In the pros: Dineen sparks KooKoo to win

Former Tigers captain Nick Dineen scored twice in a 3-1 win by KooKoo in its Finnish pro league. Here is the boxscore.

In the pros: Bidwill, Connelly, Crabb, Fredheim, Hall, Lamoureux, Rau, Schultz

Former Tiger Kris Fredheim is in AHL Houston’s training camp, along with Brian Connelly and Chad Rau, pictured.

The ECHL Alaska Aces just got a whole lot better with the addition of three NHL regulars — Anchorage residents Joey Crabb, Scott Gomez and Nate Thompson. Aces fans should send thank you cards to Gary Bettman.

Tim Hall and former Air Force Falcon Jacques Lamoureux are also on the Aces’ training camp roster.

Stephen Schultz is on the Trenton Titans roster while Arthur Bidwill is on the Colorado Eagles camp. Most ECHL camps started Friday.

Tuesday reading: CC season preview, Rylan Schwartz, Jaden Schwartz, Connelly, Rau, Sweatt, Testwuide, Bachman, Hockey East

Incoming CC freshman Hunter Fejes, shown in red during the Coyotes prospect camp,  will be one of the six newcomers the Tigers will look to for big results this coming season.

Colorado College sports information posted its season preview.

Senior assistant captain Rylan Schwartz is one of the top players returning in Division I judging from national statistics. His 0.66 goals per game trails only Maine’s Joey Diamond, who he is tied with at 11 power-play goals last season.

RPI’s Without a Peer blog compiled the stats (ECAC first followed by national) in this post.

Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz was assigned to AHL Peoria so he may continue to develop during the NHL lockout. Brian Connelly and Chad Rau were sent to AHL Houston. Bill Sweatt is headed to the Chicago Wolves as is Mike Testwuide to AHL Adirondack.

Here are five storylines to watch in Hockey East.

There are high hopes for Richard Bachman among the Dallas Stars leadership.

Former Badger Justin Schultz (remember him?) will benefit from the NHL lockout with some time spent with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons.

Thursday reading: Slavin, Parise, Suter, DU, Tech, UMass job, Trouba

Tigers 2013 signee Jaccob Slavin, pictured, says he plans to play three years at Colorado College before turning pro.

Suddenly, the Minnesota Wild matter after the signing of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, both former WCHA standouts.

With Suter signed, Denver alumnus Matt Carle found a new home in Tampa Bay.

Another former Badger joined the Wild too. Former Michigan Tech captain Brett Olson is at the Wild development camp.

Holy Cross’ Paul Pearl is said to be the lead contender for the open UMass coaching job. Here are some of the other likely candidates.

Accidents look the lives of this former Sacred Heart captain and Denver’s Ted O’Leary recently. My condolences to their friends and families.

The Kitchener Rangers are upset about the $200,000 payment reportedly offered for Michigan signee Jacob Trouba. His family has since denied it. This is not the first time the CHL teams have been accused of offering big money and nothing has come of it.

Record high number of U.S. college players made the NHL

Stats compiled by College Hockey, Inc. and Let's Play Hockey

Courtesy College Hockey Inc.

NEWTON, Mass. – A total of 300 former U.S. college hockey players participated in the 2011-12 NHL regular season that concluded Saturday, the biggest NCAA representation in history and a 39 percent increase from 10 years ago (216).

Former college players accounted for 30.5 percent of all players in the NHL this season, also a record and the second straight season at 30% or higher. Forty-six former college players made their NHL debuts this season, including seven who appeared after their college seasons concluded.

The 300 former college players who played in the NHL this season represented 45 colleges, led by Michigan (23), Wisconsin (22) and Boston College (21). Colorado College had a record 14 this season.

Among the former NCAA stars who played in the NHL this year were Brian Elliott (Wisconsin), who led the league’s goaltenders in goals-against average and save percentage, and Jonathan Quick (Massachusetts), who led the league in shutouts. Seven 30-goal scorers were among the group, as well as five of the top nine rookie scorers in the league, including rookie goal-scoring leader Matt Read (Bemidji State). Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) led the league in faceoffs and Curtis Glencross (Alaska-Anchorage) led in shooting percentage.

More than half of the NHLers who played college hockey spent all four years in school, with 74 percent staying at least three years on campus. Eighty-four of the former college players who reached the NHL this year were undrafted free agents.

College hockey’s impact in the NHL will continue to be felt moving forward, as already 40 players have signed NHL contracts  at the conclusion of their 2011-12 college seasons – an average of more than one per NHL team. More than 200 NHL draft picks played college hockey this season, and 96 current or future college players, including 2012 CC commit Samuel “Hunter” Fejes were among the players in the NHL Central Scouting rankings for the 2012 NHL Draft that were released today.

Dineen will sign with ECHL Elmira

Former Tigers captain Nick Dineen, pictured shooting against Minnesota Duluth, used the past couple weeks to heal and focus on finishing his economic degree at Colorado College.

Former Tiger captain Nick Dineen is flying to Elmira, N.Y. Thursday morning to sign his first professional contract and start his career with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, the Atlantic Division champions.

Dineen said the coach told him to plan on making his debut Friday against the Reading (Pa.) Royals in the first of the final two regular-season games.

“It all happened pretty quickly from 8 p.m. (Tuesday) on,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “Elmira called and needed a center. They are a first-place team and need me to play right away. I felt I was ready to go. It was an easy decision.”

Dineen said the amateur tryout deal lasts for the rest of this season, meaning he will be a free agent against this offseason.

Dineen was slowed by a tweaked knee sustained during his first shift on March 2 against Michigan Tech, he said, but now feels ready to resume playing. The economics major also used the last couple weeks to finish up his classwork.

“I feel a lot better,” he said.

Dineen is the fifth of the six Tiger seniors to move on to the pros. Arthur Bidwill (CHL Allen), David Civitarese (AHL Hershey), Gabe Guentzel (AHL Syracuse) and Tim Hall (ECHL Alaska) have all signed deals.

Dineen recorded 67 career points (34g, 33a) in 140 games as a Tiger, including 26 points (14g, 12a) in 34 games as a senior.

In the pros: J. Schwartz, Guentzel, signings

Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz scored the opening goal in his second NHL game at Anaheim Wednesday night. It was his first shot on net, seven minutes into the game.  That follows his game-winner on his first shot on Saturday. Two shots, two NHL goals. Nice average so far, huh?

Gabe Guentzel made his pro debut in a 4-3 shootout win for Syracuse against Rochester. Colin Stuart recorded an assist for the host Americans.

Former Bemidji State defenseman Brad Hunt has signed an ATO with the AHL Chicago Wolves as has St. Cloud State junior David Eddy with Calgary.

Saturday reading: J. Schwartz, Guentzel, Hall, playoff recaps, previews

Here’s a preview of tonight’s St. Louis at Tampa Bay game when former Tiger Jaden Schwartz will make his NHL debut. (TV: 5 p.m. Mountain FS Midwest, SUN Network).

Expect Gabe Guentzel, pictured at left, to make his pro debut Saturday night for AHL Syracuse against Adirondack and former CC teammate Mike Testwuide. Guentzel will wear No. 10 judging from the roster.

Tim Hall made his pro debut for ECHL Alaska in a 3-1 loss at Colorado. It reads like he played his defensive role well, drawing two penalties.

Here’s a lot of good information on CC and its available personnel next season by the Gazette’s Brian Gomez: CC wing Dakota Eveland will not play next season after offseason neck surgery this Tuesday. Look for one or two more 2012 commits or one of the 2013 players to be brought in a year early.

North Dakota could be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, judging from the latest Pairwise rankings, if it wins its third Broadmoor Trophy in a row against Denver tonight in the WCHA Final Five championship game. ( TV: 6 p.m. Mountain ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain). Here’s plenty of recap and preview notes.

Western Michigan cruised past Miami in the CCHA semifinals on Friday. Top remaining seed Michigan defeated last-place Bowling Green State 3-2 in double overtime to end the Falcons’s memorable run at an NCAA berth.

In Hockey East, Maine downed Boston U in one semifinal while Boston College ended No. 7 seed Providence’s Cinderella run. Maine plays BC at 6 p.m. Mountain (TV: NBC Sports Network).

In the ECAC, Harvard kept its NCAA hopes alive by advancing to tonight’s championship against top seed Union. Harvard is rated at No. 19 in the Pairwise and must win the automatic berth to move on.

In the Atlantic, Air Force will take on No. 3 seed and host RIT tonight (Radio: 1300 AM, 5 p.m. Mountain)

Update: Watch Hall make ECHL debut Friday night against Colorado Eagles

Former Tiger forward Tim Hall signed an amateur tryout agreement on Thursday for an unspecified amount of time with the ECHL defending champion Alaska Aces and will join the team in Loveland for Friday and Saturday’s games at the Colorado Eagles.

Hall will make his pro debut Friday night in a road game against the Colorado Eagles. The Aces contacted him Wednesday and he jumped at the chance to show where he could fit into a team that features former Tiger and NHLer Brian Swanson as captain and all-time ECHL career goals scorer Wes Goldie.

“I’m going to be a third or fourth line guy,” he said. “They have a lot of skill on this team so they have their offense taken care of. I’ll come in, provide some energy and hopefully chip in a few points.”

The Aces are affiliated with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues organization and Peoria of the AHL.

The Aces can clinch the Mountain Division title with a win this weekend.

Hall finished his Tigers career with 40 points (16g, 24a) in 135 games including five goals and three assists in 34 games this past season.  However long his time with the Aces last, Hall is hopeful he’ll be able to take advantage of his chance.

“It’s a great place to start,” he said. “The Aces are a great organization. I hope I do well this weekend and make the most of this opportunity.”

That makes him the first of the six seniors to sign a pro contract. Gabe Guentzel will sign a deal with AHL Syracuse on Friday.

Guentzel headed to AHL Syracuse

Former Tiger defenseman Gabe Guentzel will likely make his pro debut this weekend for AHL Syracuse. COURTESY TIM BRULE/USCHO

Former Tiger defenseman Gabe Guentzel is flying to Syracuse, N.Y. on Friday to sign an AHL-only contract with the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch for the remainder of this season and the next, he said Thursday night.

“They really wanted to get me out there playing and learning their system,” he said. “That is one of the reasons I chose them.”

The Crunch are affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks organization, in which the puck-moving defenseman hopes he can find a niche and develop his game for the NHL.

Guentzel said he is unsure when he will make his professional debut. He is healthy and able to play when needed, he said.

“They really want to see me get some games under my belt this season,” he said.

The Crunch (27-27-4-4) host the Rochester Americans, which include former Tiger Colin Stuart, on Friday and the Adirondack Phantoms, which include former CC captain Mike Testwuide and Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom, on Saturday.

The college free agent said five other organizations – Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton and Minnesota – approached him about signing with them toward the end of his senior season, which ended March 10.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. He is the second  of the six Tiger seniors to sign a pro deal after his college career concluded. Tim Hall signed with the Alaska Aces late Thursday night.

Guentzel recorded 26 points (4g, 22a) his senior season and 94 points (16g, 78a) in 156 games for his career, missing only three games his freshman year out of a possible 159 contests played his his four years  a Tiger.