Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rankings, Predictions, Etc.

A number of preseason polls and individual ballots have been released this week. Here's a rundown of those and a few other recent tidbits:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WCHA Instant Impact: Adam Wilcox (UM)

Today's installment of Instant Impact takes a look at Minnesota freshman Adam Wilcox.

Previous Entries:
Joey Benik, SCSU                        Austin Farley, UMD
Blake Tatchell, UAA                    
Hunter Fejes, CC  
Nic Kerdiles, UW
Anthony Stolarz, UNO
Teddy Blueger, MSU

Adam Wilcox, G, Minnesota
Vitals: 6' 0" - 183 lbs - 11/26/1992
Hometown: South St. Paul, MN
Previous Team: Tri-City Storm (USHL)

The University of Minnesota enters the 2012-13 season having fewer holes to fill than any other WCHA team. Upfront, the Golden Gophers return five forwards who eclipsed the 30 point mark in 2011-12, including a trio (Erik Haula, Nick Bjugstad, and Kyle Rau) that surpassed 40. Their two most significant departures are captain Taylor Matson and their fourth leading goal scorer Jake Hansen (16G, 22A), but all other key contributors return to a team that led the nation in scoring one year ago.
On the backend, Minnesota not only returns all six regulars from a year ago, but they enjoy the luxury of adding smooth skating freshman Brady Skjei to an experienced group of defensemen led by Nate Schmidt. Schmidt was a 2010-11 All-WCHA Second Team honoree whose 38 assists were more than any player in the conference save for Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Connolly.
The only real uncertainty facing the Gophers comes between the pipes, where they will no longer find Kent Patterson plying his trade. Patterson was Minnesota’s rock in net for the past season and a half, starting all 43 of the team’s games last season and 64 straight dating back to his junior year. No Minnesota goaltender other than Patterson has started a game since December 3, 2010, and his departure leaves a significant void in he Gopher crease. Look for incoming freshman Adam Wilcox to help fill that void.
Wilcox is a South St. Paul native who returns home following two years in the USHL. He spent the 2010-11 season with the Green Bay Gamblers, where he posted a 2.20 GAA and .922 Save Percentage in 24 games. He played in nine games with Green Bay (2.27 GAA, .918 Sv %) during the 2011-12 season before being traded to the Tri-City Storm. In 34 games with the Storm, the 2011 draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning (6th Round, 178th Overall) produced a 2.91 GAA and .916 Save Percentage.
Wilcox is an average sized, athletic goaltender who displays good quickness and agility. He controls his rebounds well and is not afraid to engage in an aggressive brand of goaltending. With the cast of returning players Minnesota will be able to surround him with, it will not be too often that Wilcox will be called upon to stand on his head and steal a win. He does, however, possess the ability to step into the goaltending spotlight as a freshman and deliver key minutes for a team poised to make a run at a national championship.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

WCHA Instant Impact: Austin Farley (UMD)

Instant Impact, Minnesota-Duluth edition, features Bulldog freshman Austin Farley.

Previous Entries:
Joey Benik, SCSU
Blake Tatchell, UAA
Hunter Fejes, CC
Nic Kerdiles, UW
Anthony Stolarz, UNO
Teddy Blueger, MSU

Austin Farley, F, Minnesota-Duluth
Vitals: 5' 9" - 170 lbs - 11/10/1993
Hometown: Park Ridge, IL
Previous Team: Fargo Force (USHL)

As the 2012-13 season approaches, the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs will be faced with the task of filling some significant holes throughout their lineup. Gone is All-WCHA Second Team goaltender Kenny Reiter, who started 38 of the team's 41 games last season, as well as defensive stalwart Brady Lamb. But the most glaring holes for UMD are upfront, where they lose a fantastic trio of forwards in J.T. Brown, Travis Oleksuk, and Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Connolly.

The offensive cupboards aren't completely bare in Duluth as the Bulldogs return a pair of 30+ point scorers in Caleb Herbert and Mike Seidel. However, just five of their top ten point producers from a year ago return for the 2012-13 season, and two of those returnees make their home on the blueline (Wade Bergman, Chris Casto). Minnesota-Duluth brings in a large and promising crop of freshmen, a group that will be counted on to help offset the loss of more than 50% of the team's offense from a year ago. One such freshman who can be expected to contribute from the outset is Austin Farley.

Farley arrives in Duluth following a pre-collegiate career that saw him carve out successful stints with both the Chicago Mission AAA program and the USHL's Fargo Force. He began the 2010-11 season with the Chicago Mission AAA Under-18 team before joining the Force in November of 2010, eventually producing 11 points (7G, 4A) in 33 USHL games. In 2011-12 he enjoyed a breakout season, finishing among the USHL's top 10 point producers with a 59 point (28G, 31A) campaign that saw him lead Fargo in goals, assists, points, and power play goals.

With Farley in the fold, the Bulldog faithful will be introduced to a highly-skilled and tenacious forward who will help provide an offensive spark to a team that lost 80 goals from a season ago. He is described by Fargo Force associate head coach Byron Pool as "a very skilled offensive player. He has great touch around the net, and he has a lot of grit and sandpaper to his game. He has the ability to get under opponents' skin."

Pool also shook off any concerns people may have regarding Farley's size. "He might be 5'7" but he plays like he is 6'4". He has no fear. He goes to the tough areas, takes hits to make plays. Austin has not allowed a perceived lack of size to play a factor in his game." A game, no doubt, that UMD and WCHA fans alike can expect to make a difference for the Bulldogs in 2012-13.

Monday, September 24, 2012

WCHA Instant Impact: Teddy Blueger (MSU)

The Instant Impact series rolls on with Minnesota State freshman Teddy Blueger.

Previous Entries:
Joey Benik, SCSU
Blake Tatchell, UAA
Hunter Fejes, CC
Nic Kerdiles, UW
Anthony Stolarz, UNO

Teddy Blueger, F, Minnesota State
Vitals: 5' 11" - 165 lbs - 8/15/1994
Hometown: Riga, Latvia
Previous Team: Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep

Minnesota State enters the 2012-13 season with a new head coach as former Nebraska-Omaha assistant Mike Hastings takes over for the departed Troy Jutting. Hastings inherits a squad with some very talented young forwards (freshmen Matt Leitner and Jean-Paul LaFontaine were the team's top two scorers in 2011-12) as well as a defensive corps that loses just one regular from a year ago. Gone is goaltender Austin Lee, but incoming freshman Stephon Williams will be expected to challenge experienced senior Phil Cook for the starting job.

While Minnesota State returns experience throughout their lineup, the fact remains that this is a team that finished second to last in the WCHA in both scoring offense and scoring defense last season. While they will count on the continued development of their young nucleus, in order for the Mavericks to take a big jump up the WCHA standings they will need a significant contribution from their freshman class. One newcomer who could provide such a boost is Teddy Blueger.

Blueger, a Latvian native, has spent the past few seasons honing his skills at Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault, MN. In 2009-10 he led the SSM Under-16 team with 60 points (20G, 40A), while in 2010-11 he made the jump to the prep squad, where he ranked third in scoring with 66 points (24G, 42A) as the SSM prep team won the USA Hockey Tier 1 Under-18 national championship. He capped off his impressive SSM career last season by leading the team in scoring with 88 points (24G, 64A) as the Sabres successfully defended their Under-18 national championship. He was also selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Blueger is what SSM prep head coach and Director of Hockey Tom Ward calls "a prototypical centerman," a playmaker with great hands and vision that "a lot of players will want to be playing with." Known for his creativity and playmaking, Blueger is also a player that, despite his smallish frame, is not afraid to get into the corners or go to the front of the net, and as Ward notes, "he is a player who is around the puck a lot." Expect Blueger to use these special talents to produce an instant contribution to the Mavericks in 2012-13

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Recruit Profile: Wade Murphy
Previous Team:  Penticton Vees (British Columbia Hockey League)
Arrival at UND: Fall 2013
Position: Forward
Birthday:  October 22nd, 1993
Hometown: Victoria, BC, Canada
Height: 6'0"
Weight:  180
Shoots: Right

Profiles & Press Clippings:
  • Played for the reigning RBC Cup champion Penticton Vees (BCHL), producing 70 points (23G, 47A) in 50 regular season games. His 70 points tied him for the fifth most in the league, while his 1.4 PPG average was second best. In the postseason he notched 11 points (5G, 6A) in 15 games as Penticton advanced to the BCHL Finals.
  • He began the BCHL regular season by recording at least one point in each of his first 17 games.
  • He was named to the All-BCHL Interior Conference First Team.
  • He was a member of the silver medal-winning Canada West team at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge, where he recorded six points (3G, 3A) in four tournament games in being named to the tournament's All-Star Team. 
  • Had a very solid showing at the BCHL Showcase, leading USHR to rank him as the Showcase's third best forward: "The most college-ready player we saw here...Murphy has good speed, is gritty and can really shoot a puck. Will make an immediate impact in college hockey. Played on Penticton’s National Championship team last season, finishing fourth in league scoring with a 36-55-91 scoring line in 56 games played. Will contend for the league scoring title."
  • Split his time between the BCHL's Victoria Grizzlies and Penticton Vees. With Victoria, he produced 62 points (22G, 40A) in 38 games. After a January trade that sent him to Penticton, he closed out the regular season with 29 points (14G, 15A) in 22 games with the Vees, eventually being named a BCHL Interior Conference First Team All-Star. He continued his breakout campaign through the postseason by helping lead Penticton to the Fred Page Cup (BCHL Playoff Champions), Doyle Cup (BCHL/AJHL champion series winner), and RBC Cup (Canadian Junior A National Champion) by producing 27 points (14G, 13A) in 26 postseason games. His strong postseason play earned him co-Playoff MVP honors for the Vees.
  • Played for the Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL), recording 16 points (7G, 9A) in 56 regular season games. He also had two goals and an assist in eight playoff games.
  • Played with the Saanich Braves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League and the BCHL's Victoria Grizzlies. Produced four points (3G, 1A) with Victoria.

Signings and Rankings

  • A trio of former Sioux have recently signed contracts for the 2012-13 season. Yesterday David Toews signed with the Bakersfield Condors, where he will team up with Evan Trupp, while today it was announced that Aaron Schneekloth had re-signed with the Colorado Eagles. The Eagles now have three former Sioux on their roster in Schneekloth, Aaron Dell, and Michael Forney. Bakersfield, Colorado, and Mario Lamoureux's Ontario Reign are all in the ECHL's 8-team Western Conference, so they'll be facing off with each other on a pretty regular basis. Also signing today was Kyle Radke, who agreed to terms with the Wichita Thunder of the Central Hockey League. For an up-to-date listing of where the Sioux in the pros are playing this season, check out The Pros page.
  • North Dakota received a verbal commitment from Penticton Vee (BCHL) standout Wade Murphy yesterday. There will be more on Murphy when his Recruit Profile is posted.
  • Hockey Prospectus released its Top 100 NHL Prospects. Rocco Grimaldi (No. 36), Brock Nelson (No. 67), Corban Knight (No. 69), and Derek Forbort (No. 85) all made the list.
  • NHL Central Scouting released its Preliminary Watch List for the 2013 draft, and three North Dakota recruits made the cut. Luke Johnson is an A-List player, while Keaton Thompson and Adam Tambellini are B-Listers. For reference, an A-List player is considered to have first-round potential, while a B-List player is considered to be a second or third-round player. Also of note, North Dakota natives Ryan Callahan (Grafton) and Alec Rauhauser (Bismarck) were ranked as C-List players, which have the potential to be fourth to sixth-round picks, while Waterloo (USHL) defenseman Ian McCoshen is an A-Lister. McCoshen has narrowed his collegiate choices down to Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth, and North Dakota.
  • Kevin Allen of the USA Today ranked his Top 10 American-born 2013 Draft Prospects and Johnson came in at number 10. Future Considerations listed 10 players to watch at the 2012 USHL Fall Classic, and Johnson came in at number 10, while Hockey Prospect listed eight players (Johnson included) that scouts will be keeping their collective eyes on at the Fall Classic.
  • United States of Hockey recently previewed the USA Hockey NTDP Under-18 team, and they had some nice things to say about Thompson.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

WCHA Instant Impact: Anthony Stolarz (UNO)

The Instant Impact series resumes with Nebraska-Omaha freshman Anthony Stolarz.

Previous Entries:
Joey Benik, SCSU
Blake Tatchell, UAA
Hunter Fejes, CC
Nic Kerdiles, UW

Anthony Stolarz, G, Nebraska-Omaha
Vitals: 6' 6" - 220 lbs - 1/20/1994
Hometown: Jackson, NJ
Previous Team: Corpus Christi (NAHL)

Nebraska-Omaha was hit with a variety personnel departures this off-season. They lost two of their top three scorers to the professional ranks (Terry Broadhurst and Jayson Megna), a prized recruit (Alex Broadhurst) opted to play Canadian major junior hockey after not qualifying academically, and Ryan Massa, who had established himself as the team's number one goaltender by season's end, is taking the 2012-13 season off for personal reasons. 

