Monday, April 30, 2018

Alaska teams finally have coaches

It took some time — and some rejection — but Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Fairbanks have hired their new head hockey coaches.

Anchorage on April 21 named Matt Curley as coach. The 35-year-old was the head coach of the EC Red Bulls Juniors team based out of Salzburg, Austria, for the past three seasons. Prior to that, he worked as an assistant coach for two seasons at Bentley University and was an assistant with the U.S. National Team Development Program as well as with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League.

A native of Madrid, New York, Curley played college hockey at Clarkson from 2003 to 2007. He replaced Matt Thomas, whose contract was not renewed after five seasons with the Seawolves.

On Monday, Alaska announced the hiring of the youngest head coach in Division I, 31-year-old Erik Largen.

Largen, a Fairbanks native and former Nanooks goaltender, becomes the 10th coach in program history. He was an assistant coach for Alaska the last two seasons and replaces Lance West, who was the WCHA team's interim coach last season.

Prior to joining his alma mater, Largen was the head coach at Division III Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, for one season and had a record of 18-7-3 there. He also has six years of assistant coaching experience in the junior ranks. He played at Alaska from 2006 to 2008, appearing in four games.

It seemed like it was going to take forever for the Seawolves and Nanooks to find coaches. Anchorage reportedly offered the job to three finalists only to have them all turn down the job. Fairbanks announced two finalists, including West, but couldn't reach an agreement with either.

As I wrote about in my column last week, the Alaska schools are tough sells and in tough spots — geographically, financially and competitively. But there are only 60 D1 hockey jobs in the country. It's a pretty exclusive club.

And you never know what a job like that could turn into. Don Lucia got his first chance at Alaska Fairbanks, when he was just 29 years old.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hastings named to U.S. world junior staff

Minnesota State men's hockey coach Mike Hastings was named an assistant coach for the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team, which will compete in the World Junior Championships Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.

USA Hockey announced the team's coaching staff on Friday. Boston University's David Quinn is the head coach. Other assistants include David Lassonde, associate head coach at Dartmouth, and Steve Miller, associate head coach at Ohio State.

"I'm honored to have the opportunity to represent our country and university at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships," Hastings said in a Minnesota State press release. "I'm extremely excited to be a part of such an accomplished coaching staff led by David Quinn."

This will be Hastings' third time as an assistant at the World Juniors. He was also on the staff in 2005 and 2003. Quinn was an assistant with him on the '05 team. Hastings has also twice served as head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team, winning a Viking Cup in 2000.

Hastings just completed his sixth season at Minnesota State.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mavs add three to recruiting class

Minnesota State announced the signing of three recruits on Wednesday, the first day of the regular signing period.

The group includes goaltender Jacob Berger, defenseman Zakery Galambos and forward Christopher Van Os-Shaw and joins five others who signed their letters of intent during the fall signing period.

Berger, a Minnetonka native, spent the last two seasons with Merritt of the British Columbia Hockey League. This past season the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder was 13-24-0 with a .905 save percentage and a 3.45 goals-against average.

Galambos, of Walnut Creek, Calif., played this past season for Wenatchee of the BCHL and had 28 points (five goals) in 41 games. The Wild is still playing in the playoffs, and the 6-2, 176-pounder has 11 points (five goals) in 15 postseason games. The Wild are in the league finals. 

Van Os-Shaw, of Regina, Saskatchewan, racked up 51 goals and 97 points in 59 games for Spruce Grove of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, winning that league's scoring title and MVP honor. The 6-2, 200-pounder has 14 points eight playoff games. The Saints are currently alive in the league finals. He was in the Saskatchewan league the previous two seasons, including a season-plus with the Humboldt Broncos, the team that was involved in the terrible bus crash last weekend. Van Os-Shaw originally committed to Alaska Anchorage but changed that to Minnesota State last week.

Recruits who signed in November include defensemen Wyatt Aamodt (Hermantown, Lincoln-USHL) and Andy Carroll (Northfield, Green Bay-USHL; goaltender Dryden McKay (Downers Grove, Ill./Madison-USHL) and forwards Julian Napravnik (Bad Nauheim, Germany/Des Moines-USHL) and Nathan Smith (Hudson, Fla./Cedar Rapids-USHL).

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Minnesota Duluth wins the NCAA title

Minnesota Duluth took its come-from-behind overtime victory over Minnesota State in the first round of the NCAA tournament and rode it all the way to a national championship.

The Bulldogs won their second title, beating Notre Dame 2-1 on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the same arena where they won their 2011 crown.

Like they did against Air Force and Ohio State, UMD went up 2-0 in the first period and hung on to win the game.

On Saturday, Karson Kuhlman and Jared Thomas scored for the Bulldogs, who were the last at-large team to make the national tournament. Notre Dame’s Andrew Oglevie scored on the power play at 7:40 of the second period to make for a wild second half of the game.

All three Frozen Fours at the X have produced Minnesota winners, with the Gophers winning in 2002 and the Bulldogs winning in ‘11 and ‘18.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Suess named All-American

Minnesota State senior center C.J. Suess was named a 2017-18 West All American on Friday.

He becomes the seventh Mavericks player to earn the honor at the Division I level and is the second to be a First Team pick by the American Hockey Coaches Association.

It's another honor for the two-time team captain, who was the WCHA's Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Scoring Champion, as well as a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

Suess joins Matt Leitner (2015) as MSU's only other First Team selection. Other DI All Americans, all Second Team picks, were Grant Stevenson ('03), Shane Joseph ('03), David Backes ('06), Zach Palmquist ('15) and Daniel Brickley ('17).

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Brickley makes NHL debut

There was some question as to whether or not Daniel Brickley would actually play for the Los Angeles Kings after signing with them last week following his junior season at Minnesota State. But the defenseman got the chance on Thursday night in L.A. against the Minnesota Wild, becoming the 12th former Maverick to skate in the NHL.

Brickley picked up his first NHL point, too, assisting on a goal in the 5-4 overtime victory.

UMD back in national title game

Minnesota Duluth will play for the national championship for the second year in a row after defeating  Ohio State 2-1 in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals on Friday in St. Paul.

The Bulldogs, who lost to Denver in last year's title game, will be playing either Notre Dame or Michigan on Saturday in the Xcel Energy Center, the site of its championship victory over Michigan in 2011.

UMD scored twice in the first 3:04 against the Buckeyes and held on from there in a game that was almost a carbon copy of their West Regional win over Air Force two weekends ago in Sioux Falls. The Bulldogs opened that weekend with a 3-2 overtime victory over Minnesota State, erasing a 2-0 first period deficit.

Notre Dame came from behind to beat Michigan 4-3, scoring the game-winner with just 5.2 seconds remaining in regulation.