O’Donnell out, Schmaltz skates

One step forward, one step back for UND on the injury front.

Nick Schmaltz returned to the ice Wednesday and skated in practice. His status is still up in the air for the weekend, but the fact that he’s out there with the team is a good sign. He did not skate at all with the team last week.

Brendan O’Donnell, however, will not play. O’Donnell took a big hit along the boards in St. Cloud, but played the rest of the game. I’m not sure if that’s the hit where the injury occurred or not. UND coach Dave Hakstol said he’s out for the Omaha series and he did not skate Wednesday.

Bryn Chyzyk also continues to be out indefinitely. He sustained what a teammate described as a shoulder injury on Friday at St. Cloud. Defenseman Paul LaDue also didn’t skate Wednesday, but Hakstol did not mention him as out for this weekend, and nothing appeared visibly wrong with him so it could be a maintenance day as he’s still coming back from his leg injury.

Hakstol also said he liked what Tucker Poolman brought at forward last week and that he would be confident in putting him back there this weekend. So, don’t be surprised if the East Sider plays at least one game at wing.

There was a special guest at practice today in Paul Chadwick, who played for UND from 1977-81 and helped the team win a national championship in 1980. He currently lives in Vail, Colo., but will attend Friday’s game.

Chadwick had an interesting piece of trivia for me, too. If UND does play Arizona State in hockey, it will not be the first time that the program has played a game in Phoenix.

During Chadwick’s sophomore season, UND traveled to play Northern Arizona on the road (Dec. 8-9, 1978). Game 1 of the series was played in Phoenix. UND won 10-2. They went up the mountain to Flagstaff, Ariz., home of NAU, for Game 2.

Chadwick said it was brutally cold in North Dakota when the team left. When they got to Phoenix, local residents were in a panic because it was 40 degrees there. But the team enjoyed the big temperature difference and sat at the pool with their shirts off.

Big fish remain in the pond

College hockey recruiting has gotten pretty young, and it’s not often that there are uncommitted top prospects late in the game.

But with the early signing period gone, there are still three big, uncommitted prospects that pretty much every team would love to add for next season. Two of the are de-commits. Another hasn’t committed yet. Here’s a look at three potential late adds for teams:

AUSTON MATTHEWS, F, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ., U.S. UNDER-18

Rundown: Matthews is projected to go No. 1 overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. He’s described as a game-breaking player who could have the same type of impact as Jack Eichel, the BU freshman who is currently leading the nation in scoring.

Former commitment: None.

Believed to be in the mix: North Dakota, Boston University, Boston College, Denver, Michigan and the WHL (Everett).

Of note: Matthews will have to accelerate his education in order to come to college next season.

BROCK BOESER, F, BURNSVILLE, MINN., WATERLOO (USHL)

Rundown: Potential late-first or early-second round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Boeser is currently the second-leading scorer in the USHL with 22 points in 16 games for the Waterloo Blackhawks.

Former commitment: Wisconsin.

Believed to be in the mix: North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin.

Of note: According to Bucky’s Fifth Quarter, Boeser is going to visit Wisconsin. His cousin is a former Badger captain. He plays on a line with Gopher commits in Waterloo. UND commit Hayden Shaw also is on that team.

MATTHEW TKACHUK, F, ST. LOUIS, MO., U.S. UNDER-18

Rundown: The son of former NHL standout Keith Tkachuk, Matthew is a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft. He’s a late 1997 birthdate and is the third-leading scorer on the U18s behind Matthews and Jeremy Bracco.

Former commitment: Notre Dame.

Believed to be in the mix: OHL (London), unknown colleges.

Of note: Tkachuk told Chris Dilks of SB Nation that he would start looking at schools again after the World U18s in April. Tkachuk would have to accelerate his education to go to school next season.

Lineup shifts work for UND

UND made several lineup shifts for Saturday night’s game against St. Cloud State and it resulted in a 3-2 victory over the Huskies. The lineup shifts addressed UND’s biggest problems from Friday night’s loss: faceoffs and scoring from Lines 2, 3 and 4.

Both of those items are discussed in my game story. Read that here.

There are still several storylines to follow as UND looks ahead to this weekend’s series against Nebraska Omaha.

