The first 60 of the season

Considering half of this team’s forwards are new, the goalie is new, the coaching staff is revamped with a new bench boss and a new assistant, and considering they haven’t had a full practice yet, UND looked sharper than I was expecting during an 8-3 exhibition win over Manitoba on Saturday night.

Grand Forks Herald — Freshmen jumpstart UND’s exhibition win — Six-goal second period leads UND

Lots of thoughts from the first 60 minutes of the season….

1. For those who didn’t see, Colten St. Clair is out for at least the first half of the year due to surgery. His arm has been in a sling. I think the team found out yesterday that an operation was needed.

2. Yes, Brock Boeser looked like the real deal. The crowd gave an “ooooh” after he unleashed his first one-timer of the season, even though he didn’t score on it. His goal was a rocket. But on top of that, he also made some great setups to give linemates Grade A scoring chances. Great debut for Boeser.

3. Joel Janatuinen was given a prime spot with Boeser and Nick Schmaltz and he delivered. Janatuinen (pronounced Jana – twine – nen) was in the mix all night. The way he played tonight, it’s hard to see him out of the lineup. Janatuinen may end up bringing more offense this year than I thought he would.

4. Johnny Simonson, who didn’t score a goal last season, potted three. He has looked good in fall practice and I think we’ll see a good season carry over for him. He’s ready for a bigger role this season.

5. I thought both rookie defensemen — Hayden Shaw and Christian Wolanin — looked strong. The coaches are going to have an awfully hard decision there. I think they’ll find ways to get them both in the lineup.

6. Although Cam Johnson didn’t play the game that he probably wanted to in the opener — he’ll want the second goal back for sure — he’s clearly going to be the guy until Matej Tomek comes back and tries to challenge for that spot. If Matt Hrynkiw only saw seven minutes in the exhibition, that indicates to me that he’s probably not going to be playing much early this season.

7. The power play is definitely going to have a new setup this season with a guy in the high slot and one on top of the crease. There was tons of movement on that unit, and UND probably has the personnel to pull that off with the skilled blue liners. They’ve hardly practiced it so far, though.

8. Personnel on the power play will be interesting to follow. They tried a lot of guys there. I thought Poganski looked great on top of the crease tipping pucks and screening the goalie. He excelled at that in Tri-City, too. I think the power play numbers go up this year, simply from having Boeser out there, a terrific distributor in Schmaltz and Poolman’s cannon on the blue line.

9. Rhett Gardner’s ice time was a bit limited, but I thought he made a case to be back on the ice. Coaches will have difficult decisions there, too.

10. The practice 3×3 overtime was interesting. The biggest thing that jumped out at me was that it’s very difficult to change lines. You almost have to wait until you have possession, and then let two guys change while the third guy controls the puck. UND is going 2 F, 1 D on 3×3. Schmaltz scored the 3×3 goal with a snipe from in tight.

11. Overall, this looked like a very entertaining team to watch. Yes, it’s Manitoba. But firing 56 shots on goal is something this team hasn’t done to the Bisons in my time. Next weekend will be a much bigger test, but this was an entertaining start.

12. For an exhibition, the crowd was great. More into it than past exhibitions. The 10,590 is the highest attendance for a preseason exhibition since 2011.

Gameday final: UND 8, Manitoba 3

BREAKING NEWS: Colten St. Clair’s arm injury will require surgery and he will miss the entire first half of the season.

TODAY’S VIEWING: MidcoSN2, Channel 322. and webcast.

First period

Manitoba 1, UND 0 — Liam Bilton (Brett Brooks, Dustin Bruyere) 13:21. Brooks has the puck behind the net and fires one out from. Johnson attempts to deflect it out of harm’s way but it ends up on the stick of Bilton, who rifles one in the corner of the net.

Manitoba 1, UND 1 — Brock Boeser (Keaton Thompson, Joel Janatuinen) 17:29. Thompson makes a tremendous bank pass off the wall to send Boeser on a 2-on-1. Boeser takes the shot himself and rockets it off the back bar for the goal.

Second period

Manitoba 2, UND 1 — Shaq Merasty (Justin Augert) 4:12. The Bisons scored their second goal on their fourth shot, a bad-angle backhand chip from down low by Merasty.

Manitoba 2, UND 2 — Shane Gersich (Nick Schmaltz, Brock Boeser) 7:29. Boeser sends Schmaltz and Gersich on a 2-on-1. Schmaltz makes a play to draw the goalie over, walk the defenseman and put it on a tee for Gersich.

UND 3, Manitoba 2 — Shane Gersich (Troy Stecher) 7:41. Stecher makes a hold at the point, the feeds it to Gersich, who is alone on the top of the crease. Gersich makes a move to his backhand and deposits his second goal in 12 seconds.

