Random updates

The new structure for College Hockey Inc., is in place.

Instead of just reporting to the five commissioners, one other rep from each league is part of the board.

The board members, besides the league commissioners, include UND head coach Dave Hakstol (WCHA), Bowling Green associate athletic director Jim Elsasser (CCHA), Vermont athletic director Bob Corran (Hockey East), RPI athletic director Jim Knowlton (ECAC) and Canisius head coach Dave Smith (Atlantic Hockey).

This will, of course, be adjusted after the season with the new leagues forming.

The board is in the process of hiring a new director for College Hockey Inc. It is believed that the board interviewed five finalists.

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Nebraska-Omaha will have two new assistant coaches this season. Brian Renfrew has left UNO to become a scout with the Winnipeg Jets. Earlier this summer, Steve Johnson replaced Mike Hastings, who left to become head coach at MSU-Mankato.

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Rocco Grimaldi won’t be attending the World Junior evaluation camp. As of a couple of weeks ago, he was still on schedule in recovering from knee surgery.

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UND’s game times have been set for the Notre Dame series. They will play at 6:35 p.m. Friday night and 4:05 p.m. Saturday. The Saturday game is scheduled earlier because Notre Dame plays at USC in a night football game, and they want fans to be able to watch both.

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The Detroit News reported that Michigan defenseman Jon Merrill is returning to school this season instead of signing with the New Jersey Devils. Read that story here.

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Minnesota’s leading scorer, Erik Haula, was cited for urinating in public. Gopher coach Don Lucia told the Star Tribune, through a spokesperson, that the issue will be handled internally.

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Calgary Flames first-round draft pick Mark Jankowski, originally set to go to Dubuque of the USHL for a year before heading to college, will now go to Providence this fall.

UNO’s Jayson Megna to turn pro

Nebraska-Omaha forward Jayson Megna will turn pro after playing one college season.

Megna is choosing between the Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins, according to a story in the Omaha World Herald.

Megna is the second UNO forward to turn pro this offseason. Earlier, Terry Broadhurst signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and recruit Alex Broadhurst went to the OHL.

UNO also found out this summer that goalie Ryan Massa would take the year off.

Early signings in the WCHA (12)

North Dakota (1)
Brock Nelson, soph, f, New York Islanders

Colorado College (1)
Jaden Schwartz, soph, f, St. Louis Blues

Denver (3)
Drew Shore, jr, f, Florida Panthers
Jason Zucker, soph, f, Minnesota Wild
Beau Bennett, soph, f, Pittsburgh Penguins

Minnesota-Duluth (1)
J.T. Brown, soph, f, Tampa Bay Lightning

Nebraska-Omaha (2)
Terry Broadhurst, jr, f, Chicago Blackhawks
Jayson Megna, fr, f, destination unknown yet

St. Cloud State (2)
David Eddy, jr, f, Calgary Flames
Mike Lee, jr, g, Phoenix Coyotes

Wisconsin (2)
Justin Schultz, jr, d, Edmonton Oilers
Jason Clark, so, f, New York Islanders

VandeVelde re-signs with Oilers

Former UND forward Chris VandeVelde has re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers, inking a one-year contract.

VandeVelde has been with the Oilers for both years as a pro, playing 17 NHL games. He scored his first-career goal late last season.

The former Moorhead High product was one of the top players in the Calder Cup Playoffs last season, scoring six goals in 14 playoff games for the Oklahoma City Barons. VandeVelde was their top goal-scorer in the playoffs and led the Barons to the conference finals.

It won’t be easy to crack Edmonton’s roster with all of the young star forwards they have in their system, but last year’s playoffs were a good start for VandeVelde.

Penn State hockey, etc.

Since the NCAA has hammered the Penn State football program and athletic department with significant penalties — a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban and the loss of a significant amount of football scholarships — there has been much speculation on what it means for the startup hockey program.

My guess? Not a lot.

Penn State will still use 18 scholarships for hockey. It will still fund the program at a high level. Will they cut some corners like flying commercial instead of chartering and driving to a couple of more road games because of the $60 million fine? Maybe. But their players won’t be using wood sticks or anything.

In fact, there may be opportunity for the hockey team.

