Saturday, December 31, 2011

International and All-Star Tournament Updates

There are several international/all-star competitions that are either ongoing or have recently wrapped up. Here's a quick rundown of those events:
  • Yesterday afternoon Team USA again ran into some hot goaltending at the World Junior Championship and moved to 1-2-0 for the tournament after getting dropped by the Czech Republic 5-2. UND sophomore defenseman Derek Forbort was injured after being checked into the boards by a Czech player and was unable to return to action after heading to the locker room. Opportunistic opponents, average goaltending, lack of offensive execution, and stellar play by opposing netminders have all spelled doom for what America thought might be another golden WJC experience. Tonight's matchup with Canada was supposed to be the biggest preliminary round game of the event but instead the Americans will be playing for pride as they are headed for next week's relegation round. Forbort will not dress for tonight's game against Canada, which is set to begin at 7:00 PM CST.
  • Robbie Bina's EHC Wolfsburg squad was eliminated from the Spengler Cup yesterday after losing to to Dinamo Riga 4-1 in the tournament semifinals. The host team, HC Davos, claimed the tournament championship earlier today by defeating Dinamo Riga 3-2. 
  • Team USA dropped a narrow 3-2 decision to Russia yesterday in preliminary round play at the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Windsor, Ontario. Team USA, whose record is now 1-1-0, has today off before returning to action tomorrow at 6:00 CST against Canada West. Keaton Thompson has one assist and Luke Voltin is pointless thru the first two games, and if you care to watch these Sioux recruits and their Team USA teammates, all tournament games are being streamed live at Fast Hockey. You need to register in order to log-in, but the games cost nothing to watch.
  • Recruit Drake Caggiula and the OJHL North All-Stars came up just short in the Central Canada Cup Challenge. The Quebec League All-Stars won the tournament with Thursday night's 5-1 victory over OJHL North, with Caggiula notching his team's only goal. For the tournament Caggiula had three points (2G, 1A) in five games and converted both of his shootout attempts, including the semifinal game winner. In OJHL regular season play, he entered the holiday break on a five game point streak that saw him put up nine points (4G, 5A) in helping the Stouffville Spirit to a 4-0-1 record.
  • On the women's side, two Sioux recruits are taking part in the 2012 Women's Under-18 Championship. Samantha LaShomb is representing Team USA, which opened their tournament with an 8-0 victory over Russia this morning, while Meghan Dufault and Team Canada hammered Switzerland 13-1. Team USA has won three of the last four gold medals in this event, and the Americans and Canadians have met for the gold all four years. Team USA and Canada each resume play tomorrow at Noon CST, with the US taking on Sweden and Canada facing Germany.

Post Holiday Break Update, Part 2

This should hopefully get the blog caught up on the backlog of links and updates that have accumulated over the past week and a half. Expect an international update later today, a Harvard series recap Sunday or Monday, along with the remaining recruit profiles over the next week or so:
  • TJ Oshie was sidelined for St. Louis' first two games out of the holiday break, but he returned to action last night and scored the Blues' only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville. Oshie now has 19 points (11G, 8A) and a +10 in his last 24 games after a bit of a slow start, but still feels as though he can play better. His 24 points are one shy of David Backes' team leading 25, while his 12 goals are second to Alex Steen's 13.
  • The Blues travel to Detroit to take on Mike Commodore and the Red Wings tonight. Commodore, who put in his work off the ice during an unfamiliar run of healthy scratches, has now played in the Wings' last four games, including last night's game against Chicago in which he registered his first point as a Wing. Red Wings' coach Mike Babcock says Commodore has seized the opportunity after earning his way back into the lineup.
  • The New Jersey Devils have sustained their recent strong play, having won eight of their last eleven games. Travis Zajac's return to the lineup has bolstered the Devil's depth up the middle, but the consistently strong play of the top two lines has been key during New Jersey's surge. Zajac has been centering the third line and will most likely not be 100% health-wise until next season as he continues working his way back from an Achilles tendon injury. The Devils and team captain Zach Parise, meanwhile, can enter into contract extension negotiations beginning tomorrow.
  • Last night Jonathan Toews, who has had a number of memorable NHL goals, was successful on his first career NHL penalty shot. The 'Hawks eventually earned a 3-2 victory over Detroit and extended their league-best point total to 52. Toews, who leads the 'Hawks with 21 goals and is second on the team with 38 points, continues to be mentioned in early Hart Trophy speculation and Chicago sports fans should be thankful for their hockey captain. Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville says it's the little things that make Toews so special. He was also recently featured in a rundown of Canada's last 10 years at the World Junior Championships, and he is one of many stars who can call themselves both Fighting Sioux and Shattuck-St. Mary's alumni.
  • Anaheim Ducks forward Jason Blake, who suffered a lacerated wrist tendon just three games into the season, has been practicing with the team and should return to game action within a week. Meanwhile there is no set timetable for the return of Blake's teammate Matt Smaby, but Duck beat writer Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register said that Smaby is progressing nicely and official word on Smaby's status should come soon. Smaby underwent thumb surgery prior to the regular season and was originally expected to be out 2-3 months.
  • Last week Colorado Avalanche rookie Brad Malone earned a nice review on his play since being called up from Lake Erie (AHL). In nine games with the Avs Malone has two assists and is a +1.
  • Joe Finley, who made his NHL debut with Buffalo earlier this season, is climbing the Sabres ladder and not looking back.
  • Drew Stafford has been in a season-long goal scoring drought, and he says extra focus is key to breaking out.
  • David Toews made his AHL debut last night with the Rockford Ice Hogs. Prior to the call-up Toews had spent the entire season with the Toledo Walleye, playing in 24 games and producing nine points (2G, 7A).
  • Taylor Chorney of Oklahoma City (AHL) received a three game suspension for an illegal check earlier this week.
  • Reigning ECHL Player of the Week Michael Forney of the Colorado Eagles will have to sit out one game after receiving an instigating game misconduct last night against the Alaska Aces.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fighting Sioux vs. Harvard: Notes & Links

North Dakota (9-8-1, 7-7-0 WCHA) vs. Harvard (4-3-3, 3-3-2 ECAC) - 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.
  • Series Notes in PDF: North Dakota and Harvard
  • Brad Schlossman's Friday Morning Reading
  • This is a very important nonconference series for the Fighting Sioux in terms of positioning themselves for a NCAA tournament berth. It's a situation that is familiar to a host of WCHA teams this season, as the conference has not experienced its usual nonconference success.  
  • Harvard, like the Fighting Sioux, is hovering near the .500 mark, but the production of their freshmen means they've been getting a full team effort this season. 
  • With North Dakota and Harvard having met on the ice just 11 times (UND leads 8-2-1), the Crimson are a relatively unknown opponent. Read a little more on the Harvard program and its history.
  • North Dakota will be without Derek Forbort, who is representing Team USA at the World Junior Championships in Calgary/Edmonton. Injury-wise Rocco Grimaldi is still out at least 2-3 more weeks while Corban Knight and Mario Lamoureux will be gameday decisions.
  • UND and Harvard do not share any common opponents at this point of the season, but Harvard has played Clarkson, North Dakota's opponent next Saturday in Winnipeg. The Crimson defeated the Golden Knights 3-2 in Potsdam.
  • We are at the halfway point of the conference season, and a variety of outlets have offered up their midseason awards and reviews: USCHO First Half Facts, Bucky's 5th Quarter WCHA First Half Awards, CHN WCHA Midseason Awards, The Ciskie Blog WCHA Midseason Awards, INCH's WCHA Midseason Report.
  • USCHO's Weekend Picks
  • USCHO's This Week in the WCHA
  • CHN's Tale of the Tape
  • Inside Hockey Series Preview

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post Holiday Break Update, Part 1

Following the holiday break and a pleasant road trip to western North Dakota, the blog is now back to active status. There's been a decent amount of noteworthy activity in the land of Sioux hockey, and we'll look to tackle it all over the course of the next several days. There are a few recruit profiles left to complete, there are two significant international tournaments going on, and with a big nonconference series coming up against Harvard, the posting should become pretty regular during the next week or so. Hopefully everyone had a great holiday season, and here's the first round of updates and links:
  • Derrick LaPoint scored his first professional goal last Friday in the Reading Royals' (ECHL) 6-4 victory over Greenville. LaPoint currently has five points (1G, 4A) in 24 games with Reading. He's also played in five AHL games this season-four with the Syracuse Crunch and one with the Peoria Rivermen.
  • Brady Murray recently returned from injury to make his season debut with HC Lugano of the Swiss National League. He has registered seven points (3G, 4A) in eight games and recently signed a contract extension that will keep him in Lugano through the 2013/14 season with an option for an additional year.
  • Michael Forney of the Colorado Eagles has been as hot as anyone in the ECHL lately, recently being named the league's Player of the Week. Forney produced six points (3G, 3A) and was a +7 in helping the Eagles to a 3-0 record over the course of the week. He is currently riding a nine game point streak during which he has recorded 14 points (8G, 6A) to go along with a +11 rating. For the season Forney has 27 points (12G, 15A) and a +9. Also helping Colorado earn at least one point in 11 of its last 12 games has been Aaron Schneekloth, who leads all ECHL defensemen with 28 points (11G, 17A) in 30 games. Jake Marto, meanwhile, has rejoined Colorado after a 12 game run with St. John's (AHL).
  • The 2011 Spengler Cup, one of the oldest invitation-only hockey tournaments in the world, is currently taking place in Davos, Switzerland. Former Sioux defenseman Robbie Bina is taking part with his EHC Wolfsburg (Germany Tier I) squad, and earlier today they eliminated Team Canada 3-2 (SO) to advance to the semifinals. Travis Roche was originally chosen to participate for Team Canada, but was forced to back out due to injury.
  • Derek Forbort is currently in Alberta representing Team USA in the 2012 World Junior Championships. In their tournament opener Team USA trounced Denmark 11-3, with Forbort notching two assists. The Americans were upset 4-1 Wednesday afternoon by an offensively gifted Finland team, despite outshooting the Fins 38-24. Team USA has an off day today before concluding preliminary round play against the Czech Republic Friday (2:30 CST) and Canada Saturday (7:00 CST).
  • Recruits Luke Voltin and Keaton Thompson will be taking part in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge beginning today in Windsor, Ontario. The United States of Hockey put together a very nice preview of Team USA, including brief scouting reports of all players. Team USA kicks off their tournament today at 6:00 CST, and all games can be viewed live over the internet at Fast Hockey. This has become a high-profile showcase event for players still two to three years out of their draft year, and among those taking part will be highly-regarded prospects Nathan MacKinnon and Aaron Ekblad. Ekblad is just the second player ever to be granted exceptional player status by the OHL (John Tavares was the first), which allowed him to play in the league at the age of 15.
  • Recruit Drake Caggiula is currently participating in the Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge in Smith Falls, Ontario. The tournament, which consists of all-star teams from several Canadian junior A leagues, concludes tonight at 6:00 CST when Caggiula and his OJHL North teammates take on Quebec for the tournament championship. Caggiula has a goal and an assist in four tournament games. He's also gone two-for-two in shootouts, including the game winner in the semifinal game earlier today. The game can be viewed live via Neulion.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday Afternoon Tea

Having been unable to get this post out earlier today, the Morning Coffee has been replaced with Afternoon Tea:
  • Derek Forbort is currently participating in Team USA's World Junior Championship selection camp in Camrose, Alberta. The final roster will be announced tomorrow morning, and expect Forbort to be on it, particularly now that defenseman Seth Jones will not take part due to an injury suffered in last night's exhibition game against Russia. The tournament kicks off for Team USA Monday, December 26th at 7:00 PM CST when they take on Denmark. The tournament takes place in Edmonton and Calgary and all of Team USA's games will be aired live on the NHL Network.
  • The College Hockey News recently published their WCHA Midseason Awards. They have Brock Nelson as a 2nd Team All-Conference performer, while Ben Blood is a 3rd Teamer.
  • Recruits Keaton Thompson and Luke Voltin will be participating in the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge beginning December 28 in Windsor, Ontario.
  • Recruit Jordan Schmaltz was recently profiled by 
  • Jordan Schmaltz (#22) and Stefan Matteau (#30) each find themselves among McKeen's Top 30 2012 NHL Draft Prospects.
  • Jordan Schmaltz's younger brother and fellow Sioux recruit Nick will be leaving the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers in order to rejoin the Chicago Mission U-16 team. Nick has now played 11 games with the Gamblers, meaning his USHL rights will be retained by Green Bay without the team having to draft him this spring. In his 11 games with Green Bay he scored one goal to go along with three assists while posting an impressive +7 rating. Here's what Gambler head coach Derek Lalonde had to say about the younger Schmaltz's brief USHL stint: "That's a world-class player. He's arguably in his age group the best in the world. I don't know if people can put it in perspective and appreciate that. Obviously a lot is going to change, but what people are seeing out there - that's special."
  • Travis Zajac scored his first goal of the season last night against the New York Rangers. Though New Jersey originally hoped to gradually increase his playing time, he was moved up to the Devil's second line last night when Patrick Elias was unable go. He missed the team's first 30 games recovering from Achilles surgery and made his season debut last Friday night. New Jersey has been playing its best hockey of the season as of late, and getting Zajac back will only make them stronger.
  • New Jersey missed the NHL playoffs last season after 13 consecutive appearances, but Zach Parise's return to full health has the Devils right back in the thick of the playoff chase. Parise will become an unrestricted free agent this summer if he and the Devils are unable to agree upon a contract extension, and The Hockey News recently speculated on what the future might hold for the former Sioux star.
  • The streaking St. Louis Blues have jumped into the upper-half of the Western Conference's top eight, and leading the way have been TJ Oshie and the Blues' top line. Oshie currently leads St. Louis with 11 goals, 12 assists, and 23 points, including seven points (4G, 3A) and a +4 in his last six games.
  • Derrick LaPoint has been bouncing all over the place this season. After starting the season with the ECHL's Reading Royals, he had been called up and sent down by the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) on three separate occasions. This past weekend he was summoned by the Peoria Rivermen (AHL), played a game Sunday night, and was returned to Reading. 
  • Michael Forney and the Colorado Eagles (ECHL) have been red-hot recently. Forney is currently enjoying a six-game point streak during which he has recorded ten points (5G, 5A), including six (3G, 3A) in his last two games. 
  • We'll leave you with a beauty of a goal, courtesy of Toronto Maple Leaf Matt Frattin. The play starts deep in their own end, but eventually every Maple Leaf touches the puck before Frattin tucks it home with a strong rush to the net:

