2012-2013 All-Bobcat Alumni Teams

Frankie DeAugustine battles for the puck

Former Bismarck Bobcat Frankie DeAugustine (right) had a successful freshman season at UMass Boston.

With the college hockey season over and the Bismarck Bobcats awaiting tomorrow’s Central Division playoff game against the Austin Bruins, I feel it’s a perfect time to look at how Bobcat alumni performed during this college season. I’ve highlighted the most impressive performances and split up players into first and second teams along with some honorable mention selections.

First Team

Singer led the Division III champion UW-Eau Claire Blugolds in goals (22) and points (36). His goal total was second in all of Division III. He was named to the All-NCHA team as well as the All-WIAC First Team. He was also named to the All-USCHO Third Team. He was named a first team All-America selection. He was also named both the NCHA Scholar-Athlete and the WIAC Scholar-Athlete.

Keefer finished second in scoring for the St. Norbert Green Knights with 17 goals and 17 assists. He was named to the All-NCHA First Team. He was named a second team selection to the Division II-III CCM American Hockey Coaches Association All-America Team. He also received honorable mention All-America accolades from D3hockey.com.

Harris led the St. Olaf Oles in goals (16) and points (24). His goal and point totals were good for first and fourth in the MIAC, respectively. He was named the MIAC co-MVP and was named to the All-MIAC team. He was also a second team All-America selection.

Danford led Canisius defensemen and Bobcat DI alumni defensemen in scoring with 18 points (two goals and 16 assists). He also led the Golden Griffins in blocks. Canisius won its first conference championship and made its first ever NCAA tournament appearance.

Olivieri led Utica defensemen and all Bobcat alumni defensemen in scoring with 22 points (five goals and 17 assists). He also led the Pioneers in plus-minus with a +22. He was named to the ECAC West Second Team as well as the ECAC West All-Rookie Team. He was also named to the USCHO All-Rookie Team.

Faragher helped lead the St. Cloud State Huskies to the program’s first ever Frozen Four. He finished the season with a 24-14-1 record, a .914 save percentage, and a 2.27 goals against average. He was named to the NCAA Midwest Regional team.

Second Team

Fabian led all Bobcat alumni in Division I during the 2012-2013 season in goals (7) and points (19) while playing for the Air Force Falcons.

DeAugustine led the UMass Boston Beacons in plus-minus with a +17. He scored nine goals and 16 assists on his way to being named to the ECAC East All-Rookie Team.

Bennis, of the national champion Blugolds, scored 11 goals and eight assists. He was an honorable mention selection to both the All-WIAC and All-NCHA teams.

Nelson had five goals and nine assists for the Minnesota State Mavericks, as the program made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003.

Weissenhofer led the Falcons in blocks and scored 13 assists.

Grogan made his first start for the Connecticut Huskies in 23 months on December 29, and he starred the remainder of the season. He finished fourth in the nation in winning percentage (.738), fifth in save percentage (.937) and eighth in goals against average (1.93). He was named to the All-AHA Third Team.

Honorable Mention

Harris led the Oles in assists with 14, which was good for third in the MIAC. He also scored six goals. He was named to the All-MIAC team.

Weston had the second most goals for the champion Blugolds with 14. He added eight assists.

Zawacki scored 15 goals and 19 assists for the Davenport Panthers, who earned a trip to the ACHA Division I national tournament.

Sommer finished third in scoring among Division I former Bobcats with 17 points (six goals and 11 assists) for the Holy Cross Crusaders.

Kleisinger scored six goals and seven assists for the Falcons.

Nine UND alumni compete for the Stanley Cup

Jonathan Toews hoists the Stanley Cup

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) Will Jonathan Toews raise the Stanley Cup for a second time?

The best time of the year for hockey fans begins tonight: the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The question on everyone’s mind is quite obviously “Who will raise the Cup?” Will it be the President’s Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks? Will it be the Eastern Conference regular-season champion Pittsburgh Penguins? Will another team surprise the world and rise to the top like last season’s eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings?

Chances are fairly high that whichever team wins hockey’s most coveted prize, a former University of North Dakota player will be on that team. Six teams competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have UND alumni, meaning that there is a 37.5% chance that a UND alumus will raise the Cup.

A total of nine UND alumni are competing in the playoffs: Chicago’s Jonathan Toews; Los Angeles’ Matt Greene; Minnesota’s Zach Parise, the New York Islanders’ Joe Finley and Brock Nelson; St. Louis’ T.J. OshieChris Porter, and Taylor Chorney; and Toronto’s Matt Frattin.

UND fans will want to spend special attention to two first-round series.

Toews and the Blackhawks face off against Parise and the Wild starting tonight at 7 Central Time.

Greene and the defending champion Kings will take on Oshie, Porter, Chorney, and the Blues beginning tonight also at 7. Greene, however, is out tonight due to an undisclosed injury that is not related to the back injury that caused him to miss most of the regular season. Chorney was called up by the Blues on Saturday for added roster depth for the playoffs; he has spent the entire season with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen.

The other UND alumni are not facing each other in the first round. Joe Finley, Brock Nelson, and the Islanders face the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Matt Frattin and the Maple Leafs face the Boston Bruins.

Greene last season became the 13th UND alumnus to win the Stanley Cup. Will there be a 14th this season?

USHL Western Conference finals preview

The Fargo Force huddle up before a game

Either the Fargo Force (pictured) or the Sioux Falls Stampede are three wins away from a trip to the Clark Cup.

A battle of the Dakotas will decide who wins the USHL Western Conference and advances to the Clark Cup, as the Sioux Falls Stampede and the Fargo Force will face off in a best-of-five series.

Both teams had some trouble in their semifinal series. Sioux Falls needed five games to advance over the Lincoln Stars, while Fargo scored in overtime in game five to defeat the Waterloo Black Hawks.

That leaves Sioux Falls and Fargo with little time to rest and prepare before they begin the series on Friday. Sioux Falls last played on Tuesday, and Fargo finished its previous series on Wednesday.

