UPDATED: Incoming wing still excited by early-morning phone call

Here is an updated version of an earlier blog post about the CC signee’s draft selection:

Like most teenagers, Hunter Fejes was not too awake early Saturday morning.

Since he was home in Anchorage, the second day of the 2012 NHL Draft started at 6 a.m. He missed the start and had only been awake for a short time when a phone call perked him up mighty quick.

His adviser called to let him know the Phoenix Coyotes selected him 178th overall with the 27th pick of the sixth round.

The sudden whirlwind of phone calls and well wishes that followed still had Fejes buzzing a couple hours later.

“I just felt really happy,” he said. “I got really excited and then I started trying to figure out what to do.”

That would be to pack his bags. He is headed to the Coyotes development camp in Glendale, Ariz. on Monday. There the Coyotes can look him over again and make their recommendations on improving his game while playing for the Tigers. He confirmed that he plans to play for CC this fall.

The incoming freshman left wing was rated No. 91 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, garnered plenty of attention after he led Shattuck-St. Mary’s with 38 goals and finished second with 78 points in 55 appearances.

That performance made him attractive to the Coyotes organization, which reached the 2012 Western Conference finals. A chance to play in sunny Arizona is appealing to the Anchorage native, who has spent his high school years in Minnesota. His family maintains a vacation home there.

“I could get used to that weather,” he said.

MTU leads 2-1 after one

Michigan Tech jumped out to a 2-0 lead early before Colorado College battled back to make it 2-1 going into the first intermission.

Saturday’s Game 2 started out as a run-and-gun affair and maintained that pace the whole first period.

Michigan tech drew first blood and the refereesdrew the ire of the World Arena crowd quickly.

MTU’s David Johnstone pounced on a turnover in between the faceoff circles when CC defenseman Joe Marciano fell down after what most of the fans on hand considered a trip by a Huskies forward.

No penalty was called and the Huskies took a 1-0 lead 68 seconds into the game.

The non-call certainly got the pro-Tigers crowd worked up and set up an exciting first period with CC coming close to scoring 13 seconds apart and CC goalie Josh Thorimbert made a huge save on MTU’s Jordan Baker on a one-on-none breakaway with 14:50 left to keep the game at 1-0, Huskies.

MTU kept on coming.  Brett Olson ripped a wrister high glove side past Thorimbert with 13:14 left for a 2-0 Huskies lead.

But like last year with Wisconsin up 2-0 early and up a game in the playoff series, CC responded with a goal from a role player.

Andrew Hamburg scored his third of the year on a give-and-go with Archie Skalbeck on a 2-on-1 breakaway with 11:37 left to cut the MTU lead to 2-1.

Thorimbert made another huge save on a one-on-none breakaway for Olson with 10:05 left

Tigers beat Tech; will play them in playoffs Friday

The two teams liked this past weekend’s series so much that they’ll try it again next week

No. 19 Colorado College’s 2-0 win and results of other Western Collegiate Hockey Association games on Saturday night dropped Michigan Tech to the No. 8 seed in the upcoming best-of-three first round of the league playoffs when they will face the host Tigers on Friday.

The Huskies (14-18-4, 11-13-4 WCHA) will stay in Colorado Springs since the school is on spring break.

Tech head coach Mel Pearson likes his team’s chances after spending another week getting used to the altitude, the Olympic-sized ice sheet, and not having to travel.

“This could end up being an advantage,” Pearson said. “We know what they’re trying to do and they know what we’re doing. We just need to figure out a way to score goals.”

“That will help them,” Tigers head coach Scott Owens. “I like that we finished fifth instead of sixth and we’ve won both games in March. I like that it kept our Pairwise chances going.”

MTU last advanced to the WCHA Final Five in 2007, when the Huskies swept the host Tigers (18-14-2, 15-12-1), which also marked the last time Tech has won at the World Arena. The Huskies are 6-2 against CC in eight all-time postseason games.

Here are the other playoff matchups, pending a late Alaska score, for the best-of-three series starting Friday:  No. 12 seed Alaska-Anchorage at No. 1 Minnesota; No. 11 Minnesota State at No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth; No. 10 Bemidji State/Wisconsin at No. 3 Denver; No. 9 Wisconsin/Bemidji State at No. 4 North Dakota, and No. 7 Nebraska-Omaha at No. 6 St. Cloud State.

The Huskies have not finished higher than sixth place in the WCHA since 1992-93, when they were fourth. It was also the last time MTU hosted a WCHA playoff series.

CC senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel wound up and fired a hard slap shot that beat Tech goalie Kevin Genoe, making only his seventh appearance this season. The 5-on-3 power play goal was set up by penalties against the Huskies’ Alex MacLeod and Riley Sweeney only 42 seconds apart.

The goal, coming on CC’s sixth shot of the game, energized both teams with a lot of the rough stuff in the final three minutes of the second period.

CC picked up a huge insurance goal when Jaden Schwarz forced a MTU turnover along the left boards and skated in alone on the breakaway. He skated across the face of the goal, beating Genoe with a backhander inside the right post for s 2-0 lead with 52.2 seconds left in the second.

“They’re a good team and we can’t afford to give them a 5-on-3 or let Schwartz come clean for a breakaway,” Pearson said.

The third period was marked with a lot of end-to-end play with the Huskies coming out playing hard in hopes for staging a rally. Genoe made a huge legpad save on a one-timer by Rylan Schwartz from three feet away midway through the period to keep CC from pulling away.

“He gave us a chance to win tonight,” Pearson said.

MTU pulled Genoe with 2:44 remaining but the Huskies could not solve Thorimbert, who made 31 saves for his third career shutout.

“The guys in front of me worked their (butts) off,” Thorimbert said.

“Josh came up big and we found a way to win,” Owens said.

Michigan Tech put together a solid first period, but could not capitalize on its chances. Captain Brett Olson muffed a one-timer 4:28 in and his rebound attempt was stopped by Josh Thorimbert with 14:21 left.

Later, the Tigers killed off a 5-on-3 lasting an entire two minutes, being served by penalty-killing defensemen Guentzel and Joe Marciano, late in the period. The Huskies out shot CC 15-4 during the period and had a 19-4 edge early in the second.

“We had a good first period but we had nothing to show for it,” Pearson said. “We held them to two goals on the road. That’s usually good enough to win.”

Thorimbert made two big saves during that 5-on-3 man advantage for Tech, including a point-bank attempt by MTU 6-foot-5 right wing Milos Gordic, while CC captain Nick Dineen twice disrupted the MTU power play with a block and poke check out front.

Playing Tech in the playoffs mirrors last season’s finish when CC played Wisconsin five times, winning Game 3 of the playoff series.

“I thought it worked out well last year,” Owens said. “It has the flavor of a Junior A five-game series which we liked. I know tonight was the kind of game that earned our players’ respect. We were fortunate to win this game.”

It’s going to be intense,” Guentzel said/ “It’s do-or-die hockey.”

CC clinches home playoff ice

COLORADO SPRINGS – Two shorthanded goals by Michigan Tech still weren’t enough for the visiting Huskies to keep momentum and pull out a critical road win.

Instead, No. 19 Colorado College scored two timely goals in response and grabbed fifth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and home playoff ice before an announced crowd of 6.485 fans on Friday night.

Home playoff tickets went on sale immediately after the win and will again be for sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Two goals by CC senior Tim Hall in the second period helped the host Tigers take control.

Hall’s first goal snatched back the momentum only 2:23 into the second period after MTU sophomore defenseman Daniel Sova had scored on a shorthanded chance with 3:18 left in the first period.

“We needed to take better care of the puck,” head coach Mel Pearson said. ‘We didn’t play with as much aggression as we usually do until the third period. I liked how we played in the third period until all the penalties.”

Hall scored his second goal, beating a retreating MTU defender one-on-one, and using him for a screen to shoot the puck past MTU goalie Josh Robinson (36 saves) for the eventual game-winner and a 3-1 lead.

“We stayed pretty calm in the locker room (during first intermission),” Hall said. “We have had a rough stretch, going (1-5-1) in our last seven. But now we feel good. I don’t think we’re going to let up. Hopefully we can keep this rolling.”

The eighth-place Huskies (14-17-4, 11-12-4 WCHA) will try to win their first regular-season game in 22 tries at the Colorado Springs World Arena Saturday night. MTU must win and hope both sixth-place Nebraska Omaha and St. Cloud State lose to garner sixth place and home playoff ice next week.

The Huskies will need to approach Saturday night like it’s a playoff game, which was the last time Michigan Tech won in Colorado Springs with a best-of-three series sweep in March 2007.

The Huskies again took advantage of No. 19 Colorado College’s most glaring weaknesses – allowing shorthanded goals — during the third period.

Sophomore defenseman Bradley Stebner’s score was the 11th shorthanded goal allowed by Colorado College this season, second-worst in Division I behind Northeastern (12).

It trimmed CC’s lead to 3-2, but Tigers defenseman Mike Boivin scored 22 seconds later while on the power play to seize the momentum back in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association game. The goal was set up by a fac eoff win by CC captain Nick Dineen in the Huskies’ zone.

“The little things were what hurt us,” Pearson said. “You have to win face offs.”

Jaden Schwartz scored an empty-net, power-play goal with 10 seconds remaining for the final margin.

Michigan Tech had a chance at a third shorty with 9:12 remaining, but CC goalie Josh Thorimbert made the leg pad save on Alex MacLeod.

The Huskies later had two power plays in a row to make it a one-goal game but Thorimbert made four of his 26 saves to preserve the win.

“I thought their goalie was quite good, especially in the third period,” Pearson said.

Even with the sweep Saturday night, the host Tigers (17-14-2, 14-12-1) can finish no higher that fifth place after wins by Denver and North Dakota Friday.

The Huskies have not finished higher than sixth place in the WCHA since 1992-93, when they were fourth. It was also the last time MTU hosted a WCHA playoff series.

Colorado College used a good forecheck to put good pressure on the Husky blue-liners. Junior center Rylan Schwartz collecting a turnover inside the MTU blue line along the near boards, firing a crossing pass to junior right wing William Rapuzzi in front, whose shot ended up behind Robinson. Jaden Schwartz reached in behind Robinson to jam the puck in for the early 1-0 lead.

Wednesday reading: Injury updates, more Rau

The bumps and bruises are becoming more serious as the stretch run continues in the WCHA.

Here’s an update on Minnesota Duluth’s JT Brown, who is out this weekend.

CC’s Tim Hall is out as well but a couple others are expected back this weekend along with updates on long-term injuries. With some injured players coming back, especially Nick Dineen and Josh Thorimbert, the Tigers may have a playoff run in them this season.

The Gophers  juggled their lines on Saturday, but its unclear if the configurations will remain this weekend against Bemidji State, especially with Kyle Rau back. Minnesota coach Don Lucia had no problem with the call and bu not so much on the one-game suspension. Jason Zucker, who was knocked unconscious by Rau’s hit, practiced Tuesday.

Mankato is feeling pretty good after a road sweep at last-place Alaska Anchorage, especially with only five defensemen making the trip.

Here’s details on the North Dakota at Nebraska Omaha outdoor game in February 2013. That will be a great early showcase for two members of The National, which begins play that fall.

Friday reading: Previews, academic honors

Oklahoma City’s Ryan Keller and Abbotsford’s Brian Connelly battle for control of the puck during the first period of Thursday night’s American Hockey League game at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Henrik Karlsson, Calgary Flames No. 2 goalie, was in the nets for the Heat on a conditioning assignment. Photograph by: Gavin Young, Calgary Herald

Denver hopes the return of goalie Sam Brittain gives the Pioneers a chance at making a run and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. They host No. 1/2 Minnesota, which is coming off a bye week. The Pioneers have done well against the Gophers of late, prompting some concern in the Twin Cities.

Here is a CC at Bemidji State preview from the Beavers’ perspective and a preview capsule by the Gazette, which has reported Nick Dineen and Josh Thorimbert did not make the trip to Bemidji this weekend.

Alaska Anchorage hopes to get on a roll at home against MSU Mankato after beating then No, 1/2 Minnesota Duluth last weekend. Here’s an update on the purple Mavs.

All four UMD Hobey Baker winners will be honored during the No. 3 Bulldogs’ home game tonight against No. 16 North Dakota. Here is a profile of all four. North Dakota brought all its healthy players, giving Stephane Pattyn more ice time than expected this season.

This weekend’s series between visiting Nebraska Omaha and Michigan Tech could determine home playoff ice for both teams. Mix in a large Winter Carnival crowd and it’s Hot Times in Houghton, which this time of year means a high of 10 degrees Fahrenheit and a 90 percent chance of snow.

Here are Roman’s fearless WCHA predictions. The Minnesota Mr. Hockey finalists were announced.

Former Tiger Bill Sweatt is profiled by his hometown newspaper. Wisconsin’s Justin Schultz will be a hot commodity in the free agent market this summer if he chooses to eeave a year early.

Altogether a record 96 hockey players were named WCHA scholar-athletes on Thursday.

Here is the list as copied from wcha.com:

2011-12 WCHA Scholar-Athletes
****four-time recipient; ***three-time recipient; **two time recipient

Alaska Anchorage — Matt Bailey (So., F, Winnipeg, MB); Brett Cameron (So., F, Spruce Grove, AB); Chris Crowell** (Jr., F, Williams Lake, BC); Andrew Pickering (So., F, West Vancouver, BC); Jade Portwood (Sr., F, Victoria, BC); Dusan Sidor*** (Jr., G, Poprad, Slovakia).

Bemidji State — Drew Fisher** (Sr., F, International Falls, MN); Jamie MacQueen** (Sr., F, St. Thomas, ON).

Colorado College — David Civitarese*** (Sr., F, Calgary, AB).

Denver — Beau Bennett (So., F, Gardena, CA); Daniel Olszewski (So., F, Janesville, WI); Shawn Ostrow** (Jr., F, Calgary, AB); Paul Phillips** (Jr., D, Darien, IL).

Michigan Tech — Corson Cramer*** (Jr., G, Colorado Springs, CO); Kevin Genoe** (Jr.,G, Qualicum Beach, BC); Patrick McCadden (So., F, Chesterfield, MO); Brad Stebner (So., D, Fort McMurray, AB).

Minnesota — Zach Budish (So., F, Edina); Nate Condon (So. F, Wausau, Wis.); Jake Kremer **(Sr., G, Eden Prairie); Nick Larson (Sr.  F, Stillwater);  Taylor Matson (Sr.  F, Mound); Nico Sacchetti ** (Sr. F, Virginia).

Minnesota Duluth —  Aaron Crandall** (So., G, Lakeville, MN); Luke McManus (So., D, Apple Valley, MN); Kenny Reiter**** (Sr., G, Pittsburgh, PA).

Minnesota State Mankato — Cameron Cooper (Sr., D, Lakeville, MN); Tyler Elbrecht** (Jr., D, Edwardsville, IL); Evan Karambelas (Fr., G, Fort St. John, BC); Austin Lee**** (Sr., G, Bloomington, MN); Evan Mosey (Jr., D, Downers Grove, IL); Joe Schiller*** (Sr., F, Detroit Lakes, MN).

Nebraska Omaha — Bryce Aneloski (Jr., D, Pekin, IL); Fredrik Bergman** (Jr., G, Vienna, VA); Terry Broadhurst (Jr., F, Orland Park, IL); Kyle Ensign (Sr., D, New Richmond, WI); Zahn Raubenheimer (So., F, Smoky Lake, AB); Johnnie Searfoss (So., F, Colleyville, TX); Alex Simonson (So., F, Grand Forks, ND).

North Dakota — Brad Eidsness*** (Sr., G, Chestermere, AB); Dillon Simpson (So., D, Edmonton, AB).

St. Cloud State  — Jordy Christian*** (Sr., F, Moorhead, MN); Nic Dowd (So., F, Huntsville, AL); Kevin Gravel (So., D, Kingsford, MI); Ben Hanowski (Jr., F, Little Falls, MN); Nick Jensen (So., D, Rogers, MN); Drew LeBlanc*** (Sr., F, Hermantown, MN); Mike Lee** (Jr., G, Roseau, MN); Travis Novak*** (Sr., F, Lethbridge, AB).

Thursday reading: Weekend previews, Sioux nickname, GLI

Colorado College junior goaltender Joe Howe makes a save in the second period of an NCAA hockey game against the University of Denver at the DU's Magness Arena on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (Daniel Petty, The Denver Post)

Colorado College’s defense is much improved of late while junior goalie Joe Howe will be the likely starter this Friday at Bemidji State. Backup Courtney Lockwood is making his first road trip. BSU coach Tom Serratore previews (video) the home series against CC.

Because of injuries, North Dakota does not have the extra players needed for a “healthy scratch” when it travels to No. 3 Minnesota Duluth. The Sioux nickname returns at the University of North Dakota, at least temporarily. The Big Sky Conference, the new league home for the other UND sports, is not amused.

It looks the Big 10 and The National may end up holding its postseason tournaments at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul every other year.

The top line for No.1/2 Minnesota will be a real test for Denver, which hosts the confident Gophers this weekend and needs to do well down the stretch to avoid having to win the Final Five tournament outright for an NCAA bid.

Nebraska-Omaha travels to Michigan Tech in a battle of two teams tied for fifth place. Mankato travels to Anchorage to conclude the Seawolves’ homestand.

St. Cloud State is idle this week. Here’s a profile of goalie Mike Lee in the interim. The Badgers also have the weekend off.

The Great Lakes Invitational will be played outdoors Dec. 28 and 29, 2012 and will included future National Collegiate Hockey Conference member Western Michigan. The NCHC announced Wednesday that it would have a 24-game league schedule when it begins play in October 2013.

Here’s the weekend schedule courtesy of wcha.com …

Games for Friday, February 10: *Nebraska Omaha at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 7:07 pm ET; North Dakota at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Colorado College at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Minnesota at Denver (WCHA), 8:07 pm MT; Minnesota State at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT. * Winter Carnival

Games for Saturday, February 11: *Nebraska Omaha at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 5:07 pm ET; Colorado College at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; North Dakota at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Minnesota at Denver (WCHA), 7:07 pm MT; Minnesota State at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT. * Winter Carnival