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.
One thing the new Big Ten Conference in hockey has going for it is strong fan support.
Four of the top 10 programs in average attendance last season will be members of the Big Ten in 2013-14.
The Gophers were second in average attendance, Wisconsin third, Michigan State eighth and Michigan 10th. The other two members of the Big Ten will be Ohio State and Penn State.
The only other conference close to the Big Ten in turnstile numbers is the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The eight-team league also had four teams in the top 10 in attendance last season, including No. 1 North Dakota, which averaged 11,592 fans for 21 home dates.
2012-13 Average Attendance Leaders
1. North Dakota 11,592
2. Minnesota 9,950
3. Wisconsin 9,521
4. Nebraska Omaha 7,233
5. Colorado College 6,979
6. Boston College 6,384
7. Minnesota Duluth 6,206
8. Michigan State 5,869
9. New Hampshire 5,521
10. Michigan 5,357
9 MINNESOTANS INVITED TO U18 WOMEN'S CAMP
Almost a third of the 30 players inited to the U.S. women's under-18 evaluation camps in Lake Placid, N.Y., from Aug. 22-25 are Minnesotans.
Defenseman Sydney Baldwin of Shorewood (Minnetonka HS) and forward Taylor Williamson of Edina (Edina HS) attended the camp a year ago and played against Canada in a series that followed.
Those two and forward Maliya Rodgers of Minnetonka (Minnesota Junior White Caps) played on the U.S. team that won a silver medal in the U18 World Championships in January in Finland.
Rodgers is a third Minnesotan with a camp invite. The other six are:
* Goalies Erin O'Neil of Minnetonka (Hopkins HS) and Maddie Rooney of Andover (Andover HS)
* Defensemen Grace Bizal, Minnetonka (Hopkins HS), Mary Kate Hallet, Edina (St. Paul United) and Patricia Marshall, Thief River Falls (Shattuck-St. Mary's)
* Forward McKenna Brand, Nevis, Minn. (North American Hockey Academy)
Two staff members are also from Minnesota: Joel Johnson, White Bear Lake, video coordinator, and Dean Thibodeau, St. Cloud, hockey operations assistant.
* The Gophers' web site still does not list whom they will play in the first game of the 2013 Ice Breaker. But Mercyhurst's site does. The Lakers of Atlantic Hockey will play the U of M at Mariucci on Oct. 11.
Clarkson's site concurs. It has the Golden Knights playing New Hampshire in the other first-round game. UNH has the same pairing in the early game.
Which all makes sense. If the Gophers and the New Hampshire Wildcats of Hockey East both win, the two strongest teams in the field, based on records last season, will meet in the championship game.
* The Texas Tornado of Frisco, Texas, is pulling up roots and the NAHL franchise is moving south to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. It will play in the suburb of North Richland Hills and be known as the Lone Star Brahmas.
* Denver recently added three more players for this season: F Emil Romig of Vienna, Austria; D Nick Neville of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and G Greg Ogard of Wilmette, Ill.
Romig had 17 goals and 37 assists for 54 points in 54 games with Corpus Christi of the NAHL. ... Neville played the past two seasons with the Texas Tornado and had 12 goals and 52 assists in 119 games. ... Ogard had a 2.84 GAA and a .925 save percentage with Bay State of the Eastern Junior Hockey league last season. The Pios will have nine freshmen, including Matt Van Voorhis of Edina.
* Second-year St. Cloud State AD Heather Weems has started a monthly blog, called Words with Weems. The first blog reviews what happened in the 2012-13 school year in athletics with the Huskies.
Days to Gophers' first game in Ice Breaker: 71
Days until first practice, presumably Sat., Oct. 5: 65
College and state hockey preseason blog No. 3.
Junior defenseman Nate Schmidt was named the Gophers' MVP for the 2012-13 season.
Schmidt, of St. Cloud, was a second-team all-american and a first team all-WCHA pick after scoring nine goals and collecting 23 assists. His 32 points were the most of any WCHA defenseman and ranked third nationally among blue-liners.
