Tuesday practice report

Because UND is at home this week, there probably won’t be any final decisions made on injured players until Thursday. But here’s Tuesday’s update:

Philippe Lamoureux didn’t practice.

Jonathan Toews continued to practice with a no-hit jersey. He’s day-to-day.

Rylan Kaip didn’t practice. He’s also day-to-day. Kaip appeared to be hurting Friday in Mankato during a second-period penalty kill and was scratched on Saturday.

I’ll update again Wednesday afternoon.

Clearing up the Cichy commitment

U.S. Under-17 team forward Michael Cichy (pronounced SEE-chee) committed to UND on Sunday [READ STORY HERE]. His commitment set off much discussion, and hopefully this will clear some of it up.

First off, I would respectfully disagree with Chris from the Western College Hockey blog that Cichy’s commitment to UND is a surprise. I had heard about a month ago that Cichy would most likely end up in Grand Forks. Cichy had been leaning that way… he had really liked the program and even wears UND apparel around Ann Arbor.

He had many college options, as you would expect from a player of his caliber. However, he quickly narrowed it down to just UND, he said. Cichy never took an official visit, but was here during the midget tournament last winter playing for the Boston Junior Bruins and saw what it was all about, he said. (How much of a recruiting impact is that midget tournament going to be?)

The largest rumors swirling around Cichy is that he will end up in the QMJHL, where he was drafted in the third round by Halifax. Here’s what Cichy had to say about that: "Hopefully this erases those rumors. There really wasn’t any consideration at all to go there (Halifax). They drafted me high and everyone thought I was going to go there. But I’m not. I’m committed to North Dakota. I loved everything about it there. It’s really cool to be able to accept a scholarship there."

Another question Cichy said he gets a lot is "Why is a kid from the East Coast going to college out West?"  Cichy’s answer: "I really like the game they play out West. I was really drawn to the Western schools — it’s more my style. I know that North Dakota encourages skilled players who have offensive moves and stuff."

Cichy did say that he’s becoming a more well-rounded player this season, though. The U.S. Under-17 coaches have been focusing on the grittier aspects of the game with Cichy, who started as a roller hockey player. Cichy even got in a fight in the first game of the year. He started out on more of a checking line, but will be moved to the team’s top line alongside UND recruit Danny Kristo and Minnesota recruit Jordan Schroeder for Wednesday’s game. He said the three have shown great chemistry in practice and had hoped they would get put together.

Cichy said that Kristo is pretty excited they will be teammates at UND in the future. "He really wanted me to go there," Cichy said. "I called him right after I committed to tell him."

Cichy also said that T.J. Oshie is a player he looks up to, especially because Oshie came from a roller hockey background like Cichy. He also looks up to the Sweatt brothers, Billy and Lee, who are Colorado College players and former roller hockey stars.

"I’ve played roller my entire life," Cichy said. "It’s more of a fun thing for me. It really works on your hands. There’s no hitting there so you can really work on your moves and your hands. It definitely has helped my game."

Mankato weekend review

UND moved up two spots in the USCHO.com poll to No. 10 after sweeping Mankato on the road. Looking back at the weekend:

Offense: A+. The Sioux entered the weekend on a three-game losing streak, having scored just one goal per game during that stretch. Without Jonathan Toews, scoring was no problem. The Sioux totaled 13 goals against the Mavericks to break the drought.

Defense: C. The Sioux actually were pretty good 5-on-5. The Mavericks scored just one 5-on-5 goal all weekend. But allowing nine goals to a Mankato team that lost most of its offensive threats isn’t good. The Mavericks scored so many goals that I even heard a Sioux player whistling the "Ole! Ole! Ole!" song (played after MSU goals) as he was leaving the locker room Saturday night.

Goaltending: C+. To be fair to freshman Anthony Grieco, he didn’t have a chance on most of Mankato’s goals. As coach Dave Hakstol said, there probably are a few that Grieco would like back, though. Grieco didn’t steal many great scoring chances from the Mavericks. Overall, he wasn’t great, but he wasn’t bad, either.

Mental toughness: A. After blowing a 3-0 lead (twice), a late 4-3 lead and a late 5-4 lead, it seemed that Mankato was destined to win those games. The crowd was into it and Mankato had all the momentum. But UND answered the Mavericks all weekend long. And the Sioux did it quickly every time. Mankato never led in either game.

Road support: B+. There was a good turnout of Sioux fans in Mankato. They made noise after UND goals… even saw a guy lose his beer because he was so excited about Kyle Radke’s goal. 

Cowbell guy: C-. Like in Ralph Engelstad Arena, Mankato plays the audio clip of the SNL skit asking for more cowbell. They had a guy who walked up and down the stairs and got the student section into it a little bit. I’ll give him credit for that. But he’s got nothing on UND’s cowbell guy. Not even close.

Review of the three keys:

1. Convert 20 percent of power-play chances for the weekend. Pass. In a big way. UND’s power play was dominant and keyed both victories. UND scored on 7 of 13 chances after coming into the weekend with a 13 percent conversion rate.

2. Hold Mankato to 25 shots per game. Fail. UND was very close to that figure in Game 2. Friday night, the Sioux were way off, allowing 38 shots. UND built a 3-0 lead Friday by outshooting Mankato 13-1 during the first 15 minutes of the game, but allowed the Mavs back in the game by being outshot 17-3 in the next 15-20 minutes.

3. T.J. Oshie needs to score a goal and total three points. Fail. Barely. Oshie did get his two assists, and he was the one who created both goals. He made a great pass to Ryan Duncan for his first assist and he deked a defenseman before assisting Brad Miller on No. 2. In the third period Saturday, Oshie hit the inside of the post on a rush, falling just a fraction of an inch short of this goal.

Gameday final: UND 8, MSU-Mankato 5

Dave Hakstol’s postgame comments:

General statement: "The outcome and the way the game went might have been similar (to Friday), but our play was much different. I thought we were much more responsible with the puck. We made very good decisions with the puck in all three zones, which we didn’t do (Friday). We had one issue tonight: We took some selfish penalties at bad times. Under some tough circumstances, this team regained composure and played an outstanding third period. For that, I’m proud of the way the team was able to do that. That comes from leadership inside of the locker room — the captains. They were able to put that back together, and go out and execute the things it takes to win a hockey game."

On UND’s 5-on-3 kill during the third period while UND was up by just one goal. Both T.J. Oshie and Brian Lee had big shot blocks during the kill: "It was huge. We did an excellent job killing that 5-on-3. We battled, competed, kept pucks to the outside. I don’t know how many shots on goal they had, but we gave up shots that Anthony had a good opportunity to stop.

On the frustration of giving up 3-0 leads on both nights: "I wasn’t really frustrated, I was upset. We showed some selfishness to allow Mankato the chance to get back in the game. That’s something that needs to be corrected. There has to be a mental correction there, and that’s where hockey sense has to come into play.

On Anthony Grieco’s performance: "Other than some of his rebound control, he had a pretty solid night again. I know there’s one off a rebound that he’d like to have back and possibly the second goal of the game that Hanson scored. But other than that, there was a ton of traffic and some odd bounces around our goal crease tonight."

On the success of the power play: "Both nights our power play played a key role in the victory. What I liked about our power play tonight was that it wasn’t just one unit. Both units produced. It didn’t matter which unit we put out there. They were on.

On what the team is feeling like walking out of Mankato: "Two crazy games, but it’s four points on the road and that’s tough to come by in the WCHA, so it’s a good feeling. We’ll walk out of here with the four points, and as crazy as these games were, we got better this weekend. Now, we move on to next week and get back to work."

First period

1-0 UND — Andrew Kozek (Joe Finley, Brian Lee) 1:44. Kozek’s wrist shot from the top of the left circle beat Mankato goalie Dan Tormey high to the glove side.

2-0 UND — Ryan Duncan (Chay Genoway, Brian Lee) 3:09 (pp). Genoway’s shot from the point hit the post and Duncan cleaned up the rebound.

3-0 UND — Ryan Duncan (T.J. Oshie, Brian Lee) 13:41 (pp). Oshie found a loose puck in the slot and made a terrific pass to Duncan, who was stationed at the bottom of the right circle.

Second period

3-1 UND — Mick Berge (Kael Mouillierat, Travis Morin) 3:48 (pp). Berge pushed a centering pass by Mouillierat past UND goalie Anthony Grieco.

