UND 3, Manitoba 0: Rust comes off in chunks as season begins

If there’s one thing you should have learned by now about these exhibition games against Canadian collegiate teams, it’s that one shouldn’t make any rash judgements or conclusions about the latest crew skating out of the Ralph Engelstad Arena tunnel.

Fortunately, a positively vanilla game Sunday night will give nobody any reason to. Goals from Drake Caggiula, Michael Parks and freshman Luke Johnson made it a 3-0 defeat over the Manitoba Bisons, pushing UND to 9-0 against their CIS foe to the north in the Hakstol era.

Seven of the eight freshmen on this suddenly-young North Dakota squad saw some ice time, but the highlights were few and far between for the new group. Johnson showed off his quickness–both with his skates and with his stick–in a nifty flip over Manitoba’s Dan Dubyk in the third period, Gage Ausmus and Adam Tambellini also had good looks among others in a relatively open third period.

  • Chemistry was sporadic too, even for upperclassmen. But seeing as the team really hasn’t had more than a handful of full practices, that’s to be expected. Drake Caggiula and Rocco Grimaldi were back to their old tricks, so it’ll be interesting to watch if Mark MacMillan stays up on that ‘top line’ or if somebody else steps up.
  • I always joke about Michael Parks and his wraparounds, and how nearly every single goal of his has some odd twist or bounce involved. But Parks could be poised to have a big season with big, skillful goals. And probably a few wraparounds.
  • It’s easy to sit here and say Johnson was the most impressive freshman because of his goal, but on the flip side, I also liked the play of Troy Stecher. As a prospect Stecher flew under the radar in this recruiting class, but the Penticton product played pretty well, wasn’t afraid to take chances and looked confident. He came away with two shots on goal and a plus-one rating (yahoo). Stecher also caused a penalty shot in the first period on a somewhat unnecessary takedown of Jordan DePape, so he certainly has some work to do. But he wasn’t afraid to go out and make plays in both directions.
  • Unfortunately, the defense wasn’t tested really at all, and next week’s opponent, the Vermont Catamounts, provide little help in that regard. So like it or not, the first test for this young defense will be in two weeks…against the deepest offense in college hockey, Miami.
  • One could draw plenty of comparisons with the 2009-2010 squad that brought in a big class of freshmen and had a lot of question marks. Obviously the biggest difference is that this year’s team will rely heavily on the newbies defensively. Offensively, I think UND can survive for a while without input from Murphy and Johnson as long as Rocco’s line produces, but UND will need Paul LaDue, Ausmus, Stecher and Keaton Thompson to step up big time right away.
  • Shootouts drive me nuts, but as long as the NHL is doing them, the NCHC should absolutely be doing them too. It’s just unfortunate that after tonight shootouts will actually mean something. Nonetheless, if you had to pick a shootout lineup using three players in all of college hockey, Rocco would be one of those guys every time for me. (The other two, I suppose, would be Kyle Rau and Johnny Gaudreau, but it’s up for debate)

I’ll give my thoughts in this rambling format when I get the chance to. And hopefully you don’t get bored of that, right?


Full Q&A with Allison Davis O’Keefe

Note: This is the full Q&A with Allison Davis O’Keefe, a freelance photojournalist from New York. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College and the International Center of Photography, O’Keefe, a relative of Dave Hakstol’s through marriage, spent several years with CBS News before jumping into her own projects, beginning with this one. Her book, One Goal, is available at the Sioux Shop (online at http://www.siouxshop.com) and signed copies are available through O’Keefe herself. Her website is www.allisondavisokeefe.com. I wrote a feature on the book for USCHO which you can find here.

Quotes are after the jump to save space.

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UND 2, Denver 2: Olkinuora stands tall

Not a whole lot to say about last night’s tie, other than: What a game, or more accurately, what a third period and overtime by Juho Olkinuora.