They return their top scorer from a year ago in Matt White, who will be charged with leading the Mavericks' young offensive attack, while a pair of incoming freshmen (NHL draft picks Brian Cooper and Nick Seeler) will be expected to bolster a veteran group of defensemen. However, the departure of Massa has left the UNO goaltending situation a bit muddled. Veteran netminder John Faulkner saw his numbers take a significant dip last season, while sophomore Dayn Belfour played in just six games as a freshman, appearing in just two after the holiday break. Option number three is incoming freshman Anthony Stolarz, who just might be the guy to clear up Nebraska-Omaha's goaltending concerns.

Stolarz arrives at Nebraska-Omaha following a NAHL season that saw his name vault from obscurity into prominence. The big netminder (6' 6" and 220 lbs) used an open tryout to win a roster spot with the Corpus Christi IceRays, an opportunity he eventually parlayed into a second round selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft (Philadelphia Flyers). 

During the 2011-12 season, he posted a 2.84 GAA and .920 Save Percentage while facing nearly 35 shots per game as the IceRays' workhorse in net. When asked how Stolarz handled the heavy workload, Corpus Christi head coach Justin Quenneville replied, "Anthony is a machine. There were several nights I thought of resting him because of our schedule, and then he would go out and make 40+ saves while showing no signs of fatigue. He is extremely well-conditioned for a goaltender and will bring the same consistent work ethic night in and night out for his team."

Anthony not only possesses incredible size, but he is also an athletic goaltender whose strongest assets as a hockey player, according to Quenneville, are his work ethic and aggressiveness. His former coach went on to say that Stolarz "is a tall goaltender that covers a lot of the net, and Anthony's athleticism and speed are extremely impressive for a goaltender of his size. He is an exciting goaltender to watch because of his ability to make big saves, especially when most think they have him beat."

Stolarz will be making the jump from the NAHL to a premier NCAA conference as an 18 year-old freshman, and Quenneville points to the goaltender's maturity, work ethic, and competitiveness as qualities that will enable him to succeed at the next level. "Anthony is an extremely mature young man who is so focused for an 18 year-old. He was constantly approached by scouts before and after games last season, while never losing focus on his game. He will bring an immediate presence with him to UNO." A presence Maverick fans, no doubt, are hoping will solidify their team's goaltending position.

Tuesday Afternoon Post

  • North Dakota will be without its four senior captains for the opening game of the regular season.
  • The College Hockey News examined the WCHA's best freshman classes.
  • A few preseason rankings have been released recently. The North Dakota women are ranked fifth in both the USA Today/USA Hockey poll and the USCHO poll while the Outlook Hockey power rankings have UND coming in sixth.
  • The rosters for the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game have been released, and UND recruit Luke Johnson will play for Team McClanahan while Keaton Thompson will play for Team Housley. The game is scheduled to take place in Buffalo, NY on September 29.
  • Former Sioux David Lundbohm was originally expected to rejoin Vasteras (Sweden Tier-II) for the 2012-13 season, but he will instead be playing for Tuto (Finland Tier-II).
  • Jason Gregoire and other Jet prospects are eager to impress the Winnipeg staff, regardless of how long the NHL lockout drags on.
  • Travis Zajac, who has remained optimistic that the NHL lockout will be short-lived, says a full summer of workouts has him feeling much better than he did after the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • I came across a cool video this morning featuring Jonathan Toews scoring a fantastic shorthanded goal at the 1998 Brick Super Novice Hockey Tournament. Toews is wearing number 68 for Winnipeg (red and black jerseys), while 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner Andy Miele is number 99 for the opposing Detroit Honeybaked team. Matt Frattin and Edmonton would eventually win the tournament:
  • The above goal is somewhat reminiscent of the one he scored against Colorado in 2007:

Friday, September 14, 2012

WCHA Instant Impact: Nic Kerdiles (UW)

Today's Instant Impact entry features Wisconsin freshman Nic Kerdiles.

Previous Entries:
Joey Benik, SCSU
Blake Tatchell, UAA
Hunter Fejes, CC

Nic Kerdiles, F, Wisconsin
Vitals: 6'2" - 201 lbs - 1/11/1994
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Previous Team: USA Hockey NTDP Under-18

The Wisconsin Badgers of 2012-13 will be without the services of two blueline regulars in Eric Springer and the All-Everything Justin Schultz, but they return all but one offensive scoring point generated by their forwards (a Jason Clark assist) as well as their full stable of netminders. They will certainly miss the offensive production provided by Schultz, but a young and talented group of forwards will seek to lift the Badgers back into the top half of the WCHA standings. Mark Zengerle, who is the WCHA's top returning point producer (13G, 37A), Michael Mersch, and Tyler Barnes are among the key returnees upfront.

Though Wisconsin returns the bulk of their offense, only three conference teams (BSU, MSU-M, and UAA) scored fewer total goals than Wisconsin did last year. So for a team that finished in the bottom third of the league in scoring and whose leading goal scorer was a defenseman (Schultz with 16), the Badgers could use a high-end incoming freshman winger like Nic Kerdiles to provide additional offensive firepower.

Kerdiles is a native Californian who spent the past two seasons playing for the US National Team Development Program. In 2010-11 he played 40 games for the Under-17 team, producing 17 goals and 10 assists while also seeing action in 20 games with the Under-18 squad (3G, 7A). During the 2011-12 season, Nic took over as the top offensive threat for the Under-18 team. In 54 games he led the team in goals (22), assists (26), points (48), and power play goals (7). He was also Team USA's leading point producer at the Under-18 World Championships this past April, producing four goals and five assists in six games in leading the undefeated American squad to the gold medal.

Kerdiles possesses great size and strength and according to his NTDP coach Danton Cole, he "is a very strong skater and a gifted goal scorer. He has excellent strength down low and is willing to go into the hard areas to score goals." Cole also points out that Kerdiles brings more than just offense to the ice, stating that "he worked hard to also become a good two way player. His speed and tenacity make him a player that has the ability to influence the game on offense and defense." Cole went on to add that Kerdiles "tends to find the net in big situations and under pressure. In almost every one of our comebacks in the past two years, Nic was involved. He can take a game over that way."

Kerdiles just might be the WCHA's top incoming recruit this season, and he should immediately fill a top six (if not top line) role for Wisconsin. He has the physical tools to handle the NCAA game, and as Cole stated, "he is a mature young man that has been through a lot of tough situations and pressure for two years. The guys that are able to handle it here and excel like Nic has do very well at the next level."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

WCHA Instant Impact: Hunter Fejes (CC)

Next on the Instant Impact docket is Colorado College freshman Hunter Fejes.

Previous Entries:
Joey Benik, SCSU
Blake Tatchell, UAA

Hunter Fejes, F, Colorado College
Vitals: 6'1" - 192 lbs - 5/31/1994
Hometown: Anchorage, AK
Previous Team: Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep

Heading into the 2012-13 season, Colorado College will be returning the bulk of their experience on the blueline along with their full complement of netminders from a year ago. Perhaps the Tigers' biggest question mark this season will be generating offense after having lost three of their top four point producers, including All-WCHA left-winger Jaden Schwartz.

CC certainly received good news when Rylan Schwartz, Jaden's older brother, opted to return to school for his senior season, bringing his 23 goals along with him. But who is set to step into the Tiger lineup and help offset the loss of more than 40% of the team's goal scoring from a year ago? Enter freshman forward Hunter Fejes.

Fejes, an Anchorage, Alaska native who has spent the past few years attending Shattuck-St. Mary's School, is a big, physical, and fast left-winger who SSM prep head coach & Director of Hockey Tom Ward describes as a "great skater" with a "knack to score." Fejes isn't your prototypical playmaker, but instead projects as a skilled power forward who isn't afraid to go into the hard areas in order to make things happen.

Fejes spent the past two seasons playing for the SSM prep team, registering 28 points (14G, 14A) on the Sabres' 2010-11 Tier-1 Under-18 national championship team. He continued his progression with a 2011-12 season during which he scored a team leading 38 goals to go along with 40 assists. He also knows how to step it up when it matters most, leading the 2012 Tier-1 Under-18 National Tournament in points (eight) and goals (four) in six tournament games en route to helping SSM to its second consecutive national title.

As Ward mentioned, Fejes (like virtually all WCHA newcomers) will require a period of adjustment as he acclimates himself to the speed and strength of the NCAA game. But once he settles into his new surroundings, expect the Tiger freshman to be a dangerous goal scorer who will help lead the Colorado College offensive threat. Of note, Fejes was a sixth round selection of the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

WCHA Instant Impact: Blake Tatchell (UAA)

Next up in the Instant Impact series is Alaska-Anchorage freshman Blake Tatchell.