3-2 UND — Joel Hanson (Trevor Bruess, Zach Harrison) 7:09. Hanson collected the puck along the left boards, skated into the circle and beat Grieco high to the stick side.

3-3 — Travis Morin (Trevor Bruess) 9:46 (sh). The puck skipped over Taylor Chorney’s stick at the blue line and Morin took the puck on a clean break away and scored high to the glove side.

4-3 UND — Andrew Kozek (Chay Genoway, Ryan Martens) 9:59 (pp). Kozek fired a wrist shot high to the stick side of Tormey to break the tie.

4-4 — Kael Mouillierat (Blake Friesen, Steve Wagner) 12:27 (pp). Mouillierat buried a rebound of Friesen’s shot, which hit the post.

5-4 UND — Kyle Radke (Ryan Martens, Michael Forney) 14:35 (pp). Radke’s blast from the blue line got through traffic and beat Tormey high to the glove side.

5-5 — Mick Berge (Steve Wagner, Travis Morin) 16:40 (pp). Berge scored from the same spot as his first goal, the bottom of the left circle on the power play. Grieco couldn’t get over to his right fast enough.

Third period

6-5 UND — Chris Porter (Brian Lee) 1:07. Porter tipped Lee’s shot past Tormey to give UND the lead again.

7-5 UND — Brad Miller (T.J. Oshie, Ryan Duncan) 15:12. Oshie made the play by dancing around a Mankato defender and dishing it to Miller for the 2-on-1 goal.

8-5 UND — Matt Watkins 19:12 (en). Watkins flipped the puck from in UND’s zone with the backhand into the open net.

UND’s line chart

Ryan Duncan-T.J. Oshie-Brad Miller
Chay Genoway-Matt Watkins-Chris Porter
Chris VandeVelde-Ryan Martens-Andrew Kozek
Erik Fabian-Darcy Zajac-Michael Forney

Joe Finley-Brian Lee
Taylor Chorney-Kyle Radke
Zach Jones-Robbie Bina

Anthony Grieco

MSU-Mankato’s line chart

Jon Kalinski-Travis Morin-Kael Mouillierat
Joel Hanson-Trevor Bruess-Zach Harrison
James Gaulrapp-Mick Berge-Jerad Stewart
Matt Tyree-Kevin Huck-Kurtis Kisio

Chad Brownlee-Nick Canzanello
R.J. Linder-Blake Friesen
Steve Wagner-Brian Kilburg

Dan Tormey

Gameday final: UND 5, MSU-Mankato 4

Postgame:

Coach Dave Hakstol seemed pleased with the win, despite the fact that UND squandered a 3-0 lead because so many good teams lose in Mankato.

The biggest disappointment for UND has to be giving up 38 shots on goal.

Anthony Grieco: He made some nice saves. Probably wants Mankato’s second goal back. The first one was a cross-ice pass one-timer. No chance. The third one was a breakaway. The last one was a centering pass from the wing to Travis Morin. None of those were bad goals. The second goal, Trevor Bruess came into the zone on a rush but scored from a bad angle. Coaches have to like the way he responded to giving up three straight goals on the road with the crowd getting into it.

Michael Forney: Hard to get a read on him. Played very little minutes. He would have had a good chance in the third period had he been left handed. The puck came awkwardly to him in the slot, however, because he’s right handed.

Brad Miller: Obviously did a great job finishing. He made a very nice pass to Ryan Duncan for UND’s first goal, too. First star of the game, no doubt.

Chay Genoway: Played a great game and got on the board for it. On his goal, he showed great patience by getting goalie Dan Tormey to go down, holding the puck as he neared the red line, and flipping it in with his backhand.

First period

1-0 UND — Ryan Duncan (Brad Miller, Taylor Chorney) 5:34 (pp). Miller, from the point, found Duncan stationed at the side of the net for a 5-on-3 goal.

2-0 UND — Brad Miller (Chris VandeVelde, Rylan Kaip) 12:06. VandeVelde tried a wrap around, but Mankato goalie Dan Tormey poked out to the slot, where Miller was cutting in for the rebound goal.

3-0 UND — Chay Genoway (Matt Watkins, Chris Porter) 13:44 (pp). Genoway showed patience by getting Tormey down, then flipping a backhand in for his first career goal.

