Tuesday, October 21, 2014

UMD Hockey: Where Are They Now?

Haven't done this in a few years, but we'll give a whirl and try to update it somewhat regularly.

I've tried -- using Google, Hockey DB, and social media -- to compile a list of former UMD Bulldogs playing professional hockey anywhere in the world.

Find the Google doc here.

If you have info on a player not listed but who is playing pro hockey this year, please comment, email me, or tweet me and I'll make sure I get the relevant details.

I know a few guys who have been playing pro are missing, so hopefully someone can help clue us in.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Musings: Bulldogs Go Bananas in Third, Split with Mavericks

For UMD, Saturday brought a few welcome sights.

To start, it was clear very early in the game that freshman goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo was seeing the puck very well. The lanky Finn was victimized on the first two shots he faced in his debut against Minnesota, but since then he has stopped 54 of the 58 shots sent his way (.931 save percentage).

He made a couple athletic stops Saturday in Mankato, but Kaskisuo was basically asked to play a solid game. He controlled his rebounds very well, showed poise and some aggressiveness when covering pucks a couple times, and played the puck for really the first time, as he didn't do it much (if at all) against Minnesota. You can see his puck-playing needs work, but he took positive steps in every area on Saturday.

UMD started slowly on Saturday. While MSU only led 1-0 after one, it could have been worse. The Mavericks had the puck a lot, and UMD just didn't do much positive when it had possession. The Bulldogs began to assert themselves more offensively in the second period. It was nice to see Kyle Osterberg and Justin Crandall get on the scoresheet as UMD took a 2-1 lead.

But when the third period started 2-2, the Bulldogs leaned on the guys they've leaned on all season to this point. And sophomores Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo didn't disappoint. Iafallo set up Toninato in front for a short-handed goal early in the third. It's Dom's fifth goal, second short-handed goal, and Iafallo's fourth assist of the season. The two combined to set up Hermantown's Jared Thomas for a power-play goal about halfway through the third to make it 4-2. That was Thomas' first collegiate point.

Through four games, Toninato has five goals and seven points, Iafallo one goal and six points. Tony Cameranesi and Carson Soucy each have two goals and five points.

******

I said before the season there would be real competition for spots in the lineup, especially at forward.

Scott Sandelin has to be pleased with the idea of two home weekends before he has to leave players at home for an NCHC road trip (Nov. 7-8 at St. Cloud State). There will be a very difficult decision to be made if things keep going as they are now.

Thomas has already placed himself in a position to play more than he had been. He's smart, responsible, and clearly has some real skill. His ascension has caused sophomore Sammy Spurrell to sit three of the first four games this season. It's nothing Spurrell has necessarily done wrong, but Thomas gives UMD even more depth in the middle than it already had.

Also, freshman left wing Blake Young hasn't made it in the lineup yet, but largely because he's a left wing on a team that goes four-deep there (Iafallo, Austin Farley, Osterberg, and Charlie Sampair). He isn't redshirting, so he will play at some point.

On the blue line, Willie Raskob is off to a slow start and was a surprise scratch Saturday. He's healthy, so clearly the coaches are trying to send a message. The blue line as a whole didn't have a great weekend. Too many turnovers and generally some questionable puck management, especially on the power play. The group did a better job Saturday keeping MSU players from the front of the net and giving Kaskisuo a chance to see the puck on virtually every one of those 38 shots he faced.

I think the competition there is much less defined at this point, which is another reason to be pleased that this team is at home for four straight games and can make any lineup change it wants from one game to the next.

(When they board the bus for St. Cloud sometime during the afternoon on Nov. 6, they will be limited to 22 players. Typically, you'll see them take 13 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goalies.)

******

Lots of comments over the weekend about discipline. Now, I'm going to tread carefully, but I do have some thoughts.

I thought UMD did a much better job playing with a composed edge on Saturday than it did Friday. This team is talented. Guys can't afford to get mad because someone lost the puck on the power play. That chop from behind on the puck carrier -- when you're on a power play, no less -- is probably getting called 95-98 times out of 100.

That doesn't mean that a player shouldn't compete for that puck. But guys have to compete within the rules.

"No matter what point of the game, you're up or you're down, you get an opportunity on the power play, you can't give that up 30 or 40 seconds in," Sandelin said.

