UND closing in on 50 contracts

UND is closing in on having 50 players under pro contract for next season. Right now, the school is at 47. Here’s a look at who has signed for next season (let me know if I have anything wrong or if I forgot someone).

NHL (20)
Ben Blood, Ottawa Senators
Taylor Chorney, St. Louis Blues
Joe Finley, Buffalo Sabres
Matt Frattin, Toronto Maple Leafs
Chay Genoway, Minnesota Wild
Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings
Jason Gregoire, Winnipeg Jets
Brett Hextall, Phoenix Coyotes
Brian Lee, Tampa Bay Lightning
Brad Malone, Colorado Avalanche
Brock Nelson, New York Islanders
T.J. Oshie, St. Louis Blues
Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
Chris Porter, St. Louis Blues
Matt Smaby, Anaheim Ducks
Drew Stafford, Buffalo Sabres
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Chris VandeVelde, Edmonton Oilers
Matt Watkins, New York Islanders
Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils

AHL (2)
Jake Marto, St. John’s
Corey Fienhage, Rochester

ECHL (5)
Aaron Dell, Colorado
Michael Forney, Colorado
Derrick LaPoint, Reading
Aaron Schneekloth, Colorado
Evan Trupp, Bakersfield

Europe (20)
Ryan Bayda, Nurnberg (Germany)
Robbie Bina, Wolfsburg (Germany)
Brandon Bochenski, Barys Astana (Russia)
Adam Calder, Milton Keynes (England)
Brent Davidson, Herning (Denmark)
Ryan Duncan, Salzburg (Austria)
Colby Genoway, Lausanne (Switzerland)
Lee Goren, Pelicans (Finland)
Andrew Kozek, Dornbirner (Austria)
David Lundbohm, Vasteras (Sweden)
Ryan Martens, Erding (Germany)
Curtis Murphy, Linz (Austria)
Brady Murray, Lugano (Switzerland)
Jordan Parise, Valpellice (Italy)
Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, Villacher (Austria)
Anthony Grieco, Pontebba (Italy)
Travis Roche, Bern (Switzerland)
Rastislav Spirko, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (Russia)
Bill Trew, Landshut (Germany)
Jason Ulmer, Munchen (Germany)

CHI finds new director, but opportunity is wasted

College Hockey Inc., finally named a new director Tuesday — more than two months after the position closed and more than six months after commissioners ousted Paul Kelly from the head spot of the organization.

The new director is Mike Snee, who most recently worked for Minnesota Hockey. Prior to that, Snee had a position with the Minnesota Wild. Snee will be based in the Twin Cities and start on the job on Sept. 17.

As the NHL and NHLPA hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement that will ultimately impact college hockey — the last one certainly did — it’s hard not to think of the major opportunity college hockey lost.

Instead of having a direct line to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly’s cell phone and the former NHLPA head speaking on its behalf during the negotiations (Paul Kelly), college hockey’s commissioners instead decided to spend that time without a director and searching at length for a new one.

The commissioners ousted Kelly in February, much to the displeasure of many coaches around the country. It was a move that met enough resistance that College Hockey Inc., altered the way it is run after its April convention.

After that, the job was opened to applications. It closed on June 22. Interviews started a couple of weeks later and that process finally came to an end Tuesday. When Snee starts in a few weeks, he’s not going to jump into the CBA negotiations.

Kelly had connections to give college hockey an unprecedented voice in NHL labor talks on issues that may impact its sport. And it’s something he could have been working on since the spring, knowing that the CBA was set to expire this fall.

Time will tell what changes in the CBA will impact college hockey and how it will impact college hockey. But college hockey won’t have as much of a say in it as it could have.

Big defenseman commits to UND

UND received a verbal commitment Monday night from 1996-born defenseman Ryan Mantha, who is 6-foot-5 and 212 pounds.

Mantha, who played for Belle Tire in Michigan last season and will play for Sioux City in the USHL this season, visited UND a couple of weeks ago and came away impressed.

“When I got there, everything clicked right away and I knew this was the place I wanted to be,” he said.

Mantha also visited Minnesota-Duluth and Wisconsin. He was picked in the fifth round by the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL. When asked if the window to the OHL is still open or if that has now closed, Mantha said “It’s closed. Very closed.”

Mantha said he knew about UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena because his brother played in the Little Caesars midget major tournament in the Ralph and returned to Michigan raving about it.

The earliest Mantha could come to UND would be 2014. His arrival date will depend on his development.

