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North Dakota committee takes away option for school to continue to play with no nickname

The North Dakota Nickname Committee has decided to remove the option of the school’s men’s and women’s hockey teams continuing to play without a nickname has frustrated the school’s hockey community, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

Five nicknames are reportedly under consideration for UND – Sundogs, Roughriders, Nodaks, Fighting Hawks and North Stars.

The Herald reports a public vote will make the final decision, but UND president Robert Kelley will also have a say.

“Over the next few weeks I plan to further review all the feedback received, and I will consider the possible addition of ‘North Dakota’ in the voting process,” Kelley reportedly wrote in an email to school staff and the community, according to the Herald. “The voting process, which has not yet been defined, will not take place until fall, and this will allow adequate time to thoroughly review the feedback and make a final decision.”

“I want to state here that we are ‘North Dakota,’ and we will always be ‘North Dakota.’ I believe it is in the best interest of the university to have a new nickname – something that will go along with continuing to be ‘North Dakota’ – just as other major universities have nicknames. I think students, alumni, and fans would benefit from having cheers, chants and songs that connect to a true nickname. But that doesn’t and won’t detract from the fact we will always be ‘North Dakota.’ ”

The only person on the nickname committee with hockey ties is former UND goalie Karl Goehring, who voted against the motion.

“Why not let the people have a say?” Goehring said at the July 21 meeting. “There’s a way to construct it to give people a say in the matter and still give them other name options as well.”

Past and current UND players made it clear that they wanted to continue playing as North Dakota, as the teams have done the last three years. Several current and former players took to social media last week to voice their opinions.

“If it can’t be Fighting Sioux, I don’t see what’s wrong with keeping it University of North Dakota. I liked that,” former UND and longtime NHL defenseman Mike Commodore posted on Twitter.

“I wish the higher ups at UND would listen to the people who support UND athletics,” added former UND captain and Grand Forks native Mario Lamoureux in the report. “Why not let the people decide on a final nickname?”

Reigning Mike Richter Award winner Zane McIntyre also was disappointed by the news.

“It is hard not to be upset about the news that was given [July 21] regarding the UND nickname and potential options,” McIntyre said.

Former UND captain Dillon Simpson added, “Very disappointed about the committee’s decision. Both frustrating and thoughtless. Hope UND realizes the mistake they are making. If the backlash doesn’t do it, no one purchasing the new merchandise should do the trick.”

And add former UND forward Mark MacMillan to the list of irritated parties.

“Not sure who the eleven voting members are, but it is pretty clear with the students and athletics alumni what the number one choice is,” said McMillan in the Herald report. “Everyone gets that for now we can’t be the Fighting Sioux, but nothing, no matter how good the nickname is, will ever compare or ever be liked. Can’t believe they aren’t just going to leave it North Dakota.”

Wisconsin blueliner Dougherty one and done after signing with Nashville

Jack Dougherty spent just one season on the Wisconsin blue line (photo: Dan Hickling).

The Nashville Predators announced Friday that the club has signed Wisconsin defenseman Jack Dougherty to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Dougherty spent the 2014-15 season with the Badgers, tying for fourth among Big Ten freshmen defensemen in points (nine).

Nashville, who selected Dougherty in the second round (51st overall) of the 2014 NHL draft, also announced Dougherty will skate for the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks in 2015-16.

Renovations underway to Merrimack men’s and women’s locker rooms

Construction for newly renovated and expanded men’s and women’s locker rooms are underway in the Merrimack Athletic Center.

The women’s hockey team, set to debut this fall, will have a brand-new locker room to call its own, in addition to a team lounge and dining area, bathrooms, coaches’ offices and various other amenities servicing the sports medicine, strength and conditioning and equipment-related needs of the team.

Additionally, the men’s locker room will receive a major facelift of its own, as their previous space is being completely renovated for the upcoming season. The player lounge and dining area was relocated from its previous location and will have a vastly different look, with a spacious layout that will include tables and chairs, couches, recreational and exercise equipment, and a video review area. The men’s coaches’ offices have also been updated as part of the project.

Lastly, a new common hallway will connect not only the two locker rooms, but also will serve as an artery connecting Lawler Rink to Gallant Rink, allowing players to walk to and from either rink for practices and games.
“This is an absolute game-changer for our program,” men’s coach Mark Dennehy said in a statement. “President Hopey has already done so much for Merrimack hockey with the renovation of Lawler Rink and the Merrimack Athletic Complex, but this is the final piece.”

“There are many things that will make Merrimack women’s hockey successful,” added women’s head coach Erin Hamlen. “Walking into Lawler Rink every day is a privilege, and the addition of a brand-new locker room facility to go along with our brand-new program is like a dream.”

Colorado College goalie Perry leaves Tigers for BCHL opportunity

Chase Perry fashioned a 1-8-1 record for Colorado College in 2014-15, but will not be back with the Tigers for the 2015-16 season (photo: Candace Horgan).

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, goalie Chase Perry has left Colorado College and returned to the Wenatchee Wild, formerly part of the NAHL, but joining the BCHL for the 2015-16 season.

The Gazette report states that CC coach Mike Haviland was not caught off-guard by the move.

“He wanted to talk to his folks about it and make a decision this offseason,” Haviland said in the report.

Perry went 1-8-1 with a 3.97 GAA and a .876 save percentage in 15 appearances last year after being a fifth-round draft pick (136th overall) by Detroit in the 2014 NHL draft.

The Tigers will have three goalies next season with incoming freshman Jacob Nehama and juniors Tyler Marble, who emerged as the starter last season, and Derek Shatzer, who did not play in 2014-15.

“I chose to return to Wenatchee because of the high quality coaching, the strength of the Wild organization and the support of the entire Wenatchee community,” Perry added in the report. “I know with Coach Bliss [Littler] we will have a team of high intensity players looking to reach the next level and an opportunity to play for a BCHL championship.”

The article also said forward Dan Labosky will not return to the team after seeing the ice in just two games in 2014-15 as a freshman.

Buffalo State taps assistant Murphy as interim coach for ’15-16 season

Buffalo State has promoted assistant coach Steve Murphy to interim head coach for the 2015-16 season.

Murphy, who played Division III hockey at Curry and St. Mary’s, replaces Nick Carriere, who accepted a coaching position with the St. John’s Ice Caps of the American Hockey League.

Murphy joined the Bengals’ staff last season as an assistant after serving as an assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach with the Kenai River Brown Bears of the North American Hockey League, where he previously served as a head scout.

Margarucci named USA Hockey’s manager of player safety

Kevin Margarucci has been named USA Hockey’s manager of player safety. Since 2001, Margarucci has served as head athletic trainer and teacher at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument, Colo., and has also worked as an athletic trainer at Colorado College and for the United States Olympic Committee. he holds a master’s degree in athletic training from Indiana State and a bachelor’s degree in physical education and athletic training from Brockport.

Former Kazmaier winner Kessel sees concussion end career at Minnesota

A severe concussion has ended Amanda Kessel’s playing career at Minnesota (photo: USCHO).

The Grand Forks Herald is reporting that Minnesota will be without Amanda Kessel for what would have been her senior season of 2015-16.

A former Patty Kazmaier Award winner, who led Minnesota in scoring for three seasons, sustained a concussion while playing for the U.S. National Team and hasn’t played hockey since the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

She sat out last season with concussion-like symptoms and hasn’t participated in any U.S. National Team activities since Sochi.

Kessel used her first redshirt to play in the Winter Olympics and her second one last year. She did not attend classes last year.

Minnesota coach Brad Frost said Kessel may try to finish school.

“It’s just not worth it for her and her health,” Frost said in the Herald article.

Kessel posted 97 goals and 231 points with the Gophers. including 101 points as a junior when she won the Kazmaier Award and helped Minnesota to a national championship as part of a 41-0 perfect season.

Aitken leaves Marian head coach spot, returns as associate coach at St. Norbert

A.J. Aitken will return for his second stint on the St. Norbert staff as associate head coach, beginning Aug. 1.

Aitken, who has spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Marian, spent nine seasons on the SNC staff from 2003 to 2012. Aitken was 39-37-4 during his tenure at Marian.

“I am excited about the opportunity to rejoin the St. Norbert College hockey program,” Aitken said in a statement. “The overall experience at St. Norbert is first class, and I can’t wait to return to the St. Norbert College family.”

“We had a terrific nine-year run during A.J.’s first time here,” St. Norbert head coach Tim Coghlin added. “He has a wealth of experience and we’re glad to have him back. We’re excited about his next tenure here.”

Aitken played 140 games for Michigan Tech from 1996 to 2000, scoring 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points. He also served as the Huskies’ team captain during his last two seasons.

Following his NCAA career, Aitken played with Macon and Memphis of the now-defunct Central Hockey League and won two CHL titles in Memphis.

A national search is underway to find Aitken’s replacement at Marian.

NCAA approves modification to goalie interference rule

Men’s and women’s officials will be authorized to judge whether incidental contact impacted the goalkeeper’s ability to defend the goal beginning with the upcoming 2015-16 season as the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the modification to the rule regarding contact with the goalkeeper on Thursday. USCHO previously reported the modification on June 15.

Massachusetts-Lowell associate coach Lammers takes job with USHL’s Fighting Saints

The Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League announced Thursday the hiring of Jason Lammers as the team’s new head coach and general manager.

Lammers leaves Massachusetts-Lowell, where he served as associate coach the past three seasons. He came in as an assistant in 2011.

“I’m elated to be a part of the Fighting Saints organization,” said Lammers in a statement. “This was a great process and the organization’s pedigree and the people involved made this something I’m excited about. I’ve had a blessed career as college assistant and associate coach, but I felt the time was right to make this move. Dubuque is a wonderful city, and as we started to get further in the process, my family and I did more research, and the city fits our values, people seem to love living there and it’s an elite organization.”

Prior to his time at Lowell, Lammers worked at Colorado College as an assistant coach from 2009 to 2011. He also spent three seasons as an assistant at Ohio State from 2006 to 2009.

He began his coaching career in 2000 as a volunteer assistant with Clarkson, where he returned as a full-time assistant coach in 2002 after a stint with Hobart. He spent one season as an assistant coach at Alaska during the 2003-04 campaign on the staff of current Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky. He followed Gadowsky to Princeton for the 2004-2005 season.

Lammers graduated from Geneseo in 1998 and played four years for the Knights.

Johnston bolts Colgate blue line for contract with Canadiens

Ryan Johnston will not return for his senior season with Colgate (photo: Ryan Coleman/d3photography.com).

Colgate defenseman Ryan Johnston signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Montreal Canadiens organization on Monday and will forego his senior season with the Raiders.

Johnston agreed to terms with the Canadiens after taking part in their development camp last week.

“I want to thank Ryan for his three years at Colgate,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said in a statement. “Ryan feels at this time he is ready to take the next step in achieving his goal of playing in the National Hockey League. We wish him nothing but the best as he moves onto his professional career.”

Johnston played in all 38 games for the Raiders during the 2014-15 season and tied for the team lead in scoring among defensemen, notching 15 points on one goal and 14 assists.

During his three years with Colgate, Johnston appeared in 110 games, tallying 42 points on five goals and 37 assists.

Johnston is the second player from the class of 2016 to agree to terms with an NHL club since the completion of the 2014-15 season. Forward Kyle Baun signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and appeared with the eventual Stanley Cup champions in the final three games of the regular season.

Vermont promotes Patrick and Wallack to associate head coaches

Vermont assistant coaches Kevin Patrick and Kyle Wallack have both been promoted to the position of associate head coach.

Both enter their fourth season with the Catamounts in 2015-16.

Last season, Patrick and Wallack helped the Catamounts post their second straight 20-win season for the first time since the 1995-96 and 1996-97 campaigns.

Led by Patrick, UVM continued its penalty killing success at a rate of 87.5-percent to rank 10th overall in the NCAA. As a team, Vermont was the seventh-least penalized team in college hockey and won the Charlie Holt Sportsmanship Award for having the least penalty minutes during Hockey East play.

Wallack coached the power play to a 20.1 percent success rate, good for 13th in the country. It marked the first Vermont power play unit to eclipse 20-percent in a single season since 2005-06. UVM’s power play clicked at better than 22-percent in Hockey East play to rank second in the league.

Robert Morris’ Island Sports Center undergoing major renovations

The Island Sports Center, home to both the men’s and women’s teams at Robert Morris, is getting a major revamp this summer.

The rink has been the home of RMU men’s hockey since 2004 and the women’s program since 2005.

Phase 1 of this extensive project, carried out by Graziano Construction, will result in a complete revamp of the men’s and women’s locker rooms, including new stalls, carpet, dry areas and an additional 1,000 square feet added to the general locker room complex.

“We are very appreciative to continue to upgrade our facilities,” Colonials men’s coach Derek Schooley said in a news release. “Over the past few years, several teams in our conference have built new rinks or have done renovations to their buildings. We are very excited for these changes to our players’ area. These updates will help the RMU Island Sports Center to continue to be one of the premier rinks in Atlantic Hockey.”

The athletic training room will double in size from 200 to 400 square feet, while the equipment area and laundry room for both programs will be completely redone and coaches’ offices will also get a facelift.

“We are all very excited about the renovation of the hockey wing,” said RMU women’s coach Paul Colontino in the same release. “This will not only update the area, but also provide a better workflow and additional resources for our student-athletes. This will complement the 2012 renovation of the weight room nicely.”