UND 4, Manitoba 2 — Johnny Simonson (Keaton Thompson, Austin Poganski) 9:21 (dp) (ex). On a delayed penalty, Thompson throws one from the boards to the top of the crease, where Simonson fights off two checks to jam it five-hole.

UND 5, Manitoba 2 — Johnny Simonson (Bryn Chyzyk, Austin Poganski) 15:14. Simonson gets the puck in the left circle and snaps a quick shot on the goalie. It leaks five-hole for his second of the night.

UND 6, Manitoba 2 — Drake Caggiula (Trevor Olson) 16:27. Olson sends Caggiula up the right wing with speed and space. Caggiula gets to the circle and snaps a shot past the goalie’s glove.

Third period

UND 7, Manitoba 2 — Joel Janatuinen (Troy Stecher, Brock Boeser) 3:03 (pp). Stecher snaps a shot from the point that’s deflected in the high slot by Janatuinen for the power-play goal.

UND 8, Manitoba 2 — Johnny Simonson (Troy Stecher, Austin Poganski) 11:01. Simonson gets the puck at the side of the net and hammers it top shelf on the short side for the hat trick.

UND 8, Manitoba 3 — Dylan Kelly (Rene Hunter, Warren Callis) 12:42. Hunter snaps one from a bad angle that Johnson kicks out to the slot. Kelly puts it just inside the post.

Live Blog Men’s Hockey vs Manitoba

UND’s lines

9 Drake Caggiula–27 Luke Johnson–18 Chris Wilkie
25 Joel Janatuinen–8 Nick Schmaltz–16 Brock Boeser
29 Bryn Chyzyk–10 Johnny Simonson–14 Austin Poganski
19 Shane Gersich–26 Coltyn Sanderson–11 Trevor Olson
22 Rhett Gardner

20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher
4 Keaton Thompson–6 Paul LaDue
28 Hayden Shaw–3 Tucker Poolman
24 Christian Wolanin

33 Cam Johnson
30 Matt Hrynkiw
35 Ryan Anderson

Manitoba’s lines

20 Jonah Wasylak–28 Brett Stovin–27 Jordan DePape
25 Shaq Merasty–24 Justin Augert–16 Jesse Paradis
18 Dylan Kelly–23 Joel Schreyer–17 Warren Callis
21 Brett Brooks–8 Liam Bilton–20 Dustin Bruyere
22 Jordyn Boyd

2 Adam Henry–6 Luke Paulsen
5 Lee Christensen–4 Channing Bresciani
12 Brock Sutherland–9 Rene Hunter
3 Sean Christensen

35 Byron Spriggs
1 Justin Paulic
34 Dasan Sydora

The slide of the UMD women’s program

Don Lucia is one of two Minnesota hockey coaches to win a national championship.

The other is Herb Brooks, Miracle on Ice legend.

Lucia’s place in Gopher hockey history is secure with those titles and six conference championships.

But what would happen if the Gophers missed the NCAA tournament in each of the next four years? What if the Gophers won just one of 35 games against North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth and Wisconsin?

What if Lucia was sanctioned by the NCAA and forced to vacate wins and a conference championship due to his own carelessness? What if his team finished last in the conference in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report for eight straight seasons and dead last in the nation for the two?

There’s no doubt about it, Don Lucia would no longer be the head men’s hockey coach at Minnesota. His national titles, conference championships and legacy would not be enough to save his job.

These are not Don Lucia’s credentials, though. They are those of former Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller, and they are precisely why it should not be a surprise that the school opted not to renew the longtime coach’s contract after it expired following the 2014-15 season.

While Miller is suing the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, saying her gender and sexual orientation played a role in her departures from the university, there’s no arguing that her performance has slipped in the last five years.

After reaching the NCAA tournament in 11 of the sport’s first 12 seasons, the Bulldogs have missed the tournament four years in a row. The last four seasons rank Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the list of the program’s lowest winning percentages.

After finishing in the top three in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for 12 straight years, the Bulldogs have failed to do so in each of the last four years as they’ve been passed up by North Dakota. Even Ohio State has won more games than Minnesota Duluth in the last three years.

After reaching the WCHA conference tournament semifinals for 13 straight years, the Bulldogs have missed the Final Faceoff in two of the last three years, getting bounced by Bemidji State in the first round last season.

After being called one of the WCHA’s ‘Big Three’ for more than a decade, Minnesota Duluth has fallen out of that mix in stunning fashion. The Bulldogs have won just one of their last 35 games against Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, fewer than both Bemidji State and struggling Minnesota State-Mankato (the Beavers won five games against those opponents last year alone).

The league’s coaches didn’t see the program going in a promising direction, either. This season, with all of Miller’s returning players and incoming recruits, fellow WCHA coaches picked the Bulldogs to finish below the Beavers and in the bottom half of the league for the first time ever.

