Expansion Draft Three Thoughts

The NHL Expansion Draft is now complete. The Vegas Golden Knights have their initial roster. They selected 30 players and traded for a few more. By the end of the night Vegas ended up with 12 picks in the 2017 draft. Five of those picks are in the first two rounds. Here are some quick thoughts on what took place tonight.

  • Why on earth did Florida give up Reily Smith just to lose a 30 goal scorer in Jonathan Marchessault? I get that Florida is not a cap team, but in my mind you cannot justify giving up a player who is just a year removed from a 50 point season in a third line role. Smith will bring some needed depth scoring to Vegas right away. To me this was the worse trade of the night for a team losing a player to the Golden Knights. While yes, the Panthers gained five million dollars in cap room, they lost two promising players who can score with some regularity. The Panthers still have a bright outlook next year, but they now need a bit more out of their up and comers and have to hope Jaromir Jagr comes back for another season. Florida just gave up 88 points between the two from last season to rid themselves of five million dollars in cap room.
  • Look for Vegas to pick up another goalie or more shortly. Tonight they selected Calvin Pickard, Marc-Andre Fleury, and J.F Berube. Berube was selected as part of a deal with the Islanders where Vegas also took on the contract of injured forward Mikhail Grabovski, and Jake Bischoff. The former Isles goalie has an expiring contract, and Vegas needs multiple goalies for its AHL and ECHL teams. Pickard is a serviceable backup that can start when called upon. Look for the Golden Knights to draft multiple goalies as well. Jake Oettinger out of Boston University would be one possible choice for them. He could move through their system quickly and start for them in three years.
  • Vegas has a lot of options with some of the players it picked up. Teams are willing to pay a premium for quality defenseman like Marc Methot, and Vegas wants more picks and assets to help them build for the future. Dallas has let teams know they are looking at moving their third pick and need help on their blue line. The Golden Knights have plenty of options and could put together a package to get that pick.

 

 

Thanks Women’s Hockey

With the recent cut of the Women’s Hockey program at the University of North Dakota, a lot of people have been affected. Countless current players and alums from all around the world have had their school choose to discontinue their sport for financial reasons. Coaches, support staff, fans, and those in the community have lost a team that provided so much. People are out of jobs, fans can’t go see the next generation of women’s hockey stars in Grand Forks, the players affected will have to go to an even smaller number of schools. Also, many local schools and non-profits will lose out on thousands of hours of time being spent with outstanding role models both in their sport and in life.

This article is not about all of the back story or the drama of the cuts or how they were implemented, however, this is about how the Women’s Hockey program opened my eyes to another side of working in sports I never thought possible, and without it , I would not have helped co-found this blog. This article is a small thanks to all the people whom I met as a student and remain connected with now because of Women’s Hockey.

During my first year at UND, I wanted to help out with a sports team in some way. After seeing the opportunities available I contacted the team and learned how to shoot video. Nearly every Friday and Saturday home game, I had behind the scenes access to sit in the press box of the Ralph Englestad Arena, which is absolutely stunning. I always got to my post early to set up. It was great to see UND hockey from that angle and feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself.

In the following years I met a lot of great people as I worked as a volunteer for the athletics department editing highlights. I wanted to do that because telling a story about UND athletics and its world-class athletes was and will always be fun. Being able to edit games and pick out key moments for the rest of the world to see has always been fun for me. Working as a volunteer for UND athletics, specifically editing videos for Women’s Hockey games got me started in the sport and communications industry which I am proud to always be a part of.

I wish the best of luck to all those affected by this terrible tragedy and wanted to thank everyone with UND Athletics for letting me volunteer as a student, and inspiring a desire to always be in sports and communications at the same time.

An Interview with Margot Miller on the Impact of UND Women’s Hockey

We recently had the chance to talk to Margot Miller, an alumnus of the UND Women’s Hockey program. We started doing these interviews because we want to focus more on the impact of the program off the ice as Women’s Hockey is part of the recent round of athletics cuts at UND.

While we both understand the harsh reality of budgets and deficits, we feel it is important to know what the University is losing from its campus. The best way to show what this University is giving up on, from our vantage point, is by providing an outlet for everyone who has ever played for, or been associated with the program to have a place to speak out about how this severe cut will deny opportunities to not only on-ice stars, but to the next Scholar-Athlete who could use their education at UND to make the world a better place like Margot is doing on a daily basis.

Below are our questions and her answers.

What was the most useful thing you learned about yourself while being apart of the UND athletics program?

“Playing hockey at a high level has provided me with so many learning experiences and positives attributes. The most useful thing I learned about myself and now translating into my everyday life is how to handle pressure and being a good team player. I am an ER nurse, which requires me to work under extreme pressure and make quick decisions. Another huge aspect of nursing is being able to work in a team setting, being able to be a team player has helped me succeed in my life after UND athletics as a nurse.”

Do you think you would be the same person you are today if you would not have attended UND and played hockey?

“No, absolutely not. UND and Hockey has shaped me into the person I am today. I never thought I would have stayed in Grand Forks after graduation but I fell in love with the community and UND which is so supportive and tight knit. UND and Hockey have created so many opportunities for me professionally and I will forever be grateful for what UND has provided me along with the sport of hockey. Many others should have a chance at what I had.”

How do you think you have inspired other young girls to play hockey?

“Playing at the best facility in college hockey at the highest level was a dream for me and I hope that inspires young girls to dream big. Continuing to be active in the Grand Forks hockey community as well as outreach efforts to better girls hockey in our community.”

What was your favorite on ice memory at UND?

“I have several. Clinching our first WCHA final face-off birth against Bemidji in dramatic fashion in OT at Purpur arena. Sweeping the Gophers in Ridder. Making history when we made it to the NCAA tournament in 2012 my senior year.”

What do you try to teach the players you coach now?

To be a good person no matter the circumstances. At times I catch myself using the same phrases or teaching points my UND coaches taught me. To leave it all out on the ice and have no regrets. I try to prepare my players not only with hockey skills but the skills to succeed in life and in their professional careers.”

What is your favorite thing about hockey as a whole ?

“Being apart of something bigger than myself. ”

What has been your best memory with any of your teammates since you have graduated?

“I currently serve as the assistant coach for the Grand Forks KnightRiders Girls Varsity hockey team. Our team went into the state tournament in 6th place this season. The girls left it all out on the ice and we ended up finishing in 2nd place. The best part of it all was coaching alongside my former teammate Tori Williams.”

 

Thoughts on the New NHL Hawks

With UND’s season ending multiple players have signed NHL deals over the past week and a half. Here are some thoughts about what each player brings to their new squad.

Brock Boeser-Vancouver Canucks

Canucks fans, do you like having a consistent sniper on the wing who can score more than 30 goals a season and out skate the other team? If so Brock Boeser could one day soon be the answer to the eternal, ‘who plays with the Sedins’ ?, conundrum. The Minnesota native had wrist surgery and missed the World Juniors. When he was out, UND’s scoring fell off as its more physical players instantly faced tougher match ups. When Brock is on he can score goals at a blistering pace. He also has the capacity to be a consistent defensively responsible forward depending on how he is used. If you have a tough goal-scoring winger that can back check,well, ask any Capitals fan about how rare it is to have a player like that on your team.

Tucker Poolman-Winnipeg Jets

The East Grand Forks native is recovering from multiple shoulder injuries. When healthy he will be the Jets’ fifth or sixth defenseman next season. Tucker Poolman has a booming point shot and knows how to not get caught trying to do too much. Pairing Poolman with an offensive minded left shot defenseman would give the Jets the best of both worlds. They would get a reliable defender who can score when needed, which would allow another one of their defenseman to take more chances. This could benefit someone like Josh Morrissey who , so far, has not come close to matching his WHL output.

Tyson Jost-Colorado Avalanche

Tyson Jost leaving is the biggest blow to UND. He is a complete player who has broken Connor McDavid’s scoring record in the U-18 World Championship. Tyson is a dominant two-way forward that will be at the core of Colorado’s rebuild. In his brief time at UND, Jost has routinely scored highlight-reel goals and made strong plays defensively. The new Avalanche forward can produce a point per game as well as be a future Selke trophy candidate if he continues to play his strong defensive game. Jost had an integral part getting Canada to the semifinals in the U18 World Championships in April, a key role in getting UND back to the NCAA tournament, and will be asked to do the same thing for the Avalanche as he develops.

Ideas to Improve College Hockey Replay: My Opinion

In the Fargo Regional in the first round of the NCAA tournament. UND came so close to beating the Terriers of Boston. It looked like UND won on a thrilling overtime goal by Dixon Bowen. After an overly lengthy review the goal was overturned.

Now, let’s set the basic premise of my opinion, getting the call right on the ice is always the first goal of any officiating crew. Sometimes calls are missed, which is why video review can be helpful. Was Bowen offsides? Perhaps, as UND head coach Brad Berry indicated that the call was right. That is not my main issue with hockey replay, especially in a winner-take-all scenario.

My issue is that overturn took almost as long if not longer than the 14 minute on ice delay to fix the broken pane of glass at Scheels Arena. UND was outworking the Terriers during that overtime period where the Terriers had zero shots on net. The Fighting Hawks had five shots on net that period. Boston had used its timeout.

Having an overly long review there served as another timeout for the Terriers and allowed them to regroup and hold UND off the board the rest of the way.

Do I know what the correct proper amount of time is to determine all calls?

Of course not.

Do I know that if you cannot get a clear look based on cameras available without using an off angle from the opposite end of the arena, it should be ok to go with the on ice call?

Of course I do.

Hockey replays in college hockey need to be standardized. There needs to be one review center somewhere looking at the games going on. All arenas must have blue line cameras for at least NCAA Tournament games. There also needs to be a much tighter standard than see if we can rewind the play enough times to give ourselves confirmation bias and call it the way we think we should because we have been in this box for so long. Reviews need to have a hard and fast time rule, if you cannot find clear and definitive evidence within a certain amount of time, the call on the ice stands.

Protections need to be put in place to insure that the officials do not end up reviewing their own calls. If the roles were flipped, Boston fans would have just as much to gripe about as UND fans.

Is there a perfect solution to shortening replay review times whilst getting calls right ?

No.

Is there at least a start through taking video review out of the officials hands and installing blue line cameras during the postseason ? Are there things that need to be ironed out to make this work?

Undoubtedly yes.

This article is some left over ideas that I have had for a while with Friday serving as a prime example of them.

Leave a comment if you have some other ideas or thoughts on my own ideas of how to prevent the lengthy postseason reviews to improve the flow of the game and benefit everyone with a stake in this great game of college hockey.

 

Boston University Shatters UND’s Title Hopes 4-3 in Double OT

On March 24 at Scheels arena, UND came up short against the Boston University Terriers 4-3 in double overtime. Charlie McAvoy found the back of the net on a perfect cross-crease pass from play maker extraordinaire, Clayton Keller. Boston won this game thanks to its superb defense and outstanding job limiting UND second chances. The Fighting Hawks won the shot attempts battle 145-67, yet the Terriers blocked 51 of those shots and UND missed 33 of them. North Dakota was done in by a strong Boston effort on the back end and timely transition opportunities. Jake Oettinger played a great game tonight. The freshman netminder for Boston never looked out of position and made several key saves to allow the Terriers time to survive the constant UND pressure.

The first period featured a series of back and forth exchanges. Both sides had their chances. As the game wore on, Boston’s speed was on full display. Cam Johnson had the first big save on a small breakaway from Kieffer Bellows.

17:04 in the first, Joel Janatuinen fired a pass to Rhett Gardner who used his long reach to put the puck in the net around Terrier netminder, Jake Oettinger. This goal is Gardner’s eighth tally of his sophomore season.

Boston University had some chances the rest of the way, but it remained a 1-0 game for UND after the first period.

2:05 in the second period, Doyle Somerby found the back of a wide open net to tie the game up. UND had chances throughout the rest of the period, but could not convert. Every time it looked good, Oettinger made a key save or UND missed the net.

Early in the third period, Bobo Carpenter took a superb setup from Clayton Keller to fire a puck past Cam Johnson and stake the Terriers to their first lead of the contest.

04:24 into the third period, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson put a puck past Johnson to give Boston a 3-1 lead. UND looked tired at this point.

After a 14 minute delay  due to a pane of glass shattering thanks to a nice check by Mike Gornall, UND came back to tie the game thanks to goals from Ludvig Hoff and later by Christian Wolanin. That was the score until the McAvoy marker in the second overtime period.

In the first overtime, Dixen Bowen looked to have the game winner, however after an inordinately long review UND was determined to be off sides and the goal was waved off. This goal was overturned thanks to a sky cam like angle from the opposite goal end.

The Fighting Hawks have not lost to a team other than Boston University in the postseason since 2015. The challenge for UND is trying to retain as many of its underclassmen as possible as the Fighting Hawks bid farewell to seniors Matt Hrynkiw and Gage Ausmus.

 

NCAA Tournament-Quick Regional Picks

The NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey tournament gets underway in a few hours. Here are some quick picks. One thing to keep in mind, half or more of these will end up wrong sense this tournament is known for low seeds winning and favorites falling.

On to the picks.

Midwest Regional 

Denver vs Michigan Tech

The Huskies have had a great season but will come up short against the all-world Pioneers.

Denver wins 5-2

Penn State vs. Union 

Mike Vechione and Spencer Foo are two of the most dynamic players in this tournament. They can singlehandedly change the course of a game and will have an upstart Penn State team on its heels.

Union wins 3-1

Regional Final 

Union has strong scoring and forward depth, but Denver is more battle-tested and plays a more physical brand of hockey. The Pioneers will win this game in a physical, dominating fashion.

Denver wins 5-2

Northeast Regional

Minnesota vs. Notre Dame

Irish goalie Cal Petersen is a game-changer for the Irish. The Sabres prospect has a 92.8 save percentage this season for Notre Dame. I expect Petersen to have a stellar day for the Irish.

Notre Dame wins 4-1

Cornell-Umass Lowell

Both teams have had a strong season, this game is a toss up, however based on Lowell’s regular season, and the fact that they play in the second best conference in the NCAA, I think Lowell will win.

Lowell wins 2-1

Regional Final

Notre Dame will be lead by Petersen on to Chicago.

Irish Win 4-2

East Regional 

Harvard-Providence

Harvard is one of the few teams that will challenge Denver for the title this season. Providence will benefit from playing in its home city. Harvard has the better team, lead by Bruins prospect Ryan Donato.

Harvard wins 5-4

Air Force-Western Michigan

Air Force is a fast team, the Broncos are a more physical team that will knock the Falcons off the puck.

Broncos win 2-1

Final

Harvard wins 4-2

West Regional

Duluth-Ohio State

This will be a high scoring game if NCHC-like officiating doles out the power plays. Duluth’s physical and penalty kill prowess will propel them to the final over the power play reliant Buckeyes.

Duluth wins 3-1

North Dakota-Boston

North Dakota has been plagued by inconsistency throughout the year just as they look to roll off a long streak. Boston has had similar issues, however, the Terriers have more offensive weapons than the Fighting Hawks, and better goal tending.

Boston wins 4-1

Regional Final 

Duluth will overpower the Terriers thanks to their strong physical play, and key contributions from players like Riley Tufte.

Duluth wins 4-1

 

 

 

 

Quick NCHC Semis Preview

The University of North Dakota Men’s Hockey Team faces its first taste of single-elimination hockey this weekend in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

The Fighting Hawks contend against the Denver University Pioneers. UND has not won against Denver in four attempts this season. This team is full of skilled players up and down the lineup. Troy Terry, a winger, plays a speedy brand of hockey and has a knack for finding the net. Whenever he plays UND he seems to find his way into the action. The Anaheim Ducks prospect also is a skilled stick handler as shown by his strong moves in the 2017 World Junior Championships. Terry has a strong cast along side him, including Henrik Bjorgstrom, Will Butcher, and others.

For UND to win it needs to play like it did Friday against St. Cloud. This means three things.

  1. Play a strong, physical 60 minute game.
  2. Get consistent goaltending from Cam Johnson in all three periods.
  3. Fire the puck at the net a lot. Denver is good at blocking shots and UND needs to out chance Denver in order to win.

First Podcast

Here is a link to our first ever podcast… leave a comment good bad or otherwise! I talk about UND’s wins this weekend, mention Denver for a minute, and preview some different things future podcasts will discuss. Let me know your thoughts and we will work to improve things! It is an honor to write for our audience and we are always looking for new ways to talk puck in all forms with you!