USHL Western Conference Bracket#1 Sioux Falls vs. #2 Fargo

Playoff Schedule

    • Game 1: April 26 at 7:35 p.m. in Fargo
    • Game 2: April 27 at 7:05 p.m. in Fargo
    • Game 3: May 2 at 7:05 p.m. in Sioux Falls
    • Game 4: May 5 at 6:05 p.m. in Sioux Falls (if necessary)
    • Game 5: May 8 at 7:05 p.m. in Sioux Falls (if necessary)

If any of the Stampede players were afraid of clowns growing up, that fear might come back to the surface to some extent this weekend. Typically the higher seed plays games one and two at home, but the circus is at the Sioux Falls Arena from April 25-28, so Sioux Falls has to start the series on the road. By opening the series at home, Fargo has the opportunity to get out to an early lead in the series and force Sioux Falls to win three in a row in Sioux Falls.

Season Series

    • Wins: 5-3 in favor of Sioux Falls
    • Points: 11-8 in favor of Sioux Falls
    • Record in Sioux Falls: 3-1 in favor of Sioux Falls (wins); 6-4 in favor of Sioux Falls (points)
    • Record in Fargo: Tied at 2 (wins); 5-4 in favor of Sioux Falls (points)
    • Goals Scored: 34-32 in favor of Sioux Falls
    • Game Results:
      • 10/13/12 – in Sioux Falls – 6-5 Sioux Falls win in overtime
      • 11/2/12 – in Sioux Falls – 6-4 Sioux Falls win
      • 11/21/12 – in Sioux Falls – 3-2 Sioux Falls win in overtime
      • 11/24/12 – in Fargo – 3-2 Fargo win in overtime
      • 12/28/12 – in Fargo – 5-3 Sioux Falls win
      • 2/22/13 – in Fargo – 6-3 Sioux Falls win
      • 3/6/13 – in Sioux Falls – 5-2 Fargo win
      • 4/5/13 – in Fargo – 7-4 Fargo win

Fortunately for Sioux Falls, if Fargo were to get out to a two-game lead in the series, the Stampede have taken care of business at home this season against Fargo, taking three of four games. Two of those, however, were overtime wins.

Sioux Falls holds a slight edge in almost every aspect of the season series, but Fargo did win the last two games by a combined goal differential of 12-6.

Team Comparisons

Sioux Falls Fargo
Overall Regular-Season Record 45-17-2, 92 pts. (1st Western) 38-19-7, 83 pts. (2nd Western)
Home Regular-Season Record 24-8-0, 48 pts. 19-9-4, 42 pts.
Away Regular-Season Record 21-9-2, 44 pts. 19-10-3, 41 pts.
Last Ten Games (Including Playoffs) 6-4-0, 12 pts. 5-5-0, 10 pts.
Second Half of Regular-Season Record 22-9-1, 45 pts. 20-10-2, 42 pts.
Goals For/Against in Regular Season 241 (2nd in Western, 3rd in USHL) – 187 (2nd in Western, 4th in USHL) 229 (3rd in Western, 5th in USHL) – 201 (5th in Western, 8th in USHL)
Power Play in Regular Season 15.85% (6th in Western, 12th in USHL) 15.73% (7th in Western, 13th in USHL)
Penalty Kill in Regular Season 84.77% (2nd in Western, 3rd in USHL) 81.78% (3rd in Western, 9th in USHL)
Leading Scorers in Regular Season Dennis Kravchenko (22 G, 41 A), C.J. Franklin (32 G, 28 A), Zeb Knutson (26 G, 25 A), Todd Skirving (23 G, 22 A), Tony Calderone (29 G, 15 A), Sam Rothstein (18 G, 26 A) Dominic Toninato (29 G, 41 A), Brendan Harms (25 G, 45 A), Gabe Guertler (31 G, 20 A), Dave Gust (21 G, 28 A), Alex Iafallo (20 G, 23 A)
Goaltending (Regular-Season Stats) Charlie Lindgren (35-14-2, 2.80 GAA, .900 SV%), David Jacobson (3-0-0, 1.51 GAA, .931 SV%) Brendan Jensen (24-11-1, 2.92 GAA, .911 SV%), Cameron Johnson (14-8-6, 3.07 GAA, .909 SV%)

Despite finishing far above .500 during the regular season, both teams have hovered around .500 in their last ten games.

Both teams have also struggled on the power play. Sioux Falls and Fargo were ranked 12th and 13th (of 16 teams), respectively during the regular season. Sioux Falls has not scored a goal in 14 power plays during the postseason.

Sioux Falls does have the advantage on the penalty kill, however, ranking third in the USHL regular season compared to Fargo who ranked ninth.

Offensively and defensively, Sioux Falls performed better in the regular season, scoring more goals and allowing fewer. In the playoffs, things have changed greatly on the offensive end. In the first round, Fargo scored the most goals in the league, while Sioux Falls scored the least.

Advantage Fargo then? It’s hard to say. Both teams have had clear strengths and weaknesses both over the course of the regular season and in the playoffs to this point.

For a more complete comparison of the two teams, the USHL provides very in-depth stats about the season series and about each team.

Sioux Falls does have the advantage on the penalty kill, however, ranking third in the USHL regular season compared to Fargo who ranked 9th.

NAHL Central Division finals preview

Bobcats celebrate Central title in Austin

The Bismarck Bobcats celebrate their Central Division championship after defeating the Austin Bruins in Austin last April. Will the Bobcats win another Central title, or will Austin get its revenge?

Three more wins.

That’s what it takes for either the Austin Bruins or the Bismarck Bobcats to punch their ticket to the Robertson Cup national tournament in Frisco, Texas, from May 10-13. They will be joined there by the winners of the North, South, and West divisions. To see how those divisional playoffs are going, check out the playoff brackets on the NAHL website.

Austin and Bismarck got to this point by winning their first round series. Austin won its best-of-five series against the Minot Minotauros in four games. Bismarck dominated the Brookings Blizzard, sweeping the series and outscoring Brookings 20-6.

The series will be a rematch of last season’s Central Division finals. In that series, the teams split the first two games in Bismarck. Then Bismarck went to Austin and won the next two games and the series. That obviously left a bad taste in the mouths of the Austin fans and players.

This time around, as the number-one seed, Austin has home-ice advantage and the opportunity to reverse its fortunes and win the series in Bismarck in game three or four.

