Las Vegas tied 2-2

     Las Vegas beat Cincinnati 2-0 Friday night to tie the East Coast Hockey League Kelly Cup series 2-2 in Las Vegas. Former Minnesota Duluth winger Marco Peluso of Bovey had an assist. Peluso, 27, has 10 points in 16 playoff games. The series resumes Monday in Las Vegas. This story courtesy of the Las Vegas Wranglers Web site:

Wranglers Win 2-0

     Las Vegas
defeated the Cincinnati Cyclones 2-0 in Game Four of the Kelly Cup
Finals on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 7,703 fans at the
Orleans Arena. Las Vegas goalie Kevin Lalande made 27 saves for his
third shutout of the playoffs and the win. With the victory, the
Wranglers even the best of seven series 2-2.
     Wranglers forwards Aki Seitsonen and Kelly Czuy each
scored in the two-goal win. Cyclones goalie Cedrick Desjardins made 33
saves in the loss. Las Vegas will host Game Five of the Kelly Cup
Finals on Monday night at 7:05 pm at the Orleans Arena.
     Forward Aki Seitsonen started the scoring with his seventh goal of
the playoffs just 41-seconds into the game. Seitsonen scored by picking
up the puck off the end boards and banking the puck off the pads of
Cincinnati goalie Cedrick Desjardins for the 1-0 lead.
In the second period, Las Vegas doubled up the lead as Marco Peluso
set up Kelly Czuys seventh goal of the playoffs. Peluso lifted a
backhand pass from the left wing to the slot. Czuy picked up the pass
and beat Desjardins for the 2-0 final.

Image

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Jack Connolly Honored

     Incoming Minnesota Duluth forward Jack Connolly of Duluth was honored last week as 2008 Junior A Player of the Year by USA Hockey. He was a rookie with the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Stampede. This story courtesy of the Stampede Web site:

Connolly Honored

      Sioux Falls, S.D. – Former Stampede forward Jack Connolly has been
named the Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year by USA Hockey.
Connolly will be honored at an awards banquet
during USA Hockeys Annual Congress on Wednesday at the Crowne
Plazas Grand Ballroom in Colorado Springs, Colo. He’s the first Sioux Falls player to win the award.
      "He is very deserving of the
award," said Stampede head coach Kevin Hartzell. "The award is
representative of being the best amateur player in America and is a
big honor for Jack. He is certainly one of the best, if not the best,
pure centerman I have had the honor of coaching and it was a real treat
to watch him play."
      In his first season in the USHL,
Connolly tied for the league scoring title with 72 points on 26
goals and 46 assists in 58 games. The Duluth native led the
Stampede in assists and points and finished second on the team in goals
and plus-minus (+18).
     He was named USHL Rookie of the Year and
was also named to the All-USHL First Team and USHL All-Rookie Team. He
was named to the 2008 All-Star-Prospects Game in February and was named
USHL Offensive Player-of-the-Week twice (January 7 and March 3).
      Connolly
also helped Team USA to a Bronze medal at the World Junior A Challenge in
November where he posted four points (2G, 2A) in four games.
      "It’s
a great honor to win the award," said Connolly. "I want to thank my
teammates for their help and especially coach Hartzell and coach Jones
who gave me the opportunity to succeed. They were a big reason for my
success and growth as a player and as a person last season."
      Previous
award winners include NHLers Jason Blake (Toronto) and Joe Pavelski
(San Jose) as well as Ryan Potulny (Philadelphia Phantoms), Trevor
Lewis (Manchester Monarchs), Nate DiCasmirro (Syracuse Crunch), and
Karl Goehring (Syracuse Crunch) of the American Hockey League (AHL),
the top affiliate league of the NHL.

Jack Connolly Honored

Incoming Minnesota Duluth forward Jack Connolly of Duluth was named 2008 Junior Player of the Year by USA Hockey. He was a rookie with the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Stampede this season. This story courtesy of the Stampede Web site:

Sioux Falls, S.D. Former Stampede forward Jack Connolly has been
named the Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year by USA Hockey.
Connolly will be honored at a banquet
during USA Hockeys Annual Congress on Wednesday at the Crowne
Plazas Grand Ballroom in Colorado Springs, Colo. He becomes the first Sioux Falls player to win the award.
"He is very deserving of the
award," said Stampede head coach Kevin Hartzell. "The award is
representative of being the best amateur player in America and is a
big honor for Jack. He is certainly one of the best, if not the best,
pure centerman I have had the honor of coaching and it was a real treat
to watch him play."
In his first season in the USHL,
Connolly tied for the league scoring title with 72 points on 26
goals and 46 assists in 58 games. The Duluth native led the
Stampede in assists and points and finished second on the team in goals
and plus-minus (+18).
He was named USHL Rookie of the Year and
was named to the All-USHL First Team and USHL All-Rookie Team. He
was named to the 2008 All-Star-Prospects Game in February and was named
USHL Offensive Player of the Week twice (January 7th and March 3rd).
Connolly
also helped Team USA to a Bronze medal at the World Junior A Challenge in
November where he posted four points (2G, 2A) in four games.
"It’s
a great honor to win the award," said Connolly. "I want to thank my
teammates for their help and especially coach Hartzell and coach Jones
who gave me the opportunity to succeed. They were a big reason for my
success and growth as a player and as a person last season."
Previous
award winners include NHLers Jason Blake (Toronto) and Joe Pavelski
(San Jose) as well as Ryan Potulny (Philadelphia Phantoms), Trevor
Lewis (Manchester Monarchs), Nate DiCasmirro (Syracuse Crunch), and
Karl Goehring (Syracuse Crunch) of the American Hockey League (AHL),
the top affiliate league of the NHL.

Gophers Hire Hastings

       Minnesota coach Don Lucia has hired Mike Hastings to replace Mike Guentzel as an assistant coach. This story courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

     Mike Hastings, the longtime coach of the U.S. Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers, was hired as an assistant men’s hockey coach by the University of Minnesota on Wednesday.

     Omaha was the USHL’s regular-season and playoffs champion this past season.

     In 14 seasons at Omaha, Hastings’ record was 529-210-36, making him the USHL’s winningest coach. He resigned as coach after the season, but was named club president. He also was the team’s general manager.

     "The way I look at it, why wouldn’t I?" Hastings said, when asked why he wanted the Gophers job. "I enjoy coaching, and I’m from Minnesota.

     "After being in Omaha for 14 years, you want to keep pushing yourself. And I know the people I am going to work for, I know their reputations."

     Hastings, 42, was a defenseman for Crookston High School. He played two seasons at St. Cloud State before a back injury ended his college career.

     "I wanted someone who was experienced as a coach and recruiter," Gophers coach Don Lucia said, "and Mike has a proven record of success in both."

Assistant Coach Deadline

     Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin is nearing the finish line in selecting an assistant coach to replace Lee Davidson, who resigned March 31 after six seasons.
     Sandelin said Tuesday he received about 45 applications for the job and has cut the list to three. The finalists are to be on campus this week and a hire would be made by early next week, said Sandelin.
      "We’ll hire the coach who is the best fit for our staff and the program," said Sandelin, who is preparing for his ninth season in 2008-09 along with assistant Steve Rohlik.
      UMD is also looking for a replacement for retired equipment manager Rick Menz. Sandelin said he hoped to have someone in place by July 1.

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Hull Stays With Stars

     Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett is expected to have his contract extended next week. This week, Brett Hull agreed to continue as co-general manager. This update courtesy of the Dallas Morning News:

By CHUCK CARLTON / The Dallas Morning News

     Les Jackson and Brett Hull now have three more years to shape the Stars as co-general managers.
     And coach Dave Tippett will be receiving a similar contract extension by next week.
     In a move Stars owner Tom Hicks endorsed during the Western Conference
finals, the Stars officially lifted the "interim" designation from
Jackson and Hull on Thursday. The two had held that position since Nov.
13, 2007, when they replaced Doug Armstrong, who was fired as general
manager.
     Hull and Jackson each received three-year
contracts through the 2010-11 season. Financial terms were not
immediately available.
     Hicks pointed to the signing of
center Mike Ribeiro to a five-year contract, the acquisition of center
Brad Richards from Tampa Bay and improved communication with the
coaching staff and players as reasons for the move.
     He
especially likes the unorthodox sharing of power that combines a
hard-working longtime hockey scout in Jackson and the charismatic,
idea-filled Hull.
     "It was obviously a little bit of an
experiment," Hicks said. "I think we may have stumbled into an
outstanding combination. They fit so well. Each has different skill
sets."
     Jackson and Hull have stressed consensus when making decisions and developing the team’s prospects.
     "I think what it’s all about, really, is wanting what’s best for the
franchise," Jackson said. "I think if that’s your top thought, then
you’ll make the best decisions no matter who you are."
     The next major announcement will be an extension for Tippett, who is entering the final year of his contract.
     He guided the Stars past Anaheim and San Jose, ending a streak of four consecutive playoff series losses.
     Discussions have focused on a three-year deal that would take Tippett through 2010-11.
     "Then everyone is kind of on the same page, the same timeline,
understanding where we’re going, when we have to do to get there or at
least when we’d like to," Hull said.
     "The organization is fantastic from the
ownership to Brett and Les," Tippett said. "I feel good about my
coaching staff. It’s not even a question whether my first choice is to
stay here. This is exactly where I want to be."

Official UMD Schedule

Minnesota Duluth officially released its 2008-09 men’s schedule Wednesday:

Date Opponent Site Time

Oct 5 Lakehead U.# Duluth, MN 6:07 p.m.
Oct 10 Lake Superior State@ Sault Ste. Marie, MI 6:05 p.m.
Oct 11 Northern Michigan@ Marquette, MI 6:35 p.m.
Oct 17 Western Michigan Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Oct 18 Western Michigan Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Oct 24 Alaska Anchorage* Anchorage, AK 10:37 p.m.
Oct 25 Alaska Anchorage* Anchorage, AK 10:07 p.m.
Nov 1 St. Cloud State* St. Paul, MN
(Xcel Energy Center)
4:07 p.m.
Nov 7 Denver* Denver, CO 8:37 p.m.
Nov 8 Denver* Denver, CO 8:07 p.m.
Nov 14 Wisconsin* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Nov 15 Wisconsin* Duluth, MN 7:37 p.m.
Nov 21 North Dakota* Duluth, MN 7:37 p.m.
Nov 22 North Dakota* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Nov 29 St. Cloud State* Duluth, MN 7:37 p.m.
Dec 5 Colorado College* Colorado Springs, CO 8:37 p.m.
Dec 6 Colorado College* Colorado Springs, CO 8:07 p.m.
Dec 12 Michigan Tech* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Dec 13 Michigan Tech* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan 2 Lightning College Hockey
Classic
Tampa, FL TBA
Jan 3 Lightning College Hockey
Classic
Tampa, FL TBA
Jan 9 St. Cloud State* St. Cloud, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan 10 St. Cloud State* St. Cloud, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan 16 Bemidji State Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan 17 Bemidji State Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan 23 MSU-Mankato* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan 24 MSU-Mankato* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan 30 Wisconsin* Madison, WI 7:07 p.m.
Jan 31 Wisconsin* Madison, WI 7:07 p.m.
Feb 6 Denver* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Feb 7 Denver* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Feb 20 Michigan Tech* Houghton, MI 6:07 p.m.
Feb 21 Michigan Tech* Houghton, MI 6:07 p.m.
Feb 27 Minnesota* Minneapolis, MN 7:07 p.m.
Feb 28 Minnesota* Minneapolis, MN 7:07 p.m.
Mar 6 Alaska Anchorage* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Mar 7 Alaska Anchorage*
(Senior Night)
Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Mar 13 WCHA Playoffs (First Round) TBA TBA
Mar 14 WCHA Playoffs (First Round) TBA TBA
Mar 15 WCHA Playoffs (First Round) TBA TBA
Mar 19 WCHA Final Five St. Paul, MN TBA
Mar 20 WCHA Final Five St. Paul, MN TBA
Mar 21 WCHA Final Five St. Paul, MN TBA
Mar 27 NCAA Regionals TBA TBA
Mar 28 NCAA Regionals TBA TBA
Mar 29 NCAA Regionals TBA TBA
Apr 9 NCAA Frozen Four Washington, DC TBA
Apr 11 NCAA Frozen Four Washington, DC TBA

Stingrays Finish

     Goalie Josh Johnson of Esko, possibly the last player with Northland connections still competing this season, saw the end of the road Saturday as Cincinnati defeated the South Carolina Stingrays in the East Coast Hockey League American Conference finals in North Charleston, S.C.
     Johnson had a 23-13 regular-season record with a 2.80 goals-against average and .908 save percentage, and, in the playoffs, was 3-2 with marks of 2.39 and .913. He did not play in South Carolina’s final game. This story courtesy of the Charleston Post and Courier.