1. On the injury front, Bryn Chyzyk missed Saturday’s game and was watching with his arm in a sling. One of his teammates let it slip at the presser that it’s his shoulder. He’s out indefinitely.

2. Mark MacMillan moved back to center Saturday. Coach Dave Hakstol said that MacMillan had been politicking to get back to center. Hakstol’s biggest concern was MacMillan wearing down over 60 minutes. His faceoff numbers did dip in the third period, but Hakstol was pleased with his play. I think he probably stays there.

3. Nick Mattson came back in on defense. I thought he didn’t look as confident as normal, and that’s bound to happen when you get scratched a few times. Through time, he’ll regain that confidence that makes him such a dynamic threat. UND is 6-1-1 in games that Mattson plays and is 3-2 when he does not.

4. Tucker Poolman moved up front for Saturday. Clearly that’s not his future. You could tell he wasn’t as comfortable up there as on the blue line, but he still was able to add a little bit up there.

5. It will probably be hard to keep Trevor Olson out of the lineup with the way he played with his fellow rookies. Speaking of that line, Austin Poganski had has best weekend yet. Maybe not surprisingly, he was at home.

6. UND had a rare 3-on-0 rush and was unable to bury a puck. Charlie Lindgren did make a great save on a shot by Michael Parks and Connor Gaarder just missed the rebound. I do not believe that I’ve ever seen UND work on a 3-on-0 drill at practice.

7. UND is 6-0-1 on Saturdays so far this season.

Saturday night high five

There wasn’t quite as much action on Saturday night as Friday, but there were still several notable results.

1. Michigan Tech’s stay at No. 1 is already over. The Huskies got swept by MSU-Mankato at Houghton, 2-1 and 3-2. The Huskies travel to Huntsville this weekend, then their schedule gets interesting: Minnesota Duluth, the GLI, Wisconsin and Northern Michigan.

2. The misery continues for Wisconsin. The Badgers dropped to 0-8 after losing to Colorado College and Denver. Wisconsin now has a chance to right the ship, playing only two road games between now and February — 12 of the next 14 are at the Kohl Center.

3. Minnesota Duluth’s six-game winning streak ended with a 4-1 loss to Nebraska Omaha, but the Bulldogs still were impressive, outshooting the Mavs 40-18 in that game. Omaha got Jake Guentzel back from injury this weekend and he provided an immediate impact with a goal and an assist Saturday.

4. Nick Ellis, not Jon Gillies, gave Providence a 1-0 win over New Hampshire with a 29 save performance. It was the first start of the season for Ellis.

5. Air Force beat Colorado College for the third time in four years, winning 3-1 on Saturday. Grafton’s Chad Demers had an assist and Air Force goalie Chris Truehl stopped 35 of 36.

Grimaldi scores first NHL goal

Rocco Grimaldi scored his first NHL goal on Saturday night for the Florida Panthers against the Nashville Predators.

Grimaldi’s goal came against Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne.

On the play, a shot from the wall hit traffic in front and popped out to Grimaldi, who one-timed it past Rinne to make it 2-1 Nashville. A few seconds later, the Panthers tied the game and stole a point.

Grimaldi has played seven games with the Panthers. The goal was his first NHL point.

Gameday final: UND 3, SCSU 2

TONIGHT’S VIEWING INFO: Charter (Ch. 426/823), Comcast (Ch. 999); NCHC.tv. Lineup notes: Chyzyk unable to go after sustaining an injury Friday night. Murphy is out. Olson is in. Poolman is playing forward. Mattson is in on D. St. Cloud State is going with Milan for Winiecki at forward and Nevalainen for Storm at D.

First period

UND 1, St. Cloud State 0 — Trevor Olson (Johnny Simonson, Austin Poganski) 2:53. Poganski corrals a puck in the slot area and does a turnaround shot, which goes to Simonson in the right circle. Simonson hits Olson on the other side of the crease and Olson has a wide-open net for his first-career goal.

UND 2, St. Cloud State 0 — Brendan O’Donnell (Colten St. Clair, Jordan Schmaltz) 4:10. St. Clair sends O’Donnell and Johnson on a 2-on-1 rush. O’Donnell, flying up the right wing, makes a quick stickhandle to get around Prochno, then snipes the glove-side corner of the net.