"You have to keep your composure. Things aren't going to go your way and you're going to miss opportunities. You keep your composure. We can't take penalties behind the play. Whether they were or not (penalties) is not to be argued. Don't put yourself in those positions."

Everything was fine Saturday, outside of what I thought was a silly and unnecessary kneeing penalty on Derik Johnson that led to his early shower. Johnson had a huge issue with bad penalties as a sophomore, but he did a great job cleaning up his game last year. With that came more playing time as he gained the coaches' trust.

I have not seen a replay of Saturday's hit, but I did not think it was a good one. Not sure I'd say it's worthy of supplemental from the NCHC, but I didn't like it because we were up three goals and cruising to a win. Just didn't need to happen.

No matter your feelings about that hit, UMD's discipline continues to be an issue and it has to get better. As it improves, it has to last more than a couple weeks. The occasional blowup is going to happen to even a team full of choir boys, but the Bulldogs have to avoid the penalty bug and stick to what works.

Then again, with the way this team is scoring short-handed all of a sudden, maybe it should take more penalties.

I'm kidding.

Maybe.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Game 4: UMD at Minnesota State

MANKATO, Minn. -- Salutations from Mankato, where UMD is going to try to salvage the second game of this non-conference series, after Minnesota State used a Zeb Knutson power-play goal in overtime to win 5-4 in Duluth Friday.

Simply put, UMD has to put that one behind them and continue to work toward being a more consistent and cohesive unit. Not enough experienced players are hitting on the necessary cylinders at the moment, and that's something that must be fixed.

It's only three games, but Austin Farley, Kyle Osterberg, Justin Crandall, and Cal Decowski have combined for as many points as I have. This isn't to call those individuals out as if they're all playing poorly, but UMD won't win without its older players carrying the water. The Bulldogs also need consistent production from more than just Dominic Toninato's line, which added two more goals Friday and has now combined for six of the Bulldogs' ten goals this season. In addition, the line was on the ice for Andy Welinski's goal against Minnesota.

So you can see the need for more production from the other lines. Tony Cameranesi, Farley, and freshman Karson Kuhlman were going on Friday, so hopefully that's a good sign for "Bug" and he'll get on the board soon.

Saturday night would work for all of us.

Lines?

Lines.

UMD
Iafallo - Toninato - Krause
Farley - Cameranesi - Kuhlman
Osterberg - Thomas - Crandall
Sampair - Decowski - Boehm

Soucy - Welinski
Johnson - Corrin
McCormack - Kotyk

Kaskisuo - McNeely

MSU
Franklin - Leitner - Gervais
Stepan - Blueger - Knutson
LaFontaine - Margonari - McClure
Grant - Nelson (Jordan) - Gaede

Palmquist - Foguth
Stern - Thompson
Flanagan - Nelson (Casey)

Huggins - Williams - Nelson (Aaron)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Bulldogs Dig Another Hole, Climb Out, Fall Back In

This won't be as expansive as last week's. Hoping to maximize sleep, get some house-cleaning done, then it's a dress-and-drive to Mankato for Saturday's second game.

Anyway, tough loss on home ice for UMD.

This is not a recording.

The Bulldogs have to find a way to win these types of games at home. Discipline, goaltending, bounces, and execution all betrayed them at times on Friday, and Minnesota State took advantage of a somewhat controversial call in overtime to win 5-4.

We'll get to that. The officials get enough crap, frankly, and don't need it in writing here. Things tend to calm down after games, and rational thinking (usually) takes over.

And that rational thinking shows us that UMD did more than enough to lose this game without any outside assistance.

The Bulldogs nullified their first three power plays by taking penalties (happened 23 times last year, already five times in three games this year). Was one of those calls questionable? Yes. But I continue to contend that -- in a vacuum independent from any other calls made or not made -- that this call on Kyle Osterberg is, at the very least, defensible. It might be argued this is a good call, but I'm not into splitting hairs. I can't yell about it. You know they're calling ticky-tack stuff on you and nullifying power plays. Don't blow up a guy along the boards where you could subject yourself to a major if he turns at the last second.

The problem on those power plays was pretty much universal. UMD did a poor job managing the puck. Mistakes led to turnovers, which led to chasing, which led to stick fouls (or, in Osterberg's case, a blowup hit gone wrong). When Minnesota State took over on the power play after Osterberg's ejection, the Mavericks took advantage of some poor coverage by UMD to score twice and open a 4-1 lead.

