Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday Morning Post

  • Senior forward Michelle Karvinen was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week following her strong performance in UND's road sweep of St. Cloud State. Karvinen picked up five points (4G, 1A) on the weekend and her seven goals on the season lead the nation.
  • Karvinen will not be in the lineup when UND travels to Bemidji State this weekend. UND will also be without freshman forward Susanna Tapani and junior defenseman Johanna Fallman as all three will be preparing to compete in the women's Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, NY, November 5-9. Tapani and Karvinen will represent Finland, while Fallman will skate for Sweden. Also competing at the Four Nations will be Sioux alums and Team USA standouts Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux.
  • The UND men's hockey Twitter account Tweeted yesterday that sophomore forward Drake Caggiula practiced without limitation. This is most certainly a positive sign for Caggiula, who took a nasty head-over-heels spill during Saturday's exhibition game against Team USA. Hopefully we will see him in the lineup this weekend against St. Cloud State.
  • UND freshman defenseman Keaton Thompson was featured in his hometown newspaper yesterday.
  • The coaching staff of the BCHL's Penticton Vees will be in Grand Forks this weekend to watch a number of their former players take to the ice at Engelstad Arena.
  • Danny Kristo continues his strong play to start the AHL season. Last night he picked up a goal and two assists in Hartford's 5-3 win over Bridgeport, giving him twelve points (7G, 5A) in ten games. While Kristo's performance thus far is impressive, Blue Seat Blogs stresses the importance of patience in letting prospects develop at the proper level.
  • Corban Knight notched a goal and an assist, including the overtime game winner, in Abbotsford's 5-4 win over Utica last night. He now has nine points (4G, 5A) in ten games, putting him right up there with Kristo among the AHL's top rookie scorers.
  • The Ottawa Sun says Hockey Canada would do right in naming Jonathan Toews captain for the 2014 Winter Olympics, going so far as to call him "the best all-around player in the world."
  • TJ Oshie is off to the best start of his career for the St. Louis Blues, having notched ten points (2G, 8A) in ten games with a +8 rating. The creative and relentless Oshie has helped drive the Blues towards the top of the Central Division with a refreshing dose of class.
  • North Dakota recruit Rhett Gardner (Okotoks-AJHL) was named to Canada West's roster for the 2013 World Junior A Challenge. Gardner, part of UND's excellent class of 1996 birth-year commitments, was one of 13 forwards selected out of the 36 invited to camp.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday Morning Post

  • Last Saturday's matchup with the NTDP Under-18 team might not have counted in the standings, but it was certainly more than just an exhibition game for UND.
  • Mario Lamoureux has signed a Professional Try-Out contract with the Oklahoma City Barons (AHL). Lamoureux began the season with the ECHL's Ontario Reign, where he produced three goals in four games.
  • Jonathan Toews notched his third career hat trick last night in helping lead Chicago to a come from behind victory against Ottawa. Here are the goals:

  • Sioux alum Ryan Johnson was named Player Development Consultant for the Vancouver Canucks.
  • Rangers Unlimited checks in to see how top NYR prospect Danny Kristo is faring in Hartford, with video of all six of Kristo's goals this season. Kristo has nine points (6G, 3A) in nine games thus far, second most among AHL rookies.
  • Fox Sports West produced a really nice video featuring LA King winger Matt Frattin. Frattin discusses his move to southern California, his locker room banter with former Cornell goaltender Ben Scrivens, and his line dancing abilities. Check it out: 

  • UND recruit Trevor Olson scored a pair of goals this past weekend as he's making the most of what's left of his USHL career. Olson, who will suit up for North Dakota next fall, is set to undergo season ending surgery in mid-November.
  • Defenseman recruit Tucker Poolman scored his first goal of the season Sunday afternoon in the second period of Omaha's 6-5 win over Muskegon. He added two more in the third period for his first career USHL hat trick.
  • A pair of exhibition games will get The World Junior A Challenge rolling this weekend, with pool play commencing next Monday. Team USA's entry will feature three North Dakota recruits in Ryan Mantha, Austin Poganski, and Nick Schmaltz while Rhett Gardner is currently battling for a roster spot at Canada West's selection camp.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Morning Post