Previous entries:
Joey Benik, SCSU

Blake Tatchell, F, Alaska-Anchorage
Vitals: 5'10" - 162 lbs - 5/23/1991
Hometown: North Battleford, Saskatchewan
Previous Team: Battlefords North Stars (SJHL)

No WCHA team has suffered as many recent unexpected personnel changes as Alaska-Anchorange. Among the losses from a year ago are three of the top four point producers from a team whose point leaders put up just 17 points apiece. To put that into context, every other team in the WCHA had at least five players who registered more than 17 points.

Heading into the 2012-13 season, added offensive punch is certainly at or near the top of head coach Dave Shyiak's wish list, and one newcomer who may be able to provide an infusion of offense into the Seawolf attack is freshman Blake Tatchell.

Tatchell arrives in Anchorage after having spent the past three seasons with the Battlefords North Stars of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He displayed steady development during his SJHL career, which culminated in last season's 86 point (42G, 44A) effort that saw him earn league MVP honors.

His 86 points (in 57 games) were the second most in the SJHL, and he was named a finalist for the Canadian Junior Hockey League's 2011-12 Player of the Year award, an award that spans all of Canada's Junior A hockey leagues.

According to UAA assistant coach T.J. Jindra, Tatchell is a skilled, smart forward who sees the ice well and possesses a good scoring touch. Tatchell has made a concentrated effort of getting stronger this offseason, and as he adjusts to the speed and physicality of the WCHA, he could be just the player the Seawolves need to lend an offensive spark to their season.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

WCHA Instant Impact: Joey Benik (SCSU)

As the dawn of the 2012-13 NCAA men's ice hockey season draws near, Tradition of Excellence will be profiling one incoming player from each WCHA team that fans can expect to have an instant impact on their team and the league. First in the chamber is St. Cloud State incoming freshman Joey Benik.

Joey Benik, F, St. Cloud State
Vitals: 5'10" - 170 lbs - 1/26/1992
Hometown: Andover, MN
Previous Team: Penticton Vees (BCHL)

SCSU heads into the season having lost four of its top six point producing forwards from a year ago, as well as a three-year starter in goal in Mike Lee, who opted to sign with the Phoenix Coyotes. Lee's backup Ryan Faragher and most of the Husky defense returns intact, and boosting optimism in St. Cloud is the return of leading scorer Ben Hanowski and Drew LeBlanc, who used a medical redshirt to gain a fifth season of eligibility. So while SCSU will count on their two high-end forwards and a pair of slick, puck-moving defensemen (Nick Jensen, Andrew Prochno) to lead their offensive attack, scoring depth could be a concern heading into the 2012-13 campaign. Expect incoming freshman Joey Benik to help ease those concerns.

In 2009-10 Joey Benik wrapped up a stellar high school career by leading the state of Minnesota with 53 goals and 90 points before heading to Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League. In his first season with the Vees (2010-11), he racked up 56 points in 60 games, including a team leading 30 goals. But it was this past season that saw Benik truly blossom into much more than just a goal scoring threat.

In 2011-12, Benik displayed a well-rounded and versatile game that, according to Vee's assistant coach Steve Cawley, was the product of a relentless work ethic and dedication to developing "a fantastic two-way game." Benik recorded a 30 goal, 66 assist campaign while routinely being assigned with shutting down the opposing team's top line. He was also a staple on the Vees' powerplay and penalty kill units. 

He paced the Vees with 96 points (second overall in the BCHL), and he led Penticton to the RBC Cup (Canadian Junior A national championship) by scoring the game winning goal with less than a minute left in the championship game.

Cawley described Benik as a very strong, very quick player with very good vision who should be able to make a swift transition to the college game. His goal scoring ability, offensive instincts, and development into a complete, three-zone hockey player should give St. Cloud State a more than capable scoring threat who can provide offensive depth to the Husky lineup.

