UND women sweep RPI

The UND women aren’t behind the 8-ball after two games this season. UND took care of business in Troy, N.Y., over the weekend, sweeping RPI with 4-3 and 4-1 wins, both of which were must-haves for the end-of-the-season Pairwise. Herald stories:

Kohler’s late goal lifts UND

UND starts 2-0 for the second time since 2006

Other notes:

  • The big story over the weekend is the re-emergence of defenseman Sam LaShomb. After not playing many minutes last season, she’s already off to a fantastic start with two goals and an assist on opening weekend. If she continues playing like that, Samantha Hanson will likely stay at forward.
  • Defensemen scored half of the team’s goals on the weekend with LaShomb getting two and captain Halli Krzyzaniak getting two.
  • A total of 13 players collected points on the weekend. Freshmen Vilma Tanskanen, Anna Kilponen and Rebekah Kolstad all tallied their first-career points.
  • UND split the goalies, which was the pre-weekend plan. Coach Brian Idalski indicated that they’ll continue to do that early in the season.
  • The first shorthanded goal of the season goes to Layla Marvin. Her tally jump-started Saturday’s win.
  • Minnesota State-Mankato, Bemidji State and St. Cloud State are up next for UND. Getting off to a good start this season is going to be key.

The slide of the UMD women’s program

Don Lucia is one of two Minnesota hockey coaches to win a national championship.

The other is Herb Brooks, Miracle on Ice legend.

Lucia’s place in Gopher hockey history is secure with those titles and six conference championships.

But what would happen if the Gophers missed the NCAA tournament in each of the next four years? What if the Gophers won just one of 35 games against North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth and Wisconsin?

What if Lucia was sanctioned by the NCAA and forced to vacate wins and a conference championship due to his own carelessness? What if his team finished last in the conference in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report for eight straight seasons and dead last in the nation for the two?

There’s no doubt about it, Don Lucia would no longer be the head men’s hockey coach at Minnesota. His national titles, conference championships and legacy would not be enough to save his job.

These are not Don Lucia’s credentials, though. They are those of former Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller, and they are precisely why it should not be a surprise that the school opted not to renew the longtime coach’s contract after it expired following the 2014-15 season.

While Miller is suing the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, saying her gender and sexual orientation played a role in her departures from the university, there’s no arguing that her performance has slipped in the last five years.

After reaching the NCAA tournament in 11 of the sport’s first 12 seasons, the Bulldogs have missed the tournament four years in a row. The last four seasons rank Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the list of the program’s lowest winning percentages.

After finishing in the top three in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for 12 straight years, the Bulldogs have failed to do so in each of the last four years as they’ve been passed up by North Dakota. Even Ohio State has won more games than Minnesota Duluth in the last three years.

After reaching the WCHA conference tournament semifinals for 13 straight years, the Bulldogs have missed the Final Faceoff in two of the last three years, getting bounced by Bemidji State in the first round last season.

After being called one of the WCHA’s ‘Big Three’ for more than a decade, Minnesota Duluth has fallen out of that mix in stunning fashion. The Bulldogs have won just one of their last 35 games against Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, fewer than both Bemidji State and struggling Minnesota State-Mankato (the Beavers won five games against those opponents last year alone).

The league’s coaches didn’t see the program going in a promising direction, either. This season, with all of Miller’s returning players and incoming recruits, fellow WCHA coaches picked the Bulldogs to finish below the Beavers and in the bottom half of the league for the first time ever.

Off the ice, Miller’s troubles with the NCAA have been well documented. The program was forced to forfeit a conference title and all regular-season wins for using a professional player and using a former player to recruit her.

Miller’s teams have under-performed in the classroom as well, finishing dead last in the WCHA in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate for eight straight years. They were dead last in the country for four of those years, including the last two.

The athletic department likely took note that 13 players have transferred out of the program in the last three years, too.

Every direction you look, there are red flags.

Yes, Miller did terrific things for the Bulldog women’s hockey program and will go down as one of the sport’s most-highly accomplished coaches. But that doesn’t mean she’s entitled to a lifetime appointment as coach.

Many prominent men’s coaches of men’s sports have found this out.

Bobby Bowden, the second-winningest FBS football coach of all time, was forced out at Florida State when his performance dipped. Jeff Sauer, George Gwozdecky and Rick Comley — three of the top nine winningest coaches in D-I men’s hockey history — were all eventually forced out, too.

Coaching is a bottom-line business and the bottom line is that the Bulldogs weren’t paying Miller more than any women’s hockey coach in the country for those results.

Miller won’t take ownership for the program’s recent struggles.

She’ll say it’s the school’s fault for not providing her team a full-time person to book flights hotels and meals (as bizarre as that sounds). She’ll blame the budget, even though the Bulldogs spend as much as anyone in the country in women’s hockey. It’s just not her fault, never has been.

In 2003, The Ralph hosted the WCHA Final Faceoff. In the early morning hours before the championship game, an angry Miller, looking for game tape, accidentally knocked on the door of a University of Minnesota player while looking for the league’s commissioner. She was suspended one game for it.

After the suspension, she told the Duluth News Tribune: “I would like the focus to be on the events that actually occurred, not me accidentally knocking on the door. I’m a little in shock given the situation. We were the victims, not the accused.”

Last season, it became time for Minnesota Duluth to decide whether to issue a new contract to Miller or whether to look in another direction.

With wins decreasing, distance between rivals increasing, championships traveling out of sight, players consistently transferring out and an APR score stuck in the basement, the Bulldogs’ decision shouldn’t be a shock.

UND women win exhibition

The UND women’s hockey team played its exhibition game Friday night against the University of Manitoba.

First review of the team: It is exactly what we thought they’d be. They were very good in goal and on the back end and had to scratch and claw for offense.

In fact, the only goal scored in UND’s 1-0 victory was put in by one of Manitoba’s own players.

Here are five quick thoughts from the exhibition:

  • The biggest surprise was that UND’s best player was Annie Chipman, who hasn’t played a ton in net. Chipman played in the second period, which was Manitoba’s best. She stopped all nine shots to preserve the shutout.
  • Becca Kohler, who is expected to be one of UND’s top offensive talents, only played one period. She was nicked up playing with Hockey Canada this summer and UND is easing her back in. It was noticeable when she wasn’t on the ice.
  • Loaded on defense, UND has moved Samantha Hanson up front.
  • For the exhibition, UND split up Kohler, Meghan Dufault and Amy Menke — the big three up front. They ended last season together and produced quite a bit of offense. The coaching staff will have tough decisions on whether to keep those three together or split them up as the season goes along.
  • Who will score outside of those three up front? Rookies Vilma Tanskanen and Rebekah Kolstad will get their chances. Hungarian Dorci Medgyes, a big unknown coming from a small hockey country, showed some flashes as well.

Marvin, Campbell to redshirt

UND women’s hockey team held its media day session as it has an exhibition game looming Friday night… yes, that’s right, it begins Friday night.

There will be more covering coming next week on the team as well.

Although it’s not really a surprise on either account, both forward Lisa Marvin and goalie Kristen Campbell will be redshirting this season.

Marvin was badly injured after being hit by a car last November and is still on the mend. She is skating on her own and her knee is getting better and better, but major hurdles are still in front of her in regards to her arm.

Doctors are still trying to figure out whether Marvin is going to need a bone graft done on her arm. She lost a three-inch piece of bone in her arm and doctors were hoping that it would rejuvinate, but it hasn’t done enough yet. More appointments are coming up for her.

Campbell, meanwhile, will work on her game as UND has a terrific 1-2 punch of Shelby Amsley-Benzie and Lexie Shaw in net. There’s been some buzz about Campbell’s play during fall camp, which bodes well for UND’s future.

Amsley-Benzie, meanwhile, is ready to go after having offseason surgery. There was some question earlier this summer about whether she’d be ready to go at the start of the year.

Amsley-Benzie, a Patty Kaz finalist last season, will play a period on Friday. So will Shaw and Annie Chipman.

UND women picked third

The WCHA released its preseason coaches poll and the UND women were picked to finish in a familiar spot — third in the WCHA.

UND has finished third in three of the last four years (the other time UND finished second, but lost a tiebreaker and was the No. 3 seed).

WCHA coaches poll

Minnesota (6) 48
Wisconsin (2) 44
North Dakota 35
Bemidji State 31
Minnesota Duluth 26
Ohio State 20
St. Cloud State 13
MSU-Mankato 7

Player of the year: Hannah Brandt, F, Minnesota (7), Sarah Nurse, F, Wisconsin (1)
Rookie of the year: Sarah Potomak, F, Minnesota (4), Jincy Dunne, D, Ohio State (2), Mikaela Gardner, D, Wisconsin (1), Sophia Shaver, F, Wisconsin (1)

The two biggest surprises to me were Bemidji State being voted to finish in the top half and Jincy Dunne not being the preseason rookie of the year.

The Bemidji State vote is notable because I don’t believe the Beavers have ever been voted to finish in the top half of the league, but they do have a lot of players coming back from a team that made the WCHA Final Faceoff title game a year ago.

Dunne is a rising star in U.S. women’s hockey and even got to join the U.S. Olympic Team for much of the 2013-14 season.

UND is expected to have some question marks offensively, but it should be very good and experienced both on the back end and in net, where Shelby Amsley-Benzie and Lexie Shaw lead the team.

The Herald will have a full women’s hockey preview down the road as the season nears.

Locals, UND players make USA-CAN rosters

Lexi Shaw was the backup goaltender for UND last season. That means UND may have some depth at that spot.

On Monday, Shaw was announced as one of three UND players to make the U.S. roster for the upcoming U22 series against Canada.

Forward Amy Menke and defenseman Gracen Hirschy also made the roster, a landmark achievement for each player.

The selections were largely based on their performance at camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., which bodes well for UND’s upcoming season. That’s especially true at the goaltender position.

It is unclear whether Patty Kazmaier Award finalist Shelby Amsley-Benzie will be able to start the season on time after having offseason surgery. UND will be more than comfortable letting Shaw take the net at the start of the season, though.

Two other current UND players made the U22 squad for Canada in forward Becca Kohler and defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak. Kohler has consistently developed year-to-year at UND and could be a top scorer this season.

There are also several notables to make the U18 roster for the U.S.-Canada series as well.

UND defenseman recruit Abigail Stanley is on the team, along with East Grand Forks’ Mak Langei, Thief River Falls’ Patti Marshall (Minnesota commit) and Fargo’s Alex Woken (Minnesota commit).

UND commit Ryleigh Houston made Team Canada for the U18 series.

The U22 series will be played Wednesday through Saturday in Lake Placid. The U18s series will be held Thursday through Saturday.

UND players earn camp invites

Three current UND women’s players have been invited to Hockey Canada’s development camp this summer.

Defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak and forwards Becca Kohler and Meghan Dufault all earned invites to the camp that will be held in Calgary next month. Hockey Canada says that Dufault won’t be at the camp, though.

A total of 43 players earned invites. The camp will conclude with scrimmages between two teams of players there.

Four players who earned gold medals at the Olympics with Canada will be at the camp. Canada is expected to have a big overhaul on its roster for the next Olympic Games, and many of these players will be considered for the 2018 Games.

Three UND recruits also were invited to U18 camp.

Defenseman Abby Thiessen and forwards Ryleigh Houston and Sarah Lecavalier will all participate in Calgary next month.

The IIHF also is expected to bring in elite players from other countries to Calgary to participate in the event, which is a great step toward bringing more parity to the women’s game.

Thiessen, Lecavalier and Houston are expected to come to UND in 2016.

UND announces team awards

UND announced its team awards on the men’s and women’s sides. Here are the press releases from the school……

Junior goaltender Zane McIntyre was named the recipient of the Jeff Anderson Scholarship Award as the University of North Dakota’s most valuable player, highlighting the 2014-15 team awards announced on Wednesday night by head coach Dave Hakstol.

McIntyre won the Mike Richter Award as the top goaltender in Division I men’s hockey and was a Hobey “Hat Trick” finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award given to the nation’s best player. The Thief River Falls, Minn., native appeared in all 42 games this season and led the nation with 29 victories, second-most in UND single-season history. He finished the year with a 29-10-3 record and a 2.05 goals against average and .929 save percentage. McIntyre was also named the NCHC Goaltender of the Year and was the NCAA West Region Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

UND’s other 2014-15 team award recipients included:

Cliff “Fido” Purpur Award: Connor Gaarder | Senior | Forward | Edina, Minn.

  • Award is given to the player who exemplifies hard work, determination and being a creator of excitement on the ice
  • Assistant captain had career highs in points (20), goals (10), assists (10) and tied for ninth nationally in GWG (5)

Archie Krum Memorial Athletic Scholarship: Nick Mattson | Senior | Defenseman | Chanhassen, Minn.

  • Award is given to the player who demonstrates leadership qualities, high academic standards, athletic excellence
  • Earned second straight NCAA Elite 89 Award for having the highest grade-point average among Frozen Four participants
  • NCHC  Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Tom Hoghaug Memorial Scholarship: Tucker Poolman | Freshman | Defenseman | East Grand Forks, Minn.

  • Award is given to the freshman who demonstrates initiative, character and a sense of responsibility
  • Played in 25 games at forward and 15 on defense and led the team with six power-play goals

Rookie of the Year: Nick Schmaltz | Forward | Verona, Wis.

  • Named to All-NCHC Rookie Team and was the NCHC Rookie of the Month in October
  • Tied for second among NCHC freshmen in points (26) and assists (21)

    Most Improved Player:
    Austin Poganski | Freshman | Forward | St. Cloud, Minn.
  • Had four goals and 10 assists with a plus-11 in 38 games as a freshman
  • Led the conference in rooking scoring during the NCHC Quarterfinals with three points in two games

Coaches’ Unsung Hero Award: Andrew Panzarella | Senior | Defenseman | Washington, D.C.

  • Was a career-best plus-8 and matched his career high with four points despite playing in only nine games
  • UND went 8-1-0 when he was in the lineup

Plus/Minus Award: Gage Ausmus | Sophomore | Defenseman | East Grand Forks, Minn.

  • Award is given to the player with the best plus/minus rating on the team
  • Played in all 42 games and led the team with a career-high plus-15 rating

Virg Foss 3-Star Award: Zane McIntyre | Junior | Goalie | Thief River Falls, Minn.

  • Award is given to the player who receives the most 3-star voting points from the print media following home games
  • Named 1st star twice, 2nd star once and 3rd star five times


Junior goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie earned both the team’s Most Valuable Player and Academic awards. While holding a 4.0 grade-point average in chemical engineering, Amsley-Benzie led the nation’s goaltenders this season with a .954 save percentage. Her accolades on the ice propelled her to become the third All-American in program history. She additionally broke three school records and now holds the records for career wins (51), career shutouts (14) and single-season shutouts (9).

Halli Krzyzaniak was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year. Krzyzaniak earned All-WCHA Third Team honors this season and was also named to the Canadian Women’s National Team for both the 2014 Four Nations Cup and the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championship. She totaled 13 points this season from the blue line, scoring two goals and recording 11 assists.

Jordan Hampton was named the team’s Rookie of the Year, given to a player in her first year of play at UND. Hampton, a sophomore transfer from Northeastern, stepped in right away at the blue line for UND and played in all 37 games this season. She ended her first year and UND with seven assists and a +4 plus/minus rating.

The team’s Most Improved Player award went to junior forward Shannon Kaiser. Playing in all 37 games, Kaiser recorded three goals and three assists. She scored the game-winning goal against Bemidji State on Jan. 25, while assisting on the game-winner against St. Cloud State on Nov. 29.

Rounding out the team awards, senior defenseman Tori Williams was named the team’s Most Dedicated Player. Named an assistant captain for the season, Williams skated in all 37 games for UND this season. She totaled five points off of one goal and four assists, with her lone goal coming in the final game of the season against No. 3 Wisconsin in the semifinals of the 2015 WCHA Final Face-Off.

At the end of the banquet, head coach Brian Idalski named the team captains that will lead the UND squad in 2015-16. Three assistant captains were named, as Becca Kohler, Tanja Eisenschmid and Layla Marvin will all wear an ‘A’, while soon-to-be junior defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak will get the ‘C’ as the team’s captain next season.

UND women miss NCAAs by one spot

For the second time in five years, UND is the first team out of the NCAA tournament.

Although UND finished at No. 8 in the Pairwise Rankings, it wasn’t enough this season because College Hockey America is in its first year of getting an autobid.

So, a 15-18-5 RIT team that twice lost to Lindenwood will occupy the last slot in the tournament.

Everyone knew that this season would be more challenging to qualify for the NCAAs because of the CHA autobid, and UND put itself behind the 8-ball by losing nonconference games against Vermont and Syracuse, two teams that finished with losing records.

UND went 12-1-1 down the stretch, which tells you about the importance of those nonconference games.

North Dakota put together an outstanding finish to the season, but it wasn’t enough to dig out of that early hole.

NCAA women’s tournament

RIT at Minnesota
Boston University at Wisconsin
Clarkson at Boston College
Quinnipiac at Harvard

If both the Gophers and Badgers win in the quarterfinals, they would meet up in the semifinals.

Saturday morning reading

The last time that Grand Forks and Ralph Engelstad Arena hosted the WCHA Final Faceoff, UND wasn’t a member of the league yet.

Today, it returns.

This time, UND gets to play in it.

The field is probably exactly what the fans in the area wanted to see. It starts with three-time defending Final Faceoff champ Minnesota taking on Jim Scanlan and the Bemidji State Beavers at 2:07 p.m..

Then, it’s Wisconsin against UND at 5:07 p.m.

Today’s game appears to be a must-win for UND, which currently sits at No. 8 in the Pairwise. With the CHA champion taking up one of the eight spots in the national tournament with an autobid, the lowest an at-large team can be in the Pairwise and still make the tournament is No. 7.

This is somewhat similar to the situation UND was in two years ago. It knew it needed to beat Wisconsin in the semifinals to have a shot at the NCAA tournament, and UND did win that game.

This is the third year in a row that UND has matched up with the Badgers in the WCHA semifinals. UND won the last two.

For today’s paper, I wrote about senior defenseman Johanna Fallman. She doesn’t spend a lot of time in the limelight, doesn’t score a lot of goals, but has been a pretty consistent presence on the blue line for UND this season.

Fallman also is one of the smartest players on the team, posting a 4.0, while studying in her second language. She had a rough start at UND, breaking her ankle and being declared ineligible for a year by the NCAA. Fallman thought about leaving and going home, but stuck it out and says it has been the best decision of her life.

Winnipeg Free Press writer Tim Campbell, who covers the Jets for the paper, was in town last weekend doing pieces on Tucker Poolman and Meghan Dufault. He watched Dufault make the play to set up Amy Menke for the triple OT game-winner a week ago. Read his piece on Dufault here.

I also wrote a story on Scanlan, the former East Grand Forks coach and administrator who has led the Beavers to their first 20-win season in school history. He had a funny story about how BSU scored the game-tying goal in a decisive Game 3 against Minnesota Duluth last weekend. Read that here.

If you get a hard copy of the paper, you’ll see matchup boxes of all four teams, a note on their top player and a short piece on what to expect from each team in the tournament.

All four teams are coming in hot.

UND is 15-2-1 since early December.

Minnesota is 31-2-4 on the season.

Wisconsin is 20-4-4 since getting swept by Minnesota in October.

Bemidji State is 6-3 since getting swept by UND last month.

So, it should be a great event. Since I’m in Oxford, Ohio, we’ll have Darian Brevik covering the tournament for us. Check out all the coverage on the Herald site. That’s it for now.