  • The UND men take on USA Hockey's NTDP Under-18 team Saturday night in an exhibition tilt. Here are the game notes from each squad: North Dakota and Team USA
  • The UND women, meanwhile, are on the road for the first time this season as they are in St. Cloud to take on the Huskies. Here are each school's game notes: North Dakota and St. Cloud State
  • Brock Nelson picked up his first career NHL goal earlier this week, and one look at his family tree will show you that his hockey success shouldn't come as a surprise.
  • Defenseman Brian Lee's (Tampa Bay-NHL) knee injury rehab is progressing nicely, though he still appears to be a few weeks out from returning to action.
  • Darcy Zajac is expected to be out of the Albany Devil lineup for an extended period after suffering an upper body injury.
  • Matt Greene is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this coming summer, but the Los Angeles Kings are looking to re-sign their alternate captain.
  • Zach Parise scored his fifth goal of the season last night in Minnesota's 3-1 victory over Minnesota-Duluth alum Justin Faulk and the Carolina Hurricanes. Parise and Faulk became friends and workout partners this past summer, and they hope to become teammates in February.
  • says North Dakota recruit Nick Schmaltz is following in his older brother Jordan's footsteps.
  • It's been a bit of an up and down start to the season for Fargo (USHL) goalie Cam Johnson, but he's using his helmet artwork in an attempt to summon the Force.
  • Much has been written and said regarding NCAA committed recruits shunning the college game in order to play major juniors. Here's a look at the issue from a Canadian prospective.
  • And here is the latest edition of Through These Doors:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

UND Recruit Update

Here are a few notes on how some of UND's recruits are performing thus far this season:
  • After playing Minnesota high school hockey the past few seasons, Shane Gersich has hit the ground running with the NTDP Under-18 team. Through ten games he has produced nine points (4G, 5A), including a team high two game winning goals. Gersich and the Under-18ers will be spending this weekend in North Dakota as Friday night they are scheduled to take on Fargo in a USHL matchup followed by Saturday night's exhibition game against UND. For those of you who have yet to see Gersich play, I expect you will like his game. He's a really good skater in that he's quick, fast, has good explosiveness, and is strong on his skates. He plays well in all three zones as a defensively responsible forward who hounds the opposition with his skating and quick, active stick. He has a very strong shot, he's strong on the puck, and he isn't afraid to go to the net. He's a fun player to watch.
  • After missing the first two games of the season due to injury, Jack Rowe has scored three goals in three games for Cedar Rapids (USHL).
  • Nick Schmaltz produced four points (1G, 3A) in two games this past weekend. He leads Green Bay (USHL) in scoring with ten points (4G, 6A) in nine games.
  • After going pointless during the first five games of the season, Rhett Gardner has produced nine points (3G, 6A) in his last ten games with the Okotoks Oilers (AJHL).
  • The Fargo Force (USHL) have struggled offensively this season having scored just eight goals in their seven games, but 16 year-old Christian Cakebread has scored three of them (38% of the team total).
  • Christian Evers missed a handful of games due to injury earlier in the season, but the NTDP Under-17 team defenseman has produced four assists in the six games he has played.
  • Austin Poganski leads Tri-City (USHL) with four points (4G, 0A) in six games. Right behind him is Chris Wilkie with three points (1G, 2A) in seven games.
  • Sioux City (USHL) forward Trevor Olson has produced three points (1G, 2A) in three games since his return from injury. Teammate Ryan Mantha has chipped in with a goal and two assists in seven games on the blueline, despite his self-admitted troubles in the kitchen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sioux in the Pros Update