UND 2, St. Cloud State 1 — Patrick Russell (Jimmy Murray) 5:05. After a turnover in the neutral zone, Russell skates up the right wing on a three-on-one rush. LaDue takes away the pass and lets Russell shoot and he beats McIntyre on the Huskies’ first shot of the game.

Second period

UND 3, St. Cloud State 1 — Trevor Olson (Troy Stecher, Austin Poganski) 5:52. Poganski steals a puck from a Husky along the end wall and leaves it back for Stecher, who drives a shot on goal from a sharp angle. Lindgren kicks the rebound out to the slot, where the birthday boy finishes off his second of the game.

UND 3, St. Cloud State 2 — Joey Benik (Niklas Nevalainen) 13:29. Benik skates up the left wing and when he’s about two inches in front of the red line, he snaps one that beats McIntyre from a bad angle on the short side.

Third period

No scoring.

Live Blog No. 2 UND at No. 16 SCSU

UND’s lines

9 Drake Caggiula–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
21 Brendan O’Donnell–27 Luke Johnson–17 Colten St. Clair
28 Stephane Pattyn–13 Connor Gaarder–3 Tucker Poolman
11 Trevor Olson–10 Johnny Simonson–14 Austin Poganski

20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher
5 Nick Mattson–6 Paul LaDue
4 Keaton Thompson–24 Jordan Schmaltz

31 Zane McIntyre
33 Cam Johnson

Out of lineup: Nick Schmaltz (inj), Bryn Chyzyk (inj), Wade Murphy, Andrew Panzarella

St. Cloud State’s lines

9 Joey Benik–22 Jonny Brodzinski–13 David Morley
16 Jimmy Murray–11 Kalle Kossila–63 Patrick Russell
18 Garrett Milan–17 Judd Peterson–2 Jarrod Rabey
27 Nick Oliver–37 Joe Rehkamp–21 Brooks Bertsch

28 Andrew Prochno–40 Tim Daly
5 Nathan Widman–12 Ethan Prow
7 Niklas Nevalainen–26 Mika Ilvonen

35 Charlie Lindgren
45 Rasmus Reijola
33 Joseph Phillippi

Friday night high five

Five notable results from Friday night:

1. Minnesota Duluth rallied from a 2-0 third-period deficit to beat Nebraska Omaha 3-2. It marked the first third-period comeback victory for the Bulldogs in four years — a span of 46 games. The Bulldogs have now won six straight games, and the victories have come against Miami, Minnesota (2), St. Cloud State (2) and Omaha. They could be ranked No. 1 on Monday if they win tonight.

2. Alabama Huntsville knocked off Ferris State 3-2 on Friday night. It marked the third win in five games for the Chargers. Prior to that, they won three times in the span of 75 games.

3. Colorado College ended its seven-game winless streak with a 5-2 win over Wisconsin. The Badgers are now 0-7. In the last six games, the only time they’ve been within a goal was the 4-3 game against UND, where UW scored with 19 seconds left to make it a one-goal game.

4. Michigan Tech’s reign at No. 1 won’t last long as the Huskies lost 2-1 to MSU-Mankato on Friday. The Mavs scored back-to-back goals midway through the third to hand the Huskies their first loss of the season.

5. Freshman Jack Eichel is without a doubt the frontrunner to win the Hobey at this point and he made two more outstanding plays on Friday to help BU beat Maine 3-2 in overtime. Check out the video below for Eichel’s game-winner, and even more impressive, his assist on BU’s first goal.

Brodzinski lifts Huskies

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Here’s a simple recipe to lose a hockey game: Allow Jonny Brodzinski to shoot the puck 16 times.

The Husky sophomore, one of the league’s best shooters, eventually broke through and tallied three points in St. Cloud State’s 3-1 win in the series opener. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald

St. Cloud Times

USCHO

UNDsports.com

Other notes:

  • As I wrote in the game story, faceoffs were a major problem for UND. It started early in the first with the Huskies winning four or five clean in a row in the offensive zone, leading to scoring chances. It didn’t get better all game. With Nick Schmaltz out and Mark MacMillan unable to take draws, UND needs to find someone else who can win important faceoffs.
  • After the Friday game against Providence, UND’s power play was at 31 percent, ranked fifth in the nation. Since, it has converted on 3 of 31 chances (9.7 percent).
  • Friday night marked UND’s first road loss of the season. UND previously was 5-0 on the road.
  • UND needs to win tonight or else it will lose its first series in the National Hockey Center since 2001.
  • UND coach Dave Hakstol didn’t have any immediate update on the status of forward Bryn Chyzyk after the game. Chyzyk left the game in the second period and didn’t return after absorbing a big hit.
  • St. Cloud State’s power play, which entered the weekend as the league’s best, continued to roll along with two power-play goals in four opportunities.
  • UND captain Stephane Pattyn talked about the importance of playing simple — driving wide and getting to the net. Getting to the net will be a key again in the series finale as there were rebounds to be had last night.

Gameday final: SCSU 3, UND 1

TONIGHT’S VIEWING: FSN North Plus; Fox College Sports Pacific. Lineup notes: Poolman is in and Mattson is out on defense. Full lines and live chat are below.

First period

No scoring.

Second period

SCSU 1, UND 0 — Ethan Prow (Jonny Brodzinski, Joey Benik) 5:10 (pp). Prow winds up and blasts one from the point that deflects off of Parks’ stick and a UND defenseman before floating past McIntyre.

SCSU 1, UND 1 — Drake Caggiula (Tucker Poolman, Mark MacMillan) 13:09. MacMillan has the puck near the side of the net and tries to send a pass to the point. Peterson gets his stick on it, but the puck goes to Poolman, who one-times it on net. Lindgren makes the save but the rebound kicks to Caggiula, who catches it, drops it at his feet and slaps it in.

Third period

SCSU 2, UND 1 — Jonny Brodzinski (Nathan Widman, Patrick Russell) 1:38. The Huskies enter the zone on a rush and Widman sends a pass from the left circle to the high slot, where Brodzinski’s shot goes off of Pattyn’s back and in.

SCSU 3, UND 1 — Jonny Brodzinski (Joey Benik, Kalle Kossila) 9:43 (pp). Benik walks LaDue, throws a perfect saucer pass over another defender’s stick and Brodzinski is waiting on the other side to slam it home for a power-play goal.

Live Blog Men’s Hockey at St. Cloud State

UND’s lines

16 Mark MacMillan–9 Drake Caggiula–15 Michael Parks
28 Stephane Pattyn–27 Luke Johnson–7 Wade Murphy
21 Brendan O’Donnell–13 Connor Gaarder–17 Colten St. Clair
29 Bryn Chyzyk–10 Johnny Simonson–14 Austin Poganski

20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher
6 Paul LaDue–3 Tucker Poolman
4 Keaton Thompson–24 Jordan Schmaltz

31 Zane McIntyre
33 Cam Johnson

St. Cloud State’s lines

9 Joey Benik–22 Jonny Brodzinski–13 David Morley
16 Jimmy Murray–11 Kalle Kossila–63 Patrick Russell
42 Blake Winiecki–17 Judd Peterson–2 Jarrod Rabey
27 Nick Oliver–37 Joe Rehkamp–21 Brooks Bertsch

28 Andrew Prochno–40 Tim Daly
5 Nathan Widman–12 Ethan Prow
4 Ben Storm–26 Mika Ilvonen

35 Charlie Lindgren
45 Rasmus Reijola
33 Joseph Phillippi

Friday morning reading

The Herb Brooks National Hockey Center looked a lot different last year after the renovation, but on the ice, it was the same old result. Yet another split for UND and St. Cloud State.

In recent years, that’s been the norm when these teams have gotten together in St. Cloud. The last time there was a sweep? 2001. The last time UND got the sweep? 1998.

As I wrote in my preview today, in 1998, Brad Berry was a Kalamazoo K-Wing, Dane Jackson was a New York Islander and Austin Poganski was 2 years old.

Here are the results of UND’s most recent trips to St. Cloud:

2013-14: Split.
2012-13: Split.
2011-12: Split.
2010-11: UND win and tie.
2009-10: Split.
2008-09: Split.
2007-08: Split.
2006-07: UND win and tie.
2005-06: Split.
2004-05: UND win and tie.
2003-04: UND win and tie.
2002-03: Split.
2001-02: SCSU sweep.
2000-01: Did not play in St. Cloud.
1999-00: SCSU win and tie.
1998-99: UND sweep.