Monday, December 19, 2011

WCHA Blogger & Website Preseason Poll: Mid-Term Review

We are at the midway point of the WCHA regular season with every team having played 14 of its 28 conference games. This, of course, means it is time to review the WCHA Blogger & Website Preseason Poll. Minnesota and Michigan Tech have exceeded expectations, as the Gophers sit five spots higher than what was forecast for them and the Huskies four, while preseason favorite Denver sits four spots lower than what the pollsters foresaw. And while there is a lot of hockey left to be played, the blognosticators correctly slotted 6 of the 12 teams within one spot of their current position. Here are the current WCHA standings along with their corresponding jump/slide from the preseason poll:

3Colorado College-1
4Nebraska Omaha+/-0
6North Dakota-3
7Michigan Tech+4
7tSt Cloud State+/-0
9Bemidji State+1
12Minnesota State+/-0

Outside of goaltender, the picks for the preseason All-Conference team are hard to argue, as Jack Connolly and Justin Schultz are absolute no-brainers, with Jason Zucker, Ben Blood, and Jaden Schwartz also living up to the preseason hype. There are several players (Bjugstad, Brown, Shore, R. Schwartz, Broadhurst, Nelson, Hunt, Jensen, etc.) who have been outstanding in the first half and perhaps deserve All-Conference honors, but we'll wait until the season's end to broach those heated debates. The goaltender position is neck and neck between Kent Patterson and Kenny Reiter, as preseason pick Aaron Dell started the season slowly before picking it up as of late. The edge in goal is ever-so slightly given to Patterson, as he leads the league in GAA and Save %, with Reiter nipping right on his heels.

The preseason player of the year was Jason Zucker, with Jaden Schwartz coming in one vote behind. While both Zucker and Schwartz have been outstanding, it is very hard to argue against either Connolly or Schultz.

The runaway winner of the preseason Rookie of the Year has played in only four games, but in the absence of Rocco Grimaldi there is a host of deserving candidates. Josh Archibald, Kyle Rau, JP LaFontaine, Caleb Herbert, Jayson Megna, Joey LaLeggia et. al. are all viable candidates, and the second half will hopefully see this picture come into clearer focus.

The preseason Defenseman of the Year was Justin Schultz, and rightfully so. The Wisconsin blueliner has been sensational all season and is a legitimate Hobey Baker candidate.

The Breakout Player of the Year is a bit harder to gauge, considering 13 players received at least one vote. Of the three who received two votes, Beau Bennett has been sidelined most of the season, Zach Budish has been decent but nothing more, and JT Brown probably had his breakout performance down the stretch last season and thus hasn't really been a true "breakout" performer. Among those receiving single votes, Terry Broadhurst, Brock Nelson, and Ben Hanowski are the leading candidates at the halfway marker.

It has been an entertaining first half, and the second half promises even more of the same.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Recruit Profile: Jordan Schmaltz
Previous Team:  Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Anticipated Arrival at UND:  2012
Position: Defense
Birthday:  October 8th, 1993
Hometown:  Verona, WI
Height:  6'2"
Weight:  175
Shoots:  Right

Profiles & Press Clippings:
  • He began the season with the Sioux City Musketeers, but an in-season trade saw him move to the Clark Cup-winning Green Bay Gamblers. During the regular season he played in 55 games, producing 41 points (10G, 31A) while earning Defensive Player of the Week honors on three occasions (Week 2, Week 14, & Week 27). He finished the regular season tied for 2nd among USHL defensemen in points (41), 3rd in assists (31), & 5th in goals (10), and amongst blueliners in the playoffs he finished tied for the league lead in +/- (+10), goals (4) and T-2nd in points (7). He was tabbed as a First Team All-USHL blueliner for the second consecutive season.
  • He took part in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects game on January 24, 2012 in what was a showcase event for the USHL's top 2012 NHL Draft eligible talent. His Team West defeated Team East by a 5-3 margin.
  • In November he took part in the 2011 World Junior A Challenge in Langley, BC, producing an assist in 5 games for the bronze medal winning Team USA entry.
  • In August of 2011 he took part in the NHL's Research and Development Camp, featuring about 40 of the top 2012 NHL Draft prospects.
2010-11 & Prior:
  • As a USHL rookie he played 53 games with the Sioux City Musketeers and led all league defensemen with 44 points (13G, 31A) on his way to earning All-Rookie and All-USHL honors. He was also named the USHL's Defensive Player of the Week five times.
  • He helped lead Team USA to the gold medal at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge, recording one assist in 4 games.
  • 2009-10: He played in 11 games with the USNTDP Under-17 team, producing two goals and zero assists. He also went pointless in two games with the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers.
  • He played for Team USA's gold medal winning entry in the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, accounting for one goal and zero assists in six games.
  • From 2006 to 2010, he was a member of the Chicago Mission youth hockey organization, producing 87 points (31G, 56A) while playing in 124 games.
  • He is the older brother of committed Sioux recruit Nick Schmaltz.
  • His father, Mike, and two uncles, Marc and Monte, are former Fighting Sioux football players.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Morning Coffee

  • Travis Zajac made his season debut last night for New Jersey, but teammate Zach Parise stole the show with a career high-tying four point (1G, 3A) performance. Parise's been on some kind of roll lately as his big night now gives him 16 points in his last 10 games. Zajac, who missed the first 30 games of the season due to an offseason Achilles tendon injury, centered the Devils' third line and had 15:22 of ice time, including about a minute on the power play. He said he felt good physically but had a little rust.
  • Parise is one of the best hockey players in the world, and he is one of the few that combines elite talent with scrappiness.
  • Coming off last season's career-best 31 goal campaign, Drew Stafford has not had the start to the season he or the Buffalo Sabres envisioned. However, he scored a goal last night against Toronto and may be showing signs of breaking out as he now has a point in four of his last five games.
  • Last night Chicago moved into a tie with the Minnesota Wild for the most points in the NHL after defeating Anaheim 4-1. In Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks might have the best 1-2 punch in the league, but it has been the phenomenal play of Toews that has pushed the team to the top of the standings.
  • Former Sioux defenseman and current Los Angeles Kings assistant captain Matt Greene took a minute to briefly discuss his time at North Dakota: 
  • Jason Gregoire returned to action last night for the St. John's IceCaps (AHL) following a lengthy lay off due to injury, and he registered an assist in a 4-2 victory over Manchester.
  • Defenseman Aaron Schneekloth continues to propel the Colorado Eagles' run up the standings. He scored the game winning goal last night in a 3-2 victory over Utah, and he now has 22 points (10G, 12A) and a +10 rating in 25 games. After a bit of a slow start transitioning from the CHL to the ECHL, the Eagles have gone 10-2-2 in their last 14 to move into second place in the Western Conference's Mountain Division. Former Sioux Michael Forney earned the primary assist on Schneekloth's game winner and now has 17 points (6G, 11A) in 25 games.
  • Sioux 2012 recruit Stefan Matteau jumped into the International Scouting Service's Top 30 ranked 2012 NHL Draft prospects.
  • Sioux 2013 recruit Jack Rowe scored the game-winning goal and was named the game's 1st Star as Cedar Rapids defeated the Team USA Under-18ers 2-1 last night. It was the first USHL goal of his career.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fighting Sioux vs. Russian Red Stars: Notes & Links

North Dakota vs. Russian Red Stars (Exhibition) - Game Notes & Links:
  • Saturday 7:07 PM CST
  • The games will be broadcast on a variety of media outlets across the region. Here's the standard Broadcast Information.
  • Series notes in PDF: North Dakota
  • The Russian Red Stars defeated Army and lost to Yale in college exhibition contests last year, and North Dakota's Engelstad Arena is the first stop on this season's US tour.
  • Expect North Dakota to do some experimenting with its personnel against the Red Stars.
  • After taking on the Fighting Sioux, the Red Stars will travel to Alexandria (Blizzard) and Bismarck (Bobcats) to take on a pair of NAHL squads in what will be the only non-collegiate games of the tour.
  • Little is known about the Russian Red Stars. The team is comprised of players who currently play in Russia's Minor Hockey League (MHL), ranging in age from 17-21. Some of the MHL's teams are affiliated with Russia's elite league, the KHL, others are feeder teams for lower-level professional teams, and some have no professional-level affiliation at all. The league has players who have participated in various international competitions (U-17, U-18, etc.), some of whom are NHL draft picks. The league does contain elite-level talent (ISS's #1 ranked 2012 NHL Draft prospect Mikhail Grigorenko played in the league last season), but I would expect that any of the league's world-class talent will be preparing for the World Junior Championships.
  • Expect some wide-open, freewheeling hockey out of the Russian team, nothing resembling what we saw last weekend against Nebraska-Omaha. On their North American tour last season the Red Stars allowed 7.4 goals per game.
  • Derek Forbort will not be available for the game as he will be taking part in Team USA's World Junior Championship pre-tournament camp beginning Saturday in Camrose, Alberta. Former Sioux head coach Dean Blais will be leading Team USA, and he will be assisted by former Sioux player/assistant coach Scott Sandelin.
  • Unavailable due to injury will be Rocco Grimaldi, Corban Knight, and Mario Lamoureux.
  • CHN's WCHA Power Rankings
  • USCHO's Weekend Picks
  • WCHA Weekly Press Release

Recruit Profile: Stefan Matteau (DECOMMITTED)
Current Team:  US National Team Dev. Program Under-18 Team
Anticipated Arrival at UND:  2012
Position:  Forward
Birthday:  February 23rd, 1994
Hometown:  Chicago, IL
Height:  6'1"
Weight:  209
Shoots:  Left

  • Commitment Update: Matteau has announced his intention to join the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL 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 page
  • USA Hockey: "Little Stef" Hopes to Follow Dad to the NHL
  • USA Hockey: Matteau Brings NHL Bloodlines to Under-17 Team 
  • Dan Sallows: Q&A With Stefan Matteau
  • The Hockey News: Prep Watch - The Next Matteau
  • Notre Dame College/College Hockey 24/7: Matteau Earns NTDP Spot, Drawing College Interest  
  • Notre Dame College/GF Herald: Commitment Article
  • NHL Entry Draft eligible in 2012.
  • He is ranked #4 among USHL 2012 draft-eligible players in the NHL Central Scouting Bureau's Preliminary Rankings.
  • He was a member of USA Hockey's undefeated championship winning team at the 2011 Under-18 Four Nations Cup in Monthey, Switzerland. Including the pre-tournament exhibition game, he recorded two goals and two assists in four games.
  • The US Hockey Report had this to say about his performance at the 2011 USHL Fall Classic: The biggest surprise for us was the play up front of 6’1”, 209 lb. LW Stefan Matteau who this observer thought was clearly the #1 forward for the US Team. A power forward, he was very tough to contain. He’s really picked his game up a notch over a year ago and it will be interesting to see if he can sustain it throughout the year. If he does, he could very well be a first round pick in June.
  • 2010-11: He was a member of the USNTDP Under-17 team. Participating in international, USHL, and collegiate exhibition play, he recorded 18 points (7G, 11A) in 47 games. 
  • In February of 2011 he was part of the Under-17 team that went undefeated at the Vlad Dzurilla Tournament in Piestany, Slovakia. In three tournament games he produced one goal and two assists.
  • In the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, he accounted for 6 points (2G, 4A) in 7 games as Team USA earned the tournament's silver medal.
  • He was a member of the 2010 Under-17 Four Nations Cup winning team, playing in four games.
  • 2009-10: He played on the Telus Cup champion Notre Dame Midget AAA Hounds (Wilcox, SK, Canada), producing 71 points (26G, 45A) in 65 games. 
  • He continues a proud tradition of Notre Dame Hounds making their way to North Dakota. Former Sioux Bob Joyce, Jeff Ulmer, Jason Ulmer, Rylan Kaip, Brent Bobyck, and Jason Herter are also Notre Dame alums.
  • His father, Stephane, played 13 NHL seasons.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday Morning Coffee

