Showing posts with label USHL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USHL. Show all posts

Monday, December 28, 2015

USHL Arena Review - Scheels Arena, Fargo, ND

by Redwing77

Ok, I'm true to my word in reviewing as many USHL arenas as I can get to in person, so why not review the one located in my parents' backyard?

I went to the Fargo vs. Sioux City tilt on December 27th, 2015 and, well, the arena was fairly empty so some of my review won't be as accurate as if it was a game held when schools were in session.

Anyways, the Scheels Arena is the home to the Fargo Force.  It was originally called the Urban Plains Center, but changed its name due to Scheels sponsorship in 2010.  The 6,000 seat arena (5,000 for hockey) opened in 2008.  It is a multi-purpose venue that also houses NDSU basketball, curling, high school hockey, concerts, rodeos, and MMA fights (I'm sure among other things).

The Facility Itself

When walking through its halls I was reminded in many ways of Omaha's Ralston Arena.  However, there are plenty of differences.  Most notably is the concourse.  The concourse is rather dark and not too well decorated.  Other arenas tend to have famous alumni (such as Cedar Rapids and Lincoln) and the like but not really here.  I also noticed a rather unfortunate side-effect I'll attribute to the North Dakota weather:  cracks.  There were cracks in the concrete EVERYWHERE.  Like I said, I do not believe this could be helped and is certainly not something I'd hold against the arena, but it was quite noticeable.

The concourse is actually situated at the top of the bowl, so one has to go down stairs to get to the top row of seats.  The seats are black, hard plastic seats very similar (in fact probably identical) to Ralston Arena.  The sight lines were pretty good from where I was sitting.  I noticed that each end of the arena featured the seats raised well above the level of the boards and that availed itself to specialty areas such as the Coldstone Area.  There wasn't much in the way of activity in these areas so I'm not quite sure of the purpose.

There were convenience areas, such as places to stand and bathrooms in the concourse area everywhere.  It really made me feel like the facility was made to accommodate more than just a few hundred people at a time (unlike, say, the Baxter Arena).

The entry foyer of the facility is really large and is well set up with decor and custom tiles.  The foyer area was quite nice.

Grade:  A

The Ice

I thought the ice was very good at the arena.  I noticed no players randomly losing an edge... if you don't count the little 5 or 6 year old kid of the game trying valliantly to skate out with the Force flag.  He fell just about 2 dozen times before being helped by the Fargo Force mascot.... "Kid Bobble" (More on that in a bit).

Grade:  A+

The Atmosphere and Technology Use

Scheels Arena has some of the oddest mixes of technology I've seen in arenas that have been built in the last 20 years.  On one hand, they have video screens like Ralston (though they are smaller), they have old school black background/red light shot counters in the corners ala high school basketball scoreboards.

They had speakers everywhere in the arena bowl and they turned it up only enough so that intros could BARELY be heard.  However, they put up more information about their starters than Ralston does for theirs.
The atmosphere as far as fans were concerned was hard to gauge.  The game I was at was during holiday break so that crowd (2,973 per the announcement... more like 1,500 to my eyes) was more subdued.  Or maybe that's how it is... or maybe that's just what a fanbase of a losing team sounds like.  I'm not sure.  The Force aren't that good this year, sadly.

I did not notice many fans of the opposition at the arena, and I was not decked out in any USHL attire (Fargo or otherwise) so how I was treated was rather irrelevant.  That being said, I'm not sure opposing fans would be treated poorly here anyways.  Almost everyone kept to themselves.

Grade:  B-


Scheels Arena serves Pepsi (BOOO!!!).  Other than that, I saw a nice variety of food and potential food spaces (many were closed due to the break).  Prices were about what you'd expect.  The presence of walking tacos aka tacos in a bag was a nice touch.

Grade:  B+

The Entertainment

The sound system was not set very high so, at times, it was hard to hear what the announcer had to say.  This went especially true during intros and for goal announcements.

This arena had the ODDEST selection of downtime music selection I've ever heard.  I'm not saying it was bad, but...  there were a lot of oldies (The Zombies "Time of the Season"?  Really?) and even such wonderful "classics" as the "Whip/Nae Nae" song.  Sorry, any arena who plays that song WILLINGLY is going to get dinged.

They had very good entertainment between periods with a sled race between the first/second periods and a chuck a puck in the 2nd intermission.

Also, their sponsors were nice.  My ticket's back offered 7 cents a gallon off of gas at a local gas station.  Others offered buy one get one at McDonalds.  I though that was very nice (especially the gas coupon).

Grade:  C+  (Would've been a B+ if not for Whip and Sweet Caroline)


I think this arena would be amongst the best in the USHL had I seen a game during the school year and if Fargo wasn't near the bottom of the USHL.  That being said, most of my complaints (if not all of them) are very easily fixed.  If they fix them (which they have no reason to based solely on my opinion), they'd be top 3 material as far as my travels thus far.

Overall Grade:  B+

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Redwing77 Rant - Pet Peeves Edition

by Redwing77

Ok, I need your advice ahead of what I'm about to say so... if you have been to any hockey games USHL level or higher and can chime in with similar or dissenting stories, I'd appreciate it ahead of time.  And, once again, bear in mind that this is MY opinion only and isn't to be confused as being expert advice or official statements by any organization whatsoever.

I LOVE hockey and I understand completely what arenas and league officials are trying to do, but what's with selectively ignoring the rules?  Here's a few examples:

Please be respectful...

At Ralston's Arena (home of the USHL's Omaha Lancers), I sit in a section that has almost a constant flow of people returning to their seats well after the puck has been put in play.  Now, to be absolutely clear, this isn't the people who are just getting to their rows as the puck drops or are waiting for lazy people to get up so they can pass.  I mean, they've had the puck in motion for a good long while when they start down the stairs to begin with!

Why?  PLEASE tell me this isn't the only venue where they make an announcement regarding this practice (saying it is not to be done) the arena staff ignores their own directive!

I have some ideas as to why this occurs, such as the overwhelming desire by said officials to watch the game instead of ensuring that their job is being fulfilled.  Likewise, there is a desire to avoid ALL conflicts regardless of whether or not it will be heated (especially if there is kids involved).

Is etiquette only situational?  Is there some sort of policy in place for such awfulness?

I get that they are trying to be accommodating and friendly to every attendee regardless of their level of passion for what is going on at the event, but COME ON!!!!

Genderized Music Selection

This may be JUST Ralston Arena related but...  It seems to me that, if you were to make a flippant comment about a hockey game in eras past, you'd say "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out."  In my recent experience I could modify this statement to "I went to a hockey game and a wedding reception broke out."  Since when is it that all you hear at hockey games are a random selection of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, the Spice Girls (I am serious!  Midget hockey game going on during intermission to "If you wanna be my lover"), Sir Mixalot, Village People, Kids Bop songs, and a variety of silly country music songs (sorry, I know there are some good country songs that mix well with sporting events but these, despite my unfamiliarity with country music, aren't those) THE music to play?

BTW - Is Pitbull and Macklemore now synonymous with sporting events?  (And for the record, Pitbull is the guy I wish I was.  I mean, he does almost nothing and he gets all that fame, money, and notoriety!  I mean, he barely even sings his own songs!  I am jealous.  All I get when I'm that lazy is nothing).

The only rationale I can imagine is, sadly, horrifically chauvinist.  The hockey is for the guys and the music is for the girls and kids.  A concept like that is TERRIBLY out of place with what a hockey game should be... but observe people at a hockey game some time.

In Ralston, the guys are watching the game like hawks and the girls are all texting and snap chatting or talking with their girlfriends.  Then the whistle blows and Shake it off by Taylor Swift comes on and the guys look sick to their stomachs and the girls are all dancing.   Is this what we are pandering to now?  Maybe I'm super cheap, but why would I, as someone (akin to the girls I've observed in the section around me at times) who is completely disinterested in the game, spend $15+ on a ticket when I could spend $5 on a chic coffee at a coffee shop with my girlfriend and get a better experience?  In other words, if hockey is no better than background noise, then go to a sports bar with your friends and enjoy your conversation!  I get it.  Not everyone likes hockey.  I certainly would feel the same way if I were dragged to a basketball game.  But then again, I won't spend $$$ on basketball tickets unless I fully intended to watch the game.  Much cheaper to sit at home in my super comfy recliner watching that garbage than sitting on a bench in an arena having to spend $15 for $3 worth of food and drink.

As the owner of the organization, the whole purpose is to put butts in the seats, so I get that, so why not market better?  Here's a few suggestions:

1.  Seat stratification.  Devote entire sections to season ticket holder ONLY sections.  I think the REA does this, but I'm not sure.  Ralston does not.  Allow casual fans to have their own sections where they can do whatever and no one will care.  Stratification of passionate hockey fans leads to organized chants and a fun sporting experience.

2.  Music variation:  During the hockey game and during intros, trend towards music that revs people up (examples:  For Whom The Bell Tolls by Metallica, Land of Confusion (Genesis cover) by Disturbed, Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N Roses, etc.).  I guess if you were going to gender-ize the whole thing, one stereotyped as male centered songs.  During intermissions, and spotlight segments (like Kids Cam and so on), you can have the Taylor Swifts and Katy Perrys.

3.  Hold "Idiots Guide" segments:  During intermissions, create live or videoed entertaining segments that spotlight the rules of the game.  It can be just straight forward video segments with the coaches filmed during practice or it can be video edited stuff using highlights and all or, you can bring in youth coaches or whatnot and do it on the ice live.  Sort of a mini seminar. 

I guess the music thing is all me just being grumpy but the decline in courtesy and etiquette in hockey is just appalling.

End of Rant

Sunday, January 04, 2015

USHL Arena Review: Viaero Event Center - Kearney, NE

About the Viaero Event Center

Located just off the highway on the south side of Kearney, NE, the Viaero Event Center is home to the USHL's Tri City Storm and has been since it opened in November of 2000.  It seats just over 4,000 people and is used for much of the same events as a typical Civic Auditorium would be utilized for (craft fairs, concerts, basketball, etc.).

The Facility

Overall, this seemed to me to be a rather small facility with much of the basic amenities shoehorned in.  For example, the Will Call Booth is simply a counter placed in the entrance foyer of the arena.  Since there is no space in the foyer for anything resembling a line, this meant that the lines for tickets went out the door quite a ways.  Since it gets as cold as a typical North Dakota winter in central Nebraska, this makes for a rather poor start to an experience.

The seats, flooring, and facilities in general though are pretty good.  The building itself resembles Cedar Rapids' arena in many ways (similar roofing and ceiling infrastructure and similar seating for example).  The bathrooms were clean (which is no small feat considering what you usually find in sports arenas).

There are luxury boxes in this arena, which is the first I noticed since Ralston.  There's not much in the way of amenities in these boxes, just movie theater style chairs and servers.  This isn't bad, if the price matches what you get.  Ralston's suites are rather pricey for what you get.

Grade:  B-


Well, for every good thing, there's bad.  Viaero Event Center has possibly the WORST ice in the USHL.  The only reason why there's doubt is because I haven't been to every arena yet.  Forget the puck jumping all over the place... that happens.  But when players and refs can't skate half the time and are sliding into boards and falling down just trying to turn (and even sometimes when they're not)...  the ice was just dreadful.  I have no idea why there is such incredible problems with their ice, but upon talking to several Kearney residents and Tri City season ticket holders, they all agreed that the ice is a huge problem.  I'm just not sure why this arena, which cost approximately $10.5 million in 1999 and was built for hockey and ice skating, would have such horrible problems.  Des Moines' arena, for example, may be long past its useful life, but the ice was fine.  They may want to start a capitol campaign to fix this.

Grade:  F


I failed in this regard as we did not partake in any food, but I did notice that they served typical arena fare... and they DID serve Coke products!!!  They're one of only three arenas (Des Moines and Sioux City being the other two) to serve Coke.  However, because I did not partake, there is no grade for this facility at this time.


I went on what could only be called "Kids Night" at the arena... It was "Frozen" Night at Viaero and the first X amount of kids dressed up as Elsa from the movie get a tiara and a wand.  They also had photo ops with much of the cast of Frozen and, for some strange reason, Cinderella.

In between the first and second periods, they had a relay race to build a snowman (complete with the Frozen song).  In between the second and third periods, they had a chuck a puck promotion.

Most notable in their entertainment:  No gimmicks, gags, or over the top nonsense.  The entertainment was straightforward and not too "cutesy."

They also gave away some pretty decent prizes like DQ Ice Cream cakes, a month's supply of free car washes, and a free night's stay at a local resort hotel.

Grade:  A

The Visitor Experience

As outlandish, over the top Lancer fans, my friends and I went expecting to be razzed a bit because we are loud and proud.  What we got instead was friendly tolerance and even some turnabout on the part of some of the fans who sat near us (for example, they'd do our cheer to mock the goaltender back at our goaltender when it was appropriate to do so).  The worst jibe we heard was "Go back to Omaha!"   This is NOT a hostile crowd if you are a visiting fan... unless you decide to be abusive to them.

Since we happened to go to Kearney in the midst of a potential winter storm, no less than 3 separate fans came up to us with road condition reports and many more wished us safe drives back to Omaha after the game.

These were genuine and kind folks in Kearney.  Those fans we did get to speak to were kind, passionate about their team, and great hosts.

In the end, I would NOT hesitate to return to Viaero in the future.  However, I'd rather NOT visit in the same weather.

Grade:  A+


The fans were great, the seats were good, the facility (except for the ice and the entrance area) was great.  It's unfortunate that the ice quality prevents the Viaero from being one of the better visiting arenas in the USHL.  Nevertheless, it is better than Des Moines as a fan to watch the game.

Grade:  B

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An Early, Basic, Brief, and Very Amateur look at the incoming Freshmen for next year (Redwing77)

Ok, one thing I have been able to do even with grad school, is to keep up with the local USHL scene in Omaha, Nebraska.  I've gotten to see a few of UND's future recruits in action, but I'm going to limit this article to ONLY those I've seen AND those who are listed per Heisenberg and Schlossman's blog as being 2014 recruits.  I want to be VERY VERY clear:  I'm only speaking of these players from a fan/viewer point of view.  If you want a coach's perspective or one more like a scout, then read no further.  This report is VERY amateur.

Right now, per Heisenberg, the following players are incoming:

Cam Johnson - Fargo/Waterloo (USHL)

Hayden Shaw - Waterloo (USHL)
Tucker Poolman - Omaha (USHL)

Nick Schmaltz - Green Bay (USHL)
Trevor Olson - Sioux City (USHL)
John Simonson - Lincoln (USHL)

First, those I've only seen in limited capacity:

Hayden Shaw and Nick Schmaltz.  I'm no scout.  I've seen Waterloo play, but Shaw did not stand out.  That's fine, as he's a defenseman.  From what little I've seen of him thus far, he looks to be a shut down defenseman.  What he actually turns out to be is unknown.  Truthfully, he's a 1996 birthday.  With only four slots opening, and assuming no one bolts, I'm curious to know if Hakstol asks Shaw to wait a year.  Then again, I do not know how Coach Hakstol will work it.

Nick Schmaltz is the most limited of viewership of the list.  I've only seen him play once and it was on a lousy webcast game between Green Bay and Omaha.  He seemed fast but he didn't stand out much.  The commentators certainly raved a lot about him, though.

Trevor Olson -  He's done alright this year for Sioux City.  He wears the 'C' for Sioux City.  Likes to hang out in front of the net.  However, at least tonight, he did quite a bit of whining to the refs (though I can't really blame them.  We had two of the worst officials I've ever witnessed).  He's a pretty tall dude at 6'1" tall.  I think at the NCAA level he'll be another Rodwell or perhaps a Gaarder type.

Most Viewership:

John Simonson -  He was Lincoln's leading scorer and scholarship winner.  He wore the 'A' for Lincoln this year (future Alaska Nanook hack Zach Frye wore the C).  He played for a rather poor team racked with disappointing defensive performances, suspensions, injuries, and tragedy this year.  He has a lot of pep to his game and loves to rush the net.  I think he reminds me of a Mark McMillan type player.... Maybe O'Donnell even.

Cam Johnson - Ok, most of my viewership came before he was traded to Waterloo.  He started the year as Fargo's starting goaltender and was traded while still in that capacity.  In my opinion, he really was the ONLY veteran player on Fargo that was playing well consistently, but it was never enough.  Fargo has the worst team D in the USHL and their record shows it.  That being said, Johnson had his fair share of consistency issues.  I'm not too concerned about Johnson at UND unless he's expected to jump right in and start right off the bat (say, if Gothberg bolts).  He can steal games, but he's not as talented as Gothberg yet.  He does have tremendous potential though.

Tucker Poolman - This is the fellow I have the MOST exposure to.  I'm not sure if it is the coach's strategy or not, but he's the most aggressive defenseman in the offensive zone I've ever seen.  He's OFTEN deep in the zone and many of his USHL leading goals (among defensemen) came from below the faceoff circles.  He's on the ice in every situation and logs a ton of minutes.  He's NOT physical at all.  Don't look for him to make any really big hits.  He has fought at least once this year in the USHL but even the fans were wondering what the heck was going on to force him to fight.  If I were to describe Poolman, he'd be a combination between Mattson and perhaps LaDue.  I do NOT project him to continue this style of play at UND and I likewise do not expect him to be a world beater offensively at the NCAA level.  However, what he COULD be is the next Dillon Simpson in terms of on and off ice leadership.  He is far and away the best defenseman on Omaha and, imo, one of the top 3 defenseman in the USHL this year.

Who knows how it is going to turn out.  Who knows if who I compared these players to (if I did at all) is even close.  Maybe I'll be wrong and Olson will light it up.  Maybe there's another Trevor Hammer or Wes Dorey in this mix.  I don't know.  All I do know is that there's a LOT of good coming our way in the next few years (Christian Evers is going to grow into a stud, imo).
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Saturday, March 09, 2013

UND Recruit Jack Rowe Strikes First

University of North Dakota recruit Jack Rowe (19) struck first against the Waterloo Black Hawks in USHL Friday night action on March 8, 2013.  The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders would go on to beat the Black Hawks 2-1 at Young Arena in Waterloo, Iowa.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Grand Forks' Paul LaDue Lincoln Stars all-time scoring defenseman

With a goal last night against Tri-City Storm, UND recruit and former Central defenseman Paul Ladue is now highest scoring defenseman in Lincoln Stars history. Ladue also scored during the shootout as the Stars beat the Storm 6-5.

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Friday, February 08, 2013

Paul Ladue practices at the TD Ameritrade Park

Future UND defenseman and former Grand Forks Central Star Paul Ladue (players in the black uni on the right) practices at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. Ladue is currently with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

(Video) Tucker Tucker Poolman

This is UND Hockey recruit  and Omaha Lancers defenseman Tucker Poolman and his thoughts on the USHL/NHL Top Prospects game interview. I thought it was interesting that Poolman has 10 goals on the season, and all 10 are on the power play.
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UND recruit Johnson and LaDue garner USHL Honors – Week 18

Future UND recruits Lincoln Star forward Luke Johnson and Lincoln Stars Defenseman Paul Ladue earned USHL Honors for week 18. Johnson and Ladue are set to join UND during the 2013-14 season.
Official Press Release --- Award winners include Luke Johnson of the Lincoln Stars and Justin Kloos of the Waterloo Black Hawks who were named co-recipients of CCM Forward of the Week; Paul LaDue of the Lincoln Stars, selected as CCM Defenseman of the Week; and Connor Girard of the Dubuque Fighting Saints, who takes home honors as Reebok Goaltender of the Week.

Luke Johnson, F, Lincoln Stars: The 18-year-old tallied four goals and an assist over the weekend, leading then Stars to a pair of wins. On Friday night, he scored Lincoln’s first goal mid-way through the first period on the power play and assisted on Paul LaDue’s second period power play goal to help the Stars to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Sioux City Musketeers. After being held off of the score sheet on Saturday, the Grand Forks, ND native responded by recording his first USHL career hat trick, with a goal in each period, to lead the Stars to a 5-0 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers. Johnson currently ranks fifth on the team in scoring with 26 points (11g, 15a) and is tops with 11 points on the power play (6g, 5a).

Paul LaDue, D, Lincoln Stars: The Grand Forks, ND native had a point in each of the Stars’ three games over the weekend. On Friday, he scored a second-period goal on the power play and buried the deciding goal in the shootout [click to view] to lead the Stars to a 3-2 shootout win over the Sioux City Musketeers. He notched an assist in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Fargo Force and added another assist in Sunday’s 5-0 shutout over Des Moines. LaDue is currently riding a four-game point streak, amassing three goals and two assists over that span, and is third on the team in points (32) and second in assists (22).
The Grand Forks Native Paul Ladue (10g-22a—32pts), leads all USHL defensemen in assists 22 and points 32. Ladue also leads the USHL in shots on goal with 120. Ladue is also a +20 in 38 games played.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Western Hockey League addresses player safety

Three North American junior hockey leagues have taken major steps to tighten rules to the game of hockey and improve player safety.  From my vantage point, it would appear that all three leagues are also trying to limit the players that play a reckless brand of hockey or at least change the way they play the game of hockey.

This season, the USHL instituted a new rule which has specified a number of penalties that the league has termed as “dangerous play” to include minor penalties (ie: elbowing, head contact, kneeing). Also, the USHL will monitor and review the above penalties as well as all major penalties throughout the season.
When players start accumulating multiple penalties they will be notified and addressed by the USHL Commissioner’s office. This action is being presented as a way to educate the league’s players.  If league office deems it necessary they will punish players via supplementary discipline.

Translation, the league is sending a message to their players – if the players rack up penalties that the league has deemed as dangerous play the players are going to pay the consequences for their actions.
The Ontario Hockey League has put a limit on the number of fights that a player can participate in during the course of a hockey season after a player reaches 10 fights the offending player will begin serving a two game suspension for each fight over 10.

The OHL and the USHL are not alone the Western Hockey League is also enacting some stiffer rules of their own to address on ice play.

During the summer the WHL has adopted this as a rule:
Adoption of a staged fighting rule. Should a fight occur following a face-off during a game, it will be considered a staged fight. Should a stage fight occur during a pre-season, regular season or playoff game, the players involved shall each receive an automatic game misconduct in addition to the major penalty. Should one player clearly initiate or instigate the fight, only that player will receive the game misconduct in addition to a minor penalty for instigating the fight. Should the linesmen intervene and prevent the fight from starting, the players involved will each receive misconduct penalties. [WHL.CA]
The WHL is also going to address player’s safety and deal with the repeat offenders and issue supplemental discipline where it’s necessary.
 The WHL also announced it remains fully committed to the Seven Point Plan introduced this past season to address player safety concerns in the area of head blows and concussions.  The Seven Point Plan includes continued emphasis on discipline as it applies to repeat offenders; production of an education video on player safety; seminar for all General Managers and Head Coaches on September 11, 2012; continuing to provide players with best available protective equipment; working with the WHL Arena Advisory Committee to adopt acrylic glass as a standard for all WHL arenas; continuing to collect and study research data on concussion injuries and their causes.
That makes at least three Junior Leagues in North America are looking to stop a certain type of player in their ranks and have taken steps to address those issues. In reading and interpreting these new rule changes, it would appear that the various leagues are going after the predator/agitators that skate up and down the ice taking liberties with the opposition players – truth be told, these players have been put on notice and their days could be numbered in junior hockey if they don’t change their behavior.

Also, the message should be – if you don’t change your on ice behavior – we will compel you to change your on ice behavior. The Western Hockey League has a page that lists the players that have been given supplemental discipline. To date, 10 players have been suspended a total of 21 games.

Originally posted at the Hockey Writers - Combine

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Friday, September 21, 2012

USHL to concentrate on player safety

It appears, that United State Hockey League which is USA Hockey’s elite Tier I junior hockey, is going to take a proactive approach to address player safety starting this season.

Earlier this week, we learned that the OHL was going to limit the number of fights a player is involved in.
USHL Press Release
The League has specified a number of what it terms “dangerous play” minor penalties (ie: elbowing, head contact, kneeing), which it will monitor and review together with all major penalties – both fighting and non-fighting – throughout the course of the season.  Players accumulating multiple penalties will be notified and addressed by the Commissioner’s office with an eye toward early intervention and education, and multiple penalties in any category will be subject to supplementary discipline.

“We take our position as USA Hockey’s Tier I League very seriously,” said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince.  “We’ve been concerned by the increase in injuries and lost games by our players over the past several seasons, and this is a comprehensive effort to see what we can do to address the problem.  We recognize our responsibility to deliver the world’s best young players to the next level – the NCAA and the NHL – faster, stronger, smarter, and more skilled than ever before.  But we also need to make sure they’re in top health and physical condition, and fully aware that as the next generation’s guardians of the game, they have a responsibility to hockey and to each other.   Our mission is to keep every ounce of the aggressive, all-out style of play for which the USHL is so well-known, while tuning down some of the ‘dumb and dangerous’ play that neither benefits the game nor the elite athletes who are playing it
In reading the USHL’s press release it appears to me that the USHL is going to make a serious step in addressing on ice play of its players and is also going to address their player’s on-ice play by assigning supplementary discipline in the cases where it’s warranted.

From the outside looking in – it would appear to me that the USHL is also trying to address the play of certain types of players – in this case – it appears to me that the USHL is trying to do away with the players skate all over the ice trying to line people up for the big hit.

Don’t get me wrong, I like physical hockey and hitting, but the USHL appears to be trying to address a certain type of play and to make corrections to change on ice behavior.
More specifically, it appears to me that the USHL is attempting to do away with the players that I would classify as head hunters – these are the players that will skate across the ice to make a knock out hit and if they make contact usually results in the player on the receiving ending up with a catastrophic injury.  This would probably include the players that will target the head of an opposition player in a vulnerable position.

If your confused why type of player I am talking about, think of NHL players like Raffie Torres or a Matt Cooke.  These two are the poster boys of the type of player that I am thinking of.

I believe that this is going to be a good start to improving player safety – I think this also a good indication that hockey is beginning to move away from the one dimensional players that skate up and down the ice taking liberties with the opposition. Also, it appears that USHL is going to go even further than the OHL, because it appears that the USHL is going to try and educate the players as well as discipline the offenders.

Lastly, I also think that the hockey in most leagues is trying to do away with the one dimensional players that play two-four minutes a game and get into a fight or two. I do believe the player of the future is a player is going to be one that can score 20-30 goals and get in 10-15 fights a year – NHL players like Milan Lucic or Scott Hartnell come to mind.

Originally posted at The Hockey Writers - Combine
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

UND Fighting Sioux Hockey announces 2012-13 incoming class

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – University of North Dakota Head Men’s Hockey Coach Dave Hakstol announced today the addition of six newcomers for the 2012-13 season. The incoming class includes National Letter of Intent signees Drake Caggiula, Bryn Chyzyk, Zane Gothberg, Coltyn Sanderson and Jordan Schmaltz, as well as Alabama-Huntsville transfer Clarke Saunders. The position breakdown includes three forwards, two goalies and one defensemen.

“This incoming class of young men will bring solid skill packages into our program at the forward, defense, and goaltending positions for the 2012-13 season,” said Hakstol. “Adding this group to an extremely solid core of returning veterans creates a roster with ability and depth at all three positions.” 

National Letter of Intent Signees:

Name: Drake Caggiula Ht: 5-10 Wt: 161 Pos: F Hometown: Pickering, Ontario

Spent the past two seasons with the Stouffville Spirit of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) … Scored 10 goals and 24 assists 25 in games in 2011-12 … Led Stouffville to OJHL regular season and playoff titles and a berth in the Dudley Hewitt Central Canada Junior A Championship final … Was named most valuable player of the OJHL playoffs after racking up a league-leading 17 goals and 37 points in 23 games … Named OJHL 1st Team All-Prospect for the second straight season … Won a silver medal playing for Team Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge … Began the season with Des Moines of the United States Hockey League (USHL) and had one goal and one assist in four games … Played in 48 games with Stouffville in 2010-11 and collected 22 goals and 23 assists … Added two goals and six assists in eight playoff games … Draft eligible in 2012 … Ranked 185th among North American skaters in the final 2012 NHL Central Scouting Bureau draft rankings … Last name is pronounced Ka-ZHEW-la.

Name: Bryn Chyzyk Ht: 5-11 Wt: 181 Pos: F Hometown: Virden, Manitoba

Spent the 2011-12 season with the Fargo Force of the USHL … Collected 28 goals and 21 assists in 57 games … Tied for the team lead in goals and tied for eighth in the USHL goal-scoring race … Was a teammate of fellow UND recruit Zane Gothberg … Spent the 2010-11 season with the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and was named the league’s rookie of the year … Scored 22 goals and 49 assists in 62 games and earned MJHL All-Rookie Team honors … Played in the 2011 MJHL All-Star Game and notched three assists … Added a goal and six assists in 13 playoff games … Last name is pronounced CHIZ-ick.

Name: Zane Gothberg Ht: 6-2 Wt: 190 Pos: G Hometown: Thief River Falls, Minn.

Spent the past two seasons with the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League (USHL) … Named co-recipient of USHL’s 2011-12 Goaltender of the Year award … Went 26-14-4 and led the USHL in save percentage (.921) and shutouts (7), while ranking second in goals against average (2.22) … Set franchise records in all four categories and was named Fargo’s Most Valuable Player … Was a teammate of fellow UND recruit Bryn Chyzyk … Went 14-8-0 with a 2.23 goals against average and a .908 save percentage, along with two shutouts, in 2010-11 … Won a bronze medal with the United States at the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, posting a 0.50 GAA and .979 SV% in two games … Won gold with the U.S. at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge, recording a 2.05 GAA and .929 SV% in four games … Spent the 2009-10 season with Thief River Falls High School and won the Frank Brimsek Award as the top senior goaltender in the state of Minnesota … Also earned first-team all-state honors after posting a 1.81 GAA, .925 SV% and three shutouts in 27 games … Was an all-state honorable mention as a junior … Selected by the Boston Bruins in the sixth round (165th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Name: Coltyn Sanderson Ht: 6-1 Wt: 185 Pos: F Hometown: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Spent the past two seasons with the Weyburn Red Wings of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) … Served as team captain in 2011-12 and amassed 81 points (32 goals, 49 assists) in 57 games … Finished fourth in the SJHL scoring race … Added nine goals and nine assists in 17 playoff games and led Weyburn to the Sherwood Conference championship … Weyburn’s nominee for SJHL Player of the Year … Received four team honors: Barber Motors Award (Most Valuable Forward), NSWB Community Service Award, Marcel Labelle Memorial Award (Red Wing Displaying Dedication) and the President’s Ring … Played in 57 games in 2010-11 and had 19 goals and 29 assists for 48 points … Spent the 2009-10 season with the Assiniboia Southern Rebels of the Prairie Junior Hockey League and collected 35 points (19 goals, 16 assists) in 37 games.

Name: Jordan Schmaltz Ht: 6-2 Wt: 175 Pos: D Hometown: Verona, Wis.

Tied for second among USHL defensemen in 2011-12 with 41 points (10 goals, 31 assists) in 55 games … Spent the majority of the season with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers, collecting seven goals and 28 assists in 46 games … Led the Gamblers to the USHL’s Anderson Cup with a 47-9-4 record … Added two goals and five assists in 11 playoff games … Began the season with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, where he scored three goals and three assists in nine games … Participated in the 2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game … Spent the 2010-11 season with Sioux City and led USHL defensemen in points (44), goals (11) and assists (31) in 53 games … Earned USHL First All-Star Team and USHL All-Rookie Team honors … Was a five-time USHL Defenseman of the Week as a rookie … Won a bronze medal with the United States at the 2011 World Junior A Challenge … Won gold with the U.S. at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge … Draft eligible in 2012 … Ranked 34th among North American skaters in the final 2012 NHL Central Scouting Bureau draft rankings … Father, Mike, lettered in football at UND from 1988 to 1990 … Uncles, Marc Schmaltz (1988-91) and Monte Schmaltz (1992-93), also lettered in football at UND.

Name: Clarke Saunders Ht: 6-3 Wt: 200 Pos: G Hometown: Brockville, Ontario

Spent the previous two seasons at the University of Alabama-Huntsville … Posted a .903 save percentage in 46 career games for a UAH team that went 6-54-3 over the past two years … Appeared in 27 games (26 starts) in 2011-12 and averaged an NCAA-leading 34 saves per game … Posted a .906 save percentage for a UAH team that went 2-28-1 … Appeared in 19 games as a freshman in 2010-11 and went 4-14-0 with a 3.80 goals against average and an .898 save percentage … Spent the previous four seasons with the Brockville Braves of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) … Set a Brockville team record for wins in two of his last three seasons with the club … Went 31-7-1 with a 2.31 GAA and .915 SV% in 2009-10, ranking second in the CCHL in wins and GAA.

The Fighting Sioux (26-13-3, 16-11-1 WCHA) won their league-record third straight Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA Final Five champions and earned the No. 1 seed for the NCAA West Region Tournament, where UND advanced to its sixth regional championship game in eight years under Hakstol.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

RoughRiders Stop the Stampede

The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders tamed the Sioux Falls Stampede on March 9th, 2012 in Cedar Rapids, IA winning 5-3.

John Gilmour celebrates his game-winning goal

Preston Hodge

Andrew Oglevie

Kent Sherrer (14), Davey Middleton (11)

Nathan Widman

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Barnstorming and a Hat Trick

It has been a tumultuous season for the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, even more so on the road. Plagued with injuries, the team found themselves with a 19-18-8 overall record, 6-14-3 on the road, headed into their game last night in Lincoln. After ending the regular season on top last year, it is difficult to stomach being buried in 5th in the league. Yet something lit these guys on fire last night as they took on the 27-14-4 Lincoln Stars at the Ice Box, led by 19 year old forward Davey Middleton, in what can only be called an exhibition of well-executed play.

Gerald Mayhew led the attack with a goal in the 1st period that was answered in the second by Stars forward Markus McCrea. It was Davey Middleton who came out swinging in the third, kicking it off with an early goal. When Stars forward and Grand Forks native Luke Johnson responded in kind, Davey lit it up two more times to complete his hat trick, rounding out his night with an assist to Ryan McGrath on an empty net goal.

Middleton started his season with the Tri-City Storm having an almost silent single goal and single assist record in his 10 games played. Since coming to the RoughRiders, Davey has played 23 games scoring 7 goals and 7 assists. He has been a quiet, but effective force for the RoughRiders to date. He does not have an announced college commitment.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Future Stars - Amlong and McGrath

The USHL has been a breeding ground for the up and coming stars of the NCAA and the NHL. Next year, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are losing two good ones, Greg Amlong and Ryan McGrath, to the UMass-Lowell River Hawks. The River Hawks are having a respectable season at 14-0-6, standing 5th in Hockey East.  It will only get better with these two in their stable.

After playing together in the 2009-2010 season for the St. Louis Jr. Blues of the CSHL, McGrath and Amlong both came to the RoughRiders for the last 2 years and they have been very powerful for the team.

Ryan McGrath is a 20 year old forward from O'Fallon, MO. After suffering an early season wrist injury, he has played only 24 games this year, but has come back with a vengeance holding 7 goals and 11 assists in that time. This has been pretty consistent with his 18 goals and 24 assists in 58 games last year. Ryan is a leader on the ice with an infectious energy that permeates the team.

Greg Amlong is a 20 year old defenseman also from O'Fallon, MO. Greg has played 44 games this season with 9 goals and 15 assists. Perhaps more impressive is his 94-mph slapshot that seems to fly through the goalie on its way into the net. Greg is focused on the ice with his eye always on the puck as he protects the crease and his goalie.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different (RW77)

Ok, it's not often that I go off on a tangent... ok, that's a lie, but still...

Today I went to my first ever USHL game. It was between Omaha and Lincoln. It was a fun time and it featured all kinds of hockey. Good hockey, Bad hockey, stupid hockey, questionable hockey, and two fat guys carrying flags running (ok, waddling) around the arena (ok, 4 or 5 sections worth before they got tired and gave up) after a goal.

I went because it would be a fun time, but I also got to see two future UND players in Luke Johnson (Lincoln's #27) and Paul Ladue (Lincoln's #6). But let's go with what I saw before I run down those two.

The First Period was a period of great goaltending by Lincoln and Omaha, great forechecking by Omaha, and pretty solid defense on both sides. Lincoln's Goaltender was better than Omaha's in the first period based upon the fact that Lincoln had to stop 2 clean breakaways and a 2 on 1 in the last 10 minutes of the first period. Omaha was tested but not to the extent that Lincoln was.

The second period featured ALL but one of the goals, all but 1 of the goals in the second period came on the powerplay, and some of the worst hockey I've ever seen in my life (and I've watched some pretty bad hockey). I love the fact that fighting is allowed and I love the fact that the USHL uses the half shield (something I'm growing more and more in favor of for DI hockey). The officiating was pretty heavily in favor of Omaha, but that being said: 1. Lincoln played like crap discipline-wise from the second period on to the end of the game and 2. It still was better than WCHA officiating.

However, Lincoln ends up drawing a cross check or roughing or charging penalty against Omaha... or so it seemed.. .because what happens? An all out brawl capped by a goaltender fight at center ice. Most of the fights were just hugging and tug o war matches. The goaltender fight was actually very VERY good. Lincoln's goaltender "won" the fight and, unlike the skaters, there was actually no animosity between goaltenders after the fight (they fist bumped after it was broken up). However, after a nearly 15 minute delay while the penalties were assessed, Lincoln not only ended up NOT getting a short 5 second 4 on 4 and then a 1:55 PP out of it, OMAHA ended up getting the powerplay (a 5 second 5 on 3)! To make matters more interesting: In the scrum, both goaltenders were given 5 minute majors and a game misconduct. Omaha had 3 players get 5 min. majors and game misconducts and 2 plain 5 minute fighting majors. Lincoln ended up getting ALL FOUR SKATERS getting 5 minute majors and game misconducts. The Omaha roughing penalty was assessed ON LINCOLN and Lincoln ended up getting called for instigating. Luckily, Lincoln killed it off.

Nevertheless, Lincoln was still in the game down 2 to 1. The period ended after Lincoln tried to push too hard and gave up a 3 on 1 goal.

Well, that awful period aside, Lincoln could still claw its way back from 3-1 to make it interesting right? Well, almost. You see, the Lincoln backup was pretty shakey but the Omaha backup was actually pretty solid. Add into the fact that things got RIDICULOUSLY STUPID for Lincoln in the 3rd period.

You see, midway or so through the 3rd period, Lincoln's #16 and Omaha's #15 were assessed 2 minutes for delay of game. Offsetting penalties no doubt right? Nope. #16 ends up pushing and shoving the ref! WHAT A MORON! Then, to make matters worse, as he was ejected from the game, he started egging on and taunting the fans! Who is this guy? I hope Chad Johnson sits him down immediately post game and reams him a new arsehole. In fact, I'd make the whole team skate.

As a random note: Omaha wants to shut down the Omaha Civic Auditorium due to the fact that it would take about $29 million to make it not a suckhole. After tonight: I agree. That place is a dump.

Now to the UND recruits:

Paul Ladue - He played pretty solid...until he participated in that line brawl and got kicked out of the game. He didn't instigate or anything and I don't think he was one of the lippy Lincoln Stars, but he didn't do Lincoln any favors by getting kicked out. He played a lot of minutes up until then including on the 5 on 3s.

Luke Johnson - I hope he's 16 because he played like a 16 year old. He was pretty invisible for most of the game. He did have one pretty good chance late in the 3rd period but missed.

All in all, Omaha wasn't saints on the ice. They were yappy and could have gotten called a lot more than they actually did, but it didn't matter because Lincoln played far more undisciplined. So I got it all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Paul Ladue CCM Defensive Player of the Week

USHL Photo
Former Grand Forks Central Knight's Star Paul Ladue is the USHL's CCM Defensive Player of the Week.
USHL.COM --- Paul Ladue recorded six points (1g, 5a) and a plus-four rating to help the Stars win all four of their games during the week and take over the top spot in the Western Conference standings. He assisted on the game-winning goal in three straight games – Tuesday’s 6-2 win vs. Sioux City, Friday’s 3-2 win over Sioux Falls, and again during Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Omaha. The 19-year-old then was the hero on Sunday as he scored the game-winning goal with just four seconds remaining in the third period to give the Stars a 6-5 victory over Tri-City. Ladue, a native of Grand Forks, North Dakota, is second among USHL defensemen with 10 points (2g, 8a) and is tied for third overall in the League with a plus-nine rating.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Des Moines and Dubuque brawl in USHL hockey

I saw this video over on Puck Daddy and it's definitely old time hockey, I would also say that Buccaneers player Garrett Taylor who is wearing the white number nine jersey violated the hockey code because once your opponent hits the ice you're suppose to stop punching them.

Check out this third period of hockey.
Period 3
Dubuque - Andrew Sinelli - (Tripping), 2 min, 1:20
Des Moines - Kevin Irwin - (Delay of Game), 2 min, 14:18
Dubuque - Tyler Lundey - (Cross Checking), 2 min, 14:18
Dubuque - Luke Curadi - (Unsportsmanlike Conduct), 2 min, 14:18
Des Moines - Doug Clifford - (Fighting (Instigator)), 2 min, 14:21
Des Moines - Doug Clifford - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:21
Des Moines - Doug Clifford - (Fighting Game Ejection), 10 min, 14:21
Des Moines - Garrett Taylor - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:21
Des Moines - Garrett Taylor - (Fighting Game Misconduct), 10 min, 14:21
Dubuque - Jordan DiGiando - (Roughing), 2 min, 14:21
Dubuque - Shane Sooth - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:21
Dubuque - Shane Sooth - (Fighting Game Ejection), 10 min, 14:21
Des Moines - Patrick Kirtland - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:23
Des Moines - Peter Stoykewych - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:23
Des Moines - Peter Stoykewych - (Fighting Game Misconduct), 10 min, 14:23
Des Moines - Logan Nelson - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:23
Des Moines - Logan Nelson - (Fighting Game Misconduct), 10 min, 14:23
Des Moines - Tyler Bruggeman - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:23
Des Moines - Tyler Bruggeman - (Fighting Game Misconduct), 10 min, 14:23
Dubuque - Brooks Bertsch - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:23
Dubuque - Andrew Sinelli - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:23
Dubuque - Andrew Sinelli - (Fighting Misconduct), 10 min, 14:23
Dubuque - Colton Saucerman - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:23
Dubuque - Colton Saucerman - (Fighting Game Misconduct), 10 min, 14:23
Dubuque - Matt Morris - (Fighting Major), 5 min, 14:23
Dubuque - Matt Morris - (Fighting Game Misconduct), 10 min, 14:23
Dubuque - Matt Morris - (Crossing Red Line), 2 min, 14:23
Des Moines - Mitch Cain - (Tripping), 2 min, 14:38
Dubuque - T.J. Moor - (Hooking), 2 min, 17:18

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Luke Johnson picked 11th in USHL draft

Central Knight's sophmore forward Luke Johnson was picked 11th in the USHL draft. Luke is the son of former Fighting Sioux star Steve Johnson and current coach of the Fargo Force.
1 DubuqueBarber, RileyRWLivonia, MI5.10179Compuware(T1Min)Feb 07/94
2 MuskegonCockerill, GarretRDBrighton, MI5.11170Compuware(T1Min)Feb 19/94
3 Sioux FallsMoore, BryanCMatthews, NC5.11175Carolina(NAPHL)May 25/94
4 Waterloo (From Sioux City)Hinostroza, VincentCBartlett, IL5.08144Chi Mission(T1Min)Apr 03/94
5 OmahaChlapik, AdamC6.00190Jr. Kings(T1Maj)Feb 04/94
6 Des MoinesKoules, MilesRWLos Angeles, CA5.10171Shattuck U16(MinnM)Jun 25/94
7 IndianaPolesello, RobertCBolton, Ont.5.06160Tor Jr. Canadians(GTHLMn)Apr 27/94
8 FargoWade, JustinRDAurora, IL6.01196Chi Mission(T1Min)Apr 13/94
9 Green BayStoick, GavinRWLittleton, CO6.02189Thunderbirds(T1Min)Jul 02/94
10 Waterloo (From Tri-City)Stepan, ZachCBalsam Lake, WI5.11155Shattuck U16(MinnM)Jan 06/94
11 Lincoln Johnson, LukeCGrand Forks, ND5.09149GF Central(ND-HS)Sep 19/94

BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Classic Dean Blais.

You know while I think UND has a good coach, I do miss the one liners and words of wisdom from one of UND's former Hockey coach Dean Blais. Check out these post game comments. The straight talk express is back.
Fargo --- Head coach Dean Blais had some choice words for his team after an effort he called “lackadaisical and sloppy.”

“I was disappointed in everybody from our captains to the guys that were sitting out,” Blais said. “We had no leadership, and I don’t know what we are now.

“I don’t know if we’re a playoff team or a team that’s going to finish sixth.”