Wednesday reading: L. Sweatt, UNO, PSU, Sioux, DU, Niagara

Here is a solid USHL feature on former Tiger Lee Sweatt and his decision to retire from hockey at age 26.

Talk about a new hockey arena for Nebraska-Omaha has quieted down despite reportedly having the funding lined up.

The Penn State fan blog outlines its coverage plans including the Air Force games.

A lawsuit concerning the Sioux nickname is thrown out of court.

A famed DU hangout with a colorful, if not exactly safe, history is up for sale.  The Niagara coach received a contract extension.

Hockey East hired a longtime NHL linesman to be director of officials.  A former BU player pleads guilty.

Tuesday reading: WJC, Crabb, Hillen, Petersen, Bachman, Sweatt, free agents, Cullen, Fredheim, Frischmon, Petiot, C. Stuart, Emrick

Here is the final Team USA roster for its World Junior Championship camp. Thirty-four of the initial 45 players in attendance at the 2012 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp will remain to oppose Sweden and Finland in a series of international games in Lake Placid this week.

The players are auditioning for a spot on the U.S. National Junior Team that will take part in the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 5, 2013, in Ufa, Russia.

NHL.com predicts the lineup for the Washington Capitals as part of its 30 in 30 (days) series. Former Tiger Joey Crabb, pictured, is projected as the fourth-line right wing while Jack Hillen is the fourth pairing’s right defenseman.

In Dallas, former Tiger Toby Petersen is the extra (13th) forward while goalie Richard Bachman is the backup, though he may be challenged by top prospect Jack Campbell. Bill Sweatt is not projected to have a regular role in Vancouver.

Here are the remaining available free agents (all unrestricted) as of 2 a.m. Mountain on Tuesday: They are (name, 2011-12 team): Mark Cullen (Florida); Kris Fredheim (Wild); Trevor Frischmon, (Islanders); Richard Petiot (Tampa Bay);  and Colin Stuart (Sabres).

NBC play-by-play announcer Doc Emrick is doing his usual excellent job, this time covering water polo at the London Olympics. He talks about similarities between ice hockey and water polo and why fans should check this sport out. I agree as does Petersen. It is an entertaining sport to watch with lots in common with hockey.

Stars hire former Tiger Lidster as AHL assistant

Former Tigers standout Doug Lidster, pictured, is back in the coaching ranks.

From theahl.com …

Texas Stars general manager Scott White announced Friday that the club has hired Doug Lidster as assistant coach of Dallas’ primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Lidster, 51, was the hockey director for the Victory Honda AAA youth program in suburban Detroit the last five years. He also served a stint as the assistant coach for Canada’s women’s national hockey team in 2009-10, where he helped guide the team to the Four Nations Cup Championship, as well as an Olympic Gold Medal and an MLP Cup Championship.

Prior to his time with Victory Honda and Team Canada, he was the head coach of the Saginaw Spirit in the Ontario Hockey League.

Lidster was an assistant coach with Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League in 2002-03, the first season during which new Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins was the Tigers’ bench boss. With Medicine Hat, he helped guide the team to the second round of the WHL Playoffs.

“We are pleased to add Doug Lidster to our coaching staff,” said White. “He and Willie Desjardins have a history of working well together, and he clearly has fantastic experience as a player and as a coach. We feel he’ll be an outstanding asset to the club and we welcome him to the Texas Stars family.”

The native of Kamloops, B.C., played in the NHL from 1984-1999 with the Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. In 897 career games, he recorded 343 points (68 goals, 268 assists) and 679 penalty minutes. He played in a total of 80 Stanley Cup playoff games and was a member of Stanley Cup championship teams in New York (1994) and Dallas (1999).

The All-American had an impressive CC career as well with 174 points in 143 games as a Tiger, the third-best among defensemen in school history.

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.

More weekend reading: Frozen 4, Hobey, Tigers in the pros

Toronto Maple Leafs' Joey Crabb manages to score as the puck trickles under New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist in the second period on March 25. REUTERS

Here is a list of college hockey’s early departures and a feature on BC captain Tommy Cross and another on Minnesota’s Erik Haula.

Here’s why the Hober Baker Award ceremony is being held at an Air Force base and not the Frozen Four’s arena.

Former Tiger Richard Bachman came on in relief for Dallas in a loss Friday night at Vancouver.

Courtesy Canadian Press:

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Brian Connelly finally rediscovered his scoring touch for the Abbotsford Heat.