The three-headed monster that is Denver’s goaltending tandem reared one of its formidable heads Friday night, and ‘Jussi’ made terrific saves throughout the night. Rocco Grimaldi was the best player on the ice, but came up empty. He had five shots on goal but nothing to show for it.

  • Got to talk to Olkinuora afterward, who said he felt pretty good (duh.). He wasn’t happy with his second period – allowing a goal on what I suppose could be dubbed a changeup by Carter Rowney – but the sophomore netminers settled in, allowing Corban Knight‘s top corner goal midway through the second but not allowing anything after that. From the ten minute mark of the second on, he was simply superb.
  • Olkinuora on the save: “I kind of overplayed the shot there. It was kind of a two-on-one. He caught me just standing still there. That was a desperation save. I’m not really proud of that, it’s not really textbook, but I’m glad I saved it.” Nevertheless, everybody else mentioned what a great save it was after the game. George Gwozdecky spoke at length yesterday at the UND fan luncheon of how Olkinuora came to be a Pioneer, mentioning that he was a recruited walk-on that they found in July after finding out how serious the injury to Sam Brittain‘s ACL was.
  • Gwoz did mention after the game that Brittain or Adam Murray will be in net tonight. But as he said, “We’ve had this goaltending competition since the start of the season, but we’re not sure which direction it’s going to take us because none of them have dropped off. They’ve all played pretty well.”
  • The narrative certainly could have been different, when with a touch under 15 minutes to play, Grimaldi had the puck front and center staring at a toppled-over Olkinuora and a wide open net. Grimaldi, however, threw it high. Easily the most frustrating point of the evening for Rocco. He keeps hitting posts and shooting wide and missing opportunities he created for himself right now, so once he starts finding his groove … look out.
  • Overall, UND outshot Denver 33-20 and 16-6 in the final 25 minutes. Denver didn’t have a shot below the dots and I don’t know if I remember a second chance opportunity in that mix. Clarke Saunders did play well, but the defense bottled up the Pios pretty well too, blocking quite a few shots and transitioning out of rushes quickly. They just couldn’t get on in the net the other way.
  • Chris Knowlton was easily Denver’s best forward last night. He had a ton of ice time too. Suspect that we’ll see Denver try and get the game stuck in a lower gear tonight as double-shifting Knowlton and Nick Shore will continue to bog down their energy.

UND v. Denver Friday: The Big One

This is a doozy of a series we have on tap. No. 6 Denver, the top dog in the WCHA at the moment, is in town for the last home series of 2012 for UND.

Denver and Minnesota have obviously been the two most memorable rivalries for me as a fan and now as a writer. It’s an extremely emotional, competitive and well-built rivalry that, unlike the series with the Golden Gophers, is here to stay. Both teams are headed to the NCHC next season to continue what I’m sure Don Lucia would call a rivalry that has been way too heated and mean over the past few years.

The series will be at least four games strong this season. North Dakota will travel down to Denver in February. I say “at least” because UND has run into Denver at least once in the playoffs each of the last three years too. Beat them every single time, too.

Ahh, memories. I’ve seen UND-DU battle it out here seven times, five here at the Ralph. The last three times Denver has made the trip: two seasons ago, when Brad Malone broke Jesse Martin‘s neck; three seasons ago, when Marc Cheverie caught fire; and four seasons ago when George Gwozdecky… well, you know.

Anyway, UND did some more line changes. The top two lines stay the same, but Derek Rodwell falls back to the fourth line and Brendan O’Donnell heads back to the third line. Otherwise, this will be Dan Senkbeil‘s home debut of the season…missed him like whoa.

Denver is quite shorthanded. Zac Larraza did not make the trip due to illness, and freshman Garrett Allen is in for Jarrod Mermis. Not sure about his status, though I’m told he was suspended for one of the games last week. So…Denver is dressing only 16 tonight. No shortage of offense though – five of Denver’s six defensemen have goals. In fact, LaLeggia (6) and Makowski (5) have more than any forward outside of the top line.

