Herald writers Brad Elliott Schlossman, Tom Miller and Wayne Nelson discuss the football coaching search and UND’s results on the road over the weekend.
UND will host the 2015 NCAA regional at Scheels Arena in Fargo.
UND worked on this bid in conjunction with Ralph Engelstad Arena and Scheels Arena.
That means if UND makes the NCAA tournament next season, it will automatically be placed in Fargo.
On the other side, the UND did NOT get picked to host a Women’s Frozen Four. Although there were only four finalist cities and four years to be picked, the NCAA decided to go to Ridder Arena twice.
Below is the summary of what was decided today:
NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT
2015 NCAA regionals
South Bend, Ind.
FROZEN FOUR — Boston
2016 NCAA regionals
FROZEN FOUR — Tampa, Fla.
2017 FROZEN FOUR — Chicago
2018 FROZEN FOUR — St. Paul
NCAA WOMEN’S FROZEN FOURS
2015 — Minneapolis
2016 — Durham, N.H.
2017 — St. Charles, Mo.
2018 — Minneapolis
I missed the official Saturday Night Rewind, so we’ll do it a little differently this week. UND swept Western Michigan with back-to-back 3-2 wins in Kalamazoo, marking UND’s first three-game winning streak since February.
Here are the top five things I took from the weekend:
1. FOLLOWING THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
As was discussed in the Friday morning reading post, UND doesn’t have much margin for error and needs to walk a tight line in order to win. These wins were exactly that. UND got outshot both nights, but received great goaltending, production from around the lineup and good special teams. UND played its game to a T.
I thought in the third period Saturday night, UND was tremendous in protecting its lead. Every time it had a chance to get a puck deep, it did. When it could chip a puck out of the zone, it did. Western had a miserable time trying to gain the zone. It wasn’t until a late power play that the Broncos were able to get a scoring chance.
2. ZANE’S CONSISTENCY
We all knew that goalie Zane Gothberg had elite-level talent and that he has the potential to win games for his team. The only thing that lacked was Gothberg’s consistency, which he readily admitted at a press conference two days before the series started. Well, there were no consistency issues this weekend.
Gothberg didn’t let in a soft goal all weekend and he stole several Grade A chances away from Western Michigan — most notably the doorstep chance with 28 seconds left on Saturday night. If UND is going to routinely get outshot this season, it needs its goaltenders to be terrific, and Gothberg was just that this weekend.
3. FACEOFF IMPROVEMENT
On Thursday, I wrote a story about how much UND has struggled in the faceoff circle, especially compared to recent years. Losing draws has been a big factor in giving up some goals this season.
Although Friday started out with UND giving up a faceoff goal, the team ended the weekend winning the faceoff battle on both nights, which is no small feat for this squad. What changed? How did UND win faceoffs two nights in a row (albeit not by much)?
The first change was the return of Mark MacMillan to the lineup. MacMillan, who figured to be UND’s top faceoff guy this season, has missed the last few weekends with an injury. He went 22-16 on the weekend.
Also, UND moved Rocco Grimaldi to center and Drake Caggiula to wing on that line. Grimaldi, who had struggled with draws at times last season, went 23-18 on the weekend, going over .500 both nights. That was important and it appears that the faceoff circle is a place where Grimaldi has improved his game.
4. SHOWING THE SKILLS
While I mentioned that this team isn’t as skilled as past teams, UND does have a couple of guys who are very skilled and they have been showing it the past few weeks — Grimaldi and Jordan Schmaltz.
Grimaldi has been, hands down, the best player on the ice in each of UND’s last two road series. He was creating all over the ice in Kalamazoo. He made a brilliant setup for Luke Johnson for the go-ahead goal Friday and he scored the eventual winner on Saturday. He was really good.
