50 miles through the woods on a warm Saturday

The 30th Minnesota Voyageur Trail Ultramarathon 50-Miler was Saturday — from Carlton High School to the Lake Superior Zoo and back — on what turned out to be a humid, 80-degree day. A record field of 154 starters went along the trails through Jay Cooke State Park and Spirit Mountain. These are some tough folks.

The News Tribune has a story here.

Star photographer Clint Austin has a photo gallery here.

Winner Samuel Jurek looks good despite having just traveled 50 miles by foot:

A night to remember

On an 80-degree Duluth night, about 150 folks gathered at Amsoil Arena on Friday to remember the 2010-11 season and Minnesota Duluth’s hockey tradition. About 75 hockey alumni got together with the current team and others connected to the program for dinner and the presentation of NCAA championship rings.

The night honored the first Division I title in UMD men’s history. It was special enough to draw the school’s four Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners — Tom Kurvers, Bill Watson, Chris Marinucci and Junior Lessard.

Here’s a link to a News Tribune story here.

Members of the UMD Bulldogs national champion hockey team Jake Hendrickson (from right), J.T. Brown and Luke McManus strike a pose with their national championship rings after receiving them Friday night at Amsoil Arena. (Dave Ballard / For the News Tribune)

Fairbanks and the WCHA; Western Michigan; Frank Serratore

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner is reporting that WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod will be visiting the CCHA’s Alaska Fairbanks in August to discuss membership in the WCHA. The story is here.

Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey gets everyone caught up on the defections of college-committed players who have now chosen Canadian Major Junior hockey. He has a listing here.

The Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette has an update on Western Michigan’s hockey future which seems to be continued to be tied to Notre Dame, which is expected to announce its conference intentions in August. That story is here.

The Colorado Springs Gazette has a feature column on the winning ways of Air Force coach Frank Serratore of Coleraine. The story is here.

Ben Gordon of International Falls has signed with Germany’s DEG Metro Stars in a release from the team, in German, not English, here.

Some Thursday items

Photographer Melissa Wade has posted photos connected to Minnesota Duluth players (men’s and women’s hockey) with public Twitter accounts. That link is here.

Ron Ralston left the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., after seven years to become coach of Rochester (N.Y.)  in the American Hockey League. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has stories here and here.

If 71-year-old Red Berenson looked fit as Michigan’s coach during the 2011 NCAA tournament, it’s because he is in shape. A Q and A with Berenson as he prepared for the annual Snoopy’s World Senior Hockey Championships in Santa Rosa, Calif., in a San Jose Sharks post here.

Running Times founding editor Ed Ayres puts together his list of America’s 10 most iconic running events, with a second 10 in an honorable mention category. It is just one man’s opinion, but Ayres has been a competitive runner for 54 years. Of course the Boston Marathon leads the list. See if Grandma’s Marathon gets a mention in his post here.

Preseason Top 10; Hobey watch; major junior defections

The 2011-12 college season is two months and two weeks from starting, and Inside College Hockey has a preseason Top 10 here.

Last month, INCH also projected candidates for the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award. See if Jack Connolly is on the 10-player list here.

The Central Collegiate Hockey Association and Atlantic Hockey met Tuesday to discuss the future of their conferences. U.S. College Hockey Online has an update here and Hockey News has an update here.

Blogger Timothy Boger takes a statistical look at the WCHA for 2011-12, team by team — points returning and points lost – here.

The Chicago Express of the East Coast Hockey League has a release on the signing of Cloquet native Tyler Johnson, a former Colorado College foward, here.

Duluth native Josh Mizerek, a defenseman who has been playing in Europe, recently signed with the Hull Stingrays in England. A team release is here.

Also former Bulldogs Josh Meyers and MacGregor Sharp are said to be headed to Bozen-Bolzano, Italy to play in 2011-12. Both have played minor league hockey the past two years and spent time together last season with Abbotsford (British Columbia) in the American Hockey League.

Much discussion is taking place this month after a number of NCAA-recruited players have instead chosen to play with Canadian Major Junior teams. Some of the reaction from:

Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald here.

Chris Peters U.S. Of Hockey here.

Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey here.

Bruce Ciskie here.

Michigan blogger Tim Williams, following the loss of goalie John Gibson, in a post here.

And, although this is a few weeks old, University of Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick, who was in goal in the 2011 NCAA title game versus UMD, had this July 6 tweet:

“I had the most vivid dream last night that we won the national championship. The banner said 2012, looking ahead not back.”

Night of the rings

Minnesota Duluth’s 2010-11 team will be back together one more time this week, during hockey alumni weekend, and will receive their NCAA championship rings during a dinner and ceremony Friday at Amsoil Arena.

Team awards for last season will also be handed out.

Also from the college hockey world an in-depth look at St. Cloud State and what the conference-affiliation-future may hold for the Huskies in a Sunday St. Cloud Times story here.

Former NHL coach Andy Murray, 60, father of former UMD women’s defenseman Sarah Murray, was introduced Tuesday as Western Michigan’s new coach in Kalamazoo, Mich. He follows Jeff Blashill, now a Detroit Red Wings assistant. A Kalamazoo Gazette story is here.

Kara Goucher at 33

One year from now, Kara Goucher hopes to be on her way to London to compete in the women’s marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics — to be held Aug. 5. The United States Olympic Trials in the marathon are Jan. 14 in Houston.

But in the immediate future, the former Duluthian will be on the track, competing at 5,000 meters in the Avia London Grand Prix, in a Diamond League meet, Aug. 5-6 at the Crystal Palace. She’ll also be in the World Championships, at 10,000 meters, on Aug. 27, in Daegu, Korea.

In her Competitor.com blog this week, Goucher, of Portland, Ore., looks back at the past year, as she, and husband, Adam, became parents for the first time, and how she has adjusted to a return to running. She turned 33 earlier this month. The post is here.

Is the White House in UMD’s future?

A press release from the White House this week said President Obama will welcome the San Francisco Giants on Monday to celebrate the team’s 2010 World Series championship.

The release said President Obama is continuing a tradition of honoring sports teams for efforts on and off the field.

The 2010 BCS championship Auburn football team was at the White House on June 8 and the 2011 Connecticut men’s basketball team was honored May 17. While Rink and Run hasn’t heard of any other NCAA Division I championship teams from 2010-11 being invited to Washington, D.C., it is likely if the Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey team makes a trip, it will be in September, sources indicate.

The UMD women made a fifth White House visit on Sept. 13, 2010, after winning the 2010 Division I title, continuing a tradition that began with President George W. Bush. Approximately 800 Division I athletes, coaches and staff members were on the South Lawn on that occasion.

The Bulldogs were allowed to travel with 20 players and three coaches, along with Chancellor Lendley Black. They presented President Obama with a hockey jersey and a children’s book, written by UMD Psychology Professor Bud McClure.

In other hockey news:

Former UMD forward Jordan Fulton has re-signed with Stockton (Calif.) of the East Coast Hockey League in a story from the Stockton Record here.

The Grand Forks Herald has an update on a rescheduled meeting between the University of North Dakota and the NCAA concerning the school’s nickname. The story is here.

The Schenectady (N.Y.) Daily Gazette has a tidbit about the Versus network being interested in a college hockey TV package, starting in January, in an update here.

Northern Michigan and more

The Marquette (Mich.) Mining Journal has all of the reaction from Northern Michigan following Wednesday’s admission to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for 2013-14. That story is here.

Since the first hint of a Big Ten Conference hockey league, Minnesota coach Don Lucia has said he’d like to keep rivalries going with Minnesota’s other Division I teams. The St. Cloud Times reports Lucia has re-affirmed those plans, which may include a tournament among the state schools. That story is here and another St. Cloud Times commentary piece on the future for the St. Cloud State Huskies is here.

The Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette has a story about Ron Ralston interviewing for the Western Michigan head coaching job here.

U.S. College Hockey Online has a story about the Central Collegiate Hockey Association meeting with Atlantic Hockey next week here.

Julie Robenhymer of HockeyBuzz has a view of where college hockey is headed in a post here.

Rosters for the 2011 Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League are provided in a Hockey Hub post here.

