In the pros: J. Schwartz, Prosser, Crabb, Sterling, Testwuide fight video

ProsserFormer Tiger Jaden Schwartz is making a good impression on Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.

He is one of a number of young stars according to NHL.com who may benefit from their  time in the AHL while veterans played in the ECHL, overseas or tried to stay in game shape on their own.

Nate Prosser and Justin Falk look ready to be the Wild’s third defensive pair. Brian Connelly is injured.

Joey Crabb took part in this Q&A.

Brett Sterling scored a natural hat trick in just over eight minutes during the first period of a 3-1 win for AHL Chicago on Friday night.

Wednesday reading: CCHA championship, NCAA selection show, Bachman, Zaba, Prosser, Wisconsin, Mankato, recruits, women’s poll

The CCHA will hold its final league championship game Sunday afternoon, pushing ESPN’s NCAA Selection Show to 7 p.m. Mountain on March 24, 2013. The CCHA explains why.

MSU-Mankato had its first practice which hinted at the more aggressive playing style new coach Mike Hastings will implement. Here is the preseason prospectus for the purple Mavericks

Former Tiger goalie Richard Bachman talks about his new mask and his offseason.

Matt Zaba will play for the Vienna Capitals this season.

The Wild, including Nate Prosser, are holding informal practices. Similar stories can be found throughout the NHL.

Wisconsin is celebrating its 50th anniversary of the modern era. The university had a team from 1921-35 before the program was disbanded. It returned for the 1963-64 season and continues to this day. Here is a transcript of the press conference announcing the celebration.

Here are a few youngsters to keep in mind during the recruiting battles. A Cloquet, Minn. standout who was considering Colorado College committed to Minnesota-Duluth.

The USCHO women’s preseason poll is out.

Wednesday reading: Jaden Schwartz, Prosser, future foes, Penn State

Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz, pictured,  is the No. 2 prospect in the St. Louis organization according to nhl.com, but on a deep team like the Blues, that means he may start next season in AHL Peoria. Unless, of course, he has an exceptional training camp that dislodges a proven veteran.

Either way, do not expect Jaden to stay in the minors for long.

Nate Prosser will likely be on the Wild’s NHL roster in the fourth defenseman pairing this upcoming season, according to nhl.com.

Future foes for both Air Force and Colorado College were profiled recently by Inside College Hockey. The most recent articles are about UMass-Lowell’s sophomore defenseman Zack Kamrass of Atlanta and Sacred Heart senior Ben Ketchum and Wisconsin’s Joseph LaBate, pictured.

Vermont fills out its coaching staff.  Penn State gets its second commit in seven days. UMass announced its incoming freshman class.

NHL free agency: Wild ink Connelly to two-year, two-way deal

The Wild brass continue to make smart moves including this very good depth signing. This was a smart move by former Tiger Brian Connelly, pictured in foreground, who reportedly did not seem a good fit for the Flames organization.

Tiger fans can expect Connelly to make his NHL debut and  spend a little time in St. Paul this season depending on the big club’s health.

He joins Nate Prosser and Chad Rau at the Minnesota training camp later this summer/fall.

Here is the updated list of former Tigers testing the waters of free agency as of 9a.m. MT this July 7.

They are (name, 2011-12 team):  Richard Bachman, (Dallas): Mark Cullen (Florida); Kris Fredheim (Wild); Trevor Frischmon, (Islanders); Richard Petiot (Tampa Bay);  Brett Sterling (Blues), and Colin Stuart (Sabres).

From NHL.com …

The Minnesota Wild bolstered its defensive depth late Friday night by inking defenseman Brian Connelly to a two-year, two-way deal. The move gives the Wild an added weapon from the blue line capable of contributing at the offensive end and displaying outstanding puck moving ability and skating.

The Bloomington native split time between the Abbotsford Heat and Rockford IceHogs last season of the American Hockey League. His 52 points (6-46=52) ranked second amongst defensemen in the AHL.

Connelly has played in the AHL All-Star Game the last two seasons. At last year’s AHL Skills Competition, he represented the Western Conference in the Fastest Skater Competition.

The 26-year-old has played professionally. For three seasons, all in the AHL. Before turning pro, the blueliner was a three-year standout at Colorado College. With the Tigers, he amassed 63 points (8-55=63) and was a teammate of Nate Prosser and Chad Rau.

A left-handed shot, Connelly is listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds.

Weekend reading: Bjugstad, Prosser, Parise, Suter, faceshields, Penn State scandal, Union, UMass, NHL Draft, NCAAs

Minnesota standout Nick Bjugstad, pictured, likely will announce if he will return this season sometime this weekend. UPDATE: He said Sunday night he and his family will decide over the next two weeks.

Former Tiger Nate Prosser, an Elk River native, is excited, like much of Minnesota, about the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signings.

The NCAA continues its slow saunter toward 3/4 face shields.

This Penn State fan blog talks about how the recent scandal may affect hockey.

Here is the top reported remaining candidates for the open UMass coaching job.

Lake Superior State lost an undrafted forward after he excelled in the Rangers development camp. A goal in all four scrimmages apparently caught the scouts’ attention.

The 2013 NHL Draft should be as loaded as the famed 2003 picks. Five are future collegians as the Grand Forks Herald reports.

If that is not planning far enough ahead for you here are the 2013 NCAA regionals:

Northeast, Manchester, N.H., on March 29-30;

East, Providence, R.I., on March 30-31;

Midwest, Toledo, Ohio, on March 30-31;

West, Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 29-30.

Wednesday reading: Future Wisconsin at CC nonconference games, Hillen, Schultz, Prosser video, Rau, Fredheim, UND, Minnesota, NMU

Chad Rau is joined by Wild teammates to celebrate his goal during the second period on January 21, 2012 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. It was Rau’s NHL debut. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Wisconsin’s nonconference schedule is coming together with plans for single road games at CC and Denver during the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons and a two-game road series during the 2013-14 season. Do not be surprised to see either Minnesota or Air Force as the other opponent on those single-game weekends. Either way it is a great weekend for ticket sales at World Arena. Here is the 2012-13 Tigers schedule.

Former Tiger Jack Hillen did not receive a qualifying offer from Nashville and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie listed Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Philadelphia and the N.Y. Rangers as the most likely landing spots for free agent Justin Schultz, who may decide as early as today.

Nate Prosser was a crowd favorite during the Wild road tour. He is interviewed in this video as is former Pioneer Jason Zucker.

Chad Rau has signed a two-year deal with the Wild while RFA Kris Fredheim did not get a qualifying offer. Here is the team’s contract chart.

Minnesota will host North Dakota as part of Hockey Day Minnesota. The retiring Gophers AD had hoped Penn State would join the CCHA and avoid the conference shakeup the sport has experienced the past two summers.

The Mining Journal outlines how Northern Michigan administrators juggled their duties over the past 19 months.

Updated weekend reading: AHA preview, INCH Preseason Top 10, Schultz reportedly leaves school, Chad Rau, Prosser

New England Hockey Journal takes a look at Holy Cross and the rest of the Atlantic Hockey Association for the upcoming season including Air Force and Hockey East’s latest suitor: Connecticut (pictured).

Inside College Hockey got a jump on things with its preseason Top 10, led by Minnesota, Michigan and North Dakota.

With Cornell, Wisconsin and UMass-Lowell also on the list, Colorado College will play five of this top 10 this coming season, which is more than four months away.

Of course, summer defections to the pro ranks may affect this prediction quite a bit after July 1.

Speaking of which, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Friday that Wisconsin’s Justin Schultz filed paperwork to leave school, though that remains unconfirmed as of 10 p.m. Mountain. Anaheim still has until July 1 to sign Schultz before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

This blogger put in a good effort trying to figure out which NHL organization may be most interested in the offensive defenseman.

Minnesota finds its No. 3 goalie. Pennsylvania continues to develop into good hockey country with Penn State starting up this fall as a varsity program. Now a NAHL program will likely attract area players.

Hockey East is creating a full-time position to supervise its officials.

Michigan adds another USNTDP recruit.

Defending The Blue Line announced that Chad Rau will join Nate Prosser for its annual NHL charity game on June 20 on the Minnesota campus.

Image borrowed from Let’s Go DU blog, but it could have been a pic from the Dayton to Cleveland leg of my return trip. I am not really joking.

FYI, I am headed into another long weekend away from the blog while I travel back to the land of my birth (Piqua, Ohio) to visit relatives and celebrate my Uncle Dale’s 85th.

No doubt there will be some quality family time at a Bob Evan’s or two or three between now and Wednesday May 30, when I will resume blogging.

In the interim, check USCHO, CCTigers.com, Duluth’s Rink and Run or the University of North Dakota Hockey blogs for any news that may break while I am unavailable.

Tuesday reading: Incoming NCHC freshmen, Michigan jerseys, outdoor games, PSU arena construction, D-1 composite schedule

Here is a look at the incoming Minnesota-Duluth freshmen and the 2012 recruiting class for Western Michigan.

Michigan announced a change to its away jerseys and that they will wear retro jerseys for the outdoor game.

Here is USCHO’s compilation of past outdoor game results and upcoming events that have been reported or announced for the 2012-13 season.

A Penn State fan blog updates the ongoing construction for the Nittany Lions’ new hockey arena.

Here is a spreadsheet that attempts to compile all the Division I hockey teams 2012-13 schedules together. The CC schedule looks correct so give this a look if you are curious about other teams. I cannot guarantee all the schedules are correct or have not changed since this was compiled. Thanks to the BU fan blog for finding this and linking it.

Former Tiger Nate Prosser will take part in a June 20 charity game at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.

Monday reading: Tigers in the playoffs, Zaba video, J. Schwartz honor

Former Tigers Trevor Frischmon (No. 28) and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders' top affiliate, saw their season end on Sunday night with a 4-3 OT loss to Connecticut. The Whale swept the best of five AHL playoff series, 3-0.

Colin Stuart, captain of the Rochester Americans, will try to stave off elimination when his team hosts the Toronto Marlies on Monday night in the league’s only game.

Nate Prosser returned from an unspecified injury and the Houston Aeros defense held together for a 1-0 win Sunday at Oklahoma City to keep the best-of-five series going. The West top seed Barons still lead 2-1 in games.

Brian Connelly recorded an assist in Abbotsford’s 4-2 win Sunday night at Milwaukee. The Heat lead the series 2-0 and head back to B.C. for Game 3 on Wednesday.

The Foxes celebrate their championships in Italy's top pro hockey league.

Here are highlights of the Bolzano Foxes’ perfect (12 wins in 12 games) run to the franchise’s record 19th Italia Serie A championship as shown in this highlights video that features goalie Matt Zaba (No. 1, black headgear). The Foxes wear red and white.

Top hockey prospect website HockeysFuture.com selected Jaden Schwartz, drafted 14th overall in 2010, as an honorable mention after  his sophomore performance with Colorado College and as captain of the bronze medalist Canadian world juniors team.

The USA U18 team brought home yet another gold medal.

In the ECHL playoffs, Alaska will host Las Vegas, probably on Friday, to open the Western Conference finals. Brian Swanson and Tim Hall play for the top seed Aces. No former Tigers play for the Wranglers.

In the pros: ECHL, AHL playoffs update

San Antonio's Mark Cullen had a big game against Chicago in the AHL playoffs on Saturday night.

In the AHL, Mark Cullen picked up two assists, including the first assist on the game-winner in San Antonio’s 4-3 win over Chicago, which plays Bill Sweatt.

Gabe Guentzel played his second playoff game for Syracuse and finished plus-2. David Civitarese has yet to appear for Hershey in the postseason.

Today is a busy day for former Tigers with Bridgeport’s Trevor Frischmon trying to avoid elimination in the best-of-five series against Connecticut while Houston hopes to do the same at OKC. Abbotsford, which features Brian Connelly, will try to take a 2-0 lead at Milwaukee this afternoon.

Former Tiger Brian Swanson assisted the opening goal as the Alaska Aces defeated Stockton 4-1 in Game 5 of their ECHL second-round playoff series and advanced to the Western Conference finals for the sixth time in the franchise’s nine years. They Aces will face the winner of the Las Vegas-Idaho series (LV leads 3-1).

Tim Hall played for Alaska. The loss ends Ryan Lowery’s stay in Stockton He may now be called up to AHL Oklahoma City, which holds a 2-0 lead in its best-of-five series against Houston, which has Kris Fredheim, Nate Prosser and Chad Rau on its roster.

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