He also has been the best quote on the team for several seasons. Reporters covering the team will miss him. Schmidt, a 6-0, 194-pound free agent, signed with the Washington Capitals shortly after the Gophers' season ended, giving up his last year of eligibility.
Goalie Adam Wilcox received three awards -- more than anyone else. He wasnamed the team's top rookie -- a no-brainer there -- the MVP of the playoffs and also got the community service award.
Wilcox, of South St. Paul, was a third team all-WCHA pick. He set a program record for the lowest single-season, goals-against average at 1.88. His 23 wins tied the rookie progream record and he was a workhorse. He played 2,331 minutes, the third most in the nation.
Captain Zach Budish, a redshirt junior, received the leadership and sportsmanship award. He had 14 goals and 36 points, both career highs.
Sophomore winger Kyle Rau was named the most determined player. He was second on the team in scoring wtih 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points. He had seven game-winning goals, which tied him for first in the nation.
Junior forward Nate Condon was named the outstanding student-athlete. He had 12 goals and 31 points.
Sophomore Justin Holl, who split his time between defenseman and forward, was named the team's unsung hero. He had three goals and seven points.
The Gophers were 16-7-5 in conference games, good enough to tie St. Cloud State for first place, so the two shared the MacNaughton Cup. They finished 26-9-5 overall, losing to eventual NCAA champion Yale 3-2 in overtime in their opening NCAA tournament game.
The team has not announced a new captain nor the assistant captains for next season yet.
This is Offseason Blog 1 for the summer.
* St. Cloud State has started selling season tickets for the 2013-14 season, the Huskies' first in the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. For a chairback seat, the price is $400. For a bleacher seat, it is $275, or $250 for SCSU faculty and staff.
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.
USA Hockey has named a handful of major award winners for the 2012-13 season.
They will receive their awards on June 5 or 7. Among the award winnrers are six Minnesotans. Below are their bios, compiled by USA Hockey:
Amanda Kessel ... Bob Allen Women's Player of the Year
The junior foward won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, led the Gophers to an undefeated season and an NCAA championship.
Earned a gold medal as a member of Team USA at the IIHF Women’s World Championship.
Led the nation with a career-high 101 points (46 goals, 55 assists).
Was a first-team All-America selection, and the WCHA Player of the Year.
Eric Hartzell ... College Player of the Year
Led Quinnipiac University to a 30-7-5 record, the ECAC regular-season title, and the school’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Men’s Frozen and a national runner-up finish.
The senior goaltender and White Bear Lake native was selected to the 2012-13 American Hockey Coaches Association's Division I All-America East first team and was the 2012-13 USCHO Player of the Year.
Named ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and Goaltender of the Year honors.
The Hobey Baker finalist allowed two goals or fewer in 35 of his 42 starts and led the Bobcats to the top overall team defense in the nation. He posted a 1.57 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and led the nation with 2,522 minutes played. His five shutouts tied for third overall.
In nets, as Hartzell as Bobcats went 18-0-3 during a 21-game unbeaten streak that ran from Nov. 9 to Feb. 9.
Taylor Cammarata ... Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year
Played for the Waterloo Black Hawks. ... Was named both the USHL’s Forward of the Year and Player of the Year after leading the league with 38 goals and 93 points in 59 games. His 55 assists placed second overall in the league.
Had at least one point in 48 of 59 games played and had 29 multiple-point games, including a six-point effort on Oct. 28 at Youngstown. He was plus or even in 53 of his 59 games and placed fourth in the league with a plus-39 rating.
Member of the U.S. junior select team this past fall that earned first place at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge.
Signed and will play for Gophers in 2013-14 season.
Charlie Lindgren ... Dave Peterson Goalie of the Year
Helped the Sioux Falls Stampede to the USHL’s Western Conference crown and a second-place finish overall in the league with a 35-14-2 regular-season record.
Led the USHL in wins with 35 victories and allowed two or fewer goals on 24 occasions, including a pair of shutouts, and finished the regular season with a 2.80 goals against average and .900 save percentage.
