Thursday, May 15, 2014

UMD Completes 2014-15 Recruiting Class, Announces Awards and 2014-15 Captains

In case you missed it earlier this week, UMD (presumably) finished up its 2014-15 recruiting class this week. The Bulldogs secured a commitment from defenseman Nick McCormack. The Elk River product played last season for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He scored 12 goals and totaled 39 points in 59 games. Before that, he played for the SIJHL's Minnesota Wildnerness (based in Cloquet), where he scored 14 goals and picked up 40 points in 47 games.

McCormack is the final player who will jump into the UMD program this fall. He gives UMD eight defensemen to go along with 15 forwards and three goalies. He is the only defenseman who will be a freshman next season.

That 2014-15 team will be captained by Hermantown's Adam Krause, who will enter his senior season and serve as a back-to-back captain for the Bulldog program. Krause's assistant captains will be senior forward Justin Crandall and junior defenseman Andy Welinski of Duluth.

UMD also announced its 2013-14 postseason awards this week. Led by team MVP Aaron Crandall, here is the lowdown.
The fifth-year senior from Lakeville, Minn., eclipsed previous bests for victories (he was 14-12-3 overall), goals against average (2.76), saves percentage (.900), starts (29), appearances (31) and minutes (1,738:55). One of only three individuals to be selected the National Collegiate Hockey Association's Rookie of the Week three or more times in 2013-14 (he earned that honor on three occasions), Crandall closed out his career ranking third among all-time Bulldogs in  UMD's all-time in winning percentage (.559 off a 30-23-6 record), fourth in goals against average (2.83), and fifth in both career saves percentage (.895) and shutouts (five).

The Jerry Chumola Rookie of the Year Award went to left winger Alex Iafallo, a member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference All-Rookie Team who racked up 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points while skating in all 36 games. Freshman defenseman Dan Molenaar landed the Mike Sertich Award (Most Improved Player) while junior right winger Adam Krause was the recipient of both the Goldie Wolf Award (Most Inspirational Player) and the Bulldog Community Service Award.
UMD opens Oct. 10 at the IceBreaker in South Bend, where it matches up against Minnesota while host Notre Dame takes on RPI.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Thinking Out Loud: NBA Playoffs, Baseball, Lacrosse

I'm going to try to do this more often, by the way.

The NBA wrapped up its first round of playoffs over the weekend. Plenty of fun games were played, with defense optional all over the place. Nowhere was this more true than with the Clippers and Golden State. Caught a good chunk of Games 4 and 7 of this series, which was probably the best of the first-round series. Donald Sterling's idiocy made it a newsworthy series, but it was already a highly-watchable one.

The Clippers just couldn't defend DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin enough, and Stephen Curry couldn't hit enough shots to render the Clips' bigs moot. It was a lot of fun to watch, however, because you new you saw Golden State give LA its very best. The Warriors didn't lose because of poor coaching, or a bad GM, or because a starter took too many minutes off. The Warriors lost because the Clippers were (barely) a better team.

By the way, Brooklyn and Toronto played 11 games this season between the regular season and playoffs. They each scored 1,070 points. Couldn't get more even than that. Of course, that doesn't make the Raptors feel any better.

Conference semifinals are Indiana vs Washington and Brooklyn vs Miami in the East, with Portland vs San Antonio and Oklahoma City vs the Clippers in the West. Thunder-Clippers could be every bit as entertaining as Clippers-Warriors was, and the Blazers might give San Antonio a run if Damian Lillard hits enough shots to keep the Spurs honest. Otherwise, they clamp down on LaMarcus Aldridge and the series is over.


Despite losing three of four to Cincinnati, the Milwaukee Brewers still sport the best record in baseball. That advantage is down to a half-game over San Francisco at 21-11 versus 20-11.

I'm not here to be a Debbie Downer, but this team has to start hitting if it is to have any chance. The Brewers' pitching has been nails. The rotation has gotten great outings from all five starters, and all but third starter Matt Garza have given them multiple great outings. Garza is about the only one of the five who hasn't gotten going. That's bad -- the Brewers paid him a hell of a lot of money, presumably not to post an ERA over 5 -- but it's also good, because he's bound to figure things out.

The bullpen has been fantastic, though it faltered a couple times in Cincinnati. Over the course of a 162-game season, even the best pitching staff experiences the occasional meltdown. What the Brewers need is for the offense to start pulling its weight.

If that happens, Milwaukee has a contender.


My son is in his first year of lacrosse, and he's amped about it. Loving the game.

The pinnacle of the lacrosse season nationally is the NCAA Tournament, which opens this week. The field has been expanded to 18 teams from its previous 16, with the top two seeds facing the winners of two play-in games during the week.

Defending national champion Duke is the top seed, followed by ACC rival Syracuse and 15-1 Loyola of Maryland.

The field is always dominated by East teams, but there are a couple entries from Colorado, including the No. 5 national seed Denver, which enters at 14-2. Air Force is in for the first time and will play in a play-in game for the right to get hammered by play Duke on Sunday.

The national semifinals are May 24, with the title game May 26 in Baltimore.