So on one hand, UND hasn’t earned a sweep in the National Hockey Center in seemingly forever, yet it also has gone to St. Cloud for 12 consecutive years without losing a series.

Strangely enough, during those 12 years, there have been six sweeps in Grand Forks (four by UND, two by SCSU).

This weekend continues the very difficult early-season schedule for St. Cloud State, which has already played against Union, Colgate, Minnesota and Duluth. I’m guessing that when the Huskies signed the nonconference deals, they didn’t know Colgate was going to be this good.

Three things to watch on the St. Cloud State side this weekend:

1. The junior forwards. Jonny Brodzinski, Joey Benik, David Morley, Kalle Kossila and Jimmy Murray are the engines that make the Huskies go. Brodzinski, only a month past his sophomore season, has more career goals than anyone else in the NCHC.

2. Charlie Lindgren. St. Cloud State will give UND a different look with the right-hand catching goaltender. You don’t see many of them. The last one that UND faced that I can think of off hand is Jon Olthuis from Alaska Anchorage.

3. The power play. The Huskies are at 25 percent there and make a lot of plays. The junior class and senior D Andrew Prochno are key. UND continues to emphasize eliminating stick penalties.

Three things to watch on UND’s side:

1. The Schmaltz-less power play. Without Nick Schmaltz last weekend, the power play seemed to lose a little bit of its playmaking. The unit has had another week of practice under its belt without Nick. Will it improve?

2. The big ice surface. The Olympic ice helped UND against Colorado College because it was the faster and more skilled team (and CC gave UND too many power plays). St. Cloud State is built much better for the big sheet than CC. How will UND play on it this time?

3. Wade Murphy. The coaching staff is waiting for a breakthrough. He has come close to scoring the last couple of games. Does he get No. 1 in St. Cloud? Does he play well enough with and without the puck to help earn a more consistent spot in the lineup?

This week, I also wrote a feature on Bryn Chyzyk, who seems a lot more comfortable on and off the ice this season. He went through a tough time last season when he got suspended, but he seems to be taking the right approach since then. Read that story here.

This week’s Q&A is with Mark MacMillan. Find out what game was his most memorable in his career here.

The St. Cloud Times has its preview of the defending champ vs. the preseason favorite here.

On to the predictions….

Western Michigan at Miami: The Broncos brought a physical game against the RedHawks last season and it worked to perfection. Western swept all four games against Miami. Judging by what I saw last weekend, Miami can play the physical game better than last season, but I still think Western gets a game on the road. Miami 4-1, Western Michigan 3-2.

Minnesota Duluth at Nebraska Omaha: These two teams could very well be in Penrose Cup race at the end of the season. Both are off to great starts and this should be a great weekend between two teams that like to get up and down the ice. Omaha 4-3, Duluth 5-2.

Colorado College vs. Air Force/Wisconsin: The Tigers have lost seven in a row. More embarrassing, none of them have even been one-goal games. Luckily for the Tigers, they are playing a struggling Air Force team to close the weekend. Wisconsin 3, CC 0; CC 3, Air Force 2.

Denver vs. Air Force/Wisconsin: The Pioneers are playing like a deep, veteran team. The NCHC is having success out of league. Denver 5, Air Force 1; Denver 2, Wisconsin 0.

UND at St. Cloud State: You all read the results in the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center up there earlier. These teams love splitting in St. Cloud and I don’t see much of a reason why they shouldn’t once again this weekend. Should be a very entertaining one for fans. UND 3-2, St. Cloud State 4-2.

***************************************************************************

On the women’s side, there’s really only one story to talk about right now and that’s what’s happening with forward Lisa Marvin.

In case you didn’t hear, read this story here.

I wrote that piece late Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, Marvin was scheduled for a quick, 30-minute surgery. It ended up being more than four hours. Her bones shifted when doctors moved one of the plates in her arm, and they had to open her arm back up again.

It’s going to be a long road ahead for Marvin. It’s hard to imagine that she’s ever going to play again, but at this point, the focus is just on getting her to the point where she can go back to having a normal, pain-free life.

Her UND team plays Ohio State this weekend in The Ralph. Her sister, Layla Marvin, will play.

I’ll pass along any further updates that I hear regarding Lisa.