Friday night high five

Five notable results from Friday night:

1. Minnesota Duluth rallied from a 2-0 third-period deficit to beat Nebraska Omaha 3-2. It marked the first third-period comeback victory for the Bulldogs in four years — a span of 46 games. The Bulldogs have now won six straight games, and the victories have come against Miami, Minnesota (2), St. Cloud State (2) and Omaha. They could be ranked No. 1 on Monday if they win tonight.

2. Alabama Huntsville knocked off Ferris State 3-2 on Friday night. It marked the third win in five games for the Chargers. Prior to that, they won three times in the span of 75 games.

3. Colorado College ended its seven-game winless streak with a 5-2 win over Wisconsin. The Badgers are now 0-7. In the last six games, the only time they’ve been within a goal was the 4-3 game against UND, where UW scored with 19 seconds left to make it a one-goal game.

4. Michigan Tech’s reign at No. 1 won’t last long as the Huskies lost 2-1 to MSU-Mankato on Friday. The Mavs scored back-to-back goals midway through the third to hand the Huskies their first loss of the season.

5. Freshman Jack Eichel is without a doubt the frontrunner to win the Hobey at this point and he made two more outstanding plays on Friday to help BU beat Maine 3-2 in overtime. Check out the video below for Eichel’s game-winner, and even more impressive, his assist on BU’s first goal.

Brodzinski lifts Huskies

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Here’s a simple recipe to lose a hockey game: Allow Jonny Brodzinski to shoot the puck 16 times.

The Husky sophomore, one of the league’s best shooters, eventually broke through and tallied three points in St. Cloud State’s 3-1 win in the series opener. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald

St. Cloud Times

USCHO

UNDsports.com

Other notes:

  • As I wrote in the game story, faceoffs were a major problem for UND. It started early in the first with the Huskies winning four or five clean in a row in the offensive zone, leading to scoring chances. It didn’t get better all game. With Nick Schmaltz out and Mark MacMillan unable to take draws, UND needs to find someone else who can win important faceoffs.
  • After the Friday game against Providence, UND’s power play was at 31 percent, ranked fifth in the nation. Since, it has converted on 3 of 31 chances (9.7 percent).
  • Friday night marked UND’s first road loss of the season. UND previously was 5-0 on the road.
  • UND needs to win tonight or else it will lose its first series in the National Hockey Center since 2001.
  • UND coach Dave Hakstol didn’t have any immediate update on the status of forward Bryn Chyzyk after the game. Chyzyk left the game in the second period and didn’t return after absorbing a big hit.
  • St. Cloud State’s power play, which entered the weekend as the league’s best, continued to roll along with two power-play goals in four opportunities.
  • UND captain Stephane Pattyn talked about the importance of playing simple — driving wide and getting to the net. Getting to the net will be a key again in the series finale as there were rebounds to be had last night.

Gameday final: SCSU 3, UND 1

TONIGHT’S VIEWING: FSN North Plus; Fox College Sports Pacific. Lineup notes: Poolman is in and Mattson is out on defense. Full lines and live chat are below.

First period

No scoring.

Second period

SCSU 1, UND 0 — Ethan Prow (Jonny Brodzinski, Joey Benik) 5:10 (pp). Prow winds up and blasts one from the point that deflects off of Parks’ stick and a UND defenseman before floating past McIntyre.

SCSU 1, UND 1 — Drake Caggiula (Tucker Poolman, Mark MacMillan) 13:09. MacMillan has the puck near the side of the net and tries to send a pass to the point. Peterson gets his stick on it, but the puck goes to Poolman, who one-times it on net. Lindgren makes the save but the rebound kicks to Caggiula, who catches it, drops it at his feet and slaps it in.

Third period

SCSU 2, UND 1 — Jonny Brodzinski (Nathan Widman, Patrick Russell) 1:38. The Huskies enter the zone on a rush and Widman sends a pass from the left circle to the high slot, where Brodzinski’s shot goes off of Pattyn’s back and in.

SCSU 3, UND 1 — Jonny Brodzinski (Joey Benik, Kalle Kossila) 9:43 (pp). Benik walks LaDue, throws a perfect saucer pass over another defender’s stick and Brodzinski is waiting on the other side to slam it home for a power-play goal.

