• More weekend reading: Jaden Schwartz; No cuts for Air Force hockey; ECHL playoffs

    Fri, April 18, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    Schwartz celebrationFormer Tiger Jaden Schwartz scored the tying goal in regulation in a 3OT thriller against Chicago.

    Air Force announced its athletic department cuts, which did not affect revenue sports, including hockey.

    The ECHL playoffs are underway with former Tiger William Rapuzzi ( No. 4 seed Idaho) hosting the No. 5 Colorado Eagles (Arthur Bidwill). No. 6 Bakersfield (Joe Marciano) plays at No. 3 Utah. Here is a league preview.

    Here are the incoming freshmen for Minnesota State in Mankato. Here is a look at how North Dakota has fared in the national rankings this past decade.

    Not surprisingly, Union’s Rick Bennett was the USCHO Coach of the Year.

  • Weekend reading: Tom Serratore; LaLeggia; coach salaries; AFA, North Dakota schedules

    Thu, April 17, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    The first piece of steel for the new Nebraska-Omaha arena for hockey, hoops and volleyball was pout in place Thursday morning.

    The first piece of steel for the new Nebraska-Omaha arena for hockey, hoops and volleyball was put in place Thursday morning.

    Colorado Springs native Tom Serratore  picked up his first pro goal, fight and penalty in a 5-4 win at Syracuse on Wednesday for the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms.

    All but Rocco Grimaldi have announced they will be back for North Dakota next season. Denver defenseman Joey LaLeggia is returning for his senior year.

    The final NCHC players of the month of the season were named with North Dakota goalie Zane Gothberg and Nebraska-Omaha’s Jake Guentzel honored.

    Under the terms of the three-year contract extension reached between Nebraska-Omaha and coach Dean Blais, he will make a total of just less than $1.3 million over the next four seasons, putting him among the five highest-compensated coaches in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

    According to the Omaha World Herald, Blais’ base salary for 2014-15 is the same as it was for this past season, $250,000. It climbs to $260,000 the following season, followed by raises to $265,000 in 2016-17 and $270,000 in 2017-18. A $250,000 longevity bonus from his original contract (originally due as a lump sum next summer) will be paid out concurrently, at $62,500 annually — so Blais will be paid $312,500 in 2014-15 and will top out at $332,500 in the final year of the contract.

    This should give CC fans a good idea of what the new Tigers coach may be paid if he is a candidate with head coaching experience.

    The Air Force Falcons travel to play Western Collegiate Hockey Association members Alaska-Anchorage and host Alaska-Fairbanks in the Brice Gold Rush tournament Oct. 17-18.  North Dakota will host Air Force Nov.  1 in the annual college hockey Hall of Fame Game at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The single contest will serve as a homecoming for Air Force’s Chad Demers, who is from nearby Grafton, N.D.

    The complete Air Force schedule will be announced later this summer.  Here is the North Dakota schedule.

  • NCHC schedule release; CC slate nearly full

    Thu, April 17, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    cc celebration gold

    Colorado College will play on the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s Opening Night for the second season in a row.

    The Tigers begin conference play hosting national semifinalist North Dakota on Oct. 17-18. The Friday game comes after the 2014-15 league opener between Nebraska-Omaha at Western Michigan earlier that night.

    Last season, the first two league games – which included Minnesota –Duluth at CC in Game 2 — were part of a national TV doubleheader on CBS Sports Network. The NCHC’s broadcast schedule will be announced later.

    The NCHC released its league composite schedule on Thursday, also confirming that Colorado College and NCAA Tournament participant Denver will play their four-game home-and-home series the weekends of Nov. 14-15 and Feb. 20-21, 2015 to determine ownership of the Gold Pan Trophy. CC downed Denver in the series (2-1-1) last season to take back the rivalry hardware.

    CC will host Miami of Ohio and Western Michigan in February. The Tigers will travel to Oxford, Ohio to take on the RedHawks for the first time there on Nov. 7-8. Previous meetings were at World Arena and at a neutral tournament site.

    CC associate athletic director Scott Lowenberg said he hopes the new league rivalries will take root after World Arena fans see these new opponents more often.

    “We will work hard to educate the fans about those program’s long hockey histories,” he has said.

    The complete Tigers schedule, which will include 10 as of yet unconfirmed nonconference including area rival Air Force and one or two more exhibition game dates, will be released later this month. Other TV broadcasts will be announced later this offseason.