  • The Chicago Blackhawks earned a 4-3 shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild last night in what was a milestone evening for Jonathan Toews. Toews' 2nd period assist was the 300th point of his career, and he later added a regulation goal and the shootout winner on his way to earning the game's 1st Star. Toews, who has won World Junior and Olympic gold, the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy, and is the early favorite for this season's Hart Trophy, has achieved a career's worth of accolades before even turning 24. For a little added perspective on his youthful accomplishments, Chicago's captain is nearly four months younger than Maple Leaf rookie Matt Frattin.
  • Earlier this week Toews appeared on WGN Radio's Jonathon Brandmeier show with teammate Daniel Carcillo. While there wasn't much substance to the appearance, there were a few humorous moments, including some insight into teammate Patrick Kane's nickname. The Toews bit begins about a third of the way into the segment.
  • Toews made the cut as part of the NHL's Top 10 Shootout Specialists. He wasn't the only former Sioux to qualify, as TJ Oshie was given an honorable mention while Zach Parise topped the list.
  • With Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa recently saying farewell to St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch wants to know who can help fill their void, and TJ Oshie and the St. Louis Blues are part of that mix
  • Zach Parise and the New Jersey Devils completed a Florida sweep this week to continue their recent surge, and the production of the Devils' top line has been the key to their recent success.
  • The Devils are looking to extend their good fortune by welcoming their top centerman back into the fold, as Travis Zajac is still on track to return to the lineup tomorrow
  • Brad Malone, who has played two games with Colorado, was recently featured in an Avalanche Q&A.
  • Chris VandeVelde and Taylor Chorney have both been key components to the Oklahoma City Barons' strong start.
  • Hunter Bishop, who has not played this season due to a preseason injury, is helping to make a difference off the ice.
  • Sioux goaltender Aaron Dell was named the WCHA's Defensive Player of the Week after his strong weekend against Nebraska-Omaha. Dell got of to a slow start this season, but he is now returning to his All-American form of a year ago. 
  • The Fighting Sioux will be making their way to Winnipeg next month, looking to earn a victory north of the 49th Parallel.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Recruit Profile: Charlie Pelnik
Current Team:  Langley Rivermen (BCHL)
Potential Arrival at UND:  2015/16
Position:  Defense
Birthday:  May 15th, 1995
Hometown:  Cary, NC
Height:  6'4"
Weight:  215
Shoots:  Left

Profiles & Press Clippings:
  • He will play for the Langley Rivermen (BCHL). 
  • Playing for the Fargo Force (USHL), he notched one assist in 24 games in what proved to be an injury plagued season. He also appeared in seven playoff games as the Force advanced to the Clark Cup Finals.
  • Played for the Shattuck-St. Mary's Under-16 team that advanced to the USA Hockey midget minor national tournament, recording 11 points (3G, 8A) in 44 games.
  • In June of 2011 he took part in USA Hockey's Select 16 Development Camp, playing in 5 games. The US Hockey Report ranked him #13 among defenseman: From Carolina Jr. Hurricanes. North Dakota recruit. Quite raw, didn’t have a great week, but there’s a lot to work with here. Fargo’s top pick. Also picked by Plymouth in OHL draft.
  • 2011 OHL Draft Scouting Report: a great combination of size skill and grit, good team player who is fearless & is willing to stick up for his teammates, plays a solid defensive game with good positioning and gap control, likes the physical game, makes things miserable for opposing forwards, tough to play against in the corners & in front of his net, good skater for his size with quick acceleration & good mobility, makes good first pass clearing out of the zone, needs to work on his puck handling and can be undisciplined at times....drafted by Fargo of the USHL...committed to North Dakota....rated as a mid to late first rounder but will most likely drop.
  • In March of 2011 he was invited to take part in the USNTDP Under-17 tryout camp, featuring the 45 best 1995 birth-year players in the United States.
  • As a high school sophomore he played for the Carolina Junior Hurricanes Under-16 AAA team that went 30-18-6.
  • July of 2010 he participated in the USA Hockey Select 15 Development Camp, going pointless in 5 games. US Hockey Report ranked him as the #7 defenseman at camp: From Carolina Jr. Hurricanes organization. Big, with a bit of nastiness. He wasn't consistent, though, and had at least one day where he struggled to find his game. Plenty of upside here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Morning Coffee

As part of its constant evolution, the blog is going to take a bit of a different approach to sharing the various news stories and links that are currently posted in a somewhat irregular fashion. I am usually able to get Sioux-related news items out via Twitter rather quickly, but sometimes the links to these items are outdated by the time they are included in a blog post. Therefore, I'm going to begin posting such links more frequently in order to get them out in a more timely manner. The links usually accumulate fast enough to warrant a blog post every couple of days or so, and these posts will not take the place of the Series Previews, Weekly Recaps, Recruit Profiles, etc. Also, I welcome any and all feedback, so if you have any suggestions, recommendations, or corrections, feel free to leave a comment as they are always appreciated. So without further rambling, please enjoy your initial cup of the Morning Coffee:
  • Jonathan Toews recently appeared on the NHL Network's NHL Live program.
  • Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks are off to a very good start this season, and much of the credit can be attributed to the production of The Fantastic Four, all of whom currently rank in the top 15 in the league in points.
  • The Blackhawks have been finding ways to win this year even when they have not been at their best.
  • Zach Parise had a goal and two assists last night in New Jersey's 5-4 victory in Tampa Bay. It took Parise 21 games to reach the 11 point mark this season, but the production has been ramped up as of late as he has 11 points in his last 8 games. Now that the Devils' top line of Parise, rookie Adam Henrique, and sniper Ilya Kovalchuk is hitting its stride, it will be interesting to see what role Travis Zajac is assigned when he makes his return to the lineup. Zajac could play as early as Friday.
  • Parise and TJ Oshie each made the cut for Jeremy Roenick's All-American-Born team. Parise made the first line and Oshie the second. Also of note, 11 of the 12 included by Roenick are former college players.
  • Oshie recently sat down with St. Louis' KSDK to answer a few questions regarding the Blues' season thus far.
  • Aaron Schneekloth continues to produce for the Colorado Eagles. His 12 goals and 12 power-play points lead all ECHL defensemen.
  • Brandon Bochenski notched a hat trick last week for Barys Astana (KHL).
  • Jason Gregoire, who has missed a good portion of the St. John's IceCap season due to injury, is one of the native Winnipeggers playing in the Jet organization.
  • Current Alabama-Huntsville goaltender Clarke Saunders has confirmed that he intends to transfer to North Dakota, regardless of whether the school is able to save it's fledgling ice hockey program. And due to UAH's initial decision to disband its program, Saunders will be eligible to play immediately. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Recruit Profile: Keaton Thompson
Previous Team:  US National Team Dev. Program Under-18 Team
Arrival at UND:  Fall 2013
Position: Defense
Birthday:  September 14th, 1995
Hometown:  Devils Lake, ND
Height:  6'0"
Weight:  185
Shoots:  Left

