Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The king of OT

PucKato checked in with Jon Kalinski on Monday to ask him about playing in last Thursday's five-overtime game between his Philadelphia Phantoms and the Albany River Rats. You can read about it my column today in The Free Press.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Feeling a draft

The NHL's Central Scouting Service put out its final predraft rankings today, and Minnesota State's two most-recent recruits are on the list of North American skaters.

Cloquet forward Justin Jokinen is rated 54th, six spots up from his mid-season ranking. The NHL did a story on Jokinen recently. Forward Tyler Thompson of the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders is 183rd. He was at 149 in the midseason rankings.

The signing of Jokinen and Thompson was finally made official by MSU last week.

Former MSU recruit Garry Nunn, who ended up jumping over major junior part way through this past season because of eligibility issues, is 101st.

The top WCHA recruit on the list is Wisconsin-bound Jake Gardiner of Minnetonka. Gardiner has often credited Mavericks coach Troy Jutting for his development as Jutting suggested he switch from forward to defense. There are six other WCHA recruits listed ahead of Jokinen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Feedback wanted

I know PucKato owes its readers another installment of "You Want Answers," but, right now, I'm the one wanting feedback. After a full season of college hockey blogging, what did you think? What was good? What was bad? What was ugly? What do read? What don't you read? What do you want to see more of? What do you want less of? Drop a comment or two below or email me your thoughts. How can the blog be better? How can it compliment and enhance the newspaper coverage?

I want answers!

Red named top coach

Michigan coach Red Berenson won the Spencer Penrose Award as college hockey's coach of the year. He beat out eight other finalists, including Minnesota State's Troy Jutting, who was the WCHA's coach of the year.

Around the rinks

Here are a few stories of interest on ex-Mavericks around the country:

Travis Morin was one of the best players in the East Coast Hockey League despite being practically blind.

St. Louis Blues star Paul Kariya says the team's future is bright because of players like David Backes and Steve Wagner.

The Philadelphia Phantoms will begin the American Hockey League playoffs Wednesday night. Jon Kalinski had three assists over the last five games of the regular season after signing with the team's parent club, the Philadelphia Flyers.

Joel Hanson has seven assists in seven games (four regular season, three playoff) for the ECHL's Columbia Inferno.

Free agent-to-be Grant Stevenson, who led the Quad City Flames and was 10th in the AHL in scoring could be headed overseas next season.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Berge gets the 'C'

The Mavericks had their season-ending banquet Sunday, and it was announced that Mick Berge will serve as team captain next year, with Trevor Bruess and Blake Friesen serving as assistant captains.

Not surprisingly, goalie Mike Zacharias was named team MVP. Here are the other awards announced Sunday:

Most Improved Player Award: Jason Wiley
BW3 Star of the Year Award: Berge
Mr. Hustle Award (Hardest Worker): Bruess
Unsung Hero Award: R.J. Linder
Don Brose Leadership Award: Linder

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Backes named to national team

USA Hockey today announced that former Minnesota State forward David Backes has been named to the U.S. Men’s National Team that will compete at the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Quebec City May 2-18.

This is the second appearance for Backes in the U.S. National Team. He also was a member of last year’s team that finished fifth at the World Championship held in Moscow.

Team USA will play a pre-tournament game against Sweden at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine April 27 before beginning competition in the IIHF World Championship May 2 against Latvia. The United States will play two additional preliminary-round games against Slovenia (May 4) and Canada (May 6) before the qualification round begins.

Backes scored 13 goals and had 18 assists for 31 points in 72 games in his second season with the St. Louis Blues this year.

Stockpiling recruits (updated)

According to various reports, the Mavericks have received verbal commitments from two highly rated high school players this week: Centennial junior forward Tyler Pitlick and Cloquet senior forward Justin Jokinen. Jokinen is ranked 60th on the most recent NHL Central Scouting Service rankings of North American skaters. Pitlick, meanwhile, scored 25 goals and 59 points this season. More to come.

The Duluth News-Tribune talked to Jokinen Wednesday.

"Mankato has a style that's fast and creative and I thought it was a great fit for me," Jokinen said. "I was expecting to play a year of junior hockey, but Mankato has a couple of forward spots open and wants me to come straight from high school, and I think I can handle that."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tyree inks deal

MSU senior forward Matt Tyree signed a deal with the East Coast Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors Wednesday.