BY ANDREW MILLER

     The South Carolina Stingrays stood around the center ice face-off
circle late Saturday night, their sticks raised to the roof in a salute
to the fans at the North Charleston Coliseum.
     The Stingrays had
just lost 2-1 in overtime on a shorthanded goal to the Cincinnati Cyclones in Game 5 of the
American Conference finals. Their season was over and it was a
bittersweet finish for the Stingrays, who had made their longest run in
the Kelly Cup playoffs since winning their second league title in
2001.
     Chris Chaput and the South Carolina Stingrays won a franchise record 47 games this season.
     "It was a great season, a lot for us to be proud of," said Stingrays
captain Cail MacLean, an 11-year veteran of the ECHL. "I’ve played on a
lot of different teams with a lot of different players, but this might
be my favorite team I’ve ever played on. Everyone came to the rink and
worked hard every day. They were a great group of guys to play with.
     "Your
goal every year is to win a championship no matter what league you’re
playing in, so it was disappointing that we didn’t win the Kelly Cup,
but we’ve got nothing to hang our heads about  we had a great season."
     It was a sentiment shared by many in the Stingrays’ locker room.
     "We
had a young team, a lot of rookies and a lot of new faces in the locker
room, but we came to play every night," said assistant captain Nate
Kiser. "I couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished on the ice this
season. We made a pretty good at it in the playoffs, but we came up
short. Nothing to be ashamed of."
     The Stingrays won a franchise
record 47 games during the 2007-08 regular season. The Stingrays
finished second in the South Division. The 97 points in the standings
was second most in franchise history, trailing only the 1996-97 Kelly
Cup championship team, which had 100 points, but won just 45 games. The
Stingrays set a franchise record with 12 straight wins in December.
     "I give the guys a lot of credit, they worked hard from day one in
training camp until the end of the playoffs," said first-year head
coach Jared Bednar. "I thought we had an extremely hard-working team
and I hope they had a lot of fun because I had a lot of fun coaching
them. We had our ups and downs. We had some adversity, but when you
look at it as a whole I thought it was a really good season.
     "We
set a couple of records with most wins and consecutive wins and
finishing with the fourth-best record in the league. We got pretty deep
in the playoffs, getting to the conference finals, so it was a very
successful season. It’s disappointing that we didn’t win the Kelly Cup
because I thought we had the team to do it, but at the end of the day
only one team is going to win a championship."
     With
10 players on the Stingrays playoff roster under contract with American
Hockey League teams, Bednar isn’t sure how much turnover the team will
have for next season.

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Dallas Done

     The Dallas Stars had their season end Monday night at home against Detroit. This story courtesy of the Dallas Morning News:

MIKE HEIKA / The Dallas Morning News
mheika@dallasnews.com

A special season ended in a not-so-special way for the Dallas Stars on Monday in a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at American Airlines Center.

Detroit’s special teams scored power-play and short-handed goals en route to a 4-0 lead 23 minutes into the game, and the Red Wings held on through a frantic third period to earn a series win in the sixth game of the best-of-7 Western Conference finals.

The Red Wings move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Stars skated off the ice to a huge round of applause from fans who probably doubted the team’s playoff theme of "Believe" from time to time.

"Obviously, it’s so disappointing right now," forward Steve Ott said. "But I think in a couple of days, we’re going to be able to look back on this as a great season where we overcame a lot  from changing GMs to losing streaks to a ton of injuries."

After bowing out in the first round of the playoffs for three straight seasons, the Stars advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2000. What’s more, they advanced while playing tough hockey against the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, as well as the top two Western Conference teams in the regular season  Detroit and San Jose.

We were in a situation where nobody gave us a chance right from the get-go," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "People don’t realize how hard it is to win. The teams that we beat … when you see behind the scenes the energy and the sweat and the commitment from those players, you’re seeing guys with welts all over their body, and they can’t wait to get on the ice the next day."

The Stars say they entered Game 6 with that same enthusiasm but just couldn’t catch up to a Detroit squad that did not want to become the third team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead. The Red Wings had lost Games 4 and 5 by scoring just one goal in each, and they came out determined to get the puck to the front of the net.

Kris Draper had a puck bounce in off of his face for the first goal, Pavel Datsyuk jumped on a power-play rebound for the second, and Dallas Drake met a pass inches in front of Turco and shoveled in a shot for a 3-0 lead in the first period.

"I thought it was a combination of us hoping to win and Detroit pushing the issue to win," Tippett said. "I think they had a real hard focus around our net early."

Gouchers Seek Standards

Elite Distance Races Join BorderDuel
Nike Runners to Try for Olympic Qualifiering Times

Alberto Salazar and Nike have joined with the BorderDuel Track Classic to bring a group of elite distance runners to run in special 10,000m and 5,000m races May 31 in Lake Oswego, Ore. The women’s 10,000 meters will start at 8:15 p.m. with the men’s 5,000 to follow.

The goal of both races is to have runners meet the 2008 Summer Olympic automatic qualifying times. For the women, the 10,000 standard is 31:45.00 and for the men, the 5,000 mark is 13:21.50. Both races will have a field of about a dozen runners.

Featured in the women’s race will be Kara Goucher, 2007 World Championship bronze medalist with a PR of 31:17.72 and Amy Rudolph, two-time Olympian with a PR of 31:18.96. Adam Goucher, a past Olympian with a PR of 13:10.00, will headline the men’s 5,000m race.