Off the ice, Miller’s troubles with the NCAA have been well documented. The program was forced to forfeit a conference title and all regular-season wins for using a professional player and using a former player to recruit her.

Miller’s teams have under-performed in the classroom as well, finishing dead last in the WCHA in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate for eight straight years. They were dead last in the country for four of those years, including the last two.

The athletic department likely took note that 13 players have transferred out of the program in the last three years, too.

Every direction you look, there are red flags.

Yes, Miller did terrific things for the Bulldog women’s hockey program and will go down as one of the sport’s most-highly accomplished coaches. But that doesn’t mean she’s entitled to a lifetime appointment as coach.

Many prominent men’s coaches of men’s sports have found this out.

Bobby Bowden, the second-winningest FBS football coach of all time, was forced out at Florida State when his performance dipped. Jeff Sauer, George Gwozdecky and Rick Comley — three of the top nine winningest coaches in D-I men’s hockey history — were all eventually forced out, too.

Coaching is a bottom-line business and the bottom line is that the Bulldogs weren’t paying Miller more than any women’s hockey coach in the country for those results.

Miller won’t take ownership for the program’s recent struggles.

She’ll say it’s the school’s fault for not providing her team a full-time person to book flights hotels and meals (as bizarre as that sounds). She’ll blame the budget, even though the Bulldogs spend as much as anyone in the country in women’s hockey. It’s just not her fault, never has been.

In 2003, The Ralph hosted the WCHA Final Faceoff. In the early morning hours before the championship game, an angry Miller, looking for game tape, accidentally knocked on the door of a University of Minnesota player while looking for the league’s commissioner. She was suspended one game for it.

After the suspension, she told the Duluth News Tribune: “I would like the focus to be on the events that actually occurred, not me accidentally knocking on the door. I’m a little in shock given the situation. We were the victims, not the accused.”

Last season, it became time for Minnesota Duluth to decide whether to issue a new contract to Miller or whether to look in another direction.

With wins decreasing, distance between rivals increasing, championships traveling out of sight, players consistently transferring out and an APR score stuck in the basement, the Bulldogs’ decision shouldn’t be a shock.

Fargo lands 2017 West Regional

The NCAA West Regional is headed back to Fargo.

After UND, Ralph Engelstad Arena and Scheels Arena in Fargo teamed to produce a terrific regional, by all accounts, in 2015, it will be hosting the event again in 2017.

Those who did work to put the event together like UND’s Erik Martinson, Scheels Arena’s Jon Kram and REA’s Jody Hodgson wanted to make sure it was so successful that they’d get another crack at a regional. They didn’t have to wait long.

The other 2017 regional sites are Cincinnati and eastern regulars Providence, R.I., and Manchester, N.H.

The winner of the 2017 regional will go to the Frozen Four in Chicago.

UND beat Quinnipiac and St. Cloud State in the 2015 regional en route to the Frozen Four in Boston. Under the 16-team NCAA-tournament format, UND has twice hosted a regional and has gone 4-0 in those games.

Next year’s roster will largely depend on how many players leave early for the pros. UND doesn’t have a senior on the defensive corps, but could lose as many as five of them.

No. 2 Boston College

The Herald preseason top 20 countdown continues….

20. Michigan Tech
19. Notre Dame
18. Yale
17. Providence
16. Miami
15. Bowling Green
14. St. Lawrence
13. Quinnipiac
12. UMass-Lowell
11. Minnesota
10. MSU-Mankato
9. St. Cloud State
8. Colgate
7. Michigan
6. Nebraska Omaha
5. North Dakota
4. Denver
3. Boston University



Yes, Boston College lost two outstanding defensemen in Michael Matheson and Noah Hanifin, but the Eagles have enough coming back to jump right into the national picture again.

It starts with netminder Thatcher Demko, who has been terrific his first two years in college. The Eagles also boast star-in-the-making forward Alex Tuch and a good recruiting class.

The defensive corps, even without Matheson and Hanifin, is still really good. Steven Santini is one of the top defensive-minded defensemen in college hockey. Ian McCoshen is a top-flight D-man, too.

Player to watch: F Alex Tuch. The last two Hobey winners have come from Boston, and if he continues to develop, he could be a candidate by the end of the season.

Outlook: This is a team poised to contend for the Hockey East title, make the NCAA tournament and take another run at a championship.

No. 3 Boston University

The Herald preseason top 20 countdown continues….

20. Michigan Tech
19. Notre Dame
18. Yale
17. Providence
16. Miami
15. Bowling Green
14. St. Lawrence
13. Quinnipiac
12. UMass-Lowell
11. Minnesota
10. MSU-Mankato
9. St. Cloud State
8. Colgate
7. Michigan
6. Nebraska Omaha
5. North Dakota
4. Denver



Boston University burst back onto the national scene last year with the help of Jack Eichel, one of the most talented freshmen ever to play college hockey. He’s gone after one year — and Evan Rodriguez and goalie Matt O’Connor are gone, too — but don’t expect the Terriers to go anywhere.