Second period

3-1 UND — Mick Berge (Travis Morin, Steve Wagner) 2:52 (pp). Berge one-timed a cross-ice pass by Morin past Sioux goalie Anthony Grieco.

3-2 UND — Trevor Bruess (Wagner, Brian Kilburg) 14:14. Bruess scored a 4-on-4 goal during a rush from the bottom of the right circle. Bruess beat Grieco on the short side.

3-3 — Jon Kalinski 14:35. Kalinski scored on a breakaway with the backhand to tie the game 21 seconds after Bruess’ goal.

4-3 UND — Brad Miller (unassisted) 17:29. Miller picked off a Mankato pass just inside the blue line, entered the zone two-on-two and fired a wrist shot past Tormey to give UND the lead.

Third period

4-4 — Travis Morin (Kurtis Kisio) 6:39 (pp). Kisio centered a pass from the left wing and Morin tipped it past Grieco to tie the game.

5-4 UND — Brad Miller (Chay Genoway, Ryan Martens) 11:53 (pp). Miller tipped Genoway’s shot from the point past Tormey for the lead and the hat trick.

UND’s line chart

Ryan Duncan-T.J. Oshie-Andrew Kozek
Chay Genoway-Matt Watkins-Chris Porter
Chris VandeVelde-Rylan Kaip-Brad Miller
Erik Fabian-Ryan Martens-Michael Forney

Joe Finley-Taylor Chorney
Kyle Radke-Brian Lee
Robbie Bina-Zach Jones

Anthony Grieco

Mankato’s line chart

Jon Kalinski-Travis Morin-Kael Mouillierat
Joel Hanson-Trevor Bruess-Zach Harrison
James Gaulrapp-Mick Berge-Jerad Stewart
Matt Tyree-Kevin Huck-Kurtis Kisio

Chad Brownlee-Nick Canzanello
R.J. Linder-Blake Friesen
Steve Wagner-Brian Kilburg

Dan Tormey

Three keys to Mankato

Interesting fact that Chris of the Western College Hockey blog pointed out to me: Only four Sioux players on the trip have played at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center — Chris Porter, Erik Fabian, Rylan Kaip and Kyle Radke. UND didn’t play in Mankato last season. Those four are all that’s left from those who saw the ice two years ago.

If the Sioux want to stay unbeaten there for the fourth straight year, here are three keys to the series:

1. Convert on 20 percent of power-play chances for the weekend. UND’s power play has been dismal lately, going on an 0-for-15 slump during a three-game stretch. It finally was broken at the end of Saturday’s loss to Maine, but it took a two-man advantage to do it. The Sioux currently are converting at a 13.3 percent clip, which is second-worst in the WCHA. That needs to change this weekend.

2. Hold Mankato to fewer than 25 shots per game. The Mavericks suffered quite a few offensive losses during the offseason. With Phil Lamoureux not on the trip because of an injury, either Anthony Grieco or Aaron Walski will play his first collegiate minutes this weekend. The defense needs to help the goalie out by not giving up many opportunities. That shouldn’t be too much to ask against a young, less potent Mankato team.

3. T.J. Oshie needs to score one goal and get three points on the weekend. UND coach Dave Hakstol said he thought Oshie had his best weekend of the season against Maine. He’ll need to do it again — and this time get more points. UND has averaged just one goal per game during the current three-game losing streak. Minus Jonathan Toews (upper-body injury), Oshie will need to be the leader offensively.

Wednesday’s injury report

Add Philippe Lamoureux to the training room roster.

Lamoureux probably won’t make the trip to Mankato because of an unspecified injury, UND coach Dave Hakstol said this afternoon. Haksol said no decision has been made on who will play in Mankato – Anthony Grieco or Aaron Walski. Lamoureux didn’t practice Tuesday or Wednesday.

Jonathan Toews practiced with the no-hit jersey and is "day-to-day and doubtful," Hakstol said.

Michael Forney practiced with contact and is good to go this weekend.

See Thursday morning’s paper for more details.

Injury update

Here’s a quick injury update:

Jonathan Toews did not practice Tuesday and a decision on whether he will make the trip to Mankato will likely come this afternoon. It sounds like Toews wants to play, but the coaches aren’t quite as optimistic.

There is better news about Michael Forney, however. Forney shed the no-hit jersey he wore in practice last week. He worked out with full contact Tuesday. It sounds like he’s probably going to make his return to the lineup this weekend, should he continue to hold up well in practice this week.

Check back Wednesday afternoon (3:30 to 4) to see what coach Dave Hakstol says about the injuries in his weekly gathering with the media, and check Thursday’s paper for more info on the weekend.

Maine weekend review

When NCAA field is announced, you will notice this:

Each conference’s record against other conferences will directly reflect how many teams get in. So, the better the WCHA does against Hockey East and the CCHA, the more WCHA teams will end up getting into the 16-team field.

The interesting development over the weekend is that the traditional bottom-feeders of the WCHA picked up the usual contenders.

Maine came to Grand Forks and swept the Sioux. New Hampshire went to Colorado Springs and swept CC. And Denver split with RPI in Magness Arena.

These could end up being costly losses come the end of the season should UND, CC or DU be on the bubble. But what could end up being a great help is the play of Michigan Tech and Alaska Anchorage.

Tech went to Vermont and swept the Catamounts (Hockey East), while Alaska Anchorage swept Alaska in Fairbanks (CCHA) to help balance out the WCHA’s nonconference record.

I am looking at playoff scenarios far too early, but come the end of the season, these developments could be important.

As for UND’s weekend against Maine:

It is no doubt a big disappointment to have hockey Hall of Fame weekend, then get swept. If you include the women’s team, Sioux hockey was 0-4 at home this weekend and lost by a combined score of 19-3. Yikes.

Ugly weekend in Grand Forks if you’re not a women’s cross country fan.

Looking for positive news? It appears UND is right on the typical Dave Hakstol path to the Frozen Four. The Sioux just need to sustain mediocrity for a little longer, have a token losses to Anchorage, a gut-check sweep at home, and they’ll be ready to roll to St. Louis.

Kidding aside, Matt Watkins may remember this as the series he missed the open net, but he’s really starting to show why the Dallas Stars drafted him. He looks even faster than last year and he’s added a little bit of shake to his game. Hakstol said he thought T.J. Oshie played had his best weekend of the season. In his first game as a center this season, he went 21-5 in the faceoff circle, which is incredible.

Negatively, the Sioux broke down defensively Friday night and struggled to score without Jonathan Toews on Saturday. Answers about his availability will come later in the week.

The Frozen Four teams have passed now, however, and it’s time to get into the regular league play.

Trivia question: Who leads UND in plus/minus with a +5? (Next closest is one guy at +3). Answer in the comment section.

Gameday final: Maine 3, UND 1

First period

1-0 Maine — Teddy Purcell (Simon Danis-Pepin) 3:20. Purcell beat Phil Lamoureux with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle.

Second period

2-0 Maine — Michel Leveille (Josh Soares, Purcell) 8:39. Soares fed Leveille, who fired a one-timer past Lamoureux from the left face-off circle.

3-0 Maine — Leveille (unassisted) 11:27. Leveille picked up the puck along the left side boards and skated in front of the net and flipped a backhand past Lamoureux.

Third period

3-1 Maine — Brian Lee (Chris Porter, Taylor Chorney) 17:53 (pp). With Lamoureux pulled, Lee’s wrist shot from the point gets through traffic to break up the shutout bid.

UND’s line chart

Ryan Duncan-T.J. Oshie-Andrew Kozek
Chris Porter-Matt Watkins-Rylan Kaip
Erik Fabian-Chris VandeVelde-Brad Miller
Chay Genoway-Ryan Martens-Darcy Zajac

Joe Finley-Robbie Bina
Taylor Chorney-Brian Lee
Zach Jones-Kyle Radke

Philippe Lamoureux

Maine’s line chart

Josh Soares-Michel Leveille-Teddy Purcell
Billy Ryan-Keenan Hopson-Rob Bellamy
Chris Hahn-Mike Hamilton-David de Kastrozza
Brent Shepheard-Wes Clark-Keith Johnson

Mike Lundin-Simon Danis-Pepin
Bryan Plaszcz-Travis Ramsey
Bret Tyler-Matt Duffy

Ben Bishop