Friday morning reading

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Is the weather ever bad here?

This is my eighth trip to the Springs, and I can’t ever remember it being bad. Once again, it was in the upper 60s today and the forecast calls for it to be in that vicinity for the rest of the weekend.

The team practiced this afternoon at World Arena for about an hour. Former UND goalie Tate Maris stopped by to visit the old team.

The Tigers practiced after UND and I chatted with new coach Mike Haviland for a little bit. He talks about the challenges of stepping into the college game from the pro game and his thoughts on his team in this notebook.

When you think of Colorado College, you think about the high-flying offense and the dynamic forwards that the Tigers boasted for so many years. From Brian Swanson to Peter Sejna to Noah Clarke to Brett Sterling to Marty Sertich to Chad Rau to Jaden and Rylan Schwartz, the Tigers could score with anyone. But they weren’t great on the back end and that was usually their downfall.

What makes things strange is that the Tigers have been the opposite for the past two seasons. Up front, they don’t have anyone that really scares you, especially now that Alexander Krushelnyski is gone. But on the back end, the Tigers are very good. They have a group of older players who have developed through their careers mixed in with some very talented youngsters like Jaccob Slavin (Carolina pick), Teemu Kivihalme (Nashville pick) and Garrett Cecere.

Another Tiger blue liner to watch is Peter Stoykewych. He scored three goals during his first three years in college and two of them came against UND.

Look for the Tigers to lean on that group to help provide offense and to help transition the puck out of the zone, making it more difficult on UND to score goals.

For UND, I think it once again comes down to grinding and competing as hard as they did at the end of last season and Saturday night against Bemidji State. If they can find that in their game, I think they can make things hard on the Tigers this weekend.

UND also will hope to get a few more players on the scoresheet. One of those players is senior Michael Parks, who answered some random questions for our “get to know” segment.

For Thursday’s paper, I wrote a feature on the East Grand Forks and Grand Forks Central players on this team’s roster. There are five of them and they played against each other in a pretty intense high school rivalry. Now, they are not only teammates but they also all live together (the two freshmen in the dorms and the other three in an apartment). I can’t find it online at the moment.

This week’s NCHC picks….

UND at Colorado College: Vegas bookies say a split is likely. UND and CC have split 5 of their last 6 series here. UND has only swept once in the last 10 trips here. But I think the Tigers have too many questions both up front and in goal for me to confident in picking them. So I’m going with a UND sweep.

Omaha at Western Michigan: Omaha likes to get up and down the rink. Western Michigan likes to lock it down defensively. Should be a good matchup between contrasting styles. Split.

MSU-Mankato vs. Minnesota Duluth: Home-and-home series between old WCHA rivals. Should be highly entertaining. The Bulldogs have tons of skill up front. The Mavs have a deep, veteran team that could make an NCAA tournament run this season. Can’t see either team getting the upper hand here. Split.

Miami vs. Ohio State: Home-and-home series between old CCHA rivals. Ohio State has a lot to replace up front, which isn’t good news because the Buckeyes will need to score to keep up with the RedHawks. Miami win and tie.

RPI at Denver: RPI coach Seth Appert returns to DU, where he was an assistant coach on Denver’s national title teams. Denver was the only team off last weekend, so it’s hard to know a lot about the Pioneers. Split.


On the women’s side, UND has a big rivalry series coming up against Minnesota Duluth.

Minnesota Duluth went 31-2 against UND in the first 33 meetings between the teams. So, it’s hard to believe that UND has totally flipped this series and will enter this weekend on an eight-game unbeaten streak against the Bulldogs.

There’s a story in the Herald about how UND ended the whole “Big Three” thing by finishing ahead of Duluth in the WCHA standings for each of the last three years. That story doesn’t appear to be online right now though.

Another big development for the women’s team is that sophomore defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak was named to the Four Nations team for Canada. This is the top National Team, which means she’s definitely making her way onto Hockey Canada’s radar for the 2018 Olympics. The Four Nations will be played next month.

It’s going to be a very interesting weekend on the women’s side in the WCHA with every team playing someone that they will be close to in the standings.

Minnesota is playing Wisconsin. Those teams should finish 1-2. UND and Duluth are playing while Ohio State and Bemidji State are playing. Those teams should finish 3-4-5-6. Then, Mankato is playing against St. Cloud in a battle of teams that should finish 7-8. This weekend will go a long way in separating out some of those teams (unless they are all splits).

I’m off to mentally prepare for how many spicy cajun dogs I’m going to destroy postgame on Tejon Street in downtown Springs.

Dufault, Kohler continue hot streak in Mankato

Where will the offense come from this season for the UND women’s hockey team?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Meghan Dufault and Becca Kohler.

After a weekend sweep of Minnesota State-Mankato, Dufault and Kohler have now combined for 17 points in four games. During Friday’s 5-0 win, Dufault had a hat trick and Kohler had four assists. During Saturday’s 2-1 win, Kohler scored.

Last season, you could tell that Kohler was on the verge of breaking out. A power forward, her development has taken a bit longer than Dufault, but it appears that she has arrived.

Kohler already has four goals this season. She scored five all of last year. She already has nine points this season, seven shy of last season’s total.

The other area that has allowed UND to get off to a 3-1 start is special teams. Peter Elander’s power play has scored 5 goals on 11 chances (45.5 percent), while Erik Fabian’s penalty kill is a perfect 18-for-18.

While UND beat the Mavs by only one goal on Saturday afternoon, UND was outshooting them 35-4 after two periods and 49-9 for the game. That’s taking care of business against a bad team.

This weekend, the test gets a little more difficult. Minnesota Duluth, which won a shootout against top-ranked Minnesota on Saturday, comes to The Ralph. After that, UND plays Minnesota and Wisconsin. So, it’s a daunting stretch and we’ll probably know a lot more about UND after that.

But if Dufault and Kohler can continue to produce, it will give UND a big lift.

Women’s final: Vermont 3, UND 1

Notes: UND going with the same lineup as Friday.

First period

No scoring.

Second period

Vermont 1, UND 0 — Cassidy Campeau (Delia McNally) 2:21. McNally has the puck behind the net and attempts to throw it out front. The puck hits the side of the cage and bounces to Campeau at the side of the crease. Campeau quickly swats it with the backhand and it goes five-hole on Shaw.

Vermont 1, UND 1 — Josefine Jakobsen (Meghan Dufault, Becca Kohler) 2:38. Kohler, standing at the right point, sends a pass to the slot area for Dufault, who tips the puck on net. Litchfield makes the initial save, but Jakobsen finds the rebound.

Third period

Vermont 2, UND 1 — Cassie Campeau (Bridget Baker) 3:05. UND gets outnumbered down low and Baker, standing at the side of the net, feeds Campeau in the slot. Campeau threads a shot just inside the post to give the Catamounts the lead.

Vermont 3, UND 1 — Dayna Colang (Brittany Zuback) . UND misses an open-net tap-in at one end and Vermont comes back the other way and ices this one when Zuback feeds Colang, who is alone on top of the crease.

UND’s lines

19 Meghan Dufault–6 Gracen Hirschy–51 Becca Kohler
21 Amy Menke–63 Josefine Jakobsen–25 Leah Jensen
10 Andrea Dalen–4 Sam LaShomb–13 Layla Marvin
15 Kayla Gardner–14 Marissa Salo–11 Shannon Kaiser

8 Samantha Hanson–22 Tanja Eisenschmid
16 Tori Williams–18 Halli Krzyzaniak
5 Johanna Fallman–7 Jordan Hampton

29 Lexie Shaw
1 Shelby Amsley-Benzie
34 Annie Chipman

Vermont’s lines

19 Brittany Zuback–9 Dayna Colang–44 Victoria Andreakos
21 Amanda Pelkey–16 Bridget Baker–33 Klara Myren
22 Sarah Kelly–5 Casey Leveillee–17 Delia McNally
10 Mackenzie MacNeil–2 Kourtney Menches–18 Cassidy Campeau

13 Gina Repaci–27 Taylor Willard
11 Katherine Pate–26 Sarah Campbell
12 Amanda Drobot–7 Rachael Ade

30 Madison Litchfield
1 Molly Depew

Women’s final: UND 7, RPI 1

Notes: Line charts list Gracen Hirschy and Sam LaShomb up front. Lisa Marvin, Christina LaCombe and Kara Tupa are scratches.

First period

UND 1, RPI 0 — Becca Kohler (Meghan Dufault, Josefine Jakobsen) 7:28 (pp). UND’s Canadian National Teamers strike first on the power play. Dufault skates the puck in the zone 2-on-2, draws both defenders to her and dishes to Kohler, who snipes it glove side.

Second period

UND 2, RPI 0 — Josefine Jakobsen (Meghan Dufault) 2:35. Dufault carried the puck behind the net, appearing like she was going to circle it. But when she got directly behind the net, Dufault threw a behind-the-back pass out front to Jakobsen, who quickly tapped it past O’Brien before she got back in position.

UND 3, RPI 0 — Becca Kohler (Meghan Dufault, Halli Krzyzaniak) 7:58. Dufault dished the puck to Kohler, standing in the left circle and started to move toward the net. Kohler picked it up and sniped it glove side for her second goal of the game. The three players who pick up points were all at the Canadian camp together last week.

UND 4, RPI 0 — Marissa Salo (Shannon Kaiser, Tori Williams) 15:05. Williams sent Kaiser up the left wing on a rush. An RPI defenseman cut off Kaiser, but the puck dropped back between the hash marks, where Salo followed up to score her first-career goal.

Third period

UND 5, RPI 0 — Andrea Dalen 1:52 (sh). Dalen picked up the puck in her own zone, skated it 1-on-1 all the way until she got to the right faceoff dot, then ripped a wrist shot off the far post for a shorthanded goal.

UND 6, RPI 0 — Becca Kohler (Meghan Dufault) 9:02. Dufault makes a great chip pass off the glass to herself to start a 2-on-1 rush. Dufault holds it as long as possible, then sets up Kohler for a tap-in for her first-career hat trick.

UND 7, RPI 0 — Marissa Salo (Sam LaShomb) 15:12. Salo entered the zone on a 2-on-1 rush with LaShomb and took the shot herself. The goaltender made the save, but Salo followed it up and scored on the rebound.

UND 7, RPI 1 — Shayna Tomlinson 16:03. UND turns the puck over in front of its own net and Tomlinson gets one past Amsley-Benzie to break up the shutout bid.

UND’s lines

19 Meghan Dufault–6 Gracen Hirschy–51 Becca Kohler
21 Amy Menke–63 Josefine Jakobsen–25 Leah Jensen
10 Andrea Dalen–4 Sam LaShomb–13 Layla Marvin
15 Kayla Gardner–14 Marissa Salo–11 Shannon Kaiser

8 Samantha Hanson–22 Tanja Eisenschmid
16 Tori Williams–18 Halli Krzyzaniak
5 Johanna Fallman–7 Jordan Hampton

1 Shelby Amsley-Benzie
29 Lexie Shaw
34 Annie Chipman

RPI’s lines

21 Katie Rooney–11 Alexa Gruschow–25 Whitney Renn
15 Laura Horwood–14 Shayna Tomlinson–4 Ali Svoboda
8 Taylor Mahoney–16 Mari Mankey–13 Mariana Walsh
19 Marisa Raspa–26 Lindsey Hylwa

2 Heidi Huhtamaki–24 Brandi Banks
20 Amanda Kimmerle–12 Jenn Godin
3 Kathryn Schilter–17 Hannah Behounek
7 Delaney Middlebrook

1 Sara Till
30 Brianna Piper
31 Kelly O’Brien

Friday morning reading

The offseason officially ends tonight.

College hockey season hits Grand Forks at 7:07 p.m. as the UND women take on RPI in the regular-season opener. It is the first of three games this weekend. UND will take on Vermont on Saturday night, then the men get their first bit of action with a preseason game against Manitoba on Sunday.

It seems like we’re easing into a new season, but for the women, they play just six nonconference games. There is very little East-West crossover in nonconference, so these games are huge and the team knows it.

A bad weekend could put a significant dent in the team’s NCAA tournament hopes that fast.

One very good sign for UND is that Leah Jensen is back and finally healthy. She looked good in the exhibition game (tallying four points). It seems like she hasn’t been healthy in three years since she was at East Grand Forks.

But there are plenty of questions for the team. They looked good and scored a lot of goals in last weekend’s 9-1 exhibition win over the Toronto Junior Aeros, but this weekend, they won’t be playing against high school kids anymore.

Here are five storylines to watch this weekend (and this season):

1. What will UND do with its deep D-corps?

Like the men’s side, the UND women are deep on defense. Halli Krzyzaniak, Gracen Hirschy, Sam Hanson, Sam LaShomb, Tanja Eisenschmid, Tori Williams and Johanna Fallman have all played extensively for UND. Northeastern transfer Jordan Hampton adds to the depth there. With eight strong defensemen and questions up front, UND has decisions to make there.

2. Will the Canadian National Team players take another step?

Meghan Dufault, Becca Kohler and Krzyzaniak all missed the exhibition game because they were at Canada’s National Team camp. Dufault is probably the team’s most skilled returner. Kohler has showed signs that she’s on the verge of breaking out. She can be dominant at times. A year older — and with more ice time available up front — will their production increase?

3. Can the locals increase production?

There will be an opportunity for the Marvins (Warroad), Shannon Kaiser (Crookston) and Kayla Gardner (Warroad) to work their way onto a scoring line. Kaiser made a statement with a pair of goals in the exhibition and Gardner drove the net for a tally. If they can increase production, it would be a big lift for the team.

4. Can UND go unbeaten in nonconference?

UND plays a single game against RPI and Vermont this weekend (the teams also play Bemidji State on opposite nights) and it has nonconference series lined up against RIT and Syracuse. UND has never gone undefeated in nonconference play in school history, but these games are all winnable.

5. Can UND continue to get strong goaltending?

Last season, both Shelby Amsley Benzie and Lexie Shaw finished the year with goals-against averages better than 2.00, which is outstanding. They both had save percentages better than .915. If they can continue to get that type of goaltending, they will stay in every game, even if they aren’t scoring as much.

Quick thoughts on UND’s exhibition

The UND women’s team played its first exhibition game of the season Saturday night and beat the Toronto Junior Aeros 9-1. It’s difficult to judge the level of competition, but for reference, St. Cloud State beat them 3-0 a day earlier.

Anyway, here are a few impressions from the team’s first outing:

  • Offense is going to be the big question mark for this team, so putting up nine goals is a good start, especially considering the fact that the team was missing three of its top players — Meghan Dufault, Becca Kohler and Halli Krzyzaniak — who are all at the Canadian National Team camp.
  • Gracen Hirschy is going to do a little bit of everything for this team. Hirschy is going to play both forward and defense. Coach Brian Idalski said he’s not sure how he’s going to list her. “She’s a hybrid,” he said.
  • One reason for moving Hirschy up is because UND is so deep on the blue line. With Northeastern transfer Jordan Hampton joining the D-corps, UND had six strong blue liners Saturday night, and it will add Krzyzaniak next weekend.
  • Leah Jensen is finally healthy and that’s a good thing for UND. She’s been injured much of her time at UND, but was one of the team’s top forwards this season.
  • Amy Menke’s minutes were limited, likely to keep her healthy for this week’s upcoming nonconference games.
  • One play that Idalski and the coaching staff is really going to like is Kayla Gardner’s goal. She drove the net hard, went to the far post and was rewarded for it. In the past, not enough players would go hard to the net like that.
  • It was tough to get any sort of read on the goaltenders. All three of them played but faced very minimal work.

Women’s final: UND 9, Toronto 1

Of note: UND playing without Meghan Dufault, Becca Kohler and Halli Krzyzaniak, all of whom are at the Canadian National Team camp. Gracen Hirschy playing forward.

First period

UND 1, Toronto 0 — Gracen Hirschy (Marissa Salo, Samantha Hanson) 6:05. Hanson makes a nice backcheck to break up a centering pass and deny Toronto a Grade A scoring chance. The puck goes the other way with Hirschy, who dishes it to Salo. Salo skates in and feeds Hirschy with a cross-crease pass.

UND 2, Toronto 0 — Shannon Kaiser (Leah Jensen, Jordan Hampton) 6:29. Hampton launches a shot from the point that Jensen deflects behind her back into the slot area. Kaiser is there to finish it off.

UND 3, Toronto 0 — Layla Marvin (Josefine Jakobsen) 12:50. Jakobsen treads an outstanding pass through three Toronto players to send Marvin in. Marvin skates it to the top of the crease and snaps one home.

UND 4, Toronto 0 — Shannon Kaiser (Josefine Jakobsen, Tori Williams) 19:01. Jakobsen, standing at the point, sends one to the side of the crease, where Kaiser makes a perfect tip over the goaltender’s glove.

Second period

UND 5, Toronto 0 — Kayla Gardner (Jordan Hampton, Johanna Fallman) 2:46. Gardner rushed the puck up the left wing and got a step behind the defenders. She got to the top of the crease, carried the puck to the far post and flipped a backhand just inside the post.

UND 6, Toronto 0 — Gracen Hirschy (Samantha Hanson, Nicole Novak) 3:40. Hanson has the puck at the top of the left circle and feeds Hirschy in the opposite circle. Hirschy sends a one-timer past the goaltender for her second goal of the game.

UND 7, Toronto 0 — Amy Menke (Gracen Hirschy, Leah Jensen) 12:07. Jensen made a pass from the bottom of the left circle to Hirschy. She couldn’t handle the pass, but Menke picked it up and threw a no-look backhand on net and it squeezed through the goaltender.

UND 8, Toronto 0 — Josefine Jakobsen (Leah Jensen) 17:42. Jensen, standing at the bottom of the left circle, found Jakobsen camped out on the other side of the crease. Jakobsen tapped it in.

Third period

UND 9, Toronto 0 — Leah Jensen 7:24. After putting on some pressure, Toronto tries to clear the puck out of the zone, but it hits Jensen’s hand in the high slot. Jensen picks it up and shoots. Her shot catches part of the goalie, but still goes in.

UND 9, Toronto 1 — Mikayla Grant Mentis 14:51. Mentis carries the puck from her own end to the center line, where she dumps a looping puck on net that Chipman loses and it goes over her.

UND’s lines

15 Kayla Gardner–25 Leah Jensen–6 Gracen Hirschy
10 Andrea Dalen–63 Josefine Jakobsen–13 Layla Marvin
11 Shannon Kaiser–55 Lisa Marvin–14 Marissa Salo
21 Amy Menke–32 Nicole Novak

8 Samantha Hanson–22 Tanja Eisenschmid
4 Sam LaShomb–16 Tori Williams
5 Johanna Fallman–7 Jordan Hampton

1 Shelby Amsley-Benzie
29 Lexie Shaw
34 Annie Chipman

NCAA rejects Karvinen’s bid for fourth year

The NCAA has rejected Michelle Karvinen’s appeal to gain a fourth year of eligibility.

The NCAA originally took away a year of eligibility from Karvinen because she played in a league while enrolled at UND. She played overseas in Finland while preparing for the Olympic Games.

Karvinen originally planned to play at UND that season, but the NCAA deemed her a non-qualifier because of issues with her school curriculum in Europe. She enrolled in order to become eligible the next season.

Karvinen racked up 131 points in 87 games while at UND. She was named team captain her senior season and she is a Dean’s List student.

At the 2014 Sochi Games, Karvinen was named the top forward in the tournament.

With the NCAA’s ruling, UND loses Karvinen, who would have potentially been the top forward in the WCHA this season.

UND women picked fourth

UND is tabbed fourth in the preseason WCHA women’s poll behind Minnesota, Wisconsin and Duluth. UND was just one vote back of the Bulldogs.

Bemidji State and St. Cloud State — the two teams with new head coaches in the league — are picked in the final two spots.

Minnesota, despite losing Amanda Kessel for the season, is the favorite to win the league.

WCHA preseason coaches poll

1. Minnesota (6) 48
2. Wisconsin (2) 44
3. Duluth 34
4. North Dakota 33
5. Ohio State 26
6. MSU-Mankato 17
7. Bemidji State 13
8. St. Cloud State 9

WCHA preseason player of the year

Hannah Brandt, Minnesota (8)

WCHA rookie of the year

Annie Pankowski, Wisconsin (6); Baylee Wellhausen, Wisconsin (1); Cara Piazza, Minnesota (1)

Dufault, Krzyzaniak make U22s

A pair of UND players made the Canadian U22 team roster and will compete in a three-game series against the U.S. this week in Calgary.

Forward Meghan Dufault and defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak will be competing against a number of future Olympians in the series, which should be a good experience before the start of the college season. The teams play Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Krzyzaniak is the youngest defenseman to make Canada’s U22 roster.

Dufault is expected to be among UND’s leading scorers this season. Krzyzaniak should be one of UND’s best defensive blue liners, though she also has the ability to add offense.

The pair snapped a photo together yesterday at practice (courtesy @meghandufault).