Sioux City used a tender to sign Mantha for the upcoming season. Sioux City’s assistant coach told the team website after signing Mantha to the tender: “We’re thrilled to have Ryan on board for next season. He is a big, mobile, puck-moving defenseman who we watched closely throughout the entire season. Ryan’s a player we felt was both physically ready while also having the maturity and mental makeup to make the next step in our league as a 1996-born player.”

Mantha’s uncle, Moe, played 12 years in the NHL for the Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota North Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. Moe also coached in the AHL, ECHL, OHL and NAHL.

MacWilliam named captain

Senior defenseman Andrew MacWilliam will captain UND this season.

The alternate captains will be senior forwards Corban Knight, Danny Kristo and Carter Rowney.

None of the choices are surprising. MacWilliam and Knight were alternate captains last season. Kristo decided against signing with the Montreal Canadiens in the offseason to return to UND and Rowney has been one of UND’s most reliable two-way players since he arrived as a freshman.

This is not MacWilliam’s first time wearing a ‘C.’

His coach in Camrose gave him a ‘C’ during the middle of his last season in juniors. MacWilliam got it in November and the team immediately went on a long winning streak.

“We’ve got a great corps of leaders and that makes it so much easier,” MacWilliam said. “Everyone in our senior class could be wearing a letter. They are all great leaders and they all know how to get the job done.”

Taylor Dickin transfers, UND releases roster

Forward Taylor Dickin, who played a season and a half at UND, has transferred to the University of Manitoba according to UND.

Dickin had two goals and two assists in 32 career games.

He suffered a season-ending injury in February and missed the last 10 games of the season.

Dickin will be on the ice in Ralph Engelstad Arena for the season-opening exhibition as UND takes on the Bisons on Oct. 6.

UND released the roster and the rookie numbers are as follows:

9 Drake Caggiula
24 Jordan Schmaltz
26 Coltyn Sanderson
29 Bryn Chyzyk
31 Zane Gothberg
33 Clarke Saunders

‘He’s not your typical kid’

Brad Eidsness had plenty of opportunities to play pro hockey. He choose going to law school instead.

This type of thing doesn’t happen often, and I wrote a story about it for Sunday’s Herald. Read the story, which has quotes from Eidsness and coach Dave Hakstol here.

This development made me think back to the first feature I ever wrote about Eidsness during the first semester of his freshman season. His coach from the Okotoks Oilers told me that Eidsness is “not your typical kid.”

That certainly turned out to be true. Below is the feature. I thought it was fun to go back and read it after his career ended. Not much changed about Eidsness from then and now.

Grand Forks Herald (ND)
November 27, 2008
Not your ‘typical’ goalie
Author: Brad Schlossman; Herald Staff Writer

Article Text:

Okotoks (Alta.) Oilers coach Dan McDonald heard Brad Eidsness engaging teammates in an intense discussion last year in the back of the team bus.

When McDonald went to investigate, he found a conversation that he’s never before heard on a hockey trip.

“They weren’t talking about who they were playing that night or girls or anything like that,” McDonald said. “He and a couple of other intellectual kids were discussing how the universe works. They would get into these kinds of discussions all the time. They had these books that they would always be reading and then they would get into discussions.

“Brad is a very bright person who is well-versed in many things in the world. He likes to learn things. He likes to learn what life is about and why things work the way they do. He’s a smart guy, more mature than his years. He’s not your typical kid.”

The UND men’s hockey team is finding that out early this season.

Not only is Eidsness emerging as a standout freshman goalie, he’s also well known in the locker room as one of the most colorful personalities on the Sioux team.

When his roommate, Brett Hextall, found out about the discussions Eidsness used to have during his junior days, Hextall nodded his head: “Typical Eids.”

“He knows a lot of useless facts,” Hextall said. “Every-where we go, he’s asking ‘What’s the population of this town?’ and ‘What is the industry here?’ It’s all of those weird things. He finds weird facts in magazines and he never forgets them. Then, he’ll run around telling everyone about them.”

That’s the other thing about Eidsness – he loves talking.

“He’ll talk to the wall if there’s no one else to talk to,” Hextall says. “One time, we had a flight really early in the morning, and I sat down and was looking forward to getting some sleep. Then I hear this guy talking two rows behind me and I didn’t recognize his voice. Then, I hear Eids talking to him and I’m like, ‘Great, here we go, these two idiots are going to be talking the whole flight.’ ”

When the team got back to the arena, Eidsness told Hextall about the older man who ended up doing most of the talking on the flight.

