Weekly Wednesday update

Yes, this weekly Wednesday update is coming early. That’s because the team leaves for Anchorage one day earlier than normal, which bumped up the media session to Tuesday.

Coach Dave Hakstol said he was pleased with the team’s play last weekend against Colorado College, but it is clear that he and the rest of the team feel that they have lots of areas in which they can improve.

This weekend’s games also figure to be a lot different than the Colorado College games. The Tigers are known for playing more of a run-and-gun game, which led to a lot of good scoring chances and rushes both ways. Anchorage will play more of a structured system and try to keep the score low. It’s another set of challenges for UND.

Typically, Anchorage has been a difficult trip for the Sioux. They are 15-14-1 all-time against the Seawolves in Alaska, compared to 26-3-3 against the Seawolves in Grand Forks. I will touch on that in Friday’s notebook.

Thursday’s feature will be on Joe Gleason, who said he is preparing to play either forward or defense this weekend. Maybe both.

The short Q&A is with Dillon Simpson, who said he’s not pleased with the way he started the season, but he’s working his way out of it.

On the women’s side, the Sioux-Gopher series is the hot topic. They play at 7:07 each night, which is good news for area hockey fans. You can go to the women’s game and still get in home in time to watch the men’s game.

The bad news is that the Sioux won’t have defenseman Jordan Slavin, who is out with a leg injury. The extent of the injury is unknown at this time. Slavin also missed last weekend’s games against Bemidji State.

Without Slavin, the coaches moved Monique Lamoureux-Kolls back to defense for the Beaver series. Will they do the same against the Gophers? Yes and no.

“TV timeouts,” coach Brian Idalski said.

That’s code for: “The Lamoureux twins will play a ridiculous amount of minutes this weekend.” Mo is likely to see time both at forward and defense in the series.

Remember to join us for our weekly live chat from 3-4 p.m. Central today. You can visit the chat at www.grandforksherald.com/pages/undsportschat.

Nelson is co-WCHA offensive player of week

Two of the forwards responsible for the wild offensive weekend in Ralph Engelstad Arena were honored by the WCHA today.

UND sophomore Brock Nelson and Colorado College junior Rylan Schwartz were named co-WCHA offensive players of the week.

Nelson piled up six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in UND’s sweep of Colorado College. He also factored in on both game-winning goals. Nelson is tied for the team lead in points with 10 goals, 7 assists and 17 points.

Schwartz had back-to-back hat tricks in two losses against UND.

Anchorage games to be televised

This weekend’s games between UND and Alaska Anchorage will be televised on the Fighting Sioux Sports Network in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota and MidcoSN3 (channel 323 in North Dakota and South Dakota and channel 413 in International Falls and Fairmont, Minn.).

The broadcasts will be produced by GCI Cable in Anchorage. Both games begin at 10:07 p.m.

For those who can’t get the game on TV, there is a free webcast at http://uaahockey.nmtvsports.com/uaahockey.htm. Sometimes GCI has trouble getting the games started for webcast, but once it gets going, it usually works fine, I’m told. The webcasts also do not work on Macs — something GCI is working on.

Buffalo signs Finley to NHL contract

After a couple of injury-plagued years in the pro ranks, Joe Finley signed an American Hockey League contract to start the season.

But in a couple of months, Finley has impressed the Buffalo Sabres enough for them to put him on a multi-year NHL deal, so they will have the ability to call him up to the big club if needed.

Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

Finley currently leads Buffalo’s AHL team, the Rochester Americans, in plus-minus (+10) and penalty minutes (57).

Prior to this season, Finley was on contract with the Washington Capitals and split time between their AHL team, the Hershey Bears, and their ECHL team, the South Carolina Stingrays.

Earlier this week, a local writer opined that the Sabres should sign Finley to an NHL contract. For more on that, read this story.

Here’s another story raving about his play this season.

Poll time

The Sioux men are unranked but receiving votes in both polls. The women moved up to No. 5.

USCHO poll

1 Merrimack                 (48)    9-0-1   997     1
2 Boston College            ( 2)   10-4-0   902     5
2 Notre Dame                       10-3-3   902     2
4 Minnesota-Duluth                  9-3-2   814     6
5 Minnesota                        11-4-1   803     3
6 Ferris State                     10-3-1   705     7
7 Ohio State                       10-3-1   700     9
8 Colorado College                  7-4-0   649     4
9 Union                             7-3-3   489    13
10 Denver                            6-4-3   480    10
11 Lake Superior                    10-4-2   462    13
12 Western Michigan                  6-4-4   429    12
13 Boston University                 7-4-1   417    15
14 Yale                              5-3-1   352     8
15 Colgate                           9-4-1   348    16
16 Michigan State                    8-5-1   263    20
17 Cornell                           6-3-0   215    17
18 Miami                             8-6-2   174    NR
19 Michigan                          7-7-2   159    11
20 Michigan Tech                     8-5-1    95    18

Others receiving votes: Nebraska-Omaha 94,
Massachusetts-Lowell 17, North Dakota 11, Northern Michigan
8, Air Force 6, Clarkson 5, St. Cloud State 3, Harvard 1.

USA Today poll

1     Merrimack College, 510 (34)
2     University of Notre Dame, 448
3     Boston College, 439
4     University of Minnesota, 396
5     University of Minnesota Duluth, 366
6     Ferris State University, 318
7     Ohio State University, 292
8     Colorado College, 257
9     Union College, 185
10     University of Denver, 181
11     Lake Superior State University, 142
12     Western Michigan University, 139
13     Boston University, 111
14     Colgate University, 98
15     Yale University, 86

Others receiving votes: Michigan State University, 43; Miami University, 23; Cornell University, 16; University of Michigan, 14; University of Nebraska Omaha, 12; Air Force Academy, 2; University of North Dakota, 2.

INCH power rankings

1. Merrimack
2. Notre Dame
3. Boston College
4. Minnesota
5. Minnesota Duluth
6. Colorado College
7. Ferris State
8. Ohio State
9. Union
10. Colgate
11. Denver
12. Yale
13. Western Michigan
14. Lake Superior State
15. Boston University
16. Miami
17. Cornell
18. Michigan State
19. Michigan Tech
20. Nebraska Omaha

USCHO women’s poll

1 Wisconsin                 (15)   15-1-0   150     1
2 Minnesota                        14-2-0   130     2
3 Cornell                           9-1-0   124     3
4 Boston College                   10-4-1    99     4
 5 North Dakota                     10-5-1    80     6
6 Mercyhurst                       10-2-0    77     7
7 Boston University                 9-6-1    66     5
8 Bemidji State                    10-5-2    34    NR
9 Minnesota-Duluth                  6-7-1    32     8
10 Northeastern                     10-4-0    17    10

Others receiving votes: Harvard 8, Ohio State 5, Dartmouth
2, Quinnipiac 1.

Saturday night rewind

So, who saw that coming? Only a few days after a lackluster performance at Bemidji State, the Sioux came home and swept the No. 4 team in the country, earning some much-needed wins. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald

Colorado Springs Gazette

FightingSioux.com

Other notes:

  • After Friday’s win, coach Dave Hakstol said he was very pleased that the team “found a way to win.” In the previous month, UND seemed to find ways to lose winnable games. But on Saturday, the Sioux once again found a way to win a tight game.
  • UND’s top line came alive again this weekend. All three of them scored Saturday night. Brock Nelson had 6 points on the weekend, Danny Kristo had 5, Corban Knight had 5. Those three all have 17 for the season – more than double anyone else on the team.
  • One huge difference this weekend is that UND got goals from “depth players.” Michael Parks and the fourth line potted an even-strength goal Friday. Derek Rodwell potted his first on Saturday. Without those goals, UND probably doesn’t win either game.
  • The Sioux were able to score in the last minute of the first and second period, which was huge. Both coaches acknowledged how pivotal those tallies were to the final outcome.
  • Another huge key was UND’s ability to kill off a 5-on-3 for 1:09 in the third period. The Tigers left the Schwartz brothers on the ice for the full 2 minutes of the power play.
  • The Tigers made several glaring errors defensively this weekend. UND made them pay for them.
  • UND went with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen with Joe Gleason playing on the back end.
  • Brendan O’Donnell led the team with 5 shots on goal. He had a ton of chances, especially in the first period. It definitely looks like he’s back after his injury.
  • There seems to be some chemistry with the freshman line of O’Donnell, Parks and Mark MacMillan.
  • Dillon Simpson has 5 points in the last 5 games.
  • For as much buzz that Jaden Schwartz gets, and deservingly so, it is his brother Rylan who has 8 goals in the last 3 games against UND. The last goal he scored was directly a result of a great play by Jaden. Both are great players.
  • After a wide-open series against Colorado College, I’m guessing it will be the opposite against the Seawolves this weekend. The team leaves for Anchorage on Wednesday.

Sioux land forward recruit

Ontario Junior Hockey League forward Drake Caggiula wrote on his Twitter account today that he has committed to UND.

Caggiula, a 5-foot-11, 181-pound native of Pickering, Ont., has 9 points in 6 games for Stouffville in the OJHL this season. The 1994-born play had 2 points in 4 games for the Des Moines Bucs in the USHL earlier this season.

Caggiula also played for Canada East in the World Junior A Challenge.

More info will be coming once I get in touch with Caggiula.

Gameday final: UND 4, Colorado College 3

Tonight’s viewing options: FSSN, MidcoSN3 (GF 323), Fox College Sports Central.

To enter the live chat, click here.

First period

Colorado College 1, UND 0 — Rylan Schwartz (William Rapuzzi, Jaden Schwartz) :40. Colorado College scores on the first shift of the game. Rapuzzi finds Rylan in the right circle and he snaps a shot past a diving defender and just inside the left post on the game’s first shot.

Colorado College 1, UND 1 — Brock Nelson (Corban Knight, Dillon Simpson) 5:07 (pp). Knight gets the puck off the draw and finds Nelson all alone in front of the crease. Nelson shows off his great hands and goes five-hole on his second attempt.

Colorado College 2, UND 1 — Rylan Schwartz (Scott Winkler, Nick Dineen) 15:36 (pp). Yet another goal for Rylan. Yet another goal from a point shot going off traffic. Rylan redirects Winkler’s point shot.

Colorado College 2, UND 2 — Derek Rodwell (Ben Blood, Carter Rowney) 19:42. Rodwell redirects a Blood point shot to tie it.

Second period

UND 3, Colorado College 2 — Corban Knight (Brock Nelson, Danny Kristo) 19:25. Nelson flew up the left wing, skated behind the net and attempted a wraparound. The puck flew to the other side of the crease, where Knight roofed it over the outstretched leg of Howe.

Third period

UND 4, Colorado College 2 — Danny Kristo (Brock Nelson, Ben Blood) 6:09 (sh). Kristo picks up Jaden’s stick to grab a loose puck along the wall, races up the right wing and snaps a big-time shot short side from the right circle.

UND 4, Colorado College 3 — Rylan Schwartz (Jaden Schwartz, Mike Boivin) 13:25. Rylan gets the puck alone at the bottom of the right circle and beats Dell high to the glove side for his second hat trick of the weekend.

UND’s lines

29 Brock Nelson–10 Corban Knight–7 Danny Kristo
11 Derek Rodwell–9 Mario Lamoureux–27 Carter Rowney
21 Brendan O’Donnell–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
28 Stephane Pattyn–13 Connor Gaarder–20 Joe Gleason

4 Derek Forbort–24 Ben Blood
2 Andrew MacWilliam–5 Nick Mattson
18 Dillon Simpson–22 Andrew Panzarella

32 Aaron Dell
31 Brad Eidsness
35 Tate Maris

Colorado College’s lines

8 Jaden Schwartz–13 Rylan Schwartz–27 William Rapuzzi
16 Alex Krushelnyski–22 Nick Dineen–25 Scott Winkler
9 Dakota Eveland–11 David Civitarese–21 Jeff Collett
12 Archie Skalbeck–23 Tim Hall–15 Andrew Hamburg

10 Gabe Guentzel–4 Joe Marciano
20 Ian Young–6 Peter Stoykewych
5 Aaron Harstad–28 Mike Boivin

31 Joe Howe
39 Josh Thorimbert

Friday night rewind

So, who was that sportswriter who kept saying that UND couldn’t score goals and that the top line would be broken up after last weekend? Apparently, the coaching staff and the team didn’t agree. They kept the top line together, they delivered in a big way, and UND piled up goal after goal against the No. 4 team in the country. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald

Colorado Springs Gazette

USCHO

FightingSioux.com

Other notes:

  • Just five days after watching one of the most boring hockey games I’ve seen since covering the Sioux, the team delivered one of the most entertaining hockey games I’ve seen since I started covering the team.
  • UND and Colorado College played an extremely entertaining game in the Final Five last year, too. If that’s the kind of hockey we will see in the NCHC, that is great for fans.
  • As noted, UND’s top line was fantastic tonight, especially Danny Kristo. His first three shifts were all outstanding. He scored on his first one, made a great play along the wall to start a 2-on-1 on his second one and drew a penalty on his third one. Kristo set the tone tonight and was the best player on the ice.
  • Coach Dave Hakstol said the only goal he thought that Aaron Dell should have stopped was Colorado College’s fifth — the one off of the draw. Other than that, he wasn’t upset with goaltending. He made a change to spark the team. I think Dell starts tonight.
  • That being said, Brad Eidsness is perhaps the unsung hero of this game. He did need to make a handful of good saves, notably two doorstep chances by Jeff Collett. Eidsness entered a wild, wide-open game and shut out the Tigers the rest of the way.
  • Tiger goalie Josh Thorimbert was fighting it from the start. I think we’ll see Joe Howe in net tonight.
  • The Sioux started Joe Gleason up front on the RW of the second line. He was moved back to defense for Andrew Panzarella in the third period. Gleason did a great job of moving in-game, just as Jake Marto did last season. That can’t be easy, but Gleason made it look easy.
  • The Sioux went down to three lines for the final period and jumbled the second and third units a little bit, moving up Michael Parks, who was very active and very good all game.
  • UND’s fourth line showed more signs than it has all season. They had some great cycling shifts and even popped home a goal. Hakstol said they gave one up, too, but was pleased with some of the things they did.
  • Colorado College lost defenseman Eamonn McDermott in the second period to a lower-body injury. If he can’t go tonight, CC brought defenseman Ian Young on the trip. Young, a freshman, has played in two games this season.
  • Although the Tigers scored six goals, they didn’t score a single off of sustained pressure. Four of them came within five seconds of a faceoff. One came because of a misplay behind the net. And only one came off of transition. It’s not like UND survived an onslaught of shots and pressure.
  • When Ben Blood went to the penalty box late, Derek Forbort was clutch on that penalty kill, using his reach to cut off a pass behind the net, getting a clear and making a timely poke check at the blue line to break up a rush.
  • The Schwartz brothers line is as good as advertised. Jaden is very strong and has a strong stick. Rylan has a knack for the net, scoring 5 goals in the last 2 games against UND.
  • UND seemed to match the Mario Lamoureux-Carter Rowney-Joe Gleason line on the Schwartz’s to start the game (maybe moreso matching Blood and Forbort on them). That switched a little bit as the game went along.
  • The last time UND played a game where both starting goalies were pulled was 2004.
  • After the game, the players all were talking about the series finale already. “No more steps back,” one of them said. The Sioux will go for their first sweep of the season at 7:07 tonight.