Live Blog Men’s Hockey at St. Cloud State

UND’s lines

16 Mark MacMillan–9 Drake Caggiula–15 Michael Parks
28 Stephane Pattyn–27 Luke Johnson–7 Wade Murphy
21 Brendan O’Donnell–13 Connor Gaarder–17 Colten St. Clair
29 Bryn Chyzyk–10 Johnny Simonson–14 Austin Poganski

20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher
6 Paul LaDue–3 Tucker Poolman
4 Keaton Thompson–24 Jordan Schmaltz

31 Zane McIntyre
33 Cam Johnson

St. Cloud State’s lines

9 Joey Benik–22 Jonny Brodzinski–13 David Morley
16 Jimmy Murray–11 Kalle Kossila–63 Patrick Russell
42 Blake Winiecki–17 Judd Peterson–2 Jarrod Rabey
27 Nick Oliver–37 Joe Rehkamp–21 Brooks Bertsch

28 Andrew Prochno–40 Tim Daly
5 Nathan Widman–12 Ethan Prow
4 Ben Storm–26 Mika Ilvonen

35 Charlie Lindgren
45 Rasmus Reijola
33 Joseph Phillippi

Friday morning reading

The Herb Brooks National Hockey Center looked a lot different last year after the renovation, but on the ice, it was the same old result. Yet another split for UND and St. Cloud State.

In recent years, that’s been the norm when these teams have gotten together in St. Cloud. The last time there was a sweep? 2001. The last time UND got the sweep? 1998.

As I wrote in my preview today, in 1998, Brad Berry was a Kalamazoo K-Wing, Dane Jackson was a New York Islander and Austin Poganski was 2 years old.

Here are the results of UND’s most recent trips to St. Cloud:

2013-14: Split.
2012-13: Split.
2011-12: Split.
2010-11: UND win and tie.
2009-10: Split.
2008-09: Split.
2007-08: Split.
2006-07: UND win and tie.
2005-06: Split.
2004-05: UND win and tie.
2003-04: UND win and tie.
2002-03: Split.
2001-02: SCSU sweep.
2000-01: Did not play in St. Cloud.
1999-00: SCSU win and tie.
1998-99: UND sweep.

So on one hand, UND hasn’t earned a sweep in the National Hockey Center in seemingly forever, yet it also has gone to St. Cloud for 12 consecutive years without losing a series.

Strangely enough, during those 12 years, there have been six sweeps in Grand Forks (four by UND, two by SCSU).

This weekend continues the very difficult early-season schedule for St. Cloud State, which has already played against Union, Colgate, Minnesota and Duluth. I’m guessing that when the Huskies signed the nonconference deals, they didn’t know Colgate was going to be this good.

Three things to watch on the St. Cloud State side this weekend:

1. The junior forwards. Jonny Brodzinski, Joey Benik, David Morley, Kalle Kossila and Jimmy Murray are the engines that make the Huskies go. Brodzinski, only a month past his sophomore season, has more career goals than anyone else in the NCHC.

2. Charlie Lindgren. St. Cloud State will give UND a different look with the right-hand catching goaltender. You don’t see many of them. The last one that UND faced that I can think of off hand is Jon Olthuis from Alaska Anchorage.

3. The power play. The Huskies are at 25 percent there and make a lot of plays. The junior class and senior D Andrew Prochno are key. UND continues to emphasize eliminating stick penalties.

Three things to watch on UND’s side:

1. The Schmaltz-less power play. Without Nick Schmaltz last weekend, the power play seemed to lose a little bit of its playmaking. The unit has had another week of practice under its belt without Nick. Will it improve?

2. The big ice surface. The Olympic ice helped UND against Colorado College because it was the faster and more skilled team (and CC gave UND too many power plays). St. Cloud State is built much better for the big sheet than CC. How will UND play on it this time?

3. Wade Murphy. The coaching staff is waiting for a breakthrough. He has come close to scoring the last couple of games. Does he get No. 1 in St. Cloud? Does he play well enough with and without the puck to help earn a more consistent spot in the lineup?

