Olsen signs; U.S. wins

Former NHL first-round draft pick Dylan Olsen, a Minnesota Duluth sophomore defenseman from Calgary, Alberta, signed a three-year, two-way contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and will join the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford, Ill., following the World Junior Championships.

Olsen, 19, leaves UMD with two goals and 22 assists for 24 points in 53 career games. This season, he had a goal and 12 assists for 13 points in 17 games before leaving to join Canada for the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. Canada finished the preliminary round 3-1 following a shootout loss to Sweden on Friday. The tournament runs through Jan. 5.

“Dylan was having a good year and we were expecting a better, more confident player to return to us after the experience of the junior tournament,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We knew how much making Canada’s team meant to him and that it could only help his play. We’re just disappointed he chose to make a change at midseason.”

Sandelin did note that recent academic developments would likely have left Olsen ineligible for the second semester.

In the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Olsen was selected in the first round and 28th overall by Chicago after playing two seasons with Camrose in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. His contract calls for an NHL salary of $525,000 the first year, $700,000 the second and $810,000 the third, with a signing bonus of $90,000 each year. He would make $67,500 playing in the minor leagues.

The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (12-4-3) leave Saturday for Potsdam, N.Y., and a non-conference series Monday and Tuesday with Clarkson University (10-5-2)

The Bulldogs are also without senior winger Kyle Schmidt who suffered a bone displacement in a hand Wednesday at practice. He’ll have a pin or plate inserted in the hand Tuesday and will miss a minimum of one month, he said. Schmidt had seven goals and five assists in 18 games this season. UMD freshman defenseman Justin Faulk will miss the Clarkson series while with the United States at the World Junior Championships.

AND IF YOU want to see Mike Connolly shatter a pane of tempered glass at Amsoil Arena, the Northland’s NewsCenter has some My9 video here.

The United States edged Switzerland 2-1 Friday to finish the World Junior Championships preliminary round unbeaten. UMD’s Justin Faulk had an assist on a Chris Kreider power-play goal. The Americans have a bye into Monday’s semifinals and will meet the Canada-Switzerland winner. Sweden will meet the Finland-Russia winner. A U.S. game recap from the IIHF website is here.

Friday in the wet and snowy WCHA

With 2011 just hours away, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association is saying goodbye to 2010 with some hard-to-figure performances. There were a bunch Thursday in holiday play from Connecticut, to Florida, to Duluth.

No. 11 Nebraska-Omaha got 56 shots on goal but lost at Quinnipiac 4-3 in Hamden, Conn.; St. Cloud State got a measley 11 shots on goal, but beat No. 9 Miami of Ohio 4-3 to win the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla.; a pane of tempered glass exploded on impact at a brand new rink as No. 4 North Dakota defeated No. 5 Minnesota Duluth 5-0; Michigan State beat Michigan Tech 5-3; No. 16 Wisconsin defeated Massachusetts 5-1; and No. 6 Michigan beat No, 17 Colorado College 6-5.

“It’s a beautiful rink. I love the rink,” North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol said of UMD’s Amsoil Arena. “And it’s tough (for a home team) to play well on opening night.”

The Grand Forks Herald has a game recap here.

North Dakota spent an extra night in Duluth, primarily because of heavy snow along Hwy. 2 heading back to Grand Forks (as rain pelted down in Duluth). And another storm was headed into the Grand Forks region Saturday. A Grand Forks Herald weather update is here.

The WCHA is 5-5 through two holiday days of play. UMD gets on a plane Saturday afternoon and heads to Potsdam, N.Y., to face Clarkson University on Monday and Tuesday.

At Hamden, Conn., Omaha outshot Quinnipiac 56-27. Omaha trailed 3-0 then got into a 3-3 tie, including a Matt Ambroz (10) goal. But Quinnipiac scored on a power play with 4:27 to play. Goalie Eric Hartzell had 53 saves. The Omaha World-Herald has a recap here.

At Estero, Fla., Miami outshot St. Cloud State 31-11. Miami goalie Connor Knapp had 7 saves for the game. The Huskies had two power-play goals and Nic Dowd scored 13 seconds into the third period for a 4-1 lead. Drew LeBlanc had a St. Cloud State goal. The Huskies have two two straight wins. The St. Cloud Times has a recap here.

At Detroit, in the Great Lakes Invitational, Michigan scored twice in two minutes late in the game to overtake Colorado College for the tournament title. Tyler Johnson (14) had given CC a 5-4 lead 5:40 into the final period before the Wolverines rallied. A.J. Treais got the game winner with 4:04 to play. Michigan had led 2-0. The Ann Arbor News has a story here and the Colorado Springs Gazette has a recap here.

In the GLI third-place game, Michigan State broke from a 2-2 tie to edge Michigan Tech, which has lost 13 straight games. Aaron Pietila had two goals for Michigan Tech and Dennix Rix had two assists. The Lansing Journal has a recap here.

At Madison, Wis., Podge Turnbull had two goals and Frankie Simonelli added a goal and two assists for Wisconsin. Scott Gudmandson was in goal for the Badgers. The Wisconsin State Journal has a story here.

Final: North Dakota 5, UMD 0

The largest crowd to ever watch a hockey game in Northeastern Minnesota enjoyed itself immensely Thursday night as the glittering $60 million Amsoil Arena opened to rave reviews before 6,732 fans. The only drawback was No. 3-ranked North Dakota’s overwhelming performance in a 5-0 non-conference victory over No. 2 Minnesota Duluth in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.

The Fighting Sioux (14-5-2) scored three goals in 74 seconds in the latter stages of the second period to extend its Division I-leading unbeaten streak to seven games (6-0-1), including five straight wins. North Dakota helped open Bemidji State’s new Sanford Arena in October, and swept a road series 5-2 and 5-2.

“We had tons of people in the stands and wanted to give them a show, and we just didn’t have it,” said UMD senior captain Mike Montgomery. “We just weren’t ready and we made mistakes. You have to take care of the puck against a good team.”

Winger Mike Connolly gave UMD one of its few highlights by smacking the plexiglass, in trying to check North Dakota’s Corban Knight, with 6:25 left in the first period. Connolly missed Knight and obliterated the pane. Teams went to the locker room while the glass was cleaned up and the extra time was added to the second period.

The first of Brad Malone’s two goals, on a power play midway through the first period gave North Dakota a 1-0 lead. The Fighting Sioux then hit goal pipes three times without scoring, while their goalie, Aaron Dell, didn’t allow the Bulldogs to get into the game.

“That was the idea, to come in here and mess up their show,” Dell said of the opening-night party.

Carter Rowney, Danny Kristo and Matt Frattin scored in short order in the last three minutes of the second period to push a 1-0 lead to 4-0. Rowney’s goal, the second of his career, came at the crease on a rebound from good pressure. The next two goals came on UMD giveaways.

“When had a lot of life and enthusiasm on the bench at 1-0 and then in 1:14, North Dakota took that away from us,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin.

The Bulldogs (12-4-3) led in shots on goal 35-33, but were 0-of-7 on power plays and were shutout for the first time at home since Jean-Philippe Lamoureux won 2-0 on March 1, 1998, as North Dakota beat UMD 2-0.

Thursday’s loss was the worst for UMD since an 8-3 defeat at North Dakota on Nov. 23, 2007. The teams had split earlier this season in Grand Forks, N.D. The Bulldogs were 7-1 in the first half of the season at the DECC Arena, their home the previous 45 years.

“There’s no excuse for that performance at all,” said Connolly. “It was embarrassing and we can’t let it happen again in front of our fans. We didn’t even get a goal for our fans to celebrate. There’s no excuse.”

UMD starting goalie Aaron Crandall was replaced to start the third period by Kenny Reiter. North Dakota, the leader in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, finished with a Malone shorthanded goal.

UMD, 1-3-1 the last five games, heads to face Clarkson University in a series starting Monday in Potsdam, N.Y.

North Dakota 1-3-1—5

Minnesota Duluth     0-0-0—0

First period – 1. North Dakota, Brad Malone 6 (Chay Genoway, Danny Kristo), 10:06 (pp). Penalties – Mario Lamoureux, North Dakota (elbowing), 7:24; Dan DeLisle, UMD (charging, roughing), 9:33; Derrick LaPoint, North Dakota (roughing), 9:33; Keegan Flaherty, UMD (boarding), 16:20; Matt Frattin, North Dakota (holding), 17:31.