Profiles & Press Clippings:
  • He played for the USA Hockey NTDP Under-18 Team, producing 20 points (4G, 16A) and a +18 rating in 67 games.
  • In April he helped Team USA earn silver at the Under-18 World Championships in Sochi, Russia. In seven tournament games he recorded one assist.
  • In February he & Team USA participated in the 2013 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament in Jonkoping, Sweden. He recorded one assist in four games as Team USA finished the tournament with a 2-2 record.
  • In November he played on Team USA's gold-medal winning team at the 2012 Under-18 Four Nations Tournament in Ann Arbor, MI. He recorded one assist in four tournament games as Team USA finished with a 3-1 record.
  • Along with fellow UND recruits Luke Johnson & Gage Ausmus, he participated in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game September 29 in Buffalo, NY.
  • He played for the USNTDP's Under-17 team, producing 22 points (5G, 17A) in 51 games.
  • Played on Team USA's undefeated gold medal winning team at the 2011 Under-17 Four Nations Cup and had one goal and two assists in four games.
  • In June of 2011 he attended USA Hockey's Select 16 Development Camp, earning All-Star honors. The US Hockey Report ranked him as the #6 defenseman at camp after recording two assists in five games: From Devils Lake HS. Joining NTDP. Good defensively, nice outlet passes, and judiciously picks his spots to join the rush.
  • He earned All-Conference and All-State honors as a freshman at Devils Lake (ND-HS), playing in 24 games while leading the state in points by a defenseman with 38 (9G, 29A). Prior to the high school season, he participated in the Upper Midwest Elite League, recording one assist in 16 games for the Great Plains team. After the high school season, he joined the USHL's Fargo Force and played in 13 games.
  • In July of 2010 he attended the USA Hockey Select 15 Development Camp, where he produced three assists in five games. The US Hockey Report ranked him as the #6 defenseman at camp: 9/14/95 birthdate from Devils Lake HS in North Dakota. Nice smooth skater. Nice flat passes. Keeps it simple. A lot of upside.
  • As an 8th grader at Devils Lake High School he accounted for 18 points (7G, 11A) in 24 games.
  • July of 2009 saw him take part in the USA Hockey Select 14 Development Camp, tallying 2 assists in 5 games on his way to being rated as one of US Hockey Report's Top 10 defensemen.

Week 10 Recap: Sioux & Mavs Split

In the final series of the first half of the WCHA season, relatively new foes battled like bitter, traditional rivals in what was a slug-fest of a series. Nebraska-Omaha came to Grand Forks in what will be the only series of the regular season between the two teams, and after 120+ minutes of physically taxing hockey, each team limped away with two conference points. Friday night saw the teams battle to a 1-1 deadlock through regulation, with the Mavericks ultimately getting the 2-1 overtime victory. Saturday night was even more of a defensive and goaltending dominated affair that saw North Dakota goaltender Aaron Dell lead his team to a 1-0 shutout victory. Here are a few thoughts:
  • The lack of scoring wasn't indicative of poor play or a lack of offensive skill, but more a result of the defensive style of play each team chose to employ. Both teams did a very nice job limiting each other's ability to enter the offensive zone with possession, and that really led to a lack of flow each night. The chances seemed to come in spurts for each team, with neither really able to generate sustained offensive pressure.
  • There are several worthy candidates (Schultz, Schmidt, Sova), but Aaron Dell is very much deserving of WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors when the weekly award winners are announced Tuesday afternoon. On the weekend he posted a tidy 0.99 GAA to go along with a 0.966 Save %, and his positioning and rebound control were superb all weekend.
  • Both teams were very physical over the weekend, with North Dakota being led by Andrew MacWilliam. He delivered several controlled yet punishing hits and visited the penalty box only after scuffling with Tony Turgeon at the end of Saturday's first period. In the third period Saturday he also made a very nice play to break up a Maverick scoring opportunity with a well-timed slide that came only after one of the referees interfered with MacWilliam in the high-slot area.
  • On defense in general the Fighting Sioux did a great job of playing the body, neutralizing a number of potential Maverick opportunities by forcing the play to the boards. Very active sticks also deflected a number of passing attempts and shots. Besides MacWilliam, the defensemen that stood out to me were Nick Mattson and Derek Forbort.
  • There may have been a bit of a lapse in the overtime loss that allowed the Mavericks to score the game winner, but the pass that Matt White made to send Ryan Walters in alone on Dell had to be perfect, and it was. It was about as nice of a rink-wide breakout pass as you'll ever see, allowing Walters to enter the zone at full speed, who made a nice move to get the puck up and over Dell's left pad. And who knows, if that play had taken place in regulation the two extra bodies on the ice might very well have taken away the space needed to effectively execute it.
  • It was nice to see that freshman Connor Gaarder was awarded the Hard Hat Saturday night. He was very active all weekend, and even earned some power play time Saturday night. 
  • The Mavericks came out looking to hit somebody this weekend and Danny Kristo appeared to be one of the main targets, but to his credit he took the hits and kept bouncing back. He further showed his resolve Saturday night by coming out of the lockerrom to start the third period primed to take the game over, and within a minute he had converted a tremendous individual effort into what turned out to be the game's only goal.
  • The Sioux were forced to shuffle the lineup a bit Saturday after Corban Knight suffered a lower-body injury the night before. Captain Mario Lamoureux, who did not play Friday, rejoined the lineup Saturday and gave a much-needed tougher-than-nails effort. It was a big win Saturday in that it kept North Dakota right in the thick of the race for playoff home-ice, and it was accomplished with guys playing hurt, playing out of position, and playing expanded roles.
  • The mid-season holiday break couldn't come at a better time for the Sioux, as the next four weeks contain just three regular season games. The break in action will hopefully allow the likes of Knight and Lamoureux to heal up a bit and return to full strength sooner rather than later. Also, with a month before the next conference series, we should know more on the health status of Rocco Grimaldi. Conference play resumes when Minnesota pays a visit to Engelstad Arena January 13-14, and that series marks the 8th week of Grimaldi's original 6-8 week injury diagnosis.   

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Recruit Profile: Nick Schmaltz
Current Team:  Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Anticipated Arrival at UND:  2014
Position: Forward
Birthday:  February 23rd, 1996
Hometown:  Verona, WI
Height:  6'1"
Weight:  172
Shoots:  Right

Profiles & Press Clippings:

  • He will be playing with the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL).
  • He participated in the 2013 All-American Prospects Game as one of the top American-born prospects eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.
  • In September he was listed as an A skater on the NHL Central Scouting Service's Preliminary Watchlist for the 2014 NHL Draft.
  • In August he was a member of the USA Hockey Under-18 Select team that took part in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
  • In July he took part in USA hockey's Select 17 Development Camp, earning All-Star honors after notching a goal and two assists in six games. His camp performance was rewarded with an invite to the USA Hockey Under-18 Select Team.
  • Spent the season with the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL), recording 52 points (18G, 34A) in 64 games while earning USHL All-Rookie Team honors as the top point producing 1996-born player in the USHL. In four postseason games he logged one goal and one assist.
  • He began the 2011-12 season playing for the Chicago Mission U-16 Midget Minor team until an 11 game stint with the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL). He then rejoined his Chicago Mission club, which advanced to the USA Hockey Midget Minor national tournament. In the 25 games for which stats are available, he produced 46 points (23G, 23A) for Chicago Mission. In his 11 games with Green Bay he registered a goal and three assists to go along with a +7 rating.
  • He competed for USA Hockey's Under-16 Select team at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games January 13-22 in Innsbruck, Austria. He tied for the team lead with six points (2G, 4A) in six games.
  • He participated in USA Hockey's 2011 Select 15 Development Camp and was the second leading scorer, tallying 12 points (3G, 9A) in 5 games. The US Hockey Report analysis: Center has soft hands, sees the ice very well. Gets open, and finds the open man. He’s the brother of North Dakota recruit Jordan Schmaltz. From Verona, Wisc. and Chicago Mission U16.
  • He led the 2010 USA Hockey Select 14 Camp with 10 points (1G, 9A) in 5 games. US Hockey Report: Showed nice hands and a touch with the puck.
  • From the fall of 2007 to the spring of 2011 he played for the Chicago Mission youth hockey program. In 115 Tier 1 Elite games with Chicago, he accounted for 190 points (91G, 99A) and 66 penalty minutes.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Team USA in Fargo, Malone Debuts, Oshie Evolving, Etc.