This week, I also wrote a feature on Bryn Chyzyk, who seems a lot more comfortable on and off the ice this season. He went through a tough time last season when he got suspended, but he seems to be taking the right approach since then. Read that story here.

This week’s Q&A is with Mark MacMillan. Find out what game was his most memorable in his career here.

The St. Cloud Times has its preview of the defending champ vs. the preseason favorite here.

On to the predictions….

Western Michigan at Miami: The Broncos brought a physical game against the RedHawks last season and it worked to perfection. Western swept all four games against Miami. Judging by what I saw last weekend, Miami can play the physical game better than last season, but I still think Western gets a game on the road. Miami 4-1, Western Michigan 3-2.

Minnesota Duluth at Nebraska Omaha: These two teams could very well be in Penrose Cup race at the end of the season. Both are off to great starts and this should be a great weekend between two teams that like to get up and down the ice. Omaha 4-3, Duluth 5-2.

Colorado College vs. Air Force/Wisconsin: The Tigers have lost seven in a row. More embarrassing, none of them have even been one-goal games. Luckily for the Tigers, they are playing a struggling Air Force team to close the weekend. Wisconsin 3, CC 0; CC 3, Air Force 2.

Denver vs. Air Force/Wisconsin: The Pioneers are playing like a deep, veteran team. The NCHC is having success out of league. Denver 5, Air Force 1; Denver 2, Wisconsin 0.

UND at St. Cloud State: You all read the results in the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center up there earlier. These teams love splitting in St. Cloud and I don’t see much of a reason why they shouldn’t once again this weekend. Should be a very entertaining one for fans. UND 3-2, St. Cloud State 4-2.

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On the women’s side, there’s really only one story to talk about right now and that’s what’s happening with forward Lisa Marvin.

In case you didn’t hear, read this story here.

I wrote that piece late Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, Marvin was scheduled for a quick, 30-minute surgery. It ended up being more than four hours. Her bones shifted when doctors moved one of the plates in her arm, and they had to open her arm back up again.

It’s going to be a long road ahead for Marvin. It’s hard to imagine that she’s ever going to play again, but at this point, the focus is just on getting her to the point where she can go back to having a normal, pain-free life.

Her UND team plays Ohio State this weekend in The Ralph. Her sister, Layla Marvin, will play.

I’ll pass along any further updates that I hear regarding Lisa.

Late Wednesday update

No real big surprises at today’s weekly presser, which is why I’m a bit late updating.

Freshman forward Nick Schmaltz remains out, but the team is thinking right now that it’s not going to be a longterm deal. Still could be a couple weeks. Everyone else appears a go for this weekend’s series at St. Cloud State.

One of the big changes last weekend was on the defensive pairings, where the coaching staff broke up the pairing of Jordan Schmaltz and Paul LaDue. UND coach Dave Hakstol said that he thought Schmaltz and Keaton Thompson had a good game together.

The one pairing they’ve left together is Gage Ausmus and Troy Stecher. I’d expected to see those two together in St. Cloud, but it will be interesting to see what the staff does with the other defensemen.

There was quite a bit of talk about UND’s recent struggles against St. Cloud State. UND has just one win in the last seven games between the foes. Check for more of that in Friday’s paper.

For today’s paper, I talked to Bryn Chyzyk, who has been arguably UND’s nicest surprise of this young season. He talked about how he’s grown up since getting suspended for a month from the team last season. Read that story here.

Quick reactions to Arizona State

Arizona State officially announced that it will launch a Division I program starting next season. It will play a hodge-podge schedule in 2015-16 involving both club and D-I teams. In 2016-17, it will play a full D-I schedule and it plans to be in a league for the 2017-18 season.

This alone is a major development for the college hockey world, but what it could mean for the future is even more significant.

Arizona State is going into this fully believing that they are not the last Pac-12 school to add hockey and that someday, perhaps in 15 years, there may even be a Pac-12 hockey conference. There’s a long way to go to get to that point, but it’s remarkable that we’re even talking about it.

My thoughts on the development:

1. As much as everyone criticized college hockey realignment, saying it would cause at least five teams to fold within five years, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, the lost rivalries are a bad thing, but right now we’re at +3 for teams and college hockey is in an extremely healthy spot. I wrote about that in today’s column here.

2. What league are the Sun Devils going to play in? Both the NCHC and WCHA have had contact with them. The Big Ten hasn’t been interested in affiliate members, so I don’t think they’ll make a run, but it’s not out of the question.

The NCHC is the best fit for Arizona State travel-wise. It has two teams in the same time zone. The towns aren’t quite as difficult to reach as many WCHA destinations. The NCHC also helps improve the profile of Arizona State’s team, though there has to be the worry about jumping into a league that difficult. The Sun Devils may have a better chance to compete right away in the WCHA and to win conference titles.

3. Whatever conference Arizona State picks, it might only be a temporary home. The Sun Devils are hoping that there will someday be a Pac-12 hockey conference. If they are to join the NCHC, I’m guessing Arizona State will want an out-clause that would allow them to go to Pac-12, if it starts up, without having to pay the exit fee. I don’t see why the NCHC wouldn’t agree to that, though.

4. One buzz item from the day is that Arizona State is keeping its club coach as the men’s hockey coach. It’s entirely possible that this will be a one-year thing and they will hire someone else by the time the Sun Devils play their first full-fledged D-I schedule as Penn State did. But if not, they are certainly rolling the dice with a coach that has zero NCAA experience. It may work out just fine, but it’s a bold move.

5. Arizona State is expected to play in downtown Phoenix at the Suns’ arena to start. It will need to pursue an on-campus solution as fast as possible. Students won’t go to games if they are off campus. Ask CC.

6. Behind the scenes, College Hockey Inc., has done significant work to help make it possible for programs like Penn State and Arizona State to add men’s hockey, and it doesn’t get any credit. The organization is a wealth of knowledge and information for schools. Launching CHI and hiring the right people is one of the best moves the commissioners have made.

Grimaldi plays two games in one day

Former UND forward Rocco Grimaldi pulled off a very rare feat Tuesday — he played in an AHL game and in an NHL game in the same day.

Grimaldi started the day by playing a 2 p.m. game in San Antonio. After the second period, he was called off the ice. Because of an illness, he needed to fly to Los Angeles to play for the Florida Panthers that night.

It ended up being extra special for Grimaldi, who is from the Los Angeles area.

Grimaldi had three shots on goal during the first two periods of the AHL game. His team won 4-3.

In the nightcap, Grimaldi played 10:36 for the Florida Panthers, registering two shots, a hit and a penalty.

After the game, he told L.A. Kings Insider what the day was like.

Top line helps UND get a split

When the national polls come out this afternoon, UND could be ranked No. 1. Or it could be Boston University. Or Michigan Tech. Or Minnesota Duluth. Or Minnesota. Who really knows?

There are some items that appear to be shaking out across the country, but the top teams are still anybody’s guess.

UND was able to put itself in the mix by grabbing a series split against Miami with a 4-1 victory on Saturday night. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald

USCHO

UNDsports.com

Other notes:

  • If UND does grab the No. 1 ranking, it would be the first time since the end of the 2011 season, when UND was in the top spot for seven consecutive weeks.
  • In my game story, I focused on the return of Mark MacMillan, who helped form the game’s most dominant line. Although the protective brace on his wrist is restrictive, it was hard for us to tell from up top. He had a great night for UND and now has 10 points in 4 NCHC games.
  • UND junior Drake Caggiula is now tied with four other players for the national lead in scoring with 16 points. Caggiula has 15 points in the last eight games.
  • Miami had an apparent goal disallowed in the first period. The supervisor of officials confirmed that it was the correct call as Miami’s Conor Lemirande used his stick to push Zane McIntyre back into his net, causing McIntyre to extend his leg and knock the puck in the net.
  • UND did a nice job on Miami’s top players, Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber. They combined for no points and a minus-6 rating this weekend.
  • UND kept the Troy Stecher and Gage Ausmus pairing together on defense (Stecher was fantastic once again this weekend), but mixed up the others. Jordan Schmaltz and Paul LaDue did not play together as LaDue moved to the right side with Nick Mattson, who re-entered the lineup for Tucker Poolman.
  • The only forward group that’s a lock to stay together is the top line. Spots are still up for grabs on the other lines.