Friday reading: Video, columns, predictions, features, previews

North Dakota released its weekly preview video:

Here is this week’s USCHO column on the WCHA. I wrote about CC’s defense, Mark Zengerle, the players of the week and provided the quick hits.

Here are my predictions for this weekend.

Here is the Gazette’s preview for the North Dakota at CC series. The Grand Forks Heralds says UND wants to generate greasy goals and keep an eye on senior Rylan Schwartz, who leads a potent Tigers offense. You may recall he had hat tricks two nights in a row at Grand Forks last Thanksgiving. Those links and plenty of others are provided here. More links including info on video streaming is included in links found here.

Puckato provides links to preview from all around the WCHA on his morning blog post. Check it out.

Here is a preview of the Wisconsin at Denver series focusing on the college debut of freshman Nic Kerdiles tonight, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. Mountain. Goalie Juho Olkinuora will start for Denver on Friday with Sam Brittain slated for Saturday, the Denver Post reports.

Here are capsules previews for all three series being played along the Front Range this weekend and a more detailed DU preview with an injury update on Josiah Didier.

Here is the NBC SN schedule this weekend:

Nov. 30 – Boston College vs. Boston University, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, Wisconsin vs. Denver, 10 p.m.

Dec. 1 – Boston University vs. Boston College, 7:30 p.m.

The NBC executives certainly picked the right games: BC coach Jerry York is one win away from tying Ron Mason for most Division 1 wins all time.

Monday reading: Zengerle, UM postmortem, UND fan angst, Lemieux

Wisconsin standout Mark Zengerle will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken left index finger, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

A talented Minnesota squad cannot put away weaker teams and it cost them on Saturday. The Gophers beat writer breaks it down.

North Dakota fans are a wringing their hands over Saturday’s loss to a good Boston University team. Goon’s World points out how North Dakota gets better as the season progresses.

As expected, UND 2014 commit Brendan Lemieux, son of former NHLer Claude, is headed to the OHL.

Sunday reading: UMD, CC, Zengerle injury, Denver, Air Force, USHL

Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin hopes his Bulldogs will use their off week to develop more consistency (video).

The Wisconsin State Journal does a postmortem about Saturday’s 3-0 home loss to Colorado College and an injury to leading scorer Mark Zengerle.

Here is the Post’s story on Denver’s 6-1 win over St. Cloud State, including a hat trick for Colorado Springs’ Chris Knowlton.

From Air Force sports information …

Air Force 7, Holy Cross 0

Jason Torf recorded his first shutout of the season and eighth of his career as he made 23 saves in a 7-0 win over Holy Cross in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Saturday, Nov. 3, at Academy’s Cadet Ice Arena. The two teams split the weekend series as the Falcons improved to 2-3-3 overall and 2-1-1 in the league. Holy Cross fell to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in the AHA.

Seven different Falcons scored goals as AFA scored two in the first, two in the second and three in the third. Air Force scored a power-play goal, a short-handed goal, a penalty shot goal and three even-strength goals.

Torf made 23 saves in the game, including 21 in the final two periods, and stopped 63 of the 66 shots he faced in the series. The shutout was his first since a 4-0 win over RIT in last season’s AHA championship game. Kump made 25 saves for the Crusaders. AFA was 2-for-6 on the power play while Holy Cross was 0-for-3. AFA outshot Holy Cross, 32-23, in the game.

Air Force is on the road next weekend for a two-game non-conference series at Penn State, Friday-Saturday, Nov. 9-10, in University Park, Pa. Faceoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET each night.

Also, the schedule for the Air Force-UConn hockey series, Nov. 23-24, in Connecticut has changed. The first game of the series will be Friday, Nov. 23, at 4 p.m. ET at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum on the UConn campus in Storrs, Conn. The game was previously scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

The teams will conclude the two-game Atlantic Hockey series on Saturday, Nov. 24, at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn, at 3:30 p.m. ET. The game will be the first of a doubleheader at the XL Center as the Connecticut Whale (American Hockey League) hosts the Norfolk Admirals at 7 p.m. The Nov. 24th game was originally scheduled for 7:05 p.m. in Storrs, Conn.  The 15,635-seat XL Center is the home of the AHL’s Connecticut Whale and the part-time home of the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams.

From the USHL …

The United States Hockey League announced that the 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, presented by League equipment partner CCM, will take place on Jan. 23, 2013, returning to Muskegon, Mich. for the second consecutive year.

The game features the top NHL Draft-eligible players from the USHL competing in front of a full battery of NHL scouts and front office personnel at the L.C. Walker Arena, home of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.  Forty players will be chosen for the event based on a selection process that includes input of the 16 USHL General Managers, NHL Central Scouting, and NHL team scouts and decision makers.

“We’re excited to have the Prospects Game return to Muskegon, one of the proudest and longest-standing hockey markets in the United States,” said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince.  “These are America’s best, gathered together for a special night with the Muskegon Lumberjacks as host and all of hockey as spectators.”

The 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game takes place just after NHL Central Scouting releases its midterm rankings of players eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft.  Prior to the season, a total of 39 players skating in the USHL were designated as “Players to Watch” by NHL Central Scouting.  Five of those players were ranked as “A” skaters, meaning they are first-round pick consideration, including defensemen Ian McCoshen (Waterloo Black Hawks) and Michael Downing (Dubuque Fighting Saints), and forwards Luke Johnson (Lincoln Stars), J.T. Compher (Team USA), and Hudson Fasching (Team USA).

“We are proud that our organization and city can host this event and showcase this community to NHL personnel,” said Josh Mervis, Owner and CEO of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.  “It will be the highlight event of ‘Hockey Week in Muskegon’ and fans will be treated to an event featuring young talent that will be playing professional hockey in the very near future.”

Last June, a total of 28 players who spent the 2011-12 season in the USHL were selected in the 2012 NHL Draft, including a record six players chosen in the first round.  Additionally, 11 USHL alumni were drafted by NHL teams.

The inaugural USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January 2012 saw Team East earn a 5-3 win over Team West.   Forward Robbie Baillargeon (Indiana Ice) scored a pair of goals for Team East to capture his team’s MVP of the game and then went on to be selected by the Ottawa Senators in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft.  More than 100 NHL scouts and personnel attended the inaugural event for the USHL.

CC picked 7th, Thorimbert shares goalie honor in WCHA media poll

Compiled and written by Bruce Ciskie, KZIO Radio/Bulldog Radio Network …

A year after surprising many by winning the WCHA’s MacNaughton Cup Championship, the Minnesota Golden Gophers are a nearly-unanimous pick of WCHA media to win the league. The annual 94X WCHA Preseason Media Poll, released Wednesday, shows the Gophers easily outdistancing the rest of the league.

A panel of 25 members of the WCHA media voted on a predicted order of finish, along with a handful of individual honors.

Minnesota received a whopping 24 of 25 first-place votes. Defending WCHA playoff champion North Dakota had the other first-place vote and finished a distant second. Denver came in third, followed by Wisconsin and Minnesota Duluth. St. Cloud State claimed the final “home-ice” position in the preseason balloting.

Minnesota junior forward Nick Bjugstad, pictured, was a runaway choice for the Preseason Player of the Year. He also anchors the media’s second annual Preseason All-WCHA Team, where he is joined at forward by Wisconsin junior Mark Zengerle and St. Cloud State senior Ben Hanowski. The defensemen on the team are Denver’s Joey LaLeggia and Nick Jensen of St. Cloud State. Sam Brittain of Denver and Josh Thorimbert of Colorado College tied for the goaltending nod.

For the second straight year, the media chose North Dakota’s Rocco Grimaldi as Preseason Rookie of the Year. Grimaldi took a redshirt after an injury-ravaged season, and he is again eligible for rookie honors.

Teams were scored under a standard system of 12 points for a first-place vote, 11 for second, and so on. The number listed with each team is the number of points that team averaged per vote.

94X WCHA PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Minnesota (24 first place votes) … 11.92 poll average

2. North Dakota (1) … 10.76

3. Denver … 9.92

4. Wisconsin … 7.8

5. Minnesota Duluth … 6.88

6. St. Cloud State … 6.84

7. Colorado College … 6.08

8. Nebraska Omaha … 5.48

9. Michigan Tech … 5.2

10. Minnesota State … 3.6

11. Bemidji State … 2.48

12. Alaska Anchorage … 1.04

PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Nick Bjugstad, forward, Minnesota (16 votes)

Others receiving more than one vote: Erik Haula, forward, Minnesota (4); Mark Zengerle, forward, Wisconsin (3)

PRESEASON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Rocco Grimaldi, forward, North Dakota (8 1/2 votes)

Others receiving more than one vote: Nic Kerdiles, forward, Wisconsin (5); Jordan Schmaltz, defenseman, North Dakota (2 1/2); Brady Skjei, defenseman, Minnesota (2); Andy Welinski, defenseman, Minnesota Duluth (2)

PRESEASON ALL-WCHA TEAM

Forwards

Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota (20 votes); Mark Zengerle, Wisconsin (17); Ben Hanowski, St. Cloud State (8)

Others receiving more than one vote: Danny Kristo, North Dakota (7); Erik Haula, Minnesota (6); Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College (5); Corban Knight, North Dakota (3)

Defensemen

Joey LaLeggia, Denver (20 votes); Nick Jensen, St. Cloud State (9)

Others receiving more than one vote: Nate Schmidt, Minnesota (7); Wade Bergman, Minnesota Duluth (3)

Goalie

Sam Brittain, Denver and Josh Thorimbert, Colorado College (7 1/2 votes each)

Others receiving more than one vote: Juho Olkinuora, Denver (3), Joel Rumpel, Wisconsin (2)

The following media members took part in the 94X Preseason Media Poll:  David Ahlers, KKAR Radio/University of Nebraska-Omaha; Stephen Anderson, Daily Mining Gazette; Andy Baggot, Wisconsin State Journal; Tyler Buckentine, USCHO.com; Mike Chambers, Denver Post; Bruce Ciskie, KZIO Radio/Bulldog Radio Network; Chris Dilks, Western College Hockey; Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press; John Gilbert, WCHA.com; Kurt Haider, KENI Radio; Mick Hatten, St. Cloud Times; Dirk Hembroff, WKMJ Radio; Jack Hittinger, Bemidji Pioneer; Ken Landau, 103.9 FM The Eagle Radio; Don Lyons, Leighton Broadcasting/St. Cloud; Todd Milewski, USCHO.com; Dan Myers, Minnesota Hockey Magazine; Jess Myers, 1500ESPN.com; Joe Paisley, Colorado Springs/Colorado College; Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune; Chris Peters, United States of Hockey; Brian Posick, WIBA Radio/Badger Radio Network; Chad Purcell, Omaha World Herald; Brad Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald; Jay Stickney, 102.3 ESPN Radio.