Former Minnesota Duluth player Bruce Fishback dies at 47

Dan Fishback figures he spent about 55 days at the home of his younger brother, Bruce, in West Bloomfield, Mich., over the past 16 months. Bruce Fishback was diagnosed with brain cancer on May 13, 2011, and his only sibling wanted as much time together as possible.

Bruce Fishback died Friday with his family surrounding him in hospice care. He was 47. The Fishback brothers from White Bear Lake, Minn., were hockey forwards at Minnesota Duluth —Dan from 1979-83 and Bruce 1983-87 —after playing at White Bear Mariner High School.

“I already miss him, but find comfort that he no longer suffers from this terrible disease,” Dan Fishback said by phone Saturday. “His passion, grit and bravery have been an inspiration to me throughout this 16-month journey. Bruce lived a life that inspired others; he made a difference and leaves a proud legacy.”

Bruce Fishback worked in sales and marketing for 3M the past 25 years. He and wife, Michelle, have three sons, Justin, 18; Tyler, 15, and Patrick, 7, all who play hockey. Fishback played in 98 games for the Bulldogs as a right winger and was involved in youth hockey coaching in West Bloomfield, a Detroit suburb, where the family has lived since 2005.

During his illness, Fishback had more than 100 friends and family members visit from Minnesota, Connecticut, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania and Indiana, said Dan Fishback, who ranks No. 14 in UMD career scoring with 172 points in 154 games.

“Bruce had so many friends and it was difficult for him at the end because he was unable to speak. During his illness, through four brain surgeries, he didn’t complain once,” said Dan Fishback, 51, who lives in Atherton, Calif., and owns price and promotion optimization businesses, and funds the marketing and analytics curriculum at UMD.

Bruce Fishback, who earned a UMD business degree, was on the Western Collegiate Hockey Association all-academic team and played 15 games with the Bulldogs in their NCAA runner-up season of 1983-84 and 29 games in 1984-85, when UMD won the Division I consolation title. He was selected in the ninth round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings but didn’t play professionally.

Services will be held Tuesday in Bloomfield through Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors, and a memorial gathering is planned for Saturday in New Richmond, Wis

Anchorage has ice problems; Austin Farley on video; Fifth Avenue Mile

Doyle Woody of the Anchorage Daily News reports that the ice plant at Sullivan Arena is having problems and the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves may need to check for rink options as the 2012-13 season nears. The story is here.

Minnesota Duluth is in Anchorage for games Dec. 14-15.

UMD freshman forward Austin Farley talks with USA Hockey Magazine’s Justin Felisko before today’s inaugural CCM-USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo, N.Y. The 65-second video is here.

Justin Fontaine and Mike Montgomery are on the Houston Areos roster for Saturday’s scrimmage at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center. A team news release is here.

Alex Stalock and Travis Oleksuk were among those recently reassigned to Worcester Sharks by San Jose due to lockout here.

From Hockey Prospectus is a list of the top 10 prospects in the Los Angeles Kings organization, including Duluthian Derek Forbort, a North Dakota junior defenseman, ranked No. 2. The list, with comments, is here.

Defenseman Joe Stejskal of Grand Rapids was among players reassigned to Hamilton Bulldogs by Montreal here.

The second episode of Michigan Tech’s In The Crease video is right here.

This is a week old, but former Minnesota Mile (Duluth) winner Brenda Martinez claimed the Fifth Avenue Mile women’s title last week in New York City, while Matthew Centrowitz took the men’s title. A story is here and a video is here with some comments from spectator Kara Goucher (who will be in Minneapolis on Oct. 7 to run the USA 10-Mile Championships.)

Gophers top CHN rankings; Austin Farley to Prospects Game; Ken Gernander

College Hockey News has come out with its 2012-13 preseason Top 10, which includes three WCHA teams, starting right at No. 1 with Minnesota. CHN’s rankings are here.

Minnesota Duluth freshman forward Austin Farley of Park Ridge, Ill., will be competing in Saturday’s inaugural CCM-USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., with a 6 p.m. start. will provide live free-for-view streaming coverage and a link to the broadcast is here beginning at 5:45 p.m. Kevin Sylvester will provide play-by-play and Ric Seiling analysis.

Of the 40 players in the Prospects Game, 30 are from the United States Hockey League, including 21 from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. Also, 34 of the 40 are future NCAA Division I players. The complete roster is here.

Coleraine native Ken Gernander has been selected for the American Hockey League Hall of Fame for 2012. A news release from the NHL is here.

Austin Farley; David Grun; Western College Hockey; Goucher and Flanagan

The North Dakota-based Tradition of Excellence web site has been featuring WCHA newcomers for 2012-13 including Minnesota Duluth freshman forward Austin Farley here.

The Idaho Steelheads of the East Coast Hockey League have signed forward David Grun. A news release from the team is here.

Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey on SB Nation has a revised web site and some new features detailed here.

College Hockey News has added a recruiting editor and he looks at the WCHA freshman classes for 2012-13 right here.

In updates from Portland, Ore., marathon training partners Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher: from Flanagan’s Nissan web site blog here and the has a Q&A with Goucher here.

UMD No. 5 in WCHA media poll; more on North Dakota party

Minnesota Duluth, which finished second in 2011-12, is picked to finish fifth in the WCHA in 2012-13, according to a media poll released Wednesday by 94X FM in Duluth.

Bruce Ciskie has the poll results right here.

Ciskie also breaks down the voting, which includes player of the year and rookie of the year here.

Also an update from the Grand Forks Herald on the party in Grand Forks recently which has led to disciplinary measures. The details are here.

Hockey East has results of a preseason poll, led by Boston College, here.

And Atlantic Hockey, led by Air Force, has poll results here.

And CBS Sports Network has released a list of college hockey games to be televised in 2012-13, but don’t expect to see much of the WCHA. The story is here.

UMD women picked No. 4 in WCHA coaches poll

The Minnesota Duluth women are picked to finish fourth in the WCHA for 2012-13 according to the league’s annual coaches poll released Tuesday.

Defending NCAA Division I champion Minnesota is ranked No. 1 in the WCHA. Wisconsin senior forward Brianna Decker, the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner, is the league preseason player of the year.

2012-13 WCHA Coaches Preseason Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses, followed by total points)
1. Minnesota (6) 48
2. (tie) Wisconsin (1) 40
North Dakota (1) 40
4. Minnesota Duluth 32
5. Ohio State 24
6. Bemidji State 19
7. Minnesota State-Mankato 12
8. St. Cloud State 9
Preseason Player of the Year

Brianna Decker, F, Wisconsin, (4); Amanda Kessel, F, Minnesota, (2) and Jocelyne Lamoureux, North Dakota, F, (2).

Preseason Rookie of the Year
Hannah Brandt, F, Minnesota, (8).

UMD No. 12 in USA Today preseason poll; WCHA predictions

Hockey, in the form of regular-season college men’s games, is less than three weeks away.

The first major poll was released Monday by USA Today-USA Hockey Magazine with Boston College and Minnesota tied for No. 1, and Minnesota Duluth at No. 12. The complete poll is here.

And the WCHA prognostication season is two days away with the release of the 2012-13 league media pre-season poll.

Media types are Tweeting away on how they see the final season of the WCHA as we now it — Twelve good teams in an excellent league

My final season in the world of newspaper puckdom looks a little like this:

1. Minnesota, 2. North Dakota, 3. Colorado College, 4. Denver, 5. Minnesota Duluth, 6. Wisconsin, 7. Michigan Tech, 8. Nebraska-Omaha, 9. Minnesota State Mankato, 10. Bemidji State, 11. St. Cloud State, 12. Alaska Anchorage.

F — Mark Zengerle, Wisconsin; Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota; Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College.
D — Joey LaLeggia, Denver; Wade Bergman, Minnesota Duluth
G — Josh Thorimbert, Colorado College

Player of year — Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota
Rookie of year — Andy Welinski, Minnesota Duluth

And from other pundits:

Bruce Ciskie, of Duluth’s Red Rock Radio right here.

Former Colorado College beat writer Joe Paisley of Paisley Hockey here.

Insider Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey here.

Defenseman Molenaar commits to UMD

Defenseman Dan Molenaar of Eden Prairie, Minn., playing with Sioux City (Iowa) in the U.S. Hockey League, has made a commitment to Minnesota Duluth, according to Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey. FOX 21 in Duluth also had a report on its web site Saturday.

Molenaar, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, played a combined 54 games in the U.S. Hockey League in 2011-12 for Green Bay and Sioux City. He had two goals and 17 assists for 19 points. Molenaar, 19, helped Eden Prairie to the 2011 Minnesota Class AA title.

A link to Molenaar’s statistics on the Sioux City web site is here.

Proctor’s Matt Welch wins Milaca Mega Meet title, Esko’s Marisa Shady second in girls race

Proctor senior Matt Welch won the Class AA high school boys individual title in Saturday’s Milaca Mega Meet in 15 minutes, 18 seconds for 5,000 meters at the Stones Throw Golf Club in Milaca, Minn.

Welch, ranked No. 6 in Class A, was first in a field of 174 and had the fastest time of the day among four class races. Top-ranked Charlie Lawrence, a Foley senior, was second in 15:40.7. Esko was fourth among 24 Class AA boys teams as senior Ben Hanson finished 18th in 17:01.2.

In Class AA girls, St. Cloud Christian junior McKenzie Holt, ranked No. 5, was first in a field of 167 in 14:12.6 for 4,000 meters and Esko senior Marisa Shady, ranked No. 3, was second in 14:46. Mesabi East senior Megan West was seventh in 15:24.2.

Other placers from Northeastern Minnesota included Duluth Marshall sophomore Ann Kleinschmidt 12th in 15:25.7 in Class A girls; Cloquet junior Dylan Marvel 12th in 16:46.4 in Class AAA boys; Duluth East sophomore Keaton Long 19th in 16:40.7 in Class AAAA boys; and Duluth East junior Abby Holak 46th in 15:50 in Class AAAA girls.

Results for all races available here.