Here's an update on how some of the Sioux alums playing professionally are faring early on this season:
  • Brandon Bochenski (Astana) is currently second in the KHL with 11 goals and fifth with 19 points through 19 games. Additionally, his three game winning goals are tied for third and his +14 rating is fifth best.
  • Rastislav Spirko leads Spartak Moscow (KHL) with 14 points (6G, 8A) in 18 games.
  • Danny Kristo (Hartford) is second among AHL rookies with 7 points (4G, 3A) in six games.
  • Kristo and Brad Malone are among the AHL's leading goals scorers with 4 each.
  • Corban Knight is tied for second on Abbotsford (AHL) with five points (1G, 4A) through seven games. His five points are also sixth most among AHL rookies.
  • The Ulmer brothers are off to strong starts in the Austrian elite league. Jeff leads Ljubljana with 14 points (7G, 7A) in 14 games while Jason leads Linz with 21 points (7G, 14A) in 15 games. Andrew Kozek (6G, 4A) and Curtis Murphy (3G, 7A) are also among the top scorers for Linz.
  • Jake Marto and Jason Gregoire are each among the top four scorers for Sodertalje (Sweden tier 2). Marto has nine points (2G, 7A) in 13 games while Gregoire has eight (2G, 6A) in eight.
  • Ryan Bayda's eight points (5G, 3A) are tied for the Augsburger (Germany tier 1) team lead.
  • Carter Rowney was signed by the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers and has two assists through two games.
  • Aaron Dell has signed a Professional Try-Out (PTO) contract with the Norfolk Admirals (AHL) but has yet to see game action. Earlier this fall Dell signed an ECHL contract with the Utah Grizzlies.

Wednesday Morning Post

  • Brock Nelson scored his first career NHL goal last night in the Islanders' 5-4 overtime loss to Vancouver. Nelson has appeared in five games for the Islanders this season, registering one goal and one assist.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs look at rookie Andrew MacWilliam as their future physical shutdown defenseman.
  • TJ Oshie says he got his competitive drive from his parents.
  • Colorado Rubber Magazine recently published features on Sioux alums Aaron Schneekloth and Ashley Furia. Schneekloth retired from his playing days this summer and is now serving as an assistant coach for the ECHL's Colorado Eagles while Furia is playing professionally in Sweden. The Schneekloth piece can be found on page 10, while Furia's feature is on page 14.
  • Russ Bitely listed his top American born players eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft. UND recruits Shane Gersich, Austin Poganski, Nick Schmaltz, and Chris Wilkie all made the list, with Schmaltz and Gersich making his top five.
  • USA Hockey announced its roster for the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, and making the team are North Dakota recruits Schmaltz, Poganski, and Ryan Mantha. Schmaltz is prominently featured in this piece as one of three Green Bay (USHL) players named to the team.
  • Canada West also announced its WJAC evaluation camp roster, and Rhett Gardner has earned an invite. Gardner's season got off to a bit of a slow start with Okotoks (AJHL) but he has since produced eight points in his last nine games. He says he hopes to parlay that momentum into a strong performance at camp. The World Junior A Challenge runs from November 4 through November 10 and all games will be streamed by FastHockey.
  • The Scouting Report recently released its top 30 prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft and Schmaltz came in at number 17.
  • A number of Sioux alums are off to strong starts this season, both in North America and overseas. A post detailing some of those starts is forthcoming. Update: The Sioux in the Pros Update has been posted.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday Morning Post

  • The big news that broke yesterday was Ryan Gropp foregoing his commitment to UND in order to sign with the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds. It sounds as though this was a decision made primarily by Gropp without much pressure from Seattle, and perhaps initially against the wishes of his parents. While the decommitment of a very talented player certainly stings, this isn't nearly as crucial as JT Miller's decision to sign with New York and go to Plymouth a month before he was expected to start classes at UND. When I put together this recruit matrix last month, I anticipated Gropp's arrival in Grand Forks to come in the fall of 2015. I'm not sure when the North Dakota staff planned on him arriving, but there is time to replace him with some of the outstanding talent that is currently uncommitted
  • International Scouting Services released its updated top 30 prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft and two UND recruits made the list. Nick Schmaltz is ranked number 25 while Austin Poganski is ranked number 30.
  • Despite a nagging lower body injury that was anticipated to keep him out of the lineup long-term, recruit Trevor Olson saw his health improve enough that he was upgraded to questionable to return to action. Sioux City's captain eventually did return to the lineup, recording an assist and a +1 rating in his first action of the season last Friday.
  • While TJ Oshie's rugged & physical style of play might make him more susceptible to injury, he doesn't plan on changing anything about his game any time soon.
  • David Toews has been released by the ECHL's Reading Royals.
  • Rocco Grimaldi's slick second period goal from Friday night's 5-3 victory over Vermont is among the top 5 plays of the week

Friday, October 4, 2013

1st Annual NCHC Blog/Web Media Preseason Poll

The telltale signs of fall are everywhere. Temperatures are falling, leaves are blowing, and pucks are dropping. As hard as it may be to believe, another hockey season is now upon us, and it is a season that, due to the shakeup that is conference realignment, ushers the college hockey landscape into a transformed era.

One element of this shifted landscape is the creation of a new league: the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Old foes from the WCHA have joined together with what are sure to become new and fierce rivals from the CCHA. Top to bottom, there may not be a stronger, more competitive conference in all of college hockey. That, of course, will all be fleshed out on the ice in due course. But prior to the first official NCHC puck being dropped, a number of hockey-loving blog & web media types dusted off the ol' thinking caps, dug out the Ouija boards, and, at least in my case, relied on the ever-trusty Magic 8 Balls in order to present to you the 1st Annual NCHC Blog/Web Media Preseason Poll.

The poll had 16 participants, representing six of the eight schools that make up the conference. Thanks to all who participated (listed at the bottom), and here are the results:

Team (1st Place Votes)Points
1.Miami (11)123
2.North Dakota (2)103
3.St. Cloud State (3)100
6.Colorado College45
6.Western Michigan45

All-Conference Team

F - Austin Czarnik, Miami
F - Ryan Walters, Nebraska-Omaha
F - Rocco Grimaldi, North Dakota
D - Joey LaLeggia, Denver
D - Dillon Simpson, North Dakota
G - Ryan McKay, Miami

Preseason Player of the Year
Austin Czarnik, Miami (8)

Others receiving multiple votes:
Ryan Walters, Nebraska-Omaha (4)
Riley Barber, Miami (2)

Rookie of the Year
Dominic Toninato, Minnesota-Duluth (6)

Others receiving multiple votes:
Adam Tambellini, North Dakota (4)
Will Butcher, Denver (2)
Anthony Louis, Miami (2)

Defenseman of the Year
Joey LaLeggia, Denver (10)

Others receiving multiple votes:
Dillon Simpson, North Dakota (3)

Breakout Player of the Year
Joey Benik, St. Cloud State (5)

11 others received a single vote.

Again, a big thank you to everyone who took part:
Timothy Boger,
Kelly Green & White (North Dakota)
Jeremy Larson (@jclarson02),
Husky Hockey Time (St. Cloud State)
Andrew Craig,
College Hockey High Horse (Minnesota-Duluth)
Brian Halverson, Minnesota Hockey Magazine
Matt Christians (@Matt_Christians),
UMD Bulldog Country/CHN/SBN (Minnesota-Duluth)
Chris Peters (@chrismpeters), United States of Hockey/
Dave Berger, Sioux Sports (North Dakota) 
Donna, Runnin' With the Dogs (Minnesota-Duluth)
Dave Starman (@DStarmanHockey), CBS Sports Network
Rick Shanley (@rickshanley), Western College Hockey Blog (Western Michigan)
UMD Hockey Blog (Minnesota-Duluth)
Eric Burton (Goon),
Goon's World/The Hockey Writers (North Dakota)
Joe Paisley, The CS Gazette College Hockey Blog
(Colorado College)
Doug Cutler & Mike Swainey (@MiamiHockeyBlog), The Blog of Brotherhood (Miami)
Donn Schuschke (Sioux 7),
Goon's World (North Dakota)
Chad, A Tradition of Excellence (North Dakota)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thursday Morning Post

