VandeVelde wins Iron Man

UND has a new Iron Man this season.

Chris VandeVelde beat out two-time champ Chay Genoway, coach Dave Hakstol said in an interview here with Tim Hennessy.

Genoway was trying to make it back-to-back three-time champions, as Chris Porter won it three years in a row before Genoway won it as a sophomore.

Check back for more updates throughout the day, which is UND hockey media day at Engelstad Arena.

UND to open Bemidji State’s new rink

UND will open up the new Bemidji Regional Events Center on Oct. 15, 2010.

Bemidji State had requested that UND be its first opponent in the new state-of-the-art arena, as well as its first Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponent.

The season-opening series will be played on Oct. 15-16 in Bemidji.

Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore had plenty of compliments for UND in a story in the Bemidji Pioneer. Certainly, this is a tip of the cap to UND, which has helped the Bemidji program by playing them almost every year… and by playing them in Bemidji. Serratore said:

"I’m happy the league could accomodate us and have North Dakota be our first opponent in our new building. UND has been very good to us over the years and we share the same hockey market. There are many Grand Forks people who have a close relationship with our community and many Bemidji folks who have deep connections with Grand Forks and UND. Plus, when you add how successful a hockey program UND has been, hosting them here to open the new building will be quite an event. A lot of people will want to travel here from Grand Forks for that series."

Watkins signs deal with Phoenix

Matt Watkins went to Phoenix with on a tryout contract and has now earned himself a two-year NHL deal.

Watkins has signed the contract and will likely start the season with the Coyotes’ AHL franchise, the San Antonio Rampage. Watkins played in the preseason for Phoenix.

The head coach at Phoenix is Dave Tippett, a former Sioux forward.

Watkins originally was drafted by the Dallas Stars (Tippett’s old team), but he did not sign with the Stars in the offseason.

Watkins is the seventh player from the freshman class of 2005 to sign an NHL contract and he’s the 11th player from that class to sign a pro deal.

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INCH ranks recruits

Inside College Hockey came out with its recruiting rankings for this season. Three Sioux players are on the list.

Mike Cichy is ranked the No. 6 freshman forward in the country. The description says: "Cichy skyrocketed into the top half-dozen on our list; panelists were impressed with his efforts in leading Indiana to the USHL playoff championship."

Danny Kristo is ranked the No. 8 freshman forward in the country. The description says: "Is everyone on this list a Canadiens prospect? Kristo, like Cichy and Leblanc, is property of the CH. He slid on our list due to questions about his hockey sense."

Andrew MacWilliam was ranked the No. 19 freshman defenseman.

Top 20 forwards
Top 20 defensemen
Top 10 goalies

The Herald’s top 10 WCHA recruit rankings will be in the 12-page special section Friday.

The WCHA polls

The coaches have spoken and they — like everyone else — have picked Denver to win the WCHA this season. The Pioneers received eight of 10 first-place votes with the other two going to the Sioux.

Read what coaches George Gwozdecky and Dave Hakstol are saying about the poll results here.

If you want them in simple reading form, here you go:

1. Denver (8) 80
2. UND (2) 70
3. Wisconsin 61
4. Minnesota 58
5. St. Cloud State 55
6. Minnesota-Duluth 37
7. MSU-Mankato 34
8. Colorado College 26
9. Alaska-Anchorage 20
10. Michigan Tech 9

POY: Ryan Lasch, SCSU (3); Jordan Schroeder, Minnesota (3); Chay Genoway, UND (2); Rhett Rakhshani, Denver (1); Patrick Wiercioch, Denver (1)

ROY: Mike Lee, SCSU (5); Nick Leddy, Minnesota (2); Dylan Olsen, Duluth (2); Matt Donovan, Denver (1)

Some random poll notes that didn’t make the story:

  • St. Cloud State has both the preseason (co-) player of the year and rookie of the year.
  • The coaches have correctly pick the winner in just two of the last eight years. Last season, they picked Colorado College, which finished fourth.
  • This has got to be one of the only times (if not the only time) where not a single forward received a vote for preseason rookie of the year. This award has typically been for forwards. In fact, a forward has won it in nine of the last 10 years. The last time a defenseman won it was 1995 (Mike Crowley, Minnesota).
  • This is the first time that Denver has been picked to win the league since 2002-03. The Pioneers finished seventh that season.
  • In three of the last seven years, a team that was picked to win the league played on the road in the first round. Wisconsin shared preseason honors with Minnesota in 2006-07 and finished sixth. Duluth took sixth in 2004-05.
  • The second annual Madison.com media poll is posted here. The only difference in the polls is that Mankato and Colorado College are flipped. The media picked Schroeder as POY and Lee as ROY.

Sioux featured in ESPN the Magazine

Jonathan Toews is once again on the cover of a magazine. This time, it is ESPN the Magazine.

The NHL preview features four Blackhawks on the cover with Toews giving the photographer a death stare. Previously, Toews has been on the cover of The Hockey News a couple of times.

The ESPN article speculates that this will be the final year with both Toews and Patrick Kane in Chicago. The Hawks are in trouble financially after paying too much for other players. Anyway, this should be an exciting year to watch the Hawks.

Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux also get a mention in the magazine. In the section that discusses the up-and-coming star athletes, ESPN the Magazine says they were right-on when they picked the Lamoureux twins last year.

Home games to be on FCS

All UND men’s hockey home games will be televised on Fox College Sports this season, as will three home football games and 12 home basketball games. Sioux Sports Extra also will be broadcast on the channel.

Fox College Sports is apparently available in 54 million homes nationwide. Do you get it? Check your local cable listings.

Holiday tournament on as planned

I just talked to Notre Dame’s hockey sports information director and he said that the Sears Centre Arena people have assured Notre Dame that they will be able to play the New Year’s tournament in that arena.

UND, Colgate and Niagara also are scheduled to play in that tournament.

He said that things were a little touch-and-go earlier in the summer, but they recently told the Irish that the Shillelagh Tournament will be the first event at the Sears Centre Arena under the new management.

And if you are making reservations for the tournament, don’t forget that Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks host Travis Zajac, Zach Parise and the New Jersey Devils on New Year’s Eve in the United Center. It sounds like the Sioux are going to go a day early and watch. Should be extra fun for David Toews and Darcy Zajac.

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The polls begin

Today, USA Today released its preseason poll. Tomorrow, you’ll get the Grand Forks Herald WCHA coaches poll and the Madison.com WCHA media poll.

Here are your first national rankings for the 2009-10 season. It is very strange that Miami is ranked No. 1 with four first-place votes when the two teams behind them have so many more. Some people must have ranked Denver and BU fairly low.

1. Miami (4)
2. Denver (13)
3. Boston University (12)
4. Michigan
5. Notre Dame (5)
6. Minnesota
7. Cornell
8. UND
9. Princeton
10. UMass-Lowell
11. Yale
12. Boston College
13. St. Cloud State
14. Wisconsin
15. Vermont