Tuesday reading: Lagrone, NCHC, WMU, WCHA web media poll

Here is some news on a CC commit from the NAHL …

West Division Star of the Week: Duggie Lagrone, defenseman, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs completed a perfect sweep in the state of Texas this past weekend with a two-game sweep of the Wichita Falls Wildcats, which followed up their sweep last week of Corpus Christi.  This past week, Dallas, Texas native and Fairbanks defenseman Duggie Lagrone, 18, felt right at home as he picked up four points and was +2 in a weekend sweep in Wichita Falls.  On Friday night, Lagrone (5’8/170) assisted on the Ice Dogs first goal in a 2-1 win.  On Saturday, Lagrone had a goal and assisted on two others (including the game-winner) in a 5-3 win over Wichita Falls.  In 16 games this season, Lagrone has 11 points.  “I think there was a little added motivation for Duggie because he was back in his home state of Texas and had a lot of family in attendance at the games,” said Fairbanks head coach Trevor Stewart.  “You could tell he was playing with some extra emotion.  He can skate really well and does a very good job at beating the forecheck and getting the puck out of the zone and up the ice.”

Here is the weekend review for the future NCHC.

Here is a preview of Northern Michigan at No. 10 Western Michigan.

This week’s WCHA web media poll was announced Monday evening.

Team Pts Previous Record High Low
1) Denver (10) 138 1 9-3-0 1 4
2) Minnesota (2) 128 2 9-2-2 1 5
3) North Dakota 120 2 6-4-2 2 6
4) St. Cloud State 107 4 7-5-0 3 6
5) Nebraska Omaha 100 5 8-3-1 3 6
6) Colorado College 90 6 7-6-1 3 7
7) Michigan Tech 67 7 4-6-0 6 10
8) Minnesota State 53 11 5-5-2 7 10
9) Bemidji State 51 10 3-5-2 7 10
10) Minnesota Duluth 45 9 3-7-2 7 11
11) Wisconsin 23 8 1-7-2 10 12
12) Alaska Anchorage 14 12 2-4-4 11 12

Friday reading: CC, Michigan, Tech, UNO, Mankato, Huntsville, WMU

Here is the Gazette’s preview for this weekend. Here is my season preview on USCHO.

Lake Superior State 4, Michigan Tech 2

Sophomore forward Blake Pietila and junior forward Dennis Rix each scored l but Michigan Tech lost  to Lake Superior State on Thursday evening at Taffy Abel Arena

RIT 5, No. 3 Michigan 4 OT

Michigan gave up three goals in the final frame and fell in overtime, 5-4, to RIT in their regular-season opener.

Freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba had the only multi-point night for Michigan, notching a power-play goal and an assist. After being deadlocked after three periods, it took only 14 seconds for RIT’s Adam Hartley to beat freshman goaltender Jared Rutledge in overtime. Rutledge finished the night with a total of 21 saves.

Minnesota State’s Eriah Hayes is featured  in this well-done article. Here is the season preview for their opening opponent, Alabama-Huntsville.

Nebraska Omaha got a commitment from the NAHL Player of the Month for September.

This Western Michigan defenseman got his fellow students to return a stolen CCHA championship banner by channeling his inner-Liam Neeson of Taken, not The Phantom Menace.

Sunday reading: Air Force, CC, Michigan Tech, Minnesota, Stuart

You know the season must be getting near if there is enough material out there for a Sunday blog post. I know I am anxious.

Here are a few links.

The NAHL is a popular recruiting ground for Air Force. Coach Frank Serratore explains why in this nahl.com article.

I wrote a profile on CC icon Dr. Ray Werner, 90, who had a huge effect on Tiger athletics and the WCHA over the years.

Here is a season preview for Michigan Tech.

It looks like Minnesota may juggle its lines.

The NHL lockout has been a little extra trying for the Winnipeg Jets, including former Tiger Mark Stuart.

AFA’s McKenzie participating in Capitals development camp

CHRISTIAN MURDOCK/THE GAZETTE

Edited from original on NAHL.com …

Air Force junior defenseman Adam McKenzie, pictured, isgetting a rare opportunity afforded some undrafted players by participating in the Washington Capitals’ annual development camp, which began two days ago. The sessions end on Saturday.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” McKenzie told NAHL.com. “I’m really excited to be here. It’s an opportunity to show what I can do. It’s an NHL camp, and it’s a step toward reaching my dream.”

Among the camp’s 46 participants are players drafted by the team, including 2012 first-round selections Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson, and free agents. The camp is at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., and will consist of on- and off-ice workouts as well as scrimmages.

It was his development and experiences with the NAHL’s Wenatchee Wild that played a pivotal role in McKenzie making an easy transition to the Division I level, said Air Force head coach Frank Serratore.

“Adam was a good player when he left Wenatchee,” Serratore said. “He was a mature player to start with and we anticipated that he would be able to make a seamless transition into a Division I hockey player, and he did.”

As a freshman, McKenzie played in all 38 of Air Force’s games. He notched 19 points (5G, 14A) with a plus-8 rating on a Falcons team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament. McKenzie was the No. 2 scoring freshman on the team and the top-scoring freshman in the AHA. Later, he was named to the AHA’s all-rookie team.

“It will be a terrific hockey experience for Adam, and it will give him an opportunity to see where he sits on the food chain among other prospects,” Serratore said. “We’re happy for Adam. It’s good for him, good for [Air Force] and Wenatchee.”

For the entire, unedited article click here.

Thursday reading: Cecere, USHL draft, college news

Here is a list of NAHL college commitments, including two headed to CC: Garrett Cecere (2013 or 14) and 2012 defenseman Russell Finch.

Cecere, pictured, led the Janesville Jets with four points (1g, 3a) in five playoff games, the furthest the franchise has gone in the postseason. Cecere was fourth on the team and led the defenseman corps with 30 points (6g, 24a) in 52 games with a plus-4 rating.

Miami and North Dakota recruits shared the USHL Goalie of the Year honors.

North Dakota announced its incoming class for 2012-13. Goalie Aaron Dell‘s plans remain unknown.

The USHL held its entry draft, and decided its championship, which included plenty of future WCHA/NCHC players. No CC commits were involved. Here is one blogger’s take on the draft.

Florida won the ECHL championship.

Maryland commit heads to CC this fall

Fairbanks Ice Dogs defenseman Russell Finch is headed to Colorado Springs this fall according to the Daily News Miner.

One of the most consistent defensemen in coach Trevor Stewart’s lineup, Finch committed to play college hockey at Colorado College of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) starting this fall.

He would be the first Maryland native to play for the Tigers. He joins 2012-13 newcomers center Cody Bradley of Tampa, Fla., left wing Hunter Fejes of Anchorage, Alaska, and right wing Jared Hanson of Palmer, Alaska, along with defenseman Michael King of Prince George, British Columbia.

“He’s just a solid defender,” Stewart told the Fairbanks newspaper from Seattle earlier this week, as the Ice Dogs traveled to Dallas for the Robertson Cup on Thursday at the Dr. Pepper Center in Frisco, Texas.  “He’s good at the one-on-one game, he keeps things simple and he always makes a good first pass.”

Finch, 21, of Middleton, Maryland, has played the past two seasons in the North American Hockey League (NAHL).  The 6 foot, 205-pounder started his NAHL career in 2010-11 with the St. Louis Bandits, which defeated Fairbanks 3-1 in the Cup opener on Thursday. Here are his career stats.

After beginning this season with the Bandits, he was traded 10 games into the season to Fairbanks, where he flourished, recording 12 points in 40 regular season games with the Ice Dogs, including being a +26.  In 99 career NAHL regular season games, he has recorded 27 points.

He was then selected to participate in the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament this past February in Troy, Michigan, where he represented team West.

Stewart said Finch is a perfect fit for the Tigers, who play on an Olympic-size ice sheet.

“He’s an efficient skater and he has good stick control, which is beneficial on the big ice,” Stewart said.

Stewart said Finch should fit in well at Colorado College.

“He’s great academically and he’s a good team player,” Stewart said. “We’re excited that he’s going to be able to step in at a big-time school like Colorado College.”

Wednesday reading: Weekly honors, UNO rink, J. Schwartz, WCHA women, AFA honor

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) and defenseman Jack Hillen stop a Kings shot during the first period Monday. / Sanford Myers / The Tennessean

Two Gophers were honored by the WCHA this week.

UNO coach Dean Blais is trying to jump start the school’s effort to get its own 8,000-seat arena on campus. No doubt, such a move would be huge for the program, especially from a financial viewpoint (concessions, parking revenue, etc.).

Here’s a look at Wisconsin’s road playoff possibilities.

CC assistant Eric Rud was checking out the NAHL’s top prospects recently.

From stltoday.com: Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz is close to NHL-ready, and why not? He was captain of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. He has scored 12 goals and added 24 assists in 26 college games this season.

Colorado College has won just one of its last six games. At 16-14-2 overall and 13-12-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Schwartz’s team is on the outside of the NCAA’s 16-team national tourney bracket looking in.

Perhaps Colorado College can win the WCHA tourney and the automatic berth that goes with it. Or perhaps Jaden will have to decide whether to turn pro earlier than he expected.

Schwartz is a skilled player, but his character is what sets him apart. He appears to be a natural leader. “When you play, you want to make the players around you better,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette earlier this season. “Whether teams are on you more or not, that’s something you’ve got to battle through. Every player has been through that at different levels.”

Pine Creek graduate Emily West’s play will be critical for the Minnesota women in the WCHA Frozen Faceoff (league semifinals and championship) this weekend in Duluth.

This sick little boy has been inspired by the Brown Bears and they have been motivated by him.

From AFA sports information:

Air Force sophomore Jason Torf was named the Atlantic Hockey Association Goalie of the Month for February as he helped lead Air Force to a 5-2-1 record and the AHA regular-season championship.

Torf, from Hermosa Beach, Calif., posted a 1.11 goals-against average and a .956 saves percentage in the month. He recorded four shutouts in eight starts as he blanked RIT (3-0 on Feb. 3), Niagara (2-0 on Feb. 10), Mercyhurst (8-0 on Feb. 17) and Robert Morris (3-0 on Feb. 25). Three of his four shutouts came against teams ranked in the top four in the league. Torf led AFA to the league title by stopping all 25 shots he faced in the final regular-season game at Robert Morris, Feb. 25. The night before, he made a season high 35 saves against the Colonials.

After missing almost three months and 14 games with a groin injury, Torf has come back to be among the national leaders in every goaltending category. In all games, he ranks third in the nation in goals-against average (1.65), seventh in shutouts (4) and eighth in saves percentage (.931)

The Atlantic Hockey monthly honor was his first of the season and second of his career. Air Force, 17-9-7 overall and 15-6-6 in the league, earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Falcons will host an AHA quarterfinal series, March 9-11, at the Cadet Ice Arena.