NCAA clarifies women’s situation

When a law originally passed last March requiring UND to use the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, its teams began preparing for the inevitable sanctions by the NCAA.

However, UND needed the NCAA to clarify a number of things. Mainly:

A. If it can’t host an NCAA quarterfinal game, could it be played at a neutral site or would the game be played on the road?
B. UND knows it can’t wear its Fighting Sioux jerseys at NCAA events, but do the sanctions prevent the school from bringing Fighting Sioux hockey bags in the building, etc.?

Finally, nine days before the NCAA women’s hockey tournament begins and four days before the field is announced, the NCAA sent a letter (in which it misspelled both the AD and President’s names) to UND to answer the questions.

If UND gets a top-four seed (it would almost certainly need to win the Final Faceoff to do so), it would have to play on the road. The NCAA indicated that Fargo could be an option a few weeks ago, but the letter says that is no longer the case. It will be a road game.

The NCAA also said that UND’s band, cheerleaders and mascot (UND doesn’t have a mascot) can’t wear Fighting Sioux gear at the event. The letter also states that: “we ask that the university take measures to minimize or eliminate the presence of the imagery or nickname brought to an NCAA championship venue.”

Because the men’s tournament is held at neutral venues, the hosting won’t affect them. They will need to use jerseys without the logo (they are scheduled to be done with lettering and numbering next week). It is unlikely that we will see them before the NCAA tournament.

Will either team make the NCAA tournament to begin with? This story talks about their chances and has a link to the NCAA letter.

I should also point out that getting a top-four seed, although it means going on the road, would be significant for the women’s team, because it would keep them away from Wisconsin and Minnesota in the quarterfinals.

If UND is a fifth, sixth or seventh seed, the NCAA will probably try to send them to Minneapolis. An eighth seed would likely earn them a game against the Badgers.

But, in researching the Pairwise this week, just getting into the NCAAs has to be the goal right now for the women.

Weekly Wednesday update

It looks like UND will once again be unable to fill out a full lineup.

Forward Taylor Dickin is not practicing after suffering a leg injury last weekend in Denver and is doubtful for the regular-season finale against Minnesota State-Mankato. That means UND will likely use nine forwards and eight defensemen (two of which will play forward) against the Mavs.

The Sioux have been rotating forwards into shifts with the fourth line when they haven’t had 18 skaters.

This week’s feature will focus on the Pairwise Rankings and the similar situations that both the men’s and women’s teams face.

The Q&A is with Carter Rowney, who is now second on the team in goals.

For Friday’s paper, I will write about MSU-Mankato’s freshman class, which is the top-scoring group of rookies in the nation. I also asked Andrew MacWilliam and coach Dave Hakstol about their thoughts on how big hits are being called.

I’ll have another update tonight.


Postseason tickets on sale tomorrow

Tickets for UND’s first-round WCHA playoff series will go on sale tomorrow. Here’s the full release from UND:

Series ticket packages for North Dakota’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) first-round playoff series will go on sale on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. Central.

Ticket packages for both the general public and UND students go on sale beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Student tickets will be available online only at General public ticket packages can be purchased by calling 1-800-745-3000, logging on to or by visiting the UND Ticket Office at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. The ticket office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

UND students will receive an e-mail with a keyword needed to purchase a series ticket passage. Student ticket packages will be held for students until the student pre-sale ends on Thursday, March 1 at 5 p.m. All unsold student tickets will then be released to the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 2. Students may purchase up to four reserved seat tickets per UND student ID.

Series ticket packages are $40 for adults, $20 for youth and $14 for UND students.

Single-game WCHA first-round playoff tickets will go one sale on Tuesday, March 6 at 10 a.m. Single-game tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for youth and $7 for UND students. Single-game tickets are subject to availability.

The first round of the WCHA playoffs take place March 9, 10 and 11 (if necessary). Game times are 7:37 p.m. on Friday and 7:07 on Saturday and Sunday. All times Central. UND’s first-round opponent has not yet been determined.


MSU-Moorhead won’t add hockey

Not really a surprise, but Minnesota State-Moorhead says it is ending its pursuit of Division I hockey.

The Dragons have been trying to raise funds for about three years to get a program up-and-running. It was pretty much an impossible feat until conference realignment kicked into high gear this summer with the beginning of the NCHC.

The WCHA and CCHA merger means the WCHA will have nine teams, which gave the Dragons a window to a possible slot in the WCHA, but they were unable to raise enough funds to start a program.

The Forum will be following this story here.


Commodore, Lee traded to Tampa

A pair of former Sioux defensemen are on the move to Florida.

Mike Commodore (Detroit Red Wings) and Brian Lee (Ottawa Senators) were dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning in separate deals Monday afternoon.

Commodore has played 17 games with the Red Wings this year, registering two assists. Detroit general manager Ken Holland commented on the trade in this story. Tampa Bay will be the 7th NHL team for Commodore. He has previously played for the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit.

Commodore signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $1 million with Detroit last summer.

“Although my time in the D was short, I really did have a great time,” Commodore tweeted. “I really enjoyed the city of Detroit and met a lot of great people around town. I really can’t say enough about the players in that locker room. Great guys and a lot of great people in the organization that I will miss. I wish them nothing but the best.

“But it’s time to move on. Super excited to get to Tampa and get rolling in the state of Florida.”

Lee, meanwhile, has spent his whole professional career with the Senators. He has played 35 games this season, registering one goal and seven assists.

Lee is in the final year of a one-way contract that he signed with the Sens. He is making $925,000 this season, according to

Poll time

In this week’s polls, the Sioux men are 14th in the Pairwise, 10th in INCH power rankings, 14 in USCHO poll and 15 in USA Today poll. The women are seventh in the Pairwise.

Pairwise Rankings

1. Minnesota-Duluth
2. Boston College
3. Michigan
4. Ferris State
5. Boston University
6. UMass-Lowell
7. Minnesota
8. Miami
9. Union
10. Maine
11. Michigan State
12. Northern Michigan
13. Denver
14. North Dakota
15. Merrimack
16. Cornell
17. Western Michigan
18. Ohio State
19. Notre Dame
20. Lake Superior
21. Colorado College
22. Harvard
23. Colgate
24. Quinnipiac
25. Wisconsin

USCHO poll

1 Boston College            (44)   23-10-1   993     2
2 Minnesota-Duluth          ( 5)   22- 7-5   922     4
3 Ferris State              ( 1)   22- 9-5   861     1
4 Boston University                20-11-1   814     5
4 Minnesota                        23-11-1   814     6
6 Michigan                         21-11-4   805     3
7 Union                            20- 7-7   661     8
8 Massachusetts-Lowell             20-10-1   612     7
9 Denver                           19-11-4   538     9
10 Maine                            19-11-3   496    10
11 Miami                            21-13-2   487    15
12 Merrimack                        16- 9-7   474    12
13 Cornell                          15- 7-7   435    11
14 North Dakota                     18-12-3   376    14
15 Michigan State                   19-13-4   361    13
16 Western Michigan                 17-13-6   244    19
17 Northern Michigan                16-12-6   177    NR
18 Notre Dame                       17-16-3   119    18
19 Colorado College                 16-14-2   112    16
20 Air Force                        17- 9-7    52    NR

Others receiving votes: Ohio State 49, Quinnipiac 26,
Harvard 25, Lake Superior 25, Colgate 12, Niagara 7,
Nebraska-Omaha 1, New Hampshire 1.

USA Today poll

1     Boston College, 504 (31)
2     University of Minnesota Duluth, 468 (2)
3     Ferris State University, 418 (1)
4     Boston University, 399
5     University of Minnesota, 381
6     University of Michigan, 372
7     Union College, 255
8     UMass Lowell, 249
9     Miami University, 192
10     University of Denver, 189
11     University of Maine, 185
12     Merrimack College, 158
13     Cornell University, 106
14     Michigan State University, 91
15     University of North Dakota, 87     

Others receiving votes: Northern Michigan University, 14; Western Michigan University, 5; Ohio State University, 4; University of Notre Dame, 2; United States Air Force Academy, 1.

