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.
After a two-week stay at No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine and USCHO.com national ratings, the Gophers dropped to No. 2 and 3, respectively. Unbeaten Merrimack is No. 1 in both polls.
Merrimack (8-0-1) received 20 first-place votes and had 492 points in the USA Today poll. The Gophers has 12 of the other 14 first-place votes and had 461 points, edging out Notre Dame for second. The Irish had the other two first-place votes and 455 points.
In the USCHO.com poll, Merrimack garnered 967 votes and had 27 first-place votes . The No. 2 Irish had 932 points and 10 first-place votes. The Gophers were the only other team with more than 900 votes. They had 914 and 11 for first place after a weekend split with St. Cloud State.
Three other WCHA teams were also in the top 10 in both major polls. Colorado College was No. 4, Minnesota Duluth No. 6 and Denver was No. 9 in the USA Today poll and No. 10 in the USCHO.com poll.
So who votes on these polls?
The USA Today poll, in its 17th year, has coaches and sports writers representing all five of the the NCAA Division I conference. The officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine also have one composite vote apiece.
BEMIDJI STATE ENDS 41-YEAR DROUGHT
Junior forward Jordan George’s power-play goal in the second period proved to be the only goal as Bemidji State edged North Dakota 1-0 at the Sanford Center. Beavers senior goalie Dan Bakala had 26 saves.
The BSU win ended a 41-year victory drought versus UND, according to a BSU news release, and snapped North Dakota’s 14-game winning streak in the all-time series. UND still holds a 22-2-1 record in the all-time series. BSU's first victory over UND was on Feb. 7, 1970/
After a scoreless first period, UND’s Mark MacMillian was whistled for tripping at 7:56 of the middle period and, before the Fighting Sioux could coral the puck, Andrew MacWilliam took an interference penalty. That gave BSU a 5-on-3 power-play for two minutes.
George scored a rebound off the left pad of North Dakota goaltender Aaron Dell, 1:12 into the two-man advantage. It was his team-leading seventh goal of the season. BSU’s last goal on the power play came Oct. 22--a scoreless streak spanning eight games and 20 power-play opportunities.
The third period has been an Achilles heel for the Beavers in 2011-12. Through 13 games, BSU had been out scored 19-8 in the third, which includes a 15-4 deficit in the final period of WCHA contests, but the Beavers killed nine minutes of penalties, included a five-minute major.
Bemidji State blocked 21 shots and was six-for-six killing penalties. Its power play was one for three.
On Saturday, North Dakota beat the Beavers 5-2, breaking a 2-2 tie on Mario Lamoureux's goal at 15:22 of the third period. Brock Nelson added a power-play goal at 18:30 and an empty-netter at 19:31.
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference won't officially start playing games until the 2013-14 season, but it is already putting out weekly news releases on its eight teams. One of them, of course, is St. Cloud State.
Got my National release by e-mail Wednesday from Dave Ahlers, the director of athletic communications at Nebraska Omaha. It's 10 pages long. Wonder how the WCHA folks feel about having a competing news release which covers five of their present teams and refers to them as The National teams?
Here are the first couple graphs of The National news release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Nov. 16, 2011
Two members of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference will square off head-to-head this week when No. 11 Denver hosts No. 19 Nebraska Omaha in a two-game set at Magness Arena. Five other members of The National will face off in conference action as fifth-ranked Colorado College hosts Wisconsin, Miami welcomes Bowling Green, eighth-ranked Minnesota Duluth takes on Minnesota State, North Dakota travels to Bemidji State and St. Cloud State plays a home-and-home series with top-ranked Minnesota. Only Western Michigan, which played a rare Tuesday game at Notre Dame, is off. The Broncos return to action next Tuesday by hosting the Irish.
LAST WEEK’S ACTION
Seven of the eight members of The National were in action last week with only North Dakota idle. Those teams posted a record of 6-4-2 which includes one game head-to-head between Colorado College and Denver. In that game, the Pioneers built a 5-1 lead only to see the Tigers claw back to make it a 5-4 final.
In other action, Minnesota Duluth continued its surge and is now unbeaten in its last eight (6-0-2) with 5-0 and 3-1 wins over visiting Alaska Anchorage. Miami earned three of four points against Michigan with a 2-1 win and a 3-3 tie at Cady Arena. Nebraska Omaha did the same on the road, tying Bemidji State, 3-3, before closing the weekend with a 5-1 win at the Sanford Center.
St. Cloud State worked out a road split at Minnesota State. After dropping the first game, 4-2, the Huskies rebounded for a 3-2 win.
