Army West Point Associate Head Coach Zach McKelvie: Part of something special

Photo Credit: Army West Point Athletics

Army West Point Hockey Associate Head Coach Zach McKelvie has a distinguished career as one of the most complete defenders to play at Army West Point, a leader off the ice during his time as a cadet athlete, and as an elite human, of the type that Brian Riley and his staff go out of their way to bring on campus. That campus visit is how he was sold on the idea of coming to West Point. As he said, “at the time I was playing for the Bozeman Ice Dogs in the North American Hockey League, then Coach Riley and his staff had called me and invited me for a visit.. as soon as I came on campus I was sold.” He values service to others and being a person that plays for those around him, rather than playing with them. Head Coach Brian Riley has talked about this value before, and it is one that is at the center of Army Hockey culture, and arguably part of what West Point tries to teach the value of to the thousands of future leaders that go on to lead the American Soldier on a yearly basis.

He also is forever thankful to the Boston Bruins for waiting for him for two years. Jim Benning and Peter Chiarelli trekked to Brian Riley’s office and noted their delight in McKelvie as a person and a player. He ended up playing for a short time as a professional, finishing on the ice as he is off it, a champion. He won the Kelly cup with the Alaska Aces in 2014. McKelvie credits the Bruins, and the numerous supporters he had, as he said, “for them to stick with me while i was taking time off from hockey… was something special”, and “It means a tremendous amount to me that they stuck with me.”

One thing McKelvie, and Riley drive home continuously to all professional teams, and recruits is that their cadet athletes can play professionally upon graduation. Thanks to a recent policy change, Army has its previous captain, Dominic Franco playing at the AHL level for the Rochester Americans. Zack hopes to see Trevin Kozlowski benefit from that. The All American goaltender has offers from multiple teams, and is continuously honing his skills in net at Tate Rink before he graduates. Should Kozlowski return, he will be a graduate assistant for the team next year. Like a very famous West Point Graduate, Mike Krzyzewski, Trevin has jokingly taken to being called Coach K. Both possess an uncanny ability to lead others, and mentor the team, and regardless of where Trevin ends up, the mark he left on Army Hockey is an indelible one that will inspire many who come to West Point after Trevin graduates in May. As McKelvie said of what Trevin brings to any group off the ice “he’s going to make any organization’s culture better.”

As for McKelvie, he is the lead recruiter for Riley’s group, and takes pride in what he does. He finished his career on the ice as a champion, and likes recruiting players with winning backgrounds. Two commits to Army West Point that could be there this fall won the Dineen Cup with the Jersey Hitmen playing for their NCDC team in the USPHL. Two integral players in turning around Army West Point as a program, Tyler Pham and Mike Preston, finished their time as Clark Cup Champions with the Indiana Ice. There are numerous examples of the value of winning in building a group. As Zach said, “I don’t think skill can replace guys that know how to win.” He noted the influence of his former colleague and current AIC Head Coach Eric Lang in saying “he taught me how to connect with players… he’s definitely shaped my recruiting philosophy, and I think his influence is still felt here.”

That same philosophy of finding good humans and people, combined with the natural restrictions Army West Point has, helped McKelvie and his twin brother (and former assistant, and now head coach at Bethel University at the Division three level) Chris find Colin Bilek, the second best goal scorer in the country this past season. As Zach noted, Chris said to him upon first seeing him play with the Northeast Generals, “‘ “we are not going to lose games with this kid.” Zach praised the honesty of Bryan Erikson and Matt Dibble of the Generals, and positively talked about Erikson noting the value Bilek brings, ” nobody was recruiting Colin, and I give Bryan a ton of credit for pushing us to keep watching him.” His relationship with the Generals is common across the league, especially in the East Division. He praised the North American Hockey League, calling it an “honest league” that develops its players well for their next step in life, both on and off the ice.

As for the decision McKelvie made to come back and be a coach at Army West Point “It took me less than a day to decide that I want to be a part of the program and it was a perfect decision to go back to West Point.” The lead recruiter for this team shares a passion for the success of everyone, and embodies the culture that the Riley family has worked for many decades to build.

To sum up what McKelvie thinks of the entire group that took the Black Knights program to new heights this season, he said of the team success this year, “everybody played an equal part.” Expect McKelvie to tell incoming recruits of all of the success that this senior class had, and further build the tradition at Army West Point. With the recruiting dead period projected to end potentially as early as June, he will be back recruiting players around the country, especially in the NAHL, where the Black Nights find a lot of quality players, like Bilek, that often can be overlooked by other schools. The team will soon gather for their year end awards banquet where the senior captains from this historic group will announce the leaders for next season.

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Opinion: Expand the NCAA Tournament to 20 teams

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Fans of the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team will remember the old WCHA, the fanbase waxes poetically about it often then moving on to needle the attendance and postseason problems that the members of the current Big 10 Hockey Conference have (these problems have some grounding in truth are sometimes exaggerated). One thing in that Final Five is the chance for a team to win three games in three days to make the NCAA Tournament. If you won your first round series, and had either of the worst two remaining regular season records, you had to play an extra game to advance. Teams that were able to win those three games then got the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, regardless of their regular season success, or lack thereof. No one questioned the win of the five seed on the few times it did happen.

This past, pairwise free (it existed, but was not used as we know it due to a lack of significant interconference play) hockey and subjective selection proceedings have left fans of many eastern hockey teams, and a few western powerhouses like Denver, feeling left out.

Now, none of the teams left out did enough to make the 16 team tournament.

With that argument noted, what we are proposing is this.

In future years, when the next cycle of regionals are awarded, standardize the starting dates, and expand the tournament by four teams.

On Friday, you have opening round games between the four and five seed in each regional with the winner earning the right to face one of the four best teams in the country.

On Saturday, you have the first round staggered across the country (for maximum TV ratings of course) play out and make an already great day even better. Instead of six games (two finals, four first round games) we would have eight games take place on one day, and then play the championships on Sunday.

Why?

Well we have a few reasons.

First, for this game to grow, and get more programs in it, expanding the tournament by four teams makes attaining it slightly more reasonable, without having to dilute the value of the regular season. If the tournament expands, more fans and schools can get involved in the greatest part of this game, its postseason.

Second, after hearing arguments about top seeds getting rested enough or not, we would like to note the value of the top seed playing a team that had played the previous day. The coaching staff gets to watch that team play in person, and that team could very well be tired, and in theory should give the top seed an easier path to the regional final.

Third, it adds value to the full season for everyone. Now, teams play to move up or down in the pairwise (all of this is being written for a normal non pandemic-marred season), but the reality is, the top 12 or 13 teams are usually safe every year, while the last two or three worry about conference tournament champions stealing their spot.

This eliminates some of that concern.

If teams 1-13 are locks, the proposal ensures that teams 14-16 all will make it. It would require five teams outside of the top 20 to win their conference championship to hurt the top 16, and ensure that the bottom eight teams would all have to play in the first game. This provides more meaning to what teams 10-12 are doing as the season ends, and ensures every game has more of an impact. If you are playing to get an opening round bye, that adds stakes to your late season play.

Use 2012-2013 as an example, when Niagara finished at the number 10 spot in the pairwise, and Canisius won their postseason tournament, that meant Atlantic Hockey would earn two bids to the tournament. What it also meant was that a 19 win Western Michigan team would miss the tournament. In this system, the only team that would have missed the tournament is number 20 ranked Brown. Atlantic Hockey would have had three teams representing it, and three more programs would have had the chance to compete for a national championship.

We understand that this change would have to wait until the next round of regionals are awarded, and there needs to be buy-ins from coaches, hosts, athletics departments and more all around the country.

Our argument comes down to this.

If this sport is to add more programs over time, something we all want to see, expanding the tournament by four teams now is a way to encourage more schools to potentially join. In addition, for all of those teams just wishing they could have made the tournament this year, this would have let them in. In the future, it will also allow Atlantic Hockey to get at least two deserving representatives into the tournament without harming another team’s chances. Finally, it ensures that the top seeds in each region get to play an opponent who could be tired. If the game is to grow, its tournament needs to do so as well.

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Alexander Tertyshny: Learning, growing, and leading

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy- Patrick Garriepy Photography

Alexander Tertyshny has been on a unique path in his hockey life. The son of Flyers defenseman Dmitri, he never got to know him as Dmitri passed away in a tragic boating accident shortly before Alexander was born, following a breakout rookie season in the league, but still has left a legacy Tertyshny is following on. Like his father, Alexander is a puck moving defender with an ability to make others around him better. One thing that stands out about his father’s ascent to the NHL was his persistence. Dmitri took a spot on the Flyers with his play and earned a full season in the biggest league in the world.

Initially, Alexander did not want to play hockey, the first day his family put skates on him he cried. That did not last long, as he soon wanted to skate around with his friends. Before too long, he, like Dmitri ended up at defense. He enjoys the cerebral aspect to being a defender, and having the versatility to impact so many parts of the game. For inspiration and guidance, he still watches Dmitri’s games and to this day continues to learn from his father. He has spent most of his life in America, summering in Chelabyinsk, as his mom soon had help from his grandmother to raise Alexander after his father’s accident.

In his time in Pennsylvania, Alexander always knew that he would play hockey. He saw his first college hockey game in the 2013 National Championship between Yale and Quinnipiac in Pittsburgh. He remembered the speed and environment. As for his family, well they always wanted him to go the college route. As Alexander said “the deciding factor was… my mom said that Dmitri wanted to raise him in the states, get a college education, and be set for life beyond college hockey.” In addition he added that, “I kind of want to inspire more Russian players to get over here.”

After his high school career ended at Choate Rosemary Hall, he went back to his father’s hometown and put together two superb years (one full season, and one partial season) for the MHL team in his family’s hometown Belye Medvedi. They are the developmental juniors team associated with Traktor Chelabyinsk in the KHL, the program that produced current Washington center, Evgeni Kuznetsov. There, he drew the attention of many teams in the college game, but chief among them was American International College. He praised the work of former Associate Head Coach, Stephen Wiedler in building the needed trust over multiple seasons, starting after his time at Choate Rosemary Hall was finishing during his time in the MHL.

The best example of this is in how they communicated. Wiedler did not know the popular social media app, Whatsapp was the best way to communicate with Alexander, and after some time downloaded it in and learned a new app to communicate with a recruit for a school he is not still at . He now is an assistant at Vermont.

As to why he is joining AIC, Alexander noted a lot of reasons, but they centered around the ascendancy of the program, combined with its strong international background. He noted that alumnae Patrik Demel reached out to him on joining AIC, among others. As Alexander said ” AIC is just full of really good guys.” He also noted similar paths to play in the KHL that alum Janis Jaks took, combined with the feel of the campus. It all fit for him, so he decided to become a Yellow Jacket.

Like his father, Alexander likes to control the pace of the game, and set the tone for his team on the ice. During his time with the Northeast Generals, he has done that, playing a leadership role for the group since he got to the team in a trade deadline deal with Corpus Christi. While he can play the forward position, his home, as the Generals realized, is on the blue line. The assistant captain will not always fill the net with goals, but can score a highlight reel goal when needed, and often provides a good breakout pass to get his team going towards the net. He will have to work to earn a spot in the top six next year, but is more than ready for the challenge. His ascent up the prep ranks, junior ranks, and his journey in life have all prepared him for this next step.

Of Alexander, Generals Head Coach Bryan Erikson said many great things, including

” Alexander is one of the best kids I have ever coached. Just a happy kid that makes those around him excited to play. He is obviously a very talented player but it’s his energy and positivity that is so valuable and why he is such a great leader. On the ice his skating and vision are elite. He sees the ice so well and puts his teammates in a good position at all time’s. He has a great stick and gaps and it allows him to transition up the ice so quickly. Really proud of the kid he is and the player he is turning into. I think Coach Lang has a great one coming his way in the fall!”

Erikson went on to discuss his off ice background

” [Alexander is] just an amazing kid that I will forever have in my life. He is just a wonderful person that I care so much about. His life hasn’t been the easiest and he’s still the happiest kid in the room. And it isn’t an act. He lets me scream at him at time’s always knowing I have his back. It’s the best thing a coach can have, the trust of a player to coach them and know you are looking out for them as a player and a person.”

Alexander said this of the Generals, and Erikson

” I absolutely love Bryan Eriskon.. cannot thank him enough for everything he’s done for me as a player and as a person.. he is definitely someone I am proud to play for. I owe a lot to Brian.. and definitely want to maintain a great relationship.”

For the rest of the year, the goal of Alexander and Erikson is the same, to get the Generals on the right track to head to the NAHL playoffs. When the year is over, the two will stay in touch and Tertyshny will prepare for the next step in his life of joining the Yellow Jackets. In a year, he will be joined by his goaltender, Hugo Haas. The two are best friends and often spend time together outside of the rink. While on the ice, their battles are often a split decision. Off the ice, all in good fun, the story is the same. Tertyshny thinks he is better in NHL and FIFA games, while Haas has the edge in Rocket League (this part about video games was Alexander’s recollection).

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Three Thoughts on UMD-UND: More on history from last night

Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Those who attended the Midwest Regional Final at Scheels Arena last night ended up leaving early this morning in a 3-2 Minnesota Duluth win that took a grueling 142:13 to conclude. Luke Mylymok blocked a Jasper Weatherby shot, then took the puck the other way and got a shot on UND netminder Adam Scheel that went five hole and in. Beyond the immediate joy and despair on full display when the puck went in the net last night, there is more from this game that deserves further noting.

Perspectives on pauses

Minnesota Duluth ended up playing over two games in Fargo this weekend given their first round match against Michigan being declared a no contest. To everyone’s credit the extra rest the Bulldogs had did not in anyway give them an advantage against UND. While it makes you wonder what would have happened should the Bulldogs played Michigan, the reality is you will not ever find that answer out. North Dakota’s first round opponent, AIC, had 49 days between the end of their regular season and the start of their postseason. Despite winning their tournament they had to battle back through similar slumps that they faced against UND that proved insurmountable. Head Eric Lang wished he could have played more games towards the end of the season, and tried to even schedule Clarkson before their season was canceled.

How does this relate to last night’s (this morning’s?) result?

Simply to note that having a pause, whether it be 49 days with AIC, or one extra day with Minnesota Duluth’s case, is not the advantage some could make it out to be. AIC had to battle back in both of their games just to make it to Fargo. North Dakota nearly won the game several times in overtime, with the most notable coming on Jasper Weatherby shooting the puck on to the top of the net, where it sat. The Fighting Hawks looked as fresh as the Bulldogs all night, and outside of an 80 second stretch in the third where the Bulldogs potted the first two goals of the night, UND played arguably their best all around game all year. They only took three penalties on the night, had 154 shot attempts, and played a complete game against a great team in Minnesota Duluth. Sometimes, especially in this sport, you lose those games, where you are the better team on the shot clock.

On Minnesota Duluth

Credit Head Coach Scott Sandelin and his staff for this season. The Bulldogs do not really rebuild under Sandelin, they seem to plug in players to his system and have all of their details refined down to their finest point. This team is one of the most disciplined at keeping to their system in this sport, and last night and this morning it showed. When the Bulldogs looked to have won on an earlier rush that was offsides on the same side of the ice and near the same spot that Mylymok gained the zone, they did not stop. UND threw wave upon wave of chances towards them and the Bulldogs never stopped doing what they did to get them their first lead. They clogged lanes, took away grade a chances, and blocked shots. They had to change goaltenders in the fourth overtime and Ryan Fanti came in relief of Zach Stejskal and while not tested nearly as much as the starter, still had to make a few tough saves to even set up the overtime winner. Scott Sandelin’s system and his attention to detail in every aspect of his program set this historic game up. To beat North Dakota this year, teams had to play their best and make less mistakes than them. The Bulldogs did that.

On North Dakota

For some perspective on this, let’s look at what Army West Point Head Coach Brian Riley said after his group had their season ended in the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals by Canisius in overtime “if this is the worst thing that happens in our lives… then life’s going to be pretty good.” This quote comes from the leader of a service academy school that will not have the extra year of eligibility as an option for any of their players due to the requirements of the service academies.

For the Fighting Hawks, they were the best team in the country for the majority of the season, as St. Cloud State will tell you, that does not always win championships. They will have an elite roster of players signing professional contracts this offseason, and could have some seniors choose to come back as well. This program continuously will have some of the most talented recruits coming through its doors, and while the standard is always high at North Dakota, last night showed why. The Fighting Hawks have a strong program, fan base, and professional legacy of alums playing hockey at the highest levels around the world. None of that changes with the result of last night. Over the coming months, seeing who is coming back for them will go a long way to determining for what next season’s team will look like, as will any transfer portal additions (by the time this season ends, there easily could be over 200 players in the transfer portal). Adam Scheel played the game of his life last night, and showed his improvement from last season, and along the way this year to get to where he is now.

He is ready to sign a professional contract and work his way to the NHL, as are many of the players on this team. Their choice for their next steps is up to them. With all of that said, when you look at things in perspective, last night was a supreme exhibition of skill from both teams, playing in an event we did not get to have last season, where one team had to win and one had to lose. The final score takes away nothing from the effort of the Fighting Hawks, and their efforts in defeat only show how tough of a path the Bulldogs had to travel to win.

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PHOTOS: UND vs. AIC

Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Check out some more photos from UND’s 5-1 win last night over AIC, all photos belong to Kelsey Lee of Violet Turtle Photography. For the full gallery click the link below.

Full gallery

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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No Moral Victories: AIC program on the rise loses 5-1 to a complete North Dakota team

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the American International College (AIC) Yellow Jackets hung with the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota for all but an eight minute stretch in the first period. For Eric Lang’s team, the problem was those eight minutes where UND controlled everything, and scored four goals that proved to be the difference on the evening. Jasper Weatherby scored the first two of those goals . Tobias Fladeby put home a nice goal in the slot on a turnover in the third period to briefly make it a three goal difference before Colin Adams put home the final goal of the night. The Fighting Hawks advance to play the Bulldogs of Minnesota Duluth who practiced again today after their first round game against Michigan was declared a no contest due to the Wolverines having positive tier one individuals which precluded them from playing their game. The Bulldogs will try to win their second Fargo Regional and make the Frozen Four this season tomorrow.

With that said, here are three things that stood out to us tonight.

There’s 15 good teams and then there’s North Dakota

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Head Coach for AIC, Eric Lang, is always one of the more honest people in this game about where things are. The Fighting Hawks are the most complete team he has seen in the past ten seasons, and tonight they showed it in every aspect. While AIC had their moments after their initial push in the first, none of them went in the net behind Adam Scheel until the game was out of hand late in the third period. The Fighting Hawks took the worst segment of even strength hockey that AIC played all year, and put the puck in the back of their net four times. Not many teams, in any part of this level of the sport would recover from that. That does not mean AIC did not battle, far from it. They fought the entire game. This Fighting Hawks team took the inch AIC gave them in the first period, and got a full mile’s worth of results out of it. When AIC fought back, UND had the superb goaltending of Adam Scheel, and the ability to limit zone time to stifle most long attacks from Lang’s group.

Kucharski shows out

Freshman goaltender Jake Kucharski came in to start the second and try and give his team a chance to get back in the game. AIC had some of their best moments with him fighting in net. His hockey sense is good to see, and he did earn five wins for Lang’s team this year. He Called tonight a “coming out party” for Kucharski, and given the 19 saves he mae against the Fighting Hawks, we would tend to agree. Next season, Lang will have four goaltenders who are all capable of playing on the bright stage of the NCAA Tournament. Who gets the net each night will be up to overall goaltender development and how well they battle for the job over the offseason. Kuchrski showed quick skis tonight, including possesion thte abiity to told th

No Moral Victories

In 2019, the media staff of AIC said to us at this regional ” if we win don’t call it an upset” and we would not have called this win, should the result have been different than the final score an upset. AIC has proven that they belong on the national stage with their consistency of effort, and tonight was another chapter in that truth of how far this program has come, and a harbinger of the good to come from it going forward.

Why?

Well Lang is beyond trying to read big conclusions about his program, out of any one isolated event. With that being said, he did not the delayed affect of being in Covid-19 protocol for 42 days before last week. With that said, Lang did not use that as an excuse, noting instead that every single team had to figure things out each day, and he is right about that. Given all of this, as we noted, Lang is welcoming back with open arms all of his seven person senior class, of which he only expects to lose two to the professional ranks (Brennan Kapcheck and Tobias Fladeby). AIC Hockey has again proven with their response how they can and do compete at the highest level of this game, and their continued success in the national tournament, combined with the history of Atlantic Hockey suggests that this conference , like Lang’s team, is on the way up. Had Lang’s group been able to win a few more games (AIC had 7 weeks worth of games canceled due to others, or them dealing with Covid-19 protocol) they may have drawn a different opponent. He does not think that is an excuse for those eight minutes. In addition, despite the loss Lang is immensely proud with the effort displayed by his group as well, and how they did not pack anything in for the last 40 minutes.

No one with the Yellow Jackets wanted the result of tonight, what they got was a bad eight minutes, a confident 52 minutes, and a hope that Lang’s group can go ever further one day. His consistent goal is to get out of regionals every shingle season. Moral victories and shot totals do not matter when your team has more goals. Lang’s group also had better results than some NCHC teams did against the Fighting Hawks. For UND to win, they need to keep their pressure up, and reprise those eight minutes in the Regional Final.

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2021 NCAA Midwest Men’s Ice Hockey Regional: One thing to watch for each team

Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

This article is about what you think it is, we went through each team playing in this regional and will offer up one prediction about something that we think will happen, that is not necessarily indicative of the final score of any game. Each team playing tomorrow, North Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota Duluth, and American International College (AIC), all has back stories, and a roster capable of each doing different unique things. Let’s get right into it with the hosts of the tournament, the Fighting Hawks of the University of North Dakota.

North Dakota Fighting Hawks

Turnovers or lack thereof determines the winner

This team, as AIC Head Coach Eric Lang noted is deep and can win games in a lot of different fashions. One thing that they have done in the mere instances of playing less than the near perfect team they are is turning the puck over in their own end. When this happens, Adam Scheel has to respond fast, and makes a fair amount of saves to bail his team out. With that said, watching AIC all year, and watching UND, know that Lang will have his group ready. If the Fighting Hawks can avoid turnovers in their own end and consistently gain easy entry into AIC’s zone, they can then cycle and dictate the pace like they want to. If not, then you will see how opportunistic AIC is in their ability to capitalize on mistakes. The Fighting Hawks are the number one overall seed in the country for a reason, they have the best roster with the most top-level talent on it, and have proven their ability to stay together and fight back after their opponent gives them their best. How they limit turnovers in their end, combined with their ability to stick to their own script will go a long way to determining their success in this tournament.

Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs

Get more offensive on defense

This team’s biggest consistent source of strength is in its systems. Head Coach Scott Sandelin always has a room full of gritty players that execute the game plans he puts up for them to utilize. The Bulldogs are playing a fast Michigan team that can force their opponents to speed up their own game to keep them out of sorts. To counter that, the defense corps of this team has to generate some more help in goal production, and players like Matt Cairns and Louie Roehl have to pitch in offensively. They will not ever claim to be a Dylan Samberg or Scott Perunovich, but the if the physical defense corps can generate some help on offense, then all things are possible for these Bulldogs.

Michigan Wolverines

Use your speed

How do you defeat two teams with strong systems? Well, not allow them to use them of course. The Wolverines, lead by Owen Power on defense, and two probable top five picks up front in Matthew Beniers, and Kent Johnson, are the team to watch for every NHL fan of a struggling team. If your team is in the draft lottery, you could end up with any of these players and not be disappointed. For this team in the here and now, they have to figure out how to tap into their high end talent to defeat systems-heavy teams in this regional. All of them, and this team has some of the best skating ability in the tournament, and that speed is its own differentiator.

AIC Yellow Jackets

The depth needs to elevate

This AIC team is deep, they have six lines of forwards, 8-10 defenders that can play on any night, and three goalies with a win.. By saying this, we are talking about scoring. Someone who may have been on the bench last weekend could have a big impact on the game Friday night. For this group to have success against the best team in the country, they have to play a perfect game of hockey, and get help from everyone. If this group can get some assistance from its depth (Eric Otto and Aaron Grounds are two of the depth players that have stood out this year), options for them open up.

Regardless of the results this weekend, as of now, all teams are cleared to compete. Given the unfortune that has befell St. Lawrence and Notre Dame, it is more incumbent upon us to enjoy all of these moments. Life dealing with Covid-19 for everyone has been tough, and this year has been different, but this weekend, we have four regionals ongoing, and a chance for men’s college hockey to hold the spotlight. Best wishes for the health and safety of all.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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AIC prepares for UND: Head Coach Eric Lang on what to expect, and more

Photo Credit: Kelly Shea-AIC Athletics

The last time AIC was in Fargo to take on the number one seed in the tournament, their coaching staff noted the value of sticking to a script to defeat a St. Cloud State team full of NHL-ready talent. That same idea is heavy on Head Coach Eric Lang’s mind once again as his group is preparing to take on the Fighting Hawks Friday night at 8:30 PM Central Time. The Fighting Hawks were one of the 2-3 teams Lang and his group were preparing for over the last month, his staff looked at a lot of film on them and other possible first round opponents. As Lang said of his staff’s prep and his thoughts on UND’s staff and team as a whole, “the dig was deep. We as a staff have a lot of admiration for how they do things.”

As he said of preparing for the Fighting Hawks now, compared to facing St. Cloud State in 2019, ” different team different time. We certainly understand we will have to weather some storms and by any means necessary make sure we stay in the fight. Similar to St Cloud we will have to make sure the game goes a certain way.”

In addition to understanding the differences in circumstance, Lang is thankful for the built in advantage that the Atlantic Hockey representative gets in the national tournament every year. The Atlantic Hockey Association has one media timeout per period, the national tournament, and most other conferences, including the NCHC, has three.

As Lang said of the difference. “it’s advantageous because it gives you an opportunity to adjust on the fly and not wait in between periods to make any adjustments that may be necessary. It also allows you to get your best guys out there a little more.” His team made use of the advantage last time around, and when UND gets a wave of momentum at some point in the game, as they probably will, Lang will get a de facto timeout that could help him reset things a little easier than what he can do in Atlantic Hockey games.

On the Fighting Hawks team Lang’s group is about to face, he was blunt. He said of the top end talent his team is about to face, compared to what he sees in Atlantic Hockey (Lang also was a fierce advocate of Atlantic Hockey getting two teams into the tournament this year, and has repeatedly mentioned that he thinks Army West Point should have been under consideration) ” Quite honestly we don’t have a team that resembles them in any way shape or form. It’s one of the most impressive teams on film I have seen in the last 10 years. [They have] a brilliant defense corps, hard skill up front, and depth everywhere.”

With that said, Lang also noted the strength of Atlantic Hockey, noting that his team does not have any pressure that given the past few years his conference has carried itself well. He said, “I don’t feel that pressure our conference is 4-1 in the first round of the NCAA’s [which is] quite impressive since we are quite often a 15 or 16 seed.”

Of who we might see, keep in mind that Lang can and often does lineup match based on the strengths of his opponent. To counter the speed of UND, he will have to put together the best group of skaters he has. As Lang elaborated, “we will have to put out our  best skating line up we have. We will have some new faces going in on Friday night.”

To wrap things up, Lang does have eight players who were on the roster the last time AIC played the number one overall seed in Fargo. As he said, “it’s always a good thing when you can lean on some guys, been there done that, our players will not be overwhelmed by the moment.” Finally, Lang said of the 8:30 PM start time, “game time is irrelevant. We are excited to be here what ever time they tell us to show up we will be there.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Undrafted Free Agents to watch at the 2021 Fargo Regional

Photo Credit: Kelly Shea-AIC Athletics

This week, we will see four teams converge upon Scheels Arena in Fargo North Dakota to faceoff for a trip to the 2021 Frozen Four in Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks. These teams all have top end talent, and people we will see in the NHL one day. Each team has more than one undrafted free agent worth noting, and we will discuss four undrafted free agents to watch that should have an immediate impact in professional hockey. We selected one from each team to discuss, that we will be watching this weekend.

American International College

Tobias Fladeby

The winger from Asker, Norway has nine goals and 17 total points on the season. Along with his goal scoring prowess, he has proven the ability to do it against the two best teams AIC has played. four of his goals have come against Quinnipiac (2), and Army West Point (2). Head Coach Eric Lang and the staff at AIC love his release and ability to get to key areas of the ice and find the back of the net. If he does not return to AIC, he up front, and Brennan Kapcheck on defense are two of the quietly more popular undrafted free agents on the market that have the speed and skill needed to make the NHL. Fladeby’s greatest skill this past weekend was his off puck awareness. That is, he knows where to go on the ice to get himself space. For AIC to shock some more people in Fargo, he needs to make his presence known this weekend.

University of Michigan

Strauss Mann

If the goaltender decides to go pro, the NHL may be ready for him now. As ESPN Color Analyst for the Fargo Regional, Dave Starman said of what Mann’s game involves, saying that he is. “athletic, aggressive depth, good stick down low, most importantly he is always square to the puck.” He praised how big the 6 feet tall Mann plays, and noted that he reminds him in style of Byron Dafoe. Mann is the Big 10’s Goalie of the Year and a deserving Mike Richter Award Nominee, his ability to keep the Wolverines in what promises to be a close game against the reigning back-to-back national champions, Minnesota Duluth. For all of the star power the Wolverines have, from their numerous high-end draft picks to players that will be drafted in the top 10 this summer, Mann has been the key to this group. If the Wolverines can defeat the Bulldogs, and earn a trip to the Frozen Four, Mann will be a big part of that. His style of play, and fundamental skill lends itself well to the next level, and he should have offers to choose from this summer. If we returns to Ann Arbor, he will have two years of eligibility left.

Minnesota Duluth

Louie Roehl

While Roehl is not the offensive defender that fans of the Minnesota Duluth Men’s Hockey team have been lucky to see in Dylan Samberg or Scott Perunovich, he plays the game the right way, and is superb at making life tough for the skilled forwards he sees on a nightly basis in the NCHC. As we said in our NCHC preview of Roehl “A responsible defender with improved skating to compliment his high hockey IQ, this 5-foot-10 senior may not possess Perunovich’s point-producing upside, but he makes up for it with solid play in his own end. Roehl can be counted on to maintain a slot presence and keeps loose pucks out of harm’s way or show poise under pressure when a line change is in order. Roehl is not flashy by any means, but he should be an intriguing long-term option for an NHL club in need of a mature defensive defenseman at the AHL level.” If Roehl can develop and earn his way up in a system needing veteran leadership, he could work his way to an NHL job within a few years. For now, his calmness under pressure, and ability to make the life of scoring forwards he faces quite tough are two things that the Bulldogs will need as they look to advance to the Frozen Four.

North Dakota

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Adam Scheel

For the Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team, they are blessed with two goaltenders in Adam Scheel and Peter Thome who are both capable of playing professional hockey. One of them, Adam Scheel, has wrested control of the net all for himself most of the season, and its not hard to see why. The Lakewood, Ohio native has gotten considerably better at maintaining his positioning throughout the game. His biggest improvement is not so much his positioning, but in how he plays the game. That is, he rebounds quickly from goals he allows, and lets the number one team in front of him find a way to get the goal back. Regardless of what he chooses to do, he will most certainly end up at an NHL development camp this summer, and he may earn a contract pretty soon after UND’s season ends. Teams that get athletic goaltenders that know how to manage the ebb and flow of a game, typically like what the see. The Lakewood, Ohio native has all of those traits and more. His ability to manage games is one reason why the Fighting Hawks have a strong enough team to earn their ninth NCAA Division One Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship this season.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Hugo Haas on why he chose AIC, and more

Photo Credit Patrick Garriepy- Patrick Garriepy Photography

Hugo Haas has come a long way just to play in the North American Hockey League for the Northeast Generals. The Opava, Czech Republic native has always had goaltending on his mind. His father, Rotislav was his inspiration. He had a 17 year career playing across different professional leagues in Europe, culminating in finishing with the team he now coaches goaltending for, the Augsburg Panthers in the DEL, the top professional German Ice Hockey . When Hugo discussed his style of goaltender he tries to be like, he shared something his father told him that he takes to heart. The saying, as Hugo noted is “stealing is bad, but stealing with your eyes is a good thing.” That is, Haas is inspired by other goaltenders, of which he watches many on a daily basis, and tries to play his own game in the process. He wants to develop his game and his off ice skills with time, and enjoys the steady grind of improving his game. Hockey has been his life, but he knows that playing college hockey will give him not only a better chance to make the NHL, but he appreciates being able to get his degree.

As he said on the opportunity to be seen and develop. “Just the exposure that it has… Obviously you have an education to it..its a little different than Europe.. I think it’s a good route to develop”, Haas is undecided on what he wants to do for a major yet, but is looking forward to begin that internal process of deciding soon, given that he just announced his decision to come to AIC today. He did note that, unlike the European system, he appreciates being able to earn a degree along with playing hockey instead of having to choose between the two when his junior hockey career is complete.

Haas was methodical about choosing where to play. On why he will be a Yellow Jacket, he said “ I just liked the way that they overall presented themselves.” He praised the international history of the program, and their European connections. He felt that the school does a good job working with players from all around the world, and he also is a teammate of Alexander Tertyshny who will join AIC next year. Haas plans to join the program for the 2022-2023 season. He called Alexander his best friend, and noted the frequent friendly competitive battles the two have during practice. Head Coach Eric Lang has talked about the growth of the program being in part because of “players recruiting other players,” with Hugo, that could also extend the saying to recruits recruiting other recruits.

As to how he came to the North American Hockey League, and is playing for the Generals this and next year, Head Coach Bryan Erikson said, that “I first saw tape of him from one of his Coaches Mike McCarthy and then I saw him play in a showcase over here. Wanted to get him over last year but he had visa issues. So we got him over here for this season and we were not disappointed! What jumps out at you when you watch Hugo for the 1st time or 50th time is his composure. He is just so calm no matter what is going on around him. He is such a calming influence on the game. He is aggressive with his positioning and he plays the puck and passes it better than most D men. That’s what jumped out and still continues to impress me.”

This year, he has been a calming presence in net for a Generals team looking to go on a run late in the season to earn a playoff spot in their division. Erikson may have set the team on the right path in that regard, as he used a timeout as a reset when the team was trailing the Johnstown Tomahawks 4-1. The team quickly scored two goals to get back in the game, and then Tertyshny scored the next two to give the Generals two badly needed points. Haas played his best, and did not concede another goal, putting up 26 saves on the day, and the Generals won 5-4.

As to the pressure of being in net, well, Haas thrives on it. He enjoys the mental challenge of being in net all game, and sees the game pretty well. His ability to stay calm in net, combined with his positioning are two things that stand out when watching him. One reason he can also handle the puck so well is because of his background. He did not play goalie full time until he was 12, and he attributes his puck handling prowess to that consistent development.

One adjustment Haas has made this year is to North American rinks. Since coming over to the NAHL, he has gotten used to increasing workloads (the width on North American rinks is 15 feet shorter than rinks in Europe, leading to faster paced, higher shot total games) and facing high shot volumes. In a way, he embodies Eric Lang’s quote on preparing for the Atlantic Hockey Tournament after a 49 day pause in between games, “pressure is privilege.”

He has another year to lead the Generals, regardless of how this year finished, and given that they will have at least two high impact players coming from the National Champion (Premier and Elite) Charlotte Rush program in the USPHL, combined with Haas in net, and a developing group around him, next year in Attleboro Massachusetts for Hugo presents an opportunity for him to finish his junior hockey career as a part of a veteran team looking to improve from whatever this year’s result is.

For this year, Haas will finish playing with one of his best friends, looking to help the Generals go on a late run to the playoffs, in two years, 94.6 miles away from Attleboro the two will be together again, playing Division One College Hockey on their path to earn a degree, and further hone their skills together for a staff with similar values to the ones Erikson and his staff preach and practice.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.