“Maybe it was God getting back at me,” Eidsness said.

Intro to college

Eidsness graduated from high school in spring 2007, but he didn’t coast into college.

He was one of only two players on the Okotoks Oilers who took college classes last year in his spare time. It wasn’t an easy load, either: macroeconomics, microeconomics, statistics and Eastern religion.

The son of Calgary-area accountants, Eidsness is majoring in business entrepreneurship at UND.

“I generally enjoy school,” Eidsness said. “Last year, I took some college courses and really enjoyed it. It’s something that takes your mind away from the rink a little bit and you get to look into other things that are pretty interesting.”

His quest for knowledge is the source of good-natured ribbing from teammates sometimes.

Any time Eidsness utters the words, “I don’t know,” it quickly circulates amongst the team.

Smarts on the ice

McDonald says Eidsness is just as smart on the ice as he is off of it.

“He can give you all the stats you need about the league,” McDonald said. “He’s got a knack for numbers and he dedicated himself to knowing who were the best shooters, what their strengths are, their speed levels, how they shoot the puck and where they shoot it from.

“He studies other teams and his read of the game is exceptional. Sometimes, a new goalie to a league will get caught up in following the puck and not read a play. He doesn’t get fooled.”

Eidsness appears to be taking over the role as UND’s top goaltender. He’s played in nine straight games, the most by a freshman since Karl Goehring appeared in 10 straight in 1997-98.

On the season, Eidsness has a 2.85 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. But it’s clear he’s becoming more comfortable with his role. In his last four appearances, Eidsness is 1-1-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.

It is the type of performance that Hextall expected to see out of Eidsness.

Last season, Hextall and Eidsness were teammates on Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge. They won the gold medal.

“I was really impressed with him that whole tournament,” Hextall said. “I heard a lot of great things about him before that and when we got there, he backed it all up.

“I’m not surprised that he’s an impact player for us here. He has the ability to be a big-time goaltender. The only thing that surprised me was that he got out to a little bit of a slow start. Now that he’s getting comfortable, I think people are starting to see what he’s really capable of.”

Eidsness opts for law school

Former UND goalie Brad Eidsness has picked law school over pro hockey.

Eidsness was looking at signing with a team in the ECHL, CHL or in Europe when he was accepted to the University of Victoria (British Columbia) and decided to retire from hockey.

“I really enjoyed hockey the last four years,” Eidsness said, “and anywhere I went wouldn’t be as good of an experience as the last four years. I had such good memories and knew it would be tough to top that so I decided it’s time. I’m really excited to go to law school.”

Eidsness’ final career numbers include four letters, three Broadmoor Trophies, two MacNaughton Cups, two WCHA all-conference selections, one Frozen Four, one undergraduate degree and one master’s degree.

Eidsness was named the WCHA student-athlete of the year last season.

There will be a full story on Eidsness in Sunday’s paper.

Dell agrees to terms with Colorado Eagles

As expected, Aaron Dell has agreed to a pro contract, giving up his final year of eligibility.

Dell will sign with the Colorado Eagles in the ECHL and is hoping to land an NHL training camp invite, according to the school.

UND’s goaltenders will be junior transfer Clarke Saunders, freshman Zane Gothberg and senior walk-on Tate Maris.

It has been expected since April that Dell would turn pro, though his destination was unknown. Dell attended the development camp of the Montreal Canadiens earlier this summer.

Dell is the second player to sign early this offseason from UND, joining Brock Nelson (New York Islanders).

Early signings in the WCHA (13)

North Dakota (2)
Brock Nelson, soph, f, New York Islanders
Aaron Dell, jr, g, Colorado Eagles (ECHL)

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, Pittsburgh Penguins

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

Reaction to OHL sanctions

Last week, news broke that the OHL was fining the Windsor Spitfires $400,000 and taking away three first-round picks and two second-round picks for violating the league’s benefit and recruitment rules (aka, they were paying players).

Rumors have been going on for quite some time that this was happening, but the CHL appeared content to bury its head in the sand as long as it was getting the world’s top players.

Since the ruling, there has been a lot of reaction.

Both the London newspaper and SportsNet have columns pondering whether other high profile OHL teams are next.

This is where it could impact the NCAA vs. CHL battle for top players.

The CHL is undoubtedly getting some — not all — NCAA commits by waving money in front of them. Rumors of this happening go back many years. But if teams face the possibility of getting hammered with a huge fine and their high draft picks taken away for a span of five years — they may decide it’s no longer worth it (not all CHL teams are doing this, but there are a select few that always come up in the rumor mill).

Sure, there are players who will still opt for the CHL for one reason or another, but it could curb the guys bolting for money.

Of course, the sanctions were levied by the OHL and not the CHL. So, it will remain to be seen if QMJHL teams are nervous by the OHL’s ruling last week. But it’s a start.

Other links:

***A column that says the College Hockey Inc., people are staying mum on the subject.

***Chris Peters has some perspective here.

***Windsor fans say they’re not the only ones doing it.

Monday morning updates

I’m still getting e-mails about Aaron Dell. To update: Nothing really has changed with his situation but it’s fairly apparent where it’s headed.

He hasn’t signed yet, I’m not sure who he’s talking to or how close he is to signing, but as I wrote in the Herald last month, the team is operating under the assumption that he’s gone and it’s only a matter of time before he signs.

It has been an unusual situation to report on, because it’s tough to say it’s a “done deal” when there doesn’t appear to be a deal in place. And until a deal is in place, he’s still eligible to return. But it has been fairly apparent for a while now that he’s not planning on it.

I haven’t been able to get in touch with Dell this summer — he’s been busy getting married — but I suspect we will have the “official” word in the next week.

The fall semester starts a week from today at 4 p.m. When he’s not enrolled, it will become “official.” If UND releases its roster before then, that would be official confirmation as well.

So, while Dell is still technically eligible to return to school for his senior season, I put the chances of that happening at 1 percent. Some drastic, very surprising changes in plans would have to happen.

*****

For those who follow the blog, I have some good news.

The Herald will once again be sending me to every game this season — home and road. These days, there are very few college hockey beat writers who travel to every road game. But the powers-that-be at the Herald obviously recognize how important UND hockey is to our readership (and the numbers reflect that).

Right now, we’re discussing some coverage ideas, especially from the road. Hopefully we’ll be able to add a few new things, likely on the multimedia side (throw some ideas my way if you wish).

As for the live blog, that’s still up in the air. I’m not sure if there will be Cover it Live chats at this point, but there will definitely be some type of a live blog. It may evolve as the season goes along.

*****

Work is beginning on the 2012-13 college hockey preview special section. Preseason predictions will be in there, along with the Herald’s annual top 10 WCHA recruit list and top 10 WCHA player list.

I just came across our section from three years ago and looked at the top 10 recruits (now seniors). Six of the top 10 have already signed — Nick Leddy (2), Mike Lee (3), Dylan Olsen (4), Drew Shore (5), Craig Smith (8) and Matt Donovan (10). Still in the league are Danny Kristo (1), Zach Budish (6) and Ben Hanowski (9). I had Mike Cichy at No. 7 and he will be at Western Michigan this season.

In brainstorming for this year’s group, I found something interesting — nearly every team has at least one recruit who is a legit top 10 guy. It’s going to be very difficult to narrow it down to 10 and a lot of teams will be represented on the list.

I believe the section comes out on Sept. 30. I’ll send out info on how to order it later.

*****

USA Hockey set its roster for the U.S. vs. Canada Under-18 women’s hockey series Thursday-Sunday.

All three UND recruits who went to the selection camp are on the final roster — goalie Lexie Shaw, defenseman Gracen Hirschy and forward Amy Menke. All three are 2013 recruits, along with Warroad forwards Lisa Marvin and Kayla Gardner (who are both too old for the U18 series).

*****

UND released its roster for the 2012-13 season on the women’s side.

There are two names on it that have never been reported — Swedish National Team defenseman Johanna Fallman and St. Michael, Minn., goalie Amanda Koep. Yes, that means UND will be carrying four goaltenders.

Monique Lamoureux has dropped the Kolls from her last name and Madison Kolls has transferred to Minnesota-Duluth. Kolls was a healthy scratch most of last season.

The freshman numbers are 4 Sam LaShomb, 5 Fallman, 8 Samantha Hanson, 14 Marissa Salo, 19 Meghan Dufault, 22 Tanja Eisenschmid, 29 Koep and 51 Becca Kohler.

Coach Brian Idalski hasn’t yet said if he plans on redshirting any of them, but I can guarantee that LaShomb, Eisenschmid, Dufault and Kohler will play immediately. Given UND’s situation at defense, I would expect Fallman does not redshirt either, even though I don’t know much about her.

The women open Oct. 5 at home against Minnesota State.