Could REA land 2016 U18s?

Bids to host the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 tournament are due July 31. They will be submitted to USA Hockey, which was awarded the event.

Could Ralph Engelstad Arena be the host?

Here’s my story in today’s paper. The Ralph is going to submit a bid for it.

The positives for USA Hockey: REA knows how to host events like this. It can generate revenue. It can provide an unbelievable facility for the players and fans.

The negative: This event has only been placed in the U.S. once and it was held in Fargo. Sometimes, they like to spread things out. That will be the big question for USA Hockey when evaluating the bid.

The U18s usually occur right after the Frozen Four and would be a great highlight event for hockey fans in the area. A lot of the players in the event will go on to the NHL.

The U.S. also gets to host the 2018 World Juniors. REA will likely submit a bid for that, too, when the time comes.

Former UND coach Bob May dies

Bob May, the coach who led UND to its first national championship in 1959, has died, the university said this morning.

May coached the school for two seasons from 1957-59, leading UND to its first conference title in 1958, followed by its first national title in 1959. He coached some of UND’s all-time legends in players like Reg Morelli and Bill Steenson.

May’s teams went 44-17-2 in the two seasons he coached.

He also played for UND for two years from 1949-51 under Fido Purpur.

After coaching, May became a dentist.

UND media relations contact Jayson Hajdu said: “We are incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Bob May this morning. On behalf of UND Athletics, our condolences go out to Dr. May’s friends and family. A true pioneer and friend to our university.”

REA gets full-time anthem singer

UND has traditionally rotated national anthem singers throughout the year, but it will go with one, full-time singer this season for men’s games — Mark Lindquist.

UND says that, “with a significant amount of positive feedback from fans, as well as the desire to add to the unique experience of UND men’s hockey games at The Ralph, the decision was made to ensure a consistent performance of the national anthem.”

From the school:

Lindquist is a nationally-recognized speaker and world-touring entertainer who has performed live for over a half-a-million people throughout his career. As an actor, he has appeared in ABC’s “Lost,” CBS’ “Hawaii Five-O” and the Universal Studios movie “Battleship.” Currently, Mark travels the country performing the national anthem for collegiate and professional sports teams, delivers keynote addresses for businesses, associations, conferences and school assemblies, as well as educational financial seminars in cities across America. This summer, Mark has performed at the College World Series and will be performing at Fargo Redhawks and Minnesota Twins games in July, as well as for the Los Angeles Dodgers in August.

“It’s such an honor to become a consistent part of such a storied hockey program. The national anthem is my favorite song to sing and I am proud to bring my rendition to UND Athletics and the Ralph Engelstad Arena,” said Lindquist.

Lindquist makes his home in Fargo and co-founded Breath Is Limited Motivational Speaking LLC as his way of bringing a message of hope, passion, perseverance and joy to people all over the world (www.BreathIsLimited.com). He is also a partner at The 7 Mindsets out of Atlanta, Ga.

Lindquist is a former sergeant in the United States Air Force and an Afghanistan war veteran who grew up in Ortonville, Minn.

Caggiula ‘really good’ in Buffalo

UND forward Drake Caggiula went undrafted once again in June, but he’s clearly on the radar of at least one NHL team now.

The Buffalo Sabres invited Caggiula to their development camp as a free agent and Rochester Americans coach Chadd Cassidy, who has been running the camp, had glowing things to say about the junior-to-be.

Caggiula scored two goals Tuesday night during his team’s 5-1 victory in a scrimmage.

On a story posted on sabres.com, Cassidy talked about Caggiula’s performance.

“He’s been really good. Real good skill level, nice release and certainly knows what to do with the puck around the net,” Cassidy told sabres.com. “This is the first viewing that I’ve ever gotten of him, but I’ve been really impressed with him.

“I think he makes plays at speed and he’s one of the few smaller players that we brought in, but he plays at a really good pace and he’s made players around him better all week. He’s made a good impression on us.”

Caggiula has showed high-end skills since stepping foot on campus two years ago and added more consistency last season. He’s a candidate to be a breakout player this season.

Mattson, Kiersted to play in Germany

UND’s two 1998-born recruits, forward Mitchell Mattson and defenseman Matt Kiersted, have both been selected to play for Team USA at the Under-17 Five Nations tournament in Germany in mid-August.

They will be coached by former UND forward and assistant coach Cary Eades at the tournament.

Every player selected to represent the U.S. in the tournament participated in the Select 16 festival in New York. Presumably, Mattson and Kiersted faired well there.

I also asked one scout to evaluate Mattson and Kiersted. Here’s what the scout had to say:

On Mattson:

“Appears a bit awkward when you first notice him because he’s taller and thinner than almost anyone else on the ice. That said, his offensive ability is readily apparent as he has smooth hands and is an effective skater for a kid his size. He has the frame to carry more muscle and once he starts to get stronger he has the ability to become one of the premier forwards in the 1998-born class. Mattson can beat you one-on-one, has scoring ability and can skate. When you look at his projectable size, he’s someone you can get really excited about. The biggest knock on him so far has been consistency and strength. He’ll have an opportunity to improve in both areas over the next few years. If he can add weight to his frame he should be effective winger at the collegiate level in the future.”

On Kiersted:

“Kiersted is a player you can’t help but notice when you’re watching a game because he dominates possession of the puck and is always making things happen. An electrifying playmaker, Kiersted has a special combination of skating ability, poise and hockey sense to be a threat offensively any time he’s on the ice. Reminds me a little bit of Joe Gleason at the same age in that he’s fearless with the puck and isn’t afraid to carry the mail up the ice himself. Has work to do defensively — needs to add strength and doesn’t have much physicality in his game yet, but the offensive skills he has, you can’t teach. At the high school level he can skate out of trouble in his defensive zone. As he gets older he’ll have to learn the intricacies of playing the defensive position. Exciting upside. Someone you’re willing to take a chance on because the special offensive skills he can bring to your team.”

Kristo, Ness accept qualifying offers

Former UND All-American Danny Kristo and former Minnesota Mr. Hockey winner Aaron Ness both accepted qualifying offers from their NHL teams, agent Neil Sheehy posted on Twitter on Friday.

That means Kristo will remain with the New York Rangers and Ness, a former Gopher, will remain with the New York Islanders.

Exact terms of their deals have not yet been posted.

O’Donnell has big camp in Tampa

Things didn’t go well at the start of last season for Brendan O’Donnell.

He was injured two different times and had to sit out seven games. When he was in the lineup before, between and after the injuries, he went through a stretch where he posted 1 point in a 12-game span. It was likely a result of his injuries.

But down the stretch, O’Donnell quietly had a pretty good finish to the season. He had 13 points in the final 20 games, despite never getting back to 100 percent.

O’Donnell didn’t generate a lot of buzz for it, but he was a factor in many of UND’s biggest plays of the stretch run.

In the win-or-go-home Game 3 against Colorado, O’Donnell scored the game-winning goal in a 4-3 victory, converting a great feed from Rocco Grimaldi.

In the win-or-go-home Frozen Faceoff game against Western Michigan, O’Donnell had two assists in UND’s 5-0 win.

In the NCAA win against Wisconsin, it was O’Donnell’s point shot that deflected off of linemate Mark MacMillan for the game-winning goal with less than two minutes remaining. O’Donnell made a nice play to spot traffic in front and launch a shot to a dangerous area.

And during Connor Gaarder’s Frozen Four-clinching goal against Ferris State, it was O’Donnell who put the puck in the zone, forced the Bulldog captain to lose it in the corner and won a board battle, getting the puck back to the point.

Although none of the plays were spectacular, O’Donnell was a factor in several huge plays that allowed UND to make the run.

Now, there are more encouraging signs.

By all accounts, O’Donnell was fantastic at the Tampa Bay Lightning development camp last week. O’Donnell led Tampa Bay’s two-day, three-on-three tournament with eight goals.

The Tampa Bay Times wrote about his performance in this story. It quotes Lightning director of player development Stacy Roest as saying that O’Donnell had “more confidence, a stronger skater, looked a little quicker.”

The Lightning posted this photo on Twitter:

This season, UND is going to need an offense-by-committee approach once again. A healthy, confident O’Donnell could give the team a huge boost.

Toews signs 8-year, $84 million deal

The Chicago Blackhawks are keeping their captain for a long time.

Former UND standout Jonathan Toews signed an eight-year, $84 million deal on Wednesday, the richest per-year deal in NHL history.

Toews and dynamic winger Patrick Kane signed identical deals, according to TSN.

The cap hits for Toews and Kane will be $10.5 million, which eclipses that of Alexander Ovechkin’s $9.5 million cap hit, previously the highest.

The six highest-paid UND players — Toews, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Matt Greene, T.J. Oshie and Drew Stafford — have all recently signed deals worth a combined $275 million and have inked career earnings worth about $387 million.

UND at NHL camps

A total of 18 past and current UND players are attending development camps, including Troy Stecher, an undrafted free agent invitee of both the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks and Drake Caggiula, an undrafted free agent invitee of the Buffalo Sabres.

Here’s a list, thanks to College Hockey Inc.

Signed players

Dillon Simpson, Edmonton Oilers
Rocco Grimaldi, Florida Panthers

Current players

Shane Gersich, Washington Capitals
Drake Caggiula, Buffalo Sabres
Jordan Schmaltz, St. Louis Blues
Austin Poganski, St. Louis Blues
Michael Parks, Philadelphia Flyers
Keaton Thompson, Anaheim Ducks
Wade Murphy, Nashville Predators
Zane Gothberg, Boston Bruins
Mark MacMillan, Montreal Canadiens
Gage Ausmus, San Jose Sharks
Brendan O’Donnell, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tucker Poolman, Winnipeg Jets
Nick Schmaltz, Chicago Blackhawks
Nick Mattson, Chicago Blackhawks
Luke Johnson, Chicago Blackhawks
Troy Stecher, Vancouver Canucks
Troy Stecher, Chicago Blackhawks

Sometimes, interesting info comes out of these camps as to who is playing well. Sometimes, there are stories from the local media, too.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote a feature on the Schmaltz brothers. You can read that here.

VandeVelde re-signs with Philly

Former UND center Chris VandeVelde is staying with the Philadelphia Flyers’ organization.

VandeVelde re-signed with the Flyers this week, inking a one-year, two-way deal. The deal is worth $575,000 if he’s playing in the NHL and $150,000 if he’s in the AHL according to CapGeek.

VandeVelde played 18 games for the Flyers last season, tallying one assist. He played 41 games for the AHL Adirondack Phantoms, tallying 10 goals and 24 points.

For his career, the former Moorhead High star has played in 46 NHL games with the Oilers and Flyers, scoring a goal and tallying four points.