Updated NAHL Central Division playoff bracket

Updated NAHL Central Division playoff bracket

Let’s take a look at the schedule, the season series, and a comparison of the teams.

#1 Austin vs. #2 Bismarck

Playoff Schedule

    • Game 1: April 26 at 7:05 p.m. in Austin
    • Game 2: April 27 at 7:05 p.m. in Austin
    • Game 3: May 3 at 7:15 p.m. in Bismarck
    • Game 4: May 4 at 7:15 p.m. in Bismarck (if necessary)
    • Game 5: May 6 at 7:05 p.m. in Austin (if necessary)

Season Series

    • Wins: Tied at 5
    • Points: Tied at 12
    • Record in Austin: Tied at 3 (wins); Tied at 7 (points)
    • Record in Bismarck: Tied at 2 (wins); Tied at 5 (points)
    • Goals Scored: 39-37 in favor of Bismarck
    • Game Results:
      • 10/13/12 – in Austin – 4-2 Austin win
      • 10/19/12 – in Bismarck – 4-3 Bismarck win in a shootout
      • 10/20/12 – in Bismarck – 4-3 Austin win
      • 11/10/12 – in Austin – 5-1 Bismarck win
      • 2/8/13 – in Bismarck – 6-5 Austin win in a shootout
      • 2/9/13 – in Bismarck – 5-2 Bismarck win
      • 2/22/13 – in Austin – 4-3 Austin win in a shootout
      • 2/23/13 – in Austin – 8-3 Austin win
      • 3/22/13 – in Austin – 5-2 Bismarck win
      • 3/23/13 – in Austin – 4-3 Bismarck win in overtime

Could the season series between the two teams have been any more even? The teams tied in wins and points both home and away. One of the only edges went to Bismarck, and that was a very slight edge in goals scored at 39 to 37.

Bismarck did win the final two games on the road, however, the last of which was particularly noteworthy. Facing a 3-0 deficit with 6:05 left in the game, Mike Dockry scored to give the Bobcats their first goal of the night. With 2:48 left, Austin’s Brandon Wahlin received a checking from behind major and game misconduct, while Bismarck’s Levi Blom received a roughing double minor. In what would’ve been 4-on-4 hockey for two minutes, Bismarck pulled goalie Aaron Nelson for a one-man advantage and then Bismarck’s Matt Pohlkamp scored with 1:51 remaining. With Bismarck’s penalty over and Nelson still on the bench, Pohlkamp scored again with 31 seconds left. Then in overtime, still on the power play for Wahlin’s major, Bismarck scored off the stick of Joe Giordano to win in a stunning fashion.

You may also have seen this video clip of Austin’s play-by-play announcer from this game on SportsCenter. Hint: It was a clean hit!

I think it’s safe to say that Austin fans want to win this series extra badly, having the bad memories of this game along with last season’s divisional finals.

Since looking at the season series did almost nothing in predicting who might win this series, let’s look at a comparison of the two teams.

Team Comparisons

Austin Bismarck
Overall Regular-Season Record 42-11-7, 91 pts. (1st Central) 35-16-9, 79 pts. (2nd Central)
Home Regular-Season Record 20-4-4, 44 pts. 18-6-6, 42 pts.
Away Regular-Season Record 20-5-3, 43 pts. 17-10-3, 37 pts.
Neutral-Site Regular-Season Record 2-2-0, 4 pts. 1-3-0, 2 pts.
Last Ten Games (Including Playoffs) 7-1-2, 16 pts. 8-0-2, 18 pts.
Second Half of Regular-Season Record 21-6-3, 45 pts. 19-4-7, 45 pts.
Goals For/Against in Regular Season 223 (1st in Central, 2nd in NAHL) – 155 (2nd in Central, T-7th in NAHL) 183 (2nd in Central, T-11th in NAHL) – 140 (1st in Central, 2nd in NAHL)
Power Play in Regular Season 25.36% (1st in Central, 1st in NAHL) 16.25% (3rd in Central, T-10th in NAHL)
Penalty Kill in Regular Season 85.45% (1st in Central, 10th in NAHL) 85.16% (2nd in Central, 11th in NAHL)
Leading Scorers in Regular Season Brandon Wahlin (20 G, 49 A), AJ Reid (24 G, 40 A), CJ Smith (30 G, 29 A), John Simonson (27 G, 30 A), Jay Dickman (23 G, 32 A) Adam Knochenmus (19 G, 32 A), Patrick Moore (21 G, 29 A), Joe Giordano (13 G, 31 A), Bob Kinne (9 G, 19 A), Nate Repensky (6 G, 21 A)
Goaltending (Regular-Season Stats) Nicholas Lehr (25-8-1, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV%), Jason Pawloski (17-3-2, 2.52 GAA, .919 SV%) Aaron Nelson (24-7-6, 1.88 GAA, .931 SV%), Bryan Nies (11-7-3, 2.48 GAA, .910 SV%)

Though Austin easily won the Central Division in the regular season, this will be a battle of two teams that are on fire. Austin and Bismarck were tied for having the third-highest number of standings points in the second half of the regular season. In the last ten games including the playoffs, Austin is 7-1-2 while Bismarck is 8-0-2. Bismarck actually has not lost a game in regulation in 13 games.

This is also a particularly interesting matchup when looking at offense, defense, and special teams. In the regular season, Austin had the league’s best power play and second-best offense (as far as total goals scored). Bismarck, meanwhile, had the league’s second-best defense (as far as total goals allowed).

Will Austin’s high-powered offense and special teams win out, or will Bismarck’s strong defense and goaltending shine and lead the Bobcats to their fifth-straight division title? This should be one exciting series to watch.

Tragedy: when hockey both loses and gains importance

When tragedy strikes our nation like it did this week in Boston, all of a sudden sports don’t matter as much anymore. Though we still want our teams to win, tragedy puts sports in perspective by showing that there are more important things in life. Games get postponed. Rivalries get pushed to the side.