The sanctions will significantly hurt the football team for the next five to 10 years. During that time, Nittany Lion fans will be looking for something to grasp onto. Their favorite team won’t be relevant and the basketball program has struggled for years.

If the hockey program can get off the ground and have some success, it will be something the fans can rally around. And many of you know how easy it is to get hooked on college hockey if you attend a few games.

Penn State will have a brand new facility to show recruits, it will have a strong recruiting base in the state, a good coach and a recognizable name to sell recruits. So, despite the awful scandal going on, the hockey team will have more things working for it than against it come the 2013-14 season and the start of the Big Ten.

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After an offseason of coach shuffling in the WCHA, it appears that all the spots are filled for the upcoming season.

St. Cloud State hired former captain Garrett Raboin to replace Steve Johnson, who went to Omaha. Minnesota State announced that Mike Hastings will retain Darren Blue and Todd Knott on staff. The Mavs have an all-Section 8 coaching staff — Hastings (Crookston), Blue (EGF) and Knott (Red Lake Falls).

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Matt Greene appeared on L.A. Today this week. Watch the clip here.

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Former UND women’s player Sara Dagenais was drafted by Montreal in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League — the most common destination for Olympians and college standouts after their college careers end.

The CWHL has teams in Montreal, Toronto, Brampton, Ont., Boston and Alberta.

Hammer to call games on TV

It may be rather strange for viewers tuning into UND hockey games on TV next season — Pat Sweeney will not be calling them.

Midcontinent Communications, which will be taking over the production of UND games beginning this season, has hired KVLY sports director Dan Hammer to be its play-by-play announcer. He also will host a UND sports show.

Sweeney has called UND hockey games in some capacity for 28 years.

Tom Miller has the full story here.

Roy hits the open market

For the second year in a row, the most coveted recruit out of the USHL has become a free agent just weeks before the start of college classes.

Last year, Johnny Gaudreau de-committed from Northeastern and ended up at Boston College, where he was a very important piece to the Eagles’ national championship. Gaudreau had 44 points in 44 games as a rookie.

This year, it’s Kevin Roy.

Multiple sources have reported that Roy has de-committed from Brown, a move that has been somewhat anticipated in college hockey circles since Roy’s record-breaking, 54-goal, 104-point season with the Lincoln Stars.

In a sense, Roy has been a free agent this whole time. Ivy League schools do not sign National Letters of Intent, therefore, it was not forbidden by NCAA rules for schools to contact him and try to woo him.

There is a gentleman’s agreement in college hockey where coaches do not recruit verbally committed players. But who knows how long that will last. When coaches are under great pressure to win games or lose their jobs, abiding by a gentleman’s agreement won’t always be the first thing on their minds.

There haven’t been any rumblings of teams contacting Roy to try to woo him, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if it happened.

Where will he end up? The consensus is that Roy will be at a school on the East Coast. It will have to be a school that has a scholarship open this late — possibly two scholarships open. Many believe that Roy’s older brother, goalie Derick Roy, is a package deal. Neither Roy has commented on the development yet.

Whatever happens, it will be one of college hockey’s big stories of the summer.

Dell (non) update

There have been lots of questions in the last week about whether goaltender Aaron Dell will turn pro or whether he will return for his senior season.

I haven’t been able to get in touch with Dell to get any updates directly from him, but as was reported back in April, expect that he will sign and turn pro.

I don’t know what is taking so long, nor do I know which teams are in on Dell, but the situation remains the same as April: Dell will almost surely be playing pro hockey next year while freshman Zane Gothberg and junior transfer Clarke Saunders compete for the No. 1 job at UND.

Gothberg is the reigning USHL goaltender of the year and Saunders led the nation last year in saves per game at Alabama-Huntsville.

Dell holds UND’s record for wins in a season with 30.

If I hear more details, I’ll pass them along, but that’s the update for now.

Oshie signs with Blues for near $21 million

Former UND standout T.J. Oshie will be staying with the Blues for a while.

Oshie signed a five-year deal for $20.875 million late Thursday night, avoiding Friday’s arbitration hearing, which would have resulted in a one- or two-year deal with terms set by the arbitrator.

Oshie tied David Backes for the team lead in scoring last season with 54 points in 80 games. The Blues made the playoffs and won a first-round series against the San Jose Sharks. They lost in the conference semifinals against eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles.

The contract ranks third among current NHLers from UND.

UND’s largest active contracts

$98 million — Zach Parise
$31.5 million — Jonathan Toews
$20.875 million — T.J. Oshie
$20 million — Jason Blake (expires this summer)
$16 million — Drew Stafford
$15.5 million — Travis Zajac (UFA next summer)
$14.75 million — Matt Greene

Camp updates, Clark turns pro, etc.

Apparently, UND isn’t the only one high on recruits Meghan Dufault and Becca Kohler.

Both were named to Canada’s U-22 team on Wednesday. Kohler is the youngest of 24 forwards to make the squad. Dufault is the third-youngest forward (only three weeks away from being the second-youngest).

Both figure to help give UND scoring depth this season – something the team lacked greatly come the end of last year.

Dufault is a skilled player from Manitoba. Kohler is a 5-10 power forward — a rare commodity. UND has never had forward that tall and that talented, and she could create trouble down low for opponents.

The Under-22 team will play a series against the Americans in Calgary next month.

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While they are still a year away from coming to campus, a few of UND’s 2013 recruits played well at the Select festival last week in St. Cloud.

Forward recruit Amy Menke, defenseman recruit Gracen Hirschy and goalie recruit Lexie Shaw all made the All-Star Game of the 17s camp.

Menke was one of the top scorers for the at the 17s camp.

UND recruit Lynn Astrup also participated in the 16s.

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UND men’s recruit Chris Wilkie also made the All-Star Game at his camp. Wilkie was one of the top scorers at the 16 camp with eight points in five games.

Wilkie will play for the U.S. Under-17 team this season.

Other notable, uncommitted players who had big numbers at camps included forward Ryan MacInnis, forward Shane Gersich, forward Nolan Stevens and defenseman Jack Glover.

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Brett Hextall got to spend Tuesday with the Stanley Cup.

His father, Ron, won it as the assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. He brought it to the family farm near Brandon, Manitoba.

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T.J. Oshie is set to go to arbitration on Friday if a deal is not reached before then with the Blues.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch lays out the details very nicely in this story. Basically, if it goes to arbitration, Oshie will get a one-year or two-year deal. If it’s only a one-year deal, he will once again be a restricted free agent after next season.

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A lot of undrafted NCAA goalies were invited to NHL development camps this summer, including two UND guys — Aaron Dell (Montreal) and Clarke Saunders (Tampa Bay).

Other WCHA guys included Bemidji State’s Dan Bakala (Calgary) and Andrew Walsh (Vancouver), Colorado College’s Joe Howe (Minnesota), Duluth’s Kenny Reiter (N.Y. Islanders), Wisconsin recruit Gabe Grunwald (N.Y. Rangers), Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel (Vancouver) and St. Cloud State’s Ryan Faragher (Pittsburgh)

Read the full list here.

UND freshman Zane Gothberg attended Boston’s camp, too.

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The WCHA lost another underclassman to the NHL this week with Wisconsin forward Jason Clark signing with the New York Islanders.

Clark, who was highly touted out of Shattuck-St. Mary’s and a third-round draft pick by the Islanders, struggled with injuries during his Badger career. He played 21 games last season and registered no goals and one assist.

Clark will likely end up in the WHL, where he will get more playing time. He joins Justin Schultz as Badgers who have signed early this offseason. The full list of NHL signings is below.

Early signings in the WCHA (11)

North Dakota (1)
Brock Nelson, soph, f, New York Islanders

Colorado College (1)
Jaden Schwartz, soph, f, St. Louis Blues

Denver (3)
Drew Shore, jr, f, Florida Panthers
Jason Zucker, soph, f, Minnesota Wild
Beau Bennett, soph, f, Pittsburgh Penguins

Minnesota-Duluth (1)
J.T. Brown, soph, f, Tampa Bay Lightning

Nebraska-Omaha (1)
Terry Broadhurst, jr, f, Chicago Blackhawks

St. Cloud State (2)
David Eddy, jr, f, Calgary Flames
Mike Lee, jr, g, Phoenix Coyotes

Wisconsin (2)
Justin Schultz, jr, d, Edmonton Oilers
Jason Clark, so, f, New York Islanders