    Like last year, all eight NCHC teams will play five league foes, including their protected rival (CC and Denver, for example), in both home and away series, while facing the other two teams for just one series (one home and one away) for a total of 24 league games.

    In CC’s case, that means the Tigers only travel to Duluth Dec. 5-6 and host defending NCHC regular-season champion St. Cloud State on Jan. 30-31 this upcoming season, which begins Saturday, Oct. 4.

    First-round series winners advance to the Target Center in Minneapolis for the second annual NCHC Frozen Faceoff with the semifinals Friday, March 20 and the third-place game and championship on Saturday, March 21. The Frozen Faceoff champion receives an automatic NCAA berth.

    In this blog post, I also added some of the nonconference and exhibition games I have heard about through other media or during interviews. They remain unconfirmed.

    CC 2014-15 schedule

    Subject to change

    September

    Sept. 30 annual Faceoff Luncheon

    October

    Oct. 5, McGill University (exhibition)

    Oct. 10-11, Alabama-Huntsville (Homecoming)

    Oct. 17-18 North Dakota

    Oct. 23-26, at Boston College, at New Hampshire (block break weekend)

    Oct. 31-Nov. 1 OPEN

    November

    Nov. 7-8, at Miami

    Nov. 14, at Denver

    Nov. 15,  Denver

    Nov. 21, Wisconsin

    Nov. 22, at Air Force

    Nov. 28-29, OPEN

    December

    Dec. 5-6, at Minnesota-Duluth

    Dec. 12-13, at Western Michigan

    WINTER BREAK

    January

    Jan. 3-4, at Providence

    Jan. 6, at UConn

    Jan. 16-17, Nebraska-Omaha

    Jan. 23-24, at North Dakota

    Jan. 30-31, St. Cloud State

    February

    Feb. 6-7, OPEN

    Feb. 13-14, Miami

    Feb. 20, Denver

    Feb. 21, at Denver

    Feb. 27-28, Western Michigan

    March

    March 6-7, at Nebraska-Omaha

    March 13-15, NCHC quarterfinals

    March 20-21, NCHC Frozen Faceoff (Target Center, Minneapolis)

  • 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.

  • Wednesday reading: NHL Draft rankings, Team USA, WCHA commissioner, Frozen 4

    Wed, April 9, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    bruceandbill415Incoming CC goalie Chase Perry dropped from No. 4 to No. 8 in the most recent NHL Central Scouting rankings. The NHL draft is in June.

    Former Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki will serve as head coach of the 2015 U.S. National Junior Team, USA Hockey announced today. A three-time assistant for the U.S. National Junior Team, Osiecki helped Team USA capture gold medals in 2010 and 2013, plus a bronze medal in 2011. He replaces Minnesota coach Don Lucia.

    Bill Robertson is the new commissioner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.  He was vice president of communications and broadcasting for the Minnesota Wild from 1999-2011. He also has worked for the Anaheim Angels, the Ducks and the Timberwolves.

    Robertson, 53, succeeds longtime leader Bruce McLeod, who retired after 20 seasons with the league.

    “I am excited about this wonderful opportunity to help lead and guide the WCHA for many years to come,” Robetson said. “It is truly an honor to serve this iconic sports and collegiate hockey conference, while showcasing some of the top student-athletes and institutions in the country.”

    Here is a preview on Minnesota vs. North Dakota and a look at the semifinals. Here are analysis pieces on UM vs. UND and BC vs. Union.

    Thirty-nine players in the Frozen Four have been drafted by NHL teams, up from 15 in last season’s Frozen Four. Minnesota and North Dakota (14 each) are the top two teams nationally in NHL draft picks, while Boston College (10) ranks fourth. Gostisbehere is the lone draft pick on Union’s roster. 

    Minnesota and North Dakota have met 283 times in the past, third-most of any college hockey rivalry (Michigan-Michigan State and Colorado College-Denver the only two with more). The former WCHA rivals aren’t on each other’s regular-season schedules until 2016-17. Boston College and Union have played just once in the past, though the stakes were high: the Dutchmen ended BC’s season a year ago in the East Regional in Providence.

    Top Rivalries by Games Played
    299 – Michigan vs. Michigan State
    294 – Colorado College vs. Denver
    283 – Minnesota vs. North Dakota

  • Updated: CC 2014-15 schedule takes shape

    Tue, April 8, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    Thorimbert2While the search for a new coach gets underway, information about the 2014-15 schedule continues to trickle in and it will be a tough one as usual.

    CC fans should expect home and road series against both Miami and Western Michigan this season under the league’s schedule rotation.

    Minnesota-Duluth will not travel to Colorado Springs during the regular season, just like Miami did not last season.

    CC has 24 league games, leaving 10 nonconference dates, in a 34-game regular-season schedule.

    Eight nonleague spots are filled by single road games against Boston College, New Hampshire, UConn, a road series at Providence and home contests against Wisconsin (1) and Alabama-Huntsville (2).

    Air Force may fill one or two of those open spots.

    Here is a very INCOMPLETE, TENTATIVE SCHEDULE (in other words, do not book any flights just yet) based on past interviews and other media.

    CC 2014-15 schedule

    Subject to change

    September

    Sept. 30 annual Faceoff Luncheon

    October

    Oct. 3, McGill University (exhibition)

    Oct. 10-11, Alabama-Huntsville (Homecoming)

    Oct. 17-18 North Dakota

    Oct. 24-25, at Boston College, New Hampshire (block break weekend)

    November

    Nov. 14 at Denver

    Nov. 15   Denver

    Nov. 21  Wisconsin

    Nov. 22 at Air Force

    December

    Dec. 5-6, at Minnesota-Duluth

    January

    Jan. 3-4, at Providence

    Jan. 6, at UConn

    February

    Feb. 20 Denver

    Feb. 21 at Denver

  • Owens resignation surprises most

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

    Scott Owens Photo #3The news of longtime coach Scott Owens’ resignation surprised fans, players and coaches alike.

    “We were all a little bit surprised,” CC junior defenseman Peter Stoykewych said. “We loved playing for him as a coach and had the utmost respect for him. He gave us all an opportunity.”

    Owens told CC athletic director Ken Ralph of his decision to resign after 15 seasons (324-228-54, .579) following his worst as a coach (7-24-6, .270) this past campaign; the Tigers’ first in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Both agreed it was time for him to step down following his annual review.

    “I was surprised by the decision,” Tigers assistant Eric Rud said. “I am very, very thankful that Scott had the confidence in me to bring me in as an assistant coach at my alma mater.”

    “We had a lot of success over the past 14 years,” CC assistant Joe Bonnett said. “I am proud of the work we’ve done with kids graduating, players reaching the NHL and the commits we have coming in.”

    The longtime coach was out of town and did not attend Sunday’s team awards banquet.  Ralph said Owens was absent to avoid overshadowing the event.

    “I can’t say I was shocked but it upsets me,” longtime fan Ken Rownd said. “I especially enjoyed the kind of players he brought in. That is a tough act to follow.”

    It did not take long for speculation on Owens’ replacement to start. There will be no shortage of interested coaching candidates for one of only two available in the 59-team Division I ranks. The other is the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Lake Superior State.

    Names already making the speculation rounds in social media include: Bonnett, Rud, former Denver coach George Gwozdecky, Minnesota assistant Mike Guentzel, former North Dakota associate coach Cary Eades and former DU assistant Derek Lalonde. Gwozdecky recently told the Gazette he was not interested in an opening if it were to arise. Both Bonnett and Rud expressed interest.

    “I think this is a great place to coach and play,” Rud said. “It’s a place I believe in. There are enough positives in place that this could be turned around quickly.”

    Ralph will be busy during a hiring process expected to last a few weeks.

    “We do not want to rush this,” he said. “We want to make the right choice.”

  • 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.

  • Midweek reading: Sioux nickname lucrative; color barrier pioneer; HEA suspension

    Tue, April 1, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    rylan-und5The Fighting Sioux nickname remains a profitable one for the University of North Dakota and other businesses.

    The first black man to play college hockey in the United States passed away last month.

    Hockey East suspended Northeastern coach Jim Madigan for the first game next season after he criticized game officials following a March 16 quarterfinal playoff game at New Hampshire.

    “Using the media to criticize an official’s decision is contrary to league policy and is inherently unfair to the officials who work hard for college hockey each and every night,” Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said. “Hockey East and Northeastern University expect better from our head coaches and Jim has acknowledged his error in this situation.”

    Here is a Canadian Press article that points out that Canadians going to NCAA colleges can make the NHL. See Schwartz, Jaden for a recent  example.

    Alaska-Anchorage standout Matt Bailey signed with the Anaheim organization.