UMD's comeback was very impressive, in large part because the power play stayed quite ineffective, outside of the final 54 seconds of the second period, where UMD racked up three shots and did a great job pressuring MSU goalie Stephon Williams. That was about it. The power play just couldn't possess the puck enough to do anything significant.

Junior goalie Matt McNeely struggled, I thought. Minnesota State did a very good job taking his eyes away, and UMD's defense had issues with coverage all night. Guys were open down low, winning battles, and making themselves available for tips. Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings says his team likes to "get up and down the rink," but MSU is more like North Dakota than it is like Minnesota. The Mavs have some guys who can get in your face. They go hard to the net and make life really difficult for defenders. Minnesota isn't a non-physical team by any stretch, but their forwards want to play with more pace than MSU does. Works for the Gophers, and this works for Hastings and Minnesota State.

McNeely let a couple tough ones get by him, but it just seemed he wasn't as sharp as Sunday against Notre Dame. He saw everything Sunday, not so much Friday. I'd imagine UMD comes back with freshman Kasimir Kaskisuo Saturday in Mankato, as the rotation continues.

Bottom line: UMD has a ways to go. That's fine, because the team that has it all figured out in October is probably lying. Or maybe it's Union. But it isn't us. A spirited comeback from 4-1 down showed again that this team has resolve, and that's great. But the poor start from the goalie out is what created the 4-1 deficit. 31 more penalty minutes shows a continued lack of discipline, and no team with average goaltending is going to survive giving a quality team ten power plays in a game.

******

We're not here to rag on the officials. They didn't have a good night. Neither did the home team.

I'm confident Scott Sandelin isn't going to cue up clips of questionable calls for his players to watch Saturday. Instead, I'm guessing Sandelin will show clips of defensive miscues, poor puck management, and missed opportunities.

That should be enough to get the players' attention.

Take care of those things, and the officials having a bad night -- if that's what you feel happened -- isn't a factor in the game.

******

Other scores around the NCHC Friday night:

Omaha 5, Western Michigan 2
North Dakota 3, Colorado College 1
Miami 5, Ohio State 1
Denver 3, RPI 0

Talk to you Saturday afternoon from Mankato.

Game 3: Minnesota State at UMD

This game is on FSN PLUS.

This game is on FSN PLUS.

This game is on FSN PLUS.

This game is on FSN PLUS.

This game is on FSN PLUS.

This game is on FSN PLUS.

This game is on FSN PLUS.

This game is on FSN PLUS.

This game is on FSN PLUS.

Lines?

Lines.

UMD
Iafallo - Toninato - Krause
Farley - Cameranesi - Kuhlman
Osterberg - Decowski - Crandall
Sampair - Thomas - Young (Austyn)

Soucy - Welinski
Johnson - Raskob
Corrin - Kotyk

McNeely - Kaskisuo - Fons

MSU
Franklin - Leitner - Gervais
Stepan - Blueger - Knutson
LaFontaine - Margonari - McClure
Grant - Nelson - Gaede

Palmquist - Schmeisser
Stern - Foguth
Flanagan - Nelson

Williams - Huggins

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bulldogs, Mavericks Both Rely on Experience, Good Leadership

As we work our way to Friday's home opener, it's interesting to look at how similar UMD is to this week's opponent, Minnesota State.

There are differences. Mike Hastings has led MSU to the NCAA Tournament in each of his two years at the helm in Mankato. The Mavericks have gotten there, in part, thanks to quality goaltending. Stephon Williams led MSU to a .910 team save percentage in 2012-13, and Cole Huggins helped MSU post a .908 save percentage last season. Both years, the Mavericks dwarfed UMD's team save percentage, which was .896 in each season.

Not surprisingly, Hastings is impressed by his team's opponent this weekend.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect (for UMD)," he told me this week, noting UMD did a great job against a Notre Dame team we all knew would come out desperate on Sunday. "I think we mirror each other a little bit. Strengths up front, you look at (Dominic) Toninato, (Alex) Iafallo, (Tony) Cameranesi, (Austin) Farley I could keep going there. They've got different guys that can beat you up front. And the guys on the back end are guys who can play offense, defense, play 200 feet.

