Shattuck coach talks Mismash commitment

Longtime Shattuck-St. Mary’s coach Tom Ward talked says that UND got a gem in Grant Mismash, who announced his commitment to North Dakota on Tuesday night.

Ward said that, while he’s a skill kid, he can play the game any way you want and that he plays with an edge. He’s from Edina, but Ward said he doesn’t fit the Edina stereotype.

Read all of his comments in this news story here.

UND lands SSM’s Grant Mismash

The good week continues for UND, which received a verbal commitment from Shattuck-St. Mary’s Grant Mismash, a 1999-born forward.

Mismash had 62 points in 52 games for Shattuck this season.

Fargo’s regional; TV broadcasts

The Fargo regional ended up going so well that it could host once again.

I wrote a bit about that in this column here.

It was a very unique partnership between UND, Ralph Engelstad Arena and Scheels Arena to put this on. You will rarely see two (semi-competing) arenas work together on something like this, so I was very curious how that would play out.

Everyone in Grand Forks came away very impressed with Scheels Arena GM Jon Kram and his staff. I was told that there were no egos at all, and Scheels was very open to input from REA officials, who have more experience hosting big events. It all led to a very well-produced regional.

The three parties worked so well together that they all are open to doing it again, as long as the NCAA continues to try to steer regionals away from home venues.

*****

After watching three of the four regionals this weekend (I only saw the Northeast without sound) at the Gastropub, it is clear that the NCHC has it really good with its primary CBS Sports broadcasting team.

Ben Holden was the best of all the play-by-play guys I got to listen to, and Dave Starman was great in the studio all weekend long, providing in-depth analysis of every team.

UND had a last-minute replacement at defense, putting in Andrew Panzarella, who hadn’t played in two months. Yet Starman prepares so meticulously that he had inside stories on Panzarella to share. Who else does so much homework to know inside stories on a guy who has been a health scratch for two months?

Unfortunately, ESPN will have Barry Melrose at the Frozen Four. Melrose is the anti-Starman, not even being able to correctly pronounce Joey LaLeggia (LaLeggio) or Jon Gillies (Gilluss). And these aren’t obscure players. They are each team’s best player.

There will be star power on the broadcast with Melrose, but the viewers would be so much better served with guys like Holden, Starman, Dan Parkhurst and Clay Matvick. They all follow college hockey all year long and are so much better prepared.

Boston bound, and my apologies

The trip to Boston has been booked, and for that, I apologize, UND fans.

In my 10 years on the beat, UND has never won a game in New England that I’ve covered…. and it has never lost a game in which I didn’t cover.

When I first started covering UND regularly in 2005, the paper didn’t always send me to every road series. And apparently, I was just the team’s bad luck charm out there.

Since I’ve been on the beat, UND is 0-7-1 in New England in games that I’ve covered, and 6-0-2 in games that I haven’t covered.

The only time UND didn’t lose was the 3-3 tie last season against BU. UND outshot the Terriers 58-31 in that game.

New England games I’ve covered

T at Boston University, Nov. 2013
L at Boston University, Nov. 2013
L at Maine, Oct. 2010
L at Maine, Oct. 2010
L vs Yale in Worcester, March 2010
L vs New Hampshire in Manchester, March 2009
L vs UMass in Agganis, Oct. 2008
L at Boston University, Oct. 2008

New England games I didn’t attend

W at Harvard, Dec. 2008
W at Harvard, Dec. 2008
W at Northeastern, Oct. 2007
T at Boston College, Oct. 2007 (fog game, two periods)
W vs St. Lawrence in Hanover, N.H., Dec. 2006
W at Dartmouth, Dec. 2006
T at New Hampshire, Oct. 2005
W at New Hampshire, Oct. 2005

Me vs. the Quarter

With the unpredictability of the NCAA tournament, I decided to fill out two sets of predictions again this season: No. 1, my own; No. 2, my coin flip. How’s it going so far?

For the second year in a row, I’ll end up beating The Quarter…. but it was close.

I went 5-3 in the first round (missing wins by RIT, Denver and Omaha). Two of my Frozen Four picks made it in Providence and Boston University.

The Quarter went 6-2 in the first round, only missing wins by BU and Denver. It boldly predicted RIT to win and nailed it. But The Quarter only got one team to the Frozen Four in Providence.

My championship pick of BU over Providence is still alive. The Quarter’s pick of SCSU over Providence is dead.

Press conference quotes

If you wanted to see some of the press conference quotes from UND’s win, here you go…

ZANE MCINTYRE

On his thoughts on St. Cloud State’s early goal and how that affected his play the rest of the game…

“It was a quick faceoff play, obviously the guy made a nice chip, we’d be kind of working on our faceoffs, we’re doing a little bit of pre-scouting on their faceoffs and stuff because we knew that they had a couple good shooters that like to do whirl-arounds and stuff. Quick play like that just got it started and I think it caught our whole team off guard. You know what, resiliency has been in our vocab as a team I think all year, so it was no surprise the boys battled up and really put it all together and came back strong.”

On how it feels to be returning to the Frozen Four…

“It feels pretty special. Going back to last year, we knew that we had a strong core of players coming back and could really push the envelope for this season. So I think collectively as a group it feels incredible to get back for all our hard work that we put in throughout the year. A lot of practices, the bag skates with the coaches and stuff, we’ve put in a lot of work and I think our team’s really come together and it feels pretty dang special to be back there.”

On if it makes it sweeter, being able to beat St. Cloud State to get back to the Frozen Four after they eliminated UND in last weekend’s NCHC Frozen Face-Off…

“I think certainly as a hockey player you’re competitive by nature and going back in the previous week when we played them in the Frozen Face-Off, it was obviously a tough loss that we had. We felt that we had it in our control, to control the game and control the outcome but that was hockey and if we got another chance at them, that’d be great. We took our opportunity, guys came prepared, came to the rink, came into the weekend really prepared, and I think it all started with the coaching staff here. It really just went from there so it was good.”

On if there was something special about doing what he did in this building that he has so many memories in…

“Yeah I think certainly. Number one, it was great to play in our home state. Playing for UND, it was great to have the venue here in Fargo, because we could have so many fans support us and it was absolutely incredible. But then going back to my junior days here as well, I kind of knew this rink, it was like a second home when I played my two years here. So it was pretty special to come back and obviously see the fan support, but seeing some familiar faces around the rink, it was great. It was just one big happy family back here.”

On what was going through his mind when St. Cloud State scored right off the bat and how he bounced back from it…

“Don’t let the next shot in, I guess is number one. In that situation, it’s playoff hockey, it’s that time of year, this is what we all worked hard for throughout the year. Just had to kind of reset, re-focus and just kind of go from there. You’re going to have bounces, and you’re going to have ups and downs throughout the game and the course of the year, but the best thing I’ve maybe learned over my past three years here is just stay the course. Work your butt off and just keep going because you never know what could happen. I think myself and my team really believed that and had that mission in mind throughout this week and throughout this year and had some positive results.”

On the fan support not just tonight, but over the course of the season…

“I think you look at attendance rates throughout the whole college hockey, it’s no question UND is number one for a reason. You go across the whole state, it’s UND Fighting Sioux colors and bleeding green and stuff. It’s pretty special to be a part of, not only as a player but as a teammate for all these guys and all these coaches. It’s pretty special to have all the coaching staff who used to play here and they’ve been around it and they know the culture and it’s great to be a part of great teammates and stuff too. You know what, it’s pretty special is all I can say. And with that, thank you guys.”

ANDREW PANZARELLA

On his journey today and scoring his first goal of the season after jumping into the line-up tonight…

“Yeah, it’s morning, I knew that we had some guys that were feeling a little under the weather and I might get a chance so I mean it’s something that’s always kind of under your control and you just work hard to be where you are and the team did a great job helping me transition and especially Schmaltz, I think he really carried me out there and really made it easy on me.”

On if scoring a goal was a part of the plan and what his reaction was to it…

“It’s always part of the plan but it’s hard to execute obviously, but it felt great. I actually kind of joking around told Troy Stecher before the game that I was going to score and do the sword through my belt. But I didn’t really think about it, it was kind of reactionary, it was pretty cool.”

LUKE JOHNSON

On how much juice the fans in the building gave the team…

“Obviously playing so close to home with the fan support that we had. It was crazy, fans were sold-out and sometimes it’s hard to hear yourself talk on the ice. It’s just a great amount of support from the fans. It was pretty cool.”

On the goal he scored and what scoring some dirty goals this weekend says about the team’s efforts…

“It was just kind of a scrum in the corner. I was just trying to get the puck out and the puck popped out to me and I just tried to get it through that first defender. I think it hit the goalie’s shoulder or something and went up in the air and it kind of just trickled in. So a little bit of luck on that one but I’ll take it.”

BOB MOTZKO

“Congratulations to North Dakota continuing the terrific season they’ve had. They’re an extremely hard working team. We wish them the best as they represent our league and our conference in the Frozen Four. There are two trains of thoughts right now, how proud I am of my team, and how frustrated I am that we made mistakes in a 60-minute game to get us behind like that. The game was scripted exactly how we thought, we turned it over in the first period and they missed a couple back checkers and threw one off our goalies back and we were behind the 8 ball. It seems like a game of ifs and buts because their goaltender was awfully strong. He made a lot of saves, but he looked good doing it. That’s a little frustrating right now because I think we could have had a better fate tonight if we didn’t make the critical mistakes we made. On the flip side, we put closure to our season. I’m so proud of our seniors and our leadership. Things weren’t bad the first half, but we hung in there, that was leadership. We took off the second half and got right back to where our program should have been.”

Demeanor calm after regional win

FARGO — Press conferences are usually time consuming — and often don’t produce a ton of golden quotes. With a very tight deadline looming (stupid 8 p.m. starts…), I went straight to the locker room and skipped the pressers after UND beat St. Cloud State 4-1 to earn a trip to the Frozen Four.

What kind of celebration was going on behind the scenes?

Well, none, really.

The players were in good spirits and were happy, but no celebration carried over into the locker room. I didn’t see much hugging going on or anything like that. Players basically just sat in their stalls and had light conversation with each other. There wasn’t even music blaring like usual.

Maybe part of it was because so many guys were sick. They had to have been gassed by the end of the game.

But it’s probably also because of what captain Stephane Pattyn said to me at the end of every quote. He would talk about the game, or talk about winning the regional, but every line ended with something along the lines of the team having more work to do.

It was a huge win for the team. Going to a Frozen Four is a great accomplishment. So, I found it interesting that the locker room atmosphere was the same as it was in October when I interviewed them after sweeping Colorado College in the Springs.

UND headed to Frozen Four again

FARGO — UND is headed back to the Frozen Four for the second straight year and the seventh time in 11 years.

It will take on Boston University on April 9 in the Garden. It is expected to be the late game, but we’ll know that for sure today.

It got there in impressive fashion, winning 4-1 against St. Cloud State despite illness running through the team. Game stories:

Grand Forks Herald — UND beats illness, SCSU to get back to Frozen Four (plus PHOTOS and VIDEO)

Grand Forks Herald — Postgame video blog breakdown with WDAY’s Dom Izzo

Grand Forks Herald — Panzarella comes up big when his name is called

Fargo Forum — Zane for Hobey chants ring out as McIntyre delivers

USCHO — North Dakota heading back to Frozen Four

UNDsports.com — Shippin’ up to Boston

St. Cloud Times — Huskies’ season ends with loss to North Dakota

I’ll have more tomorrow, but here are my five big takeaways from this game:

1. STEPHANE PATTYN/FACEOFFS

I’m told that Pattyn was in the worst shape today of anyone outside of Keaton Thompson with illness today. Word is that he was vomiting before the game and on IVs. Yet he delivered. One of my big keys before the night was faceoffs. Pattyn went 6-0, taking a lot of key draws on the left side. UND controlled faceoffs against the Huskies, going 38-28. Earlier this season, UND struggled in that category against the Huskies. Pattyn didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he had an impactful performance, especially in the circle.

Luke Johnson (9-7), Connor Gaarder (7-4) and Drake Caggiula (5-4) all were above .500 in draws, too.

2. BLOCKED SHOTS

UND blocked 28 shots against Quinnipiac and 23 against the Huskies, including 12 in the final period alone. Gage Ausmus, who also had a thundering hit in the third period to rev up the crowd, led the way with four blocked shots. St. Cloud State had a tough time getting anything to the net at the end of the game because UND was so good at getting in lanes.

3. ANDREW PANZARELLA

You can read a lot about Panzarella in Miller’s column above, but I thought his goal was the key to the game. The Huskies got off to a 1-0 lead and were pressuring for a two-goal lead. Panzarella’s goal turned the tide of the game and UND dominated the next 35 minutes as it built a two-goal lead.

Most of the time, when you throw someone in who hasn’t been in the lineup for two months, it’s a concern and someone you worry about. It says a lot about Panzarella that the coaches, players and fans weren’t at all worried about what type of performance he was going to give. I think most know that he’s not only a strong player, but that he works hard enough that he’s always ready to come in the lineup, whenever that may be.

4. GOALTENDING

I thought goaltending was terrific on both ends. If not for Charlie Lindgren playing the way he did, this could have been out of reach by the start of the third period. Zane McIntyre didn’t see a heavy workload, but he did face several Grade As, and he really shut them down. He should have won the regional MVP a year ago in Cincinnati. This time, there was no doubt.

5. UNSUNG PLAYERS

Three players worth mentioning: Tucker Poolman, Colten St. Clair, Wade Murphy. Poolman was outstanding all weekend long. I put him on my all-West Regional ballot. He and St. Clair helped set up Panzarella’s goal tonight. St. Clair added a lot to UND this weekend coming back into the lineup. He’s just solid in all areas. And the light may be going on for Murphy. He looked so much better this weekend than he has previously. He was engaged. He won puck battles. And he’s close to scoring.

6. ATMOSPHERE

The atmosphere in the rink was outstanding, one of the loudest buildings I’ve been to. I’ve said it repeatedly, but this is the atmosphere where regionals should be played. I just watched part of the game on DVR, and it looked great for the cameras, too. It’s the type of game and atmosphere where you might hook some people on college hockey. Hakstol also said he thought the crowd made a difference, especially early on. More on that later.

Gameday final: UND 4, SCSU 1

TONIGHT’S VIEWING: ESPNU, ESPN3.com. Lineup notes: Same lines for UND. As expected, Brodzinski is in for St. Cloud State. Full lines and live chat are below.

First period

St. Cloud State 1, UND 0 — Jimmy Murray (Joe Rehkamp) 1:29. Rehkamp goes forward with the draw and gets it to Murray, who snaps a shot past McIntyre five-hole just 89 seconds in.

St. Cloud State 1, UND 1 — Andrew Panzarella (Tucker Poolman) 8:59. A great forecheck by Poolman leads to a UND goal. Panzarella gets the puck at the point and blasts one through traffic, off the post and in.

Second period

UND 2, St. Cloud State 1 — Drake Caggiula 18 6:49. Caggiula gets the puck in the neutral zone and skates in the offensive zone with speed. He toe drags around a Husky defender to get space and spans a shot on net. Lindgren makes the initial save but the rebound hits off of a SCSU defender and goes in.

Third period

UND 3, St. Cloud State 1 — Luke Johnson 2:53. Johnson has the puck in the corner, turns around and whips one toward the net. The puck hits the crossbar, goes up in the air and lands behind Lindgren and in the net.

UND 4, St. Cloud State 1 — Colten St. Clair 19:22 (en).

UND’s lines

9 Drake Caggiula–27 Luke Johnson–15 Michael Parks
28 Stephane Pattyn–8 Nick Schmaltz–7 Wade Murphy
29 Bryn Chyzyk–17 Colten St. Clair–3 Tucker Poolman
21 Brendan O’Donnell–13 Connor Gaarder–14 Austin Poganski

22 Andrew Panzarella–24 Jordan Schmaltz
5 Nick Mattson–6 Paul LaDue
20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher

31 Zane McIntyre
33 Cam Johnson
30 Matt Hrynkiw

St. Cloud State’s lines

42 Blake Winiecki–11 Kalle Kossila–22 Jonny Brodzinski
9 Joey Benik–13 David Morley–63 Patrick Russell
16 Jimmy Murray–37 Joe Rehkamp–17 Judd Peterson
4 Ben Storm–27 Nick Oliver–21 Brooks Bertsch

28 Andrew Prochno–12 Ethan Prow
5 Nathan Widman–40 Tim Daly
7 Niklas Nevalainen–2 Jarrod Rabey

35 Charlie Lindgren
45 Rasmus Reijola

Fast starts key for UND-SCSU games

St. Cloud State has been as good as anyone against UND the past three seasons. Most of those wins involve holding UND’s shot total low and keeping UND’s Grade A scoring chances to a minimum.

How are the Huskies able to do that?

I asked coach Bob Motzko that question after St. Cloud State beat UND 3-1 at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff last week.

Motzko said that his bet is if you go back and look at the games that St. Cloud State has won, that the Huskies have had strong starts. He said UND often comes out of the gates strong, and if they can match that, they have a great shot to win.

If they get behind early, UND “smothers you defensively.”

Here are this year’s meetings…

SCSU wins

3.20.15 — SCSU 3-1 (SCSU led 2-1 after one)
11.21.14 — SCSU 3-1 (No score after one)

UND wins

2.28.15 — UND 3-1 (UND led 1-0 after one)
2.27.15 — UND 3-2 (UND led 2-0 after one)
11.22.14 — UND 3-2 (UND led 2-1 after one)

Three other factors to watch tonight that have been big this season between the teams:

1. Faceoffs. St. Cloud State has trounced UND on draws this season, and with Kalle Kossila back in the lineup, that could be a major factor again.

2. Special teams. St. Cloud State has arguably the best power play in the nation. Give them an extra man and it could get ugly.

3. Fourth line play. There isn’t a lot of it when you get into these TV timeout games, but during UND’s three wins, the fourth line has really hurt the Huskies.