Finnish goaltender Juho Olkinuora is in net for the Pioneers. ‘Jussi’ will make his sixth appearance; he has a .934 save percentage and a 2.15 goals-against average.

No. 9 North Dakota (7-5-2, 4-2-2 WCHA)

MacMillan – Knight – Kristo

Caggiula – Rowney – Grimaldi

O’Donnell – St. Clair – Gaarder

Senkbeil – Pattyn – Rodwell


MacWilliam – Mattson

Simpson – Gleason

Forbort – Schmaltz






Denver Pioneers (9-4-1, 7-2-1 WCHA)

11 Chris Knowlton (A) – 23 Nick Shore (A) – 19 Daniel Doremus

12 Ty Loney – 26 Shawn Ostrow – 39 Grant Arnold

9 Gabe Levin – 27 Quentin Shore – 25 Matt Tabrum

Extra forward: 17 Garrett Allen


6 Dakota Mermis – 7 Paul Phillips (C)

21 Joey LaLeggia – 2 Scott Mayfield

8 Nolan Zajac – 10 David Makowski


31 Juho Olkinuora

1 Sam Brittain

33 Adam Murray

College hockey players sound off: Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

My night took a very significant turn for the better last night when this popped up on my phone, a tweet from USCHO editor Todd Milewski:

Being as I already follow the entire UND team on Twitter, I knew exactly what he was talking about. But the list, which you can find here, was pure gold last night, as scantily-clad women and the occasional pop star appeared in high definition in front of millions of homes last night. Before you ask, I didn’t watch it. I don’t have cable.

As I read through, this was the only thing I thought of.

As far as I know, NCAA Compliance doesn’t have any rules against fawning over women in bikinis. A lot of players nonetheless used some discretion last night. But not all. Here are the best from last night as I thumbed through the list.

Derek Forbort, North Dakota:

Brett Stern, Minnesota State:


Colin Wright, UMass-Lowell

Alexx Privitera, Boston U

Austin Czarnik, Miami

Evan Karambelas, Minnesota State

Travis White, Ferris State

Eddie Olcyk, UMass

Connor Brickley, Vermont

Matthew Johnson, Lake Superior St

Alex Guptill, Michigan

Alex Kubiak, Bentley

Brice Geoffrion, UAH

Joe Gleason, North Dakota

And just for good measure, possibly the tweet of the night: Mario Lamoureux, (formerly) North Dakota:

UND v. UMD Saturday: Reboot

Lots of changes in the lineup tonight for UND (though not really much of anything for the visiting Bulldogs). Clearly a lot of things were not working defensively or transitionally last night, which led to the team giving up 46 shots to a struggling Minnesota Duluth squad.

The biggest story I suppose is that Joe Gleason is out. The senior defenseman has been the odd man out quite a bit during his career and it looks like Hakstol was not happy with his numerous turnovers Friday night. In his place will be Andrew Panzarella, who figures to get some time on the PK in addition to being a more physical force with D partner Dillon Simpson.

Bryn Chyzyk is back in at the fourth line center position between Stephane Pattyn and Derek Rodwell, as he was occasionally before Michael Parks’ injury. No idea when Parks will be back, but I’m guessing they’ll have to keep pushing him at a game speed to see if he really is ready before blowing a roster spot on him. Colten St Clair was on the fourth line, but he’s on the “freshmen” line with Rocco Grimaldi and Drake Caggiula, who notched two assists last night. As Jayson Hajdu said last night in the press box: “If Drake doesn’t watch out, he’s gonna be drafted next year.”

Zane Gothberg is in net, owing mostly to the barrage Clarke Saunders faced last night. Clarke certainly had to be pretty beat up after 46 shots on goal.

Mark MacMillan also moves up to the first line alongside Danny Kristo and Corban KnightCarter Rowney, who’s been a shadow of last year’s Carter Rowney thus far, moves down to the third line, effectively switching places with Easy Mac.

