UND wins several NCHC awards

UND won several NCHC awards, presented at the Muse Events Center on Thursday afternoon.

Dave Hakstol won the league’s coach of the year honor; Zane McIntyre is the league’s goalie of the year; Mark MacMillan is the defensive forward of the year; and Nick Mattson is the scholar-athlete of the year.

Here’s a list of the major award winners:

MVP — Joey LaLeggia, Denver

Herb Brooks coach of the year — Dave Hakstol, North Dakota

Forward of the year — Trevor Moore, Denver

Defenseman of the year — LaLeggia, Denver

Goalie of the year — Zane McIntyre, North Dakota

Defensive forward of the year — Mark MacMlilan, North Dakota

Offensive defenseman of the year — LaLeggia, Denver

Scholar-athlete of the year — Nick Mattson, North Dakota

NCHC sportsmanship award — Nick Oliver, St. Cloud State

Should the NCHC name its second trophy?

One of the best, somewhat subtle moves that the NCHC made early in its existence was naming the trophy that’s awarded to the league champion.

After just two years, the Penrose Cup already has a ring to it among fans. You’ll hear them talk about chasing the Penrose Cup and trying to win it. It’s important for branding and to help increase interest in the race for championships.

This weekend, another one of the NCHC’s trophies will be awarded to the champion of the Frozen Faceoff. Once again, it was a good move by the NCHC to name its league championship, brand it and try to grow it. It will probably take a bit for fans to get the name down because the Final Five was so ingrained, but it’s definitely a good start down the right road.

That brings us to today’s question: Should the NCHC name its second trophy?

I don’t think it’s 100 percent necessary since the league already branded the tournament, but I vote ‘yes.’ I think giving the Frozen Faceoff trophy a name helps brand it even more and gives the award a little extra visibility.

Yes, it’s difficult to come up with a name that’s not tied to a particular school in the conference. Maybe the Scherr Trophy after the league’s first commissioner, Jim Scherr, and his longstanding dedication to the conference and the sport. No? Okay then.

Can you think of any suitable names out there for the playoff trophy? Or does the league even need the trophy to be named at all?

Let’s hear your thoughts.

McIntyre leads major award finalists

UND junior Zane McIntyre is a finalists for two major awards in the NCHC: player of the year and goalie of the year. McIntyre leads UND’s finalists.

The finalists for the coach of the year are all former Sioux (players/coaches): Dave Hakstol, Dean Blais and Scott Sandelin.

Mark MacMillan is a finalists for defensive forward of the year and Jordan Schmaltz is a finalist for offensive defenseman of the year.

The winners will be announced a week from today in the Twin Cities. Here’s the compete list of finalists:
Herb Brooks Coach of the Year
Dean Blais, Omaha
Dave Hakstol, North Dakota
Scott Sandelin, Minnesota Duluth

Player of the Year
Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State, Jr., F
Joey LaLeggia, Denver, Sr., D
Zane McIntyre, North Dakota, Jr., G

Rookie of the Year
Louie Belpedio, Miami, D
Danton Heinen, Denver, F
Patrick Russell, St. Cloud State, F

Goaltender of the Year
Kasimir Kaskisuo, Minnesota Duluth, Fr.
Ryan Massa, Omaha, Sr.
Zane McIntyre, North Dakota, Jr.

Forward of the Year
Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State, Jr.
Austin Czarnik, Miami, Sr.
Trevor Moore, Denver, So.

Defenseman of the Year
Matthew Caito, Miami, Jr.
Joey LaLeggia, Denver, Sr. (last year’s winner)
Andy Welinski, Minnesota Duluth, Jr.

Offensive Defenseman of the Year
Ian Brady, Omaha, So.
Joey LaLeggia, Denver, Sr. (last year’s winner)
Jordan Schmaltz, North Dakota, Jr.
Jaccob Slavin, Colorado College, So.

Defensive Forward of the Year
Austin Czarnik, Miami, Sr.
Daniel Doremus, Denver, Sr.
Mark MacMillan, North Dakota, Sr.

What would have happened if…

Two topics of discussion with NCHC and the way it calculates its standings are: 1. the shootout, and, 2. whether it should give teams a point for getting to overtime.

For starters, I went back and calculated the standings using the old WCHA format — 2 points for a win, 1 for a tie, 0 for a loss. No shootouts. The result? For the second consecutive season, there wouldn’t have been a single change in the standings. Everyone would have been in the same spot and the same matchups would have played out in the first round.

That’s one reason why I don’t mind the shootout. It seems to be free entertainment for the fans and, at this point, it’s not affecting the standings at all.

The second topic of discussion is whether the NCHC should give teams a point if they lose in the five-minute overtime. So, I calculated the standings using that format — 3 for a regulation or overtime win, 2 for a shootout win, 1 for an overtime OR shootout loss, 0 for a regulation loss.

The result? Not a thing would have changed in the standings. That’s different from last season, where one matchup in the first round would have been different.

I think there will continue to be good dialogue at the league meetings about the shootout and about whether teams should get a point for getting to overtime. But for now, changing those rules wouldn’t be changing a whole lot in terms of the final result.

Shyiak headed to WMU

Former Alaska Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak is the new associate head coach at Western Michigan. An official announcement is expected this week.

Both of Andy Murray’s assistants left this offseason. The Broncos previously hired Ben Barr from Providence College.

Shyiak spent eight years as head coach of the Seawolves, his last coming in 2012-13. Prior to that, Shyiak was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Northern Michigan, for a decade.

Shyiak, of Brandon, Man., has family ties to the Devils Lake area.

CC hires Haviland

Colorado College has hired longtime pro coach Mike Haviland to succeed Scott Owens at the helm.

Haviland comes from the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, where he was the head coach for one season.

Most notably, Haviland served as an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks during their 2010 Stanley Cup season. He also won two championships as a head coach in the East Coast Hockey League.

Haviland, who played at Elmira College, will have a rebuilding project on his hands as Colorado College finished seventh place in the NCHC last season.

The Tigers have a promising young defensive corps but will need to re-discover some dynamic threats up front, which was CC’s method of operation when it had successful teams in the WCHA during the last decade.

NCHC to discuss playoff formats

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Joe Paisley reported this week that the NCHC will talk about possible adjustments to the league’s postseason format at the annual meetings, which begin next week in Florida.

There seems to be two alternatives to the current setup (four best-of-three, first-round series with the winners going to the Frozen Faceoff at the Target Center):

1. All eight teams make it to the Target Center.

The good: Fans could buy tickets to it each year knowing that their team will make it there. The league could book travel for all teams before the season started and not have problems getting last-minute tickets. The bad: You go from 12-16 games in the tournament with first-round series, to eight-10 games. Fewer games probably means less revenue. It also would take away two home games for successful teams. The schools don’t make tons of money on first-round series, but they do benefit a little bit financially. Fans also enjoy seeing two more home games at the end of the season and that would take away from that opportunity.

2. The bottom four teams are forced to play best-of-three series to get to Target Center. The top four make it automatically. This means only two teams miss the Frozen Faceoff.

The good: More teams make it, more fan bases make it to fill up the seats. The controversy: Do top teams want to take a week off at that time of year? I’m not sure. Maybe some do, so they can rest up. Maybe some don’t. The bad: Once again, it takes away two home games from successful teams.

Why the possible change?

Let’s read between the lines here, though. Nobody is going to come out and say it, but the league has got to be terrified of the possibility of North Dakota not making it to the Target Center.

This year, North Dakota fans saved the event. It ended up being a solid crowd in Minneapolis. But if Colorado College won that first-round series Game 3 against UND, it would have been a disaster. There would have been 400 people there.

It didn’t help that Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State missed out on the tournament, either. But I think the league knows that if UND gets beat first round — and it’s going to happen some time — it’s probably going to end up in the red.

I think the league also realized that if UND’s fan base would have been supplemented by Bulldog and Husky fans, there could have been a really, really good crowd at the Target Center. That’s likely the driving factor in these talks. The league rightfully won’t come out and say they need those teams in Minneapolis, but that’s the truth.

Because of the NCHC’s depth, it’s going to be even more difficult for teams to make the Frozen Faceoff. UND is in the midst of a staggering 12-year run of first-round playoff victories. Outside of Michigan, no other program has a streak longer than five years.

Assuming UND will make it every year is not realistic. The league is trying to put itself in position to have a successful and profitable postseason, even if UND (and SCSU/Duluth) does not make it to Minneapolis.

That’s also another reason why I think we will see another round of realignment in the last five to 10 years with Minnesota State-Mankato ending up in the NCHC. But that’s another story.

I know that UND coach Dave Hakstol said he would like to see the NCHC postseason remain the same about a month ago. What do you all think?

Faragher signs with Ducks

St. Cloud State goalie Ryan Faragher, who led the Huskies to a pair of conference titles in the last two seasons, has signed with the Anaheim Ducks.

Faragher is the sixth NCHC player to turn pro early this offseason and the first from the Huskies.

Faragher was 20-9-4 with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. For his career, he played 98 games for the Huskies and had a 53-34-8 with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

With his departure, Charlie Lindgren will become the No. 1 goalie for the Huskies next season.

NCHC early signings

Colorado College (1)
Gustav Olofsson, fr, d, Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Duluth (1)
Caleb Herbert, jr, f, Washington Capitals

Nebraska Omaha (2)
Josh Archibald, jr, f, Pittsburgh Penguins
Jaycob Megna, jr, d, Anaheim Ducks

St. Cloud State (1)
Ryan Faragher, jr, g, Anaheim Ducks

Western Michigan (1)
Jordan Oesterle, jr, d, Edmonton Oilers

Megna leaves Omaha

Nebraska Omaha 6-foot-6 defenseman Jaycob Megna is the second player to turn pro early from the Mavericks this offseason, signing a three-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks, according to the Orange County Register.

Megna was one of Omaha’s top defensemen, playing 32 games and registering 10 assists. He played 105 career games.

Megna’s brother, Jayson, previously played for the Mavs, but signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins after one season. Jayson currently is up with the Pens.

Omaha will have to replace two of its minute-eating defensemen in Megna and senior Michael Young.

NCHC early signings

Colorado College (1)
Gustav Olofsson, fr, d, Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Duluth (1)
Caleb Herbert, jr, f, Washington Capitals

Nebraska Omaha (2)
Josh Archibald, jr, f, Pittsburgh Penguins
Jaycob Megna, jr, d, Anaheim Ducks

Western Michigan (1)
Jordan Oesterle, jr, d, Edmonton Oilers

WMU’s Oesterle signs

Western Michigan junior defenseman Jordan Oesterle is the fourth NCHC player to turn pro early this offseason from the fourth different team.

Oesterle, a streaky defenseman, had two goals and 17 points this season for the Broncos, who finished fifth in the NCHC and reached the inaugural Frozen Faceoff.

Oesterle was an undrafted player. The Broncos will now lose two regulars on defense in Oesterle and senior Dennis Brown.

NCHC early signings

Colorado College (1)
Gustav Olofsson, fr, d, Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Duluth (1)
Caleb Herbert, jr, f, Washington Capitals

Nebraska Omaha (1)
Josh Archibald, jr, f, Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Michigan (1)
Jordan Oesterle, jr, d, Edmonton Oilers