But yet, it’s in times of tragedy that the sports world often shines brightest. Sports provide an escape as people try to return to normalcy by watching their favorite teams. And more importantly, moving displays of unity and patriotism happen like this one during the National Anthem prior to the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres game last night:

We might be Wild fans, Blackhawks fans, Avalanche fans, Penguins fans, or fans of a whole host of other teams, but one thing unites us all… we’re all Americans.

USHL Western Conference semifinal preview

Fargo Force starters being announced

Will the Fargo Force win the Western Conference playoffs and advance to the Clark Cup?

Last week, I brought you a preview of the Central Division semifinals in the North American Hockey League. This week, it’s time for a preview of the other junior hockey league with teams in the Dakotas, the United States Hockey League.

This post will focus on the Western Conference, as it’s the division located in this area. The division is made up of one team in North Dakota, one team in South Dakota, three teams in Nebraska, and three teams in Iowa. Four of the eight teams have advanced to the conference playoffs: the Sioux Falls Stampede, the Fargo Force, the Waterloo Black Hawks, and the Lincoln Stars.

The divisional playoffs begin with two best-of-five series: #1 Sioux Falls vs. #4 Lincoln and #2 Fargo vs. #3 Waterloo. Sioux Falls and Lincoln got underway Tuesday night with Sioux Falls winning 3-2 in overtime to take a 1-0 lead in the series. The Fargo-Waterloo series begins Wednesday, along with the two series in the other conference (Dubuque vs. Muskegon and Green Bay vs. Youngstown).

The winners of the two Western Conference series will play in another best-of-five series to determine the conference champion and advance to the Clark Cup against the Eastern Conference champion.

USHL Western Conference Playoff Bracket

It’s not exactly a preview technically since the series has started already, but let’s look first at the Sioux Falls-Lincoln series.

NOTE: All information under “Season Series” and “Team Comparisons” for this series comes from the regular season only. In other words, game one between these two teams on Tuesday is not factored in.

#1 Sioux Falls vs. #4 Lincoln

Playoff Schedule

    • Game 1: April 16 at 7:05 p.m. in Sioux Falls (3-2 Sioux Falls win in OT)
    • Game 2: April 17 at 7:05 p.m. in Sioux Falls
    • Game 3: April 19 at 7:05 p.m. in Lincoln
    • Game 4: April 20 at 7:05 p.m. in Lincoln (if necessary)
    • Game 5: April 23 at 7:05 p.m. in Sioux Falls (if necessary)

Season Series

    • Wins: 5-3 in favor of Sioux Falls
    • Points: 10-7 in favor of Sioux Falls
    • Record in Sioux Falls: Tied at 2 (wins); Tied at 4 (points)
    • Record in Lincoln: 3-1 in favor of Sioux Falls (wins); 6-3 in favor of Sioux Falls (points)
    • Goals Scored: 24-19 in favor of Sioux Falls
    • Game Results:
      • 9/28/12 – in Lincoln – 5-1 Lincoln win
      • 11/10/12 – in Sioux Falls – 5-2 Sioux Falls win
      • 12/1/12 – in Sioux Falls – 2-1 Lincoln win
      • 12/15/13 – in Lincoln – 4-3 Sioux Falls win in a shootout
      • 2/1/13 – in Lincoln – 4-1 Sioux Falls win
      • 2/16/13 – in Sioux Falls – 6-1 Sioux Falls win
      • 3/22/13 – in Lincoln – 2-1 Sioux Falls win
      • 3/30/13 – in Sioux Falls – 4-1 Lincoln win

Sioux Falls had a slight edge in the season series. Could that be an indication of what’s to come in this series?

One potential problem for Sioux Falls, however, could be that the Stampede did not take care of business at home, splitting with Lincoln. Lincoln dropped game one of this playoff series in Sioux Falls, but if the Stars can steal game two on the road, that suddenly makes this series a whole lot more interesting.

Team Comparisons

Sioux Falls Lincoln
Overall Record 45-17-2, 92 pts. (1st Western) 39-22-3, 81 pts. (4th Western)
Home Record 24-8-0, 48 pts. 20-9-3, 43 pts.
Away Record 21-9-2, 44 pts. 19-13-0, 38 pts.
Goals For/Against 241-187 217-191
Last Ten Games 7-3-0, 14 pts. 8-2-0, 16 pts.
Second Half of Season Record 22-9-1, 45 pts. 20-12-0, 40 pts.
Leading Scorers Dennis Kravchenko (22 G, 41 A), C.J. Franklin (32 G, 28 A), Zeb Knutson (26 G, 25 A), Todd Skirving (23 G, 22 A), Tony Calderone (29 G, 15 A), Sam Rothstein (18 G, 26 A) Eric Scheid (23 G, 36 A), Vinni Lettieri (28 G, 28 A), Paul LaDue (12 G, 37 A), Luke Johnson (19 G, 27 A), Dominik Shine (26 G, 19 A)
Goaltending Charlie Lindgren (35-14-2, 2.80 GAA, .900 SV%), David Jacobson (3-0-0, 1.51 GAA, .931 SV%) Michael Bitzer (22-11-1, 2.70 GAA, .905 SV%), Jackson Teichroeb (17-11-2, 2.78 GAA, .904 SV%)

Both teams enter the playoffs on a roll, winning a combined 15 of their last 20 games. Whose hot streak will come to an end?

On paper, Sioux Falls is a better team, but for a series between a #1 and a #4 seed, the teams’ records really aren’t too far apart, so this series could easily go either way.

For a more complete comparison of the two teams, the USHL provides very in-depth stats about the season series and about each team.

Now let’s look at the other series between Fargo and Waterloo.

#2 Fargo vs. #3 Waterloo

Playoff Schedule

    • Game 1: April 17 at 7:05 p.m. in Fargo
    • Game 2: April 19 at 7:35 p.m. in Fargo
    • Game 3: April 21 at 3:05 p.m. in Waterloo
    • Game 4: April 23 at 7:05 p.m. in Waterloo (if necessary)
    • Game 5: April 24 at 7:05 p.m. in Fargo (if necessary)

Season Series

    • Wins: 4-1 in favor of Fargo
    • Points: 8-4 in favor of Fargo
    • Record in Fargo: 2-0 in favor of Fargo (wins); 4-1 in favor of Fargo (points)
    • Record in Waterloo: 2-1 in favor of Fargo (wins); 4-3 in favor of Fargo (points)
    • Goals Scored: 19-12 in favor of Fargo
    • Game Results:
      • 2/11/13 – in Waterloo – 3-2 Fargo win
      • 2/15/13 – in Fargo – 4-3 Fargo win in a shootout
      • 2/16/13 – in Fargo – 6-1 Fargo win
      • 3/22/13 – in Waterloo – 5-4 Fargo win in a shootout
      • 3/30/13 – in Waterloo – 2-1 Waterloo win

Fargo had a clear edge in the season series, taking four of five games. All five games happened in approximately the last two months of the regular season, which only gives more weight to Fargo’s winning of the season series.

It is interesting to note, however, that with the exception of a 6-1 blowout by the Force in Fargo, the games all were decided by one goal, twice in a shootout. This series was actually much closer than its record indicates.

Team Comparisons

Fargo Waterloo
Overall Record 38-19-7, 83 pts. (2nd Western) 39-21-4, 82 pts. (3rd Western)
Home Record 19-9-4, 42 pts. 20-11-1, 41 pts.
Away Record 19-10-3, 41 pts. 19-10-3, 41 pts.
Goals For/Against 229-201 273-217
Last Ten Games 6-3-1, 13 pts. 8-1-1, 17 pts.
Second Half of Season Record 20-10-2, 42 pts. 19-9-4, 42 pts.
Leading Scorers Dominic Toninato (29 G, 41 A), Brendan Harms (25 G, 45 A), Gabe Guertler (31 G, 20 A), Dave Gust (21 G, 28 A), Alex Iafallo (20 G, 23 A) Taylor Cammarata (38 G, 55 A), Justin Kloos (29 G, 58 A), Zach Stepan (32 G, 46 A), Vince Hinostroza (25 G, 35 A), Ian McCoshen (11 G, 33 A)
Goaltending Brendan Jensen (24-11-1, 2.92 GAA, .911 SV%), Cameron Johnson (14-8-6, 3.07 GAA, .909 SV%) Cal Petersen (21-11-1, 2.97 GAA, .906 SV%), Eamon McAdam (17-9-3, 3.45 GAA, .896 SV%)

The information in this section is where this playoff series gets a lot more interesting because it points toward a Waterloo advantage, unlike the season series.

Waterloo enters the playoffs with an eight-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the entire USHL. Fargo, meanwhile, dropped its final two games of the regular season at home against sixth-place Sioux City with a combined score of 10-2.

Fargo also has to worry about the high-scoring Waterloo offense. Waterloo easily led the USHL in scoring in the regular season, scoring 26 more goals than the team with the next highest amount. The Waterloo offense is led by Cammarata, Kloos, and Stepan, who went 1-2-3 in the regular-season scoring race in the USHL.

The season series points to Fargo, but several other factors point to Waterloo, so this should be an exciting series to watch and one where anything could happen.

Again, for further comparison, the USHL provides a helpful page with some in-depth stats about the season series and the two teams.

NAHL Central Division semifinal preview

Bismarck Bobcats 2011-12 Central Division Champions

Will the Bismarck Bobcats win their fifth-straight Central Division championship and advance again to the Robertson Cup?

After seven long, hard-fought months of the North American Hockey League regular season, it’s finally here: the playoffs!

The North and South divisions have already started their series, but the Central and West divisions get underway on Friday.

The focus here will be on the Central Division, as it’s the division located in this area. The division consists of two teams in North Dakota, two in South Dakota, one in Minnesota, and one in Wisconsin. Four of the teams have advanced to the playoffs: the Austin Bruins, the Bismarck Bobcats, the Brookings Blizzard, and the Minot Minotauros.

The divisional playoffs begin with two best-of-five series: #1 Austin vs. #4 Minot and #2 Bismarck vs. #3 Brookings. The winners of the series will play in another best-of-five series to determine the Central Division champion and punch a ticket to the Robertson Cup national championship.

NAHL Central Division playoff bracket

NAHL Central Division playoff bracket

One thing to note is that unlike the regular season, the shootout does not exist in the playoffs. Instead, 20-minute five-on-five overtime periods are played until a goal is scored.

Let’s preview first the Austin vs. Minot series.

#1 Austin vs. #4 Minot

Playoff Schedule

    • Game 1: April 12 at 7:05 p.m. in Austin
    • Game 2: April 13 at 7:05 p.m. in Austin
    • Game 3: April 19 at 7:35 p.m. in Minot
    • Game 4: April 20 at 7:35 p.m. in Minot (if necessary)
    • Game 5: April 22 at 7:05 p.m. in Austin (if necessary)

Season Series

    • Wins: Tied at 5
    • Points: 14-11 in favor of Austin
    • Record in Austin: 3-1 in favor of Minot (wins); 7-5 in favor of Minot (points)
    • Record in Minot: 4-2 in favor of Austin (wins); 9-4 in favor of Austin (points)
    • Goals Scored: 27-18 in favor of Austin
    • Game Results:
      • 11/9/12 – in Austin – 5-4 Minot win in a shootout
      • 11/30/12 – in Minot – 2-1 Minot win in a shootout
      • 12/1/12 – in Minot – 1-0 Minot win
      • 1/4/13 – in Austin – 2-1 Minot win in a shootout
      • 1/5/13 – in Austin – 4-3 Austin win in a shootout
      • 1/25/13 – in Minot – 5-0 Austin win
      • 1/26/13 – in Minot – 3-0 Austin win
      • 2/15/13 – in Austin – 3-2 Minot win in a shootout
      • 3/15/13 – in Minot – 3-2 Austin win
      • 3/16/13 – in Minot – 4-0 Austin win

Overall, the season series between Austin and Minot was fairly even, with both teams winning five games and Austin having a slight edge in points.

However, looking at the series more closely, Austin has a clear edge going into the playoffs. Minot won the first four games of the series and then only won one more time in the last six games. Three of Austin’s wins were shutouts with at least a three-goal advantage.

In addition, Austin appears to be helped by the fact that shootouts don’t exist in the NAHL playoffs. Five of the ten games went to a shootout; Minot won four of them.

