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).

U17s

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

U16s

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

U15s

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.

It’s official: Murphy headed to ASU

As was previously speculated here, former UND forward Wade Murphy is headed to Arizona State to continue his college hockey career.

Murphy will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer rules. He will have two seasons of eligibility left beginning in 2016-17.

Murphy posted on Twitter: “Incredibly excited to attend Arizona State University in the fall and looking forward to the new start.”

The Victoria, B.C., product came to UND after a strong career in the BCHL, but could never put it together. During his two seasons at UND, he never scored a goal and had four assists.

Although his offensive numbers were small, teammates and coaches said that Murphy had tremendous offensive potential and frequently showed his scoring touch in practice.

If he can put it together with the Sun Devils, it could be a steal for the newest Division I program.

Dell finally gets NHL deal

Aaron Dell has succeeded at every level of hockey.

It may have taken a few years longer than it should have, but the former UND All-American finally has a contract at the highest level.

The San Jose Sharks signed Dell to a one-year, two-way contract this week.

According to generalfanager.com, the contract is worth $575,000 if he’s in the NHL and $65,000 if he’s in the AHL.

After leaving UND, Dell signed a contract with the Allen Americans in the CHL. He led Allen (Texas) to the league championship during his rookie season.

The following year, Dell was a regular in the ECHL, where he posted strong numbers for the Utah Grizzlies. At the end of the season, he earned some time with Abbotsford in the AHL, where he had a strong .922 save percentage.

Last season, Dell was a regular in the AHL with the Worcester Sharks, posting a .927 save percentage.

Dell will likely start next season with San Jose’s new AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, but if he continues on his current path, he could be UND’s first NHL goalie since Ed Belfour. Interestingly enough, Dell broke one of Belfour’s UND records for wins in a season.

UND will have two former goalies under NHL contract this season as Zane McIntyre signed with the Boston Bruins earlier this month.

Recent NHL contracts for UND goalies

2015 — Aaron Dell, San Jose Sharks
2015 — Zane McIntyre, Boston Bruins
2008 — Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, Buffalo Sabres
2006 — Jordan Parise, New Jersey Devils

Random updates

A reporter at the Chicago Blackhawks development camp asked the UND trio of draft picks — Nick Mattson, Nick Schmaltz and Luke Johnson — about Dave Hakstol, who is the new head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers.

They had some interesting things to say.

Mattson, our go-to guy for quotes the last four years, said:

“We definitely believe in him and think that he’s going to do a great job. Players respect him so much. And he holds everyone accountable; it doesn’t matter if you’re the best player or the worst player. You’re not going to get away with anything that’s going to hurt the team or the culture of the team. That may sound cliche, but there’s a reason why he had so much success at North Dakota every year, regardless of the players. He was able to instill his attitude in every team, and that’s why he was so consistent.”

Read everything else they had to say in this story here.

*****

Speaking of the Blackhawks’ development camp, Chicago general manager Stan Bowman raved about the performance of Schmaltz.

Bowman told the Daily Herald: “Nick Schmaltz was very impressive all week. He showed us quite a bit. There’s a lot of excitement there about his future.”

I was also told by another insider that Schmaltz has had a terrific start to his summer and that he’s doing all the things he needs to be doing right now.

Schmaltz showed a lot of flashes of his high-end skill and his elite vision during his freshman year. If he can develop a more threatening goal-scoring presence and a higher level of consistency, he could be a very difficult player for opponents to defend.

Because Schmaltz is such an elite passer and Brock Boeser is described as a good finisher, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see those two on a line together to start the season.

*****

Roseau held its hockey reunion this weekend — they do it every five years — and a bunch of big names returned for it. They play a hockey game featuring some of the school’s biggest names, including former UND players Erik Fabian, Jake Brandt, Bryan Lundbohm, David Lundbohm, Derrick Byfuglien and Trevor Hammer.

Others included Winnipeg Jets all-star Dustin Byfuglien, Washington Capitals defenseman Aaron Ness former Florida Panther Josh Olson as well as former/current D-I players Luke Erickson (BSU), Tyler Landman (Providence), David Klema (BU), Mike Klema (Yale), Brian McMillin (CC), Josh Erickson (Fairbanks), Andy Lundbohm (Army), Jason Fabian (Air Force) and Sarah Erickson (Minnesota).

Numerous Division III players and junior hockey players also competed. It’s remarkable how many players Roseau has produced and even better that they get all of them to come back and play a game for the town.

Assistant coach money rises

Under the contract for new head coach Brad Berry, the pool of money for the assistant coaches has gone up by nearly $30,000 per season.

This was likely a move designed to help keep Dane Jackson at UND and to attract a top new assistant coach like Matt Shaw. Assistant coaches are vital to success at NCAA programs and assistant coaches’ impacts are probably undervalued by many fans.

Under the old contract of Hakstol, here was the breakdown for the assistant coach pool:

2015-16: $291,454
2016-17: $300,198
2017-18: $309,204

The new numbers are…

2015-16: $320,000
2016-17: $329,600
2017-18: $339,488
2018-19: $349,673

The head coach has the right to break up the money between the coaches however he sees fit. Hakstol split it 50-50 between Berry and Jackson.

*****

Don’t be surprised if transferring UND forward Wade Murphy ends up in the sun. I’m hearing that Arizona State is a possible landing destination for him.

*****

Former UND forward T.J. Oshie sent a care package to a little girl who had a meltdown about him leaving the St. Louis Blues. Check out that story here.

*****

Former UND forward Derek Rodwell has re-signed with the Colorado Eagles in the ECHL.

NCAA modifies interference rule

The NCAA has modified the rule dealing with goaltender interference to give officials more latitude to make the call.

Instead of a hard-and-fast rule that forces officials to wave off goals if any contact is made with a goaltender (initiated by the offensive player), the officials now can determine whether the contact affected the goaltender’s ability to make a save.

Here’s the release from the NCAA:

Men’s and women’s ice hockey officials will be authorized to judge whether incidental contact impacted the goalkeeper’s ability to defend the goal beginning with the upcoming 2015-16 season.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the modification to the rule regarding contact with the goalkeeper on Thursday.

Next season, when an offensive player makes incidental contact with a goalkeeper and the puck enters the net, the referee will use his or her judgment to determine if the contact prevented the goalkeeper from stopping the puck.

Last season in those scenarios, goals were disallowed when an offensive player initiated the contact.

The Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Committee believed too many goals were being taken off the scoreboard and wanted to make the rule less rigid and give the on-ice officials more leeway to count the goal.

The Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee will prepare additional officiating guidance and education to help the hockey community understand the intent of the new rule.

This rule modification should be of huge help next season when it comes to allowing goals to stand that probably should.