UND usually asks rookie defensemen to be efficient and reliable in their first year. Schmaltz did that. Now, as a second-year player, we’re starting to see some of his high-end abilities. He’s able to create a rush with his skating ability. He’s joining the rush at great times. His point shot rarely gets blocked by the forward who is covering him. Schmaltz is showing why he’s a special player and the points are starting to come, too.
5. SPECIAL TEAMS SUCCESS
It seems like UND’s power play is starting to come around. It has scored a power-play goal in five straight games.
On Friday, UND scored two power-play goals and held the Broncos scoreless on seven power-play chances. That was the difference in the game.
While Western won the special teams battle 2-1 on Saturday, there were two big keys for UND: 1. It got a power-play goal after a rough opening five minutes to tie the game and settle the team down. 2. Western had a five-on-three for an extended time during the second period and was unable to score. Major key to the game there.
The NCAA will announce future men’s and women’s Frozen Four sites as well as future men’s regional sites at noon tomorrow.
UND is hoping to host a Women’s Frozen Four at Ralph Engelstad Arena. It is one of four finalists to do so from 2014-18.
UND also is hoping to host a men’s regional at Scheels Arena in Fargo. Why Fargo? The NCAA has gone away from campus sites for regionals, so Ralph Engelstad Arena is a longshot (even though UND did submit a bid for The Ralph, too).
UND has never hosted a Women’s Frozen Four. It last hosted a regional in 2006, when it beat Michigan and Holy Cross to advance to the Frozen Four.
Rocco Grimaldi again at the top spot.
During this weekend’s series, the NCHC announced the name of its postseason tournament — the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.
Either that or NCHC Final Faceoff were the two best options. Since the WCHA women use Final Faceoff, I’m not surprised that the NCHC went another direction.
It’s a good idea to brand the tournament, but it will probably take a while to catch on. Everyone is so used to the Final Five.
As was previously reported, the tournament will be held at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.
Team USA has cut two players — forward Kate Buesser and defenseman Jincy Dunne — from the Women’s National Team in preparation for the Olympic Games.
Buesser was a strange selection from the start. She compiled 92 career points at Harvard and last played during the 2010-11 season. USA’s coach, however, is Harvard coach Katey Stone.
Dunne’s selection to the National Team created a lot of buzz, as she’s only 16 years old. She’s the top uncommitted women’s hockey prospect right now in the U.S.
USA is now down to 20 skaters. There will only be two more cuts before USA sets its roster for the Games.
UND’s Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux are hoping to make the roster for the second straight Olympic Games (and they should). Warroad’s Gigi Marvin also is hoping to make the squad again.
Team USA will play against Team Canada at The Ralph on Dec. 20.
The final Olympic team will be announced during the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
UND freshman forward Luke Johnson is the rookie of the week in the NCHC.
Johnson scored two goals and had two assists during UND’s weekend sweep over Western Michigan. The former Grand Forks Red River and Central forward figured into four of UND’s six goals over the weekend.
On Friday, Johnson scored twice in a 3-2 UND win. On Saturday, he had two assists as UND won 3-2.
Johnson is now the NCHC’s top rookie scorer in league play with eight points in 10 games. He’s also UND’s third-leading scorer, trailing only Rocco Grimaldi and Drake Caggiula.
UND in weekly honors
Nov. 19 — Dillon Simpson, NCHC defensive player of the week
Dec. 2 — Troy Stecher, NCHC defensive player of the week
Dec. 2 — Keaton Thompson, NCHC rookie of the week
Dec. 9 — Luke Johnson, NCHC rookie of the week
UND sophomore forward Bryn Chyzyk is facing a charge of theft of less than $250 and has been suspended indefinitely from the team.
Chyzyk pleaded not guilty to the charge today and a trial is scheduled for Feb. 19, according to the Herald’s Steve Lee.
According to Lee’s report, Chyzyk ran out on a cab bill estimated at “about $4″ by the company’s owner.
Chyzyk had played in 13 of 16 games this season, registering two goals and four points.