The UND men’s hockey team should have a familiar feel next season: proven goaltending, dynamic defensemen and a group of forwards that will have to put up offense by committee.
UND’s not going to have a Hobey Baker Award finalist up front next season — especially after sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi turned pro Wednesday — but it can still use the same formula that led the team to the NCAA Frozen Four this season.
Goals came from all over the lineup when the team was successful. In the regional final, it was walk-ons Connor Gaarder and Stephane Pattyn who sent UND to Philadelphia. In other games down the stretch, it was longtime linemates Michael Parks and Mark MacMillan.
Often times, the defensemen themselves chipped in.
It’s probably going to have to be the same way next season for a UND team that will aim at making its 13th consecutive NCAA tournament and playing in a regional tournament in Fargo’s Scheels Arena.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see MacMillan and Parks put up bigger point totals if they are healthy. They spent a chunk of last season injured and their production plummeted. When they regained their health, they took off. Look for strong senior seasons from them.
Drake Caggiula is a player who has showed that he has some elite abilities. Higher levels of consistency usually come with age, and we started seeing that last season with Caggiula.
But for UND to make a run in a very difficult National Collegiate Hockey Conference, the key may very well be getting production from the others — Pattyn, Gaarder, