Four players who will be on the Gophers' hockey team this coming season -- and possibly a fifth -- were among the 40 forwards and defensemen invited to the national junior evaluation camp from Aug. 3-10 at Lake Placid, N.Y.
What makes the camp even more interesting is that Don Lucia, the Gophers head coach, will coach the U.S. team that will play in the World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden in late December and early January.
So he will have a big say in who makes the team, and he will get his first good look at most of the 40 players at this camp. The camp goalies will be announced this week.
Among the Gophers at the camp will be sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei, one of the last cuts from the 2013 U.S. team that won a gold medal in Ufa, Russia.
U of M freshmen at the camp will be forwards Taylor Cammarata of Waterloo in the USHL and Hudson Fasching of the national development team in Ann Arbor, Mich., and defenseman Mike Brodzinski of Muskegon of the USHL.
Defenseman Tommy Vannelli of the national development team is another Gophers recruit invited to the camp. It's uncertain whether he will join the Gophers for this season or the next.
Two other players who were WCHA freshmen last season also received invites. They are forwards Nic Kerdiles of Wisconsin and Quentin Shore of Denver.
There are six Minnesotans going: Skjei, Lakeville; Cammarata, Plymouth; Fasching, Burnsville; Brodzinski, Ham Lake; Vannelli, Minnetonka, and forwards Jake Guentzel, Woodbury, and Dominic Toninato, Duluth.
Guentzel, the son of associate Gophers head coach Mike Guentzel, played for Sioux City of the USHL this past season while Toninato played for Fargo in the same league.
Gopher assistant Grant Potulny was an assistant on the U.S. team last season while Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly and forward Mario Lucia, of Notre Dame and Don's son, were two of the players.
NAHL DIVISIONS SET UP
The two new Minnesota teams in the North American Hockey League -- the Richfield-based Minnesota Magicians and the Cloquet-based Minnesota Wilderness -- will be in the sixth team Midwest Division, along with two teams from Alaska, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and the Kenai River Brown Bears; one from Wisconsin, the Coulee Region Chill, and one from Washington, the Wenatchee Wild.
The Austin (Minn.) Bruins will be in the five-team Central Division. They are not a new NAHL team.
The NAHL will have four divisions and 24 teams this coming season. More than 150 of its players in 2012-13 committed to Division I teams.
* In Grand Forks, N.D., demolition of the old Ralph Engelestad Arena has begun and is expected to be done by late summer. Then the first phase of construction of UND's Athletics High Performance Center will begin. It will have a football practice field and an eight-lane track.
“We’re excited for this facility, which we’ve called a game-changer for UND Athletics. It’s been talked about and dreamed about for a long, long time, and we’re thrilled to finally see it coming to fruition,” AD Brian Faison said in a UND release. “This past spring was a perfect example of why a facility like this is so critical. Our spring sports, particularly football, baseball, softball and track and field, were forced to endure multiple weather-related issues that a facility like this will prevent in the future.”
* Greg Johnson, originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, will be one of the 2013 inductees into UND's Hall of Fame on Sept. 14. He is North Dakota's all-time leading scorer with 272 points. He played for UND from 1989-93. ... UMD coach Scott Sandelin will receive the Tom Clifford Award, given to former UND players for contributions as a college or high school hockey coach.
* The U.S. women's national team select camp will be held June 18-23 at Lake Placid. At the end, the national team will be picked and its players will train for the next Olympics.
* Nebraska Omaha has gotten three more players for the 2013-14 season. “We now have an incoming class of seven players, all of whom we think can contribute right away,” Mavericks coach Dean Blais.
One of them is from Lakeville, forward Justin Parizek. He had 19 goals and 53 points for Aberdeen of the NAHL last season. The other recruits are defenseman Preston Hodge of Bloomington, Ill., who split last season between Dubuque and Sioux Falls of the USHL and goalie Reed Peters of Morden, Manitoba, who played in the Manitoba Jr. Hockey League.
* Zach Stepan, of Faribault, has signed with Minnesota State Mankato. He gives coach Mike Hastings a seventh recruit for the 2013-14 season. Stepan was the third-leading scorer in the USHL last season with 32 goals and 78 points playing for Waterloo.