Hockey Media Day- Cam Johnson

 

I recently got to have a conversation with Cam Johnson. The junior netminder is a Michigan native. Johnson had a remarkable season even after a rough start to last season. He completed the season with a 1.66 GAA and .935 SVS%.

Gage Asumus, said that “He is just so athletic and so competitive that he just doesn’t want to let the puck go and get behind him. I think that is what makes him so great!” He is a big reason for UND win of the national championship and I am looking forward to seeing what he does this season!

 How did backing up Zane your first year prepare you for taking over the stating role?

Zane had a large impact on helping me mature and prepare for college hockey. He helped me develop my game and my experience in the game.

 How did your time in both Fargo and Waterloo prepare you for College Hockey?

 I think that USHL is a big stepping stone before coming to college because a lot of the players are commits. Going to the Calder Cup finals twice with Waterloo, helped with learning how to play in big games and was a lot of fun.

Talk about your experience at the Pittsburg Penguins Development Camp?

  Going to the development camp was a lot of fun. It was good for me to see an NHL camp and what it takes to be a professional goalie, along with seeing the aspects of pro hockey.

You have a large social media presence and have, on occasion, liked some of your critics’ tweets after a tough night. Why?

 I think it is funny, you know these people can be your best friend one night and turn on you the next night. My critics’ fuel the fire I have to play a better game. I like to let them know I am seeing what they are posting and hoping that maybe they will think twice before posting something.

What are your goals on and off the ice for the season?

 My goal is always to win. I love winning, but I hate losing more then I love winning. So I just want to win more games on the ice. Off the ice I want to become a better person. The coaching staff are always doing what they can to make sure we are well rounded humans off the ice.

For a fan that has never seen you play, describe your goaltending style.

I think my goaltending style is laid back and relaxed. You have to be confident.

 

Which skater on an opposing team has the best shot and why?

Austin Ortega, University of Nebraska-Omaha, I played on the same team with him when I was in Fargo and then to play against him now. He has a very accurate shot.

 

Which skater on UND has the best shot and why?

Chris Wilkie has to have the hardest shot. He just has a good release. Jost, Gersich, Boeser are all very accurate. It hard to say because I think everyone is a good player.

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Three Thoughts-UND Football

Time for another three thoughts on UND Football going forward after a tough 17-15 win in Bozeman over Montana State. UND takes on the high-motor triple option offense of Cal Poly next weekend at the Alerus Center. The Mustangs upset the number six team in the country this weekend. I will repeat myself multiple times regarding one thing. Anyone who can be in the Alerus Center needs to go and stay all 60 minutes. UND needs all the support it can get from the community.

Here are some thoughts on this past weekend and Cal Poly this weekend.

  1. UND must improve its first quarters. Every week UND has either squandered chances or been forced to play catch up from its poor first quarter showings. This past weekend it started off on the wrong foot by fumbling on its opening drive. This only cost them three points.
  2. Keaton Studsrud has to have a better showing this weekend. Every week he seems to miss three to five open wideouts. If Keaton can play a full 60 minutes UND will be able to counter the running game of Cal Poly with simple ball control. A strong offense with a diverse playbook is the best counter for the triple option. In addition, if Studsrud has a stronger game it will open up more opportunities for UND’s strong running back duo of Brady Olivera and John Santiago.
  3. UND’s defense has carried them this season. The Fighting Hawks have one of if not the best defenses in the country. Eventually the offense has to step up and mount more than one or two sustained drives throughout the game. Cal Poly is a strong enough team to keep the scenario of another South Dakota like comeback from happening again. If the offense can possess the ball for more than half of the game, UND has a much better chance of winning. This is the toughest opponent UND has played so far, UND needs all the help it can get. This is true from both the offense and the fans. If UND gets a packed Alerus Center for all 60 minutes it will help its cause. UND students once again need to show up, be loud and respectful, and stay all 60 minutes. The Fighting Hawks’ wins have not been easy but the games have been fun for all 60 minutes.

Hockey Media Day- Gage Ausmus

 

Today we had the chance to talk with this year’s captain Gage Ausmus. He is an East Grand Forks native that was drafted 151st overall in 2013 by the San Jose Sharks. Last season, Ausmus had 11 assists.

Why did you decide to come back for one more season?

“There are many reasons, Number one is I just simply did not want to leave this place. I love this place and everything about it.I felt it was best for my career to come back before taking that next step. Getting a degree is really important to me. I think it is a great thing to have in your back pocket. You know you only go to college once. So I figured, I might as well stay here for four years”

What do you want to accomplish on and off the ice?

 “Obviously, I just want to win games. That’s the goal every night. That’s that only goal all season. Then the next game we want to win that game. That’s all we look forward too. Being successful on the ice, obviously I want to be the best I can be to help my team win those games. Off the ice, I just want to be a leader in the locker room and grow my personality, I have learned so many different things in these last three years and how to approach people and how to handle different situations. You get a college degree and if hockey doesn’t work out get a good job.”

What are somethings you have learned at the Sharks development camps?

 “I would have to bring out my book that I write when I am down there because they teach so many things. What is really important for the next level, foot speed, puck handling, how quick you have to make decisions. I was playing hockey before I went to my first camp for 16 or 17 years and they told me I didn’t know how to pass the puck correctly. Everything the critique is all for the best and I learn so many things every year I go there. It’s just a good place to go in the middle of the summer to refine my game.”

Which goalie is the toughest to score on (opposing team)?

“Charlie Lindgren (St. Cloud), Kasimir Kaskisuo (Duluth), Tanner Jaillet (Denver). I think everyone is just seeing this now, the goalies are just getting better and better every year and you’re just trying to find new ways to score. It’s just getting tougher each year. Especially for me, you know I had zero goals last year. So, I really have to do my studying this year.”

Which goalie is the toughest to score on (UND)?

“You know what, they are all great goalies, but obviously, Cam Johnson. I find it a challenge to score on him every time I come down on him. It’s just a mental game with myself that I usually come out unsuccessful. I have been in the shooting room just trying to work on that to be a little more successful on Cammer. He’s really tough to score on.

What part of Johnson’s play style makes him so hard to score against?

“The thing is, he is just so athletic and so competitive. He doesn’t give up on plays. You see some of the saves he makes in games, you should see him in practice There will be a 2 on 0 and the rebound will go to the back door, he’ll just dive for it and make a save. It happens at least once a practice. He is just so athletic and so competitive that he just doesn’t want to let the puck go and get behind him. I think that is what makes him so great!”

Describe your play style for a fan that has never seen you play before

“I think I am a first pass defenseman, well obviously defense first and then if I can jump up in the play and help on the offensive side I will help do that. I try to play a physical game and try to shut down the other team’s top line.”

What are some things you want to improve on the ice this year?

“I want to prove that I can chip in on the offensive side, I have the skills to do it. I really want to help my team on the offensive side. I think my defensive abilities are good and I should really work on my offence. I just want to show the fans that I can do that offensive side too.”

UND-USD: Game recap

The home opener for University of North Dakota football against University South Dakota was on Saturday, 9/17.  The first quarter of the game was quite intense, USD scored first with a field goal at 8:47 and UND responded eight minutes later, when Junior Cole Reyes makes an interception and runs it 33 yards for a touchdown. The second quarter was all about USD, with UND’s Travis Toivonen (Fr) completing a 11 yard pass from Keaton Studsrud (Jr) for a touch down at 9:23. USD get one field goal and three touchdowns ending the half leading UND 27-14.

At the start of the 3rd, USD comes out strong and scores another touchdown. UND ends the 3rd with Reid Taubenheim (Jr) kicking a 32-yard field goal, 34-17. The 4th was all about UND with Studsrud having a touchdown pass to John Santiago (So) , while Deion Harris (Jr) picks off and runs it in for a 33-yard touchdown return. Taubenheim also completed another field goal. Ending regulation with a tied game 34-34.

USD won the coin toss and went on the defensive, which was followed by a quick touchdown from Santiago with a 25 yard run. USD answered with a touchdown to tie the game again at 41-41. UND then forced a field goal making the score 44-41. This is when everyone’s heart stopped, the ten minutes that followed was an emotional roller coaster for both teams. UND had two touchdowns called back for being just inches short of the goal line. Finally, on the 3rd attempt, Studsrud made a 1 yard run to make the winning goal. Bring UND record to 1-2.

Sadly, many of the student body left at the end of the 2rd quarter, missing out on the amazing end of the game. My pick for MVP, would be John Santiago. A sophomore, had two touch downs, one rushing and one receiving. Santiago ran for 142 yards with an average gain of 6.4 yards a carry. Runner up, I would say is Reid Taubenheim, completing five field goals and in doing so kept us in the game.

I just want to say thank you to the staff at the Alerus Center for helping me find my way round and making sure I had everything I needed!!

First Amazon Ad

This is the section of the site where you will see our amazon ads and occasionally ( once every week or so) we may tweet out a link to use. Other than that the main content page will remain focused only on content. Any other future advertising will be integrated in a way that in no way harms the integrity of the blog. Below is our first site link. Enjoy!

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Amazon Associate and What Does It mean

We are now Amazon Associates and this means that going forward from time to time you may see some amazon links. We will only recommend products we think may be beneficial to  our viewers. We promise to not use too many adds and also want to fully disclose that we make a small percentage as a referral on some sales if you buy or try the product offered after clicking on the links provided. We only will try to bring you things we would want to buy ourselves and promise to keep this blog dedicated to providing the best coverage of all things UND Sports and hockey at large as well. That is why we started this blog and that cannot and will not ever change.

Look Back and Ahead: UND Football

UND nearly upset Bowling Green this past weekend, falling short on a two point conversion with seconds left to take the lead. Here are my thoughts on the game and what UND needs to modify to win the Potato Bowl against South Dakota this weekend.

  1. The Fighting Hawks have to better react to adjustments on defense. Once Bowling Green adjusted for the exotic blitzes UND ran, the Hawks could not generate as much pressure. The defense played a great game for the most part. One concern for me is the big plays. Bowling Green scored the majority of its touchdowns on big plays like their long passes. If UND can adjust its blitzes and run one extra defender in the secondary it should be fine. The Fighting Hawks have a good enough run defense to not need extra blitzes in running situations. In addition, the defense does not need to stack the box to succeed. It is good enough to afford the luxury of having an extra defensive back more often.
  2. The offense improved from the Stony Brook game. One area it needs to improve on more is making simple throws in the first half. Keaton Studsrud has looked out of sorts these first two first halves this season. He needs to get off to a better start in the Potato Bowl. The offense cannot have too many three and outs in the first quarter. The poor play of the offense directly contributed to UND having to come from behind against Bowling Green.
  3. Fans need to show up and stay. If the Alerus is full and rocking all game UND has a better chance of winning. Students (writing this as an alum who missed less than five games in four years), please please please do not leave this game at half time! Show up, be loud, be respectful! UND needs its student section to be full all game. The best moment for me at UND games even during the Mussman era was the players coming over and thanking the students left for coming and staying. The atmosphere at the Alerus center is unique. Do not complain about how bad the football team is when the team is exciting.That excuse has not been valid since since the coaching change. Our team plays a strong physical game and has at least a top five running back in the FCS in John Santiago. In the past, our defense was the biggest issue. Now our defense is winning us games and keeping us in most of them. Show up, be loud, and have fun this weekend. Students get free tickets and transportation, UND needs you, the team needs you, and the town of Grand Forks needs you to show up this weekend. It should be a great game against South Dakota as UND looks to get back to winning on the way to a FCS playoff birth.

The Hawks Pyramid to the NHL

Well, a few days ago, blogger and YouTube Star extraordinaire Steve Dangle invented a new way to rank each team’s NHL prospects. He used a pyramid system to group prospects rather than listing them one through whatever arbitrary number is used. (click his name for a video with a primer on the pyramid idea)

This system is excellent in my view because it gives more flexibility and because it removes pointless dogmatic arguments. I am using this system in college hockey. I will write about a few teams. The main one of course is going to be the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. The tiers will be separated by the chance to play at least one game in the NHL at some point in each players’ pro career upon leaving UND.

The highest tier is the highest chance of playing even one game in the show. Each tier decreases in probability.

Tier One

75 percent or greater

Brock Boeser, Tyson Jost

Well, most UND fans have seen the scoring prowess of Brock Boeser. His shot is NHL ready now and he has one more year to work on his speed before making the jump to Vancouver. He will play an NHL game as soon as this year.

Jost is another first round pick that plays a responsible two way game and has a knack for making plays all over the ice. His mere presence on the ice made his Canadian team better at the U18 World Championship this past April . Tyson will kill penalties and play key special teams minutes this year. If he can develop his shot a bit and generate say a point a game he could make the jump this year as well. The Avalanche do not have a better unsigned center prospect in their system than Tyson Jost.

Tier Two

50-74.9 percent chance

Tucker Poolman, Austin Poganski, Christian Wolanin, Cam Johnson, Rhett Gardner

This is where some of the more developed players reside. Poolman could have jumped to the Jets this year but stayed to play with his brother Colton among other reasons. Gardner earned a late round pick from the Dallas Stars thanks to his stellar work in all three zones. He has a role now as a faceoff specialist. Rhett reminds me of Corban Knight. He can win a faceoff any time and can play in all three zones. Cam Johnson earned a development camp invite to the Penguins based on his superb play this past season including Midwest Regional MVP in Cincinnati on the way to backstopping UND to its eighth National Championship. Poganski has a strong presence on the ice as a reliable net-front presence and is UND’s best penalty killing forward going into the season.

Tier Three

25-50 percent chance

Gage Ausmus, Matej Tomek, Chris Wilkie, Shane Gersich

All four of these players will have roles on this team. Ausmus is UND’s first two year captain since Chay Genoway. Gage reminds me of Andrew MacWilliam. He is a great stay at home defenseman that does not do much offensively. His defensive skills allow his partner to jump up into the rush more knowing that they have a strong backup.

Tomek did not play at all during the regular season last year due to both being injured and then being outplayed by Cam Johnson and Mat Hrynkiw. If Tomek earns ice time he will have a chance to elevate his ranking,however the Flyers drafted another goalie this year in the first round. That goalie is Carter Hart. The Everett Silvertip will be ready for the NHL before Tomek may even be a starter here. The Flyers have six other prospect goalies and all of them but Tomek played last year. Matej has a lot of work to do to improve his stock in the Flyers organization but has the potential to do just that.

Wilkie and Gersich remind me of Rocco Grimaldi. They are both smaller players who are strong on the puck and need to score constantly to be considered valuable to their team. Both can improve their spots with the increased time they will get on the higher lines this year.

 

Tier Four

0-24.9 percent

Everyone else

The most likely person in this tier to play an NHL game at some point Johnny Simonson. He has improved each year and has gotten better on the puck. His goal scoring is catching up to his speed. Simonson still has two more years to showcase himself for an NHL team.

Ranking college players is even more imperfect than ranking pro prospects. Someone in tier four could make the league before someone in tier one. This is just a snapshot in time based on expectations and past performance. What are your thoughts on this system.What are your tiers? What are your tiers for some other teams? We will write about more teams as the season goes on. Also let me know what I missed in the comments.

 

 

3 Thoughts- UND V Stony Brook Recap

This is the first blog back in a bit. Here are some quick thoughts on the UND loss against Stony Brook. Look for more as we get closer to hockey season.

  1. UND’s season is not over. They have to adress replacing production of deep threat Clive Georges and improve on the offensive line. However, UND’s defense nearly won that game on its own. Defensive Coordinator Eric Schmidt and Defensive Line Coach Jordan Gigli did an outstanding job rotating personnel on Thursday night and the defensive line set the tone for everyone else.
  2. Keaton Studsrud played one of the worst games of his career on Thursday. I have never seen Studsrud miss so many easy throws set the offense back like he did. Credit to Stony Brook, as their defensive line was pressuring Keaton all game. If Studsrud can find his form again UND should be ok.
  3. While this loss was unexpected, it does not doom UND’s playoff hopes. It serves as a wake up call  that preseason expectations do not get you to the playoffs. If UND can use this week’s game against Bowling Green to improve on some of the things that need it, they should be fine going forward. UND can still make the playoffs, but it has a lot of work to do to make that goal a reality.