I took a rare night off from the Fighting Sioux home hockey schedule in order to take a look at 2012 incoming recruits Stefan Matteau, Miles Koules, and Zane Gothberg. Matteau and Koules play for the USNTDP's Under-18 team and were in Fargo to take on Gothberg and the Force. Here are a few observations:
  • Koules centered a line featuring Matteau on his left wing and BC recruit Frankie Vatrano on his right. 
  • The highly-skilled Team USA dictated play for much of the game, but Gothberg was outstanding. He stopped 35 of 38 shots and was very good in the shootout. He was tracking the puck very well, played with a lot of confidence, and earned the game's 1st Star. He's been a bit inconsistent this year for the Force, but that could be attributed to the Force as a whole being inconsistent.
  • Matteau comes as advertised. He's not at all afraid of the physical side of the game, and he uses his size (6'1" 209 lbs.) effectively. He scored a goal on which he out-muscled a Force player behind the net, eventually working the puck to teammate Thomas Di Pauli. Gothberg made the initial save on Di Pauli's shot, but Matteau had worked his way into position in front of the net and was able to deposit the loose change. He's also a solid skater (at one point impressively and nimbly hurdling a downed Force player at center ice), he has a nice, quick wrist shot that he displayed on his shootout goal, and he was solid on the backcheck. There has been talk of Matteau potentially taking the CHL route rather than playing collegiately, but if he does indeed make his way to North Dakota next fall he will be an immediate impact player as a solid two-way power forward.
  • Koules didn't find the scoresheet, but he has a nice nose for the puck. He, like most of Team USA, is a very solid passer, has very solid offensive instincts, and is a good, agile skater that accelerates very well. He's also good on the forecheck. Looking at his season as a whole, it's a bit surprising that he has just two goals in 24 games. That being said, he does lead the Under-18ers is assists, so perhaps he is developing into more of a playmaking centerman than the goal scorer he has been in the past.
  • Though speculation has U-18 defenseman Seth Jones eventually jumping to the CHL, North Dakota is said to be in the mix if he were to opt for the college route. He's earned nothing but rave reviews from every corner of the hockey world, and after watching him live he certainly lives up to the expectations. He's very poised and quarterbacks the powerplay like he invented it. He skates well, passes well, blocks shots, logs heavy minutes, and anticipates the action very well rather than reacting to it. He's an elite defender who will go very early in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
  • Michigan recruit Jacob Trouba was also impressive. He jumps into the play very well and is a very good all-around defenseman. Others who stood out on Team USA were Kyle Osterberg (Minnesota-Duluth recruit), Thomas Di Pauli (Notre Dame), Matthew Lane (Boston University), and Nicolas Kerdiles (Wisconsin), while Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth), Brian Cooper (Nebraska-Omaha), and Justin Wade (Notre Dame) impressed for the Force.
  • Somehow, I managed to survive the game and the shuttle ride back home without hearing any news on the Sioux-Maverick game. I went off the grid and was able to watch North Dakota and UNO in its entirety following the USHL action.

Brad Malone made his NHL debut last night for the Colorado Avalanche, becoming the 13th Fighting Sioux alumni to skate in the NHL this season. He logged 10:12 of ice time while centering the fourth line in the 4-1 loss to Edmonton. All Things Avs has a bit more on his debut.


Prior to the St. Louis Blues relieving Davis Payne of his head coaching duties in favor of Ken Hitchcock, TJ Oshie was averaging 1.46 shot attempts per game. Since Hitchcock has taken over, Oshie's shots per game have doubled to 2.93 and he has routinely been among the best players on the ice. Hitchcock attributes the turnaround to an adjustment in playing style. Rather than playing an east-west game, Oshie is becoming a north-south player who is maturing before our very eyes.

Other Notes:
  • I forgot to mention this earlier, but Alabama-Huntsville goaltender Clarke Saunders recently stated he was planning to transfer to North Dakota after the season due to UAH's adminstrative decision to discontinue Division I ice hockey. That situation, however, has been thrown into a state of flux due to the recent about-face on the part of UAH. The school is now planning on doing whatever it can to keep the program solvent, and they have begun the process of scheduling games for the 2012-13 season. Nothing is certain, and where this leaves Saunders is unknown at this point, but if the Chargers do indeed receive a reprieve he would have to sit out a year under NCAA transfer rules if he opted to leave Hunstville. Saunders, a sophomore with a 3.30 GAA and .918 save percentage in 15 games this season, would join Zane Gothberg as incoming 2012 goaltenders.
  • Former 'Hawk Jeremy Roenick recently commented on the Hart Trophy-caliber season Chicago captain Jonathan Toews is having, including stating that Toews is very motivated by last season's Stanley Cup hangover. If you so desire, watch the entire interview.
  • Recruit Nick Schmaltz scored his first career USHL last night in the Green Bay Gamblers 6-5 overtime win against Cedar Rapids. Assisting on the goal was big brother and fellow Sioux recruit Jordan Schmaltz. The 15 year-old Nick later added an assist and has now played in 8 USHL games, accounting for two points (1G, 1A) and a +5 rating.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fighting Sioux vs. Nebraska-Omaha: Notes & Links

