Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bruess fights, Morin signs and WCHA stuff

Good time for a summer update ...

There are some good pictures and an interview with ex-Maverick Trevor Bruess (pictured, right), following a fight during Washington Capitals summer prospects camp. Read more here. Bruess signed with the Caps following the 2008-09 season and spent most of the season with South Carolina of the ECHL.

Former MSU star Travis Morin signed an NHL contract with the Dallas Stars a couple of weeks ago. Morin's deal is a one-year, two-way deal and comes on the heels of a fine season with the Texas Stars in which he tied for the team lead with 31 assists and had 52 points and helped them reach the Calder Cup finals. Morin, 26, was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2004. If he finally gets a chance in the NHL, it will be a worthy road. After graduating from Minnesota State with 133 points in 151 games, he spent three seasons in the ECHL where he compiled 175 points in 147 games for the South Carolina Stingrays.

It's been a busy week around the WCHA, including news from the league's two newest members, Nebraska-Omaha and Bemidji State. Here are some items of note:

Starting in Minnesota, the Gophers suffered a big blow on Tuesday when sophomores-to-be Nick Leddy and Josh Birkholz decided to leave the program. Leddy, a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild who was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks last season, signed with Chicago, while Birkholz opted to go the Tyler Pitlick route play major junior with the Everett (Wash.) Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. Birkholz was facing a suspension for a violation of team rules, according to a U of M release. However, he says he's been thinking about the move for awhile. There has been a lot of news this summer about Gophers recruits twisting in the wind, wondering if they'll be coming in this fall or playing a year -- or another year, in some cases -- in of junior hockey first. Some, like Jake Youso, opted to decommit from Minnesota. Looks like there are some openings now.

The list of players leaving WCHA teams early for the pros or major junior just keeps growing. It's at 18 now (see list at right).

Speaking of leaving Minnesota, Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais has hired former Gophers assistant Mike Guentzel as an assistant coach. Guentzel was in the USHL last season, coaching the Des Moines Buccaneers. Before that, he spent a year on the bench at Colorado College. But he's best known as a long-time Gophers assistant, spending 14 years there under Don Lucia and Doug Woog. Interestingly, Guentzel will join Mike Hastings, the man who replaced him on Lucia's staff.

In other assistant coaching news (some of this is old news), Denver's Steve Miller was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach recently, while Alaska-Anchorage's Regg Simon is leaving to take over for Guentzel job in Des Moines. Getting on the way-back machine, Wisconsin, which has had its own issues with off-season departures, has two new assistant coaches, Gary Shuchuk and Bill Butters. Also, Minnesota-Duluth hired alum Derek Plante for its staff.

In Bemidji, Beavers hockey player Ben Kinne suffered an apparent stroke while working out last week in St. Paul. He is recovering and told the Pioneer Press, "I'm doing good." The junior-to-be has played in 74 games at BSU, scoring 24 points last season. I wonder if the stroke is similar to the one Michigan Techs Malcolm Gwilliam suffered two seasons ago.

1 comment:

hockeyfan said...

Thanks for the info. Helps the long summer go by. Only two months until HOCKEY!!!!