G, 242A). He is also the tenth all-time leading scorer the Asia League's predecessor, the Japan Ice Hockey League, with 331 points (145G, 186A). He discusses his career and retirement in this interview from Winnipeg's 4th Line Hockey Show:
NHL Playoff Updates:
  • TJ Oshie and Chris Porter were the first former Sioux to move on to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The St Louis Blues dispatched the San Jose Sharks in five games, with Oshie pitching in three assists during the first round. Oshie has thrived under the guidance of head coach Ken Hitchcock, while  Porter, who has yet to play this postseason, was recently featured in the USHL’s Alumni Voices series.
  • The Blues’ second round opponent will be Matt Greene and the Los Angeles Kings, who advanced after eliminating the Playoff’s top seeded Vancouver Canucks in five games. Greene is  a +1 but has yet to make his way onto the scoresheet. The Kings were able to eliminate the Cauncks despite knowing full well how difficult winning that fourth game can be.
  • Jonathan Toews, who had four points (2G, 2A) in six playoff games, and the Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated by Dave Tippett’s Phoenix Coyotes. Tippett and the Coyotes will take on the Nashville Predators in the second round.
  • Travis Zajac, Zach Parise, and the New Jersey Devils advanced to the second round of the playoffs by winning a game seven double-OT thriller against the Florida Panthers last night. The Devils won back-to-back OT games to win the series after trailing three games to two, with Zajac scoring the winner in game six. Zajac leads New Jersey with six points (3G, 3A) in seven playoff games, and TSN’s Bob McKenzie says New Jersey is a much better team with him in the lineup. Parise contributed four points (2G, 2A) in the first round, and the Devils will take on Philadelphia in the second round.
AHL Playoff Update:
  • Matt Frattin and the Toronto Marlies swept Joe Finley and the Rochester Americans in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Frattin had a goal and two assists in the three-game sweep, while Joe Finley did not figure into any of Rochester’s scoring. Former Sioux Corey Fienhage was also on Rochester’s postseason roster but did not dress for any of the games.
  • Oklahoma City eliminated the Houston Aeros three games to one, meaning Barons Chris VandeVelde and Taylor Chorney will move on to the second round while Chay Genoway will have to wait until next season for his next action. Neither VandeVelde nor Genoway recorded any points in the four games, and Chorney did not play due to a knee injury suffered in the regular season.  The good news for  OKC and Chorney, however, is that he is expected to return to the lineup for their second round series.
  • Brock Nelson and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were swept out of the playoffs by the Connecticut Whalers. Nelson appeared in two of the three games and did not record any points.
  • The St. John’s IceCaps (Jason Gregoire, Jake Marto) lead the Syracuse Crunch (Matt Smaby) two games to one in their first round series. None of the former Sioux have played during the series.

Recruit Updates:
  • Paul LaDue (1G, 1A in three games) and Luke Johnson (0G, 0A in three  games) of the Lincoln Stars have a two game to one lead in their USHL second round playoff series against the Fargo Force and Zane Gothberg (1.57 GAA, .943 Sv % in five games) & Bryn Chyzyk (0G, 1A in five games). Gothberg’s postseason 1.57 GAA and .943 Sv % lead all USHL goaltenders. The Force will try to extend the series to a fifth and deciding game when the two teams meet for game four Friday night in Fargo.
  • Jordan Schmaltz and the Green Bay Gamblers have advanced to the USHL’s Eastern Conference Finals (vs. Indiana) after knocking off Youngstown three games to one. Schmaltz has one goal, two assists, and a +6 rating through four playoff games. His +6 rating during the playoffs leads all defensemen.
  • Drake Caggiula and the Stouffville Spirit saw their run to the RBC Cup fall one victory short as they fell to the Soo Thunderbirds in the championship game of the Dudley Hewitt Cup. Caggiula finished the tournament with two goals and three assists in five games.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Recruit Profile: Coltyn Sanderson
Previous Team:  Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL)
Anticipated Arrival at UND: 2012
Position: Forward
Birthday:  May 26th, 1991
Hometown:  Moose Jaw, SK, Canada
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 185
Shoots: Left

