A week from the start of hockey practice

Minnesota Duluth is still a week away from the start of official practice on Oct. 2, but is already at the DECC for captain’s practices. Coach Scott Sandelin and volunteer assistant Bill Watson were on the ice for with the team for an hour Friday. Sandelin said he had a tender back after significant time sitting while scouting and driving.

Cameron Koopman, who had been working as an assistant equipment manager, has taken over that position as Chris Garner continues to recover from an Aug. 4 bone marrow transplant to combat a blood cell disorder. Garner, 32, is at his parents home in Rochester, Minn., and is being monitored in check ups at the Mayo Clinic.

A week ago, Garner posted on Facebook: “I’m starting to feel and eat better. Eating has been tough because everthing tastes like a copper pipe. Otherwise I feel like I’m turning the corner and hopefully on my way to packing some pounds back on.”

The University of Wisconsin is expected to build a 27.8 million practice facility for the men’s and women’s program on the west side of the Kohl Center. It could be ready in the fall of 2012 according to a story in the Wisconsin State Journal here.

Antti Niemi made his debut in goal Friday for the San Jose Sharks in a 5-4 preseason home loss to Anaheim. Goalie Harri Sateri also played for the Sharks, while Alex Stalock sat out. Forward MacGregor Sharp played 14 minutes for Anaheim. A game story from the San Jose Mercury News is  here.

Minnesota Duluth doesn’t see first-year league member Nebraska-Omaha until the final series of the 2010-11 season, but an update on Omaha’s goalie strength is in the Omaha World-Herald here.

Freshman Mike Taffe of Maple Grove, Minn., is in his freshman year with the Mavericks.

And, believe it or not, the college women’s season opened Friday in an exhibition as Bemidji State beat the Toronto Junior Aeros. The Bemidji Regional Events Center is not quite ready for its debut, so the game was played at the Neilson-Reise Arena. A report from the Bemidji Pioneer is here.