2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Friday reading: Blais contract extension; Walsky injury; Frozen Four; Hobey Baker

    Fri, April 11, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    UNO coach Dean Blais has plenty of reasons to smile today.

    UNO coach Dean Blais has plenty of reasons to smile today.

    Nebraska-Omaha athletics director Trev Alberts announced that hockey coach Dean Blais signed a contract extension through the 2017-18 season.

    “Dean has done an exceptional job leading our team through a period of great transition during the last four years,” Alberts said.  “In that time, he led the team into two new leagues, the WCHA and the NCHC, and his experience and knowledge of the leagues and the Division I hockey landscape was critical to our success.   Next year, he will guide us through additional transition as we move into the new arena. This extension will allow us to ensure the continuity of our coaching staff and the recent positive momentum we’ve had recruiting quality student-athletes to our program.”

    “When I came to Omaha, Trev and I had a goal of building an on-campus arena, and I’m excited that this extension will allow me to see UNO athletics reach that goal,” Blais said.  “We’ve got a very good core of returning players and what is perceived to be a great recruiting class coming in.  As a coach, you want to work with great players with strong community support behind your team, and we have that here.”

    Blais is 91-86-18 in five years as the Mavericks’ coach, including two 20-win seasons and an NCAA tournament berth in 2011, the second in school history.   The 1973 graduate of Minnesota has posted a 15-year career record of 353-201-51 including   10 years at North Dakota.  He is a two-time Spencer Penrose Memorial Award winner as the Division I coach of the year and a four-time winner of the WCHA’s Coach of the Year Award.  He led North Dakota to national championships in 1997 and 2000.

    Locally, this may affect the CC coach search somewhat with Blais putting off retirement for a couple more years. This makes the Tigers’ job all the more attractive since Omaha would have been  favorite for some next offseason when Blais’ old deal ended.

    Swiss head coach Sean Simpson will have to do without HC Lugano’s Eric Walsky, a former CC standout, at the IIHF world championships in Minsk May 9-25.  The forward is suffering from an upper-leg injury and is out for the next five to six weeks.

    Here are game articles on the Minnesota-North Dakota instant classic (I don’t say this lightly) form last night’s national semifinal. Here is the Pioneer Press’ take and the Grand Forks Herald’s postmortem. College Hockey News focused on the heartache for UND. It was the fifth Frozen Four trip in a row that UND has lost in the  semifinals.

    The Hobey Baker winner will be announced tonight.

  • UPDATED: Owens resigns from program

    Sun, April 6, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    Owens2013An era in Colorado College hockey came to an end on Sunday morning.

    Longtime coach Scott Owens, 58, resigned from a position he held for 15 seasons at his alma mater.

    The all-time winningest coach in CC history’s career at the private school ends with a 324-228-54 record. Other highlights include a 2005 Frozen Four appearance, seven NCAA Tournament berths (most recently in 2011) and three Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season titles.

    Owens, who did not attend Sunday’s team awards banquet and was unavailable for comment, contacted athletic director Ken Ralph of his decision a few hours before the National Collegiate Hockey Conference program’s annual team awards banquet. Ralph notified the players and athletic department staff members as they arrived for the luncheon at the Colorado Springs Marriott Hotel that afternoon.

    “I have been fortunate to have had the best job in college hockey for the past 15 seasons. It is time for a new coach to enjoy working with our players,” Owens said. “I appreciate the support and encouragement I have received during my tenure and I hope the new leader of the team will be treated with the same respect. This is a tremendous institution and I am proud of what we accomplished here. I will always be a Tiger.”

    Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler expressed her gratitude for CC hockey players’ success in the classroom as well as on the ice.

    “The academic achievement of our student athletes always comes first, and under Coach Owens our players were consistently honored for their performance as students,” Tiefenthaler said. “I am grateful to Scott for keeping academics a top priority and supporting our players in their studies.”

    During Owens’ tenure, 15 players earned WCHA Scholar-Athlete distinction a total of 27 times from 2005-2013. This year, the first for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, 17 players were named to the NCHC’s inaugural Academic All-Conference Team.
    “We are thankful to Coach Owens for his years of dedicated service as our head hockey coach,” Ralph said. “His accomplishments during this time behind the bench for the Tigers speak for themselves.”

    The Tigers’ inaugural season in the NCHC did not go well, with the team placing seventh out of eight teams with an Owens career-low 7-24-6 record. The campaign ended in Game 3 of the first round of the league playoffs last month at eventual Frozen Four qualifier North Dakota.

    There were two years left on the 1979 CC graduate’s contract after signing an extension in 2011.

