Nick Schmaltz out indefinitely

UND will be without one of its most dynamic players this weekend as standout forward Nick Schmaltz is out indefinitely with an arm injury.

Coach Dave Hakstol said on his weekly radio show that the injury occurred early in Saturday’s game, but Schmaltz played through it.

Schmaltz had eight points in nine games to start the season and was UND’s best setup man. His role will have to be filled not only five-on-five but also on the power play, where he has four of his eight points.

Who could fill that role?

One possibility is Mark MacMillan. He is skating again and he did practice today. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to play on Friday, but I believe there is at least a chance. MacMillan has been out for the last four games with a wrist injury.

Paul LaDue also was at practice today, but didn’t do a whole lot. He sustained a leg injury Friday against Wisconsin and did not play Saturday. UND has a deep and experienced defensive corps that can help replace LaDue if he cannot go again this weekend.

Miami’s Blake Coleman missed last weekend’s home games against Colorado College and was listed day-to-day. Hoping to get an update from Miami coach Rico Blasi tomorrow on Coleman.

Top-five series at the Ralph

For the first time since 2010, a weekend two-game series at The Ralph will feature two teams ranked in the top five nationally.

In this week’s USCHO poll, UND is ranked No. 3 and Providence is ranked No. 5 (No, polls don’t mean anything substantive at this time of year, but they sometimes can measure hype about teams).

The last time a top-five team came to The Ralph was Boston College in the 2011 Icebreaker. The last two-game series was Denver in January 2010. As you can see, there haven’t been many nonconference series featuring two teams this highly rated in the polls. You will have to go back further than 2007.

REA’s most recent top-five showdowns

Oct. 8, 2011: No. 5 Boston College 6, No. 3 UND 2.
Jan. 30, 2010: No. 3 Denver 4, No. 3 UND 2
Jan. 29, 2010: No. 3 Denver 2, No. 3 UND 0
Nov. 28, 2009: No. 4 UND 5, No. 1 Miami 5, tie
Oct. 13, 2007: No. 1 UND 6, No. 3 Michigan State 0

Providence seemingly received some good news today regarding injured standouts Mark Jankowski and Noel Acciari. Both will be on the trip, according to Providence Journal writer Mark Divver. They are listed as questionable right now, though.

Random updates

One developing storyline to watch for UND’s next home series — a showdown against top-five Providence beginning in 10 days — is the injuries.

According to Mark Divver of the Providence Journal, a pair of key forwards are questionable for the UND series. Mark Jankowski, a first-round pick of the Calgary Flames and Noel Acciari are both questionable with upper-body injuries. Both are going to sit out exhibition play this weekend. They finished 3-4 in scoring last season for the Friars.

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Brock Nelson’s huge start to the season is continuing as Nelson tallied a goal for the Islanders in their win over the New York Rangers. Nelson has 4 goals and 7 points in three games to start the season. He’s tied for the NHL lead in points.

ESPN wrote a story on Nelson’s big start.

NHL.com says Nelson is one of the most-added fantasy players.

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UND will leave for Colorado Springs after practice today. It’s a day earlier than normal, but it should help the players adjust to the altitude. I’ll update if there are any newsworthy happenings at today’s presser.

Tuesday morning notes

All eight of the NCHC teams have now played exhibition games with some mixed results.

UND coach Dave Hakstol was pleased with his team’s performance against the University of Manitoba, but Nebraska Omaha coach Dean Blais was not happy after the Mavs lost Monday night to NAIT.

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UND recruit Christian Evers was a part of the U.S. Under-18 team’s upset win over Miami on Saturday night. The RedHawks came back the next night and destroyed Simon Fraser 11-0.

There was some bad news before the weekend, though. Miami confirmed that senior Jimmy Mullin will sit out this season as he recovers from an undisclosed injury. Mullin missed the end of last season as well and is expected to take a medical redshirt.

We all know that Miami’s top five forwards are Austin Czarnik, Riley Barber, Blake Coleman, Sean Kuraly and Anthony Louis. One question is, if they keep them all on an explosive top two lines, who will be the sixth? The answer: Alex Wideman. Those top two lines had 16 points against Simon Fraser. Wideman had four.

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Western Michigan moved Mike McKee, a gigantic presence at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, to forward during the middle of last season. That move is permanent. McKee played wing on the fourth line during Western’s 2-2 exhibition tie against Toronto.

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Nolan Zajac, who played a bit of forward last season, was back on the blue line for the exhibition game. Grand Forks native Matt Van Voohris did not play in Denver’s exhibition. The Pioneers are now off until Oct. 17. They are the lone NCHC team not in action Friday night.

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On another note, the Montreal Gazette wrote a story about some of the behind-the-scenes issues going on in the CHL right now.

One player told the paper: ”You’ve built your whole life around the dream, it’s hard to just turn that off when the CHL is done with you. So you wake up one day just scratching your head going, ‘I was paid basically nothing, I spent four years of my life living in a town in the middle of nowhere, having an owner make, in some cases, a lot of money off my back, while I was taking punches in the face to support a dream I had.’ And I find out, on the back end, that I’m not really qualified to do anything when it’s all over.”

Random updates

Apologies in advance in case updates are a bit slow right now and this week — the annual Grand Forks Herald preview section(s) are being worked on right now, will go to press this weekend and be inserted into Tuesday’s paper.

I’ll post details on how to get it when the time comes.

This year, because of ad sales, it has been increased from 12 to 16 pages. But since our press cannot produce a 16-page section, it will come out as two 8-page sections. The first section will focus on UND. The second one will focus on the rest of the country.

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Each fall, the Herald runs an online auction for gift certificates to restaurants, bars, services and goods in the area. I’m told that the auction will have a new twist this year: Any winning bids will be refunded if UND wins the national championship. Stay tuned for more info on that.

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The news of the day today — The Red Pepper will be served at men’s games this season. There will be stands behind sections 111 and 306 serving grinders, tostadas, Mexi-burgers, chips and sauce and Coney dogs.

Judging by the reaction on social media today, fans are rather excited about this development.

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Providence was picked to win Hockey East in the preseason coaches poll. The Friars will come to Grand Forks for a marquee two-game series in late October.

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The only two UND games that won’t be on NCHC.tv this season are the two in Magness Arena. So, there was a bit of good news for fans when it was announced that Root Sports will pick up one of UND’s games in Magness. So, fans should be able to watch that game on a dish (or find a place that has it).

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St. Cloud State took a little hit to start the season with Ryan Papa being sidelined for at least half the year. The Times reported that Papa will be out until at least January.

St. Cloud State announced its captains last week and Roseau’s Nick Oliver will wear the ‘C.’

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After sitting out last season, Brad Miller is back in the game, signing with ERC Sonthofen in the third German league.

Meanwhile, Tate Maris has signed a tryout deal with the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL. Clarke Saunders is already signed to play for that squad in net. Derek Rodwell also will go there.

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Danny Kristo registered an assist for the New York Rangers in their first preseason game of the year.

Also of note, Aaron Dell is with the San Jose Sharks right now. The Sharks play their first preseason game against Vancouver tonight.

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The first women’s national poll is out. UND checked in at No. 8. Minnesota is atop the poll. Wisconsin is second.

Also on the women’s side, Meghan Dufault, Halli Krzyzaniak and Becca Kohler all were named to Canada’s National Team Fall Camp roster.

Meanwhile, UND forward Michelle Karvinen is awaiting her fate. The NCAA is in the process of deciding whether to give her a fourth year of eligibility or not. Karvinen is at UND right now, attending school.

Fenton working on TV deal

Quietly, behind the scenes, NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton has been in contact this summer with CBS Sports executives, working on making adjustments to the exclusivity clause in the network’s deal with the league, sources have informed the Herald.

Read the story in the Herald here.

Nothing is done yet, but all indications are that CBS Sports appears willing to alter that exclusivity clause that prevented UND (and others in the league) from getting more nationally televised games last season.

How, exactly, will the exclusivity clause be altered? That’s what’s unknown at this point.

Obviously, CBS will still be able to pick its games and the CBS games won’t be allowed to be on any other network. But I think there’s a good chance that when CBS is not broadcasting hockey, the games could be free to other national networks.

This would be a big step forward for the league and for fans who live elsewhere.

UND could push to get some games back on Fox College Sports. I’ve heard that St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth will likely get some games on FSN North this season, too.

The final details could still be a month away from being worked out, so be patient. But as of right now, it looks like there will be some good developments for the NCHC and college hockey fans.

There are also some rumblings about the NCHC exploring a streaming package, much like the WCHA had last season. The goal would be to offer a subscription where you are allowed to view games from all over the league. There are hurdles, such as pre-existing contracts by individual schools. It is being discussed, though.

The league’s website hosted free streams during the first round of the NCHC playoffs last season. They were well received by fans across the country.

Random updates

UND freshman Nick Schmaltz made the cut at the World Junior evaluation camp and is staying in Lake Placid, N.Y., for the duration.

The final American roster played against Sweden on Wednesday night and wiped out the Swedes 7-1. Schmaltz had two assists in the game (one at even strength, one on the power play).

Based on the games I’ve watched, Schmaltz is more of a setup guy. Once he comes to UND, the staff will have to find a couple of linemates that have the ability to bury the puck because Schmaltz will create opportunities.

Freshman Austin Poganski did not make the final cut, which is not a surprise. Poganski was a late addition to the camp, and just attending it should be a very good experience for him.

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One of the camp’s attendees is making headlines as Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek tweeted earlier this week to look for Boston College recruit and first-round draft pick Sonny Milano to bail on the Eagles and go to the OHL. Milano disputed this to NHL.com.

The Eagles probably aren’t sitting comfortably right now, though. Milano is a former NTDP player and we’ve seen 14 committed NTDP players end up in the CHL since the summer of 2011.

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Two former UND players have inked pro contracts and will be added to the list — one guy who transferred in and one who transferred out.

Goalie Clarke Saunders signed a deal with the Colorado Eagles in the ECHL, while forward Mike Cichy signed with the Florida Everblades in the ECHL. Saunders played two years at Huntsville and two years at UND. Cichy played two years at UND and two years at Western Michigan.

Saunders is the second member of UND’s senior class to ink a pro deal, joining Dillon Simpson (Edmonton Oilers).

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Former Grand Forks Red River and Minnesota forward Ryan Potulny has signed with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL. Hartford is the top affiliate of the New York Rangers. Potulny spent the last three years with the Hershey Bears, the top affiliate of the Washington Capitals.

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One current UND women’s player and one recruit have been invited to the USA Hockey National Festival this month. There, they will try for spots on the U.S. roster for a series against Canada.

Sophomore defenseman Gracen Hirschy will try to make the USA U-22 team, while forward recruit Rebekah Kolstad will try to make the USA U-18 team.

That camp will begin Tuesday in Lake Placid. The series against Canada will begin Aug. 21 in Calgary.

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One-time UND recruit Danny Mattson has left the Bemidji State team and signed with Boras in the Swedish league. Mattson would have been a senior this season.

BSU set to announce coach, etc.

Bemidji State has announced that it will hold a press conference to announce its new women’s hockey coach at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

I’m hearing that the new coach will be Jim Scanlan, the current East Grand Forks girls head coach and a former UND men’s assistant coach. He’s also a former Bemidji State goaltender.

Scanlan brings a strong resume to Bemidji, where he will replace the retired Steve Sertich. I would expect Scanlan to continue Sertich’s tradition of landing a lot of in-state players, which helps financially with low-cost, in-state scholarships.

Scanlan beat out longtime men’s coach Troy Jutting, among others, for the job.

It’s safe to say with the BSU hire of Scanlan and the St. Cloud State hire of Eric Rud, the WCHA isn’t getting any easier in the future.

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Matt Greene and the Los Angeles Kings held a parade through Los Angeles today to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship. Greene was one of the speakers.

Here’s a screenshot of Greene speaking.

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Former UND Hobey Baker Award winner Tony Hrkac has been hired as an assistant coach of the Madison Capitols, the expansion USHL team in Wisconsin.

Here’s the release from the Capitols’ site.

Hrkac most recently served as a head coach of the D-III Concordia-Wisconsin program. After UND, he played 13 years in the NHL.

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NHL.com has a story on UND recruit Nick Schmaltz and his friendship with William Nylander, another top draft prospect.

There are a few quotes on Schmaltz in the story, including one from his brother, Jordan, and another from a scout.

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Colorado College has hired one new assistant coach — former player R.J. Enga. Colorado College’s former coach, Scott Owens, is in the mix for the head job at Princeton, according to College Hockey News.

Random updates

Nearly all of UND’s start times have been announced for next season and I’ve updated them on the sidebar. Nothing of surprise at this point. All 7:37 or 7:07 p.m. local start times. I don’t anticipate anything too out of the ordinary when they are all said and done.

I have also updated the committed recruit list on the sidebar, removing Ryan Mantha and Luke Voltin from the list.

I haven’t had a chance to speak with Voltin, but he has been removed from UND’s list on Chris Heisenberg’s recruiting site. After checking with sources, it appears pretty certain that Voltin will end up playing somewhere else. Probably not a huge surprise. The Twin Cities continue to be real hit-and-miss for UND.

Also, I’m taking Mantha off the list because based on everything I’ve heard, there’s no reason to think that he will end up at UND. With his rights being traded in the OHL, it appears that the Niagara Ice Dogs are now the front-runners to pick him up.

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Who is coming to campus this year among the recruits?

That will probably be announced before the draft, so in the next week-and-a-half.

We know that Nick Schmaltz, Trevor Olson, John Simonson, Tucker Poolman and Cam Johnson will be coming. UND is losing just one defenseman and one goaltender, so I would guess that Poolman and Johnson are the only two from those positions to come.

Up front, UND has to replace Rocco Grimaldi, Derek Rodwell, Mitch MacMillan and Adam Tambellini. Logic says that UND will have to bring in one more guy up front after Grimaldi’s early signing. Austin Poganski is probably the front-runner there based on his big end to the season. We’ll know for sure soon.

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Speaking of the draft, that’s coming up on June 27-28 in Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. Times have not yet been announced, but the first round will probably be held on that Friday and the next six rounds on Saturday.

Schmaltz will be UND’s highest-drafted player. He could become a first-rounder like his brother, Jordan. If not, he figures to go high in the second round.

After chatting with a couple of scouts, here’s a quick projection on what to expect for UND’s draft-eligibles:

Locks to be picked

Nick Schmaltz (No. 19 on CSB)
Austin Poganski (No. 100 on CSB)

Very likely to get picked

Shane Gersich (No. 132 on CSB)

Possibilities on Central Scouting rankings

Rhett Gardner (No. 167 on CSB)
Zach Yon (No. 169 on CSB)
Chris Wilkie (No. 207 on CSB)

Possibilities not on Central Scouting rankings

Drake Caggiula
Troy Stecher
Hayden Shaw
Cam Johnson

Caggiula, Stecher and Johnson are in their final year of draft eligibility. Usually, these types of players don’t get selected, but there’s a chance.

Caggiula, I think, is the most intriguing candidate. Not many players — even elite ones — have the ability to beat guys one-on-one. Caggiula can do that. He has one of the hardest wrist shots on the team and he plays with an edge to his game. He’s not the height that most NHL teams want with their prospects, but if they choose not to take him this year, I think there’s a good chance one will eventually sign him as a free agent.

Stecher is in the same boat as far as size is concerned. Most NHL teams like big, long defensemen. That’s not Stecher. But his solid freshman year had to at least interest some scouts. Enough to draft him? We’ll find out in two weeks.

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UND recently announced its Dean’s List for the spring semester. Two names really jumped out at me.

Women’s hockey players Michelle Karvinen and Tanja Eisenschmid both made the Dean’s List in a semester where they spent a month in Russia at the Olympic Games. Very impressive that they were able to maintain a high GPA while playing in the Olympics.

The women’s hockey team actually loaded up athletes on the Dean’s List, including Karvinen, Eisenschmid, Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Annie Chipman, Andrea Dalen, Meghan Dufault, Johanna Fallman, Halli Krzyzaniak, Amy Menke, Samantha Hanson and Lexi Shaw.

So, four of UND’s six Europeans — whose primary language is not English — ended up on the Dean’s List.

On the men’s side, Nick Mattson made the Dean’s List. Mattson also won the NCAA Elite 88 Award as the player with the best GPA at the Frozen Four.

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Two Grand Forks natives were part of the Los Angeles Kings’ run to the Stanley Cup on a support level.

Tony Gasparini won his second Stanley Cup as a scout for the Kings, while Ronald Kvitne is the team doctor. Kvitne is a Grand Forks Central and UND grad.

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USA Hockey Magazine has an article about David Tanabe, who has family in Grand Forks. Tanabe is a scout with the NTDP.

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How might new NCAA legislation affect the UND men’s hockey program? UND might need to bump up funding cover the cost of a “full cost of attendance” scholarship.

UND athletic director Brian Faison told the Herald’s Tom Miller that he plans to make sure that the hockey program has the funding it needs to recruit against the Big Ten schools.

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There’s an article about top WHL draft picks Dante Fabbro and Tyson Jost playing in the BCHL this season instead of the WHL. Both are potential UND recruiting targets. Fabbro is a defenseman. Jost is a forward.

The final rankings

UND is ranked No. 4 in the final USCHO poll this season (for whatever it’s worth) and I decided to go and look up some past polls. Some of the findings were interesting.

Only five teams have been ranked in the final poll in each of the last five seasons (which tells you a little about the parity in the sport these days). Who are those five teams? North Dakota, Boston College, Michigan, Denver and Union.

So yes, Union has been having similar success to the nation’s best programs over the past five seasons. Its national championship did not exactly come out of thin air.

The other striking stat to me: UND is the only program that has been ranked in the top 16 for each of the past nine years. And the lowest UND has been in that span is No. 7. While UND hasn’t finished off a national championship in that span, that is rather remarkable.

If you go back the last decade, UND has been in the top 10 each season in the final USCHO poll.

Worst final rank of the last decade

10. North Dakota (2005)
17. Denver (2014)
20. Michigan (2013)
20. Boston College (2009)
NR. The rest of the country’s teams

*Of note, USCHO used to do its final ranking before the start of the NCAA tournament. The last four years, they have conducted a poll after the NCAA tournament.

It was interesting to me that UND’s worst season of the last decade — as ranked by the polls — was a year in which it played for the national championship.