Tuesday Evening Post

Here are a few links of interest, including UND's most recent pro contract signee:
  • Former Sioux captain Mario Lamoureux signed an ECHL contract with the Ontario Reign today. Lamoureux spent the tail-end of last season with the Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL) after his NCAA career concluded. The Reign is based in Ontario, CA and have an affiliation agreement with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
  • NBC Sports Network released a 24 game NCAA men's ice hockey schedule today, and North Dakota has two road games scheduled for broadcast. The February 8th game at Nebraska-Omaha and the February 22nd game at Denver are set to air on NBCSN this coming season.
  • The Hell on Ice blog took a stab at projecting Zach Parise's 2012-13 offensive numbers.
  • Pension Plan Puppets, a Toronto Maple Leaf blog, recently ranked Matt Frattin No. 5 on their Top 25 Maple Leafs Under 25
  • Per Brad Schlossman's blog, a pair of North Dakota players are facing discipline due to alcohol related offenses.
  • The British Columbia Hockey League kicked off its regular season last weekend with the BCHL Showcase. The Vernon Vipers struggled to a 0-1-1 record in their two showcase games, but North Dakota recruit Adam Tambellini picked up a pair of goals while fellow Viper/UND recruit Geoff Crisfield went pointless. Vernon will try to get on the winning side of the ledger this weekend when they take on Salmon Arm in a home & home.
  • Feeling the need to scratch that hockey itch? For those of you near Fargo, you can catch North Dakota recruit Charlie Pelnik in action Friday night as the Fargo Force take on Cary Eades' Sioux Falls Stampede in a USHL exhibition game at Scheels Arena. Tickets are only $5 and kids 12 and under get in free.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Men's Hockey Home & Away Ticket Info

Below is a table containing on-sale dates and ticket outlet links for all of North Dakota's home and away series for 2012-13.

Highlighting the road schedule, of course, will be the Minnesota series January 18 & 19, (with the Saturday game being a part of Hockey Day Minnesota) and the Nebraska-Omaha series February 8 & 9 (with the Saturday outdoor game taking place as part of the Mutual of Omaha Battles on Ice). On-sale dates for those series have yet to be announced.

Series Game Date Tix On-Sale Tickets/Details
UND Home Games - Sept. 14 Tickets
Brice Alaska Goal Rush Oct 19/20 Now Details
St . Cloud State Nov 9/10 Now Tickets
Notre Dame Nov 23/24 Sept. 12 Tickets
Colorado College Nov 30/Dec 1 Sept. 22 Details
Michigan Tech Dec 14/15 Now Tickets
Minnesota Jan 18/19 TBD Details
Nebraska-Omaha Feb 8/9 TBD Details
Denver Feb 22/23 Now Tickets
Minnesota State Mar 8/9 Oct. 1 Tickets
Final Five (St Paul) Mar 21/22/23 TBD Tickets
NCAA Regionals Mar 29/30/31 TBD Details
Frozen Four (Pittsburgh) Apr 11/13 TBD Application

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday Morning Coffee

  • North Dakota sophomore forward Brendan O'Donnell played in just 17 games as a freshman before suffering a shoulder injury that would keep him out of the lineup for the remainder of the season. Inside College Hockey featured O'Donnell as part of their INCH A-Z series, and despite his abbreviated freshman campaign, he will be counted upon to contribute key minutes this upcoming season.
  • Former Sioux Adam Calder expects his new MK Lightning team to achieve big things this season. Calder joins the Lightning after leading the Slough Jets to the English Premier League's playoff championship a year ago.
  • The New York Hockey Journal featured New Jersey Devil centerman Travis Zajac as part of their 2012-13 player preview series, saying that he and teammate Ilya Kovalchuk have the potential to become one of "the best center-wing punches in the NHL."
  • The Colorado Avalanche recently named 19 year-old Gabriel Landeskog team captain, making him the youngest player in NHL history to wear "the C." Landeskog replaces Jonathan Toews as the youngest current captain in the league, and Rogers Sportsnet put together a collection of the league's youngest leaders. Toews also recently sat down with Blackhawks TV to recount scoring his first NHL goal:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Toews, Freshmen, & Recruits By the Numbers

  • Late last week it was reported that Jonathan Toews would, under the right circumstances, consider playing overseas in the event of an extended NHL lockout. Brad Schlossman expanded on that topic on his blog, while Toews commented on his intentions earlier today. Below are a few excerpts from the full Comcast Sportsnet article:
“Chicago’s my home. It’s where I’ve spent the last five years, the best five years of my life and career. And that’s where I’ll be if everything works out in time,” said Toews on Tuesday afternoon. “But again, I’m a hockey player. And if worst comes to worst, I do need to look for a job.”
Toews said he’ll keep options for playing overseas open. “At this point, it’s just an option that needs to be explored and nothing more than that,” said Toews, who added there’s nothing specific right now but he’ll explore the possibility more as Sept. 15 nears. “It’s kind of a wait-and-see type of thing.”
Toews was in high school when the 2004-05 NHL season was lost to lockout, and he remembers how frustrated he was to see it happen. “I was a fan of the game and was disappointed to see hockey go through that and I think that it’s disappointing again, he said. “We come full circle and we’re still back here. You think the problems that existed would’ve been fixed, with the sacrifices made by players, and it’s still not good enough.”
  • The Hockey Guys have published a ranking of college hockey's Top 10 incoming freshman classes for 2012-13, and North Dakota's newcomers came in at No. 8 (No. 2 among WCHA schools behind Nebraska-Omaha).
  • We are only a handful of days into September, but a pair of UND recruits have already logged several games worth of icetime this season. The Vernon Vipers (BCHL), featuring North Dakota commits Adam Tambellini and Geoff Crisfield, have competed in five preseason games leading up to this weekend's BCHL Showcase. Tambellini notched four goals while Crisfield picked up one.
Lastly, all of the individual Recruit Profiles have been updated to reflect last season's stats, and for a quick glimpse at where the committed recruits will be playing this season, check out the 2012-13 Statistics page. A glance at the recruit list shows:
  • By Position: Forwards (7), Defensemen (5), Goaltenders (0)
  • By Birth-year: 1992 (1), 1993 (1), 1994 (3), 1995 (3), 1996 (4)
  • By Nation: United States (9), Canada (3)
  • By State/Province: North Dakota (3) & 1 each from: Alberta, British Columbia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ontario, Wisconsin.
  • By League: USHL (8), USHL-NTDP Schedule (2), BCHL (2).
  • NHL Draft Picks: 1-Paul LaDue (6th Rnd 2012 - LAK)  

Tuesday Morning Coffee

  • Matt Frattin was featured recently by The Hockey Writers, who ask if the former Sioux sniper is ready for the primetime in Toronto. Frattin is a player who might find a silver lining in any potential work stoppage. At last report he was due to resume skating in a couple of weeks as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.
  • North Dakota captain Andrew MacWilliam was a guest on The Pipeline Show Saturday. The audio link is available here, and I also recommend listening to the segment featuring Nate Ewell. Ewell is the Director of Communications for College Hockey Inc. and he touched on CHI's hire of Mike Snee as its new Executive Director. He also discussed a few potential changes to the NHL collective bargaining agreement that could benefit college hockey.
  • recently published a list of the Top 10 Captains in NHL history. While Jonathan Toews didn't make the list, Randy Holt of Rant Sports made an argument for Chicago's captain.
  • Even though the ownerless Phoenix Coyotes were unable to re-sign veteran forward Ray Whitney and could very well lose captain Shane Doan to free agency as well, it probably wouldn't be wise to dismiss Dave Tippett's resilient Coyotes as a playoff contender.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday Morning Coffee

  • We've now turned the calendars to September, and with an NHL work stoppage looking all the more likely, more and more players are starting to voice their frustrations with the state of the labor negotiations. In an interview earlier this week Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise said NHL commish Gary Bettman is "pretty adamant about his third lockout of his tenure." Wild beat writer Michael Russo caught up with Parise a couple days ago and he had a few more things to say about the situation:
For whatever reason, [lockouts] seem to be what Gary likes to do. Whether this time around it’s a negotiating tactic or what, you’d hope that he’s smart enough to realize that as a league, the fanbases, with the momentum that the league has gotten, that it wouldn’t be a good idea to have a lockout.

I thought the first proposal was embarrassing. Embarrassing. If you look at it in the long run, in my opinion, it was a quick fix for them, but I feel seven years down the road, it’s not addressing the problem and we’re going to be in the exact same spot where we are now. I could go on for a long time, but I thought it was a joke.
  • Parise goes on to say the current CBA that is set to expire this month is "their deal and now they want us to bail them out again." Former Minnesota defenseman Keith Ballard also offered his thoughts in the full text of the aforementioned Star-Tribune post.
  • Depending on the duration of any potential work stoppage, Chicago Blackhawk captain Jonathan Toews might opt to play overseas during 2012-13. Toews and fellow 'Hawk Patrick Kane reportedly "would consider playing in Europe 'under the right circumstances and [during the] appropriate time'."
  • Two of UND's goaltenders have their goalie mask artwork displayed on the website of Diel Airbrush. Clarke Saunders' mask has an Audioslave theme while Zane Gothberg's features Ralph Engelstad in his goalie gear.
  • The artistic abilities of Brock Nelson and former BC Eagle star Chris Kreider were on full display this past week at the NHLPA's Rookie Showcase: