UMD Alumni Weekend

     The Minnesota Duluth website and assistant coach Brett Larson note that hockey alumni will be gathering in town starting Friday. Here’s the information:

     Former Minnesota Duluth pucksters young and old will converge on the Twin Ports on Friday and Saturday for Bulldog Hockey Alumni Weekend. The ninth annual event kicks off with a barbeque and social Friday night at 6 p.m. at the Duluth Heritage Center and Clyde Iron Restaurant before shifting to Nemadji Golf Course in Superior the next day for an 18-hole tournament. About 75 Bulldog alums are expected to be on hand at Nemadji, including nearly one dozen current or former NHL players. A tour of the new Amsoil Arena is scheduled for Saturday along with a breakfast at the Great Harvest Bread Company in Duluth.

     For more information or to make a reservation, contact Bulldog assistant coach Brett Larson at (218) 726-8195 or blarson@d.umd.edu.

UPDATED: Plante named UMD assistant





Derek Plante officially returns to his alma mater today as a Minnesota Duluth assistant men’s hockey coach. His hiring was announced Wednesday in replacing Steve Rohlik, now an associate head coach at Ohio State after 10 years with the Bulldogs.

Plante, 39, a Cloquet native who lives in Hermantown, joins former Bulldog Brett Larson on coach Scott Sandelin’s staff. Plante is UMD’s second all-time scorer with 96 goals and 123 assists for 219 points in 138 games as a center from 1989-93. He was named to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009, the same year he completed an undergraduate degree in community health and health education at UMD. The former UMD captain and center was chosen UMD’s Outstanding Senior Male Athlete for 1992-93.

“This is an extremely exciting opportunity for a number of reasons – I grew up in this community and have been a Bulldog fan all of my life, I played here and now I’m joining a pretty good program,” Plante said Wednesday. “There will be a learning curve to go through as I learn the recruiting side of coaching, but I’m looking forward to being out and meeting people and building a network. Coaching is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Plante was among three finalists chosen from a group of 27 applicants. He was interviewed Monday along with former UMD defenseman Dale Jago, 42, a native of Reston, Manitoba, who lives in Duluth; and former Michigan Tech goalie Cam Ellsworth, 29, an assistant coach with Sioux City (Iowa) in the U.S. Hockey League.

Plante signed a one-year contract Wednesday and will be paid approximately $63,000. In 2009-10, Rohlik earned $70,000 and Larson $62,500. Larson, starting his third season as an assistant, moves into Rohlik’s role as recruiting coordinator after sharing recruiting duties with Rohlik on a 50-50 basis.

Plante played 14 professional seasons, including seven in the NHL with Buffalo, Dallas, Chicago and Philadelphia, and was a member of the 1999 Dallas team that won the Stanley Cup. He finished with 96 goals and 248 assists for 248 points in 450 NHL games. He played most recently with Langenthal in Switzerland in 2007-08. He’s the son of Bruce Plante, 61, who has coached on the youth and high school level the past 36 years, and has 360 wins at Hermantown High School the last 21 years.

“Derek’s experience and success as a player at the highest levels of the game made him an attractive candidate, and we knew he was very interested in being involved in our program,” said Sandelin, who starts his 11th season in 2010-11.

Plante was a star at Cloquet High School from 1986-89 and, as a UMD senior, was the 1993 Western Collegiate Hockey Association player of the year, an All-American and a Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist, while leading Division I scorers with 92 points. He played on the U.S. Junior team in 1991 and for the U.S. in the 1992 World Championships. He and wife, Kristi (Duncan) Plante, a former UMD star softball player, have three sons, Zam, 5, Max, 4, and Victor, 2.

“Derek can step in right away and help our forwards,” said Larson. “He was a playmaker, a scorer, a shifty, skilled player. That’s the type of player we have and he can help them develop.”

Plante said his recruiting travels start Sunday and will include the USA Hockey Select 16 camp June 24-30 in Rochester, N.Y.

Recently, former UMD All-American defenseman Tom Kurvers, assistant general manager for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, said: “Derek would be an excellent assistant coach choice. He has experienced hockey at all levels and most importantly the NHL experience can help the program recruit the high-end players who are needed to win.”

Plante Names Assistant Coach





Derek Plante officially returns to his alma mater today as a Minnesota Duluth assistant men’s hockey coach. His hiring was announced Wednesday in replacing Steve Rohlik, now an associate head coach at Ohio State after 10 years with the Bulldogs.

Plante, 39, a Cloquet native who lives in Hermantown, joins former Bulldog Brett Larson on coach Scott Sandelin’s staff. Plante is UMD’s second all-time scorer with 96 goals and 123 assists for 219 points in 138 games as a center from 1989-93. He was named to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009, the same year he completed an undergraduate degree in community health and health education at UMD. The former UMD captain and center was chosen UMD’s Outstanding Senior Male Athlete for 1992-93.

“This is an extremely exciting opportunity for a number of reasons – I grew up in this community and have been a Bulldog fan all of my life, I played here and now I’m joining a pretty good program,” Plante said Wednesday. “There will be a learning curve to go through as I learn the recruiting side of coaching, but I’m looking forward to being out and meeting people and building a network. Coaching is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Plante was among three finalists chosen from a group of 27 applicants. He was interviewed Monday along with former UMD defenseman Dale Jago, 42, a native of Reston, Manitoba, who lives in Duluth; and former Michigan Tech goalie Cam Ellsworth, 29, an assistant coach with Sioux City (Iowa) in the U.S. Hockey League.

Plante signed a one-year contract Wednesday and will be paid approximately $63,000. In 2009-10, Rohlik earned $70,000 and Larson $62,500. Larson, starting his third season as an assistant, moves into Rohlik’s role as recruiting coordinator after sharing recruiting duties with Rohlik on a 50-50 basis.

Plante played 14 professional seasons, including seven in the NHL with Buffalo, Dallas, Chicago and Philadelphia, and was a member of the 1999 Dallas team that won the Stanley Cup. He finished with 96 goals and 248 assists for 248 points in 450 NHL games. He played most recently with Langenthal in Switzerland in 2007-08. He’s the son of Bruce Plante, 61, who has coached on the youth and high school level the past 36 years, and has 360 wins at Hermantown High School the last 21 years.

“Derek’s experience and success as a player at the highest levels of the game made him an attractive candidate, and we knew he was very interested in being involved in our program,” said Sandelin, who starts his 11th season in 2010-11.

Plante was a star at Cloquet High School from 1986-89 and, as a UMD senior, was the 1993 Western Collegiate Hockey Association player of the year, an All-American and a Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist, while leading Division I scorers with 92 points. He played on the U.S. Junior team in 1991 and for the U.S. in the 1992 World Championships. He and wife, Kristi (Duncan) Plante, a former UMD star softball player, have three sons, Zam, 5, Max, 4, and Victor, 2.

“Derek can step in right away and help our forwards,” said Larson. “He was a playmaker, a scorer, a shifty, skilled player. That’s the type of player we have and he can help them develop.”

Plante said his recruiting travels start Sunday and will include the USA Hockey Select 16 camp June 24-30 in Rochester, N.Y.

Recently, former UMD All-American defenseman Tom Kurvers, assistant general manager for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, said: “Derek would be an excellent assistant coach choice. He has experienced hockey at all levels and most importantly the NHL experience can help the program recruit the high-end players who are needed to win.”

Brett Larson on FSN

     If you tune into Fox Sports North on Thursday night, for a high school hockey doubleheader at the Heritage Sports Center, look for an interview with Minnesota Duluth assistant coach Brett Larson. He’ll be talking about his Duluth roots and his time as a Duluth Denfeld defenseman. Duluth East and Blaine play at 6 p.m. followed by Denfeld and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton at approximately 8 p.m.

Hockey Withdrawl? Try Alumni Game

     Going through college hockey withdrawl during the holiday season? The Minnesota Duluth men ALUMNI have a game at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday at the DECC. Assistant coach and former UMD captain Brett Larson has put together the second annual event; last year about 25 alums took part.

      Hockey-playing alums are reminded they can change into their gear for the game in the UMD varsity locker room.

      After the game there will be extensive sauna time and extensive story telling. Larson reports that the Bulldog hockey staff now has an alumni contact list of about 180 former players. Alums looking to make contact about Wednesday’s game or just to say hello can e-mail Larson at blarson@d.umn.edu

       Are fans allowed at Wednesday’s game? Don’t think they’d turn anyone away. Afterall, athletes enjoy playing to a crowd.

       ALSO, didn’t think there were any Division I men’s polls this week because of limited play last week and the holidays, BUT, USA Today-USA Hockey Magazine did have a coaches poll. Here it is:

U.S. Today-USA Hockey Magazine, Division I Men

1 Miami of Ohio         13-2-5
2 Denver                    11-5-2
3 Colorado College      11-4-3
4 Cornell                     7-2-2
5 Boston College         10-3-2
6 North Dakota            9-6-3
7 Wisconsin               11-5-2
8 Yale                         7-3-2
9 Bemidji State          13-4-1
10 Quinnipiac             13-3-1
11 Ferris State           13-3-2

12 Mass.-Lowell          10-6-1
13 Michigan State       12-6-2
14 Minnesota Duluth 11-6-1
15 Massachusetts       10-5-0
Others Receiving Votes: New Hampshire, Michigan, Alaska-Fairbanks, St. Cloud State, Union, RIT

UMD: A Season Wrap

The defining moment of the Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey season may have been behind closed doors.

The regular-season ended with a loss to Alaska Anchorage on March 7 at the DECC and the Bulldogs met, without coaches, in their locker room for about 20 minutes. They had gone five games without a win.

A turnaround of significant stature followed — six straight postseason wins, a Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff title and a trip to the NCAA Division I quarterfinals.

“That night was an emotional time for our team. We had lost an opportunity on our home ice, we had lost a chance to start the playoffs in Duluth, and any success we hoped to have after that was dependent on how our older players responded,” UMD senior co-captain Matt Greer said.

Seven seniors helped revive a team that had been consistent all season. The Bulldogs regained their composure and, despite finishing seventh in the WCHA, swept at third-place Colorado College to open the league playoffs and then made WCHA history by winning three games in three days at the Final Five in St. Paul.

The Bulldogs claimed the Broadmoor Trophy by beating defending champion Denver 4-0. They followed that with a dramatic comeback to beat Princeton 5-4 in overtime in the NCAA’s first round at the West Regional in Minneapolis, before falling to Miami of Ohio 2-1 the next night. UMD finished 22-13-8, improving on a 13-17-6 record in 2007-08.

“We were hurting after that Anchorage weekend and we didn’t know what was ahead for us, but one thing we had all season is that we fought hard and never gave up,” said senior winger and co-captain Andrew Carroll. “We talked about going to Colorado College and winning two games there, and if we did that, special things would happen. We started to win and special things did happen. In some of those wins, like against Princeton, there are no words to describe it.”

Stalock, scoring and rookies

The WCHA’s top goalie, UMD junior Alex Stalock of South St. Paul, made the Bulldogs a force from the start. They opened 3-0-1 and from late November to early January went 7-0-1. Stalock finished with school single-season records for goals-against average (2.13) and save percentage (.924), breaking Josh Johnson’s 2006-07 marks, and holds UMD career bests of 2.48 and .910, and nine shutouts.

Stalock, a 2005 NHL Entry draft pick by San Jose, allowed three goals total in five WCHA playoff games. It’s likely he’ll have to choose between professional and collegiate hockey in the coming days.

“Goaltending is a great place to start, a great place to have your best player,” coach Scott Sandelin said. “You need difference makers and he was a difference maker. I think he was the best goalie in our league the last two years.”

Scoring, which had been a bane of the Bulldogs in 2007-08, got a boost from freshman forwards Mike Connolly (42 points) and Jack Connolly (29), but the offense was ignited by senior center MacGregor Sharp and sophomore winger Justin Fontaine. Sharp, from Red Deer, Alberta, had 50 points and Fontaine, from Bonnyville, Alberta, had 48, for the best 1-2 punch at UMD since 2003-04 when Junior Lessard totaled 63 and Evan Schwabe 57.

The Bulldogs got the most out of their power play, scoring 54 goals with a man advantage, the second-most in Division I. It operated at 21.5 percent efficiency as UMD averaged three goals a game overall. UMD ranked No. 12 nationally on defense, allowing 2.28 goals a game, the best average among WCHA teams.

Josh Meyers led a young defensive corps that made great strides over the season, especially sophomores Evan Oberg and Mike Montgomery, who are undrafted but received NHL interest by the end of the year.

On the bubble, to No. 7

After consecutive home losses to Anchorage, UMD began the postseason barely in contention for an NCAA berth, according to the PairWise Rankings. The Bulldogs were No. 13 and only 16 teams get into the Division I tournament.

Six wins later, UMD was an automatic NCAA qualifier, ranked No. 7 in the final PairWise Rankings, and a No. 2 seed in the West Regional.

“From the very beginning of the season, I liked the unity of our team,” said Meyers, a Los Angeles Kings draft pick from Alexandria, Minn. “We pushed each other in practice, battled each other, and that makes you better. We had some bumps along the way, but never any road blocks. We never lost focus of how good we could be.”

UMD ended up playing the most games of any WCHA team (43, the same number as North Dakota) and went further in the playoffs than any WCHA team. The WCHA playoff title was the program’s first since 1985.

The Bulldogs benefitted from a cohesive lineup that went unchanged during the postseason. Junior defenseman Trent Palm, with a congenital hip problem, was the only player to miss significant time because of an injury.

The results left Sandelin with a 144-173-45 record for nine years as he approaches the final season of a three-year contract negotiated in 2006. His 2008-09 salary is $137,500.

Athletic director Bob Nielson said Wednesday he has annual performance reviews with all head coaches in April and May, and normally discusses contract extensions with coaches entering the final year of multi-year contracts.

The Bulldogs averaged 4,485 fans in 17 games this season at the DECC, which seats 5,294. That’s 167 fewer per game compared to 2007-08, but close to school projections for 2008-09, said Nielson. UMD was 10-4-3 at home.