    A nationwide search for a replacement will begin shortly. This leaves two head coaching jobs open in Division I college hockey; CC and Lake Superior State of the WCHA.

  • Sunday reading: Minnesota; AFA commit; Gaudreau; comings and goings; UND video

    Sun, April 6, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    Ian Young home whitesMinnesota played arguably its best game this season in dispatching SCSU 4-0 in last week’s regional final.

    Kyle Mackey (Youngstown Phantoms) has committed to Air Force for 2014-2015.

    St. Cloud State junior goalie Ryan Faragher signed with Anaheim as did 6-foot-6 junior defenseman Jaycob Megna of Nebraska-Omaha.

    BC’s Johnny Gaudreau, a likely unanimous Hobey Baker winner later this week, is the CHN Player of the Year.

    Here is the latest North Dakota “Through These Doors” video recapping UND’s NCAA run.

    Not every college star wants to leave college early. This is good news for the sport.

  • Weekend reading: CHN honorees, OSU departure, Frozen 4, Miami returnees

    Fri, April 4, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    miamiThe College Hockey News recognized Union coach Rick Bennett as its Coach of the Year despite an ugly post-game incident against RPI that led to his suspension. CHN also announced its Rookie of the Year.

    Matt Perry (Bismarck Bobcats) committed to Air Force for 2015-2016.

    Ohio State’s best forward left school a year early.  As previously reported, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod will retire after next weekend’s Frozen Four.

    Here is a look at what the Frozen Four teams consider the turning point of their seasons that sparked their march to the national semifinals and a feature on ECAC champion Union.

    Miami’s top-three scorers will return next season and the RedHawks are scheduled in to bring some serious size for their blue-line corps. Preseason NCHC predictions will be a crap shoot once again.

    icehockey_m-DIWhile last year’s Frozen Four featured three first-time appearancess, this year’s field is full of familiar faces. North Dakota had a two-year Frozen Four absence, which qualifies as the longest among this group. Boston College, Minnesota and Union were all in the Frozen Four in 2012 in Tampa, Fla.

    Union will be making its second Frozen Four appearance. Each team has players with Frozen Four experience, as 39 players are in their second Frozen Four (Union-14, BC-12, Minnesota-11, North Dakota-2).

    Most Frozen Fours (Last appearance)
    24 – Boston College (2012)
    24 – Michigan (2011)
    21 – Boston University (2009)
    21 – Minnesota (2012)
    20 – North Dakota (2011)

    Three teams in the field were No. 1 seeds in their NCAA regional: Boston College, Minnesota and Union. It’s the fourth time in the 16-team tournament (which began in 2003) that three No. 1 seeds have reached the Frozen Four, and the first since 2010 in Detroit.

    North Dakota made the Frozen Four as a No. 4 seed, the seventh No. 4 seed in the past seven years to get this far. From 2003-07, no No. 4 seeds reached the Frozen Four.

  • Hobey Hat Trick finalists announced

    Wed, April 2, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    Hobey clippingsThe Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation announced the three Hobey Hat Trick finalists for 2014. Alphabetically, they are: Greg Carey, St. Lawrence senior forward’ St. Cloud State senior forward Nic Dowd, Boston College junior forward Johnny Gaudreau.

    The three finalists were selected from the initial list of Top Ten candidates by the 27-member Selection Committee and an additional round of online fan balloting to determine this year’s cinner. Criteria for the award includes: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.

    This year’s winner will be announced Friday, April 11 during the NCAA Frozen Four. The 34th annual announcement will be televised live on nhl.com at 4 p.m. MT.

  • Poll, WMU early departure, Denver’s future

    Mon, March 31, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    DU BRittain road save Here is the USA Hockey weekly poll with Minnesota at No. 1 followed by Union, Boston College, UMass-Lowell and No. 5 North Dakota, who moved up from No. 13 before the tourney. USCHO.com did not release one this week.

    Western Michigan junior defenseman Jordan Oesterle left school early to sign with Edmonton.

    The Denver administration was pleased by Pioneers coach Jim Montgomery’s first season.

     

  • Monday reading: NCAA Tournament update

    Mon, March 31, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    icehockey_m-DIThe Big 10, ECAC, Hockey East and NCHC all have a team in the Frozen Four April 10-12 after Minnesota routed St. Cloud State and Boston College edged league rival UMass-Lowell.

    Interestingly enough, in a tournament usually marked by big upsets, three of the top four seeds advanced with only North Dakota in as a lower seed (No. 4, Midwest regional).

