Thursday, April 02, 2015

Adam Krause Gets AHL Deal

While former UMD forward Justin Crandall made his pro debut Wednesday (two assists for ECHL Reading against Florida) and defenseman Derik Johnson should debut this weekend, we were waiting for word on UMD captain Adam Krause.

Wait no more.

I've learned that Krause -- from Hermantown -- is moving on to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on an AHL deal starting next season. The two-year Bulldog captain will report to the team's ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers (great name and logo).

Krause completed his four-year run at UMD in Saturday's Northeast Regional final loss to Boston University. In 133 games, Krause compiled 16 goals and 37 points, including seven goals and 17 points in 31 games this season. Krause also was a plus-15 on the 2014-15 campaign, as UMD went 21-16-3.

A strong leader in the locker room, Krause was also a fantastic student (NCHC Scholar-Athlete Team this year) and one of the most active UMD players you'll ever find when it comes to community service. He was a nominee for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, as well as the Hockey Humanitarian Award.

By the way, Krause's Wheeling Nailers face the Reading Royals on Wednesday. Just saying.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

UMD Notes: Scott Sandelin Laments Loss to BU

Scott Sandelin apologized for going off on a tangent a little bit, but who could blame him?

Asked what he would remember about his 15th UMD team, the fifth to make an NCAA Tournament and the eighth to win 20 or more games, Sandelin started by talking about how this was really "a team," one that didn't have a superstar but had a lot of unselfish players.

Then came the tangent.

"I've had a lot of great teams," Sandelin said. "It's not even about winning. We've had some great kids. This group was pretty special. Unfortunately, they almost got to where they wanted to go. That's the part that's hard for a coach, when you see that. It was a fun group to work with. They worked hard. They cared about each other.

"Like I've said, some things you can't control. I kind of feel like that last game kind of got taken out of our hands. I don't like that, because I think it cheats the kids a little bit. They're the ones that people come to watch. You just want them to play and decide a game. That's the unfortunate thing, that's the thing that probably stings the most. Whether that sounds like whining, I really don't care. Because the bottom line is that for four of those guys, they can't play again.

"Sorry, I went off the deep end a little."

The topic, not surprisingly, came up a couple times at Sandelin's season-ending press conference Wednesday. In this case, he sort of brought it up on his own, but he was asked about it earlier.

"Obviously disappointed, but proud of our team and how we played," he said. "Some things you can't control as we saw. Came up a little short."

Asked about memories of the Minnesota win, Sandelin acknowledged it's a highlight for a lot of people, but also said "I'll remember more the disappointment of losing a game that some other factors came into play, and our kids not advancing to play in Boston."

I haven't brought this up much, largely because I know most of you are UMD fans, you're probably bitter about what happened, and I doubt you need any reminders. Also, the more I think about the way that game ended, the more bitter I get about it. Can only imagine at least a few of you are the same way.

It might be a topic we can discuss more in-depth at some point, but now is not the time. I'm glad the coach said what he said, because frankly the easy way out would be to repeat the "Some things you can't control" line until everyone goes away. Sandelin did a good job elaborating on his frustration without really stepping in something.


For those who haven't heard, UMD's non-conference schedule is as follows for 2015-16:

Sunday night exhibition vs. Lakehead
Opening weekend home and home vs. Bemidji State (Fitzgerald triplets!)
Then a home and home vs. Minnesota
The following weekend, at Notre Dame
Then home vs UMass-Lowell to finish October

The other non-conference series is a two-game set at Northern Michigan in early February. UMD will also host the U.S. Under-18 Team for an exhibition after Christmas.

I have not seen the full schedule, but clearly it will become NCHC-heavy beginning in the first week of November.


According to sources, UMD picked up a verbal commitment from Hibbing/Chisholm defenseman Scott Perunovich this week. Since I reported the commitment on Twitter, Perunovich has made it official. One of the first people to congratulate him on Twitter? Hermantown sophomore Ryan Sandelin. I think you've heard of his dad.

Anyway, Perunovich was one of the top 1998-born players in the Northland last year. As a sophomore for Hibbing, he racked up 56 points on 11 goals and 45 assists in 27 games. Perunovich is likely three to four years away from pulling on a Bulldog jersey, but I've heard nothing but good things about his puck skills and vision.

Former Bluejacket Adam Johnson is the top forward in UMD's 2015 recruiting class. Oh, and Scott Sandelin hails from Hibbing. There's that, too.

Andy Welinski Undecided on UMD Return

UMD defenseman Andy Welinski will either get paid to play hockey next season, or he'll captain what could be one of the top teams in college hockey.

While he is leaning toward a return to UMD, Welinski hasn't made a decision yet. The Ducks draft pick is weighing his options carefully before making one.

"Something that I looked at coming into school, and it's been this situation after each year," Welinski told me. "It's gotten bigger after every year, so I've got some options to look at, and we'll see where it goes.

"With the resources I've used and people I've talked to about previous guys who've made this decision, it needs to be what I want to do. Do I think I'm ready? What I learned when I was younger in high school is you need to set both feet and stick with it. It does no good to look back and say 'Wish I would have done that.' It's purely a development decision. Do I think I can play?"

(For those who don't know, Welinski left Duluth East a year early and went to the USHL, where he put together a couple pretty strong years with the Green Bay Gamblers.)

Welinski said he doesn't have a timetable for his final answer.

Will he be motivated by the bitter ending to UMD's 2014-15 season? Perhaps.

"Initially, right after, I made my decision right away that I was coming back," he said. "The emotions and everything, without weighing anything on it, I wanted to be back. You want to play one more game in a year. The opportunity to have one more year is something not everybody has."

The well-spoken blue-liner will graduate next year if he returns, another piece that will weigh on his decision.

If he leaves, he says Duluth and UMD will always have a special place in his heart.

"I've been living a dream here for three years. I grew up going to UMD games, and idolizing all these players. It's easy to get lost in it. It's unbelievable, the facilities and university, being just a couple miles from my house. It's something that I'll never forget.

"From a people standpoint, the people I've met in college, especially my teammates and coaches, they've really impacted my last three years."

If he stays, Welinski will be honored to wear the "C" for the program he grew up watching.

"Kind of a dream. We came in with eight guys in our class. You never know who's going to be there our senior year. It would be a huge honor. From the seniors and older guys who've worn letters my first three years, I've learned a lot from them."

Welinski might be a little conflicted about this decision, and there may be some lingering bitterness over the end of the season (justifiably so), but that smile was as wide as I'm sure most of yours were when I asked about being on the third UMD team in history that can brag about ending Minnesota's season.

"Can't complain here," he said, laughing. "We matched up well against them. It's the biggest upset that a two-seed beat a three-seed in the tournament. It's obviously exciting."

(Yes, people actually called it an "upset." The other three UMD wins must have been accidents or something.)

From a readiness standpoint, my eyes are biased, but I think Welinski has some development he can achieve at this level. By no means was he ever rotten, but I do think he tailed off a little bit in the second half compared to the first. It showed itself with more inconsistency from him than we had seen before Christmas.

That said, Welinski's been a big-minute guy for UMD now for three years. Not many guys come in as freshmen at this level and play the number of minutes he logged from the outset, and he has been on UMD's top pair for most of his Bulldog career. If he leaves, it's hard to begrudge him, given the resume he's got from his college career.