Blake traded to Anaheim

Jason Blake is headed back to Southern California, where his NHL career began.

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded the former UND forward to Anaheim along with goalie Vesa Toskala. In exchange, the Leafs get goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere.

Blake has 26 points in 56 games for the Leafs this season. He is in the third year of his five-year contract worth $20 million.

The Moorhead native previously played for the New York Islanders and the Los Angeles Kings. He started his NHL career with the Kings.

For more on the deal, see the story on NHL.com.

Lamoureux gets an ‘A’

If you looked closely tonight, you could spot an ‘A’ on the jersey of Mario Lamoureux.

Indeed, the Sioux have named him an alternate captain. UND has been using just two since the injury to captain Chay Genoway. Nobody, other than Genoway, will be wearing the ‘C’ but the coaches felt it was time to add a third captain.

Lamoureux previously was a captain with Tri-City in the USHL. Current Sioux freshman Mike Cichy said that Lamoureux was the best captain he’s ever had. In a preseason blog post about captaincy, I speculated that Lamoureux could be a dark horse to wear a letter this year.

I can’t say this for certain, but I vaguely remember writing a story a couple of years ago saying that Jonathan Toews was the first sophomore to wear a letter since Dave Hakstol. So, it is a rare feat. After the game, Hakstol commented on giving Lamoureux an ‘A.’

"Without Chay out of our lineup, we’ve only had the two captains," Hakstol said. "That has no bearing on Chay’s situation. We just felt that it’s time to have three captains on the ice and Mario is a guy who kind of embodies what our program is about. He’s worked for everything he’s got and he continues to do that and has the respect of people in the locker room."

Saturday night rewind

Five highlights from around the country:

1. Colorado College rallied for three straight goals in the third period to down St. Cloud State 6-4, snapping the Huskies’ nine-game winning streak. Andrew Hamburg had two goals for CC. Garrett Roe scored twice for SCSU.

2. Anchorage used a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal to beat Minnesota 2-1. Anchorage’s victory keeps UND in sixth place in league standings.

3. Robert Morris pulled off a 5-2 upset of Bemidji State, using three third-period goals after BSU’s Jordan George tied the game 2-2 early in the third.

4. Minnesota-Duluth bounced back from Wisconsin’s 52-shot onslaught Friday night to win 4-0 on Saturday. The Bulldogs are trying to spread their scoring to three lines and it worked on Saturday. Goal scorers Mike Connolly, Rob Bordson and Justin Fontaine were on three different lines. Defenseman Brady Lamb scored the other.

5. Cornell broke its 0-for-31 stretch on the power play in a big way on Saturday. The Big Red scored three times on the power play in a 5-3 win over Clarkson. On the down side, the Big Red gave up two shorthanded goals.

On to the UND-DU game. Here are the game stories:

Grand Forks Herald
FightingSioux.com
USCHO.com
Denver Post

A few other notes:

  • UND’s power play drought officially continues, although Chris VandeVelde’s second goal was pretty much a power-play goal. Denver’s Patrick Wierioch had only taken one step out of the box when UND finished the play.
  • If UND doesn’t make the NCAA tournament this season, there are going to be plenty of games for the Sioux to go back, look at, and ask "what if?" Tonight, UND controlled play until the Pioneers got their first one. The tide turned after that.
  • Joe Colborne seems to have UND’s number. He’s scored about one-fourth of his goals this season against the Sioux. He scored both nights of this series and also had two during DU’s 3-2 win in November.
  • Marc Cheverie finally allowed a couple of goals but continued to play fantastic. He may be the Hobey frontrunner at this point of the season.
  • In the last six games, UND only has one goal from its third or fourth line. That’s an area that needs a big change. UND has only won two games this year without getting a goal from a third or fourth line forward. The other 11 wins were aided by production out of the third or fourth line.
  • UND is hoping that Brett Hextall will get back and aid in the offense department for St. Cloud State. The team is averaging two goals per game in his absence and the power play is at 5 percent since he went out.
  • The Denver people said that Moorhead’s Brian Gifford played one of his best games of the season. Gifford picked up his first point this year when Anthony Maiani fed Kyle Ostrow for DU’s first goal.
  • UND dropped into a tie for 15th in the Pairwise, so now there is some ground to make up there in order to make the NCAAs.

The Blais chatter

Still, five years later, whenever UND hits a rough patch Dean Blais’ name is brought up. Now that it has come up again after UND got swept at home for the first time in over three years, here are a few points to ponder:

Blais obviously is a fantastic coach, but he’s not some sort of magic that guarantees an undefeated season and a championship every year, like history seems to remember him.

UND entered this season with the youngest team in the WCHA. It’s a cycle that’s been happening every four years — a product of the Blais era. Blais also had a team equally as young as Dave Hakstol’s current 2009-10 squad.

It happened in 2001-02 when he only had three seniors (and none of the team’s key players missed more than 5 games with injury). How did that Blais-led squad do? They finished three games under .500, eighth in the WCHA, went 1-6 against its big rival (blowing two-goal leads in two of those Gopher games) and went two-and-out in the WCHA playoffs. That team went 5-1 against non-WCHA teams, but struggled in the league. It lost 6-0 to Mankato. At home.

Blais is back in college after a five-year break, taking over a Nebraska-Omaha program that finished eighth in the CCHA the last two seasons. Right now, the Mavs are in ninth (10th if you go by winning percentage). And they haven’t even had to play Miami or Michigan yet this season. It’s not like they have a young team, either. Only one freshman has played more than two-thirds of the team’s games (the team has seven seniors, seven juniors).

Like I said, Blais is a great coach. He’s proved that at pretty much every level of the game. But he had a team with a similar set of circumstances as this year’s Sioux squad — without the injury problems — and his team did worse. So let’s not pretend like Blais teams didn’t have rough games, rough stretches or rough seasons. They did, both then and now.

Gameday final: Denver 4, UND 2

First period

UND 1, Denver 0 – Chris VandeVelde (Andrew MacWilliam, Jason Gregoire) 12:08. VandeVelde, standing in the slot, deflected MacWilliam’s point shot past Cheverie.

Second period

UND 2, Denver 0 – Chris VandeVelde (Jason Gregoire, Matt Frattin) 2:42. Just as a power play expires, Gregoire dangles around a DU defenseman and finds VandeVelde camped on the opposite side of the crease. VandeVelde knocks it in with his backhand.

UND 2, Denver 1 — Kyle Ostrow (Anthony Maiani, Brian Gifford) 10:31. Maiani makes a great blind feed on his backhand to Ostrow cutting down the slot. Ostrow puts his shot just underneath the crossbar.

UND 2, Denver 2 – Drew Shore (Anthony Maiani, Joe Colborne) 13:37 (pp). Maiani makes another good pass to set up a goal. He had the puck in the left circle and found Shore cutting down the slot. Shore received the pass and sniped the glove-side corner of the goal. The rush was set up after Shore and Marto ran into each other at the blue line.

Denver 3, UND 2 – Joe Colborne (Rhett Rakhshani, Drew Shore) 17:52. Gregoire nearly goes the other way on a breakaway after he breaks up Shore’s chance from the point, but it goes right back to Shore. His attempt gets to Rakhshani at the inside of the right circle and Rakhshani makes a quick tap-pass to Colborne, who has an open net to look at.

Third period

Denver 4, UND 2 — Rhett Rakhshani (John Lee) 12:16. Rakhshani brought the puck in the zone on a rush and snapped a wrist shot just inside the far post from the top of the circle.

Slight changes to UND’s lines. Denver is without Martin (shoulder) and will go 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Chat application will appear later on.

UND’s lines

17 Jason Gregoire–29 Chris VandeVelde–21 Matt Frattin
19 Evan Trupp–22 Brad Malone–7 Danny Kristo
10 Corban Knight–27 Carter Rowney–18 David Toews
9 Mario Lamoureux–11 Darcy Zajac–13 Brett Bruneteau

2 Andrew MacWilliam–24 Ben Blood
3 Derrick LaPoint–25 Jake Marto
20 Joe Gleason–4 Corey Fienhage

31 Brad Eidsness
32 Aaron Dell

Denver’s lines

17 Matt Glasser–23 Drew Shore–11 Chris Knowlton
16 Anthony Maiani–22 Brian Gifford–19 Kyle Ostrow
9 Rhett Rakhshani–15 Tyler Ruegsegger–12 Joe Colborne
27 Brandon Vossberg–37 Nate Dewhurst

28 Patrick Wiercioch–5 John Lee
4 Matt Donovan–6 Chris Nutini
7 Paul Phillips–25 Cody Brookwell
24 John Ryder

1 Marc Cheverie
33 Adam Murray

Friday night rewind

Five highlights from around the country:

1. Michigan Tech broke its 18-game winless streak by beating MSU-Mankato. Tech’s last win came on Nov. 14. To get an idea of how long ago that was: That’s the night Chay Genoway got hurt.

2. Wisconsin outshot Duluth 52-19 and got a 5-2 win. Blake Geoffrion potted No. 18 and TRF’s Aaron Bendickson had three points.

3. Several Gopher players had breakout nights in a 7-4 win over Alaska-Anchorage. Zach Budish had four points, while Jordan Schroeder and Mike Carman each had two goals.

4. Cornell got back in the win column with another low-scoring, 2-1 victory over St. Lawrence. Patrick Kennedy scored with just 1:37 left to break the 1-1 tie. Riley Nash did not play for Cornell.

5. St. Cloud State scored three goals in the third period and rallied for a 5-4 win over Colorado College. Emerging freshman David Eddy had two goals for the Huskies.

On to the UND-DU rivalry game. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald gamer
Grand Forks Herald sidebar
FightingSioux.com
USCHO.com
Denver Post

A few other items and thoughts:

  • My story centered around the absence of Brett Hextall and what that has done to the power play. Hextall gets a lot of attention for being an agitator, but it’s often overlooked that he has the best one-timer on the team and he has a knack for finishing, perhaps like nobody else on the team. They miss his right-handed shot in the left circle, without a doubt.
  • I think everyone in REA tonight saw a good summary of UND’s last three weeks: Lots of shots, lots of chances, lots of good play, but nothing to show for it. This team can’t finish right now. Can’t catch any kind of break, either. Eric Hylden’s photo says it all.
  • For example, when the Sioux do score their one goal, it’s disallowed (they’ve been shutout three times this year and had disallowed goals in all three games).
  • You have to give Marc Cheverie some credit. He was very good. Cheverie and Cornell’s Ben Scrivens are tied for second nationally in save percentage. Those two certainly have a part in UND’s current offensive struggles.
  • UND’s best scoring chances: Jason Gregoire’s breakaway, Darcy Zajac’s chance on the rush, David Toews’ crossbar shot and Ben Blood’s look that was blocked by the defenseman. Toews could have used his goal, too. He’s in a drought.
  • Brett Bruneteau was very active, especially early in the game. I’m sure he’ll be back in the lineup for the series finale. Gregoire also was doing his best to make things happen.
  • Denver broke UND’s 35-month streak without being swept back in November. Now, the Pioneers have a chance to break UND’s three-plus year stretch at home without being swept. We’ll see what happens in the series finale. Join us for the live chat.

Power (play) outage at REA

So the UND men’s and women’s hockey teams are pretty much a mirror right now, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Men’s team: Four goals in the last four games and an 0-for-28 slump on the power play.

Women’s team: Two goals in the last five games and an 0-for-26 slump on the power play.

The interesting thing is that both teams feel like they are playing decent hockey for the most part. That makes for a couple of frustrated teams. Goals aren’t falling for either. The Sioux women play rival Duluth at 2:07 p.m. this afternoon in The Ralph. The men finish their series against Denver at 7:07 p.m.

Which team will be the first to break the long drought on the power play?

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Gameday final: Denver 2, UND 0

First period

Denver 1, UND 0 – Joe Colborne (Anthony Maiani, Matt Donovan) 1:23. Denver holds the zone for a long time and Donovan gets a clear look from the point. He gets a shot on goal and Maiani and Colborne both have whacks at it from down low. Colborne scores on his attempt.

Denver 2, UND 0 – Tyler Ruegsegger 3:18. Ruegsegger picked the puck up coming off the wall and beat Dell five-hole.

Second period

No scoring.

Third period

No scoring.

Corban Knight is back in the lineup for the Sioux tonight. Aaron Dell starting in net. Denver lists its fourth line as Rakhshani-Ruegsegger-Colborne. Refs are Derek Shepherd and Marco Hunt. Full lines are below the chat application.

UND’s lines

17 Jason Gregoire–29 Chris VandeVelde–21 Matt Frattin
19 Evan Trupp–22 Brad Malone–7 Danny Kristo
10 Corban Knight–Darcy Zajac–Carter Rowney
13 Brett Bruneteau–9 Mario Lamoureux–18 David Toews

2 Andrew MacWilliam–24 Ben Blood
3 Derrick LaPoint–25 Jake Marto
4 Corey Fienhage–20 Joe Gleason

32 Aaron Dell
31 Brad Eidsness

Denver’s lines

17 Matt Glasser–27 Brandon Vossberg–26 Shawn Ostrow
22 Brian Gifford–23 Drew Shore–11 Chris Knowlton
16 Anthony Maiani–14 Jesse Martin–19 Kyle Ostrow
9 Rhett Rakhshani–15 Tyler Ruegsegger–12 Joe Colborne

4 Matt Donovan–6 Chris Nutini
28 Patrick Wiercioch–5 John Lee
7 Paul Phillips–25 Cody Brookwell

1 Marc Cheverie
33 Adam Murray

Vandy’s goal at Cornell

Because the games weren’t on TV last weekend, I know a lot of you didn’t get a chance to see the games (some watched on webcast). But Chris VandeVelde’s eventual game-winning goal from Saturday night has been posted on YouTube. Cornell coach Mike Schafer was upset that a penalty wasn’t called on VandeVelde on the play.