Fifth in the league with 1,198 saves and appeared in all 10 playoff games for Sioux Falls, posting a 5-5 record along with a 2.52 goals against average and .921 save percentage.
Will play for St. Cloud State in 2013-14.
Phil Housley ... Distinguished Achievement Award
In 2012-13, Phil Housley helped the United States capture medals at two international competitions.
Was head coach of the national Junior Team which won the gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship in January in Ufa, Russia.
In May, was assistant coach on U.S. team which eanred the bronze medal at the IIHF Men’s World Championship in Finland and Sweden.
.Housley enjoyed a 21-year career as a defenseman in the NHL, finishing with 1,232 points (338-894). Recently was named an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators.
The Distinguished Achievement Award is presented to a U.S. citizen who has made hockey his or her profession and has made outstanding contributions on or off the ice to the sport in America.
Sue Ring-Jarvi ... Adult Ironman of the Year
She organized the University of Minnesota’s women’s hockey club team in 1974 and initiated girls’ hockey programs throughout the metro area from 1976-78.
She was part of the movement that led Minnesota to become the first state to recognize girls’ hockey as a varsity sport in 1994.
Ring-Jarvi was inducted into the University of Minnesota’s National M Club Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and was recognized with the Joe Burke Award in 2007, presented annually to the person who has given outstanding contribution, support, and dedication to women’s ice hockey.
She also plays the sport, most recently competing with the Minnesota Blue J Bandits.
Henrik Sedin of Vancouver helped Sweden, his native country, win the gold medal in the IIHF World Championship on Sunday in Stockholm. He had two goals and an assists as the Sweden beat the Swiss 5-1.
Switzerland had been 9-0 in the tournament. And Roman Josi, a Swiss defenseman who plays for the Nashville Predators, was the tournament MVP.
Jhonas Enroth, Sweden's goalie who plays for the Buffalo Sabres, stopped 26 shots.
BRONZE FOR U.S.
The U.S. took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Craig Smith and Paul Stastny in the first and 16th minute, but the Finns rallied to tie the game on two third-period goals by Lauri Korpikoski of the Phoenix Coyotes and, after a scoreless overtime, it went to a shootout.
The U.S. won the four-round shootout 2-1 as Alex Galchenyuk, the Americans third shooter, scored to tie it 1-1. Then when the the sudden-victory round began, Galchenyuk went first for the U.S. and scored again.
The Wild's Mikael Granlund had an assist on Finland's tying goal but missed on his turn in the shootout.
U.S. goalie John Gibson had 36 saves through overtime and three more in the shootout. The Finns had a 38-25 shot advantage.
The U.S. team went 7-3 in the World Championships, losing to Russia and Finland by a goal in the preliminary round and to Switzerland 3-0 in the semifinals.
Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avs led the U.S. in scoring with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points. He was named one of the U.S. team's top three players. The other two were forward Craig Smith of Nashville and defenseman Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Faulk, a South St. Paul native who played at UMD in college, had six assists and was a plus-1 for the tournament. He also averaged 21:17 minutes per game.
None of the other Minnesotans did too much for the U.S. team.
Former Gophers center Nick Bjugstad of the Florida Panthers had two assists, was a minuus-2, had nine shots on goal and averaged 9:34 minutes per game.
Drew LeBlanc, St. Cloud State's Hobey Baker winner this past season as a senior, played in only six games after being a late addition. He had three assists, was a plus-1 and had seven shots.
Danny Kristo, the former UND player from Eden Prairie, had one goal and two assists, was a minus-1 and had eight shots.
Eric Johnson, an Avs defenseman, had two goals and two asists for four points. He was a plus-5 and had 11 shots and averaged nearly 18 minutes.
Defenseman Jamie McBain of the Carolina Hurricanes had two assists and was a minus-2. He averaged 10 minutes per game.
And T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues, a late addition to the team, had one goal and was a minus-1 in four games. He averaged just over 17 minutes.
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