Deep Depth: How Minnesota Duluth Won Its Second National Championship

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee of Violent Turtle Photography)

 

The University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs won their second national championship on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over Notre Dame. They won with goals from Captain Karson Kuhlman, and Jared Thomas. UMD also got timely goaltending as Hunter Shepard made 19 saves on the evening. Of his 19 saves, three of them were on solid grade-A chances for Notre Dame.

He outlasted 2018 Mike Richter Award (best goalie in college hockey) Winner, Notre Dame goalie Cale Morris. He made 33 saves but was solved early by UMD.

Initially,  Notre Dame did a better job at getting sticks into lanes and making Duluth earn its chances, however it was not enough to stop them from replicating their streak of scoring first in their last three games of this tournament.

Duluth captain Karson Kuhlman capitalized on a Notre Dame turnover. He started the play with the turnover that Jade Miller was able to return to him. Kuhlman then raced in and fired a strike from just outside the right faceoff dot that went off Notre Dame defender Tory Dello and past the glove of Cale Morris to give UMD the first lead of the night 9:06 into the first period.

Notre Dame played Duluth tough the entire first period, but could not convert on any of their chances. They had a few solid chances, but could not solve Shepard.

The lack of scoring for Notre Dame benefited UMD early on as Jared Thomas netted his second goal of the weekend 18:39 into the first. Thomas won a puck battle in the Notre Dame zone, found Kuhlman and returned the puck back to Thomas. He then walked to the side of Morris and banked a shot in off of him.

Notre Dame did get one goal 7:40 into the second on a power play as Cam Morrison found Andrew Oglevie on a nice setup. He then wired a wrist shot through the five-hole of Shepard.

For as much as Notre Dame pressured Duluth the rest of the night, the final margin was set at that point. UMD did a superb job of limiting second and third chances, and did just enough to earn the win. Duluth even prevented Notre Dame from getting a shot on net with the extra attacker for the last part of the game.

QUOTES

UMD’s Karson Kuhlman on the depth of his team, and the play made by Jade Miller to set him up for his goal.

“Obviously those guys have been playing great all year. That’s one thing that we knew
coming into the season that we’d have was real good depth up front. Obviously any single night lines one through four could score and all six [defenseman] can put the puck in the net. And Shep [Hunter Shepard could probably score if he came out, too.”

“But it was a good play. I think Jader got a stick on a puck and I was able to turn in transition quick and sneak one by his glove.”

Jared Thomas on the unsung heroes of UMD

” I think we have a bunch of unsung heroes on our team. There’s a guy sitting down there [ Blake Young] .He’s came such a long way since his freshman year. We had so many guys like that on our team, playing third,fourth line. And we’re never afraid when they were on the ice. We knew that they were going to do their job.And we trusted everyone in our locker room, whether the guys were playing or even the guys that weren’t in the lineup. If we needed them we knew that they’d be ready to step right in. And I think that goes unnoticed sometimes, those depth guys. So I’m so happy for our group and especially for those guys that don’t get a lot of recognition.”

 

Tournament Time: NCAA Tournament Predictions-West Region

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee of Violent Turtle Photography)

This year, North Dakota just missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in over a decade. The Fighting Hawks came up just short in overtime against St. Cloud in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, and did not get enough help on Saturday to earn a tournament bid. That being said, we have some superb hockey coming up all around the country over the next few weeks.

Below are some predictions for the West Region, where we will be providing coverage of all three games.

West Region- Sioux Falls, SD

  • 1 St. Cloud State vs 4. Air Force
    • UND fans know what to expect out of this team, they can score in bunches from anywhere on the ice. Their team speed is something to behold. Canadians’ super prospect Ryan Poehling is one of the most skilled players in this tournament. Slovak netminder David Hrenak has been a superb find, backstopping the Huskies to this tournament run. Air Force will need to play a perfect game to have a chance in this one.
    • Prediction
      • St. Cloud takes this one 4-1 to open up the first round out west.
  • 2. Minnesota St. Mankato vs. 3. Minnesota Duluth
    • High scoring defense, strong goaltending, and physical play from both teams. These are things to look for in this one. To me, this game is a complete coin flip. Look for the team with more postseason experience to draw on it to advance to the regional final.
    • Prediction
      • UMD wins this one 2-1 in a close game, where the offensive defenseman from both teams set the course for this one.
  • Final
    • St. Cloud State vs UMD
      • Both teams can move on to St. Paul in this one. I do see two key differences in this one. St. Cloud State is faster on paper than Minnesota Duluth. The team speed St. Cloud has to me will be the difference early on.Can the speed of the Poehlings, and superb play of Jimmy Schuldt on the back end vault St. Cloud to an insurmountable lead? I do not think so. If UMD can use its superior physicality to neutralize the speed of St. Cloud, and wear out the Huskies, then the result could be completely different. This game is a coin flip given all of this. In the end, look for the physical nature of UMD to carry them to St. Paul. Duluth will win this one, 3-2 in overtime. Riley Tufte will score the game winner.

 

J.P Lamoureux Interview

Last fall, I talked about the important thoughts J.P Lamoureux had regarding small goalies and the key bits of advice he had for them. Below is the rest of the question-and answer session with him.

1. What has been your favorite off-ice moment playing since you started your pro career?

” [My] favorite off ice moments, are getting married in 2012 to my wife Kellie, and the birth of my kids in Austria, son Henri in 2014 & daughter Leah in 2017″

2. What are your plans when you are finished playing hockey?

“Right now I am positioning myself to get into coaching when I retire. I started JPL Goaltending 5 years ago to establish myself in the coaching world.”

3. How much do you follow the current UND team now?

“I follow the current UND team daily. My weekend routine is to wake up before I go to pregame skate and watch the highlights with my son on UND Sports. I also worked with some of the UND goalies when I’m back in the summer so I follow their progress closely!”

4. What did you do to celebrate UND’s National Championship in 2016?

“I was lucky enough to be in Tampa for 2016 NC [National Championship}. I flew home from Austria with my family after our season and my wife and I jumped on the charter right when we got back. That was special team to watch and I knew it would be a rare opportunity to watch the team live. Like most of the fans their the whole weekend was awesome! Everything from the resort to the pregame party at Fergs it was a blast and to share the weekend with my wife was special.”

5. What are some things that UND fans might like about the European game?

“UND fans might like the wide open game we play. Our league in Austria is high scoring. With the big ice you see less chip and chase and more teams try attack off the rush.”

6. During your UND time, who were some of your teammates with the biggest personality?

Matt Greene my freshman year was a larger then life personality. Was the life of the party and an absolute warrior on the ice. Osh, was lively guy in the locker room and on the ice, [also} Andrew Kozek was  [another] funny guy in our group. And not because he tried, he always got himself into funny predicaments.

7. Who has been your favorite coach to play for at any level?

[Former UND Head Coach and Current Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol}  Hak, was a guy I loved to play for. He was honest & fair bit had a really good read on when players were ready for more opportunity. My coach in Vienna reminds me of Hak’s approach. Serge Aubin had long playing career and he has been great to play for.

8. What do you most miss about UND and  Grand Forks?

“I miss Red Pepper the most. It’s usually my first stop when I get back from over seas for the summer.”

9. What are some interesting things in Austria that you like to do or see in your off time?

“I loved living in Villach, my 1st team in Austria. Looking out my window and seeing that everyday just puts you at ease. I live in Vienna now, and it’s an incredible city filled with history and beautiful architecture.”

10. What are some hockey-related goals you want to accomplish before retiring?

[A] couple of goals yet to accomplish is reaching 500 games played which at my current pace is reachable in the next couple seasons. And of course winning another championship. I was fortunate to win my fist pro championship last season.

11. How many more years do you want to keep playing hockey?

“I would like to keep playing as long I can. But it has to make sense for family as well and if I’m making a good living playing and family is happy then it makes sense to keep going. Physically I feel like I got a lot left on the tank.”

12. What are you most thankful for learning from UND?

” [I am] most thankful for the relationships I made playing for my favorite team. UND really teaches guys to pro s on and off the ice. And to be apart of the tradition that continues to be passed down by the current players is really special.”

13. What was the inspiration to form JPL Goaltending?

“JPL was inspired for two reasons: 1. To establish something that I can do after playing and 2. I wanted to create an environment in GF with the REA {Ralph Engelstad Arena]  for local kids to have pro quality goalie training & information. I’ve been lucky enough to play all over the world and meet some of the most influential people in goaltending and I want to share that knowledge with young goalies who want to get to the next level.”

14.Tell me about the championship run you and Vienna went on last year in the EBEL and something you are proud of about that group.

 “Last years championship run was special, it was the closest feeling with the guys that i got then when I played for UND. We set league records in the regular season for wins and set a playoff record going 12-0. It was 3 rounds of a 7 game series. It was surprising because the league was much tighter then a perfect playoff record would indicate. I lost in a game 7 finals my 1 st year pro and that was the last opportunity I had in a finals. So 8 years is long time to battle between finals so when we were there last year I wanted to leave no doubt.

Thrice as Nice: UND Uses a Three Goal Second Period to Help Down Miami (OH) 4-1 Plus 2 Thoughts

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,389 loud fans at the Ralph Englestad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks were able to spring past the University of Miami of Ohio Red Hawks thanks to a three goal second period. The Fighting Hawks used strong forward play, lead by former Ohio State Buckeye Nick Jones to neutralize the speedy style the RedHawks played.  He took a pass from Colton Poolman 4:03 into the second period and buried it past Miami goaltender Ryan Larkin. This would key the three goal second period the Fighting Hawks used to earn the victory on Friday Night. UND is now 7-2-2 while Miami is 4-5-0.

Throughout the first period, the Fighting Hawks were playing catch up hockey. While the period ended with no score, it also ended with the Red Hawks winning the shot attempt battle by a resounding 21-8. Peter Thome looked strong in the first period. He even played well a couple of long bounces that looked similar to the one Jeff Frazee was unable to stop many years ago against Robbie Bina.

2nd period

Later on after Jones’s first goal, on the power play, Shane Gersich rushed down the ice  and executed a wraparound a bit later to set up Rhett Gardner to bury the eventual game-winning goal .  This goal came 16:17 into the second stanza.

Then just a little bit later, 18:07 into the second frame, Nick Jones took a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi and buried his second tally of the night to give the Fighting Hawks a three goal lead after the second.

3rd period 

In the third period, the RedHawks were finally able to complete the tough task of solving Thome as Panthers’ prospect, Karch Bachman fired one past him 07:26 into the third period to make it a two goal affair once again.

However, a mere four minutes later, Grant Mismash added an insurance marker to re-stake UND to a three goal lead. He potted his second point of the game on a net-front battle to provide the final margin of victory for the evening.

Peter Thome played a strong game throughout the evening for the Fighting Hawks. Coach Brad Betty noted how sharp Thome was, especially in the first period when the team in front of him was not producing much.

Be Consistent

If the team can repeat its performance from period two, it will have a lot of success this season. If the Fighting Hawks play like a first period team, then the success will not come as quickly. UND’s biggest opponent from success could end up being itself.

Thome Time

Peter Thome exudes a quiet confidence while playing goal for the Fighting Hawks. He never looks out of any play and always finds a way to stay calm. Utilize Saturday night as a chance to get him more experience, but do not let up. If Thome sees less than 30 shots, the chances increase for a UND sweep.

 

 

 

 

 

UND ties Alaska Anchorage 1-1: Quick Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

Last night, the University of North Dakota at times looked dominant over the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. The Fighting Hawks generated plenty of chances throughout the evening.

However, the Seawolves defense, lead by Olivier Mantha was up to the task. The senior goalie made 32 saves on 33 shots faced. The UAA defense blocked 25 shots on the evening.

UND did a lot of things right last night. They used their speed and depth to generate a lot of chances, especially as the game wore on. They kept the Seawolves playing defense most of the evening. They staved off a five-on-three powerplay in overtime. Shane Gersich showed his skill and speed all night, generating chances, and getting his linemates involved.

Yet, UND has to improve some things tonight. Here are a few areas to keep an eye on tonight.

Passing to create lanes

One thing the Fighting Hawks did exceptionally well last week against Manitoba was getting a lot of quality chances. Yes, UND had some quality chances last night they should have converted. However, part of the reason why UAA blocked so many shots is because UND did not utilize the full Olympic sheet of ice at times.

The Fighting Hawks’ only goal came on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play where Trevor Olson found Christian Wolanin who quickly got the puck to a wide open Johnny Simonson. This team scored all but one of its goals last weekend on transitions and quick plays.

If the Fighting Hawks have a few less shots, but can utilize their ability to create time and space, then they could make life harder for Mantha.

Get One or More Special Teams Goals

The Fighting Hawks have to get one goal on special teams. Last night, they once again generated chances and had good zone time. If the Fighting Hawks can catch the Seawolves in transition that may open up their defense a bit.

Control the Dot Once More 

UND went 35-18 in the faceoff dot last night. That started a lot of their possesions, and lead to generating the amount of chances they did. If that continues look for UND to get a lot more chances tonight.

If UND can limit chances, and improve on its speed game from last night, then tonight could produce a lot different outcome for the Fighting Hawks.

 

 

 

UND Heads North: Previewing the Alaska Anchorage Series

Photo Credit: (Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

Fresh off a 6-2 exhibition win over Manitoba, UND heads north this weekend to take on an Alaska Anchorage side that finished last in the WCHA last season. The Seawolves won seven total games in 34 contests last season.

This season, the Seawolves look to improve on their record lead in net by senior goaltender Olivier Mantha. He finished last season with a 2.82 goals against average and .913 save percentage.

The Seawolves play a physical style of hockey that will force UND to utilize the wider sheet of Olympic ice to make more skilled plays.

Giving fast players like Shane Gersich and Ludvig Hoff more ice to skate on will benefit the Fighting Hawks.

To have a chance against the Fighting Hawks, Head Coach Matt Thomas noted the importance of taking away time and space from the Fighting Hawks. The Seawolves’ returning leading scorer and captain, Matt Anholt, had 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists) in 34 games. Alaska Anchorage has done better when it plays physical and limits scoring chances.

For the Fighting Hawks to have success against the Seawolves this weekend here are few things to look for.

Utilize your Speed Game 

North Dakota is a faster team than the Seawolves. Because of this, it will  be able to generate chances if they can maintain puck possession. As the game wears on, like during the Manitoba game, the Fighting Hawks will show their speed. Look for players like Ludvig Hoff to build on their exhibition performance against Manitoba.

Build on the Blue Line 

One of the things Head Coach Brad Berry thought needed improvement was play in UND’s own defensive zone. Manitoba had some long cycles in the first period, and one of those cycles contributed to the Bisons second goal on a deflection.

Start Fast 

The Seawolves will be incredibly motivated. They have experience playing the top teams in the country to start a season. The Fighting Hawks have to come out fast, and force the Seawolves to score multiple times just to keep pace.

Now that the games count, UND has to not give the Seawolves any chance to stick around with their motivated crowd cheering them on.

Prediction 

UND will face some challenges this weekend from the Seawolves but should come out on top with a sweep.

Score Prediction: UND 4-2 UND 5-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenton Miller Post Game 9-29

Iowa Wild Center Kenton Miller had a chance to chat with us after the Wild took on the Manitoba Moose at the Ralph Englestad Arena.

He talked about how the game went, some of his goals for the season, what he learned from Elmira Jackals’ Interim Head Coach Mike Duco, and more.

Kenton is a goal-scoring center who was one of the key contributors to the Jackals’ offense last season with 45 points (30 goals, 15 assists) in 63 games. He finished the year strong with 19 goals in his final 25 games as a Jackal.

In the offseason, Kenton signed an ECHL pact with the Rapid City Rush, the new affiliate of the Minnesota and Iowa Wild.

Small Goalies: “Be like an Amish Guy” Advice from JP Lamoureux

Jean-Philipe (JP) Lamoureux is a University of North Dakota Men’s Hockey Team alumnus. He spent four years in net for UND. During that time, he established himself as a premier goaltender in college hockey despite his five-foot-ten size.

However, height and goaltending success are usually linked. According to TSN’s Jamie McLennan, In the National Hockey League, as of 2014, only four of the sixty goalies in the NHL were under the six-foot threshold.

The league is getting taller every year.

How does this impact players like Lamoureux?

Well, Lamoureux has found great success overseas despite his build. This season, he recently broke the record for most career wins by an Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (EBEL) goalie with 183 wins. The EBEL is the top league in Austria, and JP has done well to prove himself there.

He has used his success to mentor goalies here through the founding of JPL Goaltending.

Eventually, JP wants to be a coach, and that was one of the original reasons for founding JPL Goaltending. He has been operating his business for five years.

Recently, he offered some sound advice for small goalies.

“You have to accept that your whole career is an uphill battle. You’re basically like an Amish guy, you have to perform everything the big guys do plus a half…It’s just a reality, because NHL teams will always take a bigger guy over smaller guy who are close in ability.”

Look for much more from JP over the next few weeks.

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.