Tuesday reading: Testwuide, NCHC, 3 Things, polls

Testwuide adirondackIt is a quiet week news-wise with most teams inactive until Dec. 24 or later depending on their schedules. CC returns to practice on Dec. 28 since the players take block finals on Wednesday and then leave for home.

Here are a few offerings.

Former Tiger Mike Testwuide, pictured, took advantage of his first pro game as a center after being a healthy scratch for six of seven games with the Adirondack Phantoms. He may get more ice time after friend Ben Holmstrom of Colorado Springs went down with a knee injury requiring surgery.

Here is an NCHC-oriented weekend review and a polls update.

Here are the USCHO weekly poll and the USA Hockey rankings and Tyler’s take on last weekend.

The WCHA media blog poll will return after the holiday tournaments and games (Dec. 27-30):

Team Pts Previous Record High Low
1) North Dakota (8) 140 2 8-5-3 1 2
2) Minnesota (4) 130 1 11-3-3 1 4
3) St. Cloud State 125 5 9-7-0 2 3
4) Nebraska Omaha 102 4 10-5-1 3 6
5) Minnesota State 96 6 9-5-2 4 6
6) Denver 90 3 9-5-2 4 7
7) Colorado College 67 7 8-8-2 6 9
8) Minnesota Duluth 62 8 5-8-3 7 9
9) Wisconsin 45 10 2-7-5 7 11
10) Bemidji State 40 11 4-8-2 8 11
11) Michigan Tech 26 9 4-8-3 9 12
12) Alaska Anchorage 13 12 3-7-4 11 12

Friday reading: Holmstrom, WCHA column, predictions, Kerdiles

HolmstromColorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom will miss much of the season with a knee injury.

Here is this week’s WCHA column from USCHO and my and Tyler’s predictions.

CC hopes the road proves kinder than its recent homestand.

Puckato’s Morning Skate provides links to previews from around the league.

Wisconsin 5, Alabama-Huntsville 0

MADISON — Junior forward Michael Mersch and freshman forward Nic Kerdiles each scored two goals to lead Wisconsin to a 5-0 victory against Alabama-Huntsville on Thursday night at Kohl Center. It was Kerdiles’ first college scores after a tough offseason.

Holmstrom brothers travel far, work hard for shot at college, pro hockey

Ben Holmstrom, shown playing for the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League, is only the second Colorado Springs native to play in the NHL.   COURTESY ADIRONDACK PHANTOMS

Here is my feature that appeared in Friday’s issue of the Woodmen Edition newspaper …

It may be across the country from their family, but Woodmen Edition area natives Ben and Josh Holmstrom are happy they chose to play NCAA Division I men’s hockey for UMass Lowell.

Ben took advantage of his four years to develop a promising professional career which young brother Josh hopes to emulate.

After fielding some offers from other schools, a season-ending knee injury left only the River Hawks interested in offering Ben a full-ride athletic scholarship.

“That made it an easy choice,” he said.

It proved to be the right one for Ben, 25, who served as a three-year captain for the River Hawks, before graduating and moving on to the professional ranks. That journey paid off with seven games with the Philadelphia Flyers spread out over the last two seasons, making him only the second Colorado Springs native to reach the NHL.

Former North Dakota standout defenseman David Hale was the first from the Springs to reach the bigs but has since retired. Ben and Hale played in what is now the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association and its club team, the Pikes Peak Miners, while Josh, 23, played with the Colorado Rampage and Denver-area Colorado Thunderbirds. The brothers went on to play for the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Stampede of the Junior A United States Hockey League before moving up to Lowell.

“He’s a guy I was always looking up to,” Ben said. “I got to play against him in his final year in (American Hockey League) Binghamton. To be only the second player from Colorado Springs to make (the NHL) is something I take a lot of pride in.”

“We’re all very proud of what he accomplished,” said Josh, a 2008 Doherty High School graduate, who followed his brother out to Lowell, after finding the school to be the right fit.  “It’s a great hockey program and a phenomenal school.”

Both players continue to work hard and improve as much as they can, taking advantage of playing in what they consider the toughest hockey leagues in Division I; Hockey East, which includes Boston College, winners of three of the last five national championships, and Boston University, which won in 2009.

“Certainly one of the selling points for Lowell is being in Hockey East,” Ben said. “It is a high level and I had a lot of opportunity to play as a freshman and sophomore. It definitely prepared me while I got bigger and stronger (in four years).”

But little prepared him for the day he got the call from the Flyers the morning of March 3, 2011 and had to travel from upstate New York to Philadelphia for a game that night after two players were too sick to play.

“That was a whirlwind, driving five hours to play in front of 17,000 fans that night,” he said. “I had a lot of excitement and nerves.  The captain took aside me and told me to make sure to enjoy it because playing your first NHL game can never be duplicated. I did enjoy it.”

He got in two NHL games during the 2010-11 campaign and another five last season.

“I played with a little more confidence and with more comfort being around the guys,” he said. “It’s still a learning process.”

UMass Lowell junior forward Josh Holmstrom celebrated his goal against Miami (Ohio) during last spring’s NCAA tournament. COURTESY UMASS LOWELL ATHLETICS

Josh is on his way to a professional career as well, serving as an assistant captain as a junior, garnering all-league academic honors (3.6 grade point average) and recording the primary assist on the game-winning goal at No. 19 Colorado College last weekend.

“Josh Holmstrom brings an intensity to each and every game whether we’re playing at home or on the road,” said River Hawks head coach Norm Bazin, who spent several years as an assistant at CC. “He is someone who continues to improve and develop his skills and he will be counted upon to contribute offensively.”

Josh is enjoying being part of the proud program’s resurgence. The River Hawks surprised most of the experts by making the NCAA Tournament last spring in Bazin’s first season. They are a preseason pick to place second this season behind BC.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “The key for us will be to keep working harder and getting better each day.”

It’s that kind of attitude that helped Ben go from a junior player with a knee injury to the NHL and his second year as captain for the American Hockey League’s Adirondack Phantoms, only a step below the Flyers. If the NHL lockout ends, the 2009-10 Hockey East Best Defensive Forward Award-winner will likely be a quick call-up to Philadelphia.

“I will never be a 40-goal scorer in the NHL,” Ben said. “I need to play my game, which is being good on faceoffs, on defense and finishing my checks. If I can do that and be consistent, I could have a good career.”

It’s an example Josh plans to follow to the pros just as he did when he took up ice hockey as a youngster  watching his older brother play in Colorado Springs.

“It’s great motivation for me,” Josh said. “He’s always pushing me and I am always pushing him. He has had a great hockey career. I just need to keep working and improving and hope mine goes as well.”

More Thursday reading: Enga, WCHA notebook, NHL family links, CC-UMass Lowell connections, Denver, Air Force preview video

Former Tiger R.J. Enga, an assistant with the USHL’s Chicago Steel where CC commits Christian Heil, Jaccob Slavin and Alex Roos play, will serve as an assistant for the U.S. team at the World Junior A Challenge next month.

Here is my first USCHO notebook on the WCHA. I wrote the portions dealing with Alabama-Huntsville, the arrested ref, senior Joe Howe, Denver and part of the Omaha arena blurb.

Three Tigers’ fathers all played in the NHL. The Gazette looks into how that affected the sons, Cody Bradley, Alexander Krushelnyski and Charlie Taft.

Here are the weekly CC preview notes.

Former Pikes Peak Miner and Colorado Springs native Josh Holmstrom said he is excited to get to play in Colorado for the first time in his college career at No. 10 UMass Lowell. I plan to write a feature on him and his older brother Ben Holmstrom, now in the Flyers organization with Jeff Dimmen and Mike Testwuide, for next week’s Woodmen Edition.

Lowell head coach Norm Bazin and associate head coach Jason Lammers both served as assistants under CC coach Scott Owens, which is partly why this series became possible.

Denver’s Nolan Zajac chose DU despite his older brothers going to North Dakota. Their father Tom was a Pioneer in the 1970s.

Air Force coach Frank Serratore talks about last weekend and the upcoming CC and Denver games in this video:

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In the pros: Dimmen, Holmstrom, J. Schwartz, Testwuide

Colorado Springs hockey fans have three good reasons to follow the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms– natives Jeff Dimmen (Maine) and Ben Holmstrom (UMass-Lowell) and former CC captain Mike Testwuide are all on the Opening Night roster.

Dimmen signed an AHL contract after entering training camp with a tryout deal. Holmstrom enters his second season as the Phantoms’ captain.

Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz is on AHL Peoria’s second line as left wing with center Phil McRae and right wing Jay Barriball.

Ted Behrend is on CHL Denver’s roster while Arthur Bidwill made the ECHL Colorado Eagles..

CS native Holmstrom signs two-way deal with Flyers

Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom, a former UMass-Lowell standout, signed a two-way deal with the Flyers organization for one year worth $550,000 if he plays the entire season in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL.

Holmstrom, 25, played five games with the Flyers as an injury call-up last season. In 67 games with the Adirondack Phantoms, Holmstrom scored 15 goals and 26 assists while compiling 134 penalty minutes. He was named Phantoms captain prior to last season and is a solid depth forward at the NHL level.

The contract comes after his two-year entry level free agent contract, signed with the organization in 2010. Holmstrom played at UMass-Lowell for four seasons before joining the organization. He is often a linemate  of former Tigers captain Mike Testwuide, who also signed a two-way deal recently with Philadelphia. They played together on the Pikes Peak Miners as youth players.

Wednesday reading: Adam, Testwuide, Holmstrom, UND, UMass job

Louisville Police Officer Don Adam is also a WCHA hockey referee. Adam was photographed at work Tuesday afternoon, June 12, 2012. Karl Gehring/The Denver Post

Here is a well-done feature on WCHA referee Don Adam, pictured, whose day job is as a City of Louisville police officer.

The Flyers extended a contract offer to Ben Holmstrom but not former Tiger Mike Testwuide. It looks like the former CC captain will be a free agent after July 1.

UND nickname supporters file another appeal.

The Mankato beat writer talks about the WCHA’s Alaska Plan for the 2014 playoffs.

Suddenly the UMass head coaching job is open.

The incoming Wisconsin freshmen are coming in this week to start summer school.

Wednesday reading: Bemidji, Mankato, Holmstrom

Bemidji State announced its 2012-2013 schedule.

One benefit of the formation of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference is that the schools in the new-look WCHA are ponying up money to renovate their facilities as Mankato has done. Such a commitment, especially while taking advantage of low interest rates, is a good sign for the program.

Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom is on the Philly Flyers’ “Black Aces” practice squad, a group of AHL players who are practicing and may be called up to the NHL playoff roster as needed. These “Black Aces,” as they are known in the hockey world, include forwards Harry Zolnierczyk and Ben Holmstrom, defensemen Brandon Manning and Erik Gustafsson, who all saw time with the Flyers this season.

Tyler Brown, Matt Ford, Tye McGinn and 6-6 Danish defender Oliver Lauridsen round out the skaters. Goaltender Michael Leighton, whom the Flyers rode to the 2010 Stanley Cup finals, also cleared waivers and will join the team in practice at some point this week.

Monday reading: Zaba, J. Schwartz, Kirby, Dineen, Holmstrom, Testwuide, Prosser, Civitarese, Guentzel, ECHL playoffs, Mankato

Elmira Jackals' Nick Dineen tries to redirect the puck in front of Florida Everblades' goalie John Muse during the first period at First Arena in Elmira on Friday.

Former Tiger Matt Zaba won his second Italia Serie A (top Italian pro league) championship on Friday night as starting goalie for the Bolzano Foxes of northern Italy.

“Our goaltender and first line were the key to our victory,” said the club’s President Dieter Knoll.

Bolzano has now won a record 19 league titles.

Jaden Schwartz was named as a second team All-America forward by Inside College Hockey which has Air Force’s Tim Kirby as a third-team defenseman.

Here is INCH’s freshman All-America first and second teams. Do not expect many of these guys to stay four years after such strong rookie seasons.

Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom and Vail’s Mike Testwuide both scored in a costly Friday loss for AHL Adirondack, which fell short of the final playoff berth in the East.

Nate Prosser’s arrival in Houston helped the Aeros secure the West’s No. 8 seed in the AHL playoffs, which begin on Thursday. Hershey (David Civitarese) and Syracuse  (Gabe Guentzel) both qualified for the postseason.

In the ECHL playoffs, Nick Dineen and the Elmira Jackals resume their playoff series (tied 1-1) against Florida at 5:30 Mountain tonight. Stockton, which includes Ryan Lowery, and Alaska (Brian Swanson and Tim Hall) will both try to break their 1-1 series tie on Wednesday.

If Richard Bachman (restricted free agent) re-signs with Dallas, he can expect a stern challenge from Texas Stars starter Jack Campbell, who impressed his coaches with a strong first pro season.

Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Connolly was named as the USCHO Player of the Year.

Here is more on Mike Hastings’ hire at MSU Mankato this Saturday. The purple Mavs also released their home schedule, which is a smart way to build up the fans’ excitement in southern Minnesota.

Air Force freshman Scott Holm was named the Atlantic Hockey Association Rookie of the Month for March/April.

Holm, a forward from Plymouth, Minn., was AFA’s top freshman scorer with three goals and four points in six games as Air Force won its fifth league champion­ship in six years. He scored a goal in all three games versus UConn as the Falcons won the AHA quarterfinal series. Holm finished the season with 10 points (6g, 4a) and was named the team’s most improved player.

Sunday reading: BC, Huntsville, Dineen, M. Stuart, Testwuide, J. Schwartz, Bachman, Hillen, Mankato coach, humanitarian award

Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom came up big in a key win over Albany Saturday night in the hunt for an AHL playoff berth.

Happy Easter and Passover everyone.

Minnesota will get its rematch against Boston College, which won 19 straight including Saturday night’s 4-1 championship win over Ferris State, during the next Mariucci Classic. Here is the game story.

Perhaps Alabama Huntsville can take solace in this story about Ferris State’s near demise 20 years ago.

Former Tiger Nick Dineen picked up an assist (his third pro point) in Saturday’s 3-0 Game 4 win over Reading in the ECHL playoffs. Game 5 is at 5:05 p.m. Mountain on Monday.

Mark Stuart received the Dan Snyder Memorial Award.  The team honor was established by the Atlanta Thrashers back in 2004, after Snyder died in a car accident in the fall of 2003 and is given to a player who embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward.

“It’s quite an honour, it’s very humbling,” said Stuart. “ I just try to work hard every night. It’s definitely an award I appreciate a lot. I knew his story, but when I got to Atlanta last year, I learned a lot more about him and had a chance to meet his brother (Jake) after our last game last year. What a great family. Everything you hear about (Dan) is positive. He was such a great guy, such a great teammate, that worked hard every night. He’s still sorely missed in the hockey community.”

Mike Testwuide scored an empty-netter for AHL Adirondack on Saturday.

Jaden Schwartz played 7.5 minutes in the Blues’ regular-season finale after three games as a healthy scratch as St. Louis looks to regain some of its intensity and grit headed into the playoffs as the West’s No. 2 seed. He took two shots on  Richard Bachman,  who made 32 saves in a season-ending loss on Saturday.Do not expect to see much of Schwartz in the playoffs. The Dallas Stars’ season is reviewed.

Here are the NHL playoff match-ups. Congrats to Jack Hillen (Nashville) for making the playoffs for the first time after playing for the Islanders.

MSU Mankato is expected to have its head coach hired by the AHCA meetings in late April. CC assistant Eric Rud is one of the darkhorses among the likely finalists. UND’s Cary Eades is the odds-on favorite.

Hockey Humanitarian Award winner and Yale senior Aleca Hughes was inspired by Mandi Schwartz, sister of Jaden and Rylan Schwartz. Hughes did a lot of work for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.

Here are two Sioux players expected to be heavily courted by the Ontario Hockey League.

The Minnesota captain has moved on to the AHL.

The Frozen Four all-tournament team

Forwards

Kyle Bonis, Ferris State; Paul Carey and Steven Whitney, Boston College

Defensemen

Chad Billins, Ferris State; Brian Dumoulin, Boston College

Goalie

Parker Milner, Boston College.

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