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Published by Dave Berger on 06 May 2014

Twenty Storied Programs: #5 through #1

Last month in Philadelphia, Union became the 20th program to win an NCAA Division I men’s college hockey championship. Since 1948, teams have competed for the coveted trophy, and the Dutchmen will raise a banner celebrating this past season that will hang forever.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all twenty teams who have made it to the mountaintop. Today, we’re discussing the top five programs of all time. Follow the links to have a look at #20 through #16, #15 through #11, and #10 through #6.

#5 Boston University Terriers

National Championships: 5 (1971, 1972, 1978, 1995, 2009)
Frozen Four Appearances: 21 (most recent, 2009)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 32 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 12 (most recent, 2009)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 14 (most recent, 2009)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: LW Chris Drury (1998), D Matt Gilroy (2009)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Cleon Daskalakis (1984), John Cullen (1987), Shawn McEachern (1991), David Sacco (1993), Mike Grier (1995), Jay Pandolfo (1996), Chris Drury (1996, 1997), Michel Larocque (1999), John Curry (2007), Colin Wilson (2009)

Other notable former players: Tony Amonte, Adrian Aucoin, Shawn Bates, Nick Bonino, Chris Borque, Joe DiPenta, Rick DiPietro, Paul Fenton, Mark Fidler, Mike Fidler, Scott Lachance, Dan LaCouture, Rick Meagher, Freddy Meyer, Jack O’Callahan, Tom Poti, Joe Sacco, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dave Silk, Mike Sullivan, Keith Tkachuk, Ryan Whitney, Brandon Yip, Scott Young

Boston University didn’t join the ECAC until the 1961-62 season but still managed to appear in four Frozen Fours as an independent in the 1950s. Jack Parker had a remarkable nine-season stretch with the Terriers from 1989 until 1998, winning 254 games (against just 82 losses), five Hockey East regular season chmapionships, and four Hockey East playoff titles. BU also advanced to nine straight NCAA tournaments over that span, appearing in the Frozen Four seven times with a national title (1995) and three runner-up finishes. The Terriers have only appeared in one Frozen Four in their past nine NCAA tourneys, but they made the most of their visit to Washington, D.C. with a pair of one-goal victories to earn the program’s fifth national title.

#4 Boston College Eagles

National Championships: 5 (1949, 2001, 2008, 2010, 2012)
Frozen Four Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2012)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 33 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 13 (most recent, 2012)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 14 (most recent, 2014)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C David Emma (1991), D Mike Mottau (2000), LW Johnny Gaudreau (2014)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Scott Harlow (1986), Brian Leetch (1987), Craig Janney (1987), Tim Sweeney (1989), Greg Brown (1989, 1990), David Emma (1990), Brian Gionta (1999, 2000, 2001), Jeff Farkas (2000), Ben Eaves (2003), Tony Voce (2004), Patrick Eaves (2005), Chris Collins (2006), Nathan Gerbe (2008), Cam Atkinson (2011), Brian Dumoulin (2012), Johnny Gaudreau (2013), Kevin Hayes (2014)

Other notable former players: Andrew Alberts, Harvey Bennett, Brian Boyle, Doug Brown, Scott Clemmensen, Steven Gionta, Bill Guerin, Peter Harrold, Steve Heinze, Chuck Kobasew, Krys Kolanos, Chris Kreider, Ben Lovejoy, Marty McInnis, Ian Moran, Joe Mullen, Brooks Orpik, Marty Reasoner, Cory Schneider, Rob Scuderi, Ryan Shannon, Tim Sheehy, Ben Smith, Kevin Stevens, Bob Sweeney

The Jerry York era has been astounding at Boston College. In twenty seasons behind the bench, York has collected seven regular season titles, nine league playoff titles, fifteen NCAA tournament appearances, ten Frozen Four bids, and four national championships. But the flip side of that equation is that in the 47 seasons that BC competed for an NCAA title before York’s arrival in Chestnut Hill, the Eagles only played in the national title game three times and won exactly one championship (1949). So the question is this: are we talking about the storied history of Boston College, or the storied history of Jerry York?

#3 Minnesota Golden Gophers

National Championships: 5 (1974, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2003)
Frozen Four Appearances: 21 (most recent, 2014)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 35 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 6 (most recent, 2007)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 15 (most recent, 2014)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Neal Broten (1981), G Robb Stauber (1988), C Brian Bonin (1996), D Jordan Leopold (2002)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Steve Ulseth (1981), Bryan Erickson (1982, 1983), Scott Bjugstad (1983), Pat Micheletti (1985), Robb Stauber (1989), Larry Olimb (1992), Brian Bonin (1995), Mike Crowley (1996, 1997), Jordan Leopold (2001), Keith Ballard (2004), Ryan Potulny (2006), Adam Wilcox (2014)

Other notable former players: Russ Anderson, Mike Antonovich, Nick Bjugstad, Aaron Broten, Paul Broten, Tom Chorske, Ben Clymer, Alex Goligoski, Tom Gorence, Darby Hendrickson, Paul Holmgren, Craig Johnson, Erik Johnson, Phil Kessel, Trent Klatt, Reed Larson, John Mariucci, Paul Martin, John Mayasich, Chris McAlpine, Jack McCartan, Rob McClanahan, Joe Micheletti, Corey Millen, Warren Miller, Kyle Okposo, Tom Pederson, Lance Pitlick, Mike Polich, Mike Ramsey, Erik Rasmussen, Dave Snuggerud, Thomas Vanek, Blake Wheeler, Tom Younghands, Doug Zmolek

With this most recent season in the books, Minnesota is now tied with Michigan for the most NCAA tournament appearances (35), but they’ve also missed the tourney six times in the past 17 seasons. The past three seasons have put the Gopher faithful in a much better mood, however, with three straight league titles, two Frozen Four appearances, and a combined record of 82-30-12 (.710). In the six-team Big Ten, Minnesota will be in a position to add quite a bit of new hardware to the trophy case every season.

#2 University of North Dakota

National Championships: 7 (1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000)
Frozen Four Appearances: 20 (most recent, 2014)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 29 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 7 (most recent, 2012)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 15 (most recent, 2011)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Tony Hrkac (1987), LW Ryan Duncan (2007)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: James Patrick (1983), Jon Casey (1984), Scott Sandelin (1986), Steve Johnson (1988), Russ Parent (1990), Greg Johnson (1991, 1992, 1993), Jason Blake (1997), Curtis Murphy (1998), Jason Blake (1999), Jeff Panzer (2000, 2001), Zach Parise (2003, 2004), Brandon Bochenski (2004), T.J. Oshie (2008), Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (2008), Matt Frattin (2011), Corban Knight (2013), Danny Kristo (2013)

Other notable former players: Earl Anderson, Murray Baron, Ed Belfour, Perry Berezan, Brad Berry, Brad Bombardir, Dave Christian, Mike Commodore, Matt Greene, David Hale, Alan Hangsleben, Dennis Hextall, Dave Hudson, Ryan Johnson, Bob Joyce, Brian Lee, Craig Ludwig, Brad Malone, John Marks, Troy Murray, Brock Nelson, Chris Porter, Russ Romaniuk, Gord Sherven, Doug Smail, Geoff Smith, Drew Stafford, Phil Sykes, Mark Taylor, Dave Tippett, Jonathan Toews, Gary Valk, Dixon Ward, Landon Wilson, Rick Wilson, Travis Zajac, Rick Zombo

Since 1957, North Dakota has just one stretch of “lean years”, otherwise known in Grand Forks as the Rube Bjorkman era. Bjorkman coached the Fighting Sioux from 1968-1978, and his teams collected exactly zero trophies. Otherwise, UND has been relevant and competitive throughout the history of the program, with multiple Frozen Four appearances in every decade. The longest title drought in program history is just seventeen seasons, the best such mark among the top five schools. The future is bright as well, with a current streak of twelve consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (the longest active streak in the country) and nine Frozen Four bids in the past eighteen years.

#1 Michigan Wolverines

National Championships: 9 (1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1996, 1998)
Frozen Four Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2011)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 35 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 9 (most recent, 2010)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 12 (most recent, 2011)

Michigan collected ten Frozen Four appearances and six national titles in the first ten seasons of the NCAA tournament. The stretch from 1957-1990 was positively horrid for the Wolverines, with just one WCHA regular season title and three appearances in the national tournament in a span of 33 years. Head coach Red Berenson brought the Maize and Blue back to prominence with 22 consecutive NCAA bids, twelve Frozen Four appearances, and two more national titles (1996, 1998). The bloom has come off the rose somewhat, however, as the Wolverines have not made the NCAAs since 2012 and have just two Frozen Four appearances in the past eleven seasons. Berenson’s teams are just 36-32-7 (.527) over the past two years, and the winds of change have started to blow in Ann Arbor.

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Brendan Morrison (1997), C Kevin Porter (2008)

Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Denny Felsner (1991, 1992), Brian Wiseman (1994), Steve Shields (1994), David Oliver (1994), Brendan Morrison (1995, 1996), John Madden (1997), Bill Muckalt (1998), Mike Comrie (2000), Andy Hilbert (2001), T.J. Hensick (2005, 2007), Louie Caporusso (2009), Shawn Hunwick (2012)

Other notable former players: Gordon “Red” Berenson, Mike Brown, Mike Cammalleri, Andrew Cogliano, Greg Fox, David Harlock, Pat Hughes, Matt Hunwick, Jack Johnson, Mike Knuble, Mike Komisarek, Josh Langfeld, Bill MacFarland, Al Montoya, David Moss, Jeff Norton, Eric Nystrom, Jed Ortmeyer, Max Pacioretty, Rob Palmer, Steve Richmond, Dave Richter, Blake Sloan, Chris Tamer, Marty Turco, Mike Van Ryn, Aaron Ward

The Final Analysis:

It is very apparent to me that the top four teams in the rankings could really be placed in any order, and whichever program captures the next national title will vault to the top of the charts. It is perhaps most remarkable that the University of North Dakota is one of the hockey giants, considering that the other four schools in this installment all hail from the three hockey hotbeds in the United States (Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota).

So now it’s your turn. Do you agree or disagree? Who would you have as your number one program of all time? And check back later this month as we take a look at the five teams most likely to break through and win their first national title.

A special thank you goes out to SiouxSports.com user “franchise” for all of the information about Hobey Baker finalists for this article.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 22 Apr 2014

Twenty Storied Programs: #10 through #6

Ten days ago in Philadelphia, Union became the 20th program to win an NCAA Division I men’s college hockey championship. Since 1948, teams have competed for the coveted trophy, and the Dutchmen will raise a banner celebrating this past season that will hang forever.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all twenty teams who have made it to the mountaintop. Today, we’re discussing programs ranked #10 through #6. Follow the links to have a look at #20 through #16 and #15 through #11.

#10 Cornell Big Red

National Championships: 2 (1967, 1970)
Frozen Four Appearances: 8 (most recent, 2003)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 19 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 12 (most recent, 2010)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 8 (most recent, 2005)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Joe Nieuwendyk (1987), Doug Murray (2002), Dave LeNeveu (2003), David McKee (2005), Ben Scrivens (2010)
Other notable former players: Byron Bitz, Brad Chartrand, Sean Collins, Ken Dryden, Darren Eliot, Colin Greening, Brian Hayward, Kent Manderville, Brian McCutcheon, Matt Moulson, Douglas Murray, Riley Nash, Ryan O’Byrne, Jean-Marc Pelletier

Cornell was a Division I independent until the 1961-62 season, when the Big Red joined the ECAC. From 1966-73, Ned Harkness and Dick Bertrand combined to claim five regular season titles, five playoff titles, six tournament appearances, six Frozen Fours, two national titles, and two other runner-up finishes. Since that time, Cornell has never gone more than five seasons without appearing in the NCAAs. The only “lean years” for this program were during the Brian McCutcheon era (1987-1995), when the Lynah faithful were treated to just a single appearance in the NCAA tournament. Current head coach Mike Schafer has returned the Big Red to prominence in his 19 seasons behind the bench, and Cornell shows no signs of slowing down.

#9 Maine Black Bears

National Championships: 2 (1993, 1999)
Frozen Four Appearances: 11 (last, 2007)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 18 (last, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 5 (last, 2004)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 4 (last, 1995)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: LW Scott Pellerin (1992), LW Paul Kariya (1993)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Mike Golden (1988), David Capuano (1988, 1989), Jean-Yves Roy (1991, 1992), Jim Montgomery (1993), Chris Imes (1995), Steve Kariya (1999), Greg Moore (2006), Gustav Myquist (2010, 2011), Spencer Abbott (2012)
Other notable former players: Shawn Anderson, Bob Beers, Ben Bishop, Keith Carney, Brett Clark, Bob Corkum, Niko Dimitrakos, Mike Dunham, Chris Ferraro, Peter Ferraro, Brian Flynn, Ben Guite, Jim Howard, Doug Janik, Mike Lundin, Dustin Penner, Ted Purcell, Garth Snow, Eric Weinrich

Maine has competed at the Division I level since the 1977-78 season and joined Hockey East in 1984. Two stretches stick out with the Black Bears. From 1986-1995, Maine won seven combined regular season and playoff titles, went to the NCAAs eight times, made five Frozen Fours, and claimed their first national title. Then, from 1998-2007, the pride of Orono, Maine won two playoff titles and advanced to nine consecutive national tournaments, appearing in six Frozen Fours with a national championship in 1999 and two 2nd place finishes (2002, 2004). It’s been tougher sledding lately, with just one tournament appearance in the past seven seasons, but there’s plenty to be excited about with this program.

#8 Michigan State Spartans

National Championships: 3 (1966, 1986, 2007)
Frozen Four Appearances: 9 (most recent, 2007)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 27 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 11 (most recent, 2006)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 8 (most recent, 2001)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Kip Miller (1990), G Ryan Miller (2001)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Ron Scott (1982, 1983), Craig Simpson (1985), Kelly Miller (1985), Mike Donnelly (1986), Bobby Reynolds (1989), Kip Miller (1989), Bryan Smolinski (1993), Anson Carter (1995), Chad Alban (1998), Mike York (1998, 1999), Shawn Horcoff (2000), Ryan Miller (2002), John-Michael Liles (2003), Jim Slater (2004), Jeff Lerg (2008), Torey Krug (2012)
Other notable former players: Justin Abdelkader, Norm Barnes, David Booth, Rod Brind’Amour, Jeff Brubaker, Danton Cole, Jim Cummins, Bob Essensa, Brian Glennie, Derek Grant, Steve Guolla, Adam Hall, Andre Hutchinson, Duncan Keith, Tim Kennedy, Ken Leiter, Chris Luongo, Drew Miller, Kevin Miller, Joe Murphy, Rem Murray, Jeff Petry, Doug Roberts, Corey Tropp, Mike Weaver, Neil Wilkinson, Jason Woolley

Michigan State suffered through some pretty lean years in the WCHA. From 1959-1981, the Spartans made the NCAA tournament only twice (1965-66 and 1966-67), but won a national title in 1966. Over the past 33 seasons, MSU has made the tournament 24 times, with six Frozen Four appearances and two more national championships. It’s been a tough go over the past six years, with just two winning seasons and one NCAA tourney appearance, but in the six team Big Ten Conference, Sparty will be back.

#7 Wisconsin Badgers

National Championships: 6 (1973, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1990, 2006)
Frozen Four Appearances: 9 (most recent, 2010)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2013)
Conference Playoff Titles: 9 (most recent, 2013)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 2000)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Blake Geoffrion (2010)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: John Newberry (1982), Tony Granato (1987), Paul Ranheim (1988), Duane Derksen (1992), Steve Reinprecht (2000), Dany Heatley (2001), Brian Elliot (2006), Jamie McBain (2009), Brendan Smith (2010), Justin Schultz (2011, 2012), Joel Rumpel (2014)
Other notable former players: Mike Blaisdell, Rene Bourque, Adam Burish, Jim Carey, Chris Chelios, Jake Dowell, Davis Drewiske, Bruce Driver, Mike Eaves, Brian Engblom, Patrick Flatley, Jake Gardiner, Tom Gilbert, Sean Hill, Mark Johnson, Curtis Joseph, David Maley, Ryan McDonagh, Scott Mellanby, Brian Mullen, Mark Osiecki, Joe Pavelski, Brian Rafalski, Barry Richter, Mike Richter, Jack Skille, Paul Stanton, Derek Stepan, Gary Suter, Ryan Suter, Dean Talafous, Dave Tanabe, Kyle Turris, Brad Winchester

Wisconsin played as a Division I independent until the 1969-70 season, at which point the Badgers were admitted into the WCHA. Head coaches Bob Johnson and Jeff Sauer kept UW competing at a high level throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Current head coach Mike Eaves has continued that tradition, adding a sixth title to the trophy case in 2006. Since their inaugural season in the WCHA, Bucky has made the NCAA tournament in 25 of 45 seasons overall, with 34 years of twenty victories or more.

#6 Denver Pioneers

National Championships: 7 (1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005)
Frozen Four Appearances: 14 (most recent, 2005)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2013)
Conference Playoff Titles: 7 (most recent, 2008)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 11 (most recent, 2010)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: D Matt Carle (2006)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Ed Beers (1982), Dallas Gaume (1986), Dave Shields (1990), Wade Dubielwicz (2002), Rhett Rakhshani (2010), Marc Cheverie (2010)
Other notable former players: Bruce Affleck, Glenn Anderson, Tyler Bozak, Chris Butler, Mike Christie, Kevin Dineen, Marshall Johnston, Cliff Koroll, Antti Laaksonen, Pete LoPresti, Keith Magnuson, Tom Martin, Peter McNab, Craig Patrick, Matt Pettinger, Rich Preston, Craig Redmond, Mark Rycroft, Drew Shore, Paul Stastny, Vic Venasky, Jason Zucker

The Denver Pioneers have a similar resume to the Michigan Wolverines, with five titles before 1970 but only one NCAA postseason appearance between 1973 and 1995 Head coach George Gwozdecky took the reins beginning with the 1994-95 campaign and guided the Pios to 12 tournament appearances (and two national championships) in his 19 seasons behind the bench, but he’s since been replaced by Jim Montgomery. I am confident that DU can compete for both regular season and postseason hardware going forward.

Follow this link for a look at the top five teams on the all-time champions list. And check back later this month for a look at the five teams most likely to break through and win their first national title.

A special thank you goes out to SiouxSports.com user “franchise” for all of the information about Hobey Baker finalists for this article.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 16 Apr 2014

Twenty Storied Programs: #15 through #11

On Saturday night in Philadelphia, Union became the 20th program to win an NCAA Division I men’s college hockey championship. Since 1948, teams have competed for the coveted trophy, and the Dutchmen will raise a banner celebrating this season that will hang forever.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all twenty teams who have made it to the mountaintop. Yesterday, I went through #20 through #16, and today we’re discussing programs ranked #15 through #11…

#15 Rensselaer Engineers

National Championships: 2 (1954, 1985)
Frozen Four Appearances: 5 (most recent, 1985)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 9 (most recent, 2011)
Conference Playoff Titles: 3 (most recent, 1995)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 5 (most recent, 1985)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Adam Oates (1985), Joe Juneau (1990, 1991), Neil Little (1994), Eric Healey (1998), Joel Laing (2000), Marc Cavosie (2002), Chase Polacek (2010, 2011)
Other notable former players: John Carter, Jerry D’Amigo, Ken Hammond, Larry Landon, Mike McPhee, Kraig Nienhuis, Brandon Pirri, Brian Pothier, Daren Puppa, Brad Tapper, Graeme Townshend

The Engineers have a habit of popping up for short stints and then disappearing for 10 years or so. Here’s a look at the all-time tournament appearances: 1953, 1954, 1961, 1964, 1984, 1985, 1994, 1995, 2011. When Rensselaer is on top of the college hockey world, they really go all out. Head coach Mike Addesa followed up a 32-6-0 campaign in 1983-84 with an other-worldly 35-2-1 national championship season. But since then, RPI has only seen the NCAAs three times in the past 29 years. And with only one twenty-win season in the past decade, it’ll be an uphill climb for head coach Seth Appert to compete in the ECAC going forward.

#14 Harvard Crimson

National Championships: 1 (1989)
Frozen Four Appearances: 12 (most recent, 1994)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 21 (most recent, 2006)
Conference Playoff Titles: 7 (most recent, 2006)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 10 (most recent, 1994)

Harvard has a rich and storied tradition, with each decade filled with memorable games and remarkable accomplishments. But despite 12 Frozen Four appearances, the Crimson have only advanced to three championship games, losing to Wisconsin (1983) and Michigan State (1986) before breaking through against Minnesota in 1989. Harvard found a recent run of success with five straight tourney appearances and three playoff titles between 2001 and 2006, but the boys from Cambridge, Massachusetts have only collected 94 wins in the eight seasons since then.

Hobey Baker Award Winners: D Mark Fusco (1983), C Scott Fusco (1986), LW Lane MacDonald (1989)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Scott Fusco (1985), Lane MacDonald (1987), Allen Bourbeau (1989), Peter Ciavaglia (1991), Ted Drury (1993), Sean McCann (1994), Dov Grumet-Morris (2005)
Other notable former players: Craig Adams, Dan Bolduc, Ted Donato, Alexander Killorn, Louis Leblanc, Craig MacDonald, Steve Martins, Bob McManama, Dominic Moore, Dylan Reese, Neil Sheehy, Don Sweeney, Noah Welch

#13 Lake Superior Lakers

National Championships: 3 (1988, 1992, 1994)
Frozen Four Appearances: 4 (most recent, 1994)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 10 (most recent, 1996)
Conference Playoff Titles: 4 (most recent, 1995)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 1996)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Mark Vermette (1988), Bruce Hoffort (1989), Jim Dowd (1991), Darrin Madeley (1992), Brian Rolston (1993), Keith Aldridge (1996)
Other notable former players: Will Acton, Bates Battaglia, Kevin Czuczman, Chris Dahlquist, John Flesch, John Grahame, Paul Jerrard, Dan Keczmer, Sandy Moger, Steven Oleksy, Derek Smith, Rob Valicevic, Doug Weight

From 1987-1996, the Lakers were a college hockey dynasty. Head coaches Frank Anzalone and Jeff Jackson amassed a combined record of 277-80-39 (.749), and Lake Superior appeared in nine straight NCAA tournaments with three national titles and a runner-up finish in 1993. Perhaps the most astounding fact of all is that the best Laker team, the 1990-91 squad, went 36-5-4 but lost their first round NCAA playoff series to Clarkson and didn’t make the Frozen Four. Still, it’s been 18 seasons since those glory days without a single noteworthy accomplishment or tournament appearance. Until that changes, the Lakers are stuck in the past.

#12 Michigan Tech Huskies

National Championships: 3 (1962, 1965, 1975)
Frozen Four Appearances: 10 (most recent, 1981)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 10 (most recent, 1981)
Conference Playoff Titles: 1 (1962)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 6 (most recent, 1976)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Jamie Ram (1994), Colin Murphy (2005)
Other notable former players: Lou Angotti, Gary Bauman, Chris Conner, Chris Durno, Tony Esposito, John Grisdale, Steve Jensen, Al Karlander, Bob Lorimer, George Lyle, Randy McKay, Gord McRae, Glenn Merkosky, Damian Rhodes, Jarkko Ruutu, Andre Savage, John Scott, Lorne Stamler, Andy Sutton, Tim Watters, Clay Wilson, Warren Young, Mike Zuke

John MacInnes coached Michigan Tech from 1956 until 1982, and under his leadership the Huskies were one of the top programs in the country for the better part of two decades. In a 17 year stretch, MTU appeared in eight Frozen Fours, with three national titles and three runner-up finishes. The issue for the boys from Houghton is that in the past 34 years, there has been absolutely nothing to cheer about. No regular season titles, no postseason titles, and no NCAA tournament appearances. For 34 years straight. And in that stretch of time, MTU has managed only two winning seasons: 17-15-5 in 1992-93 and 18-17-5 in 2006-07.

#11 Colorado College Tigers

National Championships: 2 (1950, 1957)
Frozen Four Appearances: 10 (most recent, 2005)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 20 (most recent, 2011)
Conference Playoff Titles: 1 (1978)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 9 (most recent, 2008)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: LW Peter Sejna (2003), C Marty Sertich (2005)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Jay MacNeil (1995), Peter Geronazzo (1996), Brian Swanson (1997, 1999), Tom Preissing (2003), Brett Sterling (2005, 2006), Marty Sertich (2006)
Other notable former players: Joey Crabb, Mark Cullen, Dave Feamster, Jack Hillen, Doug Lidster, Curtis McElhinney, Eddie Mio, Doug Palazzari, Toby Petersen, Nate Prosser, Chad Rau, Jaden Schwartz, Greg Smith, Colin Stuart, Mark Stuart

When it’s coming up on 60 years since your program’s last national title, the shine starts to come off of the trophy. As evidenced by the statistics above, Colorado College has had plenty of successful regular seasons over the past twenty years, but the lack of postseason success is astounding. The Tigers never won the WCHA Final Five despite appearing in the title game three times, and they’ve only appeared in one Frozen Four since 1997. And after the 1957 championship, CC only made the NCAA tournament once in the next 37 seasons. A new coach might breathe some life into this team, but it’ll be an uphill climb in the NCHC.

Check back next week for a look at #10 through #6 on the all-time champions list. And once we’re through with the twenty programs which have claimed college hockey’s biggest prize, we’ll take a look at the five teams most likely to break through and win their first national title.

A special thank you goes out to SiouxSports.com user “franchise” for all of the information about Hobey Baker finalists for this article.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 15 Apr 2014

Twenty Storied Programs: #20 through #16

On Saturday night in Philadelphia, Union became the 20th program to win an NCAA Division I men’s college hockey championship. Since 1948, teams have competed for the coveted trophy, and the Dutchmen will raise a banner celebrating this season that will hang forever.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all twenty teams who have made it to the mountaintop, beginning today with #20 through #16…

#20: Bowling Green Falcons

National Championships: 1 (1984)
Frozen Four Appearances: 2 (most recent, 1984)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 9 (most recent, 1990)
Conference Playoff Titles: 4 (most recent, 1988)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 7 (most recent, 1987)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: LW George McPhee (1982), C Brian Holzinger (1995)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Brian Hills (1982, 1983), Nelson Emerson (1988, 1989, 1990), Rob Blake (1990), Jordan Sigalet (2005)
Other notable former players: Gary Kruzich, Brian MacLellan, Ken Morrow, Greg Parks, Kelly Perrault, Jeff Wells

Bowling Green collected a whole bunch of hardware between 1975 and 1990, and the Falcons haven’t been back to the national tournament since then. Head coaches Ron Mason and Jerry York left for greener pastures (Michigan State and Boston College, respectively), and it’s been downhill for 25 years. Current head coach Chris Bergeron has a chance at returning the Falcons to glory in the new-look WCHA, but with Ferris State and Minnesota State the class of that league, he’ll have to catch lightning in a bottle.

#19 Northern Michigan Wildcats

National Championships: 1 (1991)
Frozen Four Appearances: 3 (most recent, 1991)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 (most recent, 2010)
Conference Playoff Titles: 2 (most recent, 1981)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 1991)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Steve Bozek (1981), Gary Emmons (1986, 1987), Phil Berger (1988), Brad Werenka (1991), Scott Beattie (1991, 1992), Tuomas Tarkki (2005), Mark Olver (2010)
Other notable former players: Dallas Drake, Erik Gustafsson, Tom Laidlaw, Mike Santorelli, Ed Ward, Steve Weeks

Northern Michigan has only been a Division I program since 1976, and the Wildcats quickly rose to prominence with two Frozen Four appearances (and one runner-up finish) in their first five seasons at college hockey’s top level. After that meteoric ascent, it took head coach Rick Comley another ten years to win a national title. Walt Kyle is just the second coach in the program’s history, and he has taken NMU to the national tournament just once in his twelve seasons behind the bench.

#18 Yale Bulldogs

National Championships: 1 (2013)
Frozen Four Appearances: 2 (most recent, 2013)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 6 (most recent, 2013)
Conference Playoff Titles: 2 (most recent, 2011)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 2010)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Bob Brooke (1983), Mark Kaufmann (1993), Ray Giroux (1998), Jeff Hamilton (1999, 2001), Chris Higgins (2003)
Other notable former players: Mark Arcobello, John Emmons, Craig Ferguson, Bob Kudelski, Brad Mills, Randy Wood

The Yale Bulldogs have certainly burst on the scene lately, with only two seasons of note (1951-52 and 1997-98) before this recent stretch of success. It remains to be seen whether Keith Allain can bring the Elis back to the top of the ECAC with Quinnipiac, Colgate, and Union in the picture. Yale has gone 128-64-17 (.653) over the past six seasons, though, so I expect them to be back in the playoff hunt before too long.

#17 Union Dutchmen

National Championships: 1 (2014)
Frozen Four Appearances: 2 (most recent, 2014)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 3 (most recent, 2014)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 2014)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: None
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Troy Grosenick (2012), Shane Gostisbehere (2014)
Notable former players: Steve Baker, Kyle Bodie, Mario Giallonardo, Jeff Hutchins, Duane Joyce, Nolan Julseth, Keith Kinkaid, Trevor Koenig, Jeremy Welsh, Kelly Zajac

Union has only been competing at the Division I level since 1991, and they’ve really only risen to prominence in the past five years. UC went 18 years without a twenty-win season, and since then they’ve done it five straight times. The Dutchmen have collected 127 victories over the past five campaigns, with three regular season titles, three league playoff titles, four NCAA tournament appearances, two Frozen Four bids, and the most recent national title. Still, it remains to be seen whether Union can continue this type of success over the long term.

#16: Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs

National Championships: 1 (2011)
Frozen Four Appearances: 4 (most recent, 2011)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 3 (most recent, 2009)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 1993)

Hobey Baker Award Winners: D Tom Kurvers (1984), RW Bill Watson (1985), LW Chris Marinucci (1994), RW Junior Lessard (2004), C Jack Connolly (2012)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Brett Hull (1996), Derek Plante (1993), Jack Connolly (2011)
Other notable former players: Pat Boutette, Jason Garrison, Curt Giles, Jim Johnson, Dave Langevin, Norm Maciver, Bob Mason, Matt Niskanen, Mark Pavelich, Shjon Podein, Mason Raymond, Jay Rosehill, Dennis Vaske

Head coach Scott Sandelin took the Bulldogs to the top of the college hockey world just three seasons ago, but the consistency hasn’t been there. In his 14 years at Duluth, he has earned one league playoff title and four NCAA tournament bids. Sandelin has made the most of his time in the national tourney, however, with two Frozen Four bids in four chances. His predecessor, Mike Sertich, made the NCAAs in each of his first three seasons (1982-85) with two regular season titles, two playoff titles, and two Frozen four bids, but after that unbelievable start he took his team to the national tournament just once in his last fifteen years behind the bench.

Here’s a look at #15 through #11 on the all-time champions list. Check back later this week for the top ten.

And once we’re through with the twenty programs which have claimed college hockey’s biggest prize, we’ll take a look at the five teams most likely to break through and win their first national title.

A special thank you goes out to SiouxSports.com user “franchise” for all of the information about Hobey Baker finalists for this article.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 12 Apr 2014

2014-15 UND Hockey: A Six Pack Of Recruits

Yesterday, we took a look ahead at how much of North Dakota’s current roster is coming back for the 2014-15 season and what that means for the future of UND hockey.

And the incoming freshman class will be a big part of that future as well.

If you remember, Dave Hakstol loses four seniors from this year’s Frozen Four squad (forwards Derek Rodwell and Mitch MacMillan, defenseman Dillon Simpson, and goaltender Clarke Saunders). There is also a roster spot available since Adam Tambellini left the team in January. The other question mark on the roster is whether there is still a spot for Coltyn Sanderson, who has appeared in five games over his first two seasons at North Dakota. Sanderson has talent (81 points in 57 games with the Weyburn Red Wings/SJHL in 2011-12), but he might get squeezed out by this incoming group of forwards.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this recruiting class is that Hakstol had two blue chip wingers – Ryan Gropp and Brendan Lemieux – decommit and opt for major juniors, and the remaining six players in this recruiting class might still be the best in the nation. At the time of his commitment to UND, Gropp was called the biggest recruit to come to Grand Forks since Jonathan Toews. Brendan Lemieux was recently ranked the 28th best non-goaltending prospect in North America, while Gropp isn’t draft eligible until 2015.

But enough about the players who won’t be on campus and on the ice in October. There is plenty of talent coming in, and fans should expect several of these freshmen to step in and contribute right away.

All six newcomers for the 2014-15 season are coming from the United States Hockey League, joining nine other USHL alums on the current UND roster. If fans appreciate the local flavor that current North Dakota players Gage Ausmus (East Grand Forks, MN), Zane Gothberg (Thief River Falls, MN), Luke Johnson (Grand Forks, ND), Paul LaDue (Grand Forks, ND), and Keaton Thompson (Devils Lake, ND) bring to the lineup, they will be even more pleased next year. Dave Hakstol is bringing in forward John Simonson (a Grand Forks Central product) and defenseman Tucker Poolman (East Grand Forks Green Wave). Poolman is the son of current UND trainer Mark Poolman.

Other incoming freshmen expected on campus this fall (hometown):

Forward Nick Schmaltz (Verona, WI)

Forward Trevor Olson (Duluth, MN)

Defenseman Hayden Shaw (Woodbury, MN)
(edit: there are varying reports on Shaw enrolling at UND or returning to the USHL for another season of juniors)

Goaltender Cam Johnson (Troy, MI)

With all six newcomers hailing from the United States, that will bring the number of Canadians on the roster to single digits (9) for the first time in ten seasons (2004-05).

North Dakota will have seven states and the District of Columbia represented when they take the ice to begin the 2014-15 season. There will be seven Minnesotans (two from East Grand Forks and one each from Thief River Falls, Duluth, Chanhassen, Edina, and Woodbury), four North Dakotans (including three from Grand Forks), two from Wisconsin (the Schmaltz brothers), and one player each from Arizona, California, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington, D.C.

Nine Canadians will hail from four different provinces: British Columbia (3), Manitoba (3), Saskatchewan (2), and Ontario (1).

And now, let’s meet the six rookies, beginning with the three forwards:

Trevor Olson (Sioux City Musketeers /USHL)
Born: November 22, 1993 (age 20)
Hometown: Duluth, Minnesota
Height: 6-2 Weight: 188

This season, Trevor Olson has only appeared in 21 games for Sioux City, scoring nine goals and adding twelve assists for an average of a point per game. Olson was good for one minor penalty per game (40 PIM) this season for the Musketeers.

Last year, in 63 combined games played between Green Bay and Sioux City, he scored 17 goals and added 33 assists for 50 points with 62 PIM.

Olson is perhaps the most underrated player in this recruiting class. He will make his mark as a power forward with some scoring touch – an element that has been mostly lacking over the past two seasons. North Dakota fans should expect a mix of Rylan Kaip and Brad Malone, with his offensive production falling somewhere in the middle of those two. Considering that Kaip ended his career with 39 points in 144 games and Malone bettered that total with 40 points in 43 games as a senior (and 85 points in 161 games overall), I understand that’s a wide range. But the physical play will be there from the get-go, and Olson has a nose for the net that can’t be taught.

Nick Schmaltz (Green Bay Gamblers/USHL)
Born: February 23, 1996 (age 18)
Hometown: Verona, WIsconsin
Height: 6-0 Weight: 172

Nick Schmaltz has the most high-end potential of this entire recruiting class, as evidenced by his #19 ranking of all North American skaters in the final CSS report. His biggest strength is his vision, and, though it sounds absurd, he could potentially lead the team in assists next year. At just 18 years of age, he is still growing and getting stronger, and that definitely bodes well for his future success.

In 55 games with the Gamblers this season, the younger brother of current UND defenseman Jordan Schmaltz has 18 goals and 45 assists for 63 points. His 45 assists are good for third-most in the USHL this season, and he was the #7 point getter overall. Last year, he posted similarly impressive numbers: 18 goals and 34 assists (52 points) in 64 games played, also with Green Bay.

Schmaltz looks to be a player in the mold of Drew Stafford or Travis Zajac. He should be a first round pick in the 2014 NHL draft, and his talent is matched by his willingness to play the physical game and make things happen for his teammates. He definitely needs to work at becoming a more complete player in all three zones before he makes the jump to the next level, so I would expect that he would play at UND for at least two seasons.

John Simonson (Lincoln Stars/USHL)
Born: June 16, 1993 (age 20)
Hometown: Grand Forks, North Dakota
Height: 5-10 Weight: 170

In 58 games played with the Stars this season, Simonson has potted 28 goals (tied for 6th most in the league) and notched 31 assists. The former Central Knight has shown plenty of scoring punch in the USHL, particularly lately, and he has a nice mix of grit and skill. Simonson plays bigger than his 5’10” frame and, as an older player (he’ll be 21 before his freshman season begins), he has enough experience to play a couple of different roles.

The gritty forward has a good shot and can add some offensive punch to a checking line or be called upon to skate on one of the top two lines and create space for his teammates. Over time, Simonson might be seen as a Derek Rodwell-type player with a bit more offensive production. He will be capable and dependable, and he might see some penalty kill time later on in his collegiate career.

Two defensemen are scheduled to appear on UND’s campus this fall, and one of them (Tucker Poolman) is expected to compete for playing time right away. The other (Hayden Shaw) will need some more time to develop and should be seen as a work in progress.

Tucker Poolman (Omaha Lancers/USHL)
Born: June 8, 1993 (age 20)
Hometown: East Grand Forks, Minnesota
Height: 6-3 Weight: 200

Tucker Poolman will be 21 years old when he arrives on UND’s campus in September. He is solid and tough in his own end, and has shown signs of developing his game in the USHL. Last season with Omaha, he had a line of 14g-14a in 64 games played with 49 minutes in penalties and a -7 rating. This year, his line reads 15g26a in 58 games played with 23 PIM and a +20 rating.

Poolman has developed into one of the best two-way defensemen in the USHL. He has some Paul LaDue in his game, and fans should remember that LaDue scored 21 points in 41 games this season as a freshman. A Winnipeg Jets draft pick (5th round, #127 overall), Poolman will be the tallest player on the North Dakota roster next season.

Hayden Shaw (Waterloo Black Hawks/USHL)
Born: June 5, 1996 (age 17)
Hometown: Woodbury, Minnesota
Height: 5-10 Weight: 180

(Edit: It is possible that Shaw will return to Waterloo for a second season of junior hockey before enrolling at UND)

Hayden Shaw is pretty young, having left Woodbury High School after his sophomore season to play in the USHL. He will turn 18 three months before beginning his collegiate career at North Dakota. Shaw is built much like former UND blueliner Joe Gleason, but with more upside. Fans of the Green and White should expect Shaw to develop into a Troy Stecher-like player.

In 53 games played with Waterloo this season, Shaw has scored 8 goals and added 21 assists for 29 points. He currently sits at a +8 with 51 penalty minutes. The move from high school hockey seems to have paid off for the Woodbury native, but he might not see more than 10 or 15 games as a freshman at UND since the returning D-corps is experienced and talented.

And Dave Hakstol will bring in one goaltender to replace Clarke Saunders, who just finished up his senior season in Grand Forks.

Cam Johnson (Waterloo Black Hawks/USHL)
Born: July 11, 1994 (age 19)
Hometown: Troy, Michigan
Height: 6-1 Weight: 199

Cam Johnson is every bit as good as Clarke Saunders. He struggled early this season with the Fargo Force (2-14-3, 3.27 GAA, .909 SV%, 1 SO in 20 gp), but he has thrived since his trade to Waterloo (11-1-1, 1.86 GAA, .939 SV%, a SO in 15 gp). I think it was more the team in front of him in Fargo (the Force were the worst team in the USHL this season), and the change of scenery has done wonders for his game and his confidence.

It will definitely be a battle for the backup spot at UND between Johnson and Matt Hrynkiw. I would expect that Johnson will eventually move up the depth chart into the #2 spot behind Zane Gothberg, but it may take him the better part of his freshman season. In any event, Dave Hakstol has an embarrassment of riches in the netminder department.

These are the six players that I expect on the roster for the 2014-15 season. If there are early departures (sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi and sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz are possibilities), forward Shane Gersich (USNTDP) and defenseman Ryan Mantha (Indiana/USHL) look to be the two skaters most likely to take their spots.

For a closer look at North Dakota’s returning players, click here.

As I stated yesterday, UND should be considered one of the top five teams in the country coming into next season. Dave Hakstol returns balanced scoring, a more experienced group of defensemen, and a Hobey Baker contender in goaltender Zane Gothberg. The pieces are in place.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 11 Apr 2014

2014-15 North Dakota Hockey: The Future Is Bright

Despite Thursday night’s devastating loss to Minnesota in the Frozen Four semifinals, North Dakota hockey fans have much to be thankful for. This year’s version of the Green and White won 25 games, gave the UND faithful plenty of thrilling moments, and pushed the nation’s #1 team to the absolute limit in Philadelphia.

And next year should be even better.

One look at the roster could tell even a casual observer that head coach Dave Hakstol will have plenty more to work with in 2014-15. There are only four seniors listed, with a minimum amount of “flight risk” from underclassmen. But the cupboard is even more full than that. And here’s why:

North Dakota’s three senior skaters (Mitch MacMillan, Derek Rodwell, and Dillon Simpson) appeared in 94 games this season, scoring 13 goals and adding 23 assists for a scoring average of .3830 points per game.

It’s the other three classes that carried the load:

Juniors (6 forwards, 1 defenseman): 53 goals and 84 assists in 290 games (.4724 points/game)

Sophomores (4 forwards, 1 defenseman): 38 goals and 59 assists in 165 games (.5879 points/game)

Freshmen (2 forwards, 4 defensemen): 21 goals and 46 assists in 191 games (.3508 points/game)

And with only Derek Rodwell graduating from Thursday night’s group of 12 forwards, three of the four forward lines can remain intact, at least early in the season:

Drake Caggiula – Mark MacMillan – Michael Parks
Stephane Pattyn – Rocco Grimaldi – Luke Johnson
Bryn Chyzyk – Colten St. Clair – Andrew Panzarella

Either Coltyn Sanderson (five career games over two seasons) or Wade Murphy (19 games as a freshman) can step right into the lineup in October. And that’s not counting UND’s incoming recruits, which we’ll get to in tomorrow’s article.

Before we look at the blue line, I’ll remind the reader that in the previous off-season, Dave Hakstol had to find a way to replace 63 goals and 113 assists (176 points of offense). This time around, North Dakota loses 13 goals and 23 assists (36 points).

As for the senior class, forward Mitch MacMillan only appeared in 19 games this season (and only nine games since December 7th), registering one goal and two assists. He wasn’t in the lineup for the Frozen Four semifinal matchup against Minnesota.

Forward Derek Rodwell brought size and grit to the ice, and his effort earned him a spot in the lineup every night. Even so, it won’t be difficult to replace his offensive production – he scored 13 goals and added 11 assists in 123 career games.

Coming into this season, UND returned three defensemen (senior Dillon Simpson, junior Nick Mattson, and sophomore Jordan Schmaltz) who had played a combined 236 games on defense.

UND would not have been in the NCAA tournament without contributions from their four freshmen blueliners. Paul LaDue (41 games played, 6g-15a) and Troy Stecher (42 games, 2g-9a) were absolute warriors, while fellow rookie defensemen Keaton Thompson (26 games, 3g-5a) and Gage Ausmus (21 games, 2g-1a) were rotated in effectively as the sixth D.

North Dakota will lose Dillon Simpson to graduation, and there is no doubt that his absence will leave a definite void. The senior captain appeared in 156 games in the North Dakota sweater, potting 16 goals and notching 59 assists. He led the nation in blocked shots this season (109 in 42 games) and was recently named to the All-College Hockey News first team. There is no way that UND can replace that type of leadership with just one player.

However, next year’s top six defensemen will return with a combined 333 games of experience on the back end. I would expect that two of the defensive pairings will remain intact, with Ausmus stepping into Simpson’s spot alongside Jordan Schmaltz:

Jordan Schmaltz – Gage Ausmus
Nick Mattson– Paul LaDue
Keaton Thompson – Troy Stecher

This is a far different situation than the one Dave Hakstol faced coming into the 2013-14 season, and North Dakota will definitely improve on the 2.43 goals/game they allowed over the course of this previous campaign. It is also worth noting that as a team, UND only allowed 2.00 goals/game over the final 29 games of the season (beginning on November 30th), a far better measure of the results we should expect next year.

Over that stretch of 29 games, North Dakota only allowed more than two goals seven times (and more than three goals just once).

Dave Hakstol’s crew appears to have the goaltending picture solidified for the foreseeable future. Zane Gothberg (20-10-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO) will be a junior next season, and incoming recruit Cameron Johnson (Fargo/USHL) will compete with Matt Hrynkiw for backup duties while Johnson adjusts to the college game. Fans should also remember that Hrynkiw was named Canada’s 2012-13 national Junior A Goaltender of the Year and SJHL Goaltender of the Year after going 27-11-2 and leading the league in goals against average (1.83), save percentage (.939) and shutouts (six).

North Dakota will lose goaltender Clarke Saunders to graduation, but the transfer from Alabama-Huntsville struggled in his senior season (5-4-0, 3.22 GAA, .905 SV%) after posting much better numbers at UND in 2012-13 (13-9-4, 2.30 GAA, .917 SV%, 3 SO). Even though Saunders lost the starting job to Zane Gothberg, he was a more than capable backup, a great teammate, and an insurance policy for the coaching staff.

The only early departure risks that I see with this group are sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi (17-22-39 in 42 games played this season) and sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz (6-18-24 in 41 games). I would put both at under a ten percent chance of leaving before next season, as both would definitely benefit from another year at the college level.

North Dakota should be considered one of the top five teams in the country going into next year, along with Boston College, Miami, Michigan and Minnesota. Regardless of last night’s bitter loss, the University of North Dakota hockey program has quite a bit to be proud of and even more to look forward to. Keeping in mind that UND is hosting the NCAA West Regional next season (at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota), it would not surprise me one bit to see the Green and White in Boston, Massachusetts for the 2015 Frozen Four.

Click here for the inside scoop on North Dakota’s incoming freshmen for 2014-15.

As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.

Published by Dave Berger on 10 Apr 2014

2014 NCAA Frozen Four Preview: UND vs. Minnesota

In the past ten days, we’ve had plenty of time to discuss the Minnesota/North Dakota rivalry, the history of the two schools, and the 283 games played up until this point. I’ve written countless articles, kept tabs on what fans on both sides are saying in fan forums and on Twitter, and took part in a phone interview with the Associated Press for an article which appeared in the New York Times.

I’ve discussed how I’m pleased that the two schools have reached a schedule agreement and will resume the rivalry three seasons from now. North Dakota will head to Mariucci Arena during the 2016-17 season, and the Gophers will return the favor the following year (dates for each series have not been announced).

I’ve written about the twelve titles that the two teams have earned and how, for both programs, the future may be even brighter than the present. I’ve been asked countless times about the teams, the coaches, the players, and my predictions for the 2014 Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

And after all of that, it’s time to focus on tonight’s game.

Minnesota has been on top of the college hockey world for the entire season. The Gophers have won 27 games this year (against just six losses) and steamrolled through the first season of the Big Ten with a 14-3-3 record. The U of M is back in the Frozen Four for the fifth time in Don Lucia’s fifteen seasons behind the Gopher bench.

As I said in my article about the Gophers’ young roster, Minnesota has just four senior skaters – forwards Nate Condon and Tom Serratore, and defensemen Justin Holl and Jake Parenteau. The quartet has appeared in a combined 138 games this season, potting 12 goals and collecting 34 assists. It’s really been the other three classes that have made this team go. The six juniors have scored 53 goals in 2013-14, and, remarkably, the eight freshmen have potted 56.

Minnesota sophomore netminder Adam Wilcox has been even better this season than last. It is astonishing that the Hobey Baker finalist already has 50 wins to his credit (with seven shutouts). Incidentally, Michigan’s Marty Turco (1995-98) holds the record for career goaltending victories with 127.

The end of the regular season had its share of hiccups for Don Lucia’s group. The Gophers went just 6-4-1 down the stretch, losing to Ohio State in their first ever Big Ten tournament game. The Maroon and Gold rebounded in the West Regional (St. Paul, MN), throttling Robert Morris 7-3 and St. Cloud State 4-0.

Many people are saying that the Gophers’ most recent game was their most complete, well-played game of the season. If there was any program that wanted to get right back to playing, it would be Minnesota. It will be interesting to see whether the extended layoff has any effect on the team’s performance in Philadelphia.

North Dakota’s second-half surge has been well documented, but there are some underlying reasons why things turned around last December. Junior forwards Mark MacMillan and Brendan O’Donnell missed a combined eleven games due to injury, and their return has solidified the lineup. UND routinely plays three freshman defensemen (Troy Stecher, Paul LaDue, and a platoon of Gage Ausmus/Keaton Thompson), and those rookie blueliners have come a long way since the beginning of the year. And sophomore Zane Gothberg has solidified the goaltending situation after splitting time with senior Clarke Saunders in October and November. Saunders did step in for five games while his teammate was battling back from injury, but it’s been Gothberg’s crease since then.

Dave Hakstol has his team back in the Frozen Four for the sixth time in his ten seasons behind the UND bench. North Dakota played a couple of tight contests at the Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, OH), toppling former WCHA foe Wisconsin 5-2 with two empty net goals before finding a way to win against Ferris State. The Bulldogs outshot UND 26-8 over a forty minute stretch before Conner Gaarder netted the game winner in the second overtime session. The aforementioned Gothberg, who hails from Thief River Falls, Minnesota (hometown of Ralph Engelstad) stopped 44 of 45 shots in the 2-1 victory.

One question mark for tonight is how the game will be officiated. I don’t think UND wants to play a game with six power plays on each side. As always, goaltending will be huge, and both Wilcox and Gothberg have the ability to take over a game. And a final point is how the fans will support one team or the other. I’m not talking about how many Minnesota or North Dakota fans will be there. I’m wondering if fans of Boston College and Union (who play in Thursday’s first semifinal) will embrace the underdog and get behind the Green and White.

The winner of this matchup will move on to Saturday’s championship game to face either the Boston College Eagles or the Union Dutchmen. I’ve written a full preview of that matchup as well.

Minnesota Team Profile

Head Coach: Don Lucia (15th season at Minnesota, 371-188-65, .647)

National Ranking: #1
This Season: 27-6-6 overall, 14-3-3 Big Ten (1st)
Last Season: 26-9-5 overall (NCAA West Regional semifinalist), 16-7-5 WCHA (t-1st)

Team Offense: 3.51 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.2% (34 of 168)
Penalty Kill: 82.9% (107 of 129)

Key Players: Junior F Kyle Rau (14-23-37), Junior F Sam Warning (12-20-32), Junior F Travis Boyd (9-22-31), Freshman F Justin Kloos (15-15-30), Freshman F Hudson Fasching (13-16-29), Sophomore D Mike Reilly (9-23-32), Sophomore D Brady Skjei (6-7-13), Sophomore G Adam Wilcox (25-5-6, 1.89 GAA, .934 SV%, 4 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 260-132-40, .648)

National Ranking: #5
This Season: 25-13-3 overall, 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)

Team Offense: 3.07 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.44 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.4% (32 of 184)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (145 of 174)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (17-22-39), Sophomore F Michael Parks (12-18-30), Junior F Mark MacMillan (10-16-26), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (11-13-24), Freshman F Luke Johnson (8-13-21), Senior D Dillon Simpson (7-15-22), Sophomore D Jordan Schmaltz (6-17-23), Sophomore G Zane Gothberg (20-9-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: January 19, 2013 (Minneapolis, MN). North Dakota twice saw two-goal leads vanish at Mariucci Arena in the last meeting between the two teams as WCHA foes, a 4-4 tie. Nick Bjugstad and Nate Condon scored third period goals for the Gophers to send the game to overtime, and the teams combined for just one shot on net in the extra frame. Zane Gothberg made 31 saves for UND, while Adam Wilcox turned aside 22 shots.

Last meeting in the NCAA tournament: March 25, 2012 (St. Paul, MN). The Gophers got multi-point efforts from Travis Boyd, Zach Budish, and Nate Condon in a 5-2 win over North Dakota in the West Region final at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota somewhat atoned for the “timeout game” in the WCHA Final Five one week earlier, when the Fighting Sioux spotted the Maroon and Gold three goals before exploding for six of their own. The Gophers advanced to the Frozen Four, suffering a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Boston College in the national semifinals.

Most important meeting: March 24, 1979 (Detroit, MI). North Dakota and Minnesota met to decide the national championship, and the Gophers prevailed, 4-3. Neal Broten scored the game-winning goal for the U of M, and Steve Janaszak was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

All-time: Minnesota leads the all-time series by a slim margin, 138-130-15 (.514). Each team has won eight of the sixteen meetings on neutral ice. The teams first met in 1948.

All-time in the NCAA playoffs: The teams have split their previous four meetings in the national tournament. Minnesota won the 1979 title with a 4-3 victory over North Dakota, and also took down UND 5-2 in the 2012 West Region final. Dave Hakstol has defeated the Gophers twice in NCAA play. Chris Porter’s wraparound goal in overtime sent the Fighting Sioux to the 2007 Frozen Four with a 3-2 victory in the West Region final, and the Green and White also got the better of Minnesota in the 2005 Frozen Four semfinal. Erik Fabian and Travis Zajac each scored twice in North Dakota’s 4-2 win.

Last ten: The Gophers have gone 6-3-1 in the last ten meetings between the schools, outscoring UND 33-25 in those games.

Game News and Notes

Dave Hakstol is 17-14-4 against Minnesota in his head coaching career. The Gophers are 19-0-2 when leading after one period of play but just 3-4-2 when trailing after the opening twenty minutes. North Dakota is 8-3-0 in one goal games this season. In an effort to alleviate parking concerns, Minnesota fans are asked to park in Pittsburgh and walk to the Wells Fargo Center.

The Prediction

UND seems to have embraced the underdog role in this year’s Frozen Four. If head coach Dave Hakstol can get the boys playing fast and loose, they could be a handful for the Gophers. I don’t see much scoring early, as both squads feel each other out and try to avoid mistakes and turnovers. I feel more excited than nervous about this one, and that’s always a good sign. I’ll take the Green and White in a close one. North Dakota 3, Minnesota 2

Published by Dave Berger on 09 Apr 2014

2014 NCAA Frozen Four Preview: Boston College vs. Union

Union College has been one of the most successful hockey programs in the country over the past four years. The Dutchmen have made the NCAA tournament all four seasons, won three of the past four ECAC regular season championships, and claimed the past three ECAC playoff titles. From 2010-14, Union teams have collected 104 victories and find themselves in their second Frozen Four in three years.

Remarkably, Union has not lost a game since back-to-back 2-1 losses vs. Rensselaer and at St. Lawrence on January 25th and January 31st. Since that time, the Dutchmen have gone 14-0-1, outscoring opponents 62-25 (an average margin of 4.13-1.67). In eleven of those fifteen games, UC has scored four or more goals.

Overall, the ECAC is far different than the conference that was much-maligned for more than a decade as an easy out in the NCAAs. League members Colgate, Cornell, Quinnipiac, RPI, and Yale have combined with Union to go 14-8 in the tournament over the past four seasons, with four Frozen Four appearances and a national championship (Yale, 2013).

By comparison, in the four years before that (2007-10), five ECAC schools (Clarkson, Cornell, Princeton, St. Lawrence, and Yale) had a combined NCAA tournament record of 3-9 with zero Frozen Four appearances. Because of those performances, some had taken to calling the league the “EZAC”, as in “easy victory”. But that is definitely no longer the case.

For further evidence of this shift, “exhibit A” is last season’s NCAA tournament game between Union and Boston College, the first-ever meeting between the two programs. The Dutchmen throttled BC 5-1 in a game that was basically over after Union scored two goals in the first 64 seconds of the middle frame to take a commanding 3-0 lead.

And there are many who think that this year’s version of the Dutchmen is better, deeper, and more experienced than last year’s team.

(Incidentally, if you want a closer look at how Rick Bennett and his boys dismantled Jerry York’s squad, Joseph Gravellese of BC Interruption does a great job of breaking it down here.)

Union plays a tough, in-your-face brand of hockey all over the ice that takes away time and space. It’s the same style that Notre Dame employed against Boston College in winning three of four March games between the teams. The Irish continually frustrated the Eagles, outscoring BC 13-5 in the three victories and holding Johnny Gaudreau (the presumptive Hobey Baker winner) to just one goal and one assist in those three games combined.

To be fair, Gaudreau scored two goals and added one assist in the Eagles’ 4-2 victory over Notre Dame, but “Johnny Hockey” was held off the scoresheet in the third and decisive game of the Hockey East quarterfinals.

And it’s my opinion that Union does a better job of playing that gritty style of hockey than Notre Dame does, led by junior Shayne Gostisbehere (a Hobey Baker finalist) and senior Mat Bodie on the blue line.

Boston College’s playoff success is well documented. The Eagles have made the tournament in fifteen of the past seventeen seasons (missing the NCAAs in 2002 and 2009), advancing to the Frozen Four eleven times and winning national titles in 2001, 2008, 2010, and 2012. And yes, this year is 2014. That seems to be on Jerry York’s side.

The other thing going for BC is the best line in college hockey. Johnny Gaudreau and Kevin Hayes are both Hobey Baker finalists, and linemate Bill Arnold is also an accomplished player (143 points in 158 career games). The three haven’t been skating together all season, but they boast combined stats of 76 goals and 116 assists (192 points) in 117 games played this year. To put that in perspective, the top three point getters from outside of Chestnut Hill this year are:

Greg Carey, senior forward, St. Lawrence: 18 goals, 39 assists (57 points) in 38 games
Cody Wydo, junior forward, Robert Morris: 31 goals, 23 assists (54 points) in 42 games
Brent Gensler, senior forward, Bentley: 21 goals, 32 assists (53 points) in 37 games

Carey, Wydo, and Gensler combined for 70 goals and 94 assists (164 points) in their 117 games, and they play on different teams. The three Eagle teammates outscored the three other top scorers in the nation by 28 points this year. That’s astounding.

There are two other factors that make this game interesting…

In last season’s NCAA tournament matchup between the Dutchmen and the Eagles, Union won the special teams battle decisively. UC converted three of seven power play opportunities, killed all seven BC power plays, and scored two four-on-four goals early in the second period to put the game out of reach. Boston College has the advantage on paper this season (combined power play and penalty killing percentages of 114.5%, compared to 104.6% for Union), but the Eagles have had 166 shorthanded situations and 137 power plays this year, while the Dutchmen have been called upon to kill just 135 penalties and have been awarded the man advantage 162 times.

A second area of the game that bears a closer look is goaltending. Boston College rookie Thatcher Demko is facing off against an experienced netminder in Union’s Colin Stevens. Stevens already has twelve career shutouts (in 56 games played), while Demko has but two in 23 games this season. However, Stevens did not appear in an NCAA tournament game over his first two seasons (that honor went to goalie Troy Grosenick, now with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL), and so the two goaltenders are even on the playoff side of the ledger.

The winner of this contest will face off against either Minnesota or North Dakota on Saturday night for the 2014 NCAA ice hockey championship. For a full preview of the UND/Minnesota matchup, click here.

Boston College Team Profile

Head Coach: Jerry York (20th season at BC, 496-241-68, .658)
National Ranking: #3
This Season: 28-7-4 overall, 16-2-2 Hockey East (1st)
Last Season: 22-12-4 overall (NCAA East Regional finalist), 15-9-3 Hockey East (2nd)

Team Offense: 4.10 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.28 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 24.1% (33 of 137)
Penalty Kill: 90.4% (150 of 166)

Key Players: Junior F Johnny Gaudreau (35-42-77), Senior F Kevin Hayes (27-36-63), Senior F Bill Arnold (14-38-52), Senior F Patrick Brown (14-15-29), Sophomore D Michael Matheson (3-17-20), Freshman D Ian McCoshen (5-8-13), Freshman G Thatcher Demko (16-4-3, 2.16 GAA, .920 SV%, 2 SO)

Union College Team Profile

Head Coach: Rick Bennett (3rd season at UC, 78-27-16 .711)
National Ranking: #2
This Season: 30-6-4, 18-3-1 ECAC (1st)
Last Season: 22-13-5 overall (NCAA East Regional finalist), 10-8-4 ECAC (4th)

Team Offense: 3.70 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.05 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 21.6% (35 of 162)
Penalty Kill: 83.0% (112 of 135)

Key Players: Senior F Daniel Carr (22-26-48), Junior F Daniel Ciampini (19-17-36), Senior F Kevin Sullivan (8-27-35), Junior F Max Novak (14-15-29), Senior D Mat Bodie (6-29-35), Junior D Shayne Gostisbehere (8-21-29), Junior G Colin Stevens (26-4-2, 1.93 GAA, .932 SV%, 6 SO)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: March 30, 2013 (Providence, RI). The Dutchmen blitzed Boston College with three second period goals, including two back-breaking 4 on 4 tallies in the first 64 seconds of action, as Union dismantled the Eagles 5-1. Boston College got a late goal by (who else) Johnny Gaudreau, but gave up three power play goals on seven opportunities and were held scoreless on all seven of their man advantage situations. Union would lose 5-1 to Quinnipiac in the regional final the following day.

Most important meeting: Since the Eagles and Dutchmen have never met in the Frozen Four (and have only faced each other once before), I will call Thursday’s national semifinal the most important meeting between the squads.

Game News and Notes

Boston College is undefeated this season when leading after the first period (18-0-2). The Dutchmen have lost only three times away from their home rink (Achilles Center) all season (17-3-3). These two teams were both participants in the 2012 Frozen Four (Tampa, FL). Union lost 3-1 to Ferris State in the semifinals, while Boston College took home its fifth national title with victories over Minnesota (6-1) and Ferris State (4-1). Eagles head coach Jerry York has 963 career coaching victories (including 496 in twenty seasons at BC), while Rick Bennett has collected 78 victories in his first three years at Union.

The Prediction

This game will be much tighter than last year’s affair (a 5-1 Union victory). I’ve got a feeling that the Dutchmen can contain the high-flying Eagles, but if BC’s power play starts to click, anything can happen. I see it as another victory for the ECAC, but it’s close, with an empty-netter at the end. Union 4, Boston College 2

Published by Dave Berger on 08 Apr 2014

Minnesota and North Dakota: A Look Back At 12 Titles

Now that North Dakota and Minnesota’s most recent titles are more than a decade old, Thursday’s matchup takes on new meaning. If the Gophers beat UND and go on to win the 2014 NCAA title, fans of that program would claim three championships (2002, 2003, 2014) since the last time the Green and White were on top of the college hockey world (1997, 2000).

On the other hand, if Dave Hakstol can get the monkey off his back and win North Dakota’s eighth national championship overall, it would put more distance between these border rivals, since everyone knows that 8 > 5 is greater than 7 > 5.

One thing is for certain – Thursday’s losing side will have a difficult time cheering for the winner in Saturday’s final, since neither fan base wants to give any ground to the other in the battle for bragging rights. It would be one thing to watch Boston College win another title or watch Union win its first, since there aren’t many supporters of those programs in the upper Midwest. It’s yet another for fans to watch their fiercest rival hoist the trophy that they so desperately wanted their team to win, particularly when that trophy will be proudly displayed and used as ammunition in the bragging rights battle for the next decade and beyond.

Here’s a look back at how North Dakota and Minnesota collected their twelve combined NCAA titles:

1959 – North Dakota’s 1st NCAA title (head coach Barry Thorndycraft):

North Dakota 4, St. Lawrence 3 in OT (Troy, NY)
North Dakota 4, Michigan State 3 in OT (Troy, NY)

Incidentally, Boston College beat St. Lawrence 7-6 in double overtime for third place. UND’s Reg Morelli was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

1963 – North Dakota’s 2nd NCAA title (head coach Barry Thorndycraft)

North Dakota 8, Boston College 2 (Chestnut Hill, MA)
North Dakota 6, Denver 5 (Chestnut Hill, MA)

UND’s Al McLean was chosen as Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Boston College lost the third place game to Clarkson, 5-3, going 0-2 on home ice.

1974 – Minnesota’s 1st NCAA title (head coach Herb Brooks):

Minnesota 5, Boston University 4 (Boston, MA)
Minnesota 4, Michigan Tech 2 (Boston, MA)

The games were played at the Boston Garden. U of M goaltender Brad Shelstad was the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player.

1976 – Minnesota’s 2nd NCAA title (head coach Herb Brooks):

Minnesota 4, Boston University 2 (Denver, CO)
Minnesota 6, Michigan Tech 4 (Denver, CO)

Michigan Tech went to double overtime to defeat Brown 7-6 in the semifinals. Minnesota’s Tom Vannelli was named the Most Outstanding Player.

1979 – Minnesota’s 3rd NCAA title (head coach Herb Brooks):

Minnesota 6, Bowling Green 3
Minnesota 4, New Hampshire 3 (Detroit, MI)
Minnesota 4, North Dakota 3 (Detroit, MI)

Golden Gopher Steve Janaszakwas named Most Outstanding Player, but most fans on both sides of the rivalry will remember Neal Broten‘s game winning goal over North Dakota in the title game.

1980 – North Dakota’s 3rd NCAA title (head coach Gino Gasparini):

North Dakota 4, Dartmouth 1 (Providence, RI)
North Dakota 5, Northern Michigan 2 (Providence, RI)

UND fans were hoping for a rematch, but Minnesota fell to Northern Michigan 4-3 in the NCAA quarterfinals. North Dakota’s Doug Smail was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

1982 – North Dakota’s 4th NCAA title (head coach Gino Gasparini):

North Dakota 5, Clarkson 1; North Dakota 2, Clarkson 1 (UND wins total goals, 7-2)
North Dakota 6, Northeastern 2 (Providence, RI)
North Dakota 5, Wisconsin 2 (Providence, RI)

Wisconsin had outscored opponents 15-7 heading into the championship game. Fighting Sioux forward Phil Sykes was tabbed as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

1987 – North Dakota’s 5th NCAA title (head coach Gino Gasparini):

North Dakota 3, St. Lawrence 1; North Dakota 6, St. Lawrence 3 (UND wins totals, 9-4)
North Dakota 5, Harvard 2 (Detroit, MI)
North Dakota 5, Michigan State 3 (Detroit, MI)

Minnesota fell 5-3 to Michigan State in the semifinals. As predicted, Tony Hrkac was named Most Outstanding Player one day after winning UND’s first Hobey Baker award.

1997 – North Dakota’s 6th NCAA title (head coach Dean Blais):

North Dakota 6, Cornell 2 (Grand Rapids, MI)
North Dakota 6, Colorado College 2 (Milwaukee, WI)
North Dakota 6, Boston University 4 (Milwaukee, WI)

Minnesota fell to juggernaut Michigan 7-4 in the West Regional. The Wolverines, who had lost only three games all season, were upended 3-2 by Boston University at the Frozen Four. UND’s Matt Henderson was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

2000 – North Dakota’s 7th NCAA title (head coach Dean Blais):

North Dakota 4, Niagara 1 (Minneapolis, MN)
North Dakota 2, Maine 0 (Providence, RI)
North Dakota 4, Boston College 2 (Providence, RI)

Boston College knocked off top-seeded Wisconsin in the West Regional to advance to the Frozen Four. Lee “Scorin’” Goren was named the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player.

2002 – Minnesota’s 4th NCAA title (head coach Don Lucia):

Minnesota 4, Colorado College 2 (Ann Arbor, MI)
Minnesota 3, Michigan 2 (St. Paul, MN)
Minnesota 4, Maine 3 in OT (St. Paul, MN)

It took overtime, but the Gophers erased 22 years of frustration with one goal. Grant Potulny, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, scored the overtime winner after Minnesota needed an extra-attacker goal late in the third period to force the extra session.

2003 – Minnesota’s 5th NCAA title (head coach Don Lucia):

Minnesota 9, Mercyhurst 2 (Minneapolis, MN)
Minnesota 7, Ferris State 4 (Minneapolis, MN)
Minnesota 3, Michigan 2 in OT (Buffalo, NY)
Minnesota 5, New Hampshire 1 (Buffalo, NY)

The Golden Gophers became the first team to go back-to-back since Boston University (1971, 1972). Minnesota’s Thomas Vanek was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

Both programs desperately want to add another championship to their storied history, but just one of these teams will have a shot at another NCAA title on Saturday night. The losing team will be left hoping that their rival doesn’t hang another banner in the ultimate battle for bragging rights.

Published by Dave Berger on 07 Apr 2014

For Both Minnesota And North Dakota, The Future Is Bright

North Dakota and Minnesota will face off this Thursday evening, April 10th in the NCAA semifinals (Philadelphia, PA). The winner will move on to face either Boston College or Union College for the 2014 NCAA national championship, while the losing side will be left wondering what might have been.

But for both squads, the future is just as bright as this present moment.

Minnesota has four senior skaters – forwards Nate Condon and Tom Serratore, and defensemen Justin Holl and Jake Parenteau. The quartet has appeared in a combined 138 games this season, potting 12 goals and collecting 34 assists for an average of exactly one point every three games (.3333).

And here’s how the other classes compare at Minnesota:

Juniors (5 forwards, 1 defenseman): 53 goals and 92 assists in 210 games (.6905 points/game)

Sophomores (2 forwards, 2 defensemen): 16 goals and 32 assists in 96 games (exactly .5 points/game)

Freshmen (6 forwards, 2 defensemen): 56 goals and 73 assists in 258 games (exactly .5 points/game)

In my opinion, the only big graduation loss for Don Lucia’s squad will be captain Nate Condon. The senior forward from Wausau, Wisconsin is a member of the U of M Century Club with over 100 career points (40g-62a in 157 career games). Minnesota will miss his production and leadership next season.

Fourth-year defensemen Justin Holl and Jake Parenteau have been steady defensively but have not chipped in on the offensive end (0 goals and 15 assists in 66 combined games this year). Likewise, senior forward Tom Serratore has registered exactly one point in the past four months and has 22 career points in 138 games.

Sophomore netminder Adam Wilcox appeared in 36 games for the Gophers this season with a record of 25-5-6. For the season, he sports a 1.89 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage with four shutouts. Goaltender Nick Lehr (Austin Bruins/NAHL) is expected to join the Maroon and Gold for next season, but Wilcox will be the man between the pipes for the next couple of seasons.

North Dakota’s three senior skaters (Mitch MacMillan, Derek Rodwell, and Dillon Simpson) have appeared in 92 games this season, scoring 13 goals and adding 22 assists for a scoring average of .3804 points per game.

At North Dakota, the other three classes have been carrying the load:

Juniors (6 forwards, 1 defenseman): 52 goals and 84 assists in 282 games (.4823 points/game)

Sophomores (4 forwards, 1 defenseman): 38 goals and 58 assists in 161 games (.5963 points/game)

Freshmen (3 forwards, 4 defensemen): 23 goals and 48 assists in 203 games (.3498 points/game)

There are two key points to consider on North Dakota’s roster. UND would not be where they are this season without contributions from their four freshmen on the blue line. Paul LaDue (40 games played, 6g-15a) and Troy Stecher (41 games, 2g-9a) have been absolute warriors, while fellow rookie defensemen Keaton Thompson (25 games, 3g-5a) and Gage Ausmus (21 games, 2g-1a) have been rotated in effectively as the sixth D.

And Dave Hakstol’s crew appears to have the goaltending picture solidified for the foreseeable future. Zane Gothberg (20-9-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO) is just a sophomore, and incoming recruit Cameron Johnson (Fargo/USHL) will compete with Matt Hrynkiw for backup duties while Johnson adjusts to the college game.

The only early departure risks that I see with this group are sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi (17-22-39 in 41 games played) and sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz (6-17-23 in 40 games played). I would put both at under a ten percent chance of leaving before next season, as both would definitely benefit from another year at the college level.

As for the senior class, forward Mitch MacMillan has only appeared in nine games since December 7th, registering one goal and one assist. He isn’t expected to be in the lineup at the Frozen Four.

Forward Derek Rodwell brings size and grit to the ice, and his effort has earned him a spot in the lineup every night. Even so, it won’t be difficult to replace his offensive production – he’s scored 13 goals and added 11 assists in 122 career games.

North Dakota will also lose goaltender Clarke Saunders to graduation, but the transfer from Alabama-Huntsville has struggled this season (5-4-0, 3.22 GAA, .905 SV%) after posting much better numbers at UND in 2012-13 (13-9-4, 2.30 GAA, .917 SV%, 3 SO). Even though Saunders has lost the starting job to Zane Gothberg, he has been more than a capable backup, a great teammate, and an insurance policy for the coaching staff.

The key graduation loss for this team will be defenseman Dillon Simpson. The senior captain has appeared in 155 games in the North Dakota sweater, potting 16 goals and notching 58 assists. He leads the nation in blocked shots (107 in 41 games) and was recently named to the All-College Hockey News first team. It will be interesting to see which defenseman will be paired with Jordan Schmaltz next season, provided Schmaltz doesn’t leave early.

North Dakota and Minnesota should be considered two of the top four teams in the country going into next season (along with Boston College and Miami). Regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s national semifinal, both programs have quite a bit to be proud of and even more to look forward to. Keeping in mind that UND is hosting the West Regional next season (at Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND), it would not surprise me one bit to see the Green and White in Boston, Massachusetts for the 2015 Frozen Four. And with as much talent as the Gophers stand to bring back, I fully expect the Maroon and Gold to be there as well.

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