Wednesday, September 20, 2017

BLOG: All-American Prospects Game Thursday for four Minnesota commits

While I mentioned this last month when the players were announced, it makes sense with the game date quickly approaching tomorrow (September 21, 2017) to bring this up again.

The sixth annual All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo features
four Minnesota verbal commits among the 42 American 2018 NHL Draft-eligible players participating. Forwards Jack Jensen (Eden Prairie, MN), Blake McLaughlin (Grand Rapids MN), Jaxon Nelson (Magnolia, MN/Sioux Falls - USHL) and Colin Schmidt (Maple Griove, MN/Wayzata HS) will get a chance to showcase their skills in front of NHL scouts and try to follow in 2016 AAPG MVP Casey Mittelstadt's footsteps.

The two teams are coached by Hall of Famers Chris Chelios and Brian Leetch. Jensen is with Chelios while the other three are on Team Leetch.

Unfortuantely, the game is not televised by NHL Network like it has in past years and can only be seen on MyHockeyTV.com http://www.allamericanprospectsgame.com/.

Puck drop is at 6 pm CT.

Monday, September 18, 2017

BLOG: Six snubs from today's Big Ten Preseason Watch List

Several thoughts came to mind when seeing today's Preseason Watch List.

First, the future of the Big Ten is bright. There's a lot of good, young new talent in the conference and it shows. 8 of the 17 players named are either freshmen or sophomores while 4 more did not play in the Big Ten last season. Of Minnesota's 4, 3 are underclassmen. So are all 3 of Michigan's representatives.

Second, I want to know which coach(es) left Ohio State's Mason Jobst off their ballot. The junior forward was the leading scorer in Big Ten conference games and one of the returning players along with Sheehy and Frederic, the two unanimous choices. You can even make an argument Jobst deserved to win the B1G Player of the Year Award.

And third? While the media doesn't make its own, I figure there are enough returning players left off the coaches' watch list that could deserve a look to where I can fill an entire team of snubs.

So let's give it a shot. Introducting your 2017-18 Preseason All-Big Ten Watch List Snub Team.

Tyler Sheehy 1 of 2 unanimous picks on Big Ten Preseason Watch List

Gopher junior captain Tyler Sheehy is one of two players chosen by all seven Big Ten coaches on the annual preseason watch list.

The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year was joined by three teammates on the watch list. Minnesota, meanwhile, was picked to five-peat in the conference by winning its seventh consecutive regular season title dating back to 2011-2012.

Joined by Wisconsin sophomore forward Trent Frederic as a unanimous selection, Sheehy's 53 points as a sophomore (20G-33A) were the most by any Minnesota player since Ryan Potulny in 2005-2006.

In addition to Sheehy, freshman forward Casey Mittelstadt, sophomore defenseman Ryan Lindgren and sophomore forward Rem Pitlick were among the 17 players named to the preseason watch list. Mittelstadt, one of three freshmen named, comes in as the 8th overall draft pick in June's NHL Draft. Lindgren was one of the top young defenders in the conference last year before his season was cut short due to injury and Pitlick finished strong, scoring 11 goals over the final two months of the season while playing on a line with Sheehy

Don Lucia's team picked to finish first in the conference in preseason marks the second consecutive year the Gophers were chosen to win and third time in the five seasons Big Ten has sponsored men's hockey.

Newomer Notre Dame was chosen second coming off of a season where the Fighting Irish made the Frozen Four. Wisconsin is third followed by the team who dashed the Badgers' NCAA hopes, Penn State. Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State round out the list.

Preseason Watch List

Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan
Will Lockwood, F, Michigan
Josh Norris, F, Michigan
Ryan Lindgren, D, Minnesota
Casey Mittelstadt, F, Minnesota
Rem Pitlick, F, Minnesota
Tyler Sheehy, F, Minnesota***
Jake Evans, F, Notre Dame
Jordan Gross, D, Notre Dame
Andrew Oglevie, F, Notre Dame
Mason Jobst, F, Ohio State
Matthew Weis, F, Ohio State
Peyton Jones, G, Penn State
Denis Smirnov, F, Penn State
Trent Frederic, F, Wisconsin***
Kyle Hayton, G, Wisconsin
Cameron Hughes, F, Wisconsin
***Unanimous Selection

Coaches Poll

1. Minnesota
2. Notre Dame
3. Wisconsin
4. Penn State
5. Ohio State
6. Michigan
7. Michigan State

Thursday, September 14, 2017

BLOG: Minnesota's January 6th game broadcast on CBS Sports Network

One Gopher game this season will get the "Big Show" CBS Sports Network treatment.

Minnesota's road contest against St. Cloud State on January 6th is among 14 NCHC second-half games being broadcast nationally by CBS Sports Network. Coming the day after the World Juniors - where Huskies head coach Bob Motzko will try to lead Team USA to a second straight gold medal - Gophers-Huskies is both the lone non-conference contest and only regular season game broadcast by CBSSN on a Saturday.

CBS Sports Network is able to show it as part of the NCHC package because, with the game being in St. Cloud, SCSU controls TV rights.  This is usually why non-conference games with teams outside of the Upper Midwest go untelevised. Likewise, Minnesota will be able to decide when the two teams play in Minneapolis the following night.

In recent home-and-home series since the Huskies and Gophers joined separate conference in 2013-14, Fox Sports North broadcast with the home school's announcing team calling.

You can follow Nate on Facebook now

In a long overdue move, I've set up a professional page on Facebook.

You can like and follow at www.facebook.com/NateWellsWritesHockey/.

And if you aren't already following on Twitter, I'm there @gopherstate.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Big Ten coaching carousel has been nuts this offseason

When the Gophers started practicing this week, half of last season's coaching staff was elsewhere.

The shake up is part of a series of moves that see both of last year's hires, Corey Millen and Ben Gordon, move on to other jobs. Millen's stint as an undergraduate assistant ended when he stopped being an undergraduate. Gordon, Director of Operations, went back to the USHL to coach.

And that doesn't include assistant coach Grant Potulny moving up in the coaching world by becoming the third head coach in Northern Michigan history.

Gordon's job remains to be filled, but only head coach Don Lucia, associate coach Mike Guentzel and volunteer goalie coach Justin Johnson are back from 2016-17. Newcomer Scott Bell fills in Potulny's role.

Based on the rest of the conference Minnesota's turnover fits right in the Big Ten.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

WCHA coaches pick Minnesota to win conference; Grace Zumwinkle preseason rookie of the year

The preseason's opening poll gives a few nods to Minnesota.

By a single point, Minnesota was picked by the seven WCHA head coaches to win the conference. The Gophers ended up with 4 first-place votes and 34 points to two-time defending WCHA champion Wisconsin's 3 first-place votes and 33.

Coaches were unable to pick their own team.

Minnesota Duluth, which made the eight team NCAA Tournament last season along with Minnesota and Wisconsin, tied for third with Ohio State. Each had 23 points. Bemidji State, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State round out the preseason raknings.