    NCAA Tournament

    East Regional — No. 3 Union 5, Vermont 2; Providence 4, Quinnipiac 0; Union 3, Providence 1

    Midwest Regional — Ferris State 1, Colgate 0; North Dakota 5, No. 4 Wisconsin 2[ North Dakota 2, Ferris State 1 2OT

    West Regional — No. 1 overall seed Minnesota 7,  Robert Morris 3; St. Cloud State 4, Notre Dame 3 OT; Minnesota 4, SCSU 0

    Northeast Regional — No. 2 Boston College 6, Denver 2; UMass-Lowell 2, Minnesota State 1; Boston College 4, UMass-Lowell 3

    Frozen Four, Philadelphia

    All times MT

    Semifinals, April 10, both ESPN2

    Boston College vs. Union, 3 p.m.; North Dakota vs. Minnesota, 6:30 p.m.

    National championship, April 12, ESPN

    Semifinal winners, 5:30 p.m.

  • Saturday reading: Updated NCAA schedule

    Sat, March 29, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    und vs ccSophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi recorded his first career hat trick and junior forward Mark MacMillan scored the game-winner with less than two minutes to play to lead No. 13 North Dakota to a 5-2 win over No. 4 Wisconsin Friday night in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals at U.S. Bank Arena.

    With the victory, fourth-seeded UND (24-13-3) advanced to Saturday’s regional championship against Ferris State, 1-0 winners over Colgate earlier, with a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four on the line. The season for Wisconsin (24-11-2), the top seed in the region, is over.

    Grimaldi’s final two goals both came with an empty net to seal the win for his first multi-goal game at North Dakota. MacMillan also finished with a three-point night, adding two assists to go along with his game-winning goal, while junior forward Michael Parks had a two-point outing with a goal and an assist on the game-winner.

    NCAA Tournament schedule

    All times MT

    East Regional

    Bridgeport, Conn.

    Friday

    No. 3 Union 5, Vermont 2

    Providence 4, Quinnipiac 0

    Saturday

    Regional final, 1 p.m. ESPN2

    Midwest Regional

    Cincinnati

    Friday

    Ferris State 1, Colgate 0

    North Dakota 5, No. 4 Wisconsin 2

    Saturday

    Regional final, 4:30 p.m. ESPNU

    West Regional

    St. Paul, Minn.

    Saturday

    No. 1 overall seed Minnesota vs. Robert Morris, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2

    St. Cloud State vs. Notre Dame, 7 p.m., ESPN2

    Sunday

    Regional final, 5:30 p.m. ESPNU

    Northeast Regional

    Worcester, Mass.

    Saturday

    No. 2 Boston College vs. Denver, 2 p.m. ESPNU

    UMass-Lowell vs. Minnesota State, 5:30 p.m., ESPN3 (online only)

    Sunday

    Regional final, 3 p.m. ESPNU

    Frozen Four

    Philadelphia

    Semifinals, April 10

    Both ESPN2, Times TBA

    Northeast winner vs. East winner

    Midwest winner vs. West winner

    National championship. April 12

    Semifinal winners, ESPN, 5:30 p.m.

  • Thursday reading: NCHC-NCAA previews

    Thu, March 27, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    LaLeggia actionHere are a plethora of links concerning the St. Cloud State vs. Notre Dame game.

    With all its young players, North Dakota is excited about reaching the NCAAs while Wisconsin, which has only two rookies, is focused on learning the lesson from last year’s 6-1 loss to UMass-Lowell.

    Denver is peaking as it heads into its match-up against Boston College, which has Hobey hopeful Johnny Gaudreau.

  • Wednesday reading: J. Schwartz, Bachman, another NCAA first-time champ?

    Wed, March 26, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    Jaden picThis just in:  Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz is pretty darn good.

    Oklahoma City goalie Richard Bachman made 33 saves in his team’s 2-1 win over San Antonio to earn the game’s No. 1 star.

    From College Hockey Inc: The odds of another first-time NCAA champion are high  judging from the first-round match-ups. Two of the last three years the national champion was a team that had never won it before (Minnesota Duluth in 2011, Yale in 2013).

    Only five teams in the  2014  tourney have won national titles before, and four of them face off in the first round: Denver (7), North Dakota (7), Wisconsin (6), Boston College (5) and Minnesota (5). The 11 others enter in search of their first championships.

    NHL teammates whose alma maters face off in the first round of the NCAA Tournament include Zach Parise (North Dakota) and Ryan Suter/Dany Heatley (Wisconsin) in Minnesota and Paul Carey (Boston College) and Paul Stastny (Denver) in Colorado.

    Michigan’s Phil Di Giuseppe signed with Carolina for $675,000 in 2014-15, $725,000 in 2015-16 and $775,000 in 2016-17 according to ESPN.

    And finally, although I should know better, this column on Dallas’ Rich Peverley made me say “Wow” out loud this morning.