Selling Out For the Celebration

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Photo via @CanadiensMTL

With the NHL 100 game behind us and the uniforms really looking more like the next 100 years for the NHL (in the terms of aesthetics), it makes me wonder if there’s more that could have been done for the game and celebration.

It was an odd outdoor game situation– the alumni game was a split-squad for the Senators, the game itself was surrounded by things Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in regards to moving the team, and there wasn’t too much hype for it until a couple days before the game (at least in my eyes).

Yet, through throwing out stuff on Twitter— mostly in jest– I do wonder if there’s something that really could have made this NHL 100 situation a much more memorable experience. There’s only so much you can do with the players themselves because of their game schedule, practicing in the elements, and the health of the players in general. However, I think there’s something that could have been done a little better.

First, rather than a musical act (all due respect to Bryan Adams), they should have done a little musical play of that first season. Have actors out there in the older gear going around the rink as they would during the intermission segments in the real arena. It would be a great nod to the actual first season of the NHL, remembering the heritage of the game, as well as showing off those sweet duds of the 1917 era.

Second, they should have had more events surrounding the “Top 100” players in NHL history. The NHL made a whole to-do about this list and yet doesn’t seem like many of those players were able to come out. Sure, the modern guys were actually in-season, but you have to think there were more guys from the earlier eras available to do things for this weekend’s celebrations.

Sidebar: It seems really odd they would present the “Best Moment in the NHL History” thing during the game-play on the ice. Sure, they wanted to trot out either Mario Lemieux or Bobby Orr; but the players are already freezing out there and you have them standing around as this thing is going on?? A little silly when you could have done it during an intermission.

Third– recreate the first games. Again, either actors or beer-league players doing the first games of Canadiens vs. Senators and Wanderers vs. Arenas in one of the outdoor rinks Ottawa has around the area. Give them as much older gear as safely possible and just have a little fun with it. I’m sure those participating would have soaked it all in for a chance to “re-write” history and just to be apart of the celebration. One of the biggest things is that the NHL wants to be inclusive– so why not pull out all the stops to actually bring people into these big events when they happen??

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Finally– the uniforms on ice. Like I said, it’s like they had a look of “Turning Ahead the Clock” like the MLB did in the mid-90s. For a game like this, you’d think that the NHL and Adidas would have really brought the Heritage idea back to this game like they tried to do with the Winter Classic. Whether that’s just a Winter Classic gimmick or not, I don’t know– but for a game of this magnitude, something should have been a little more throwback. They could have done like the 75th Anniversary season with the look (even down to the referees), but they went another route which– hey, their call.

I will give a tip of the hat to the NHL for doing what they’ve done to celebrate their 100 years, but in my head there’s a lot more that could have been done, especially with this game and the weekend around it. Whether it’s logistics of insurance or schedules or whatever– it didn’t happen. But at the end of the day, they did all they could in order to make this a thing that would leave a lasting memory for players and fans. Whether it did or not, only time will tell.

On the Topic Of the Samsonov Situation

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When the news came out that Capitals GM Brian MacLellan went over to Russia to speak with Ilya Samsonov, it did create a bit of a buzz. With current back-up goalie Philipp Grubauer being a pending restricted free agent and Samsonov being in the last year of his deal in the KHL, there’s some people were wonder if Grubauer could be traded if there’s a deal pending for the former 1st round pick in Samsonov.

Yet, let’s not go overboard just yet with this, folks.

One of the reasons to go over for MacLellan is to do his due diligence on Samsonov. They used a high pick on him and he hasn’t come over to North America with the exceptions of the prospect camps the Caps hold every year. To go over and gauge the interest in Samsonov’s readiness to come to North America after his contract is up at the end of this season is a responsible move and one GMBM needed to do in order to plan on what to do with his goaltending depth.

The idea of trading Grubauer is out there, but don’t expect it to happen during the season this year. While the market for back-up goalies is high, the need for a playoff team to have a proven commodity in net is always something a successful team needs to have in order to go far. With the Caps in the thick of it in the Metro and Wild Card race, to have someone like Pheonix Copley or Vitek Vanecek back-up Braden Holtby in net would be quite the risk just to trade Grubauer while his value is a bit higher than usual.

With reports saying that Samsonov and the Caps are close to having a verbal agreement (as they can’t sign anything until April 30th), the question is where is going to fit in with their depth in net. There’s going to be many who say that he should back-up Holtby– and there’s a solid chance he could do that. However, there’s also a chance that he’s shaky in his first camp and he could be moved to Hershey to get more tuned up with the North American game. You’d also have to wonder how Copley and Vanecek would react since both have put in time in the minors and in the Caps system only to have a hot-shot kid come in and take a spot that could have been them.

That said– goalie union, players being team guys, all that sort will be talked about if those two get passed over and take it in stride…as much as they can after getting beaten out of a spot.

Of course, as much as Samsonov says he’d want to play in the NHL (or even the AHL), there’s a bigger chance he does something like Evgeny Kuznetsov did and make his money in Russia while he can before coming to North America and dealing with the NHL entry-level contract stuff. Especially with the amount of money to be made if Magnitogorsk were to win the KHL title back-to-back this season. The only possible help for the Caps is that Igor Larionov is the agent for Samsonov, so he could lean more towards Samsonov getting to North America sooner than later and deal with the depth chart stuff as it comes.

At the end of the day, Grubauer shouldn’t (and probably won’t) be traded in-season unless the Caps get a solid return AND have unanimous fate in Copley or Vanecek, while Samsonov isn’t going to be coming to North America until next training camp at the earliest if he signs. Best to just focus on how the Caps can maybe break away from the rest of the Metro field to give their fans some easy breathing moments before the playoff heart attacks.

Hack Journalist Says Flames Will Be Moved

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There’s many reasons I loathe Eric Francis, the former morning zoo DJ trying to be a legitimate columnist. NBC Sports’ Sean Leahy says that my feud with Francis is one of his favorite one-sided feuds. However, his latest column for the Calgary Sun just adds to my point that this man is a lacky for Flames management.

For the bullet points, Francis says that the time is now for the ownership group for the Flames to sell the team to Tilman Fertitta in Houston so that the Flames can move. This is after the Flames and the city of Calgary talk of a new arena is at a stand-still and after the new of Seattle being the next expansion destination.

Francis says that the Flames have outgrown the town of Calgary. A “town” of over 1.4 million people. A professional sports team has outgrown it. I’ll let that sink in because you can’t believe someone can be so pompous.

And not just Houston is thrown out there, Francis also throws out Quebec City because, why not?? Francis went so far as saying it’s going to be three years before the Flames are in Houston– which is an insane timeline when you think about how slow things can move in sports, though it did take three years for the Carolina Hurricanes to be sold.

Oh, and it should be said that the new prospective ownership in Carolina has a clause in their agreement that would prevent the new team from relocation for seven years. Therefore, the idea Francis has– given the fact that the NHL will want to have some stability in a strong Canadian market– is really far-fetched. Not a shock, but worth pointing out.

It should also be noted that the Toyota Center in Houston is more than 2,000 seats less than the Saddledome– though it has 31 more luxury seats, which the NHL salivates over. Also, Quebec City is HALF THE SIZE OF CALGARY– so who why would the NHL want to not only go to a smaller market that will be divided with the Canadiens and throw the conference alignment out of whack??

Of all the points that Francis made, there’s only one I can agree with and that’s the idea of getting an Olympic bid for 2026 being the only way Calgary gets a new arena. And if Mayor Naheed Nenshi is putting all his eggs in that basket, it’s a terrible game to be playing. The IOC is quite the crooked organization and you can bet what they have in mind of a new arena is much more absurd than what the Flames have put forth and would cost much more to the people of Calgary than the Flames plan.

Should taxpayers pay for new arenas?? I’m not a economist, but I’m going to say no. Especially in a sport like hockey in Canada were it’s just a license to print money in most casts– the ownership should have capital to be able to build an arena on their own dime. The Flames are valued by Forbes to be worth $430M with a revenue of $129M…which I think is a little more than enough to start putting together a self-funded arena.

There’s no question the Flames need a new building. It’s a highly outdated facility and while they tried to upgrade after the flooding, it was just putting a new coat of paint on an old barn. Unlike baseball and to an extent football, there’s no appeal in an old arena for hockey. It starts to get run down, nickel and dime the team to repair things to keep up-to-date with technology in the sport, and especially for an arena designed in the ’80s, the appeal isn’t as it was for places like the Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens.

With all that said, I’m putting this at a 3% chance of the Flames actually going through with selling and then having the team relocate in the time-span Francis puts it at. The NHL will want to put a clause in any new deal that keeps a team in town for the time being and for the new owners to adapt to the climate. Yet, if the Flames are sold– it could wake up people in the town and those in city council to maybe get a little nervous of a move– hopefully not getting nervous enough to sell their constituents down the river to pay for a new arena.

At the end of the day– Eric Francis is a hack. Eric Francis is sucking from the teat of the Calgary Flames management to keep in their good graces so he can keep writing garbage columns. How any competent news organization gives him the page space or TV time is beyond me because there are too many good talent in Calgary going unused thanks to old hacks like Francis sticking around.

MINOR LEAGUE MONDAY: P-Bruins Rolling, Williams Pride of the Monarchs, DeLaVergne is All or Nothing

AHL

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-The streaky team of the week is the Providence Bruins, who have won their last seven games. After getting embarrassed 8-2 by Charlotte on November 25th, the P-Bruins haven’t lost and have won four of the seven game in extra time. While Kenny Agostino hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm that got him the MVP last year, Austin Czarnik has been picked up the scoring with 21 goals in 18 games. There’s a tough patch for the P-Bruins, who won’t play on home ice until January 5th as they go on an eight-game road swing.

-Despite being minus-six in the goal differential category, the Texas Stars have still managed to be one of the hotter teams in the Western Conference. With eight wins in their last ten, including their current three-game winning streak, the Stars are looking to add a little more punch to their game. However, they’ve taken a hit with Jason Dickinson getting called up to the NHL. While Travis Morin and Curtis McKenzie hold down the fort, the Stars will need to get more consistent secondary help, as well as some key stops from their goaltending. Rookie Landon Bow has been solid with 10-4-0 record, but the hope is that he’ll improve on his 2.65 GAA as the season goes on and he continues to adjust.

ECHL

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-Charles Williams is a great story. The rookie goalie from Manchester has been a great addition to the every day line-up, leading the ECHL in GAA (1.98) and save percentage (.936) while being tied for second in wins (10) . This is after he had an amazing season at Canisius College (21-7-5, 1.82, .949) after transferring from Ferris State due to lack of playing time. With a chance to get playing time, Williams got into the top-10 in voting for the Hobey Baker Award and was Canisius College men’s player of the year. Williams went a perfect 3-0-0 when he joined the Monarchs at the end of last season.

-While he hasn’t gotten any weekly or monthly awards, Michael Joly out of Colorado should be getting plenty of recognition. Sure, he’s a Cy Young nominee (many more goals than assists)– but his 19 goals and six power play goals lead the league. With the help of Matt Register and Drayson Bowman, Joly and the Eagles are in prime position to defend their Kelly Cup title in the franchise’s last season in the ECHL.

SPHL

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-Mike DeLaVergne is an interesting subject. He leads the SPHL in GAA (1.98) and save percentage (.944), as well as being undefeated in regulation– but in his two losses he’s given up three and five goals a piece, but in his wins– it’s one or less. DeLaVergne is really an all-or-nothing goalie. It will help the Huntsville Havoc for DeLaVergne to push Keegan Asmundson and maybe get more time between the nets. For a team in the middle of the standing– it’ll probably come down to the goaltending to get them into a better spot in the playoffs.

Minor League News: Re-No and New Found Land for ECHL in St. John’s??

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There has been some news out on the ECHL in the past couple days when it comes to markets that are looking to get into the league. One of the stories is good, the other– not so much.

The bad news first in that the mirage of the Reno market for the ECHL continues. It seems that Reno has been in the mix for the ECHL for the better part of a decade. There seemed to be some traction when the Reno Puck Club came to be in 2016, but since then– there has been some personnel turnover on the city of Reno side which has stalled a team getting into the market, while the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor’s Authority is looking to get out of managing the possible Events Center that the team could be playing in. While some in Reno think this is just a formality before a team gets there– especially with Vegas being in the NHL and a perfect link to affiliation– I wouldn’t hold the collective breath of the area.

However, one interesting story popped up about a group trying to bring the ECHL to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labarador of all places. Since the St. John’s IceCaps are no more after Montreal moved their AHL operations to Laval, the Mile One Centre has been bare. There are two groups trying to get hockey back to the area, though– one of which is trying to get the QMJHL back into the arena, while there’s a second group looking to get the ECHL into the area. In fact, it seems that Dean MacDonald, the man heading up the ECHL St. John’s effort, thinks that he could ice a team in the ECHL for 2018-19 if all goes to his plan…which seems really quick and really quiet for all involved.

This story has had some rumors come out of it, but it’s never really taken serious considering how much of an outpost that St. John’s has been when it comes to minor league hockey. The fan base there is second to none when it comes to support, but at the same time, even with the Northeast expansion the ECHL has had– St. John’s would still be over 1,200 miles away from their closest competition, the newly-minted Maine Mariners. That’s been the problematic part with St. John’s being in the AHL and possibly the ECHL.

In all honesty, the QMJHL makes sense since there is a Maritime Division and there would be much closer rivals. Not only that, but the QMJHL could bring a little better profit with the shorter distance to travel, less player payment, and probably better turnout for hockey. The ECHL seems like something that would be lost on Canadian fans. There’s only one team currently in Brampton and only two in the history of the league– lest we forget the Victoria Salmon Kings.

Yet, the fact that focus is on the ECHL shows that there’s a really good business model that owners want to get into. Sure, the lack of other leagues help– but there hasn’t been much of anything to say that the ECHL doesn’t have the best model to go by. That’s one of the reasons why the Utah Grizzlies haven’t jumped ship back to the AHL and that’s due to how the ECHL works out for them dollars and sense-wise.

While we patiently wait for Reno and eyebrow-cock St. John’s, the fact that more people want to get into the minor league hockey business is a good problem to have for the league looking to keep growing from their 27 teams right now.

TEPID TAKE: Seattle’s Application and the Houston Threat

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On Thursday, the NHL said that any Seattle-based ownership group would be allowed to submit an application for an expansion team. This comes after the news that the city would renovated the Key Arena to the tune of $600M. Obviously, Seattle has been a highly coveted market for the NHL for a bit, especially with their proximity to the Vancouver area– so why not service the Pacific Northwest.

Honestly, I’ll never understand the market or the hype behind it– but since they do show support for the other teams in the area; why not muddy the waters further with this investment??

Yet, while this was an area that all but assured a team in the future– whether it be through expansion or relocation– it still seems far off, as it the timeline appears to be around 2020-21 for this team to actually put blades to ice. Granted, that’s less than three years away and less time than when Vegas actually got things approved– but still, 2020 seems far away and we still have an upcoming labor dispute looming, which would be just a fantastic time to get into the NHL business, right??

And, let’s not kid each other– this is something that will happen if the right person comes along. Or any person with the $650M expansion fee and rights to use that building. The NHL loves the idea of even divisions and conferences, thus Seattle is the one needed to even it all out again.

But there’s also the trickle-down theory of who this could affect in the long-run. First, the existing Seattle team– the WHL’s Thunderbirds– may have a harder time getting people into the rink. Sure, it’s 20 miles from Seattle proper and would have less expensive prices all around, who knows if the support would still be there for something that’s not the NHL. It works in Canadian markets, sure– but will it work in a market like Seattle?? Time will tell.

Another thing this affects is potential moves for owners wanting to get out. When Gary Bettman met up with Tilman Fertitta in Houston, this signaled a new market for ownership group to go to in order to get what they may want from their hometown. With the idea of Seattle going the expansion route– Houston will take over the Western side of things (hello, Coyotes) and Quebec City will look for the new Eastern team to come along– which may not be any time soon.

While the threat really is just a leverage situation– it did give us great memories of an owner like Daryl Katz hob-knobing with the Seattle brass to get the things they wanted from Edmonton respectively. I don’t know if Houston will have the same cache that Seattle did; but there’s probably not the same amount of teams visiting Houston that we had visit Seattle.

The only big thing is the nickname idea– which I’m sure people have already started. The Metropolitans would be great to give the team a heritage boost being named after the first US-based team to win the Stanley Cup…if it wasn’t already a division in the NHL. The Totems would be another nostalgic contender as it was to old WHL/PCHL/CHL franchise name– and people love the idea of old names with new teams.

Regardless of what happens after today, this could be the biggest news about an application in the history of sport…or something.

Minor League (Not) Monday: Sommer at the Summit, ECHL North Heating Up, SPHLers Moving on Up

AHL

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-A big congratulation to Roy Sommer of the San Jose Barracuda for getting his 700th AHL career win this past weekend. Sommer has been a soldier for the San Jose Sharks organization since he came in as an assistant coach in 1996-97. He has coached San Jose’s AHL affiliate since 1998 from Kentucky to Cleveland to Worcester and now San Jose. For a guy who has never coached in the NHL, he should be considered for the Hockey Hall of Fame when he’s done, not only for the wins record in the AHL, but for being 3rd all-time for most games coached in the professional ranks, currently at 1,833– behind only Barry Trotz and Scotty Bowman.

-The hottest team in the Eastern Conference is the Syracuse Crunch. With a six-game winning streak, the Crunch have been able to get back into the North Division playoff picture. Though Cory Conacher is up with the Lightning, Michael Bournival and Matthew Peca have been able to pick up the slack. A balanced attack on offense has been able to help, as well, with 13 players potting at least three goals on the season.

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-The North Division could be one of the races to look at as the season goes along. All the teams are sitting at .500 or better to start the season, with only five points separating the fifth spot from the top spot. While the Manchester Monarchs are trying to get some distance with their four-game winning streak, Wheeling is right behind them with three of the top-ten in scoring on their roster (Cody Wydo, Reid Gardner, and Garrett Meurs). Reading, Adirondack, and Brampton are still contenders and who knows what Worcester could be doing as they keep going along.

-Though they are following Toledo in the standings, Cincinnati has a strong scoring presence, with both Shawn O’Donnell (10pts in seven games) and Justin Danforth (9pts in six games) with two of the longest point-scoring streaks in the league. With Eric Knodel helping out on the power play and Anthony Peters holding down the fort in net– the Cyclones are in a prime spot to battle Toledo for top-spot in the Central.

SPHL

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-One of the biggest stories is how the downfall of the affiliation in Norfolk of the ECHL plucked a lot of players from the SPHL. Max Cook (Fayetteville), Nick Miglio (Peoria), and John Rey (Birmingham). As the season goes on, depending on the fate of the Admirals, more names could be going that way. While it’s good for those players and the league to be a developmental asset, the teams may feel the crunch, especially if it’s late in the season and they lose a top guy when they need them the most.

Maryland Pro/Developmental Report: 12.04.17

About a month ago, I did the whole thing about how Maryland does have plenty of players who were born there that are taking on solid roles in minor pro hockey, as well as Major Juniors, NCAA, and USHL. In a follow-up to that, why not do a report each month about how they’re doing through the year?? All filler, no killer– right??

AHL

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Nick Ellis, Bakersfield Condors (Millersville): 5-5-1, 2.82 GAA, .914 Sv%: While he did take Player of the Week honors earlier in the year, the season since hasn’t been to kind of Ellis and the Condors. The Condors are next to last in the league, while Ellis has been okay enough to get to the .500 mark. However, with Cam Talbot going down, it has allowed for Ellis to get his first NHL call-up of his career.

Sam Anas, Iowa Wild (Potomac): 3g, 7a, +1: The Landon School product has had a lot better sophomore year to start out with, if not a little streaky in his scoring. While he hasn’t gotten the power play minutes yet, it seems that the Wild are relying on him when it comes to that secondary scoring on this Wild team that continues to improve.

ECHL

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Nick Sorkin, Wheeling Nailers (Rockville): 3g, 16a, +1: It’s been a helluva start to the year for Sorkin, picking up on the point-per-game scoring clip he left in Wheeling last season. Sorkin is second on the team in assists, while being tied for third in helpers in the ECHL.

Jack Burton, Indy Fuel (Reisterstown): 0g, 1a, 18 PIMs: The first year pro, Burton hasn’t had much production when it comes to his time in Indy, but not much has worked out well for the Fuel this season. His time will come, as we all know defensemen take longer to hone a pro game coming out of college.

Eric Sweetman, Idaho Steelheads (Woodbine): 0g, 2a, -3: Much like Burton, the rookie year hasn’t been all that productive as of yet for Sweetman. The Team Maryland and Washington Little Caps prospect is coming off of four seasons at St. Lawrence and still trying to find his footing in the pro game.

SPHL

Mike Chen, Knoxville Ice Bears (Rockville): 3g, 6a, +6: The small rookie defenseman is making his way in the SPHL, tied for fourth in points by a defenseman with nine, while leading all rookie defensemen in scoring. Chen is currently on a three-game points streak with a goal and four assists in this streak.

OHL

Adam Varga, Mississauga Steelheads (Bel Air): 0g, 4a, -8: The young prodigy out of Maryland has had a rough go of it as a 16-year-old in the OHL with only four assists to his name. Of course, having to get up to the OHL speed from the Mid-Atlantic U16 is going to take time, but he has the ability to be an impact player so long as the Steelheads commit to training him properly.

USNTDP

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Patrick Giles, US National Development Program (Chevy Chase): 7g, 6a, +4: The Boston College commit is going to be focus on in the mid-rounds of 2018 NHL Draft and, despite playing only five games thus far at the USHL level, he has played plenty for USA Hockey’s U18 team, netting five goals and 11 points in 20 games, while also serving as an alternate captain at the U18 Five Nations Cup.

NCAA

Jerad Rosburg, Michigan State (Clarksville): 0g, 1a, 20 PIMs

Matt McArdle, Lake Superior State (Odenton): 0g, 2a, 23 PIMs

Colin O’Neill, U-Mass Lowell (Odenton): 1g, 5a, +1

Jason O’Neill, Providence (Odenton): 0g, 5a, +1

Bruce Racine, Colgate (Bethesda): 0-1-0, 5.00 GAA, .833 Sv%

 

 

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Saddle Broncos 4-3 in Physical Affair

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Photo by @UNDmhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– Friday night set the tone for the weekend, as the University of North Dakota took the first game of the weekend set against Western Michigan University 4-3 in a chippy, physical affair that saw many a scrum break out.

UND opened the scoring in the first on the power play, as Rhett Gardner broke up a Western Michigan breakout, which tipped over to Grant Mismash before eventually finding the stick of Austin Poganski, who went five-hole on Ben Blacker to put the Fighting Hawks up 1-0 just five minutes into the game. Minutes later, after drawing a penalty on Christian Wolanin, Dawson DiPietro came down the wing on the ensuing power play over Cam Johnson’s glove hand to tie the game. UND struck back minutes later, while on a 5-on-3 power play, which Austin Poganski potted his second goal of the night from a lovely feed from Jordan Kawaguchi to make it 2-1.

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Austin Poganski/ Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“It’s always nice to get on the scoresheet and help like that,” said captain Poganski after the game, “But things go unnoticed, like Ludvig blocking some shots and there were some big blocks at the end. It’s not always about scoring goals and getting assists. It’s about the little things people don’t see as often.”

Western Michigan tried to challenge offsides, but it was to no avail. Just over a minute later, Ludvig Hoff got in on the action, tipping a shot from Colton Poolman and going over the shoulder of Ben Blacker to make it 3-1 UND. Three minutes after that, WMU cut the lead to one as Brett Van Os deflected a Cam Lee shot to go over the shoulder of Johnson to make it 3-2, which is where the first period ended. It was only the sixth time this season UND had the lead after the first period.

A lot of beating, banging, and exchanging of power plays, but it wasn’t until midway through the second where UND increased their lead. Collin Adams went broke up a clearing attempt, took a skate across the top of the circle and ripped it high blocker on Blacker to make it 4-2 Fighting Hawks. While the play continued to be physical, it didn’t come without issues– as Andrew Peski and Ludvig Hoff left the game with undisclosed injuries.

More physical play until late in the period when Wade Allison got Western Michigan to within one goal on the power play, as he blew by the UND defense of a small dish from Corey Schueneman to make it 4-3 UND. However, UND thought they got the two-goal lead back when Joel Janatuinen put the puck past a laid out Blacker, but due to Luke Bafia being pushed into his own goalie– the goal was disallowed. As the game went along, it got more physical, but UND rode the edge a little too close and then over, getting three penalties within the last two minutes. Thankfully for the face-off work of Johnny Simonson and the defensive play by Gabe Bast, two late-game face-offs in front of Cam Johnson were all for not as UND went on to win 4-3 Friday.

“I thought that was a man’s game out there tonight,” said UND head coach Brad Berry. “It was fast, it was heavy, a lot of up and down the ice. Two teams that have unbelieveable will. It came down to the last play and the last face-off.”

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Cam Johnson/ Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

With the win, Cam Johnson goes to 6-2-1 after a four-week layoff when he was injured during morning skate of the Wisconsin series

“It’s been a long month or long eight games, whatever it was,” said Johnson, “But it’s good to be back and good to get a win at The Ralph. I felt good all the way through, but I think I need to drink more liquids before the game. Trying to get the pacing of the way the game speed is as opposed to practice took a bit, too.”

“It was as close to 60 minutes we’ve played all year,” Berry stated. “It’s tough to play a perfect game, especially with a good team on the other side like that. Consistency and the start is something we have to make sure we off-set tomorrow.”

Dave Hakstol and the Developmental Dilemma

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Philadelphia Flyers

Okay Philly fans, let’s step off the ledge just a little bit…or just think about Carson Wentz to calm yourself down. I understand– the Flyers aren’t good right now. The nine-game skid doesn’t make things better when you’re dead-last in the division. But it’s only November, so you can remember that. The Ducks got hot last year late to win their division after starting poorly– so there’s still hope.

And yes, I can see why you’d want your coach out because you can’t fire the players and he’s not the guy you may have wanted and he’s an unknown. But…let me put this out there and take it as it were, but hear me out.

Demote Dave Hakstol from Flyers head coach to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to coach in the AHL. 

It’s not that crazy, especially with the rave reviews that he has gotten in developing players into the Flyers’ system. The problem is that, while he can deal well with the younger talent– he has nowhere to graduate them to after the NHL level. In the NCAA, he could groom the young talent and then in four years or less– they’re out of there and a new crop of players are coming into the locker room. He still gets rave reviews from his former players and those who covered him about what he was able to do with players.

If they were to demote him to the AHL, the development aspect will still be there and it’ll give Hakstol the ability to graduate players into what the Flyers want them to be. Where you need someone to win now, as well as develop players– it’s an almost impossible task to ask for a coach; especially one who has no prior pro coaching experience. But to bump him down in to a coaching role that makes him feel comfortable and gets him back to his developmental roots maybe help him save face and help save the Flyers fans from completely going off the edge (at least in this matter).

Granted, Scott Gordon has been doing a decent job with the Phantoms– which would be a tough sell to them about turning over a coach like that. And it’s not like you can bump Gordon up because his track record in the NHL isn’t much better than what Hakstol brings to the entire table. Gordon won 48 games last year behind the Phantoms’ bench after a rough first season where they had 34 wins in 2015-16 and was one game under .500. With Gordon turning it around and maybe developing a little bit better than Hakstol could– I doubt my plan would work at all.

Dave Hakstol is a good coach with a good skill set to develop players to the next level. However, the lack of graduation there is as an NHL coach could possibly be a mental hurdle for him to be wholly successful in his gig right now. Should the Flyers pull the trigger and get rid of Hakstol, he’d be a perfect fit for another team looking for help in their development side of things.