Couple UMD headlines from the last couple weeks:
--> For those unaware, Duluth native Brett Larson was chosen to replace Derek Plante as an assistant coach. Larson was a no-brainer choice if he was interested, given his experience with this program from 2008-2011, one of the more successful three-year runs in UMD history. He knows a lot of these kids already, and he obviously knows the system and the culture of the program. Larson is a high-character guy who will relate well to kids and parents out on the recruiting trail.
--> UMD picked up another St. Scholastica transfer, adding forward Luke Simpson. As a freshman at CSS, Simpson talled 12 goals and 26 points in 28 games. He's from Canmore, Alberta, and will have to sit out this season as a transfer. He will wear No. 26 and can practice with the team even though he can't play. He will have three years of eligibility starting next fall (technically, this is considered a redshirt year for Simpson, so he doesn't lose a year of eligibility on the transfer). He's listed at 6-1 and 195 pounds, so he's not at all undersized. It'll be interesting to watch him compete in practice.
Defenseman Brenden Kotyk transferred from CSS to UMD in 2013, and it was obvious early in the 2013-14 season he was a guy who could play at this level. He proved that when he actually played at this level last year.
--> A couple former UMD players have signed pro contracts recently. 2013-14 co-captain Joe Basaraba signed with Orlando (ECHL) after a year in Cincinnati last year. 2013 graduate Drew Olson is heading to Hungary to play for MAC Budapest. Also, 2012 Hobey Baker winner Jack Connolly, for those wondering, will play for Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League (their top league, used to be called Elitserien). It will be Connolly's fourth season in Europe and third in the top flight (Rogle was in the second division last year, but earned promotion through a playoff). Connolly had four goals and 30 points for Rogle last year.
--> UMD rotates out of the North Star College Cup this year, but for those interesting in going anyway (we're playing in Marquette, Mich., that weekend), the event has been shifted a day. The NSCC will be a Saturday-Sunday event January 30 and 31 at XCel Energy Center in St. Paul. The semifinal matchups are St. Cloud State vs Minnesota State, followed by Bemidji State vs Minnesota. Bemidji is the defending champion. I asked around, and it appears to be a move aimed at improving attendance. One of the big fan complaints I've heard was it was impossible to get to the early game Friday for anyone who worked all day. Hopefully this helps drive some more attendance for the event, which despite my admitted skepticism is pretty cool.
One thing it likely isn't tied to much is television. The Wild are off that weekend for the All-Star break, so FSN's only potential conflict is the Timberwolves.