Profiles & Press Clippings:
  • Played for the Weyburn Red Wings of the SJHL and registered 48 points (19G, 29A) in 57 games. He also had one assist in three postseason games
  • He earned SJHL Rookie of the Month honors for October
  •  He was the leading scorer for the Assiniboia Southern Rebels (Prairie Junior Hockey League), producing 35 points (19G, 16A) in 37 games. In eight postseason games he registered seven points (3G, 4A)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Morning Coffee

A handful of stories for your Friday morning...
  • Fighting Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol signed a six year contract yesterday to remain at UND through 2018. Brad Schlossman got in touch with CBS Sports Network's college hockey analyst Dave Starman to get his thoughts on Hakstol and the UND program.
  • Travis Zajac (1G, 1A) was instrumental in the New Jersey Devils evening their series with Florida at two games apiece last night, but it was captain Zach Parise (1G) who provided the tonic to the Devils' hangover following Tuesday night's squandered opportunity. Earlier in the week, the Zajacs were dubbed as Manitoba's First Family of Hockey, while Parise is featured in the NHL's "Beacuse It's The Cup" series:
  • The Chicago Blackhawks fell into a 3-1 hole last night as they suffered their third overtime loss of the series to Dave Tippett's Phoenix Coyotes. It will be tough sledding, but don't count the 'Hawks out, particularly with Captain Consistency Jonathan Toews leading the way. Last season they stretched eventual Stanley Cup finalist Vancouver to an overtime game seven after trailing the series three games to none, and expect Toews to continue to get better for as long as Chicago can prolong this series. On a sidenote, the Blackhawks' penchant for overtime action made some NHL history last night.
  • Matt Watkins was called up by Phoenix Wednesday while Brett Hextall was part of a massive recall yesterday. Portland, the Coyotes' AHL affiliate, did not qualify for the playoffs, making those Pirate players with NHL deals available for an NHL call-up. Phoenix also has several players battling injuries, while forward Raffi Torres is facing what could be a lengthy suspension. 
  • Drew Stafford and the Buffalo Sabres had a disappointing season amid high expectations, but Stafford says he will continue working hard to find the consistency that will help get the Sabres back into the playoffs.
  • The AHL's Calder Cup Playoffs kicked off last night, and Matt Frattin scored a goal in helping the Toronto Marlies defeat the Rochester Americans (Joe Finley, Corey Fienhage) 4-3. According to this game story from the Rochester Democrat and Journal, Frattin earned the game's 3rd Star. In other action, the Oklahoma City Barons (Chris VandeVelde, Taylor Chorney) defeated the Houston Aeros (Chay Genoway) while Connecticut upended the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Brock Nelson).
  • Adam Calder and the Slough Jets won the English Premier League's playoff championship over the weekend. Here you will find a story from the championship game.
  • Recruit Drake Caggiula and the Stouffville Spirit sit in first place following round robin play at the Dudley Hewitt Cup, thus earning themselves a bye into Saturday's championship game. With a win Saturday, they would advance to the RBC Cup playoffs, which determine Canada's Junior A national champion. Caggiula, who has four points (1G, 3A) in three tournament games, was featured in this article after earning OJHL Playoff MVP honors.
  • Sioux recruits Zane Gothberg and Bryn Chyzyk helped the Fargo Force advance to the second round of the USHL's Clark Cup Playoffs with a two-game sweep of Sioux City earlier this week. Gothberg posted a 0.98 GAA and .964 Save Percentage while Chyzyk pitched in with an assist. The Force begin the second round of the playoffs tonight against Lincoln, which features recruits Paul LaDue and Luke Johnson, while Jordan Schmaltz and Green Bay begin their series with Youngstown Saturday. Team USA (Miles Koules and Keaton Thompson) and Cedar Rapids (Jack Rowe) were eliminated from the playoffs following first round defeats.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sioux in the Pros: AHL Playoff Links