The offensively gifted defenceman scored with 11.9 seconds to go in overtime to lead the Heat to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Wolves Friday night in American Hockey League action.

Connelly took a feed from Ben Walter and beat Matt Climie glove side for his sixth of the season.

Click here to find out more!“It all started in the D-zone,” said Connelly. “We created a turnover and I saw an opportunity to jump in. Wally (Ben Walter) made a good pass across the ice. I just tried to put it on net and it went in.”

It was his first goal in 23 games since the Calgary Flames acquired him in a trade for Brendan Morrison. When he joined the Heat he was second among AHL defencemen in points but has just nine assists for the Flames’ affiliate.

“I’ve been trying to create opportunities and get shots but they haven’t been going in,” said Connelly. “It’s good to get that off my back and hopefully it springboards me into the rest of the season.”

Greg Nemisz, Krys Kolanos and Clay Wilson all scored in regulation time for Abbotsford (36-26-8). Though the Heat blew a 3-1 lead, goalie Leland Irving made 28 saves, including all 10 over the final 25 minutes to preserve the win. Abbotsford now has a two-point cushion in fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

Darren Haydar, Kevin Connauton, and Mark Mancari scored for Chicago (38-25-6), which includes former Tiger Bill Sweatt.

Climie stopped 40 shots for the Wolves, who moved within three points of second-place Toronto by earning a single point for the overtime loss.

“I think there were a lot of positives,” said Mancari. “I think it was pretty close to a playoff game, if you look at how the game was played. We made a few mistakes we didn’t want to make, and goals that resulted from us not getting the puck out.”

Part of the reason for the playoff atmosphere was the 7,044 fans at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, just the fourth sellout all time and first since Nov. 2010. Many of the fans came to cheer on the Wolves, however, the nearby Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate.

“The majority of them are Canucks fans so it’s a little different,” said Abbotsford’s Jon Rheault. “But when you can feed off that energy, energy is energy and when this place is full it’s a lot of fun to play in front of. They’re a dangerous team when they’re playing for their brass and all their scouts are here so they obviously bring a little extra oomph, if you will, when they come here.”

Wednesday reading: Playoff preparation, Bachman, all-league picks

The way the DU hockey community made this meaningful moment happen for this UND fan, pictured at center right, is reason No. 2,779  to love college hockey.

Here’s an update on how CC and Mchigan Tech are preparing for their playoff series this weekend. The Huskies are staying in Colorado Springs since this week is the school’s spring break.

Former Tiger goalie Richard Bachman improved to 8-3-1 with a win at Vancouver Tuesday night. He admitted he had some nerves to overcome.

A cell phone came in pretty handy for St. Cloud State on Saturday night. Here’s the Inside College Hockey power rankings.

Future NCHC opponent Western Michigan dominated the All-CCHA rookie team honors recently.

Here’s a look at the Hockey East quarterfinals and predictions. Tiger fans should keep an eye on the Maine-Merrimack series for Pairwise purposes.

Here’s the CCHA bracket.

Here is my All-WCHA ballot as submitted for an upcoming WCHA blogger poll. Thanks much for the invite, Tradition of Excellence.

I’ll link to that once made available.

All-WCHA First Team

F – Jack Connolly, UMD

F – Jaden Schwartz, CC

F – J.T. Brown, UMD

D – Justin Schultz, UW

D – Ben Blood, ND

G — Kent Patterson, UM

All-WCHA Second Team

F – Drew Shore, DU

F – Rylan Schwartz, CC

F – Danny Kristo, ND

D – Brad Hunt, BSU

D – Gabe Guentzel, CC

G – Josh Thorimbert, CC

All-WCHA Third Team

F – Nick Bjugstad, UM

F – Jason Zucker, DU

F – Brock Nelson, ND

D – Joey LaLeggia, DU

D – Nate Schmidt, UM

G – Dan Bakala, BSU

All-WCHA Rookie Team

F – Kyle Rau, UM

F – J.P. LaFontaine, MSU

F – Matt Leitner, MSU

D – Joey LaLeggia, DU

D – Andrew Prochno, SCSU

G –  Juho Olkinuora, DU

WCHA Player of the Year – Jack Connolly, UMD

WCHA Defensive Player of the Year – Justin Schultz, UW

WCHA Rookie of the Year – Kyle Rau, UM

WCHA Coach of the Year – Mel Pearson, MTU

*WCHA Goaltender of the Year will be the First Team Goaltender