Former Sioux dominate shootouts

Prior to every game day, UND holds a shootout at the end of practice. Everyone gets in on it, including the coaches.

Apparently, the Sioux players are coming up with some pretty good moves. NHL.com announced the top five shootout goals in the NHL this season and three of the five are from former UND players.

Zach Parise, T.J. Oshie and Jason Blake all pull off unbelivable moves to score shootout goals for their teams. They are treats to watch. Click here to see them.

One player you won’t find on that list is Jonathan Toews. But Toews has dominated in shootouts, too, this season. He has six shootout goals, which ranks third in the league. He’s only missed three times.

Kozek signs contract

With eight seniors on the roster, we’ll probably be seeing a lot of these signings over the next couple of months.

But the first senior to find his pro home is Andrew Kozek.

The winger and former second-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers has signed an amateur try-out contract with the organization’s AHL affiliate, Chicago.

Kozek will make his pro debut on Wednesday night against Chris Porter and the Peoria Rivermen.

Kozek finished his career with 38 goals, 27 assists and 65 points.

The captain assassin

Some St. Louis Blues fans have coined a new term for former Sioux forward T.J. Oshie – The captain assassin. Oshie has been dishing out big hits on opponents’ captains in the last week. Both Columbus captain Rick Nash and Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown were on the other end of the hits. Actually, Nash got destroyed two nights in a row.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie wrote a short piece on how Oshie is a phenom in the league. He’s pretty much doing exactly what he did in Grand Forks. Read that here.

A few weeks ago, the Blues were in the John Tavares Sweepstakes. Now, they are in position to make the playoffs, sitting in eighth in the Western Conference.

Incase you’ve missed what Oshie has been doing in the last week or so… enjoy.

 

 

 

Hakstol is Penrose finalist again

Dave Hakstol is five-for-five on being a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award, which goes to the national coach of the year.

The finalists are coaches who lead their team to the Frozen Four or those who are named coach of the year in their conference. Hakstol was the WCHA’s coach of the year.

The other finalists are: Yale’s Keith Allain, Miami’s Enrico Blasi, Northeastern’s Greg Cronin, Alaska’s Dallas Ferguson, Boston University’s Jack Parker, Bemidji State’s Tom Serratore, Vermont’s Kevin Sneddon and Bentley’s Ryan Soderquist.

The award will be presented on April 25 in Naples, Fla.

Chorney called up

Former UND defenseman Taylor Chorney has been called up by the Edmonton Oilers and he could play his first NHL game on Tuesday night.

Oilers defenseman Ladislav Smid suffered a fractured hand and was placed on injured reserve. He is likely out for the season.

The Oilers host Anaheim on Tuesday.

Chorney has five goals and 16 assists for 21 points in 68 games for the Springfield Falcons this season. He has been a key power-play guy for the Falcons.

Also, Brandon Bochenski was called up and played for the Tampa Bay Lightning last night.

Bochenski was the 16th former Sioux player to play in the NHL this season and Chorney will likely become No. 17.

Does this change things?

One movie scene kept playing back to me this weekend as I watched Bemidji State make its run to the Frozen Four.

Major League. I hope you’ve seen it. The Cleveland Indians just found out that the owner is planning to move the team and cut all of the players next year. Upon hearing the news, catcher Jake Taylor stands up in the locker room and says, "I guess there’s only one thing left to do. Win the whole… (language not appropriate for blog)… thing."

Bemidji State is staring extinction right in the eye. Their conference is dead and disbanding. They need a home or their rich-in-history hockey program, which involves D-II national championships, may be gone.

So what do the Beavers do? They go and pull the most stunning NCAA tournament run in recent history. Maybe in overall history. In two weeks, you’ll see Bemidji State at the Frozen Four.

How do you fold the program now?

You can’t, can you?

There is no doubt in my mind that this changes everything.

A couple of weeks ago, in the CHA title game, Bemidji State and Robert Morris were tied at 2-2 and Beavers forward Tyler Scofield took a penalty with a little more than two minutes to go. If Bob Morris scores on the power play, the Beavers go quietly into the night and don’t even make the NCAA tournament. Bemidji would have still been an afterthought, and if the program was cut, no one outside of this immediate region would give it a lot of thought.

But the Beavers pulled that game out in overtime. With this run, they are on the national scene now. Everyone in the country knows what we in the Midwest have known for a few years: Bemidji State is a good hockey team that plays an exciting style of hockey.

But imagine the outcry if BSU cut the program now. It just can’t happen, can it?

"If you look at the college skyline right now," Cornell coach Mike Schafer told the Ithaca Journal, "you’ll see teams and presidents in tough economic times and teams like Bowling Green (which is considering dropping hockey). And I think Bemidji legitimizes people who make the right decisions."

The deadline to apply for WCHA membership is this week and the league will visit Bemidji on Friday (I’m planning to be in Fargo on that day watching Danny Kristo, whose father Mark is a former BSU great and proud alum). We’ll find out if anyone else applies along with the Beavers.

It is setting up to be a public relations nightmare for the league, though.

WCHA commish Bruce McLeod has reapeatedly said that he’s tried to find an 11-team schedule that works and he hasn’t been able to do it. He believes if only BSU applies, the application will be rejected.

Again, the same question. How do you reject Bemidji State now? How do you tell them "no," just a couple of weeks after a trip to the Frozen Four? How do you say no to a team who just made the Frozen Four when no other WCHA teams did?

We’ll see how everything plays out, but I have no doubt that this run to the Frozen Four is going to make the WCHA think even harder about letting Bemidji State in the league. And it will make the school more and more determined not to drop the program under any circumstances.

So, enjoy the trip to D.C., Tom Serratore. Your team may have just saved the program.

One tenth of a second, one tenth of an inch

In a loss that has got to be as painful as they come, UND’s season is over.

One tenth of a second or one tenth of an inch. That’s all UND needed to advance to the second round.

But a remarkable set of circumstances allowed New Hampshire to tie it up. First, if Joe Finley’s clearing attempt is a couple of inches lower, it hits the glass, goes to neutral ice and the clock runs out. Then, Ryan Duncan lost a faceoff clean for seemingly the first time all day. A fortunate bounce off the end boards allowed a UNH player to center the puck, where Thomas Fortney shot it off the post and in.

So many games this season were decided by fortunate or unfortunate bounces. Turns out that it ends on the most unfortunate bounce — or three – of them all.

Overall, UND played well, especially on the offensive end. The Sioux controlled play and should have won the game. The top line was outstanding. Others were very good, too. Chris VandeVelde and Brad Malone both had huge games. The Sioux were buzzing around like they were on their big winning streak. A few too many mistakes wound up in the back of their net, though.

Here’s what I’ve got for you as far as notes:

  • Usually after the season is over we start to hear about injuries that guys were playing with. Coach Dave Hakstol didn’t want to say anything about them, saying that every team plays with injuries and it’s part of the game. But I was able to get a few things from others: Chris VandeVelde has been playing with a separated shoulder for three weeks. Joe Finley has been playing with a separated shoulder for even longer. Brett Hextall has been playing with a broken foot for over a month. Evan Trupp has an injury other than his shoulder. And there could be more. I don’t think there will be any questioning of this team’s "heart."
  • This is the fourth straight season that has ended with the opponent scoring six goals.
  • It was in New Hampshire’s back yard, but I can’t say that I was real impressed with the turnout. It was about 6,000 for a 10,000 building — so it was half empty. You wouldn’t see that in a WCHA building.
  • James vanRiemsdyk was awfully quiet.
  • Sioux coaches have said all along that Brad Malone has some real good skills. We saw those starting to come out at the end of the season. He was great today.
  • We saw quite a bit of chemistry on the Chris VandeVelde, Matt Frattin and Malone line. If VandeVelde stays, that could be a unit we see next year.
  • Speaking of VandeVelde staying, if he stays, UND will only lose one forward off of the today’s top two lines — Ryan Duncan. That’s a big loss, and there are other big losses, but it also shows that some talent is coming back.
  • The name of the arena we were in: Verizon Wireless. So, we all found it rather funny that the wireless internet did not work in the rink. Luckily, the Herald let me bring a cell card along and I connected that way.
  • After the game, there was talk in the media room among writers about the NCAA’s live blogging rules. Apparently, I grossly violated the rules today. Oops.
  • Former UND women’s hockey coach Dennis Miller was in the house today on assignment. He now works as a scout for the Buffalo Sabres.
  • UND had been 6-0 in its last six overtime games. UND advanced to the last two Frozen Fours with an overtime goal. Maybe the Sioux were due to lose one of these OT games.
  • Duncan talked about how mentally tough this team is and said that the last-second regulation goal did not deflate the team and that they felt ready to win the game in OT.
  • Duncan joined the 85-85 club today. He finishes with 172 career points and he played in every game.
  • How strange is it going to be next season, when this senior class isn’t around? They’ve been playing such large roles for such a long time.
  • Former Sioux Hunter Bishop scored a goal for Ohio State against BU.
  • The two teams to make the Frozen Four today — Vermont and Miami — didn’t make their conference tournaments.

And finally, for you Sioux fans looking for a way to feel better after this loss, perhaps this will help: Danny Kristo had a hat trick and an assist today. He has at least two points in each of the last five games (13 points in that span). Mike Cichy is on a seven-game point streak and now leads the USHL in goals. And as Mike Tice would say, "They’re comin." They need to be, because with this senior class going, there are large shoes to be filled.

Gameday final: UNH 6, UND 5, OT

First period

New Hampshire 1, UND 0 — Mike Sislo (James vanRiemsdyk, Jamie Fritsch) 2:34 (pp). UNH converts a PP chance. Eidsness made a save on a point shot and the rebound landed at the right of the crease. vanRiemsdyk backhanded it across the slot to Sislo, who tapped it in.

New Hampshire 1, UND 1 — Jason Gregoire (Ryan Duncan) 3:34. Duncan wins a draw cleanly back to Gregoire, who snipes it past Foster.

UND 2, New Hampshire 1 — Brad Malone (Andrew Kozek) 13:55. Kozek dug the puck out of the corner and fed Malone at the side of the crease. Malone walked past a UNH defenseman, showed patience to get Foster to commit, and then scored.

Second period

New Hampshire 2, UND 2 — Jerry Pollastrone (Kevin Kapstad) 4:08. UNH scores a four on four goal when Finley tries to catch a flip pass, but it goes over his head, sending Pollastrone on a clean breakaway. He moves it to his backhand and scores.

New Hampshire 3, UND 2 — Peter LeBlanc (Greg Collins, Bobby Butler) 7:21. Skating on a 3-on-2 rush, LeBlanc leaves a drop pass for Collins and Collins gives it back to LeBlanc, who skates in on Eidsness alone. LeBlanc makes a good deke and scores.

New Hampshire 3, UND 3 — Ryan Duncan (Jason Gregoire, Brett Hextall) 9:47. UND gets a flurry of chances and Duncan buries it in the slot.

UND 4, New Hampshire 3 — Chris VandeVelde (Brad Malone, Matt Frattin) 17:06. Malone brings the puck in the zone one-on-one with VandeVelde trailing. Malone holds the puck below the goal line before centering to VandeVelde, who puts a move on the goalie and scores.

Third period

UND 5, New Hampshire 3 – Chris VandeVelde (Matt Frattin) 9:08. Frattin made a great play to get the puck to VandeVelde, who sped past the New Hampshire defensemen and made a great deke to score.

UND 5, New Hampshire 4 – Greg Collins (Damon Kipp, Thomas Fortney) 11:00. Kipp found Collins streaking to the net at the back door and Collins pokes it past Eidsness.

UND 5, New Hampshire 5 – Thomas Fortney (Jerry Pollastrone, Mike Sislo) 19:59.9. UNH ties it with one-tenth of a second left. Fortney scores on a long rebound off the back wall for a stunning ending.

Overtime

New Hampshire 6, UND 5 – Peter LeBlanc (Jerry Pollastrone, Mike Sislo) :45. UNH scores 45 seconds into overtime on a two-on-one.

Lineup notes: Matt Watkins is in, but not on the old line. They are going back to the BCHL line that they used a couple times earlier in the season.

UND’s lines

17 Jason Gregoire–16 Ryan Duncan–26 Brett Hextall
22 Brad Malone–29 Chris VandeVelde–21 Matt Frattin
20 Matt Watkins–11 Darcy Zajac–10 Andrew Kozek
19 Evan Trupp–9 Mario Lamoureux–8 Ryan Martens

2 Joe Finley–5 Chay Genoway
6 Zach Jones–25 Jake Marto
24 Ben Blood–14 Brad Miller

31 Brad Eidsness
30 Aaron Walski

New Hampshire’s lines

11 Jerry Pollastrone–21 James vanRiemsdyk–19 Mike Sislo
8 Greg Collins–9 Peter LeBlanc–12 Bobby Butler
16 Greg Manz–39 Phil DeSimone–20 Paul Thompson
10 Alan Thompson–17 Thomas Fortney–22 Steve Moses

5 Kevin Kapstad–28 Blake Kessel
2 Jamie Fritsch–4 Damon Kipp
18 Nick Krates–24 Matt Campanale

29 Brian Foster
30 Matt DiGirolamo

Game time approaches

The first day of the NCAA tournament is over and we’re down to two WCHA teams left. The Sioux get their shot at 1 p.m. this afternoon.

By all accounts, a couple of teams in the Northeast Regional are banged up right now. But a couple of weeks ago at a Sioux Boosters luncheon, Dave Hakstol told a story about winning in the playoffs.

He said Wayne Gretzky’s first Stanley Cup Finals came in 1983 as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. After the New York Islanders clinched the Cup, Gretzky walked by the Isles’ locker room on his way out of the arena. He expected to see a wild celebration going on. Instead, he was stunned to see all of the Islanders players slumped in their stalls, mending their wounds. The Isles had nothing left. At that point, Gretzky saw what it took to win a Stanley Cup.

That may be what it takes to win a college hockey national championship, too. We all know the types of injuries the Denver Pioneers were playing with today. And on other teams, there are certainly significant injuries to guys in the lineup that we don’t hear about.

Who can tought it out all the way to the nation’s capital?

Ryan Duncan is a good bet. He hasn’t missed a game in his career. That accomplishment might be rarer than being a Hobey Baker finalist. Read about Duncan’s run here.

And although its late in the season, the coaching staff isn’t afraid to run some tough practices. They hope the early-in-the-week sessions get this team back on track.

Virg Foss, who has seen more NCAA tournaments than almost anyone, says to expect the unexpected. Certainly, that was the story of Day One. Three of the four lower seeds advanced. The only higher seed to make it through scored two extra attacker goals — the last one with 0:00.8 left.

The Sioux, meanwhile, are prepared to go into a hostile enviorment….again.

The Washington Capitals would like nothing more than to see their first-round pick, Joe Finley, playing in the Frozen Four in their own building. Here’s a story from Washington about Finley.

New Hampshire is embracing the underdog role. UND brushed that aside, though, saying it’s just going to come down to two good teams going at one another.

Dane Jackson has a following in this town. He was the original captain of the Manchester Monarchs and he started his coaching career here, too.

If UND is to win this game, I think they need some key guys to break out of scoring droughts. Everyone knows that balance is the key to UND’s game, but it has lacked in recent weeks. Here are a few players to look for today:

  • Ryan Martens, who led the team in goals at a couple of moments this season, has 0 goals in the last 15 games and 0 points in the last 8 games.
  • Andrew Kozek has 0 points in the last 6 games. Previous to that, Kozek had 12 points in 12 games.
  • Jason Gregoire has 0 goals in the last 9 games.
  • Evan Trupp has 1 point in the last 11 games. Previous to that, Trupp had 14 points in 12 games.
  • Matt Frattin, who also has led the team in goals a couple of moments this season, has 1 goal in the last 11 games. Frattin came very close to breaking through at the Final Five.
  • Jake Marto has 1 point in the last 8 games. Previous to that, Marto had 11 points in 10 games.

Considering these numbers, it’s no surprise that UND has slowed down in recent weeks. Dave Hakstol has said it many times: This is a team that can’t rely on one player or one line. It needs everyone chipping in. And when it gets everyone chipping in, the Sioux are tough to beat.

Bachman signs with Dallas

It’s now official, Colorado College Richard Bachman is the sixth player to leave the WCHA early this offseason.

Bachman signed a contract with the Dallas Stars, giving up his final two years of eligibility. That means the Tigers won’t have a goalie on the roster next season with a college start. Backup Drew O’Connell gradutes.

Bachman was the 2007-08 WCHA player of the year.

Colorado College seemed to escape early departures in previous years with players like Brett Sterling, Marty Sertich and Chad Rau staying for four years. But the Tigers have already lost two guys this offseason, in addition to the graduation of Rau, Eric Walsky and Scott McCulloch. They’ll also have to keep an eye on Bill Sweatt.

Read more about his signing here.

Early departures in the WCHA (6)

Alaska-Anchorage (1)
Paul Crowder, jr, forward, N.Y. Rangers

Colorado College (2)
Brian Connelly, jr, defenseman, Chicago Blackhawks
Richard Bachman, so, goaltender, Dallas Stars

Minnesota (1)
Ryan Stoa, jr, forward, Colorado Avalanche

MSU-Mankato (1)
Trevor Bruess, jr, forward, Washington Capitals

Wisconsin (1)
Jamie McBain, jr, defenseman, Carolina Hurricanes

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