Hakstol gets his old captain

Dave Hakstol will be reunited with his old captain.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed former UND captain Chris Porter to a one-year, two-way contract for next season.

This is no big surprise, as Hakstol loves the way Porter plays — fast and hard — and he loves the way that Porter is always in shape and ready to go. Being a fourth-line type of player, Porter is a guy who is often in-and-out of the lineup at the NHL level.

The luxury he provides is that, no matter how long he’s out, Hakstol won’t have to worry about putting him back in. If a guy has been a scratch for two weeks, coaches are often concerned about their performance jumping back in, but that’s not the case for Porter.

Everyone in Grand Forks knows this to be true — Porter set an NCAA record by playing in 175 consecutive games. He never missed one during his career. He also won the team’s Iron Man competition (offseason strength and fitness) three times.

To get him on a two-way deal is definitely a luxury for the Flyers. Porter was previously on a one-way with the Blues.

For those who may not know, Hakstol has a very long association with Porter and his family.

In the fall of 1996, Hakstol just finished rehabbing a knee injury that he sustained while playing for the Minnesota Moose in the IHL. It wasn’t easy finding a job coming off the surgery.

Out of nowhere, the head coach at Sioux City (USHL) quit a week into the season. Through USHL commish Gino Gasparini, Hakstol’s former coach at UND, he was offered a job coaching in Sioux City.

Hakstol accepted it.

“Within 72 hours, I decided I was done playing, I’m going to some town called Sioux City, which I’ve never been to, and I’m going to try to coach,” Hakstol said.

Hakstol said that when he got to Sioux City, a lot of things were in disarray, but he met some very influential people there who made a big impact on life. One of those people was the team’s orthopedic surgeon, Gord Porter.

Gord and Hakstol became friends. Gord’s son, Chris, was not a prospect at the time. He was just 12 years old. Gord eventually moved to Thunder Bay, but the two kept in touch.

As fate would have it, that 12-year-old kid turned into a good college prospect, and Hakstol (along with Brad Berry and Dean Blais) recruited him to North Dakota.

When Chris committed, Hakstol was still an assistant coach. But Years 2-3-4 on campus, Hakstol was the head coach. Chris was Hakstol’s captain as a senior.

Now, 19 years after the Porter family helped a young coach get his feet on the ground, their son is in the NHL, and he’s playing for that same coach, who has quickly risen through the ranks.

Crazy how things work sometimes.

Today’s updates

Lots of news coming out this Friday morning.

For starters, Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague resigned for two incidents of sexual harassment of non-student university employees, according to the school. According to KARE 11 TV, Teague says he became intoxicated at an event and sent inappropriate text messages.

As I wrote a few years ago, I think, now, Minnesota fans know what it’s like to have a bad athletic director. Although Joel Maturi received a lot of criticism, he was not a bad AD.

Under Maturi, Minnesota’s profits skyrocketed, facilities improved and he did remarkable work for women’s sports. Yes, he made a bad football coaching hire with Tim Brewster, but his body of work as an AD was impressive.

From a college hockey perspective, Maturi was an outstanding supporter of the sport.


The Gwoz is back. Sorta.

Former DU coach George Gwozdecky will be coaching high school hockey this season in suburban Denver. Read more about it here.

It sure seems like this is setting up for a return to college hockey for Gwozdecky, which I think would be terrific for the sport. He was a great personality for college hockey.


The hope that Auston Matthews would play college hockey this season is gone.

Matthews has officially signed with Zurich in the Swiss League, and will play his draft year there. He’s expected to go No. 1 overall in the 2016 NHL Draft.

UND was one of five finalists at the NCAA level for Matthews.


Ryan Kennedy’s Hot List this week features UND freshman Brock Boeser and recruiting target Dante Fabbro. Read that here.

Random updates

More unfortunate news on the women’s hockey side of things.

Soon after the Herald reported that Amanda Kessel won’t play out her senior year for Minnesota, it’s now confirmed that one of UND’s players has been forced to retire due to chronic injuries.

EGF’s Leah Jensen, who was so highly touted by the coaching staff after her arrival, was injured in her first month on campus and four years later is still having trouble with back pain. Read her story here.

Jensen is one of top athletes to go through East Grand Forks and could have been a key offensive contributor for UND if she was able to stay healthy. It’s definitely a loss for UND not having her for this season.

UND still does have some talent on this squad as evidenced by USA Hockey’s picks for the national festival Aug. 11-15 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Forward Amy Menke, who developed into a big offensive threat as a sophomore, is one. Defenseman Gracen Hirschy, a puck-moving blue liner, is the second. Goalie Lexie Shaw is the third.

Goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie also was invited, but could not attend because she’s recovering from an offseason operation. It’s unclear if Amsley-Benzie will be cleared to play by the start of the season. If not, Shaw is proven and more than capable to be a No. 1.

Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux, who are launching a new fitness and wellness program at Altru, also will participate.


I wrote about the ticket policy that Omaha enacted for the UND series in this column.

No surprise, I had several fans tweet at me that they weren’t able to get through via phone. The series is now sold out.

Ticket policies like these shouldn’t be a surprise to UND fans in the future. I think when Denver tried it two years ago, it was only the beginning. They’ll have to get creative to find ways into the building.


USA Hockey made cuts at the World Junior camp. Both Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz are still there, though.

Schmaltz figures to be high on the list for USA Hockey as he was on last year’s team. Boeser is putting himself in a good spot with his play, scoring four goals in two games so far this summer.


The AHL is coming to North Dakota.

The top minor-league teams of the Winnipeg Jets and the Minnesota Wild will play in Ralph Engelstad Arena on Friday, Oct. 2, and in Fargo’s Scheels Arena the next night.

The Manitoba Moose and Iowa Wild are the teams. At this point, there’s no sure bet that a UND player will be suiting up in those games.


UND hockey’s head statistician, Erik Martinson, has been named director of game operations and facilities. He previously worked in accounting.

As I wrote on Twitter, he’s a name to watch in the future as someone rising through the athletic department. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in an AD role some day.

He’s still young, but already has a background in finance and now game ops and facilities. He basically ran the Fargo regional last year, too.

Martinson is expected to continue his work as the hockey program’s head statistician.


As BGSUhockey.com noted on Twitter, Arizona State coach Greg Powers would be the second-highest paid coach in the WCHA, which probably signals that Arizona State is not going to the WCHA.

The NCHC or the Big Ten have to be the most desired leagues for the Sun Devils, but they probably have to address their arena situation in short order or those leagues will be uneasy about accepting them.

ASU coach deal; Boeser shines

Greg Powers is now a Division I head hockey coach — and he’s getting paid like one.

The Arizona State head coach — who also was previously the school’s club hockey coach — has a new, five-year contract that kicked in on July 1, the Herald has learned. He’s getting paid $250,000 annually during the term, with possibilities of bonuses.

His base salary also gets an automatic bump if the team reaches the NCAA tournament during those five seasons.

Arizona State’s first foray into Division I hockey will be Oct. 9-10 in Anchorage, taking on the Seawolves and Nanooks in the Kendall Hockey Classic (I think it’s still called that?).


UND freshman Brock Boeser is ripping it up at the U.S. World Junior evaluation camp.

He had a hat trick today in leading USA White to a 10-4 win over Sweden. Teammate Nick Schmaltz set up the third of Boeser’s three goals — a combo that UND may look at using.

USA Blue was routed by Finland, but Crookston’s Paul Bittner scored a pair of goals.

Check out Boeser’s goals in the video below. He’s certainly got a one-timer and finishing ability.

New Facebook page

I’m making my second attempt at maintaining a Facebook page dedicated to hockey coverage and discussion.

If you want to get updates and check out some buzz on Facebook, go to this site and click the “like” button and you’ll be set. Thanks for following.

The weekend buzz

Over the weekend, I came across this story.

It’s a good one because it gives you a window into what made Dave Hakstol such a good recruiter at UND. This is also a big reason why Brad Berry and Dane Jackson are such strong recruiters.

Many have the perception that UND just shows recruits the building and they automatically commit, but that’s not really the way it is in most cases.

I hope to have more on this in a couple of months, but perhaps the top reason why UND won the Brock Boeser sweepstakes is because the coaching staff simply outworked other staffs.

UND’s facilities, fan support, history and tradition are advantages for the program when it comes to recruiting, but what makes them so successful is that, along with those things, they also work like they are a program with no other advantages.

An opposing coach once told me what makes UND so successful is that it has a bunch of guys who play like fourth-liners as far as hustle, tenacity and two-way play are concerned, but they have first-line talent. The same could be said for the staff. They have things in their favor, but they work like they don’t.


The World Junior camp is underway and the first exhibition was a success for the UND guys.

Nick Schmaltz scored a goal and Brock Boeser had an assist for USA White as it topped Finland 5-2.

We all know that Schmaltz has elite vision and is already UND’s best setup man since Evan Trupp, but if he can start scoring goals, it would add a huge dimension to his game.

There’s another round of exhibition games today. Then, the squad is expected to be cut down to one team for the final three exhibitions. Schmaltz was on the World Junior team a year ago.


The Hockey News published its “lists” edition this month, and it voted Monique Lamoureux as the best defenseman in the world.

Monique was the only defenseman to crack the top 10 list.

Of course, she wasn’t even a top 10 finalists for active players in college hockey during her last season thanks to the pettiness of some WCHA coaches, but obviously her talents are recognized elsewhere.

Monique, who was a forward during the 2014 Sochi Games, will attempt to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics as a defenseman.

Monique played defense while at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and was moved back to defense frequently at UND.


Let’s Play Hockey has reported that Joe Gleason is moving from the playing world to the coaching world. The hockey magazine says Gleason will be an assistant coach at Holy Family. He played in Norway last season and got engaged over the summer.


I’ve been told that Northeastern transfer Michael Szmatula will wind up committing to Minnesota.

Szmatula will have two years of eligibility left, starting in 2016-17, so he will play against UND in both years at Minnesota. It will be a good pickup for the Gophers to bring in someone who nearly averaged a point per game during his first two years at Northeastern.

Szmatula actually tried to get out of his letter of intent to Northeastern before his freshman season, but Northeastern wouldn’t let him. He has long been connected to Denver because of his ties with head coach Jim Montgomery.

Szmatula led Montgomery to a USHL title with Dubuque before Montgomery left for Denver.


The Hockey News wrote a story about a recruit we’ll hear more about in the future — if he stays college-eligible — in Shane Bowers.

Read it here.

Bowers played alongside the son of former UND tough guy Dean Dachyshyn in Halifax last season, so the UND staff surely knows all about him. It appears that Bowers will play for Waterloo this season.

Random updates

New Hampshire has signed longtime coach Dick Umile to a three-year extension that will take him through the 2017-18 season, the Herald has learned.

Although there has been no formal announcement by the school, UNH president Mark Huddleston signed the new deal on July 15. The new contract officially began retroactively on July 1 and will pay Umile a base salary of $248,240 per season.

Yes, we’re in the dog days of summer, and a lot of people are taking vacation, but it is strange to have signed a coach to a new contract and not announce anything. Maybe they were planning to do it eventually? Maybe they were going to just let it go and see if anybody got a hold of it? Who knows.

Umile has been New Hampshire’s head coach since 1990, leading the Wildcats to seven Hockey East regular season titles and two Hockey East playoff titles.

After making the NCAA tournament for 10 consecutive seasons, the Wildcats have missed it in three of the last four.


Things aren’t getting any better for the University of Wisconsin.

Promising defenseman Jack Dougherty, a big late get for the Badgers a year ago, has signed with the Nashville Predators after one season. Dougherty is going to play in the WHL this season.

It’s another hit for the Badgers, who continue to take punches to the chin from every direction.

After a four-win season, Wisconsin lost its top two recruits — forward Brock Boeser to UND and goalie Luke Opilka to the OHL — and now its top young prospect.


Boston College recruit Jeremy Bracco, rumored to be considering jumping to the OHL, tweeted last week that he is, indeed, going to school at BC.

I’m guessing that rumors will persist until he begins class on Chestnut Hill as Sonny Milano also re-affirmed his commitment to the Eagles last summer only to ultimately end up in the OHL.


In case you missed it last week, East Grand Forks coach Tyler Palmiscno, a former UND player, has stepped down from his position after winning back-to-back state championships.

Palmiscno said the time commitment became too much.

During his tenure at EGF as an assistant coach, a co-head coach and a head coach, Palmiscno not only coached successful teams, he also did a terrific job developing players.

UND guys Gage Ausmus, Tucker Poolman and Dixon Bowen all came through during Palmiscno’s time. Bowen, who will come to campus next season, won’t be the last member of the 2015 state title team to end up at a D-I school, either.

Adios, WJC

The U.S. will host the World Juniors for the sixth time ever in 2018, and that event will end up in Chicago, St. Louis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh or Tampa.

I’m going to advise the bookies to make Pittsburgh the favorite, but really, it’s anybody’s guess.

If you look at the finalists, you’ll notice a trend. They are all NHL cities and NHL arenas. That’s what I would expect to see in the future. That means it appears the days of Grand Forks hosting a World Junior Championship are gone.

Strangely enough, Grand Forks and its success may be to blame. Here’s a column from today’s paper on how GF launch the World Juniors into a new era of success and into an era where it is too big for places like… Grand Forks.

As I noted in the column, it’s a bummer that Grand Forks won’t see a WJC again, but it has the next best thing coming right up in April. The World Under-18s are going to be here. It’s an outstanding tournament.