The score may be much different, but while Minnesota Duluth is on a six game winless streak, the Bulldogs have outshot their opponents in five straight games. So the acorn hasn’t fallen far from the tree – despite losing a lot of pure shooters the Bulldogs, for better or worse, haven’t stopped shooting.

For Duluth, Matt McNeely makes his sixth appearance in net as a Bulldog. The 6-3, 200-lb Burnsville native has split time with Aaron Crandall thus far and has been pretty much on par statistically. Otherwise, no lineup changes for UMD.

North Dakota 4-3-2, 2-1-2 WCHA

MacMillan — Kristo – Knight

Caggiula – Grimaldi – St. Clair

O’Donnell – Rowney – Gaarder

Pattyn – Chyzyk – Rodwell

MacWilliam – Mattson

Forbort – Schmaltz

Simpson – Panzarella





Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs 3-5-2, 0-3-2 WCHA

25 Justin Crandall – 21 Caleb Herbert – 18 Joe Basaraba

11 Austin Farley – 13 Tony Cameranesi – 17 Mike Seidel

20 Cody Danberg (C) – 15 Jake Hendrickson – 14 Keegan Flaherty (A)

10 Dan DeLisle – 19 Max Tardy – 26 Adam Krause

8 Drew Olson – 7 Andy Welinski

28 Wade Bergman – 6 Derik Johnson

16 Tim Smith – 5 Chris Casto

36 Matt McNeely

31 Aaron Crandall

UND 4, UMD 4: What struggling Bulldog offense?

I don’t know what I was expecting in Friday night’s UMD-UND tilt, but it certainly wasn’t a wide open 46-33 shot count and a 4-4 tie. Well, except for the overtime thing.

Two goals from freshman phenom Austin Farley highlighted UMD’s offensive breakout in a game that rendered both defenses useless. Turnover after turnover on both ends of the ice made it an interesting and entertaining game. And while you could make arguments for either team “deserving” the win, neither got it, forcing a tie. It’s UND’s first non-win on Friday; Hakstol and company’ll look to get a series win tomorrow night with what would be their first Saturday win.

  • Friday was the seventh time I’ve covered a hockey game involving the Bulldogs. Five of those games have gone to overtime now. And while I’d love to tell you that it was an interesting game…the aura of entertainment was siphoned away by bad reffing. Not biased, just bad. Bad calls, bad no calls…even several questionable-at-best icing calls made it a hard game to watch even though the teams combined for 79 shots.
  • It was probably one of Danny Kristo‘s best games of the season. Two goals and a lot of playmaking that nearly got UND a (arguably, undeserved) win.
  • Rocco Grimaldi also had a great night, roofing what almost stood as the game-winner before Drew Olson tied it uncontested from the left circle. Rocco was hit from behind in the head on a play early in the game, and while he was down the tunnel briefly, the freshman magician didn’t miss another shift.
  • Michael Parks was in the lineup, but took a hit early on and did not return. Looked to be skating rather gingerly on his shifts, so whatever happened must have tweaked his original injury. At any rate, don’t think that they give him another shot tomorrow. No need to risk anything.
  • Clarke Saunders should have felt right at home. Or maybe it was more a matter of “not again…” A lack of defense plagued his two seasons at Alabama Huntsville so as a result Friday night was the 14th (!!!) time he had 40 or more saves in his career. UND hadn’t allowed 46 shots since Jan. 13, 2006, against Minnesota. I do think that Zane Gothberg gets the start Saturday, though.
  • Typical Todd Anderson game. Counted at least one makeup call and each time received seven penalties for 14 minutes. The numbers just always seem to line up, don’t they. Also some questionable icings and offsides whistles tonight. Just not a great night to be wearing stripes.
  • A new video debuted at the Ralph for the awkward time slot between the third period and overtime. Even though it didn’t lift what has to be some sort of curse preventing UND from getting an overtime win in this building, I still approve.