INCH ranks recruiting classes

Inside College Hockey ranked the top recruiting classes and the top incoming forwards, defensemen and goaltenders.

UND’s class is ranked No. 10 in the country, Matt Frattin is the No. 19 forward in the nation and Derrick LaPoint is the No. 15 defenseman in the country.

INCH also rated Bemidji State rookie Matt Dalton as the No. 1 goaltender recruit.

Check out the complete lists here: Top classes, top forwards, top defensemen and top goaltenders.

Newsy day

A lot is starting to happen with current players, past players and future players. We’ll start with the current team.

Defenseman Chay Genoway won the team’s annual Iron Man competition with Ryan Duncan coming in second. I still thought Chris Porter would find a way to win even though he’s not on the team anymore.

The first official day of practice is nine days away with the exhibition 10 days away.

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Sun Media in Canada listed the top four up-and-coming players to watch in the NHL this season. Two of them are former Sioux — Drew Stafford and Jonathan Toews. [story here]

Also, in a surprise to me, Phoenix defenseman Travis Roche was sent down to the AHL. Matt Jones is still up.

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The USHL Fall Classic (formally known as the Buc Bowl) will begin today in Sioux City. There are plenty of Sioux recruits playing in it — Jason Gregoire (Lincoln), Mike Cichy (Tri-City), Mario Lamoureux (Tri-City), Ben Blood (Des Moines), Brett Bruneteau (Indiana) and Mike Fink (Waterloo). Follow the tournament here.

The USHL also launched a new Web site. It looks fantastic. Here it is.

Joe Gleason is the top defenseman scorer right now in the High School Elite League. The updated stats through four weeks are here. Notice the big numbers being put up by Red River players Ryan LaDouceur and Eric Meland as well as Sioux recruit Danny Mattson.

International Scouting Services has released its top 30 players eligible for the 2008 draft. Sioux recruit David Toews is ranked No. 17 in the world. Check out the entire list here.

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And finally, the largest issue of the day — Wayne State is dropping hockey. This likely means Bemidji State needs to find a new conference very soon or its hockey program will be in jeopardy. [read story here]

I’m hopeful that the Beavers can find a new home…. and I’m sure anyone who has seen the UND-BSU games the last couple of seasons (especially the ones in Bemidji) will agree with me.

Should the WCHA let BSU in?

UND picked to win league

For the first time in the Hakstol Era, UND is the preseason favorite to win the WCHA.

For a quick glance, here’s how it turned out:

1. UND (7) 79
2. Minnesota (3) 74
3. Colorado College 55
4. Denver 53
5. Wisconsin 52
6. St. Cloud State 43
7. Michigan Tech 41
8. Minn.-Duluth 23
9. MSU-Mankato 19
10. Anchorage 11

Player of the year
Ryan Duncan, UND, 5
T.J. Oshie, UND, 3
Taylor Chorney, UND, 1
Kyle Okposo, Minn, 1

Rookie of the year
Kyle Turris, UW, 9
Evan Trupp, UND, 1

I did some research looking back at past poll predictions and how things ended up playing out. Here’s a look at past Herald preseason poll champions, their eventual finish and the actual league champion that season:

Season Preseason pick Eventual finish Actual champion
2007-08 UND
2006-07 Minnesota/Wisconsin First/Sixth Minnesota
2005-06 Minnesota First Minnesota
2004-05 Duluth Sixth Denver/Colo. College
2003-04 Minnesota Fourth UND
2002-03 Denver Seventh Colo. College
2001-02 Colo. College Fourth Denver
2000-01 UND First UND
1999-00 UND Second Wisconsin
1998-99 UND First UND
1997-98 UND First UND
1996-97 Colo. College Fourth UND
1995-96 Minnesota Second Colo. College
1994-95 St. Cloud State Fifth Colo. College
1993-94 Wisconsin Third Colo. College
1992-93 Minnesota Second Duluth
1991-92 Minnesota First Minnesota
1990-91 UND Fourth Northern Michigan

WCHA women’s poll out

The preseason WCHA women’s hockey coaches’ poll came out today and every coach in the league picked UND to finish last. Defending champ Wisconsin is once again picked to win the league, gaining the most possible first-place votes. Coaches cannot vote for their own teams, so Badger coach Mark Johnson picked Duluth.

Also of note, Warroad’s Gigi Marvin is the preseason player of the year. Marvin is a junior at Minnesota.

1. Wisconsin (7) 49
2. Duluth (1) 42
3. Minnesota 37
4. Ohio State 31
5. MSU-Mankato 23
6. St. Cloud St. 22
7. Bemidji State 13
8. UND 7

Player of the year: Gigi Marvin, Minnesota, 5; Tessa Bonhomme, Ohio State, 1; Jessie Vetter, UW, 1; Erika Lawler, UW, 1

Rookie of the year: Hillary Knight, UW, 4; Haley Irwin, Duluth, 3; Emily West, Minnesota, 1

The men’s poll will be on the Herald’s Web site at about midnight.

Season closing in

The opening exhibition is only two weeks away. So college hockey news will start heating up soon. Here are some things to look for:

Students looking for ticket information, check out UND’s release here. We’ll leave it at that this year.

The 37th annual Grand Forks Herald WCHA coaches’ poll will be released this week — probably Wednesday. Lets hear your picks, including rookie of the year and player of the year.

UND’s captains will be announced on Oct. 2 at Sioux hockey media day. Check the Herald site that afternoon to find out who they are. What are your guesses?

On Oct. 5, the Herald will be coming out with a 12-page college hockey preview, so look for that. It will be loaded with stories, including ones on Dave Hakstol, Ryan Duncan and Derrick LaPoint.

UND media relations hockey contact Dan Benson has finished updating the team roster on the Web site. As you will notice, Philippe Lamoureux will be going by his full name this year — Jean-Philippe Lamoureux.

Also, tonight the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres are playing at Engelstad Arena at 7 p.m. If you want to watch the Sabres practice, it is open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Use the main entrance. Local connections to this game are plenty:

–Former Sioux All-American Drew Stafford is a forward for the Sabres.
–Former Sioux All-American defenseman James Patrick is an assistant coach for the Sabres.
–Fargo native Paul Gaustad is a forward for the Sabres. Gaustad will have a large continent coming from Grafton.
–Former Sioux All-American goaltender Karl Goehring has been working out with the Sabres, although he’s not under contract. Goehring also played in an exhibition game with Buffalo last week.
–Former Sioux defenseman Brad Bombardir, now working in the front office with the Wild, will sign autographs at the 24-hour Subway from noon to 1 p.m. He’ll also sign during the first intermission in the main concourse.

There was a little bit of news out of Minneapolis this weekend. The Pioneer Press reported that recruit Nick Larson will not be playing hockey this year. Larson enrolled at Minnesota, but has not participated in practices. No word on whether he still plans to someday play at Minnesota.

The same article also states that Minnesota is evaluating defenseman Nate Hagemo and whether a return is possible for him. The story states it is still a long shot. A year ago, Hagemo decided to hang up the skates after battling a nagging shoulder injury. Hagemo took the 2005-06 season off after playing in the first three games, but he couldn’t overcome the injury by the start of last season.

Eidsness getting closer

UND goalie recruit Brad Eidsness said he’s getting closer to being able to play this season.

His team, the Okotoks Oilers, have played five games so far this season, but Eidsness has not dressed yet. He’s being held out with Mononucleosis.

Eidsness said he’s had Mono for five or six weeks and he’s been working on getting his strength back. He got cleared earlier this week to begin working out in the gym and he has an ultrasound on Monday. He hopes that he will be cleared for contact at that time.

"It’s better that it happened at the very start of the season, rather than midseason," Eidsness said. "It’s given me the chance to sit back, watch and pick out some different things and maybe learn some things. I’d certainly like to be out there, but I don’t have that option at this point. So I’m going to make the best of what’s happened."

Eidsness said he’s starting to get his energy level back up. He hopes to get back on the ice next week and play the week after that.

"Things are looking a lot better than they were a few weeks ago," he said.

Sabres open practice

The Buffalo Sabres are opening practice to the public on Monday. They will practice from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Use the main entrance to gain access.

The game will be at 7 p.m. There are still plenty of tickets available.

When mentioning local connections to this game, I forgot a big one. Former Sioux All-American James Patrick is an assistant coach for the Sabres. So Buffalo will have three connections with Patrick, former Sioux forward Drew Stafford and Fargo native Paul Gaustad.

Check the Sunday Herald for a story on Gaustad and the Monday Herald for a story on Stafford.

Focus should be on the field

You would think the focus of UND athletics would be on the field.

The football team is undefeated and has two of the most exciting players in recent memory. The hockey team has a Hobey Baker winner on the roster for the first time ever. The women’s basketball team has a duo of dominating posts that have only lost five times in the last two years combined.

But that’s not the case. Everyone is talking about what’s going on off the field.

UND has spent a lot of time and money researching the D-I move for good reason. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it right. It’s not going to be easy. But if you have strong leadership and make the right moves, it can be done successfully.

UND just entered its exploratory year and it’s off to quite a start. The school has a departing president, no athletic director and no marketing director. I don’t remember this being recommended by the Carr Report.

Today we learned the timeline for the new president, but no such luck with the athletic director. Will Tom Buning be back or not? That needs to be answered. Because if not, a new search needs to begin immediately. As you may remember, the last time the school searched for an AD, it wasn’t swift and easy. And it’s probably not a good idea to go into the D-I move without an AD.

Then we get to the marketing director. You would think this would be an important position to promote the move. But since Chris Lee left early in the summer, no replacement has been named.

Making this move to D-I is not a picnic. UND needs to have people in place to make it a success. Then maybe the focus can be back on the field — where it should be.

I’m glad I’m not in charge of cleaning up this mess.

Bad break for Toews

So Jonathan Toews may not get to play his first NHL game in the Xcel Energy Center after all.

The former Sioux standout broke his finger while blocking a shot Wednesday night and he is expected to miss two to three weeks. Chicago’s opener is scheduled for exactly two weeks in St. Paul.

It would be a great place for Toews to start his pro career — his parents have a not-so-bad drive from Winnipeg and his brother is less than an hour away in Faribault (Shattuck).

Mario headed to UND, the twins aren’t

Mario Lamoureux will come to UND next fall. Read the story here.

Mario originally committed to Northern Michigan, but after his older brother, Jacques left the school, Mario opened up his recruitment again.

So I’m sure there are many wondering whether his sisters — two of the top women’s players in the country — also will end up at UND. After they committed to Minnesota last year, both Minnesota and UND have seen coaching changes. But both Monique and Jocelyne are still Minnesota commits.

There will be more on Mario later.