The AHL conference quarterfinals kick off tonight, and as many as 10 former Sioux could see action in the hunt for the Calder Cup. Here are a few article and preview links:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fighting Sioux Honor Roll 2011-12

Here's a running post of honors earned by Fighting Sioux past and present for their performance during the 2011-12 season. This post will be updated as honors and awards are announced:

Former Sioux:
2011-12 Fighting Sioux:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Morning Post

Here are a few quick links for your Friday morning:
  • Ben Blood has a couple of games under his belt with the AHL's Binghamton Senators, and he recently had some glowing remarks concerning why he chose to utilize all four years of his collegiate eligibility at North Dakota (click on the excerpt for the full article):
  • Jonathan Toews returned to Chicago's lineup last night for game one of their opening round playoff series against Phoenix. After missing over a quarter of the season due to a concussion, the Blackhawk captain quickly registered a goal and later added an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss to Dave Tippett's Coyotes.
  • A united New Jersey team opens its postseason tonight, and centerman Travis Zajac's return to full health makes the Devils a stronger playoff team. Zach Parise has delivered in his first year as team captain, but he knows legacies are defined by postseason success. And should the Devils make a deep postseason run, will that help ensure Parise's future in New Jersey?
  • Matt Frattin has rejoined the Toronto Marlies for their AHL playoff run, but according to Mike Brophy, the Maple Leaf rookie graded out nicely during his first full professional season.  
  • Recruit Drake Caggiula and the Stouffville Spirit are one win away from winning the Buckland Trophy as Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff champions. They lead their series against Whitby 3-2, with game 6 scheduled to take place tonight. Caggiula leads the OJHL in playoff scoring with 34 points (16G, 18A) in 22 games, including a three goal, one assist performance in Wednesday's 7-1 victory. Whitby's Devin Shore is currently second in playoff scoring, and he and Caggiula are lifelong friends turned current foes.
  • Sioux recruit Chris Wilkie has accepted an invitation to join the USA Hockey NTDP Under-17 team next season. Wilkie spent this past season with the Omaha AAA U-16 Lancers, where he led the NAPHL in scoring during both the regular season and postseason. He was also recently named to the All-NAPHL 1st Team and All-Academic Team. 
  • Recruits Nick Schmaltz and Brendan Lemieux were both selected in the 4th round of the Ontario Hockey League's Priority Selection last Saturday. Both players have committed to playing with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers next season, but Schmaltz is at least keeping Windsor in his thoughts, and the Spitfires would surely love to lure Nick and older brother Jordan away from their USHL/NCAA commitments. Gambler head coach Derek Lalonde, however, feels that first round talents such as Schmaltz and Lemieux being selected in the fourth round is an indication they will both be in Green Bay this fall.
  • Recruits Jordan Schmaltz (#34), Drake Caggiula (#185), and Miles Koules (#201) all found their way into the NHL Central Scouting's 2012 NHL Draft Final Rankings.
  • A number of Sioux recruits will be in Fargo Saturday night when the Lincoln Stars head to Scheels Arena to take on the Fargo Force on the final day of the USHL regular season. Bryn Chyzyk and Zane Gothberg (Fargo) & Paul LaDue and Luke Johnson (Lincoln) have all committed to attending North Dakota.
  • Gothberg is making a very strong case to be named the USHL's Goaltender of the Year. He currently leads the league in shutouts (seven), Goals Against Average (2.20), and Save Percentage (.922). 
  • And for what it's worth, Boston College's Chris Kreider recently signed a professional contract with the New York Rangers. It's been 25 years since anyone has won the NCAA championship and played in the NHL playoffs during the same season. The last to do it? North Dakota's Tony Hrkac. You can read about that in this article.