  • Due to this season's conference realignment, USCHO says a new generation is now born in men's college hockey.
  • Valley News Live says UND is heading into both a new season and a new era.
  • The Herald examines the local connections on this season's team.
  • The United States of Hockey previews some of the nation's impact freshmen, and UND's Wade Murphy, Gage Ausmus, and Adam Tambellini are all included.
  • Gab Fundaro of The Hockey Writers says the UND women have enough depth and talent to potentially make a run at the Frozen Four.
  • Travis Zajac will be wearing the A as an alternate captain for New Jersey this season, while TJ Oshie is expected to be named an alternate captain for St. Louis. They join Jonathan Toews (C - Chicago), Matt Greene (A - Los Angeles), and Zach Parise (A - Minnesota) as Sioux alums wearing letters in the NHL. Drew Stafford is no longer serving as an alternate captain for Buffalo.
  • The Minnesota Wild season begins tonight against Los Angeles with Zach Parise and company wanting more for an encore to last season's first round playoff exit.
  • The AJHL has opened voting in an effort to determine their Top 50 All-Time Players, and there is a big Sioux presence (including current captain Dillon Simpson) in the opening round of voting. 
  • Matt Greene was a guest DJ for KCRW this week. Take a listen to his set.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wednesday Morning Post

  • The College Hockey News released its preseason All-CHN Teams and UND senior Dillon Simpson was named to the second team.
  • USCHO published its WCHA women's preview and they have North Dakota finishing second. They also released a more in-depth team preview of UND.
  • The Chicago Tribune examines the professional accomplishments of Jonathan Toews and says he compares more than favorably to the likes of Jordan, Gretzky, and Lemieux. (Note: Link to article did not work in Internet Explorer or Chrome, but it did in Firefox and mobile browser)
  • Motivated by what he calls just an average season, Zach Parise is looking to help lead the Minnesota Wild to the next level.
  • The NCHC listed the alums of member programs to make NHL opening day rosters and North Dakota leads the way with nine.
  • TJ Oshie says his ankle finally feels 100% for the first time in years.
  • Hockey This Week explores Brock Nelson's famous bloodlines.
  • Future Considerations released its October rankings of the top 30 NHL Draft prospects and UND commit Nick Schmaltz came in at number 19. Schmaltz made quite a jump as he did not appear on FC's preliminary rankings back in July, when Austin Poganski was ranked number 26.
  • The Scouting Report says Schmaltz's performance at last week's All-American Prospects Game helped bump up his draft stock, and they also had high praise for the performance of Shane Gersich.
  • Due to a lower body injury, recruit Trevor Olson has yet to play a game for Sioux City this season after being named team captain. He was scheduled to have an MRI earlier this week and based on this Tweet the results do not seem to have been favorable.  Olson, an over-ager who is in his last season of junior eligibility, really saw his USHL career take off last season following his trade to Sioux City from Green Bay.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Morning Post

  • Looking for a quick way to get up to speed on the men's college hockey season? The United States of Hockey has put together a 2013-14 college hockey preview that includes rankings for each conference and capsules for all 59 teams.
  • As a professional rookie Brock Nelson got a taste of the NHL in the playoffs last season in the Islanders' first round series against Pittsburgh, and now he has earned a spot on New York's opening night roster.
  • Joe Gleason has signed a deal with the Rockford Icehogs, Chicago's AHL affiliate.
  • Following his hat trick yesterday for Astana (KHL), Brandon Bochenski now ranks among the league's top five in points (13), goals (7), game winning goals (3), and      +/- (+10).
  • Matt Greene will be spinning some records tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 on KCRW's Guest DJ Project. That should be worth a listen if you are able to catch it.
  • Kevin Allen of the USA Today says North Dakota recruit Nick Schmaltz is among the top American-born prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft. Schmaltz was interviewed following last week's All-American Prospects Game, and here's what he had to say: