Shootouts in the WCHA after all

There will be shootouts in the WCHA this year — just not on the men’s side.

The league announced today that the women will use the shootouts to break ties in conference games. They will count in terms of standings, but they will not factor into the NCAA tournament.

For a complete breakdown on the rules of the shootout, check out the WCHA release.

You have to believe that if shootouts are successful with the WCHA women and CCHA men, they will be used across the board.

Canada picks 2012 WJC site

The 2012 World Juniors will be in Calgary and Edmonton.

It was expected that Toronto would make a big push for it. Toronto fans will now pin their hopes on the 2011 World Juniors being in Buffalo, which you have to believe is the frontrunner. The 2011 destination will be revealed in December.

Recent destinations:

2003 — Halifax, N.S.
2004 — Helsinki, Finland
2005 — Grand Forks
2006 — Vancouver
2007 — Leksand and Mora, Sweden
2008 — Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic

Future destinations:

2009 — Ottawa
2010 — Saskatoon and Regina
2011 — TBD — either Buffalo, Grand Forks or Minneapolis/St. Paul
2012 — Calgary and Edmonton

Xcel Center to host 2010 regional

The Xcel Energy Center and Minnesota have been awarded the 2010 West Regional, the school announced today.

That means the Gophers will host the next two West Regionals. This season’s is at Mariucci.

Future sites:

2009
Northeast: Manchester, N.H.
East: Bridgeport, Conn.
West: Minneapolis (Mariucci)
Midwest: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Frozen Four: Washington, D.C.

2010
Northeast: Worcester, Mass.
East: Albany, N.Y.
West: St. Paul (Xcel)
Midwest: Fort Wayne, Ind.
Frozen Four: Detroit (Ford Field)

2011
Northeast: Manchester, N.H.
East: Bridgeport, Conn.
West: TBA.
Midwest: TBA.
Frozen Four: St. Paul (Xcel Center)

2012
Frozen Four: Tampa

Marks, Litke join in Augusta

Another former Sioux player has reached the ECHL coaching ranks.

The captain of the 1997 national championship team, Dane Litke, is leaving Bismarck to be an assistant coach in Augusta. Litke planned to be a co-head coach of the Bismarck Demons prep team.

Instead, he’ll be joining another former Sioux defenseman John Marks, who is the all-time winningest ECHL head coach.

Marks coached in Charlotte for five years, Greenville for eight years and Pensacola for one year. But Pensacola’s organization shut down after last season.

Tim O’Connell also is in the ECHL as an assistant with Stockton.

To read more about Marks, here’s a story from NHL.com.

To read more about Litke, here’s a story from the Bismarck Tribune.

Area players line Force roster

The Fargo Force just released their roster and it has several area players on it. It also has eight WCHA recruits and a total of 12 college hockey commits. Here it is:

G Mike Lee, Roseau (SCSU recruit)
G Cody Campbell, Colorado Springs

D Ryan LaDouceur, Grand Forks
D Jarrett Galbreath, Grand Forks

D Steven Spinell, Chicago (Miami recruit)
D Luke Witkowski, Holland, Mich. (Western Michigan recruit)
D Eamonn McDermott, Shaker Heights, Ohio
D Jacob Sloat, Superior, Colo.
D Tom McCarthy, Maple Grove, Minn.
D Jake Areshenko, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

F Bryce Ravndalen, Warroad (SCSU recruit)
F Chad Demers, Grafton
F Nick Oliver, Roseau (SCSU recruit)
F Nick Thielen, Moorhead
F Josh Birkholz, Maple Grove, Minn. (Minnesota recruit)
F Nate Condon, Wausau, Wis. (Minnesota recruit)
F Johnnie Searfoss, Colleyville, Texas (Maine recruit)
F Colton St. Clair, Gilbert, Ariz. (Colorado College recruit)
F Gavin Hartzog, Pewowkee, Wis. (Wisconsin recruit)
F Cory Leiverman, Mankato, Minn. (MSU-Mankato recruit)
F Daniel Durham, Chicago (Air Force recruit)
F Gehrett Sargis, Midlothian, Ill.
F Chase Grant, Oklahoma City
F Cole Gunner, Richfield, Minn.
F Andrew Taranto, Woolridge, Ill.
F Matthew Leitner, Los Alamipos, Calif.

Couple of updates

The Fargo Force are expected to announce their final roster today.

Check out Forum beat writer Kerry Collins’ blog here to see if it gets posted. If it’s not posted, enjoy the hilarious entry on the mascot.

There are a few area players who will be on the roster for sure.

Grafton’s Chad Demers made the team and has decided to play for the Force instead of the Spoilers. Demers would have been a senior and the favorite for Mr. Hockey. He said he was told that he made the team Monday morning and he went and cleaned out his football locker back in Grafton in the afternoon. Demers was the starting quarterback last season. He’ll attend Fargo South.

Red River’s Ryan LaDouceur also has made the team. The Force traded to get him from Lincoln. I believe one more former Roughrider — perhaps Jarrett Galbreath — has made the team.

Former Roseau goalie Mike Lee will be there, too.

*****

Speaking of the Force, here’s a feature on Dean Blais that ran in the Herald about 10 days ago.

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And lastly, Phil Jackson’s longtime girlfriend says that he always tunes into the hockey team when they are in the playoffs (last quote of the story).

Early departures down

Freshmen moved into the dorms on Friday and classes start Tuesday. That means WCHA fans can pretty much stop holding their collective breath about who will be gone and who will be back. At this point, it looks like we know.

And this summer, early departures are down quite a bit in the WCHA compared to the previous two.

In the summer of 2006, the WCHA lost 17 players early (five Sioux).

In the summer of 2007, the WCHA lost 16 players early (two Sioux).

This summer, the league lost 11 players (two Sioux). The CCHA lost just as many, according to Inside College Hockey’s list.

It is still a lot compared to the pre-2005 NHL CBA. In the summer of 2004, eight guys left early and the summer of 2005, five left early.

But there are a group of guys around the league — like UND’s Ryan Duncan, Joe Finley and Andrew Kozek — who decided to return to school, giving the league some more marquee returning players. Will this become more common in future years?

GF’s Howard steps down at UW

Grand Forks’ Bill Howard has stepped down after a long tenure as Wisconsin’s volunteer goalie coach.

Howard has been credited for mentoring Badger goaltenders, which seem to be strong every year.

Most recently, Brian Elliott was a Hobey Hat Trick finalist.

Howard has been coaching for 36 years and is the only link between all six of Wisconsin’s national championship teams.

The Wisconsin State Journal story says Howard’s exit may not have been 100 percent amicable.

A step closer

Ralph Engelstad Arena and the Moorhead Sports Center made a big cut in their bid to host the 2011 World Juniors. Read about that here.

I couldn’t nail down the other two finalists, but I believe them to be the Twin Cities and Buffalo. The announcement should come sometime Thursday morning.

None of the cities are going to go into a lot of detail about their bids at this point, as there’s sure to be fierce competition between the three possible sites. They don’t want the other sites to know their proposals.

But the way I see it, without knowing the bids, USA Hockey will have to decide whether to take a risk in order to spread tournaments around the country.

Grand Forks is a sure thing. The tournament in 2005 was a huge success and REA officials believe it will be even better in 2011. They were confident in their bid, saying that it had significant financial guarantees for USA Hockey.

Because REA has hosted the tournament and went through the process once, it will have a chance to perfect things. I believe that if USA Hockey wants to maximize profits, it will go to Grand Forks.

You know people are going to come out. You know Winnipeggers are going to come down. And having the secondary site in Moorhead will bring in more people than TRF did in 2005, simply because of the size of the Fargo-Moorhead metro area.

But USA Hockey may want to spread out its tournaments. The last three IIHF tournaments USA Hockey has received are the 2005 World Juniors, 2009 Under-18 and the 2011 World Juniors. It awarded the 2009 Under-18s to Fargo. So is it going to award three straight to North Dakota/Minnesota border towns?

This is where Buffalo and the Twin Cities come in (if they indeed are the other two finalists). They present an opportunity to spread things around and maybe try to create interest in other parts of the country.

The problem: Both are pro towns. Come December, the Twin Cities will be buzzing about the Vikings, as always. It still has the Wild and to a lesser extent, the Timberwolves (maybe they’ll be halfway decent by 2011?). Buffalo will still have the Bills and the Sabres in season.

Will pro towns come out for a junior tournament? In the past, they have not. Minneapolis in 1982, Anchorage in 1989 and Boston in 1996 were not very successful.

Grand Forks and Fargo are college and high school hockey towns. Fans have seen prep players (like Brian Lee) and Sioux players (too many to name) go off to this tournament and they understand what it’s about.

Buffalo may be a success because of the close proximity of London, Ont., and Toronto. Those large Canadian cities may travel well to Buffalo. But it’s still not the sure thing that Grand Forks is.

What does USA Hockey do? Go with the sure thing? Or does it risk profits to spread the tournament around the country?