Another Poolman commits to UND

Colton Poolman, the younger brother of UND defenseman Tucker Poolman, has committed to UND.

Colton is a strong all-around defenseman, who helped East Grand Forks Senior High win a state championship two years ago. He spent last season with the Fargo Force in the USHL.

UND has had tremendous success with local players recently, especially on its defensive corps, which boasted Paul LaDue (GF), Gage Ausmus (EGF), Keaton Thompson (Devils Lake) and Tucker Poolman (EGF) last season.

Caggiula to return for senior year

UND will lost more than 50 percent of its forward scoring from last season, but it will return its leading scorer.

Drake Caggiula told the Herald on Tuesday that he will return for his senior season.

That’s a big development for UND, which will likely need to up the offense without Hobey Baker Award finalist and Mike Richter Award winner Zane McIntyre.

For the full story on Caggiula’s return, see the Herald here.

McIntyre set to turn pro

UND goalie Zane McIntyre will turn pro and is expected to soon start negotiations with the Boston Bruins.

McIntyre’s advisor confirmed the move to the Herald.

The move means UND’s starting goaltenders are set for next season — it will be Cam Johnson, Matej Tomek and Matt Hrynkiw battling for the starting job. At this point, it’s hard to believe that UND will start the season with a No. 1 goalie.

UND’s starting goalies will have a combined 43 minutes, 19 seconds of college experience next season, all from Johnson.

Johnson started just one game last season and it did not go well. He was pulled early in the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots. He played well in an exhibition win against the U.S. Under-18 team later in the season.

As the second half progressed, multiple team members said behind the scenes that Johnson is a lot more talented than the public has seen.

Tomek, meanwhile, comes in highly touted. He has great size and great physical attributes. As a young player, it may take some time for him to adjust. His potential is very high.

Hrynkiw came to UND as a third goaltender and a walk-on. Predictably, he didn’t get any playing time as a freshman or a sophomore. But UND hoped that he could push for playing time as an upper-classman. Now, he’s there.

Random updates

Brock Nelson continues to dominate at the IIHF World Championship.

The former UND and Warroad star had two goals and an assist in USA’s 3-1 win over Slovenia on Sunday.

Nelson leads the entire tournament in goals (6) and plus-minus (+8), while ranking second in points (9), one off the lead.

The Americans are 5-1 and have one more game remaining in pool play.

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The buzz over the weekend, thanks to The Hockey News’ reporting, is that top prospect Auston Matthews appears likely headed to play next year in Switzerland instead of the NCAA or Canadian major juniors.

Matthews, currently projected as the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, listed six college hockey teams as finalists, including UND.

However, Matthews is still a junior in high school and would have to complete his senior year over the summer to be eligible for college hockey. Because of that, it has always seemed that he would be a longshot to play in college.

Another prospect from the U.S. Under-18 team, forward Matthew Tkachuk, announced over the weekend that he would go to major juniors. Tkachuk de-committed from Notre Dame in November.

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Over the weekend, I wrote a little bit about the NCAA regionals situation.

At the annual Florida meetings, the coaches voted a lopsided 52-6-1 against moving them to home sites. The NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Committee doesn’t have to follow the wishes of the coaches, but because of the decisiveness of the vote, they likely will.

Read more about that here.

There are also a few nuggets about NCHC changes.

The league will soon go to NHL-style nets, which are shallower (sorry Mike Parks, one year too late). And it will increase the travel roster by one for league games.

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Major props go out to Rocco Grimaldi, who completed his degree this week.

Although he turned pro early, Grimaldi has spent the last year earning 37 credits online so he could graduate from UND.

Grimaldi played his rookie season with the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL and also had a couple of stints with the Florida Panthers in the NHL. Grimaldi scored his first-career NHL goal this season.

UND announces team awards

UND announced its team awards on the men’s and women’s sides. Here are the press releases from the school……

Junior goaltender Zane McIntyre was named the recipient of the Jeff Anderson Scholarship Award as the University of North Dakota’s most valuable player, highlighting the 2014-15 team awards announced on Wednesday night by head coach Dave Hakstol.

McIntyre won the Mike Richter Award as the top goaltender in Division I men’s hockey and was a Hobey “Hat Trick” finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award given to the nation’s best player. The Thief River Falls, Minn., native appeared in all 42 games this season and led the nation with 29 victories, second-most in UND single-season history. He finished the year with a 29-10-3 record and a 2.05 goals against average and .929 save percentage. McIntyre was also named the NCHC Goaltender of the Year and was the NCAA West Region Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

UND’s other 2014-15 team award recipients included:

Cliff “Fido” Purpur Award: Connor Gaarder | Senior | Forward | Edina, Minn.

  • Award is given to the player who exemplifies hard work, determination and being a creator of excitement on the ice
  • Assistant captain had career highs in points (20), goals (10), assists (10) and tied for ninth nationally in GWG (5)

Archie Krum Memorial Athletic Scholarship: Nick Mattson | Senior | Defenseman | Chanhassen, Minn.

  • Award is given to the player who demonstrates leadership qualities, high academic standards, athletic excellence
  • Earned second straight NCAA Elite 89 Award for having the highest grade-point average among Frozen Four participants
  • NCHC  Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Tom Hoghaug Memorial Scholarship: Tucker Poolman | Freshman | Defenseman | East Grand Forks, Minn.

  • Award is given to the freshman who demonstrates initiative, character and a sense of responsibility
  • Played in 25 games at forward and 15 on defense and led the team with six power-play goals

Rookie of the Year: Nick Schmaltz | Forward | Verona, Wis.

  • Named to All-NCHC Rookie Team and was the NCHC Rookie of the Month in October
  • Tied for second among NCHC freshmen in points (26) and assists (21)

    Most Improved Player:
    Austin Poganski | Freshman | Forward | St. Cloud, Minn.
  • Had four goals and 10 assists with a plus-11 in 38 games as a freshman
  • Led the conference in rooking scoring during the NCHC Quarterfinals with three points in two games

Coaches’ Unsung Hero Award: Andrew Panzarella | Senior | Defenseman | Washington, D.C.

  • Was a career-best plus-8 and matched his career high with four points despite playing in only nine games
  • UND went 8-1-0 when he was in the lineup

Plus/Minus Award: Gage Ausmus | Sophomore | Defenseman | East Grand Forks, Minn.

  • Award is given to the player with the best plus/minus rating on the team
  • Played in all 42 games and led the team with a career-high plus-15 rating

Virg Foss 3-Star Award: Zane McIntyre | Junior | Goalie | Thief River Falls, Minn.

  • Award is given to the player who receives the most 3-star voting points from the print media following home games
  • Named 1st star twice, 2nd star once and 3rd star five times

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Junior goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie earned both the team’s Most Valuable Player and Academic awards. While holding a 4.0 grade-point average in chemical engineering, Amsley-Benzie led the nation’s goaltenders this season with a .954 save percentage. Her accolades on the ice propelled her to become the third All-American in program history. She additionally broke three school records and now holds the records for career wins (51), career shutouts (14) and single-season shutouts (9).

Halli Krzyzaniak was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year. Krzyzaniak earned All-WCHA Third Team honors this season and was also named to the Canadian Women’s National Team for both the 2014 Four Nations Cup and the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championship. She totaled 13 points this season from the blue line, scoring two goals and recording 11 assists.

Jordan Hampton was named the team’s Rookie of the Year, given to a player in her first year of play at UND. Hampton, a sophomore transfer from Northeastern, stepped in right away at the blue line for UND and played in all 37 games this season. She ended her first year and UND with seven assists and a +4 plus/minus rating.

The team’s Most Improved Player award went to junior forward Shannon Kaiser. Playing in all 37 games, Kaiser recorded three goals and three assists. She scored the game-winning goal against Bemidji State on Jan. 25, while assisting on the game-winner against St. Cloud State on Nov. 29.

Rounding out the team awards, senior defenseman Tori Williams was named the team’s Most Dedicated Player. Named an assistant captain for the season, Williams skated in all 37 games for UND this season. She totaled five points off of one goal and four assists, with her lone goal coming in the final game of the season against No. 3 Wisconsin in the semifinals of the 2015 WCHA Final Face-Off.

At the end of the banquet, head coach Brian Idalski named the team captains that will lead the UND squad in 2015-16. Three assistant captains were named, as Becca Kohler, Tanja Eisenschmid and Layla Marvin will all wear an ‘A’, while soon-to-be junior defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak will get the ‘C’ as the team’s captain next season.

Nelson leading USA at Worlds

Former UND and Warroad High standout Brock Nelson is off to a great start at his second IIHF World Championship.

Through three games, the Americans are 3-0 and Nelson is the team’s leading scorer with four points. His plus-5 rating is one off the tournament lead as well.

Nelson had two assists in USA’s 5-1 opening win over Finland. Then, he scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over Norway and tacked on an empty-netter during a 4-2 win over Russia.

The Americans still have preliminary round games against Belarus, Denmark, Slovenia and Slovakia left.

Nelson’s tournament could help serve as a mini-audition for the 2018 Olympics, where he may wind up being a candidate for Team USA. Of course that will heavily depend on his play in the NHL during the next few seasons.

Nelson has strong family history with USA Hockey as his grandfather and uncle both have Olympic golds.

Toews a finalist for Selke, Messier

Former UND star Jonathan Toews is once again a finalist for two major NHL awards — the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward and the Mark Messier Leadership Award, which goes to the NHL’s best leader.

Toews has previously been a finalist for both awards, winning Selke in 2013.

Toews is a Selke finalist for the fourth time in five years. The other finalists are Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings. It was the same top three as a year ago.

The Selke bio for Toews says: “Toews played a key role in helping the Blackhawks tie for the fewest goals against in the NHL and post the 11th 100-point season in franchise history (fifth since 2008-09). He led all Western Conference players and ranked fifth in the League overall with a career-best +30 rating, ranked fourth in the NHL in face-off wins (947) and sixth in face-off winning percentage (56.5%), and topped Blackhawks forwards in total ice time (1,584:36, 19:33 per game). A Selke finalist for the fourth time in five years, the Blackhawks captain is in quest of a second career win after capturing the award in 2012-13.”

Toews is a finalist for the Messier Award along with Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Andrew Ladd of the Winnipeg Jets.

The Messier bio for Toews says: Chicago’s captain since he was just 20-years-old, Toews led the club with 28-38—66 in the regular season to guide the Blackhawks to their seventh consecutive playoff berth. He also built upon his work in the community, where he actively participates in various team endeavors, including Make-A-Wish visits and the Four Feathers Golf Invitational. Independently, Toews served as the honorary chairperson for the Israel Idonije Fundraiser, which helps underserved communities by providing programs focused on social and emotional life skills; supported The Winnipeg Foundation in creating its Nourishing Potential campaign; and continued his role with Misericordia, a Chicago group that offers care for those with mild to profound developmental disabilities.”

Toews is currently playing in the second round of the NHL Playoffs with the Chicago Blackhawks against the Minnesota Wild. Chicago leads the series 2-0.

Random updates

The USHL playoffs are in full swing right now, but there’s been lots of buzz about coaching positions in the league.

Fargo is currently searching for its replacement for John Marks, who retired at the end of the season. All four coaches in franchise history have either played or coached at UND, and it appears that Fargo may be headed down that road again.

It sounds like Sioux Falls head coach Cary Eades is emerging as the top candidate in Fargo. Eades is currently in the middle of a playoff push with the Stampede. Eades would give Fargo another UND-connected head coach and another one with local name recognition.

Should Fargo hire Eades at the end of the season, there’s considerable buzz that former Colorado College coach Scott Owens would be a top candidate in Sioux Falls.

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Speaking of the USHL, UND defenseman recruit Hayden Shaw is currently dominating in the playoffs. He has 10 points in five games to lead all USHL scorers in the playoffs — forwards included. Shaw, who was traded from Waterloo to Dubuque this year, is coming to UND in the fall.

Shaw’s Dubuque teammate, Grand Forks Red River’s Jacob Benson, also is having a great playoffs with six points in five games. He’s tied as the sixth-leading scorer in the USHL postseason.

Dubuque is currently playing Muskegon in the semifinals. UND defenseman commit Christian Wolanin is currently the second-leading scorer in the playoffs for the Lumberjacks with six points in five games. He’s also coming to UND in the fall.

In the other half of the draw, it’s Eades’ Sioux Falls team against UND commit Chris Wilkie and Tri City. Wilkie has four points in four games for the Storm.

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In the NHL playoffs, former UND stars Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise will meet up in the conference semifinals once again. Toews currently leads the NHL playoffs in scoring with eight points. Parise is one back with seven.

The only other player still alive from UND is Brock Nelson with the New York Islanders, who play in a Game 7 tonight against the Washington Capitals.

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There are a number of former UND players still alive in the AHL playoffs, which is in the first round right now.

Carter Rowney is off to a huge start with four points in two games for Wilkes Barre-Scranton. Others in the mix include Derek Forbort (Manchester), Evan Trupp (Worcester), Aaron Dell (Worcester), Matt Frattin (Toronto), Andrew MacWilliam (Toronto), Danny Kristo (Hartford), Dillon Simpson (Oklahoma City), Rocco Grimaldi (San Antonio) and Corban Knight (San Antonio).

Frattin had a big Game 2 for Toronto, scoring a pair of goals as the Marlies went up 2-0 in the series.

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In the NAHL playoffs, UND’s newest commit, Mike Gornall, had a hat trick and four points for Topeka in a 5-4 loss. Goalie commit Matej Tomek was pulled in that game after allowing four goals on 14 shots.

The Minot-Austin series, featuring GF’s Casey Johnson and Jon Lizotte and Grafton’s Jade Miller, is tied 1-1.

Third annual all-dining team

Those who go on college hockey road trips know that there’s a lot more that goes into it than hockey games. The trips are an experience that encompasses all you do that weekend. Most fans usually try to do some sightseeing, some eating and some drinking while on the road.

That brings us to my top picks from the 2014-15 season and the third annual all-dining team, which happens to coincide with the announcement that Nebraska Omaha will have a taco cannon at home games in the new rink.

First team (restaurants)

Legal Harborside, Boston: We went there our first night at the Frozen Four. The baked scrod was so amazing that we went back the next night for some more. It’s located right on the water with a great view, which I’m sure looks nicer when it’s not dark out.

Pepperjax, Omaha: Yeah, I missed out on my traditional Omaha meal at Upstream Brewing Company for this, but I wasn’t disappointed. My Philly rivaled those that I ate at the Frozen Four last year.

Sam’s No. 3, Denver: I don’t eat breakfast too often, but if Grand Forks had a Sam’s, that could change. All-American diner type of plays with tremendous breakfast food.

Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis: They are famous for their Bloody Marys, but we had a fairly large group there and none of us tried them. We all had different meals and everyone spoke glowingly about their lunches. We’ll be back.

Spicy cajun dog vendor, Colorado Springs: Yeah, he’s still there. Downtown on Tejon Street. Right across the street from the CSprings Gazette. If I worked there, it would be game over.

Second team (pizza places)

Ian’s, Madison: Amazing pizza by the slice. It has all sorts of crazy options. The Mac and Cheese is their classic, but I had the chicken quesadilla pizza and will definitely be doing that again.

Will’s Pizza, Oxford: It’s a regular pizza joint that turns into pizza-by-the-slice late at night. Have never had a bad experience there.

Campus Pizza, Minneapolis: I learned it was closing its doors during the regionals sadly. One of my favorite all-time pizza places. Great food, great people. Will miss this place a lot.

Erbelli’s, Kalamazoo: One of those places where the pizza is terrific as it’s going down, but you feel horribly uncomfortable about 10 minutes after you are done. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to eat good pizza.

Deek’s Pizza, Grand Forks: No explanation necessary.

Third team (bars)

Bukowski, Boston: Matt Schill found this hole-in-the-wall type joint near the Back Bay neighborhood in Boston. Ended up being a great find.

Burdick’s, Kalamazoo: Ended up here every night of the trip. I had the chicken nachos four times. We could never decide whether it was actually chicken on the nachos, but when it tastes that good, it doesn’t matter.

Howie’s, St. Cloud: Needed to find a place to watch the Miami Hurricanes in the afternoon. The people there were kind enough to hook me up. That mean’s you’re making the team.

The Ritz, Colorado Springs: Our traditional stop in downtown Colorado Springs. I’m not sure if the bar is great or if it’s great because it’s located 2 blocks from the spicy cajun dog vendor.

Doyle’s, Boston: First place to sell Sam Adams beer. Cool Jamaica Plain neighborhood bar with great food. Four movies have been filmed there, including 21.

Fourth team (top sights)

Royal Gorge Bridge, outside Colorado Springs: It’s only about an hour drive out of the Springs and I’m glad I did it. Incredible views from the suspension bridge. If you haven’t done it, I highly recommend.

Fenway Park, Boston: If you are a baseball fan, you know how surreal it is to see the park where Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb once played.

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs: If you get a nice day, it’s a fun place to roam. Again, fun sights and rock formations all around you.

Creighton-Georgetown basketball: No, I didn’t see Doug McDermott. Yes, I did see Creighton miss 22 straight shots and go 18 minutes without a field goal. But Creighton hoops is the big thing in town there, and I still had fun checking out the game.

Random gas station, Sioux Falls: When you’ve been on a bus in a snowstorm for eight hours with nothing to eat, walking into this place was one beautiful sight.

Major awards

MVP: Ian’s Pizza. When you need late-night food and this is located just blocks from my hotel (and all the bars), it’s a life savor.

Rookie of the year: Legal Harborside. Nobody had a bad meal there.

Coach of the year: Chris Lee, Omaha. He’s the one who steered us to Pepperjax, and he also dropped several other places that I could have gone had I not decided to jump on the overnight bus back to Grand Forks after Saturday’s game. Included in the list was a Bar Rescue bar where Jon Taffer once dropped a classic “Shut it down!”

Inaugural Hall of Fame inductee

Some of these spots pop up on the list every year, so I’m going to start inducting places into the Hall of Fame. The first entry is a place I stop every time I’m in Denver. Congrats, Cherry Cricket, you are the first restaurant to enter the Hall of Fame.

UND gets commit from Topeka forward

Topeka (NAHL) forward Mike Gornall has committed to UND and will come to campus in the fall as an older forward.

Gornall, a 1994-born player, is the team’s captain.

He was previously committed to Air Force. According to a release, there was a mutual agreement during the admissions process that there may be a better fit for him.

Gornall will come as a 20-year-old from Irwin, Pa. He finished second on Topeka in scoring this season with 49 points in 58 games.

Presumably, Gornall will start as a depth player for UND, which needs to replace at least five senior forwards.