Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.
Senior forward Zach Lehrke will not play this season for Minnesota State, Mankato, the preseason WCHA favorite.
“This is a difficult decision," he said in a Mavericks news release, "but due to a medical condition that I have been battling for some time, it has become apparent to me that I will not be able to compete for Minnesota State my senior season."
A story in the Mankato Free Press, which can be found here, said he suffered from an unnamed medical condition which caused severe cramping in the muscles throughout his body. It also said the cramping occured after workouts, practices and games.
“I’ve had a great experience here in Mankato and would like to thank the Maverick men’s hockey coaching staff, the athletic training and medical staffs in working with me on this issue in my three years with the program," Lehrke said, "and [I] wish my teammates all the best with the 2013-14 season."
Lehrke, a native of Park Rapids, Minn., had 23 goals and 31 assists for 54 career points in 104 games.
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.
Wisconsin is playing a 34-game regular-season sechedule, with 20 games at homes -- 10 in the Big Ten and 10 nonconference.
The Badgers will probably be the preseason Big Ten favorites before the 2013-14 season. They return 16 juniors or seniors from a team that finished strong, winning the Final Five and advancing to the NCAA tournament.
They ease into the college hockey season with only four games in October, six in November and six in December.
The Badgers open against Northern Michigan at home on Oct. 11-12. Then have maybe their toughest road trip the next weekend playing at Boston College on Oct. 18 and Boston University on Oct. 19.
Wisconsin's Big Ten schedule starts on Nov. 29-30 vs. the Gophers at Mariucci.
Their nonconference schedule has two tough road series -- the one in Boston and at Miami Nov. 15-16 --, but otherwise looks managable. Besides facing Northern Michigan at home, the Badgers also play Lake Superior State, Colorado College, Alabama Huntsville and Alaska Anchorage at home.
So 10 of their 14 nonconference games are at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin has a 12-game homestand from Dec. 6 to Jan. 25, beginning with Penn State and ending with Ohio State.
Season tickets for Wisconsin hockey go on sale May 24.
DAY DATE OPPONENT Times to be announced
FRIDAY OCT. 11 NORTHERN MICHIGAN
SATURDAY OCT. 12 NORTHERN MICHIGAN
Friday Oct. 18 at Boston College
Saturday Oct. 19 at Boston University
FRIDAY NOV. 1 LAKE SUPERIOR STATE
SATURDAY NOV. 2 LAKE SUPERIOR STATE
Friday Nov. 15 at Miami
Saturday Nov. 16 at Miami
Friday Nov. 29 at Minnesota
Saturday Nov. 30 at Minnesota
FRIDAY DEC. 6 PENN STATE
SATURDAY DEC. 7 PENN STATE
FRIDAY DEC. 13 COLORADO COLLEGE
SATURDAY DEC. 14 COLORADO COLLEGE
FRIDAY DEC. 27 ALABAMA HUNTSVILLE
SATURDAY DEC. 28 ALABAMA HUNTSVILLE
FRIDAY JAN. 3 ALASKA ANCHORAGE
SATURDAY JAN. 4 ALASKA ANCHORAGE
FRIDAY JAN. 10 MICHIGAN
SATURDAY JAN. 11 MICHIGAN
FRIDAY JAN. 24 OHIO STATE
SATURDAY JAN. 25 OHIO STATE
Friday Jan. 31 at Michigan
Saturday Feb. 1 at Michigan
THURS./SAT. FEB. 6 or 8 MINNESOTA
FRIDAY FEB. 7 MINNESOTA
Friday Feb. 14 at Ohio State
Saturday Feb. 15 at Ohio State
FRIDAY FEB. 21 MICHIGAN STATE
SATURDAY FEB. 22 MICHIGAN STATE
Friday March 7 at Penn State
Saturday March 8 at Penn State
Friday March 14 at Michigan State
Saturday March 15 at Michigan State
St. Cloud State University handed out its postseason awards on Wednesday night.
The usual suspects got them:
MVP and outstanding senior, three stars award -- forward Drew LeBlanc. ... He is also one of five finalists for Sports Illustrated's male college athlete of the year in any sport
Most improved -- junior forward Nic Dowd
Most determined -- junior defenseman Nick Jensen
Outstanding rookie -- freshman forward Jonny Brodzinski
Outstanding goalie -- sophomore Ryan Faragher
Outstanding student-athlete -- sophomore forward Brooks Bertsch
The Huskies tied with the Gophers for the MacNaughton Cup and reached the Frozen Four in the NCAA tournament.
Don Lucia has hinted that the Gophers would be in the Ice Breaker Tournament this coming season.
Well, on Friday, the official announcement was made.
The 2013 Ice Breaker Tournament will be at Mariucci Arena. As its name implies, it is sorta the traditional start to the college hockey season.
Dates are Oct. 11-12. Pairings have not been set yet. but the other three teams are all from the East: Clarkson, Mercyhurst and New Hampshire. Not the greatest field:
* Clarkson. Finished ninth in the suddenly powerful ECAC, which had two teams in the Frozen Four title game. Clarkson was 8-11-3 in conference, 9-20-7 overall. So only 1-9-4 in nonconference games.
* Mercyhurst. Was 12-11-4 in Atlantic Hockey to finish sixth. Was 19-17-5 overall.
* New Hampshire. Wildcats tied for third in Hockey East with Boston University and Providence. All had 32 points -- two behind conference champion UMass-Lowell. NH was 17-14-7 overall.
The Gophers, of course, tied for first in the WCHA with St. Cloud State. They were 16-7-5 in conference play, 26-9-5 overall finishing with a thud, losing 3-0 to Colorado College in the Final Five semifinals and to eventual NCAA champion Yale 3-2 in overtime in the West Regional semifinals.
Expect U of M to be matched up with either Clarkson or Mercyhurst in first game, setting up a possible meeting with New Hampshire in the championship game.
This is the 17th annual Ice Breaker.
And, in 2013-14, more than any other season, there will be a lot of changes in college hockey. The Gophers will be in the new Big Ten Conference, for instance.
“Next year will be the beginning of a new era for the Gopher hockey program, and we’re excited to open the season at Mariucci Arena with the Ice Breaker Tournament,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said in a U of M news release. “It’s a great event for college hockey as a whole, and considering we haven’t seen these teams for a few years, I think it will be an exciting weekend for our program as well as our fans.”
“Mariucci Arena is one of the best venues in college hockey and a terrific location to celebrate the start of the 2013-14 season,” College Hockey Inc. Executive Director Mike Snee said. CHI is putting on the Ice Breaker along with the Gophers. “The four participating programs have storied histories, outstanding coaches and talented student-athletes who will showcase our sport in the Ice Breaker.”
The four schools in the 2013 field have combined for 89 NCAA Tournament appearances.
New Hampshire was also in the NCAA tournament this year.
Ice Breaker Tournament tickets will be included in season-ticket packages for Minnesota season-ticket holders. Single-day and standing-room tickets will be available at a date to be determined.
Minnesota is hosting the Ice Breaker Tournament for the third time. In 1998, the second year of the tournament, Boston College won the title at Mariucci Arena. In 2007 the event took place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, with the host Gophers winning the tournament.
What comes to mind from the 2007 tournament -- which I covered -- is that forward Ryan Stoa suffered a season-ending knee injury. He took a medical redshirt that season and played the next season for the Gophers before turning pro.
Clarkson and New Hampshire are each making their third Ice Breaker appearances. The Wildcats captured championships in both their previous appearances (2000 at Michigan, 2004 at UNH).
Clarkson was part of the first Ice Breaker Tournament, in 1997, and in 2001 at Maine.
Mercyhurst will be making its first Ice Breaker appearance.
This will be an unusual hockey season for the Gophers. They will play in three regular-season tournaments. They also will host their traditional holiday tournament in late December and then be part of a four-team, all-Minnesota tournament at the Xcel in January, playing St. Cloud State in their first game. Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State Mankato will meet in the other game the first day.
That tournament does not have a name yet. Its modeled, roughly, after the Beanpot in Boston.
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