Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mankato West players among elite

Two Mankato West hockey players were chosen to compete in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League, which takes place in the fall prior to the regular high school season. Senior-to-be Derek Frentz and sophomore Tyler Jutting were picked for one of the league's teams.

You can read more on Frentz and Jutting in my Free Press story here, but here are a few nuggets:

* This is a rare feat for Mankato hockey players, as just two others have been picked previously (Mankato East/Loyola's Logan Wenzel in 2004 and West's Corey Leivermann in '07).

* Frentz led West and the Big Nine in scoring last season with 63 points in the regular season. He finished the year with 70 points, including 38 goals, in 27 games.

* Jutting is the son of former Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting, who is currently an assistant coach at Nebraska Omaha.

* Jutting is also the first underclassman from Mankato to make the Elite League. Frentz, Wenzel and Leivermann are/were all seniors when picked.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Backes, MSU alumni & other notes

A few news and notes, now that I'm back in Kato ...

Former Minnesota State captain and standout forward David Backes on Monday was named to the U.S. National Team's orientation camp that will help determine next winter's Olympic Team. The camp is scheduled to take place at the end of August near Washington, D.C. Backes, the St. Louis Blues' captain, played for Team USA in the 2010 Winter Games, helping that team to a silver medal. There has been talk in the Twitter world that Backes might be a candidate for a captain's spot at the February games in Sochi, Russia.

Meanwhile, several other MSU alumni were in Mankato on Monday for the annual Dan Meyer Blue Line Club Golf Classic. The group included NHLers Ryan Carter and Tim Jackman. Other former players present included Andy Hedlund, Aaron Forsythe, Justin Martin, B.J. Anderson, Todd Kelzenberg, R.J. Linder, Brian Kilburg and Matt Tyree. Read more about their visit in my Free Press column here. As I wrote in the column, Mavericks coach Mike Hastings had some high praise for the alumni who came back for the event.

Finally, if you've taken a peek at MSU's roster for the upcoming season, you may have noticed that Charlie Thauwald's name was missing. Thauwald, the Rochester native and walk-on who would be a junior, is transferring to Division III Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Blugolds won the national title at that level last year, so he's going to a good program. Watching him in practice the last two years, I think he will be an absolute beast in that league. Thauwald played in just eight games for the Mavericks, one last season.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A commitment ... and other notes

Minnesota State received a verbal commitment from Totino-Grace junior Jason Krych on Wednesday. Krych announced the commitment on Twitter:

Krych, '97 defenseman who is also a future Tri-City Storm (USHL) player, had 27 points, including seven goals, in 29 games last season for a Totino-Grace team that went 21-7-1.

Numbers game
The 2013-14 roster has been posted on the MSU website. So what will this year's rookies be wearing?

3-Blake Thompson (transfer from Minnesota will be eligible after the first semester ends).
5-Carter Foguth
6-Casey Nelson
11-Sean Flanagan
16-Jordan Nelson
17-Michael Huntebrinker
25-Zach Stepan
34-Cole Huggins

Going camping
A few MSU players are attending NHL rookie/prospect camps this summer. Trying to track down as many as I can.

Eriah Hayes (now graduated), Max Gaede and Zach Palmquist are at San Jose's camp.

Dylan Margonari will be attending Winnipeg Jets camp.

Zach Stepan is attending Nashville Predators camp, and Teddy Blueger is scheduled to attend Pittsburgh Penguins camp.

Recently drafted Stephon Williams was not listed on New York Islanders camp roster.

Looking ahead
As for potential future NHL players yet to come to Mankato, Eden Prairie defenseman and MSU commit Hunter Warner was listed on the NHL Central Scouting Service's Future's List. He is one of 11 Minnesota high school players (nine non-Shattuck) on the watch list.

Looking for a trainer
MSU hockey athletic trainer Sean Donley emailed me this week and said he has accepted a position at Summit Ortho in Woodbury. Donley has been with the Mavericks since 2007. So it looks like MSU is in the market for a new trainer.

Going off the grid
Finally, I'll be off on a real vacation for about a week. I'm talking off the grid. No blog. No Twitter (gasp!). Will I survive?

Monday, July 8, 2013

All in ... Huntsville hires coach

Alabama Huntsville hired a new coach on Monday, naming former Air Force assistant Mike Corbett. That fills the final Division I opening of the offseason. Read the UAH press release here.

Corbett has spent the last 10 years with Air Force, including last season as associate head coach. Corbett played at Denver and was a junior coach after that.

Corbett also interviewed for the Alaska Anchorage opening this spring (twice!), and his name was once floated as a possibility for the Denver job after George Gwozdecky was let go.

Huntsville will play in the "new" WCHA next season. Here is a list of the WCHA teams and their coaches:

Minnesota State, Mike Hastings (second year)
Alaska Anchorage, Matt Thomas (first year)
Bemidji State, Tom Serratore (13th year)
Michigan Tech, Mel Pearson (third year)
Alaska, Dallas Ferguson (sixth year)
Bowling Green, Chris Bergeron (fourth year)
Ferris State, Bob Daniels (22nd year)
Lake Superior State, Jim Roque (ninth year)
Northern Michigan, Walt Kyle (12th year)
Alabama Huntsville, Mike Corbett (first year)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More on Williams and the NHL draft

PucKato talked to Stephon Williams on Monday, the day after he was drafted by the New York Islanders. The third time was indeed the charm for him, as he was passed over during his first two years of eligibility. While Williams' had an unprecedented season for an MSU goalie (at least at the D1 level), he credited the entire team's accomplishments for getting him noticed:

"All of this is due to the fact that our team was successful last year," he said. "None of this would have happened if I wasn't part of that team last year, with coach Hastings coming in and the guys buying in on the deal and playing the way they did ...

"Look at Eriah Hayes and where he's going [Hayes signed a free-agent deal with the San Jose Sharks after the season]. I feel a lot of credit has to go to the team we had."

Williams is the first MSU goaltender to get drafted and the 13th Mavericks player since 2001 to get taken. But getting drafted is no guarantee of future (or current) success. Here's a look at Minnesota State-related draft picks:

Tim Jackman (2nd rd, 2001, Columbus) ... 390 NHL games, last season: Calgary Flames
Jake Brenk (5th rd, 2001, Edmonton) ... 0 NHL games ... last season: pro linesman
David Backes (2nd rd, 2003, St. Louis) ... 494 NHL games ... last season: St. Louis Blues
Chad Brownlee (6th rd, 2003, Vancouver) ... 0 NHL games ... last season: out of hockey
Travis Morin (9th rd, 2004, Washington) ... 3 NHL games ... last season: Texas (AHL)
Andrew Sackrison (5th rd, 2006, St. Louis) ... 0 NHL games ... last season: South Carolina (ECHL)
Jon Kalinski (6th rd, 2007, Philadelphia) ... 22 NHL games ... last season: Hershey (AHL)
Justin Jokinen (4th rd, 2008, Buffalo) ... 0 NHL games ... last season: out of hockey
Tyler Pitlick (2nd rd, 2010, Edmonton) ... 0 NHL games ... last season: Oklahoma City (AHL)
Max Gaede (3rd rd, 2011, San Jose) ... currently at MSU
Teddy Blueger (2nd rd, 2012, Pittsburgh) ... currently at MSU
Zach Stepan (4th rd, 2012, Nashville) ... currently at MSU
Stephon Williams (4th rd, 2013, NY Islanders) ... currently at MSU