There will also be a players-only entrance added as part of the renovations, which are on schedule to be completed before the start of the fall semester.

North Dakota, Boston College to play Madison Square Garden during 2016-17 season

The Grand Forks Herald is reporting that North Dakota and Boston College are planning a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game at Madison Square Garden.

The game is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 3, 2016.

In the last decade, North Dakota and BC rank 1-2 nationally in both wins (UND 264, Boston College 261) and Frozen Four appearances (UND six, Boston College six) and have played in the NCAA tournament four times in the last 11 years, with three of them coming in the Frozen Four.

Boston University and Cornell played at the home of the NHL’s New York Rangers and NBA’s New York Knicks in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 – all sellouts.

Further details are being finalized and should be made public in the fall when a formal announcement is made.

No. 5 pick Hanifin leaves Boston College after signing with Carolina

Noah Hanifin had 23 points in 37 games as a freshman at Boston College (photo: Dan and Margaret Hickling).

Boston College’s Noah Hanifin signed with the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, forgoing his final three collegiate seasons.

The defenseman signed a three-year deal that will pay him $832,500 annually at the NHL level or $70,000 in the AHL. The contract includes a $277,500 signing bonus.

“Noah has had a great week here during our prospect development camp,” Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. “He is big, he can skate and he can move the puck. Noah fits the mold for the type of player and person we want in a Hurricanes uniform.”

Hanifin was the fifth overall pick in the NHL draft on June 26, the second of three college players to be picked in the top eight. Boston University’s Jack Eichel went at No. 2 and signed with the Sabres, while Michigan’s Zach Werenski said before being picked eighth by Columbus that he planned to return to school for his sophomore season.

Hanifin had five goals and 23 points in 37 games for the Eagles and was named to the All-Hockey East second team.

 

Connecticut assistant Souza takes associate coach job at New Hampshire

New Hampshire announced Friday that former Wildcats captain Mike Souza has been hired as associate head coach.

Souza replaces former associate head coach Scott Borek, who took the same position at Providence.

“Mike Souza was an outstanding player for us [and] he is a terrific coach and an even better person,” UNH head coach Dick Umile said in a news release. “I am excited to bring him back to UNH to work alongside fellow associate head coach and alum Glenn Stewart.”

Souza, a 2000 UNH graduate, returns to Durham after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant coach at Connecticut. Prior to joining the Huskies, Souza began his coaching career with a two-year stint (2011-13) at Brown as an assistant coach.

“Mike couldn’t have a better mentor over the next couple of years before he takes over as head coach,” Connecticut coach Mike Cavanaugh said to the Hartford Courant. “It’s a wonderful opportunity and I’m really happy for him. It will be a seamless transition when Dick decides to retire. I told Dick I would support it if they were going to move him to head coach. Dick said, ‘That’s our plan.’ I was very happy. I have a great relationship with Dick. He’s an upfront, honest guy. I know he cares about Mike like a son.”

Souza, drafted in the third round (67th overall) in the 1997 NHL draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, played professionally in the AHL and ECHL from 2000 to 2005 and six seasons (2005-11) in Europe.

“Dick Umile has been my coach, mentor and a huge influence on my decision to become a coach, and it is an honor to be part of his staff,” Souza added in a statement. “I am humbled and appreciative to return to my alma mater in this capacity, and I look forward to working alongside Coach Umile and Coach Stewart with the goal of competing for a national championship this season.”

Longtime North Dakota assistant Jackson elevated to associate head coach

North Dakota has promoted longtime assistant coach Dane Jackson to the position of associate head coach.

Jackson will be entering his 10th season on the coaching staff of his alma mater after having spent the previous nine years as an assistant coach under Dave Hakstol.

“Dane has been an important part of the success of the UND men’s hockey program over the past decade,” said UND head coach Brad Berry in a statement. “He brings passion and energy to our group on a daily basis and plays a vital role in the development process for our student-athletes.”

Jackson coaches UND’s forwards and penalty-killing units, while also working directly with the forwards and defensemen on skill development during open-ice sessions throughout the week.

Jackson joined UND prior to the 2006-07 season after serving as head coach and player personnel director for the Adirondack Frostbite of the old United Hockey League and prior to coaching at Adirondack, Jackson spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs.

He played for UND from 1988 to 1992 and was drafted in the third round (44th overall) by Vancouver in the 1988 NHL draft. Jackson went on to enjoy an 11-year professional playing career that included stints in the NHL with Vancouver, Buffalo and the New York Islanders.

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