Good morning and welcome to the regular-season opener. If you want to watch tonight’s game, it will be on Midco Sports Network (27, 622 HD) and NCHC.tv. No Fox College Sports tonight.
UND coach Dave Hakstol has been at the helm for a decade now, but I don’t think a lot of people know how he was raised, how he ended up at UND as a player and how he ended up in coaching.
So, I wrote a lengthy piece that’s hopefully sort of a behind-the-scenes look at what UND’s head coach is really like. The story started to get pretty long so I have a ton of info that didn’t get in.
Some of the random notes that didn’t get in the story:
1. Hakstol’s mother, Theresa, often follows UND hockey games through the live chat. I asked her about that and she said that she can always tell what’s happening in the games. “I read the comments, I disregard some of them, and I never tell Dave about them.” She also comes to Grand Forks about three times a year to watch weekend series and hang out with the grandchildren.
2. If Hakstol is on a road trip, he said that there’s a 70 percent chance he’s listening to NHL radio, a 20 percent chance he’s listening to news and a 10 percent chance he’s listening to music. He likes to turn up the tunes late at night.
3. Hakstol’s favorite movie is Last of the Mohicans. He enjoys action movies with a little bit of history or dumb, mindless comedy. His listens to a bit of every type of music outside of hip hop. And he’s been watching The Blacklist on TV lately.
I’ll find more and post it later.
The season opener is against Bemidji State, a team that UND earned a win and a tie against last season.
The Beavs have not played an exhibition game yet, so this will be their first action of the year. I’d expect UND to try to push the pace in the first period, especially. UND wasn’t real sharp in the first period against Manitoba as it got its bearings. I’m sure it would like to jump out to a lead while the Beavs do the same.
I think most UND fans will remember Cory Ward from last season. He scored two of BSU’s three goals on rocket shots. He’ll be a guy to watch. UND won’t want to give him time and space because of his outstanding release.
Bemidji State’s top defenseman will be Matt Prapavessis, who should be one of the WCHA’s best blue liners this season.
I’m also curious to watch some of Bemidji State’s freshmen. This is a highly touted class. Brett Beauvais was the BCHL defenseman of the year last season. He should be part of a D-corps that will be much improved.
The Beavs also are bringing in a set of triplets. The Fitzgeralds. They are famous for being in the movie Baby Geniuses. They will all play on the same line against UND. Myles and Gerry finished 2-3 in the BCHL in scoring last season.
The Bemidji Pioneer’s preview story notes that Moorhead’s Michael Bitzer will get the start tonight, while Andrew Walsh will play in Bemidji on Saturday.
This series has one different twist this year. Typically, the Friday night game has been in Bemidji and Saturday has been in Grand Forks. It is reversed this season.
Around the league….
Colgate at St. Cloud State: Perhaps the highlight series in the country as a very good Colgate team comes to St. Cloud. The Huskies swept Colgate last season. Both teams have a lot of players back and could make NCAA tournament runs. Split.
Minnesota Duluth at Ice Breaker: The Bulldogs open with Minnesota today, then will play either Notre Dame or RPI. The Bulldog-Gopher matchup should be a good one to watch — both sides with plenty of high-end forwards. Tie.
Miami at Bowling Green: A critical nonconference series for the NCHC. Miami’s Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber can start their Hobey campaigns. Miami sweep.
Western Michigan at Canisius: Again, another critical nonconference series for the league. It cannot start losing to Atlantic Hockey teams like it did last season. Broncos sweep.
Huntsville at Colorado College: The Tigers went 0-9 last year in nonconference play. They have a 14-game winless streak going in nonconference dating back to a 6-2 win over Air Force on Oct. 19, 2012. That should end tonight against a Charger team that went 2-35-1 last season. Tiger sweep.
MSU-Mankato at Nebraska Omaha: Speaking of teams that have struggled in nonconference, Omaha hosts Mankato in the Battle of the Mavs. Omaha went 3-7 in nonconference play last season, including a loss at home to Bentley. Mankato returns a huge portion of the roster, making this its year to try to make a run. Mankato win and tie.
The UND women’s team travels to Mankato, where they’ve had a fair bit of success lately.
Coach Brian Idalski plans to continue playing both Shelby Amsley-Benzie and Lexie Shaw in goal. He talks a bit about both of their strengths in this story, which also points out how eerily similar their stats were last season.
The Mavs are in a bit of a rebuild this season after losing eight seniors, including four of the five top scorers. The one top scorer that returned is fifth-year senior Kathleen Rogan, who should lead them in offense this season. If UND can slow down Rogan, it would be big for this weekend.
After dropping a critical nonconference game against Vermont last weekend, UND needs to start working its way toward the NCAA tournament by having a good weekend in Mankato.
That’s it for now.