Northern Michigan back in WCHA in 2013-14

Wednesday from the WCHA office:

SAINT PAUL -– The Western Collegiate Hockey Association is extremely pleased to announce today (July 20, 2011) that former conference member Northern Michigan University will be re-joining the Association family effective with the 2013-14 season. The NMU Wildcats were unanimously approved for membership in a conference call of league members held earlier today.

The Wildcats, who won the Division 1 men’s national championship in 1991 while a member of the WCHA, were admitted into the Association as an eighth league member for the 1984-85 season and remained through the 1996-97 campaign when they left for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).

“We couldn’t be more excited about welcoming back Northern Michigan University to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association family,” said Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod. “We were naturally disappointed when the Wildcats left the WCHA in 1997 after a successful 13-year partnership but it’s wonderful to again have them on board as a sixth Association member beginning with the 2013-14 season.

“Northern Michigan is a first-class institution with a great college hockey tradition, enthusiastic fans and a supportive community in Marquette,” added McLeod. “This is a great fit for both of us – again – and we all look forward to NMU’s highly-skilled, tenacious style of hockey further enhancing an already-great brand of WCHA Hockey.”

Said Northern Michigan University President Les Wong, “NMU is honored that the WCHA approached us with the idea of rejoining its hockey conference. The schools that will be in the WCHA in 2013-14 share many similarities with Northern. We all have similar locations with hometowns that passionately support their hockey programs. We also all offer similar academic offerings and have similar student bodies. We all have strong NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs but a Division I hockey program. Having our hockey team travel west also compliments our recruiting footprint for not just athletics, but the university as a whole.”

Said NMU Interim Athletic Director Steve Reed, “We share many natural rivalries with the new WCHA programs and the league offers geographical balance for us. With the changing landscape in college hockey in 2013-14, it was important for us to consider all options and choose the one we felt works best for NMU hockey at this time.”

Northern Michigan head hockey coach Walt Kyle, no stranger to the WCHA, said, “This is a time of change for college hockey and that doesn’t worry me. I think when the dust settles, college hockey will be in as good, if not better shape – it will just look a little different.

“I’ve been saying all along that I know NMU will be in a great hockey conference over the next two years – in the CCHA and then in the WCHA. It’s important that people know that we value our current CCHA members and hope to continue strong relationships with them in the future as part of our non-conference schedule. However, playing in the same conference as Michigan Tech, our next-door U.P. neighbor, will boost that ongoing rivalry. It’s always special to play the Huskies and I know the Upper Peninsula hockey fans will be excited that NMU-MTU battles will take on even greater importance being league games. Our recent history with St. Cloud State – going into double overtime in the NCAA Tournament against them two years ago – is also something we can build into a good rivalry. We do a lot of recruiting west of the U.P., so increasing our playing exposure in that direction is a plus.”

During their first tenure in the league, Northern Michigan competed for 13 seasons, winning the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champions in 1990-91, capturing three WCHA playoff titles and Broadmoor Trophies in 1988-89, 1990-91 and 1991-92, and as mentioned previously, taking home the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four crown in 1990-91 when they forged a noteworthy 38-5-4 overall record and 25-3-4 WCHA mark. Included on that stellar 1990-91 club, guided by WCHA Coach of the Year Rick Comley, were the likes of All-American forward Scott Beattie (WCHA MVP, WCHA Scoring Champion), All-American defenseman and WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year Brad Werenka, and Second Team All-American goaltender Bill Pye. The Wildcats competed in the NCAA tournament while in the WCHA in 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993 while other top finishes by NMU in the league standings were second in 1988-89 and third in 1991-92.

WCHA men’s membership for the 2013-14 season includes University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), Bemidji State University (BSU), Michigan Technological University (MTU), Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU), Northern Michigan University (NMU) and St. Cloud State University (SCSU).

Earlier this year (March 21) the Big Ten announced the formation of a new hockey conference that would include current WCHA-members Minnesota and Wisconsin and begin play in 2013-14. On July 13, WCHA members Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha and North Dakota announced they would be leaving following the 2012-13 season to form a new league (National Collegiate Hockey Conference) which will begin play in 2013-14.