Minnesota Duluth on break as Final Five cranks up; Niskanen gets game winner as Pens claim 10th straight

Minnesota Duluth’s players, with their season over, are on spring break this week. UMD resumes classes Monday and the final day of the spring semester is May 10.

The WCHA Final Five opens Thursday with two quarterfinal games and the three-day, five-game event could be headed toward an attendance record. It is believed that more than $2 million worth of tickets have already been sold and all sessions will be close to capacity at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.

College Hockey Inc.’s recruiting web site is reporting that Sammy Spurrell of Sherwood Park, Alberta, a center for the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, has made an oral commitment to UMD.  However, it’s believed Spurrell has yet to officially be cleared by the UMD admissions office.

Spurrell, 20, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds played 25 of Spruce Grove’s 60 regular-season games and had 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points, and has three points in four playoff games. Spruce Grove won the Alberta Junior Hockey League North title for a fifth straight year and leads Sherwood Park 3-1 in the North Division Final playoff series.

The Bulldogs already have a commitment from Spruce Grove defenseman Carson Soucy. The Spruce Grove web site is here.

Wisconsin, after eliminating UMD in the WCHA’s opening playoff round last weekend, faces Minnesota State-Mankato in Thursday’s league quarterfinals. Mankato is in the Final Five for the first time in a decade and Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press looks at the Purple Mavs right here.

There was also a WCHA media conference call Tuesday leading to the Final Five and Frederick has some notes and quotes here.

College Hockey News features Wisconsin in a story here.

College Hockey News also looks at likely entries into the NCAA 16-team field and what lies ahead in conference playoffs for those teams in a story here.

NHL.com looks at the top free agents in college hockey, including St. Cloud State’s senior star Drew LeBlanc of Hermantown, in a story here.

The inaugural Big Ten post-season tournament, in 2014, will be at the Xcel Energy Center. If you may want tickets, the information is here.

The Pittsburgh Penguins won a 10th straight game Tuesday night, winning at home 2-1 over Washington, thanks to a Matt Niskanen third-period goal. Information here and video here from the Pittsburgh team web site.

A story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is here.

5 thoughts on “Minnesota Duluth on break as Final Five cranks up; Niskanen gets game winner as Pens claim 10th straight

  1. Just a little info about Spurrell. He missed some games this year with an upper body injury so the numbers don’t look that spectacular this year. The previous two years he was spectacular and a star up there. Nearly a point a game average. I would assume he’ll be coming in next season. This is a big pickup from what I hear!!!

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