I also know that REA officials have kept an eye on the Women’s Worlds and the Women’s U18 Worlds as well. It wouldn’t be a shocker if The Ralph bid on one of those sometime in the future and won out.

I also know that REA general manager Jody Hodgson is extremely popular among USA Hockey’s top officials and is a big reason why Grand Forks secured the World U18s.

A member of the USA Hockey senior staff recently told me that Hodgson is “a forward thinker, innovative, straight-forward and great to work with. Jody plays heavily in favor of The Ralph and the community of Grand Forks.”

Even so, that’s not enough to overcome all the factors working against Grand Forks and The Ralph in its attempt to host the World Juniors again.

USA’s World Juniors (attendance)

1982 — Minneapolis (86,941)
1989 — Anchorage (45,934)
1996 — Boston (53,346, estimated)
2005 — Grand Forks (195,771)
2011 — Buffalo (331,297)
2018 — TBD (finalists: Chicago, St. Louis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Tampa)

The next opportunity that the U.S. would have to host a World Juniors would be 2022.

I’m guessing that the best chance for local hockey fans to have a nearby World Juniors would either be if St. Paul and the Xcel Energy Center lands it in the future or if Canada picks Winnipeg.

Winnipeg hosted the event in 1999 along with Brandon. Since then, nearly every Canadian major city has been able to host. I’m guessing Quebec City will get it in 2019 or 2021. Winnipeg has to be a candidate for the other year.

Future World Junior sites

2016 — Helsinki, Finland
2017 — Montreal and Toronto
2018 — United States (TBD)
2019 — Canada (TBD)
2020 — Czech Republic (TBD)
2021 — Canada (TBD)

Locals participate in USA camps

Several local players competed in USA Hockey development camps this summer, as well as a handful of UND recruits like Mark Senden, Mitchell Mattson, Matt Kiersted and Collin Adams.

Here’s a list of the local, area and North Dakotans who competed (let me know if I’m missing anyone).


Nick Lund, F, Grand Forks (sixth-leading scorer with 7 points in 5 games)
Johnny Witzke, D, Bismarck
Bryden Stoskopf, F, Roseau
Brendan Bushy, D, Thief River Falls


Ethan Peterson, G, Park River (third-best save percentage with .917)
Cam Olstad, F, Grand Forks
Michael Schumacher, D, Bismarck


Mason Salquist, F, Grand Forks (eighth-leading scorer with 7 points in 5 games)
Spencer Weisgram, D, Fargo
Ethan Frisch, D, Moorhead
Reegan Reule, G, Devils Lake

On the girls side, a number of locals participated in the U18 and U15 camps, though USA Hockey did not enter hometowns, so I can’t be sure I have all of them. Several made the U18 Select camp, too.

U18 Select

Kennedy Blair, G, Bismarck (UND commit)
Mak Langei, D, East Grand Forks
Patti Marshall, D, Thief River Falls (Minnesota commit)
Morgan Helgeson, F, Roseau
Alex Woken, F, Fargo (Minnesota commit)

Around the country…

Two players are leaving college hockey — and a third could be joining them before he ever sets foot on campus.

Colorado College goalie Chase Perry, the son of former UND goalie Craig Perry, is headed back to juniors to play in the BCHL this season.

Perry was the only 1996-born goalie in college hockey all of last season, according to Chris Dilks of SB Nation. He struggled, posting a 1-8-1 record, a 3.97 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage.

UND freshman Matej Tomek will have a similar challenge in front of him — he’ll be one of college hockey’s youngest goalies as a 1997-born player — albeit playing in front of a significantly better defensive corps.

Colorado College was prepared for this to happen and already had a goalie commitment.


Boston University forward J.J. Piccinich is leaving to play in Canadian major juniors.

Piccinich will sign with London, as first reported by Over the Boards.

The fourth-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs only registered one goal and four points last season for the Terriers. With Boston University adding more depth this season, playing time had to be a question mark for Piccinich.


Boston College standout recruit Jeremy Bracco will reportedly decide any day now whether he will sign in the OHL or report to school.

This could be the second summer in a row that BC loses a high-end recruit, as it lost Sonny Milano at the last minute to the OHL last season.

Milano gave up commitments to both Notre Dame and Boston College, while Bracco was previously committed to Harvard and is now pondering giving up a his commitment to the Eagles as well.

Bracco was the last pick of the second round by the Toronto Maple Leafs.


Former Wisconsin Badger forward Morgan Zulinick, the team’s third-leading scorer a season ago, left school a couple of months ago to be closer to his family.

He has now signed in Germany. It sounds like the German team is going to pay to bring his family overseas.