Second period – 2. North Dakota, Carter Rowney 2 (Kristo, LaPoint), 17:19; 3. North Dakota, Kristo 2, 17:33; 4. North Dakota, Frattin 18 (Evan Trupp), 18:33. Penalties – Malone, North Dakota (interference), :53; Max Tardy, UMD (hooking), 3:08; Maloine, North Dakota (cross-checking), 12:48; Chay Genoway, North Dakota (cross-checking), 19:30.

Third period – 5. North Dakota, Malone 7 (Trupp), 11:30 (sh). Penalties – Rowney, North Dakota (tripping), 8:01; Genoway, North Dakota (slashing), 9:40; M. Connolly, UMD (slashing), 14:48; Flaherty, UMD (roughing), 18:02; Andrew MacWilliam, North Dakota (roughing), 18:02.

Shots on goal – North Dakota 8-16-9—33; UMD 12-10-13—35. Goalies – Aaron Dell (13-4-1), North Dakota (24 shots-20 saves); Aaron Crandall (6-2-1), UMD (35 shots-35 saves). Power plays – North Dakota 1-of-4, UMD 0-of-7. Referees – Marco Hunt, Derek Shepherd. Linesmen – Toiny Czech, Dan Dineen. A – 6,732.

Grand Opening Day

A shovel was put into the ground on April 13, 2009, and on Thursday a building will officially open as the new hockey home for Minnesota Duluth. In the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game, the UMD men face North Dakota at 7:37 p.m. at Amsoil Arena.

The News Tribune has a couple of stories here and here.

And there was a 16-page special section in the News Tribune on the new rink Thursday. To get started on reading stories on all aspects of Amsoil Arena start with the lead-in story here.

The Grand Forks Herald has a game preview here.

UMD will be without defensemen Justin Faulk and Dylan Olsen, in the World Junior Championships, and senior winger Kyle Schmidt, injured at practice Wednesday.

There were three games involving Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams Wednesday: at the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit, No. 12 Colorado College beat Michigan State 5-4 and No. 11 Michigan defeated Michigan Tech 4-2; and in the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla., St. Cloud State stopped Cornell 4-3 in overtime.

In Detroit, Colorado College’s Tyler Johnson of Cloquet had a goal and two assists, and the game winner. CC led 5-2 after two periods. Michigan State led in shots 35-23. The Colorado Springs Gazette has a recap here.

After leading 1-0 through two periods, Michigan withstood a crazy five-goal third period (four in 4:06) to beat Michigan Tech. Ryan Furne and Milos Gordic each had a goal and an assist for Michigan Tech, which has lost 12 straight games. The Ann Arbor News has a recap here.

St. Cloud State trailed 3-0 late in the second period in Estero, and scored the last four, including Cam Reid’s second goal of the game, at 2:21 of overtime (assisted by Drew LeBlanc) to beat Cornell. The Huskies broke a four-game losing streak. The St. Cloud Times has a recap here.

New rink, new jerseys, new patch

An oval Maroon-and-Gold patch will adorn Minnesota Duluth’s home jerseys for the remainder of 2010-11 starting Thursday night as Amsoil Arena opens. The patch has a drawing of the new rink and the words: New Home of the Bulldogs, 2010-11, Inaugural Season.

There’s also been the talk of new home jerseys, but that information has been kept top secret, ALTHOUGH, NOW THE UMD WEBSITE IS REPORTING, yes new uniforms.

Also, Canada defeated Norway 10-1 Wednesday night in the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., with a recap from the IIHF website here.

The UMD men’s hockey website has the photo below of captain Mike Montgomery dressed for a formal opening of Amsoil Arena.

Mike Montgomery will have the privilege of captaining the Bulldogs during their inaugural season in AMSOIL Arena

College hockey returns

North Dakota is on the road today to Duluth and the word is some media members are also coming in now to avoid any approaching ice storms predicted for the area.

The Fighting Sioux will help open a new hockey building for the second time this season in facing Minnesota Duluth at 7:37 p.m. Thursday at Amsoil Arena in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.

