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:

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In the pros: Lowery signs with South Carolina

Former CC captain Ryan Lowery signed a contract with ECHL South Carolina, joining former college teammate Tyler Johnson.

From the press release …

Lowery, 24, heads into his second professional campaign after splitting last season between the Stockton Thunder and the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League.

The Inverness, Ill. native appeared in 22 games with the Thunder picking up seven points (1g-6a) and 28 contests with the Barons adding seven points (1g-6a).

In 2011, he appeared with the Edmonton Oilers in the YoungStars Tournament.

Before going pro, Lowery completed a four-year collegiate career at Colorado College totaling seven goals and 39 assists for 46 points in 152 games and served as captain his senior season.

Tuesday reading: Cecere, NHL free agency, Guentzel, Bjugstad, AFA

Future Tiger Garrett Cecere (2013 commit) is getting some attention from NHL scouts.

Seven former Tigers remain NHL/AHL free agents  (as of 10 a.m. MT) after Joey Crabb (Capitals), Curtis McElhinney (Columbus) and Toby Petersen (Dallas) signed on Sunday and Monday.

Jack Hillen joined Crabb on the Caps on Tuesday morning.

Here are some details about Crabb’s deal and the $200,000 pay raise from the Anchorage Daily News.

They are (name, 2011-12 team):

Richard Bachman (Dallas): Kris Fredheim (Wild); Trevor Frischmon, pictured, (Islanders); Richard Petiot (Tampa Bay); Brett Sterling (Blues), Colin Stuart (Buffalo), and Mike Testwuide (Flyers).

Colorado Springs’ Ben Holmstrom (Flyers) is also available.

Jake Guentzel, younger brother of former Tiger Gabe, is considering Colorado College. Nice kid. I met him during his visit while he was watching a practice last November. He is forgoing his senior year of high school to go to the USHL which means he could develop more quickly.

Former Badger Justin Schultz hates how Lebronesque his decision became.

Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad will decide after the Panthers’ development camp if he will return to the Gophers.

UMass fans lick their wounds after being turned down by the Quinnipiac coach.

From  the academy …

The Air Force hockey team is proud to announce the five members of the Class of 2016, as announced Monday by head coach Frank Serratore. The class of 2016 includes two forwards and three defensemen.

26, Ben Carey, F, 5-11, 160, Centennial, CO / Wenatchee Wild (NAHL)

Played two years of junior hockey for the Wenatchee Wild of the NAHL … Led the Wild in scoring in 2011-12 with 57  points (27-30-57) in 60 games … led the team with 14 ppg and was second with a +16 … tied for 11th in the league in goals and 16th in points … third in the league in power-play goals … scored six points (2-4-6) in eight playoff games … in 2010-11, was fifth on the Wild with 43 points (19-24-43) in 57 games … fourth on the team in goals and fifth in points in 2010-11.

44, Max Edson, F, 5-8, 170, Hermosa Beach, CA / Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)

Played two years of junior hockey for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL … Played 33 games in 2011-12 at forward and scored 15 points (6-9-15) … In 2010-11, played 54 games at forward and scored 19 points (10-9-19).

8, Max Hartner, D, 6-0, 195, Greenwood Village, CO / Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

Played three years of junior hockey for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL … Played in 38 games in 2011-12 on defense and scored 10 points (1-9-10) … Played in 44 games on defense in 2010-11 and had 12 points (6-6-12) in 44 games … team captain in 2011-12 and 2010-11 … helped lead the Gamblers to the USHL regular-season and playoff championships twice … In 2009-10, scored three points (1-2-3) in 24 games.

10, Jesse Ramsey, D, 5-11, 175, Rogers, MN / Kenai River Brown Bears (NAHL)

Played three years of junior hockey with the Kenai River Brown Bears of the NAHL .. the top scoring defenseman, and third overall on the team,  with 38 points (11-27-38) in 60 games in 2011-12  … ranked fifth in the league in points by a defenseman … 11 goals tied as the second most in the league by any blueliner … played 57 games at forward for the Brown Bears in 2010-11 and had 21 points (5-16-21) … began his junior career in 2009-10 with the Wenatchee Wild of the NAHL and played 16 games, scoring four points (3-1-4) … played the final 38 games of the 2009-10 season with the Brown Bears at forward and scored 19 points (3-16-19) in 38 games.

77, Trevor Waldoch, D, 6-2, 175, Forest Lake, MN / Austin Bruins (NAHL)

Played two years of junior hockey for the Austin Bruins of the NAHL … Played in 60 games on defense in 2011-12 and scored 27 points (9-18-27) in 60 to rank third on team among defenseman … Played 48 games in 2010-11 on defense and scored 25 points (5-20-25) in 48 games.

Oilers land Wisconsin’s Schultz

From the CBC …

The Edmonton Oilers decision to take sniper forward Nail Yakupov over steady defenceman Ryan Murray looks even better now that the Oilers landed prized unrestricted free agent defenceman Justin Schultz.

In dramatic fashion that played out on Twitter on Saturday afternoon, Schultz and his representatives began contacting the six teams that made his shortlist. The Canucks, Rangers, Wild and Maple Leafs were all informed that they had lost their bid to sign the native of West Kelowna, B.C. to a three-year entry level contract.

The decision came down to the Senators and Oilers, the two most talented young teams based in Canada, and Schultz chose Edmonton, which even had Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey call Schultz on the Oilers behalf to help their recruiting cause.

Schultz felt that the Oilers provided the best opportunity to grow with a young group of talented players, including forward Taylor Hall who also met with Schultz to try and sway him to come to Edmonton.

“You look at what they have there, the type of team there with all those young guys who are turning into superstars,” Schultz said. “The have a strong core of young prospects and that was intriguing to me.

“The coach, Ralph Krueger, also came in to talk to me about what style he wants to play and I didn’t think there would be a better fit.”

Schultz will travel to Edmonton to meet with local reporters and some of the Oilers staff on Sunday. His two-year, entry-level contract has a base salary of $925,000, but potential bonuses will make him a cap hit of $3,775,000.

Schultz, who turns 22 on Friday, remarked that he hasn’t been promised a spot on the Oilers roster next season, but with his strong skating and offensive ability he sure had scouts excited about his future. Twenty-six teams were interested in signing him when he became an unrestricted free agent last Monday.

“I don’t want to be the guy that gets a guaranteed spot. I want to earn it and you should have to earn it in the NHL.”

Originally drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round in 2007, the University of Wisconsin product became a free agent through a loophole when he left school in February.

“This is a massive day for the Oilers because of how people view what we’re doing here,” Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said.

Edmonton now has 18 players under contract with a $47.5-million payroll. That means the Oilers still have $22.7-million in salary cap space.

Although Tambellini said the Oilers will be active when the free-agent frenzy opens its doors on Sunday, here is projected look at what the Oilers season-opening roster looks like now:

Forwards

Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov – Shawn Horcoff – Ales Hemsky

Ryan Jones – Eric Belanger – Sam Gagner

Ben Eager – Anton Lander – Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson

Defencemen

Ryan Whitney – Nick Schultz

Ladislav Smid – Justin Schultz

Corey Potter – Jeff Petry

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk – Nikolai Khabiblulin

Wednesday reading: Future Wisconsin at CC nonconference games, Hillen, Schultz, Prosser video, Rau, Fredheim, UND, Minnesota, NMU

Chad Rau is joined by Wild teammates to celebrate his goal during the second period on January 21, 2012 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. It was Rau’s NHL debut. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Wisconsin’s nonconference schedule is coming together with plans for single road games at CC and Denver during the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons and a two-game road series during the 2013-14 season. Do not be surprised to see either Minnesota or Air Force as the other opponent on those single-game weekends. Either way it is a great weekend for ticket sales at World Arena. Here is the 2012-13 Tigers schedule.

Former Tiger Jack Hillen did not receive a qualifying offer from Nashville and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie listed Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Philadelphia and the N.Y. Rangers as the most likely landing spots for free agent Justin Schultz, who may decide as early as today.

Nate Prosser was a crowd favorite during the Wild road tour. He is interviewed in this video as is former Pioneer Jason Zucker.

Chad Rau has signed a two-year deal with the Wild while RFA Kris Fredheim did not get a qualifying offer. Here is the team’s contract chart.

Minnesota will host North Dakota as part of Hockey Day Minnesota. The retiring Gophers AD had hoped Penn State would join the CCHA and avoid the conference shakeup the sport has experienced the past two summers.

The Mining Journal outlines how Northern Michigan administrators juggled their duties over the past 19 months.

Tuesday reading: Sweatt, Slavin interview, NCHC and WCHA news

Craig MacTavish (left), then coach of the American Hockey League affiliate Chicago Wolves, gives Vancouver Canucks prospect Bill Sweatt (right) some advice at team practice in Penticton September 10, 2011. MacTavish is now the head of hockey operations for the Edmonton Oilers.

Slavin

2013 signee defenseman Jaccob Slavin of Erie, Colo, is headed to USHL Chicago’s training camp this week to start another year preparing for college hockey, along with teammate and 2013 CC forward signee Christian Heil, 6-foot-1, 178 pounds, of Westminster.

Heil recorded 19 points (8g,11a) in 55 games this past season.

Slavin, 6-2, 170,  plans to focus on improving his skating, backwards and forwards, while looking to assume a larger leadership role on the Steel.

Heil

“It really depends on what our captain decides on college,” he said last week. “If he leaves, I would like to think I would be considered for a role.”

Slavin, an alumnus of the Denver-area Colorado Thunderbirds club program along with Heil,  played his first full season with Chicago this past season, recording 30 points (3g,27a) in 60 games and a plus-6 rating. That was a huge step up compared to the one point (1g) and minus-15 in 17 games the season before.

The improvement has made him a possible late-round draft pick later this month at the 50th NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.

“The Thunderbirds did a good job preparing me for juniors but it was a big step up,” Slavin said. “They run a good program.”

Both Colorado residents are part of the first Tigers freshman class to join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which begins play in October 2013.

Here is the Associated Press’ story on the NCHC inking a 5-year contract with the Target Center in Minneapolis. The WCHA league meetings start today when a postseason home will be discussed.