North Dakota vs. Nebraska-Omaha - 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.
  • Series Notes in PDF: North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha
  • Most everyone is well aware of the obvious UND connection with Nebraska-Omaha head coach Dean Blais. But through Blais' recruiting, that connection is even stronger this year as the Mavericks' roster features the sons of three former Fighting Sioux standouts.
  • UND's top centerman Corban Knight doesn't do it with a lot of flash, but he is once again having a tremendous season.
  • UND's back-to-back series sweeps are the direct result of the red-hot production from Brock Nelson, Knight, and Danny Kristo, and the Mavericks are well aware that they will have to account for the Knightline.
  • Nebraska-Omaha is coming off a non-conference series split with Alabama-Huntsville, and following the Mavericks' Friday night loss head coach Dean Blais said he was "embarrassed" by his team's performance.
  • Matthew Semisch of Radio Free Omaha put together a nice Q&A with GF Herald beat writer Brad Schlossman.
  • Last weekend the Fighting Sioux put together another great team effort, which paved the way to WCHA individual recognition for the second consecutive week. Brock Nelson has earned back-to-back Offensive Player of the Week honors after recording 5 points (4G, 1A) against Alaska-Anchorage. Meanwhile, freshman Brendan O'Donnell earned Rookie of the Week honors after his two goal performance in the far north.
  • Derek Forbort was named to Team USA's World Junior Championship preliminary roster Monday afternoon, and joining him at the Team USA camp later this month will be UNO's Josh Archibald. Mav's coach Dean Blais will be Team USA's head coach.
  • Brad Schlossman put together a list of nicknames for this year's Fighting Sioux players. Also from his blog is the Friday Morning Reading.
  • Sioux freshman Connor Gaarder is the subject of this week's GF Herald Four Questions.
  • Zach Parise discusses North Dakota's predisposition to second half surges in USCHO's This Week in the WCHA.
  • Andrew MacWilliam, who was recently featured by UND Sports Spotlight, says he was a better football player than he was a hockey player:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Travis Zajac's Return On Schedule, Malone Called Up, Etc.

There's been a lot of activity in the world of Fighting Sioux hockey recently. Enjoy the nuggets:
  • Travis Zajac returned to practice with the New Jersey Devils Wednesday, and he appears on track to return to game action in two weeks. Zajac, who has yet to play this year due to an offseason Achilles tendon injury, said he is pain free and that his legs feel good. The Devils will surely welcome him back to the lineup with open arms as they currently hover near the .500 mark. Zajac was unable to play in his hometown of Winnipeg during the Devils' recent road trip, but teammate Zach Parise was in action against his hometown team, the Minnesota Wild. And due to Parise's impending free agency status, speculation has begun on whether Parise might return to the Twin Cities for good.
  • Brad Malone had an impressive training camp this fall with the Colorado Avalanche and has been streaking for the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) as of late. This afternoon his solid play was rewarded as he was called up by the Avs. He is expected to meet the team in Edmonton Friday, where he could be making his NHL debut. If he does crack the lineup, he will be the 13th Fighting Sioux alumni to see NHL action this season.
  • The most recent Fighting Sioux alum to make his NHL debut was the Buffalo Sabres' Joe Finley, who debuted last Friday. Finley has appeared in three games, going scoreless with a -1 rating. His ice time was limited in the two games he played last weekend, but Wednesday night against Philadelphia his shifts came more regularly and he played a solid game.
  • Matt Frattin had what was probably his best game as a Maple Leaf this week against New Jersey, scoring a goal on a powerful drive to the net during a game in which he was a force all over the ice. He recently discussed his collegiate and Frozen Four experiences and made a radio appearance with 590 The Fan.
  • Jake Marto started the year in the ECHL with the Colorado Eagles prior to being called up by St. John's (AHL). He began as the IceCaps' number 6/7 defenseman, but has since worked his way onto the team's top pairing.
  • TJ Oshie continues his outstanding play. In a recent game St. Louis Blues color analyst Darren Pang named Oshie the player of the game and stated that even if Oshie hadn't scored a goal, he still would have been the best player on the ice. He's been all over the ice and has been an integral part of the Blues surge under new head coach Ken Hitchcock.
  • Jonathan Toews' tremendous November recently earned him the NHL's Second Star of the Month, and it has pushed him to the forefront of the early Hart Trophy speculation. Toews, who might very well become the greatest captain in Blackhawk history, was recently named a finalist for Manitoba's Male Athlete of the Year. Steve Yzerman, one of hockey's all-time greatest captains, recently profiled Toews as a part of Chicago's 85 Years of Blood, Sweat, and Cheers series. Former Sioux goaltender and recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Ed Belfour was also featured in the series.
  • David Toews, meanwhile, is making his own mark in the professional ranks. He has been a consistent presence for the ECHL's Toledo Walleye.
  • Brock Nelson has been on quite a tear recently, earning back-to-back WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors. The New York Islander draft pick's productivity was recently analyzed by the Isles' statistician, while Nelson and a host of other collegians are faring well in Copper and Blue's NHL Equivalency ratings.
  • Sioux recruit Drake Caggiula was named to Team North, which will compete in the Central Canada Cup Challenge.
  • Recruit Zane Gothberg says he is enjoying being the Fargo Force's number one goaltender.
  • One note on the Recruit Profiles: They are being posted in reverse order of the commitments, but they will also be updated as the recruits' pre-Sioux careers progress. Any individual honors, achievements, scouting reports, etc. will be added throughout their time as recruits. So if you're interested, check The Recruits page from time to time to see how things are developing for the future of Fighting Sioux hockey. Also, if anyone has additional information on any of the recruits, pass it along and I will include it in the profiles.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Recruit Profile: Luke Johnson
Previous Team:  Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Arrival at UND:  Fall 2013
Position:  Forward
Birthday:  September 19th, 1994
Hometown:  Grand Forks, ND
Height:  5' 11"
Weight:  178
Shoots:  Right

Profiles & Press Clippings:
  • Played for the Lincoln Stars (USHL), recording 46 points (19G, 27A) and a +17 rating in 57 regular season games. He went pointless in five postseason games.
  • He was named the USHL Co-Forward of the Week for Week 18.
  • Ended the season ranked #96 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's 2013 Draft Prospect Rankings.
  • In January he participated in the 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, which featured 40 of the USHL's top NHL draft eligible players. He was a teammate of fellow UND recruits Tucker Poolman and Luke Voltin on the victorious Team West, for whom he served as a team captain.
  • He was a member of the gold-medal winning Team USA at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge, where he recorded four assists in four tournament games.
  • Along with fellow UND recruit Keaton Thompson, he participated in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game September 29 in Buffalo, NY.
  • He was a point-per-game performer for the Lincoln Stars, registering 55 points (20G, 35A) and a +22 rating in 55 games.
  • Was a member of the Team USA Under-18 Select team that participated in the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He played in 5 games, scoring one goal and adding as assist.
  • Participated in USA Hockey's Select 17 Development Camp in July of 2011, playing in 5 games and producing 2 points (1G, 1A) en route to earning a roster spot for the camp All-Star game.
  • Played his sophomore season with Grand Forks Central (ND-HS), registering 42 points (17G, 25A) in 25 games on his way to earning All-East Region and All-State honors.
  • Fall 2010: Played for Great Plains in the Upper Midwest Elite League, producing 21 points (9G, 12A) in 20 games.
  • As a freshman, he produced 46 points (17G, 29A) in 27 games for the North Dakota state championship winning Grand Forks Central team and earned All-East Region honors.
  • Took part in the USA Hockey Select 15 Development Camp, playing in 5 games and recording one goal and two assists.
  • Played for Grand Forks Red River's North Dakota state championship team as an 8th grader and notched 26 points (9G, 17A) in 27 games.