Two captains looking for a Cup

A former UND player is looking to captain a team to both the Stanley Cup and the Calder Cup this spring.

As everyone knows, captain Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks begin the Stanley Cup finals tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. Toews is looking to become the first former WCHA player to captain a team to a Stanley Cup.

In the AHL playoffs, Landon Wilson is the captain of the Texas Stars, who are playing against the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup finals. That series begins Thursday.

Texas has won back-to-back series in seven games, knocking off the Chicago Wolves and the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Recently, there was a good Q&A in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald with Wilson. Read that here.

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UND gets BCHL recruit

The Little Caesears North American Showcase gets another assist.

UND’s latest commitment [read full story here], like current forward Mike Cichy, is a guy who was first introduced to UND hockey and Ralph Engelstad Arena by playing in the annual January tournament.

Forward Mark MacMillan played for Dixon Ward’s Okanangon Hockey Academy based out of British Columbia. MacMillan’s game blossomed in the BCHL this season, where he was the second-leading rookie scorer behind Denver recruit Beau Bennett.

MacMillan was unranked at midterm by NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, but shot up to No. 135 for the final rankings, which means he’s likely a mid-round draft pick.

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College hockey video game on the way?

Last night, The Pipeline Show in Edmonton had Paul Kelly from College Hockey Inc., on the show and he said that the long-rumored, long-talked about, long-wished for college hockey video game may be on the way.

Kelly said that the NCAA and EA Sports are very close to announcing an agreement that would place colleges in the NHL series. It also will include Canadian major junior teams.

For more on this, check out a blog entry on The Pipeline’s page.

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Fienhage signs with Kamloops

It is now official — Corey Fienhage is headed to the WHL.

Fienhage signed with the Kamloops Blazers today, giving up his final two years of college eligibility.

"Corey is a big, physical defenseman who felt that the WHL was the best route for him in order to prepare himself to play pro hockey," Kamloops GM Craig Bonner said. "He is a mobile defenseman that will have an opportunity to play an important role with our hockey club. Anytime you can add a player who is a highly touted pro prospect, it is a benefit to your team."

Playing time would have been a big question for Fienhage with UND returning every defenseman and adding Derek Forbort and Dillon Simpson next season.

The Sioux also will be losing David Toews to the WHL. Toews, who was a scratch at the end of the last two seasons, figures to get more playing time there as well.

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Hawks march to finals

For the first time since 1992, the Chicago Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup finals.

Jonathan Toews extended his postseason point streak to a team-record 13 games, while Roseau’s Dustin Byfuglien scored yet another big goal for the Hawks in a 4-2 win over the Sharks in Game 4.

After the game, Toews did not touch the Clarence Campbell Bowl, which he accepted as captain of the team.

A couple more notable items:

  • According to the Daily Herald in Chicago, no Stanley Cup-winning player has averaged more than 1.5 points per game since Joe Sakic in 1996. Toews is currently averaging 1.62 per game. An interesting side note is that when Toews was at UND, he said that Sakic was one of his idols growing up.
  • Another question that has been asked on the blog and Twitter: Who is the youngest former Sioux player to win the Cup? That would be Craig Ludwig. He was 25 years, 2 months old when he won it with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986. Other former Sioux players to do it before the age of 30 were Mike Commodore (26) and Brad Bombardir (28). Toews is 22.
  • The full list of Cup winners from UND: Ludwig (86, 99), Jay Caufield (91, 92), Troy Murray (96), Ed Belfour (99), Tony Hrkac (99), Bombardir (00) and Commodore (06). Rick Wilson also won it as an assistant coach on the Stars in 99.

The Hawks await the winner of Philly and Montreal now. Philly leads that series 3-1.

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Toews breaks Mikita’s record

Another day, another record for Jonathan Toews.

Tonight, the former UND forward broke Stan Mikita’s team record for consecutive playoff games with a point. Toews’ current point streak is at 12 games after his two assists in Chicago’s 3-2 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 3.

[Mikita says Toews is the total package.]

Mikita was at the game to watch Toews break his record. Now, Toews will set his sights on another Chicago team record: Denis Savard’s 29 points in a single playoff. Toews has 25 right now, which ties Bobby Hull for second.

On NHL Network’s postgame show, 17-year NHL veteran Brad May said: "Jonathan Toews is maybe as close to the perfect player as there is in the league today."

On the Fly host Brian Duff said: "I’m amazed that a guy can be this dominant without getting a shot on goal."

Toews didn’t have a shot in Game 3, but threaded a pass to Patrick Sharp for the first tally and blocked a shot that led to Dave Bolland’s breakaway goal.

Here are a few stories from around the country:

Toronto Star
The National Post (comparison to Sid and Ovi)

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Hjelle leaves Duluth

It’s not an early signing, but Duluth goalie Brady Hjelle told Bulldog coaches that he’s leaving the program. He will likely be going back to the USHL for a season. Then, he’ll have two years of college eligibility remaining.

Duluth radio play-by-play announcer Bruce Ciskie posted this news on Twitter on Tuesday night and Duluth News Tribune’s Kevin Pates confirmed it today.

Kenny Reiter ended up being the go-to guy at the end of the year, but Hjelle did play in 19 games. Reiter and Aaron Crandall will be the goalies next season for what should be a very talented Dogs team.

Early pro signings in the WCHA (9)

Alaska-Anchorage (2)
Lee Baldwin, Fr, D, New York Rangers
Bryce Christianson, Jr, G, Stockton (ECHL)

Denver (3)
Joe Colborne, So, F, Boston Bruins
Patrick Wiercioch, So, D, Ottawa Senators
Marc Cheverie, Jr, G, Florida Panthers

Minnesota (1)
Jordan Schroeder, So, F, Vancouver Canucks

Minnesota-Duluth (1)
Rob Bordson, Jr, F, Anaheim Ducks

Wisconsin (2)
Cody Goloubef, Jr, D, Columbus Blue Jackets
Brendan Smith, Jr, D, Detroit Red Wings (not officially signed yet)

Other depatures (2)

Minnesota-Duluth (1)
Brady Hjelle, So, G, going back to juniors

UND (1)
David Toews, So, F, going to Canadian major juniors

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O’Donnell to Des Moines

UND recruit Brendan O’Donnell was selected in the second round, No. 18 overall, by the Des Moines Bucs this morning in the USHL Entry Draft.

It’s very likely that O’Donnell will play for the Bucs next year.

O’Donnell led the Winnipeg South Blues (MJHL) in scoring last season with 61 points in 53 games. He had a fantastic end to the season point-wise.

After scoring 18 points in the first 27 games, he had 43 in the final 26 games. He was only held pointless in one of the team’s final 26 games.

O’Donnell could be drafted by an NHL team in June, despite not being ranked by CSB in the final rankings.

A few other area players were selected in the draft as well:

44. Tanner Lane, Detroit Lakes, F, Fargo
160. Will Aide, Bismarck, F, Indiana
226. Paul Ladue, Grand Forks Central, D, Lincoln
238. Garrett Schmitz, Red Lake Falls, D, Fargo
249. Brett Hebel, Warroad, F, Waterloo
260. Josh Erickson, Roseau, F, Sioux City
227. Shane Omdahl, Roseau, F, Dubuque
313. Chad Demers, Grafton, F, Fargo

Of note: Demers has played for Fargo for the past two seasons. He must have been left unprotected before the draft.

For full results, go here.

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Johnson picked in USHL draft

Grand Forks Central’s Luke Johnson was picked in the first round of the USHL Futures Draft today by the Lincoln Stars.

Luke’s uncle, Chad, is the head coach in Lincoln.

This could mean a return to the Nebraska city for Luke, who grew up there while his father, Steve, coached the Lincoln Stars. Steve is now the head coach of the Fargo Force.

Luke has lived in Grand Forks for the past two years, helping two different teams to state titles. As an eighth grader, he led Red River to a championship. Last year, he was with Central’s state title team.

I have no insight into when Luke will join his uncle in Lincoln. Since he’s only a sophomore, I would think there’s a good chance he’ll be back in a Knight uniform next year, but it’s doubtful he’ll be there through his senior year.

For full results of the Futures Draft, click here.

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Oshie, Potulny, Greene help save U.S.

T.J. pulled off his best J.T. impression and three goals in the shootout to help save the U.S. from the embarrassment of being moved out of the IIHF World Championship for a year.

Team USA’s 3-2 shootout win over Italy, led by T.J. Oshie’s three shootout goals, gives the Americans a 13th place finish at the tourament.

That means the Americans will have a chance to redeem themselves at next year’s World Championships.

The IIHF named former UND captain Matt Greene one of the team’s three best players in the tournament. The other two were Brandon Dubinsky and goalie Scott Clemmensen.

Grand Forks Red River’s Ryan Potulny, a former Minnesota player, tied the game with a power-play goal with about nine minutes left in the third.

Dubinsky led the U.S. team in scoring with 10 points. Oshie finished second with six points. Potulny finished tied for third with four points.

Greene, meanwhile, tied for the team lead in plus-minus with a plus-four rating.

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