INCH power rankings (view them here)

1. Boston College
2. Minnesota
3. Minnesota-Duluth
4. Union
5. Ferris State
6. Boston University
7. Michigan
8. Miami
9. Denver
10. North Dakota
11. Cornell
12. UMass-Lowell
13. Maine
14. Merrimack
15. Michigan State
16. Western Michigan
17. Colorado College
18. Harvard
19. Air Force
20. Northern Michigan

Women’s Pairwise Rankings

1. Wisconsin
2. Cornell
3. Minnesota
4. Boston College
5. Mercyhurst
6. Northeastern
7. North Dakota
8. Harvard
9. St. Lawrence
10. Boston University
11. Minnesota-Duluth
12. Clarkson

Women’s USCHO poll

1 Wisconsin                 (13)   31- 3-2   148     1
2 Minnesota                        29- 5-2   130     2
3 Cornell                   ( 2)   28- 3-0   127     3
4 Boston College                   23- 8-3   100     4
 5 North Dakota                     22-10-3    80     5
6 Mercyhurst                       22- 6-3    68     6
7 Northeastern                     22- 6-4    64     7
8 Harvard                          22- 8-1    42     8
9 Boston University                21-13-1    29     9
10 St. Lawrence                     22- 9-4    21    10

Others receiving votes: Minnesota-Duluth 15, Bemidji State

Saturday night rewind

For the second time in the last three Saturday night games, a highly skilled opponent took advantage of power plays and sent UND to a loss. On this evening, every Denver goal could be attributed to special teams as the Pioneers went on to win 5-3. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald

Denver Post

Denver Post column


Other notes:

  • UND dropped to No. 14 in the Pairwise Rankings — back on the bubble. It sets up a huge series against Minnesota State-Mankato.
  • The Sioux have clinched home ice. One win against the Mavs will guarantee UND at least fourth place. In order to get third, they need a sweep and Denver to be held to one point against Omaha (or UND gets three points and Denver gets swept). UND has the tiebreaker over everyone it could tie.
  • UND is 1-5 in the black jerseys this year and 5-3 in the green jerseys. It’s a strange twist of events as UND went the previous four seasons without losing in the blacks.
  • Bizarre stat of the night: UND is 1-5 in games where it gets a major power play and 3-1 in games where opponents get a major power play.
  • UND had had 9 major power plays this year and only scored on one of them (Michael Parks’ fluky goal in Duluth). Granted, three of them have been shorter than a full five minutes, but still, it’s obviously a momentum changer when you don’t score on a major.
  • Despite not being able to score on majors, UND’s power play is still converting at 21.7 percent, which is fourth in the WCHA.
  • Aaron Dell looked solid in relief of Brad Eidsness on Saturday night. I think we will see Dell start at least one game against Mankato. Sioux coach Dave Hakstol estimated that Dell was at 95 percent after his injury.
  • No immediate updates on the status of Taylor Dickin, who left Friday’s game with an injury and did not play Saturday.
  • Carter Rowney is now tied for 11th in both WCHA overall goals and league goals with 16 tallies. He’s having quite a season, despite not getting much attention league-wide. He’s been great both ways and helping along a couple of young guys on his line.
  • Speaking of not getting a lot of attention, Denver defenseman Joey LaLeggia ended the weekend with 27 points in league games — more than any rookie blue liner in the WCHA in at least 12 years. That’s double what the leading rookie defenseman scorer had in many of those years.
  • Jason Zucker gets the buzz on the Pioneers, but I’ll be voting Drew Shore higher on the all-conference teams.
  • Danny Kristo joined the Century Club with his assist on Brock Nelson’s second goal of the game. Someone grabbed the puck for him.
  • Nelson has 19 goals in league games. That’s first in the WCHA — one ahead of Zucker and CC’s Rylan Schwartz.
  • Apparently, the jersey pop has made its way to the Mile High City as both Zucker and Scott Mayfield were jersey-popping after their goals Saturday. After the second one, Ben Blood went in for a word with Mayfield and that’s when the penalties started.
  • Just as UND coaches have a dilemma who to start in goal, Denver probably does as well. Freshman Juho Olkinuora played well on Saturday and has great numbers this season.
  • Connor Gaarder’s assist on Friday night snapped an 11-game point drought.
  • Mark MacMillan’s goal drought has reached 12 games. Once he buries one or two, the floodgates may open for him.

UND clinches home ice

DENVER — The Sioux were supposed to depart here this evening on a charter flight, but because of bad weather in North Dakota, they got stranded an extra day.

That’s all right — when the team wakes up this morning, they will have a nice surprise: The Sioux have clinched home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

When UND sports info director Jayson Hajdu and I left the rink Saturday night, we determined that UND needed one more point to clinch home ice, because seventh-place Michigan Tech was only three points back and could still catch the Sioux.

But at about 1:45 a.m., as we were about to leave a place near the DU campus, we realized that Tech plays Colorado College next week. That means if Tech gets the four points it needs to catch UND, the Tigers will be unable to do so. Therefore, mathematically, there is no way for the Sioux to finish out of the top six.

I apologize for not figuring this out sooner.

UND will be at home for the next two weekends now and has played its last road game of the season (from here, it’s home or neutral). It will host MSU-Mankato next weekend in games that will be significant for the NCAA tournament picture.

Then, it will be back at home for a WCHA-best 10th consecutive first-round playoff series.

Thinking back to November, most Sioux fans believed this team would be on the road in the first round. After all, they were 11th of 12 teams in the WCHA standings at that point. But a big run with a shorthanded team has helped this team clinch home ice with a week still left in the regular season.

What we know about the WCHA playoffs: Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth have clinched the top two seeds. Denver and UND have clinched home ice. Four teams are battling for the final two home-ice spots: Colorado College (27 points, vs. Tech), Nebraska-Omaha (27 points, vs. Denver), Michigan Tech (26 points, at CC), St. Cloud State (25 points, vs. Duluth).

Gameday final: Denver 5, UND 3


Tonight’s viewing options: Read this post.

First period

No scoring.

Second period

Denver 1, UND 0 — Nick Shore (Drew Shore, Jason Zucker) 9:23. Just as a Denver power play expired, Drew found Nick at the back door. Eidsness had time to move over and get in position but Nick sniped the corner of the net.

Denver 1, UND 1 — Carter Rowney (Mark MacMillan, Michael Parks) 12:24. Parks won a battle along the boards and caught Denver trying to fly the zone again. He gets it to MacMillan who makes a great feed to Rowney on top of the crease. Olkinuora stops Rowney on the first attempt, but he follows it.

Denver 2, UND 1 — Chris Knowlton 13:34 (sh). UND turns it over at the blue line and Mattson can’t catch Knowlton, who makes a fantastic shot off the post and in. Eidsness didn’t give him much room.

Denver 3, UND 1 — Jason Zucker (Drew Shore, Nick Shore) 15:30 (pp). Nick dishes the puck to Drew in the slot, Drew moves it to his backhand and sends a perfect no-look, cross-crease pass to Zucker, who easily puts it away.

Denver 3, UND 2 — Brock Nelson (Dillon Simpson) 15:37. Just seven seconds after Denver’s goal, Simpson and Nelson rush up the left wing. Simpson leaves a pass for Nelson, who snipes a water bottle shot from the circle.

Denver 4, UND 2 — Scott Mayfield (Joey LaLeggia, Nick Shore) 17:57. sends Mayfield up the right wing. He snaps a shot blocker side where he had a lot of room and pops the jersey.

Third period

Denver 5, UND 2 — Shawn Ostrow (Chris Knowlton, John Lee) 17:35 (pp). During a major power play, Knowlton snaps a shot from the circle that Ostrow re-directs for a goal.

Denver 5, UND 3 — Brock Nelson (Danny Kristo, Ben Blood) 18:43 (sh). Kristo rushes up the left wing on a two-on-one and saucers a pass to Nelson, who one-times it.

UND’s lines

29 Brock Nelson–10 Corban Knight–7 Danny Kristo
16 Mark MacMillan–27 Carter Rowney–15 Michael Parks
28 Stephane Pattyn–9 Mario Lamoureux–20 Joe Gleason
8 Dan Senkbeil–13 Connor Gaarder–(no right wing)

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

31 Brad Eidsness
32 Aaron Dell

Denver’s lines

12 Ty Loney–15 Drew Shore–18 Luke Salazar
17 Jason Zucker–23 Nick Shore–11 Chris Knowlton
37 Nate Dewhurst–26 Shawn Ostrow–8 Dustin Jackson
14 Larkin Jacobson–25 Matt Tabrum–10 Daniel Doremus

7 Paul Phillips–2 Scott Mayfield
24 John Ryder–4 Josiah Didier
21 Joey LaLeggia–5 John Lee

31 Juho Olkinuora
33 Adam Murray
1 Sam Brittain