Boston University has built some tremendous recruiting classes under David Quinn and this year’s team should be deeper than last year’s.

Of course, a big part of why BU was so successful was that it played the Eichel-Rodriguez line all the time. It will need some of the others to step up in their absence.

Player to watch: G Sean Maguire. After taking a medical redshirt last season, the netminder is back as a senior with a chance to win the starting job. He is very experienced and could provide a seamless transition from O’Connor.

Outlook: On paper, this is a very good team. There will be lots more ice time available, though, and the Terriers have to produce with it, as they play in a strong Hockey East.

No. 4 Denver

The Herald preseason top 20 countdown continues….

20. Michigan Tech
19. Notre Dame
18. Yale
17. Providence
16. Miami
15. Bowling Green
14. St. Lawrence
13. Quinnipiac
12. UMass-Lowell
11. Minnesota
10. MSU-Mankato
9. St. Cloud State
8. Colgate
7. Michigan
6. Nebraska Omaha
5. North Dakota



Denver has been in the mix but hasn’t taken off in the post-George Gwozdecky era. This year could change all of that. The Pioneers are loaded up for a run at the Penrose Cup, and it could go further than that, too.

Sophomore forward Danton Heinen figures to be one of the best players in the country. DU coach Jim Montgomery told the Herald last week that the Pios are already preparing to lose him to the Boston Bruins after this season.

It’s more than just Heinen, though. The Pioneers have solid pieces throughout their lineup and they arguably have the best 1-2 punch in goal in the NCHC.

Player to watch: D Will Butcher. We all know about Heinen, but we don’t know who is going to fill the role of Joey LaLeggia, the dynamic puck-moving defenseman and power play threat. Butcher figures to take a huge jump in that area this season, and it will be vital to DU’s success.

Outlook: Denver doesn’t have many holes to fill, but it did lose a couple of very good defensemen. It needs some players to step up there, and some of its role players to have strong seasons. If that happens, the Pioneers will be a force all year.

Herald preview out today

If you live in the area and don’t subscribe to the Herald already, go to your local newsstand and find a copy of the paper for the annual preview section. This year’s edition is 14 pages.

The main topic is the rise of local and area players. Interestingly enough, Brad Berry was on the ground floor of The Hockey Academy, hoping to develop more Division I players in this area. As it turns out, he’s the head coach and a lot of his best players this season will be THA alums from the area.

If you don’t live in the area, you can order a copy by calling 701-780-1201.


Anderson added to team

UND coach Brad Berry informed Roseau High graduate Ryan Anderson this afternoon that he has officially made the team and will stay with the program through the duration of this season.

Anderson will wear No. 35.

Anderson, who played one year in the NAHL after Roseau, has been practicing with UND during the fall to help spell goalies Cam Johnson and Matt Hrynkiw as freshman Matej Tomek recovers from offseason surgery.

Tomek is getting closer to a return but won’t play during Saturday’s exhibition game against Manitoba. Johnson will get the start. It’s unclear exactly how many minutes he will go.

One other guy who won’t be in the lineup Saturday is forward Colten St. Clair. He has an arm injury that’s not expected to be longterm. He’ll be re-evaluated after the weekend.

Berry said he will dress 22 for the game — one extra forward and one extra defenseman.

The team has only had limited practices for the last couple of weeks — two hours per week — so they haven’t really had time to implement Matt Shaw’s power play. So if it’s a bit rusty Saturday night, that’s one reason.

See more in tomorrow’s Herald.

REA adds wireless boxes, cell phone connectivity

Throughout its history, Ralph Engelstad Arena and its management have done a terrific job keeping the venue up with the times and making sure it stays at the top of the list when it comes to best arenas in North America.

What’d they do this offseason?

In addition to re-painting nearly everything inside (all the floors, railings, etc.), The Ralph took major steps forward to increase the rink’s wireless and mobile capabilities.

According to The Ralph, a new high-capacity WiFi system has been installed in the bowl that will increase web connectivity. Fans should notice a significant increase in their ability to access the internet, stream video, and upload pictures.

Also, Verizon Wireless will park a hotspot truck west of the arena to provide a boost to data and cell phone coverage.

Wireless and cell phone coverage has become a major problem at sporting events all across the country.

The Ralph also has installed a cell phone charging system on the wall by the northeast entrance. This station has multiple plug-ins to fit any smartphone and gives a quick boost to cell phone battery life.

The new concession item that should be popular is a local craft beer stand by the southeast entrance. Featured brews will be from the Fargo Brewery, Fulton Brewery out of Minneapolis or 3rd Street Brewery out of Cold Spring, Minn.