Fighting Sioux Men’s Hockey 2007-2008: The Senior Class

The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux senior class for 2007-08 offers a little bit of everything, from goaltending and grit to memorable goals and big hits. Robbie Bina, Rylan Kaip, Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, and Kyle Radke bring experience, determination, versatility, and heart to this year’s lineup.

As freshmen, this class was not exceptionally large, just extremely talented. UND brought in only five players, and more than one coach said “they went five-for-five” with this recruiting class. Along with Kaip, Lamoureux (2003-04 United States Hockey League Goaltender of the Year), and Radke (2003-04 Albert Junior Hockey League Defenseman of the Year), the 2004-05 incoming freshman class included Rastislav Spirko and Travis Zajac (2003-04 British Columbia Hockey League Most Valuable Player), both of whom gave up their final two seasons of eligibility. Robbie Bina will play his final season with this group after sitting out the 2005-06 season following a broken neck and surgery to repair a shattered vertebra.

Here’s a look at the four Sioux seniors for 2007-2008:

#28 Robbie Bina

Position: Defense
Height/Weight: 5′-8″ 180 lbs.
Born: January 4, 1983
Hometown: Grand Forks, North Dakota
Previous team: Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Awards and Honors: 2007 NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team, 2006-07 WCHA All-Academic Team
Draft rights: Undrafted

UND Statistics by Season:
1 goal, 7 assists; 6 penalty minutes in 31 games played (2003-04)
0 goals, 9 assists; 8 penalty minutes in 32 games played (2004-05)
10 goals, 22 assists; 46 penalty minutes in 43 games played (2006-07)

UND Career Totals:
11 goals, 38 assists for 49 points; 60 penalty minutes in 106 games played

Season Outlook: Bina became a terrific two-way defenseman last season, and will contend with Taylor Chorney for the top point total among Sioux blueliners. His physical play and ability to join the rush have made him an asset in special teams situations and at even strength.

News and Notes: His 106 career games played rank second to Kyle Radke (110) among returning Sioux players. Bina is best known for coming back from a broken neck suffered during the 2005 WCHA Final Five. He is also famous for scoring a 180 foot, short-handed goal against the University of Minnesota during a two-game sweep in January 2007. (Videos of said goal have been viewed over 230,000 times at last count.) Scored 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists) in his final 29 games of 2006-07 after scoring two (1g, 1a) in the first 14 games of the year and 19 points (2g, 17a) in his first 77 career games.

#17 Rylan Kaip

Position: Center
Height/Weight: 6′-1″ 195 lbs.
Born: January 21, 1984
Hometown: Radville, Saskatchewan
Previous team: Notre Dame Hounds (SJHL)
Awards and Honors: Named UND’s team captain for the 2007-2008 season
Draft rights: Atlanta Thrashers (9th Round, 2003)

UND Statistics by Season:
0 goals, 4 assists; 20 penalty minutes in 22 games played (2004-05)
3 goals, 5 assists; 76 penalty minutes in 42 games played (2005-06)
5 goals, 7 assists; 55 penalty minutes in 38 games played (2006-07)

UND Career Totals:
8 goals, 16 assists for 24 points; 151 penalty minutes in 102 games played

Season Outlook: Kaip has the ability to score timely goals, and adds a physical presence up front. Not one to deliver a fiery speech in the locker room, look for Kaip to lead by example on the ice.

News and Notes: Has seven points (5g, 2a) in 15 career postseason contests. It took Kaip 60 games to notch his first career goal at UND, and less than twenty minutes to notch his second, as UND upended the Wisconsin Badgers 4-3 in the 2006 Final Five semifinal game. In the 2007 postseason, Kaip scored game-winning goals against Minnesota State University-Mankato in the first round of the WCHA playoffs and against Michigan in the semifinal round of the NCAA West Regional. Missed the second half of the 2004-05 season with post-concussion syndrome. Was an assistant captain for the Sioux last season. Rylan has been described as “like Rory McMahon with a touch of Mike Prpich”.

#1 Jean-Philippe Lamoureux

Position: Goaltender
Height/Weight: 5′-8″ 152 lbs.
Born: August 12, 1984
Hometown: Grand Forks, North Dakota
Previous team: Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Awards and Honors: 2003-2004 USHL Goaltender of the Year, 2004-2005 WCHA All-Rookie Team, 2007 WCHA Final Five All-Tournament Team, 2007 NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team
Draft rights: Undrafted

UND Statistics by Season:
18 games played, 7-8-2 record, 2.19 goals against average, .914 save percentage (2004-05)
14 games played, 5-7-0 record, 2.61 goals against average, .911 save percentage (2005-06)
37 games played, 21-12-4 record, 2.42 goals against average, .913 save percentage (2006-07)

UND Career Totals:
69 games played, 33-27-6 record, 2.39 goals against average, .913 save percentage, 4 career shutouts

Season Outlook: Lamoureux will be the go-to guy between the pipes this season, as the other two goaltenders on the roster, sophomore Anthony Greico (8 games played) and junior Aaron Walski (2 games played), are relatively untested. If Jean-Philippe can post similar numbers to his first three seasons, the Fighting Sioux will contend for the conference title and an eighth national championship.

News and Notes: Started the last 25 games of 2006-07, posting a 17-4-4 record with a 2.20 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Wore number 34 for his first two seasons before switching to number 1 last year. Had an 11 game unbeaten streak (8-0-3) last season. Career goals against average (2.39) and save percentage (.913) both rank third all-time among UND goaltenders. His father, Jean-Pierre Lamoureux, played for UND from 1979-1982.

#26 Kyle Radke

Position: Defense/Forward
Height/Weight: 6′-0″ 212 lbs.
Born: May 13, 1985
Hometown: Bashaw, Alberta
Previous team: Grande Prairie Storm (AJHL)
Awards and Honors: 2003-2004 AJHL Defenseman of the Year
Draft rights: Undrafted

UND Statistics by Season:
1 goal, 2 assists; 16 penalty minutes in 25 games played (2004-05)
3 goals, 12 assists; 100 penalty minutes in 44 games played (2005-06)
2 goals, 3 assists; 109 penalty minutes in 41 games played (2006-07)

UND Career Totals:
6 goals, 17 assists for 23 points; 215 penalty minutes in 110 games played

Season Outlook: Radke’s toughness and versatility will translate into 40 or more games played for the third season in a row. With five other returning defenseman (and incoming recruits Derrick LaPoint and Jake Marto), he is expected to play primarily at forward for this year’s Fighting Sioux. His point totals will look more like his sophomore season (15 points) than his junior campaign (5 points).

News and Notes: His 110 games played is the most among returning UND players, and he is the only Sioux player to suit up in the last three Frozen Fours. In 2006-2007, Radke played forward for UND’s last 21 contests after playing 19 of his first 20 games on defense. After ranking third on the Fighting Sioux team with 100 penalty minutes in 2005-2006, he led the Sioux in both penalties (49) and penalty minutes (109) last season. The only Sioux players to come from Bashaw, Alberta are Kyle Radke and Brad Berry (who played defense for UND from 1983-86 and was an assistant and associate coach at North Dakota from 2000-06).

This is the first in a four-part series. Check back later for news and notes on UND’s other three classes. I encourage you to check out my WCHA 2007-2008 season preview. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

WCHA 2007-2008 Season Preview

by Dave Berger/SiouxSports.com

Senior Night at the rink is one of my favorite nights of the season. The celebration gives me an opportunity to applaud mightily and remember vividly the four years we have spent together, as it were, as player and fan. I enjoy watching a player progress from freshman to senior, growing in skill and leadership and dedication to the program. This celebration has become even more meaningful to me during recent years, as it seems fewer and fewer players are competing for four years at the college level.

If Senior Night is one of my favorite times of the year, the off-season is my least favorite. In addition to the obvious (no hockey!), it is also the period of time where I cross my fingers and hold my breath as pro teams come a’calling, snatching blueliners, lamp-lighters, and puck-stoppers before their time. No team is immune from the early-departure bug, and this off-season was no exception, as more than a dozen WCHA players gave up their remaining eligibility for pro contracts.

I know that these two points are related. The teams in our conference attract top-end, NHL-caliber players, and the coaches and programs have come to accept that those players will play, in most cases, two or three seasons. Potential recruits notice that WCHA schools produce professional hockey players, and the cycle continues. Overall, the talent level is higher than ever, and the trade-off is, as I mentioned above, that we as fans do not get to spend as much “time” with any one particular player.

And it makes the conference race very difficult to predict.

Let’s begin by recapping last season. Records are for conference games only (28 games).

WCHA 2006-07 Final Standings
Team……………………Record…Points
Minnesota …………….18-7-3…..39
St. Cloud State……..14-7-7…..35
North Dakota……….13-10-5….31
Denver………………….13-11-4….30
Colorado College…13-12-3….29
Wisconsin…………….12-13-3….27
Michigan Tech………11-12-5….27
MSU-Mankato………10-13-5….25
Minnesota-Duluth….8-16-4….20
Alaska-Anchorage…8-19-1….17

And now, on to this year. Before I begin breaking down the teams and predicting their order of finish, I want to discuss the conference schedule. Many of you know that the WCHA uses an unbalanced schedule, because there aren’t enough games in the season to play each conference opponent 4 times (that would make 36 conference games, and that’s too many!). The conference schedule consists of 28 games, and the breakdown is as follows:

4 games (2 home, 2 away) versus designated rival team

When this schedule was introduced (2001-02), the teams were assigned “rivals”. Some were natural (Colorado College and Denver, for example), and some were somewhat forced (Alaska-Anchorage and MSU-Mankato comes to mind, but as the last two teams to join the league, they deserve each other, in a way). The six remaining schools were a bit more difficult to pair up, and the decision was for Minnesota and Wisconsin to be rival schools (Big Ten). Minnesota-Duluth and Michican Tech were paired up (close travel), and North Dakota and St. Cloud State were put together (both were Division II schools [North Central Conference] in every other sport at the time).

4 games (two home, two away) versus four teams = 16 games
2 games (home) versus two teams = 4 games
2 games (away) versus two teams = 4 games

A four-year cycle determines the number of games against each opponent. For example, in 04-05, North Dakota played Minnesota twice at home. In 05-06, they played home and away (four games). Last season, Minnesota hosted North Dakota (two games), and this season, the teams will again play home and away (four games). Or put more simply, Minnesota plays at North Dakota three out of every four years, and UND travels to Minnesota three years out of every four. Some schools choose to play a home and home series (one game at each school), but the idea is the same.

I bring this up for two reasons. First of all, I took a look at the unbalanced schedule when predicting the conference race, as some teams have fewer games against top opponents. I admit that we don’t yet know how the teams are going to finish, but the top two teams going in are Minnesota and North Dakota, and therefore the fact that Colorado College plays only two games against each of them (@ North Dakota, vs. Minnesota), while Denver plays North Dakota and Minnesota four times each, is significant.

The second and more important reason I bring up the schedule is this: stop complaining about it. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone whine that North Dakota doesn’t play Minnesota four times every year, I could pay Michael Vick’s legal bills. The schedule is what it is, and it’s not changing in the forseeable future, so move on. I for one like the fact that for any future season, the number of games against every opponent, and where the games will be held, is already decided. This system prevents a member school from bringing pressure on the league office to schedule more home games against higher-profile teams in an effort to increase attendance.

I’m thinking to myself that I could have, or, rather, should have, devoted an entire column to league scheduling, but it fit just as well here…

On to the summaries. All statistics are for conference games only (28 games, unless otherwise noted) and teams are listed in order of predicted finish.

#1 University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux

Last year’s record: 13-10-5 (3rd)

Last year’s statistics: 3.32 goals scored/game (1st), 2.68 goals allowed/game (7th)

Key returning players: Junior F Ryan Duncan (22 goals-17 assists-39 points; Hobey Baker winner, WCHA Scoring Champion, WCHA Player of the Year, All-WCHA 1st Team), Junior F T.J. Oshie (10-16-26; All-WCHA 3rd Team), Senior D Robbie Bina (5-15-20), Junior D Taylor Chorney (5-14-19; All-WCHA 2nd Team), Senior G Phillippe Lamoureux (10-8-4, 2.30 goals against average, .915 save percentage)

Early departures: F Jonathan Toews (8-20-28 in 22 games; All-WCHA 2nd Team) and D Brian Lee (1-17-18) sign pro contracts after two years at UND.

Key graduation loss: F Chris Porter (7-9-16) played in a WCHA record 175 consecutive games.

The question marks: Who will replace the “T” from last year’s prolific “D.O.T.” line (Duncan, Oshie, and Toews)? Will the Sioux find more balanced scoring? Will this team start strongly enough to contend for the McNaughton Cup?

The bottom line: All the pieces seem to be in place for a conference title run. The four games against Minnesota might very well decide the race.

#2 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers

Last year’s record: 18-7-3 (1st)

Last year’s statistics: 3.25 goals scored/game (2nd), 2.39 goals allowed/game (3rd)

Key returning players: Sophomore F Kyle Okposo (12-18-30; All-WCHA 2nd Team, All-WCHA Rookie Team), Sophomore F Jay Barriball (10-14-24), Junior F Blake Wheeler (7-12-19), Senior D Derek Peltier (2-9-11), Junior G Jeff Frazee (8-1-1, 2.56 GAA, .904 SV)

Early departures: D Erik Johnson (2-11-13; All-WCHA Rookie Team) goes pro after one season, D Alex Goligoski (4-16-20; WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, All-WCHA 1st Team) forgoes his senior season.

Key graduation losses: D Mike Vannelli (8-9-17; All-WCHA 2nd Team), G Kellen Briggs (10-6-2, 2.21 GAA, .912 SV)

The question marks: Will the Gophers’ D be able to keep them in games? Can Jeff Frazee handle the work load between the pipes?

The bottom line: The Gophers will contend for the McNaughton Cup. As above, the four games against North Dakota could prove the tipping point in the race.

#3 University of Wisconsin Badgers

Last year’s record: 12-13-3 (tied for 6th)

Last year’s statistics: 2.11 goals scored/game (10th), 1.89 goals allowed/game (1st)

Key returning players: Sophomore F Michael Davies (7-9-16), Junior F Ben Street (6-5-11), Sophomore D Jamie McBain (3-10-13; All-WCHA Rookie Team), Senior D Kyle Klubertanz (1-4-5)

Early departures: F Jack Skille (6-8-14) leaves after his sophomore campaign, D Joe Piskula (0-2-2) gives up his final year of eligibility

Key graduation losses: F Andrew Joudrey (5-14-19), F Ross Carlson (5-12-17), F Jake Dowell (11-5-16), D Jeff Likens (1-2-3), G Brian Elliott (11-12-2 1.94 GAA, .930 SV; WCHA Goaltending Champion, All-WCHA 2nd Team)

The question marks: Can junior goaltender Shane Connelly (1-1-1. 0.98 GAA, .963 SV) play at a high enough level to keep the Badgers in games? Will Kyle Turris (or any of the other highly touted recruits) light the lamp for a team desperately in need of scoring?

The bottom line: The Badgers lose half of their goal production from last year’s squad, which finished last in the league at just over 2 goals per contest. The nation’s top recruiting class must contribute and Connelly must be steady for Wisconsin to secure home ice for the conference playoffs. I might have them too high here, but call it a hunch.

#4 Colorado College Tigers

Last year’s record: 13-12-3 (5th)

Last year’s statistics: 2.82 goals scored/game (5th), 2.64 goals allowed/game (6th)

Key returning players: Junior F Chad Rau (13-11-24), Sophomore F Bill Sweatt (8-14-22), Senior F Jimmy Kilpatrick (3-18-21), Senior F Scott McCulloch (10-5-15), Senior D Jack Hillen (6-5-11)

Early departures: none

Key graduation losses: F Brandon Polich (3-12-15), Braydon Cox (4-6-10), D Lee Sweatt (7-13-20; All-WCHA 3rd Team), G Matt Zaba (12-9-3, 2.39 GAA, .917 SV)

The question marks: It’s really just one – what do we make of Drew O’Connell? Will the junior netminder (1-3-0, 3.95 GAA, .850 SV) be good enough?

The bottom line: The Tigers have enough scoring depth and defensive experience to win a lot of games, and could easily find themselves in the top three.

#5 Saint Cloud State University Huskies

Last year’s record: 14-7-7 (2nd)

Last year’s statistics: 3.18 goals scored/game (3rd), 2.50 goals allowed/game (4th)

Key returning players: Sophomore F Ryan Lasch (13-19-32; All-WCHA Rookie Team), Sophomore F Andreas Nodl (11-20-31; WCHA Rookie of the Year; All-WCHA 3rd Team, All-WCHA Rookie Team), Senior F Nate Dey (5-13-18), Senior D Matt Stephenson (2-16-18)

Early departure: F Andrew Gordon (15-13-28; All-WCHA 1st Team)

Key graduation losses: F Dan Kronick (9-8-17), F Nate Raduns (5-4-9), D Justin Fletcher (5-13-18), D Casey Borer (2-6-8), G Bobby Goepfert (11-6-7, 2.19 GAA, .929 SV; Hobey Baker Finalist, All-WCHA 1st Team)

The question marks: Which defenseman will step into the roles vacated by Fletcher, Borer, and Dan Clafton? Will sophomore G Jase Weslosky (3-1-0, 3.76 GAA, .861 SV) give the Huskies the outstanding goaltending they have come to expect?

The bottom line: St. Cloud had better win games early in the season, or a tough second half (10 games against North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado College in ’08) could have them climbing uphill.

#6 Michigan Tech University Huskies

Last year’s record: 11-12-5 (tied for 6th)

Last year’s statistics: 2.46 goals scored/game (7th), 2.29 goals allowed/game (2nd)

Key returning players: Senior F Peter Rouleau (5-19-24), Senior F Tyler Shelast (11-8-19), Senior F Jimmy Kerr (9-5-14), Junior D Geoff Kinrade (4-11-15), Junior G Michael-Lee Teslak (6-5-3, 1.99 GAA, .918 SV; All-WCHA 3rd Team), Junior G Rob Nolan (5-7-2, 2.41 GAA, .906 SV)

Early departures: none

Key graduation losses: F Tyler Skworchinski (5-7-12), D Lars Helminen (1-15-16)

The question marks: If this team figures to be much the same as last year, then which Michigan Tech team is the real one? The team that ended the year sweeping Wisconsin, splitting at Minnesota, and winning two of three at Colorado College to advance to the Final Five? Or the team that went 3-11-2 during a 16 game stretch during the season?

The bottom line: There is reason for optimism in Houghton. The Huskies played ten overtime games last year and won only two. If some of those games tip the other way this year, this team will surprise. A top-five finish is within reach.

#7 University of Denver Pioneers

Last year’s record: 13-11-4 (4th)

Last year’s statistics: 2.61 goals scored/game (6th), 2.61 goals allowed/game (5th)

Key returning players: Sophomore F Tyler Ruegsegger (10-15-25), Sophomore F Rhett Rakhshani (8-17-25), Sophomore F Brock Trotter (11-13-24), Junior D Chris Butler (7-13-20), Senior G Peter Mannino (7-3-2, 2.22 GAA, .920 SV)

Early departures: F Ryan Dingle (15-9-24; All-WCHA 3rd Team) and F Geoff Paukovich (6-7-13) leave Denver after their junior seasons; D Keith Seabrook (2-8-10) forgoes his final three seasons of eligibility

Key graduation loss: G Glenn Fisher (6-8-2, 2.77 GAA, .907 SV)

The question marks: Can the trio of super sophs continue their scoring pace? Will Mannino be able to shoulder the load after splitting the duties last season?

The bottom line: After the way last season ended (only three wins in their last 13 games), I’m not sure what to expect from the Pioneers. With 14 games against North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado College, Denver will have to do well against the bottom teams in the conference if they hope to earn a top-five finish. A final weekend home and home series with Colorado College could have major implications.

#8 Minnesota State University-Mankato Mavericks

Last year’s record: 10-13-5 (8th)

Last year’s statistics: 2.89 goals scored/game (4th), 3.54 goals allowed/game (9th)

Key returning players: Senior F Joel Hanson (11-12-23), Junior F Jon Kalinski (13-6-19), Junior F Mick Berge (9-5-14), Junior G Mike Zacharias (8-8-5, 3.02 GAA, .893 SV)

Early departure: D Steve Wagner (5-18-23; All-WCHA 3rd Team) forgoes his senior season

Key graduation losses: F Travis Morin (13-15-28; All-WCHA 2nd Team), F Kurtis Kisio (3-7-10)

The question marks: Can a team that gave up 3 or more goals 17 times, and 5 or more goals nine times (in 28 league games), tighten up defensively and continue to score?

The bottom line: The Mavericks, who only won three one-goal games in the conference last year, are going to have to start winning more tight contests. The run-and-gun, “first team to six goals wins” approach hasn’t been working for them.

#9 University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs

Last year’s record: 8-16-4 (9th)

Last year’s statistics: 2.29 goals scored/game (8th), 3.00 goals allowed/game (8th)

Key returning players: Junior F MacGregor Sharp (5-9-14), Junior F Michael Gergen 5-8-13), Sophomore G Alex Stalock (3-12-2, 3.16 GAA, .889 SV; All-WCHA Rookie Team)

Early departures: F Mason Raymond (10-16-26; All-WCHA 1st Team) and D Matt Niskanen (5-13-18; All-WCHA 1st Team) give up their final two seasons of eligibility

Key graduation loss: F Bryan McGregor (12-9-21),

The question marks: Who will score? (Only one returning Bulldog, junior D Josh Meyers, scored more than five WCHA goals last season, and he had seven.) Will Sandelin still be the head coach at this time next year?

The bottom line: The losses of Raymond and Niskanen were a brutal one-two punch to the Bulldog faithful. What looked to be a promising 07-08 campaign now shapes up as another difficult season in Duluth.

#10 University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves

Last year’s record: 8-19-1 (10th)

Last year’s statistics: 2.21 goals scored/game (9th), 3.61 goals allowed/game (10th)

Key returning players: Sophomore F Paul Crowder (6-11-17), Sophomore F Josh Lunden (8-8-16), Junior D Mat Robinson (2-6-8), Senior D Luke Beaverson (3-2-5)

Early departures: F Jay Beagle (6-6-12) gives up his final two seasons; G Nathan Lawson (6-14-1, 3.28 GAA, .890 SV) leaves after his junior season to pursue professional opportunities.

Key graduation losses: F Justin Bourne (8-12-20), D Chad Anderson (5-7-12), D Mark Smith (4-5-9)

The question marks: As is the case with so many teams in the conference, the question mark is between the pipes. I’m not sure many were expecting Lawson to leave; can sophomore Jon Olthuis (2-5-0, 3.83 GAA, .883 SV) handle the netminding duties?

The bottom line: The Seawolves doubled their WCHA win total from 05-06 to last year, but they won’t double again. A sweep against North Dakota and an overtime win against Minnesota in the first round of the WCHA playoffs last year have fans excited for the upcoming season, but they’ll be in the bottom half of the standings yet again.

So there you have it. My humble predictions and overall outlook on what promises to be an eventful and exciting race for the McNaughton Cup. For an in-depth look at UND’s senior class, click here. I welcome your questions, comments, concerns, and criticisms. Drop the puck!