The National release then has notes on all eight teams.
The NCHC is trying to build its brand early, I guess. Still seems a little strange to me.
* Jim Scherr, CEO of a marketing firm and former CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is one of two finalists for the job as commissioner of the National, according to several sources. He lives in Colorado Springs where the NCHC will have its offices.
ON VERGE OF 200 WINS
Coach Scott Sandelin’s next victory will give him 200 for at Minnesota Duluth -- a milestone only Mike
Sertich has reached.
Sandelin picked up his first collegiate win at home against Michigan Tech on Nov. 11, 2000, his 50th
versus visiting Minnesota State-Mankato on Nov. 29, 2003 and his 100th at Alaska Anchorage on Dec. 2, 2006.
The No. 10-rated Bulldogs are on an eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2) going into their series with Minnesota State Mankato at home this weekend. UMD is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games with the Mavericks.
U FANS BETTER OFF TV-WISE THAN MANY
Gophers fans may have to watch their favorite team on an alternate channel on Saturday -- because FSN is carrying the Wild game -- but they are still in better shape than many fans of other WCHA teams.
Here is one example: No. 11 Denver (4-3-2, 3-2-2 WCHA) hosts No. 19 Nebraska Omaha on Friday and Saturday at Magness Arena. Big WCHA series, right? Friday's game will be televised live on ROOT SPORTS and Saturday's game will be webcast live on Pioneer Vision.
A webcast Saturday?
Bemidji State has signed defenseman Graeme McCormack of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He is 6-1, 190 and plays for the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey League.
“Graeme is a very exciting prospect for us,” said Ted Belisle, Bemidji State's assistant Coach and recruiting coordinator. “He brings an offensive game and potential to produce on the power play as a defenseman.
"He has great hands, his intellectual game is high end and he is a threat on the ice whenever he has the puck. He makes assertive plays and gets a lot of pucks to the net and that is where he generates a lot of his points. He has a history of producing offensively, but has also become a very good defender."
McCormack has two goals and nine assists for 11 points in eight games for the Clippers.
RECRUITING HAT TRICK FOR BADGERS
Wisconsin has signed three players: defenseman Kevin Schulze of White Bear Lake, and forwards Nicolas Kerdiles of Irvine, Calif., and Morgan Zulinick of Kamloops, British Columbia.
Schulze, 5-9, 165, was recently traded from Muskegon to Omaha in the USHL. He had six assists for Muskegon in eight games and has three assists in six games played for the Lancers.
Schulze is a former Hill-Murray captain. During the 2010-11 campaign, he scored four goals and had 29 assists in 28 regular-season games for the Pioneers.
Eaves on Schulze: “Kevin is a real smooth skating young defenseman. He sees the ice very well and can make a really good pass. For his size, he plays very aggressively and very well away from the puck.
Kerdiles, 6-1, 196, plays for the under-18 U.S. national team in Ann Arbor, Mich. The team just won the 2011 Under-18 Four Nations Tournament in Switzerland, where Kerdiles led the tournament with five goals and five points.
Zulinick, 5-11,185, will join the Badgers from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL. In 38 games during the 2010-11 season for Salmon Arm, the left-handed shot scored 12 goals and finished with 29 points. Through 17 games this season, he has seven goals and 24 points.
Eaves on Zulinick: “He’s an offensive forward playing in British Columbia. He sees the ice really well and protects the puck well. He’s a very strong competitor who will bring an offensive flair to our forward group.”
Amanda Kessel of the Gophers was named co-offensive player of the week in the women's WCHA, and teammate Meghan Lorence is the league's rookie of the week.
Kessel had five goals and one assist in a sweep of St. Cloud State to share the award with Natalie Spooner of Ohio State. Lorence scored a goal in each game. The Gophers beat the Huskies 6-0 and 8-0.
In Saturday's game, Kessel had three goals within eight minutes in the second period. She was the first Gopher to score a natural hat trick -- three goals in succession by one player in the same game -- since Sarah Erickson did it on Oct. 10, 2009.
Kessel was a plus-5 for the weekend and had 13 shots on goal.
Spooner had all four goals in a 4-4 tie with Bemidji State, then got the shootout winner. Erika Wheelhouse of Bemidji State, who had six assists in the series at Ohio State, is the league's defensive player of the week.
Lorence was a plus-3 against SCSU and had 11 shots in the two games.
Here is an edited Bemidji State release on the Beavers' 2011-12 schedule:
The Beavers play 28 Western Collegiate Hockey Association games, plus eight nonconference contests which
includes a home series versus long-time rival University of Alabama Huntsville and an exhibition game.
“With a schedule primarily made up of conference games, there isn’t a lot of room for variety from year to year, but I think we’ve put together a nice nonconference schedule,” said Beavers coach Tom Serratore, entering his 11th season at BSU.
BSU also plays three CCHA teams, Miami and Lake Superior State on the road and Bowling Green at home.
“From a WCHA standpoint, since it is only our second year in the league, we will be bringing in teams like Wisconsin and Denver into our building for the first time," Serratore said, "and I think that will be exciting for our fans.”
Bemidji State will play 18 games versus 2011 NCAA tournament teams, including a two games at 2011 NCAA champion Minnesota Duluth.
“Typically, we’ve played a competitive and demanding schedule at Bemidji State, now as members of the WCHA that will be no different,” Serratore said.
The Beavers' 56th season starts Oct. 2 with an exhibition game versus University of Regina at home.
BSU recently completed its first season in the WCHA with an overall record of 15-18-5 and a 8-15-5 mark in league play. The team finished 10th in the WCHA standings and capped the season with a trip to the WCHA Final Five at the Xcel. Bemidji State, the tournament’s No. 6 seed, opened the event with a win over the No. 3 seed and eventual national champion Minnesota Duluth, before losing to the second seed Denver in the semifinals.
Date Opponent Location Time
Oct. 2 University of Regina. 5:07 p.m., exhibition
Oct. 7-8, at Miami University Oxford, Ohio 6:30/6 p.m.
Oct. 14-15 at Colorado College, 8:37/8:07 p.m.
Oct. 21-22 Michigan Tech. 7:37/7:07 p.m.
Oct. 28-29 at University of Minnesota Duluth. 7:07/7:07 p.m.
Nov. 4 at Lake Superior State University, 6/6 p.m. .... BSU plays eight of first 10 games on road
Nov. 11-12 University of Nebraska Omaha, 7:37/7:07 p.m..
Nov. 19-20 North Dakota. 7:07/5:07 p.m.
Dec. 2-3 at St. Cloud State. 7:07/7:07 p.m.
Dec. 9-10 Denver, 7:37/7:07 p.m.
Dec. 16-17 Alabama-Huntsville, 7:37/7:07 p.m.
Dec. 30-31 Bowling Green, 7:37/7:07 p.m.
Jan. 13-14 at Denver, 8:37/8:07 p.m.
Jan. 27-28 Minnesota State University, Mankato, 7:37/7:07 p.m.
Feb. 3-4 at Nebraska Omaha,. 7:37/7:07 p.m.
Feb. 10-11 Colorado College, 7:37/7:07 p.m.
Feb. 17-18 at Minnesota, 7:07/7:07 p.m.
Feb. 24-25 Wisconsin, 7:37/7:07 p.m.
March 2-3 at Alaska-Anchorage 10:07/10:07 p.m.
The late signing period for men's college hockey started last Wednesday and two WCHA teams were busy.
Minnesota State signed five players to national letters of intent for next season:
* D Mat Knoll, Edmonton, Alberta ... He is 6-0, 180 and turns 22 in August. ... He has played in the Alberta Junior Hockey League for three seasons. ... He has six goals and 17 assists for 23 points in 53 games for Spruce Grove.
* F Max Gaede, Woodbury ... He is playing for Sioux City in the USHL. ... He is 6-2, 191 and 20 years old.
* R Jean-Paul Lafontaine, Oxford, Mich. ... He is playing for Green Bay of the USHL. He is 5-10, 172 and he is 20.
* D Zach Palmquist, South St. Paul ... He is 5-11, 175 and age 21. He plays for Waterloo of the USHL.
* D Brett Stern, Lino Lakes ... He is 6-3, 186. He is 20.
Bemidji State signed four players:
* F Mitch Cain, Fort Frances, Ontario ... The 6-2, 205-pound Cain is second on his Des Moines team in the USHL in goals with 19 and fifth in points (27).
* F Danny Mattson, Minneapolis ... He is 5-10, 184 and is from Minneapolis. He split his time this season between Chicago and Youngstown in the USHL this season. He had five goals and seven assists for 12 points.
* F Sean Rudy, Long Sault, Ontario ... He is 6-3, 190 and was a first team USHL all-star playing for the Wellington Dukes. He led the Dukes in scoring with 22 goals and 51 assists for 73 points. Wellingto won the OJHL East Division title.
* Aaron Walsh, Dawson Creek, B.C. ... He had a 3.70 goals-against average and .902 save percentage. He made at least 30 saves in 19 of his 32 games. ... He is 6-2, 200.
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