"I think you're going to see two styles that are comparable. Both teams like to get up and down the rink. It should be very challenging for both teams, but very entertaining for the people that are coming through the turnstiles."

Want similarities? MSU has nine players -- Zach Palmquist, J.P. LaFontaine, Matt Leitner, Chase Grant, Brett Stern, Bryce Gervais, Max Gaede, Dylan Margonari, and Teddy Blueger -- who have combined to play 820 games for the Mavs. Those nine have combined for 521 career points (188 goals). Guys like Palmquist, LaFontaine, and Leitner have been consistent scoring threats, but all nine have been significant players.

UMD has six players -- Justin Crandall, Adam Krause, Andy Welinski, Tony Cameranesi, Derik Johnson, and Austin Farley -- who have combined for 504 career games. Those six have a total of 236 points between them (92 goals).

The key difference? As Krause notes, he, Crandall, and Johnson weren't expected to step in and play major minutes in their freshman seasons (the 2011-12 season). UMD had enough significant players back that they didn't need the freshmen to step in as top-line players. They could learn their way a little bit.

"That was the situation when I came in as a freshman," Krause said. "I wasn't really looked at to contribute. I think the last couple years we relied a lot on our freshmen.

"I think it hurt us in some spots for sure."

This is where it benefits UMD, however. That junior class -- even the sophomores -- bring a lot of experience to the table, and it's up to them to carry the water.

Over the weekend, sophomores Toninato and Iafallo did that. So did juniors Welinski and Cameranesi. And seniors Krause, Crandall, and Johnson.

Freshmen had their moments, but this is a team that will lean on its experience, not its lack thereof.

So will Minnesota State.

See? Similarities.

"When you start looking at teams that are there in the end, very seldom do you see teams that are freshman- and sophomore-oriented," Hastings says. "I think that leadership is something that needs to be earned over time. The more experience you have, the better decisions you're going to make."

MSU's head coach also spoke glowingly of -- arguably -- his top three players: LaFontaine, Leitner, and Palmquist.

"Palmquist could have left after last year, and decided that it was important for him to come back and develop as a player, and to get his degree. We're leaning on these guys right now.

"Leitner and LaFontaine are two guys that just love playing. And I love their commitment level this time of year."

Hastings gave those three players a ton of the credit for the team's turnaround from a 5-3 loss last Friday in Omaha to a 4-2 win Saturday. In the Saturday game, MSU rallied from an early 2-0 hole by out-shooting UNO 31-9 over the last 40 minutes and scoring four times in the second period.

When UMD is on, it's playing like it was on Sunday. Still wasn't perfect (never is), but the Bulldogs had an edge, an intensity to their game, that was really impressive. It's the way this team has to play all the time, but it won't happen immediately. But Sunday was a very good step. In all, Scott Sandelin and his staff are probably happy with 75-90 of the 120 minutes UMD played in South Bend, depending on their level of pickiness.

It was a good first step, but look at this schedule:

No. 12 Minnesota State (home and home)
No. 16 Denver (home)
No. 11 Miami (home)
No. 8 St. Cloud State (away)
No. 1 Minnesota (home and home)

Then it gets easier, as we head to Omaha the weekend before Thanksgiving.

(Note sarcasm. Nothing's easy about UNO.)

UMD has to ramp things up every week, win some games, and get through what will again this year be one of the top schedules in the nation. If the Bulldogs can do that, they'll be a factor in the end, for certain.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Musings: Bulldogs Split the Weekend in South Bend, Goalie Derby, Toninato Line Starts Hot

Typical "Monday after a road trip during hockey season" in the office. Lots to catch up on, but wanted to throw a few thoughts on here from Sunday's UMD win at Notre Dame and the weekend as a whole.

First off, a tip of the cap to UMD athletic director Josh Berlo, who had to be thrilled to return to a place he spent a long time at. Berlo spearheaded this trip, and it's safe to say everyone on it really enjoyed themselves.

Now, on to the games. We covered Minnesota in this post here, so I won't belabor much. Obviously, UMD was looking for a better start. The Bulldogs got that better start, as they picked up the game's first seven shots. UMD wasn't necessarily peppering Notre Dame freshman goalie Cal Petersen, but it was generating offense.

Tony Cameranesi buried a rebound off a goalmouth scramble for a power-play goal to get UMD on the board less than eight minutes in. Notre Dame got a bunch of shots on a two-man advantage, but eventually UMD sophomore Dominic Toninato -- who was a beast all weekend -- took the puck up along the right wing boards, cleared the defensive zone, and drew a holding penalty in the neutral zone to negate the two-man advantage and what was left of ND's power play time.

(Ticky-tack call, probably, but so was the hook that put UMD down two men. Sunday's game was more tightly-officiated than the Minnesota game was on Friday, but it was relatively consistent, so that's okay. And Toninato earned that call by controlling the puck, moving his feet, and using his strength to force the puck to center ice.)

Junior goalie Matt McNeely wasn't eye-popping, but he was solid. He got out to the top of the crease and stayed aggressive throughout the game. When a 6-3 goalie is playing as smart and aggressively as Matt was Sunday, he's very difficult to beat, especially when you have a solid team defense in front of him.

Once UMD led 2-0, Notre Dame got desperate. The Bulldogs started getting odd-man rushes (including a four-on-one), and the Irish were forced to defend more than they wanted to. UMD did a good job avoiding mistakes that cost it puck possession and just played a solid game once it got the lead.

Nice win over a ranked team on the road, and a ranked team that had to be desperate after losing both an exhibition and its home opener (3-2 Friday to RPI).

As mentioned, Toninato had a great weekend (three goals, one assist). Linemate Alex Iafallo (one goal, two assists) made a great play to set up Toninato's second goal against Minnesota, and he exploded by the Notre Dame defense for a ridiculous goal Sunday. Andy Welinski (one goal, one assist) was a rock.

Toninato and Iafallo showed tremendous chemistry last year. Now that they are stronger, faster, and more experienced, look for that chemistry to pay off even more. If you can find the highlights, watch Toninato in front of the net on the third goal. Notre Dame is hopeless to defend him. Granted, the Irish dressed nine freshmen, but they had experienced players on the ice when Dom scored. And they had no chance.

The goalie battle will continue indefinitely. McNeely definitely put his best foot forward, but there was more to like about Kasimir Kaskisuo's debut (four goals on 22 shots) than the stats indicate. "Kaz" bounced back after a rough start to the game, playing with a lot of poise and maturity in the second half of the game. He responded well, and that will be duly noted by the UMD staff as it weighs options for this weekend's home and home with No. 12 Minnesota State.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Game 2: UMD vs Notre Dame (Ice Breaker)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Off and running with the Ice Breaker championship game between Minnesota and RPI. As is custom in tournaments, the third place game will follow.

Such is life when you're the host.

Notre Dame was upset by RPI 3-2 Friday, while UMD fell to No. 1 Minnesota 4-3.

Obviously an important game for both teams, but also both teams need to get more players in the lineup. So changes for both that we might not have seen otherwise.

Lines?

Lines.

UMD
Iafallo - Toninato - Krause
Osterberg - Cameranesi - Kuhlman
Farley - Decowski - Crandall
Sampair - Spurrell - Young (Austyn)

Soucy - Welinski
Johnson - Raskob
McCormack - Kotyk

McNeely - Kaskisuo - Fons

ND
DiPauli - Fogarty - Schneider
Lucia - Hinostroza - Herr
Bjork - Hurley - Evans
Thomas - Cook - Wuthrich

Billitier - Russo
Ripley - Ryan
Johnson - Gross

Katunar - Stasack - Petersen

Friday, October 10, 2014

Saturday (or Friday, I Guess) Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Poor Start Leads to Encouraging Signs for UMD

If you're new to the blog, this is a piece that will appear virtually every Saturday during the UMD season. Exceptions are only made when your humble correspondent is unable to write due to other commitments. "I don't feel like writing because UMD lost" is not an excuse.

UPDATED AT BOTTOM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Now, about starting the game.

Before Friday's game, I talked about the importance of everyone being on board and helping create a good atmosphere on the bench and on the ice. Sometimes, a boisterous crowd can help a team get into a game.

Friday's crowd in South Bend? Not boisterous. Or large. Or small. It was smaller than that.

