Wednesday reading: Duluth suspensions, league news, Hobey voting

rylan roadAccording to the Duluth News Tribune, Minnesota-Duluth will have three top players out of the lineup for Friday’s home game against Michigan Tech to serve a one-game suspensions for violating team rules.

Senior forward and captain Cody Danberg, senior defenseman Wade Bergman and freshman forward Austin Farley will sit for the unspecified violations. The Bulldogs had a bye last weekend.

Here is a look at recent developments in the WCHA and an update from North Dakota.

Colorado Springs native Josh Holmstrom, a junior forward at UMass-Lowell, and Colorado College seniors Mike Boivin and Rylan Schwartz made the first phase of fan balloting for the 2013 Hobey Baker Memorial Award. The three are among the 77 student-athletes under consideration.

Fan voting opened earlier this week at hobeybakeraward.com and will remain open until March 10.

Advertisements

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.”

River Hawks defense too sound for CC to crack

No. 19 Colorado College ran into a good defensive team in No. 10 UMass Lowell an was unable to break through in a 3-1 home loss to the Hockey East’s River Hawks.

UML junior center Joseph Pendenza scored on a rebound off a hard shot by Josh Holmstrom to put UMass Lowell up 2-1 with 12:49 left in the third period. Holmstrom’s shot from the left faceoff circle bounced off CC goalie Josh Thorimbert’s leg pads to the right circle, where Pendenza was alone for the uncontested shot. Stephen Buco added an empty-netter with 29.8 seconds left for the final margin.

It was a big homecoming of Colorado Springs native Holmstrom before an announced crowd of 7,301 at Colorado Springs World Arena.

Colorado College (3-1) had its chances with a power play late in the third period but only two shots ended up on net against a good River Hawks defense.

“Going 0-3 on the power play killed us,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “We felt pretty good at 1-1 going into the third. It was just a matter of which team blinked first.”

UML blocked 18 shots, including one on CC’s final rush up ice, and kept their stickblades in the CC passing lanes, slowing down the Tigers in transition.

“That was a focus for sure,” said UML associate head coach Jason Lammers who along with head coach Norm Bazin both worked as CC assistants. “We know all too well how good they are coming up the ice. We did not do that well (Friday) night.  We wanted them to earn their ice.”

“They did that very well,” CC senior Andrew Hamburg said.

CC sophomore defenseman Aaron Harstad’s shot from between the circles through traffic clanged in off the left post to tie the game at 1-1 with 6:35 left in the second period to set up an exciting third period.

“It’s a relief to finally get it out of the way,” Harstad said of his first goal as a Tiger. “They were very good at defending the back side with their forwards. It is definitely a learning experience.”

The goal was set up by William Rapuzzi and Alexander Krushelnyski who passed around the UML zone  out to the blue line where Harstad took the shot.  It was one of the few shots to get through the River Hawks defense. CC trails in shots on goal 25-18, after UML out shot the hosts 11-6 in the first period.

CC goalie Josh Thorimbert put in a strong second period recording 13 saves, five in the first four minutes, while making a glove save with 3:06 left that kept the game tied.

He finished with 36 saves but was outplayed by junior netminder Doug Carr, who recorded 27 stops and made a number of big saves off rebounds to frustrate the Tigers. The Hockey East member River Hawks (1-1-1) were also quick to collapse on their net, denying openings for shots.

“Josh played pretty well,” Owens said. “Carr is the best goalie in the East and probably the country. They showed why they are a No. 7-10 team with Carr backstopping them.”
Lowell freshman Ryan McGrath beat three Tigers to the puck at center ice and pulled away from the two CC defensemen to generate a breakaway that he cashed in from short range against Thorimbert for a 1-0 lead for the visiting River Hawks.

UML dominated play for much of the first period and showed plenty of speed to handle the Olympic-sized sheet.  Despite that, CC came close to scoring, but Carr made a huge glove save on a rebound attempt by Rylan Schwartz with 8:23 left to preserve the 1-0 lead.

“We were a little dull,” Owens said. “It was a bit of a hangover from (Friday) night (a 6-2 road win over rival Air Force).  Initially they had great jump. They are a good team and a hungry team who were trying to salvage the weekend after losing (5-1 at No. 7 Denver) on Friday.”

Notes

Colorado Springs native Josh Holmstrom, a Doherty High School graduate, is an assistant captain for the River Hawks. His older brother Ben Holmstrom was a captain ay UML and is in his second year as captain of the AHL Adirondack Phantoms where he is teammates with former CC captain Mike Testwuide and former Maine defenseman Jeff Dimmen, also of Colorado Springs. … UML was picked to place second in Hockey Eatst behind defending champion Boston College by league media and coaches… UML head coach Norm Bazin and associate head coach Jason Lammers, both former CC assistants, were joined this season by UML alumnus and volunteer goalie coach Dwayne Roloson, a 16-NHl veteran who reached the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. … With the loss, CC is now 7-4 all-time against UML.  …. Thorimbert recorded college win No. 20 on Friday.

No. 10 UMass Lowell 3, No. 19 Colorado College 1

UMass Lowell    1              0              2              — 3

Colorado College              0              1              0              — 1

First period – 1. UML, McGrath (Amlong) 10:27. Penalties – none.

Second period — 2. CC, Harstad (Rapuzzi, Krushelnyski) 13:25. Penalties – UML, Amlong, tripping, 4:23; CC, Marciano, roughing, 7:43; CC, Collett, roughing, 7:43; UML, Wetmore, roughing, 7:43; UML, McGrath, roughing, 7:43; UML, Ruhwedel, slashing, 14:04.

Third period –3. UML, Pendenza (Holmstrom, White) 7:16;  4. UML, Buco (unassisted) 19:30 (EN).  enalties – UML, Pendeza, holding, 16:10.

Power play – UML 0-0, CC 0-3. Shots on goal – UML 11-14-14 – 39; CC 6-12-10 – 28. Saves-minutes – UML, Carr 6-11-10 – 60:00; CC, Thorimbert 10-14-12 – 58:49. Referees – Dreger, Mousseaux. Linesmen – Keltie, Swiader.  Attendance – 7,301.

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:

.