Interesting to note is how well each team did on the road. Austin took four of six games in Minot, while Minot took three of four in Austin (all three were shootout wins, however). If those trends hold, it could make for some interesting scenarios in the playoffs.

Team Comparisons

Austin Minot
Overall Record 42-11-7, 91 pts. (1st Central) 26-30-4, 56 pts. (4th Central)
Home Record 20-4-4, 44 pts. 15-11-2, 32 pts.
Away Record 20-5-3, 43 pts. 11-16-1, 23 pts.
Neutral-Site Record 2-2-0, 4 pts. 0-3-1, 1 pt.
Goals For/Against 223-155 151-186
Last Ten Games 6-3-1, 13 pts. 2-8-0, 4 pts.
Second Half of Season Record 21-6-3, 45 pts. 11-17-2, 24 pts.
Leading Scorers Brandon Wahlin (20 G, 49 A), AJ Reid (24 G, 40 A), CJ Smith (30 G, 29 A), John Simonson (27 G, 30 A), Jay Dickman (23 G, 32 A) Jake O’Borsky (13 G, 27 A), Jadin Martin (10 G, 19 A), Cameron Rowat (12 G, 15 A), Lucas Oliver (12 G, 15 A), Mason Morelli (12 G, 15 A)
Goaltending Nicholas Lehr (25-8-1, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV%), Jason Pawloski (17-3-2, 2.52 GAA, .919 SV%) Tyler Parks (18-17-3, 2.79 GAA, .917 SV%), Ryan Ruck (8-11-1, 2.94 GAA, .910 SV%)

This is a series of two teams going in opposite directions. Austin is tied for the third-hottest team in the NAHL in the final 30 games of the regular season with 45 points in those games. Minot, meanwhile, enters the playoffs with a 2-8-0 record in its last ten games.

It’s playoff time, however. The second season. Anything can happen.

Now, switching to the other series…

#2 Bismarck vs. #3 Brookings

Playoff Schedule

    • Game 1: April 12 at 7:15 p.m. in Bismarck
    • Game 2: April 13 at 7:15 p.m. in Bismarck
    • Game 3: April 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Brookings
    • Game 4: April 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Brookings (if necessary)
    • Game 5: April 22 at 7:15 p.m. in Bismarck (if necessary)

Season Series

    • Wins: Tied at 5
    • Points: 12-10 in favor of Bismarck
    • Record in Bismarck: Tied at 3 (wins); 8-6 in favor of Bismarck (points)
    • Record in Brookings: Tied at 2 (wins); tied at 4 (points)
    • Goals Scored: 26-19 in favor of Bismarck
    • Game Results:
      • 11/9/12 – in Brookings – 4-3 Brookings win
      • 11/23/12 – in Brookings – 2-1 Bismarck win
      • 11/24/12 – in Bismarck – 3-0 Bismarck win
      • 1/5/13 – in Bismarck – 1-0 Brookings win
      • 1/18/13 – in Bismarck – 2-1 Bismarck win
      • 1/19/13 – in Bismarck – 4-3 Brookings win in a shootout
      • 1/23/13 – in Brookings – 3-2 Brookings win
      • 2/27/13 – in Bismarck – 5-1 Bismarck win
      • 3/2/13 – in Brookings – 6-3 Bismarck win
      • 3/8/13 – in Bismarck – 1-0 Brookings win in a shootout

The season series between Bismarck and Brookings was also quite even, more so than the Austin-Minot season series. The teams each had five wins against each other, but Bismarck edged out Brookings 12-10 in points because two of its losses were in shootouts.

Of the ten regular-season matchups between the two teams, seven were decided by one goal. The three games that weren’t decided by one goal were decisive wins for the Bobcats with scores of 3-0, 5-1, and 6-3.

During the regular season, home-ice advantage was almost a non-factor. The teams split in each other’s buildings, but Bismarck had a two-point edge at home, again because of those shootout losses.

In the playoffs, however, the Bobcats will want to make sure they take advantage of home ice. The way the playoffs are set up, if the team with home-ice advantage drops one of the first two games at home, that team has to steal at least one game back on the road or else be eliminated. Last season, the Bobcats were faced with that challenge in each of their Central Division playoff series, and both times they swept the two road games.

Team Comparisons

Bismarck Brookings
Overall Record 35-16-9, 79 pts. (2nd Central) 32-23-5, 69 pts. (3rd Central)
Home Record 18-4-6, 42 pts. 19-8-1, 39 pts.
Away Record 16-9-3, 35 pts. 10-14-4, 24 pts.
Neutral-Site Record 1-3-0, 2 pts. 3-1-0, 6 pts.
Goals For/Against 183-140 175-179
Last Ten Games 7-0-3, 17 pts. 5-5-0, 10 pts.
Second Half of Season Record 19-4-7, 45 pts. 16-11-3, 35 pts.
Leading Scorers Adam Knochenmus (19 G, 32 A), Patrick Moore (21 G, 29 A), Joe Giordano (13 G, 31 A), Bob Kinne (9 G, 19 A), Nate Repensky (6 G, 21 A) Thomas Williams (28 G, 25 A), Justin Moody (17 G, 35 A), Eric Brenk (22 G, 22 A), Evan Hesse (15 G, 22 A), Drew Brevig (10 G, 24 A)
Goaltending Aaron Nelson (24-7-6, 1.88 GAA, .931 SV%), Bryan Nies (11-7-3, 2.48 GAA, .910 SV%) Drew Weigman (23-17-5, 2.82 GAA, .912 SV%), Chase Wilson (2-1-0, 2.95 GAA, .888 SV%)

Though the season series between Bismarck and Brookings was almost tied, Bismarck has an edge on Brookings. Bismarck is tied with Austin as the third-hottest team in the NAHL in the second half of the regular season. Meanwhile, Brookings split the final ten games of the regular season.

Two things about the playoff format also help Bismarck.

First, since the North Division has two more teams in its playoffs than the other divisions do, the Bobcats got a much-needed week off. Injured players Adam Knochenmus (knee), Shane Omdahl (shoulder), Seth Blair (foot) and Chris Diver (ribs) should be good to go for the series.

Second, Bismarck should benefit by the elimination of the shootout for the playoffs. In ten shootouts this season, Bismarck lost seven of them. Of Bismarck’s 11 total losses (regulation, overtime, or shootout) in the team’s hot second half, seven came in the shootout.

North Dakota Junior Hockey Update (April 8)

The United States Hockey League and the North American Hockey League seasons are winding down. The USHL is in the final week of its regular season. In the NAHL, the North and South divisions started their divisional playoffs last weekend, while the Central and West divisions will start their divisional playoffs this weekend.

With the junior season as well as the college season coming down the home stretch, a lot has been happening with North Dakota’s three junior hockey teams: the USHL’s Fargo Force and the NAHL’s Bismarck Bobcats and Minot Minotauros.

Postseason news

With a 4-3 win in Sioux City last Saturday, the Force clinched home-ice advantage for the first round of the USHL playoffs. Information about playoff ticket sales, game dates, and the first-round opponent has not been released yet.

North Dakota’s two NAHL teams begin their march toward the Robertson Cup this weekend. The Bobcats open their first-round best-of-five series against the Brookings Blizzard with 7:15 p.m. games on Friday and Saturday at the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck. The Minotauros open their series against the Central Division regular season champion Austin Bruins with 7:05 p.m. games on Friday and Saturday at the Riverside Arena in Austin, Minn. I will post a preview of these series later in the week.

NAHL Central Division playoff bracket

NAHL Central Division playoff bracket

Alumni in the Frozen Four

Six players who played juniors in North Dakota have made the Frozen Four.

Four Force alumni play for St. Cloud State University: Jonny Brodzinski, Nick Oliver, Jimmy Murray, and Joe Rehkamp. The Huskies take on top-ranked Quinnipiac on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT. Through two games in the NCAA tournament, Brodsinski has one goal, and Murray has one assist.

Joining the Force alumni on St. Cloud is former Bobcat goalie Ryan Faragher. Through two games, Faragher has a .949 SV% and 1.00 GAA. KXNews in Bismarck had an interesting segment on Faragher’s run to the Frozen Four last week.

SCSU's Ryan Faragher

Ryan Faragher tends the net for St. Cloud St. in a Jan. 26 game against the University of North Dakota.

St. Cloud’s opponent on Thursday also includes a former Bobcat. Alex Barron plays for the Bobcats—the Quinnipiac Bobcats, that is. Barron only played in the regional semifinal against Canisius and did not score.

The Minotauros have no alumni playing in the Frozen Four.

Other Force tidbits

Bismarck’s Repensky receives NAHL award

The Bobcats’ Nate Repensky was named the North American Hockey League’s Defenseman of the Month for March. Repensky had four goals and 12 assists during the month and played a key role on the Bobcat power play.

Minotauros go from last to the playoffs

Though the Minotauros finished with a losing record (26-30-4), their sophomore season was a world apart from their inaugural season. Last season, Minot was the laughing stock of the NAHL, finishing 7-49-4, which was the worst record in the league. Minot won only three of 25 points in the season series against in-state rival Bismarck.

This season, the season series was far more competitive. Heading into the final weekend, the Minotauros actually had a chance to win the season series if they swept the two games, but instead the Bobcats swept to win the series 17-10. However, more important for Minot is that the team is making its first trip to the playoffs.

A look at next season for UND

As I write this post, there are 182 days until the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team opens the 2013-14 season with an exhibition game against the University of Manitoba, but why not start looking forward to next season?

Who is leaving

UND loses six players to graduation: forwards Corban Knight, Danny Kristo and Carter Rowney; defensemen Andrew MacWilliam and Joe Gleason; and goalie Tate Maris.

It seemed that the two players in danger of leaving early were defensemen Derek Forbort and Dillon Simpson, but things have been cleared up already on that regard. Forbort has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings, giving up his final year of college eligibility. Simpson tweeted on April 4: “For the number of you who seem to think I may be planning on leaving UND, I’m not going anywhere #senioryear”.

Here’s a taste of what UND will be missing with the seniors and Forbort leaving:

  • Five draft picks (Knight, Kristo, MacWilliam, Gleason, Forbort)
  • Two Hobey Baker finalists (Knight, Kristo)
  • The player with the most faceoff wins in the nation (Knight, 623)
  • A physical presence on defense (MacWilliam)
  • 46.27% of total goals scored by the team
  • 49.55% of total assists
  • 48.32% of total points
  • Three of the four top +/- on the team (Kristo, Knight, MacWilliam)

Who is staying

With the seniors and Forbort gone, here is who remains at each position (with their classes listed as what they’ll be next season):

  • Forwards
    • Seniors – Mitch MacMillan, Derek Rodwell
    • Juniors – Connor Gaarder, Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Michael Parks, Stephane Pattyn, Dan Senkbeil
    • Sophomores – Drake Caggiula, Bryn Chyzyk, Rocco Grimaldi, Coltyn Sanderson, Colten St. Clair
  • Defensemen
    • Seniors – Dillon Simpson
    • Juniors – Nick Mattson, Andrew Panzarella
    • Sophomores – Jordan Schmaltz
  • Goalies
    • Seniors – Clarke Saunders
    • Sophomores – Zane Gothberg

Goaltending should be a strength for the 2013-14 team. Saunders and Gothberg were new additions to the 2012-13 team, and both put up good numbers. Gothberg got a lot of time in goal as a freshman (39% of total goalie minutes) and played well down the stretch, picking up three weekly WCHA honors in a span of five weeks (Feb. 5 rookie, Feb. 12 defensive player, March 12 co-defensive player) and earning the first-round NCAA tournament win against Niagara.

Offensively, look for Grimaldi, Mark MacMillan, Caggiula, and a healthy Parks to step up and fill the huge scoring void that is left by the departing players. Grimaldi is the highest scoring returning player with 13 goals and 23 assists. That goal number would have been a lot higher had he not hit so many posts.

With Forbort gone, the defensive corps will be a big question mark, with only four players remaining including Panzarella who only played seven games. Schmaltz and Mattson should be the biggest question marks, as Schmaltz started slow but improved down the stretch and Mattson had a bit of a sophomore slump. Simpson will provide a strong veteran presence on D (it sounds strange to call him a veteran, considering incoming freshman Paul LaDue is five months older).

Who is coming

UND’s roster the past two seasons had an average of 15.5 forwards, 7.5 defensemen, and three goalies. The players returning for next season consist of 13 forwards, four defensemen, and two goalies. Thus, it might be safe to assume that UND will want two or three forwards, three or four defensemen, and one goalie coming in.

The general consensus seems to be that UND’s three incoming forwards will be Wade Murphy, Adam Tambellini, and Luke Johnson. I’ve also seen Luke Voltin and Jack Rowe‘s names tossed around, but with Murphy, Tambellini, and Johnson coming in, there really isn’t room for any other forwards.

Stats as of 4/6/13 at 1:50 p.m.
Player Birth Year Team League GP G A P
Wade Murphy 1993 Penticton BCHL 50 23 47 70
Adam Tambellini 1994 Vernon BCHL 36 22 17 39
Surrey BCHL 16 14 12 26
Luke Johnson 1994 Lincoln USHL 54 18 27 45
Luke Voltin 1995 Des Moines USHL 59 7 19 26
Jack Rowe 1994 Cedar Rapids USHL 53 16 12 28

Coming in on defense appear to be Paul LaDue and Troy Stecher. My guess is that UND would bring in one other defenseman recruit, which could be Keaton Thompson, Tucker Poolman, or Geoff Crisfield. Though he is two years younger than Poolman and Crisfield, Thompson might be the frontrunner.

Stats as of 4/6/13 at 1:50 p.m.
Player Birth Year Team League GP G A P
Paul LaDue 1992 Lincoln USHL 59 11 35 46
Troy Stecher 1994 Penticton BCHL 52 8 39 47
Keaton Thompson 1995 USNTDP U-18 USHL/International 59 4 15 19
Tucker Poolman 1993 Omaha USHL 61 13 14 27
Geoff Crisfield 1993 Vernon BCHL 51 1 2 3

With Tate Maris graduating, UND will also have to bring in a new third-string goalie. UND currently has no recruits at that position.

The top five moments of UND’s season

UND huddles up before a gameThe University of North Dakota’s season ended three days ago, and I’m still shocked by what happened.

To go from being a few minutes away from advancing to the Frozen Four to getting beaten 4-1 by the final team to make the NCAA tournament field is heartbreaking. To wonder “what if?”—What if that goal wasn’t disallowed? What if those three shots didn’t hit the post but went in?—is maddening. To say goodbye to a wonderful group of seniors—Corban Knight, Danny Kristo, Andrew MacWilliam, Carter Rowney, Joe Gleason, and Tate Maris—is downright sad.

For the first time in ten years, UND did not win a trip to the Frozen Four, the Broadmoor Trophy, or the MacNaughton Cup.

Yet, despite that disappointment, there is much to be proud of. The team made the WCHA Final Five for the 11th consecutive season, which tied the league record set by Minnesota from 1999-2009. This season also marked UND’s 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, the longest active streak in the nation.

And between Oct. 6 and March 30, there were plenty of memorable moments. I’ve chosen my top five, presented here in chronological order.

1. Mark Mac’s goal with 34 seconds left in OT caps comeback win

UND faced an early 3-1 deficit after one period against Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 17. UND still trailed 3-2 until Mark MacMillan scored his first goal of the game at 5:53 of the third period.

The game went into overtime, where with time ticking down, Danny Kristo made a pass to MacMillan who scored his second goal of the night on a one timer with 34 seconds left in the extra period to give his team the win.

Highlights from the game:

2. UND stuns CC with late regulation goal and early overtime goal

With under a minute left in regulation at Colorado College on Dec. 1, UND faced a 2-1 deficit and a possible sweep by the Tigers for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Then with 13.4 seconds remaining, Dillon Simpson scored to send the game into overtime.

It didn’t take long for UND to find the net in overtime, as Drake Caggiula scored 51 seconds into the extra period, his third goal of the weekend.

3. UND dominates early on way to Battles on Ice win

The first outdoor game in UND history will be memorable for many reasons.

After a 2 ½-hour delay due to poor ice conditions, the North Dakota faithful who took over TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha were treated to a dominating performance by the green and white. Jordan Schmaltz, Nick Mattson, and Mitch MacMillan each scored in the first ten minutes of the Feb. 9 game, which ended in a 5-2 victory over Nebraska Omaha. The team left the ice to a standing ovation and thundering applause.

And then there was, of course, the adventure that the team and fans faced to make it back to North Dakota, as Interstate 29 closed right in front of the team bus due to poor road conditions. The team was stranded in Sisseton, S.D., while the student bus was stranded in a Summit, S.D., gymnasium. Other fans were stuck in various South Dakota towns, doing everything from bowling to having rubber duck races down a hotel water slide to pass time.

Video of the fans saluting the team after the game:

4. UND wins game three to advance to WCHA Final Five, Maris plays

With its streak of consecutive WCHA Final Five appearances on the line, UND needed a game three win over Michigan Tech on St. Patrick’s Day. And win they did, in a dominating fashion. Six different players scored to lead UND to a 6-0 win.

The large lead meant that senior walk-on goalie Tate Maris, who had never played a second of non-exhibition action, got to enter the game to a standing ovation with 4:02 remaining in the game. Maris made one save to finish his career with a perfect 1.000 save percentage and 0.00 goals against average.

Video of Maris entering the game:

5. UND rallies in third period to beat Niagara in regional semis

After watching rival Minnesota make an early exit from the NCAA tournament earlier in the day on March 29, UND was a period away from meeting the same fate against Niagara. Enter the unlikeliest of goal scorers, Andrew MacWilliam, who scored only his fourth career goal to tie the game at one at 1:56 of the third period.

It didn’t take long for UND to strike again, as just 57 seconds later, Danny Kristo scored his 26th goal of the season to put his team ahead for good. UND advanced to the West Region finals, where the team… well, I won’t go there.

UND had some great moments with a very special group of players. Best wishes to Knight, Kristo, MacWilliam, Rowney, Gleason, and Maris in their future endeavors.

And for the fans, it’s now a long 186-day wait until the next season and the memories that will come with it.