Thursday reading: Schmaltz, Connolly, WCHA, CCHA, AHA

Incoming UND freshman Jordan Schmaltz will be approached again and again by the Windsor Spitfires this summer to join them.

Hobey Baker winner Jack Connolly is up for an ESPY.

The WCHA had 13 players drafted last weekend.

The CCHA had 16 selected. Here is the 2012-13 Atlantic Hockey Association composite schedule.

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.

Tuesday reading: J. Schwartz, Hall, Lowery, Jutting, Frozen 4

Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz, pictured at left, finished in the top five in voting for the 2012 Premier College Hockey Player of the Year award. Minnesota Duluth’s Jack Connolly won.

Tim Hall (two assists in eight road games) has played well enough to make the Alaska Aces’ roster  for the ECHL playoffs. He is praised in this story from the Anchorage Daily News.

Ryan Lowery, currently on the roster for AHL Western Conference No. 1 seed Oklahoma City, was also on the Stockton roster under playoff-eligible. It is a new ECHL rule that allows its team to designate possible replacements as the AHL teams are eliminated.

Here is a link to the three Mankato Free Press stories about Troy Jutting’s re-assignment at MSU Mankato.

Follow Union beat writer Ken Schott’s good work from Tampa. College Hockey News looks at the Union-Ferris State semifinal match-up. Here are CHN’s fearless predictions.

Frozen Four Schedule: Thursday’s semifinals, Union College versus Ferris State at 2:30 p.m. Mountain (ESPNU); Boston College versus Minnesota, 6 p.m. (ESPN2).

Coach Don Lucia scouts Boston College. It looks like he hopes a good forecheck will work well.

Here is a link to the Tampa paper’s’ coverage with some good stories, including a look at Alabama Huntsville. Now we know why the Frozen Four is in Tampa in the first place. Thanks to Duluth’s Kevin Pates for finding that.

Updated Wednesday reading: CC radio show, TV deal, recruits

Tonight’s monthly Scott Owens radio show is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at McCabe’s Tavern in downtown Colorado Springs. No doubt they will talk about Denver, which has been getting a spark from freshman Ty Loney of late and reigning WCHA offensive player of the week Luke Salazar.

Coach Scott Owens said two players, yet to be determined, will be there toward the end of the show and radio man Ken Landau is lining up an out-of-town guest for the 7 p.m. slot.

Here are two who have made verbals to North Dakota along with other notes out of Grand Forks. That said, the UND coaches aren’t happy about some losses to the Canadian major junior leagues.

Here’s a MSU Mankato recruit update.

There’s been mixed reaction to The National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s 18-game exclusive TV deal with CBS Sports Network. I think fans may want to wait until their school finalizes their regional and local TV deals before deciding if this was a good deal or not. When you consider CBS SN broadcast 23 TOTAL college hockey games this season and will now broadcast a minimum of 18 NCHC games, including the playiff tournament semifinals and title game, it looks like a strong deal to me. Here’s some more details comparing the NCHC deal with Hockey East and the Big 10.

Odds are, this will lead to more college hockey on TV with games like RIT-Air Force and Air Force-Army likely broadcast games as well. With CBS SN signing Jim Rome to an exclusive talk show deal, it looks like the network is bolstering its lineup, which bodes well for the NCHC getting on board now.

Minnesota-Duluth’s Jack Connolly, a contender for the Hobey Baker, is a finalist for the Lowe’s senior CLASS award.

Saturday reading: WCHA roundup, features

Michigan Tech's Jordan Baker recorded a goal and an assist to spark the visiting Huskies to a four-goal third period in a 4-4 tie at No. 1 Minnesota Duluth.

Here’s an update on the progress NCHC commissioner Jim Scherr has made in the first three weeks of his tenure. He’s really hit the ground running.

CC’s Chad Rau was one of four former Tigers playing in an NHL last Saturday. Here’s a feature on him, Nate Prosser and a list of how former CC players are doing in the AHL and NHL.

Air Force standout Jacques Lamoureux is the 13th former Falcon to play part-time pro hockey. He’s teammates with former Tigers Drew O’Connell and Brian Swanson for the ECHL’s Alaska Aces.

Brian Connelly was traded to Calgary on Friday. Hopefully he’ll get a better shot at making his NHL debut with the Flames organization.

Compiled from and school web sites …

Michigan Tech 4, No. 1 Minnesota Duluth 4

DULUTH — It took 10 shots and a 10-minute span for the University of Minnesota Duluth to build what appeared to be a comfortable 4-0 first-period lead Friday in its Western Collegiate Hockey Association series opener with Michigan Tech University.

Maybe a bit too comfortable of lead.

After freshman left winger Caleb Herbert potted his second goal of the night to put UMD up by four with 4:47 to go before the first intermission, the top-ranked Bulldogs (17-4-4 overall and 11-3-3 WCHA) looked like they were well on their way to a ninth straight home win and an eighth consecutive victory over their long-time rivals. But that’s when the UMD scoring burst stopped and the Michigan Tech rally began.

The Huskies (11-12-2 ; 8-7-2) struck for four unanswered goals, including three in the third period – a period UMD has more or less owned this season – to gain a 4-4 overtime tie with the defending NCAA champions before a near-capacity crowd of 6,670 at AMSOIL Arena.

“It’s tough to come out of tonight with just a tie,” said Herbert, who also picked up one assist. “We have to come together tomorrow night and outwork them because they are going to be hungry for a win.”

Herbert’s two scores and goals by senior right winger David Grun (just under six minutes after the opening faceoff) and defenseman Brady Lamb (at 10:58 of the first) came on the first 10 shots the Bulldogs put on Michigan Tech goaltender Josh Robinson. He stopped the last 27 shots he faced to finish with 33 saves while helping hold the Bulldogs scoreless on all four of their power play chances. He and the Huskies also did something no team has been able to do in 23 games – keep two-time All-American center and the nation’s number one point getter Jack Connolly off the scoresheet.

No. 15 Denver 4, Alaska Anchorage 2

ANCHORAGE — Playing their first home game in almost two months, the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves could not overcome an early deficit as they fell 4-2 to the 15th-ranked Denver Pioneers in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at Sullivan Arena.

The Seawolves (6-15-2, 3-15-1 WCHA) got goals from first- and second-line centers Matt Bailey and Eric Scheid, while winger Daniel Naslund tied for the team lead with his seventh assist of the season.

The Pioneers (14-8-3, 9-5-3) received goals from four different players as they improved their season-best winning streak to four games.

DU struck first when freshman winger Ty Loney scored even-strength at 8:13 of the first period. Sophomore center Nick Shore gave the visitors a 2-0 advantage at the 16:16 mark, slamming home a power-play tally.

Bailey quickly cut the deficit in half, however, as the sophomore from Winnipeg scored his fourth goal of the season just 96 seconds later, corralling a centering pass from Naslund and beating DU goalie Adam Murray (30 saves).

Pioneers leading scorer Drew Shore would pick up his 16th goal only 89 seconds into the second period for the eventual game-winner and to extend the visitors’ lead to 3-1, and the junior added his 37th point on linemate Luke Salazar’s goal with seven minutes left in the second.

The Seawolves outshot the Pioneers 32-26 overall, including 10-6 in the third period, breaking through for the game’s finally score on Scheid’s goal with 3:47 on the clock on a goal by Scheid.

No. 3 Minnesota 2, St. Cloud State 1

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – For the first time since Dec. 30, the third-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team won on a Friday night, topping in-state rival St. Cloud State 2-1 in the first game of a home-and-home series at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers received goals from senior Jake Hansen and sophomore Nick Bjugstad and held the Huskies to a season-low 13 shots on goal on the night, proving that the Gophers’ defense is as tough as CC coach Scott Owens said it was last weekend. It was the third 2-1 game in a row for the Gophers.

No. 18 North Dakota 5, Wisconsin 3

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Freshman Stephane Pattyn picked a fine time to score the first goal of his college career at the University of North Dakota.

His tally with just under two minutes left in the third period not only proved to be the game-winner in an important WCHA contest with Wisconsin, but it also came on his 21st birthday.

“It’s probably my best present, for sure,” a smiling Pattyn said. “It’s definitely a good feeling to get that one out of the way. Hopefully they keep coming.”

UND’s 5-3 victory before 11,769 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena improved the team to 14-10-2 overall and 10-9-0 in league play. The Badgers fell to 12-11-2 overall and 7-10-2 in the WCHA, four points behind UND in the battle for home ice during the playoffs.

Sophomore defenseman Dillon Simpson, who notched his first goal since last February, also felt a sense of relief.

“Hopefully the floodgates open a little bit here for me scoring-wise,” he said. “It was great to get that goal and just get the confidence to shoot the puck.”

UND coach Dave Hakstol noted the importance of the team getting scoring contributions across the lineup.

“We need contributions at different times from different people,” he explained. “For Steph Pattyn to step up tonight with his linemates and come up with game-winning goal, that was the separation in a real close hockey game tonight. It’s very important for us.”

Bemidji State 2, Minnesota State Mankato 1

BEMIDJI  — On a night when Bemidji State was out shot 40-26, senior goaltender Dan Bakala stood tall turning aside 39  Mankato shots to open the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series with a 2-1 victory Friday at Sanford Center.

Tied 1-1 midway through the third period, Jordan George potted his team-leading 13th goal of the season to provide BSU with the offense it needed to break the stalemate, gain two points in the league standings and improve to 12-11-2 overall and 6-9-2 in WCHA play.

Minnesota State took the first lead of the game at 8:58 of the opening period when Max Gaede buried his own rebound. Bemidji State clawed its way back into the game before a back-and-fourth second period came to an end.

With 4:40 to play in the period, Jake Areshenko found Danny Mattson  at center ice with an outlet pass. Mattson skated into the zone and capped the play a wrist shot placed just over the glove hand of the MSU goaltender Phil Cook from the right face off circle. The goal was the second of the season for Mattson and stretched his current scoring streak to a career-best five games.

No. 10/12 Colorado College and Nebraska Omaha were idle.

Tuesday reading: Pros update, around the nation, WCHA schedule

Former Tiger Brian Connelly, pictured at right, was named as an AHL All-Star defenseman for the second year in a row.

Drew O’Connell is seeing his role with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces grow from emergency backup to No. 2 on the current road trip. It doesn’t hurt that the boss of his “day job” is former CC defenseman Brian Bethard, who gave him the chance to leave on a 20-day road trip. O’Connell’s teammates include former Tiger Brian Swanson, healed from an upper-body injury, and former Air Force standout and Hobey Top 10 finalist  Jacques Lamoureux.

Minnesota Duluth’s Jack Connolly has a shot at the 200-point career milestone.

Minnesota is No.3 in both polls but a bubble NCAA team according to USCHO Pairwise rankings. CC, rated No. 16, would fall one spot short with the Atlantic Hockey Association playoff champion taking the 16th and final spot. There’s a lot of games still to be played though.

Nebraska Omaha picked up a recruit from Duluth East.

Merrimack, ranked 8th in the latest Pairwise,  lost a key senior to season-ending ankle surgery early Saturday night.

A longtime Quinnipiac coach passed away.

This Week in the WCHA …

Games for Friday, January 27: Michigan Tech at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; St. Cloud State at Minnesota (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Minnesota State at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Wisconsin at North Dakota (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Denver at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT.

Games for Saturday, January 28: Minnesota at St. Cloud State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Minnesota State at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Michigan Tech at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Wisconsin at North Dakota (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Denver at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT.

Around the WCHA: Tigers bounce back for 2-1 win

CC senior Tim Hall banged in a rebound off a shot by William Rapuzzi with 36 seconds left to lift the 11th-ranked Tigers to a 2-1 win at No. 2/4 Minnesota and only two points out of first place in the WCHA.

Hall’s goal came only 41 seconds after Minnesota had tied the game at 1-1 off a Nick Bjugstad shot.

CC sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert (9-3) continued his excellent play of late, making 38 saves for the victory. The teams resume the series at 4 p.m. Mountain live on FS North and tape-delayed to 6 p.m. on ROOT.

CC captain Nick Dineen opened the scoring five minutes into the second period, pouncing on a Minnesota turnover and sending a backhanded shot between Gophers goalie Kent Patterson‘s leg pads for a 1-0 lead that held up through a five-minute Gophers power play in the third.

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth 2, Alabama-Huntsville 1

DULUTH — The Bulldogs improved to 15-1-3 of late despite 52 saves by future North Dakota goalie Clarke Saunders, who will transfer to Grand Forks this summer. Jack Connolly‘s assist on the game winner increased his points streak to 21 games in a row.

Wisconsin 4, Alaska Anchorage 0

MADISON — Freshman Joel Rumpel made 23 saves for his second career shutout in a row in a home win over the struggling Seawolves.

St. Cloud State 3, North Dakota 1

ST. CLOUD — Freshman goalie Ryan Faragher made 41 saves and Jarrod Rabey scored the game winner midway through the second period as the host Huskies rallied for the win.

Nebraska Omaha 2, Minnesota State 1

MANKATO — Bryce Aneloski scored a power-play goal 1:37 into overtime to lift Omaha past Minnesota State. Mankato’s Adam Mueller slashed Omaha goalie Ryan Massa (39 saves) 45 seconds into overtime. Dayn Belfour came in for Massa and recorded a single save for the win.

Friday reading: Sweatt NHL debut, weekend previews and predictions

Former Tiger Bill Sweatt (FILE)

Former Tiger Bill Sweatt made his NHL debut in Vancouver’s 4-3 overtime win at Montreal Wednesday night. He recorded two shots in 6 minutes, 18 seconds of ice time on the fourth line. He did not play much in the third period or overtime but recorded two shots including one on his first shift.

I got to watch the game and Sweatt fit right in, forcing a turnover on his first shift that led to that scoring chance.

“He didn’t play a lot, but when he did I thought did all right,” coach Alain Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun, which also interviewed Sweatt. “He is a young player and our guys seem to think there is a lot of upside there so we have to be patient.”

Older brother and former Tiger Lee Sweatt made the trip to Montreal for his brother’s debut. Bill joked in the Sun article linked above  about the pressure he faced with Lee scoring the game-winner in his NHL debut with Vancouver last season.

No. 6 Colorado College hosts Alaska-Anchorage this weekend. Here are notes on the Seawolves and a preview. Here’s a capsule preview on the series by the Gazette.

No. 13 Denver lost a commit to the WHL. The Pioneers travel to Bemidji State, which is looking for some vengeance at home this weekend. DU hopes to start stringing together some wins because the players are inspired by Tim Tebow.

Nebraska-Omaha has three sons of former UND standouts, who will be in the weird position of rooting against North Dakota. Corban Knight is having a big season for the team’s top line. That article includes a list of the top-scoring lines in the league. Definitely worth a click.

FYI, if CC’s  Scott Winkler, who will miss the Mankato series next weekend  to play for the Norwegian national team,  was still on the Schwartz line, they would be tied for fifth, not 10th with William Rapuzzi. That said, moving Winkler to the Nick Dineen line earlier this season was a good idea, giving CC four strong lines to put out there.

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth travels to Wisconsin, setting up a potential one-on-one battle between UMD’s Jack Connolly and Badgers defenseman Justin Schultz. That’s worth the price of admission in what should be a good series.

Michigan Tech will be a good challenge for the No. 2 Gophers. The Huskies know they need to show something after being swept by No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth.

MSU-Mankato hosts Alabama-Huntsville, which knocked off Omaha last weekend for its first win.

St. Cloud State is idle.

Here’s Goon’s World’s predictions.

Here’s a commit roundup, which includes Eddie Wittchow to Wisconsin. He was considering Colorado College according to previous reports.