One of the curses of playing an afternoon game at a neutral site that sits 568 miles from Amsoil Arena and 506 miles from Mariucci Arena: Not a lot of locals are interested. Especially when you throw in a crowded campus that's getting riled up for Notre Dame football Saturday.

(And "crowded" is an understatement. You should have seen the traffic coming into campus as we were escaping after the game.)

A sluggish start for UMD proved costly on this day, as the Bulldogs were unable to complete a comeback and fell 4-3 to No. 1 Minnesota at Compton Family Ice Arena.

UMD fell behind just 30 seconds into the game when Sam Warning blocked an Andy Welinski shot, then sneaked past the Bulldogs and was sprung for a breakaway by Gophers captain Kyle Rau. It was a smart play by Warning, who recognized Rau was going to get the puck and took off. It wasn't a smart play by UMD, as no one picked up Warning's break before it was too late. In defense, it's not like Welinski or Carson Soucy have the wheels to chase down a guy like that in open ice.

Five minutes later, another UMD breakdown led to a Minnesota short-handed marker, this time from Rau on a partial breakaway. Both goals beat UMD freshman goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo five-hole. The kid they call "Kaz" would give up one more five-hole goal on a Hudson Fasching deflection in the second period, and he allowed four goals on 22 shots overall in his college debut.

While the five-hole goals looked bad, there is no reason to panic about Kaskisuo's play. He looked stronger and more confident as the game wore on, and while UMD showed a lot of faith in his abilities by starting him Friday, the reality is Kaskisuo is a 20-year-old freshman who had never played a game in this environment before. Surely, there were nerves. Like I said before the game, I was nervous for him, and I don't know him yet!

"Here, kid, stop Sam Warning and Kyle Rau on breakaways and face no other shots for the first six-plus minutes of the game. Have fun with that."

Reality is UMD has to play better than that in front of Kaskisuo. Or Matt McNeely. Or Alex Fons. Or anyone who slaps on the pads. The Bulldogs did play better as Friday wore on, and in that regard the game was quite similar to Monday's exhibition. But the caliber of opponent was much greater this time, and UMD just didn't have enough to finish off the rally.

After Hudson Fasching scored on a tipped shot and Minnesota took a 4-1 lead late in the second period, it would have been easy to call it a day. UMD did not do that. Andy Welinski scored 25 seconds into the third, and Dominic Toninato added his second of the game less than four minutes later. UMD couldn't get the equalizer, but there were opportunities in there. Kyle Osterberg missed the net on a breakaway, and Austin Farley had a couple good chances in the game.

Minnesota held on for the win, but UMD again showed it can skate with one of the best teams in the country. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs didn't start the game well enough to make a strong finish matter.

Luckily, it's just the first game of what we hope is a long journey for this group. Sure, there was a lot to learn, but clearly the players and coaches made adjustments and played a much stronger game in the final 30 minutes than they did in the first 30.

Now, about starting the game. Hopefully in Sunday's third place game (vs. tournament host Notre Dame at 2:30pm), UMD can start stronger and avoid getting gashed defensively in the early going. With any luck, whoever UMD starts in goal gets a chance to get in a rhythm without having to deal with a breakaway 30 seconds into the game.

******

UMD's Osterberg and Adam Krause each got calls when the referees decided they were guilty of embellishment. In Osterberg's case, it was a standalone "diving" call that wiped out two minutes of a Brady Skjei double-minor. Krause's call came as part of coincidentals with Travis Boyd of Minnesota, who got a tripping minor.

Longtime listeners/followers know this is a pet peeve of mine. And it's an establishment thing, not confined to select officials. Everyone calls it like this.

A high percentage of the time, what is now a coincidental call for something (most often tripping, hooking, or holding) and diving should be one or the other. In a less common instance, a player tries so hard to "sell" a call that he should probably get a minor along with the original infraction, which was also egregious enough to warrant a call.

While I disagreed with the call on Osterberg, I will say this:

The only way college hockey -- or any level of the sport, honestly -- is going to curtail diving is to encourage officials to call it as a standalone penalty. Once you see teams giving up power play goals because someone decided to take a dive to try to draw a call, coaches will be forced to work on eliminating the practice.

(This also needs to be said: It's a really hard line for officials to draw. That's a big part of the reason it hasn't been drawn well, in my opinion. Seeing the difference between a legitimate stick foul and embellishment in a split-second sequence with no benefit of replay has to be one of the hardest jobs for a hockey official.)

******

The bad news didn't stop for UMD on the ice.

(Likely) 2015 commit Jared Bethune, a forward playing high school hockey at Warroad, signed a deal with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. That's major junior, so Bethune relinquished college eligibility by joining the team.

Bethune scored 31 goals for Warroad as a junior, but the Warriors couldn't get by eventual state champion East Grand Forks in the Section 8A final. Bethune had announced he would play for USHL Lincoln before and after the high school season, but he was committed to his senior year at Warroad before the Cougars came calling.

(That's a bad mental image if you have a dirty mind, but I'm sticking with the verbiage.)

SBN College Hockey notes Bethune had a "falling out" in Lincoln. I'm not quite sure what that means, but he showed plenty of excitement over getting to Lincoln on his feed, and he played for the Stars as recently as Sunday.

This stinks, but there is a silver lining. Unlike some instances where signed recruits bail in the summer/early fall before joining a college (Sonny Milano, John Moore, and JT Miller come to mind as examples), Bethune wasn't signed to UMD, and he wasn't going to join the program until next year. His departure now gives the Bulldogs coaching staff, which has done a very good job recruiting in recent years, an opportunity to find someone to take that spot in 2015. It'll involve either bumping a 2016 recruit up one year, or finding an uncommitted late bloomer who could make an impact in college hockey.

It's a loss, because Bethune projected to be a very good college hockey player, but the timing of this move is hardly disastrous.

For those questioning Bethune's character, I'd ask that you stop. I don't know him at all, so maybe he deserves it. But one of the primary flaws in the college/major junior "war" is that we're expecting 16- and 17-year-old kids to make adult decisions while getting all sorts of pressure from all sorts of adults around them.

(Oh, and the "major junior" side of this adult decision can't be taken back once it's made. Don't forget that.)

I'm not saying Bethune didn't handle this wrong because I don't know that. I'm saying it's highly unlikely he changed his mind on his destination with no influence or pressure whatsoever from the side he eventually chose.

Bethune is the second player UMD has lost to major junior in the last six months or so, as defenseman Blake Heinrich bailed on his commitment to join the WHL's Portland Winterhawks.

******

In other non-conference games involving the NCHC, well, the league didn't get off to a good start.

Nothing was more shocking than Bemidji State going into The Ralph and throttling North Dakota, 5-1. It was 5-0 after two, with BSU leading in shots 29-16.

Seriously.

Colgate beat St. Cloud State 3-1 in a battle of preseason top ten teams. Bowling Green held off Miami 3-2. Canisius beat Western Michigan 4-2.

Ugh.

Omaha did topple Minnesota State 5-3 at CenturyLink Center, and Colorado College beat Alabama-Huntsville 3-2.

It's only one night, but the NCHC didn't do itself any favors. The detractors were out in full force on Twitter, having a great time. Hopefully Saturday and Sunday bring better results.

Game 1: UMD vs Minnesota (Ice-Breaker)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Here we go from the shadow of Touchdown Jesus, as the Bulldogs kick off the 2014-15 campaign. It's a season full of promise for UMD, and it starts with a hell of a challenge against No. 1 Minnesota.

The Gophers are atop the rankings for a reason, and it isn't just the program's near-sterling reputation in college hockey. It's because Minnesota has nearly everyone back from a team that played for the national championship. They're favored in this game, and they're favored to go a long way this season. It's all for good reason, too.

Of course, that doesn't help anyone win games on the ice. UMD gave Minnesota fits last season, outside of about ten minutes of the first meeting where the wheels done fell right off. If that trend continues, this will be a great way to kick off the season.

Lines?

Lines.

UMD
Iafallo - Toninato - Krause
Osterberg - Cameranesi - Kuhlman
Farley - Decowski - Crandall
Sampair - Thomas - Boehm

Soucy - Welinski
Johnson - Raskob
Corrin - Kotyk

Kaskisuo - McNeely - Fons

UMTC
Warning - Rau - Fasching
Reilly (Connor) - Boyd - Ambroz
Lettieri - Kloos - Cammarata
Michaelson - Isackson - Reilly (Ryan)

Skjei - Bischoff
Reilly (Mike) - Glover
Brodzinski - Marshall

Wilcox - Coyne