And college hockey returns from a holiday break Wednesday. In Detroit’s Great Lakes Invitational, Michigan Tech faces Michigan, and Colorado College meets Michigan State. In Estero, Fla., St. Cloud State plays Cornell.

UMD sports information pregame notes here.

The North Dakota sports information office has pregame notes here.

The Grand Forks Herald reports that the Fighting Soux will be without four players — injured forwards Brett Hextall and Jason Gregoire, and defenseman Derek Forbort of Duluth and forward Brock Nelson, both with the U.S. team in the World Junior Championships. That update is here.

UMD defenseman Wade Bergman, who sat out the Minnesota series Dec. 10-11 with an upper body injury, is expected to play Thursday.

The News Tribune looks at what a new building could mean for the UMD’s hockey future in a story here.

Also at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., the United States and Canada are 2-0. Quebec’s QMI Agency has a story on UMD’s defensive pair Dylan Olsen and Justin Faulk who are on separate teams, in an update appearing in the Peterborough (Ontario) Examiner here.

UMD recruit Kyle Osterberg of Lakeville, Minn., had a goal Tuesday as the United States beat Canada West 4-0 in an exhibition game in Portage LaPrairie, Manitoba, leading to the World U17 Challenge.

After eight NHL games with Atlanta, center Tim Stapleton has been assigned to Chicago in the American Hockey League. Stapleton had no points with Atlanta. A Chicago Wolves press release is here.

Scott Jurek on CNN

Proctor native and St. Scholastica graduate Scott Jurek of Seattle was featured Monday night on a CNN segment entitled “Extreme Living.”

The 37-year-old ultramarathoner was interviewed by CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanya Gupta, with the introduction of “What Makes a Marathoner Run.” Also interviewed were NASCAR driver and owner Jennifer Jo Cobb and 13-year-old Jordan Romero, the youngest person to climb Mount Everest.

Leading into the feature, CNN labeled Jurek as the best ultra runner in history.

The CNN video is here

The captains are coming

A number of former Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey captains are expected to take part in the opening of Amsoil Arena on Thursday night as UMD faces North Dakota.

After the first period the captains will be saluted on ice including:

1954-55 Frank Johnson
55-56 Alex Sisto
58-59 Larry Cronkhite
60-61 Mike Haley
63-64 Bill McGann
65-66 Bob Hill
66-67 Huffer Christiansen
67-68 Bruce McLeod
71-72 Walt Ledingham
72-73 Mark Heaslip, Chuck Ness
73-74 & 75-76 Tom Milani
74-75 Scott Koidahl
77-78 & 78-79 John Rothstein
79-80 Stan Palmer
80-81 & 81-82 Bill Oleksuk
82-83 Jim Graven
83-84 Tom Kurvers
84-85 Jim Johnson, Tom Herzig
85-86 Mark Odnokon
86-87 Guy Gosselin
88-89 & 89-90 Dale Jago
90-91 Scott Keller
91-92 Doug Torrel
92-93 Derek Plante
93-94 Chris Marinucci
94-95 Brett Larson
95-96 Taras Lendzyk
96-97 Brad Federenko
97-98 Mike Peluso, Laird Lidster
98-99 Bert Gilling
1999-2000 Jeff Scissons
2000-01 Andy Reierson
01-02 Judd Medak
02-03 & 03-04 Beau Geisler
04-05 Luke Stauffacher
05-06 Steve Czech
08-09 Matt Greer
09-10 Drew Akins

Bjugstad gives USA 3-2 OT win

Three Western Collegiate Hockey Association players scored for the United States on Sunday night, including Minnesota freshman Nick Bjugstad of Blaine, Minn., with 1:52 left in overtime for a 3-2 victory over Finland in the first round of the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.

Denver’s Jason Zucker and Minnesota Duluth freshman defenseman Justin Faulk of South St. Paul, on a first-period power play, also scored for the defending champion Americans. Each goalie was named player of the game, including American Jack Campbell, who made 32 saves and Joni Ortio of Finland, making 27.

A game recap from the IIHF website is here.

The USA next plays Slovakia on Tuesday.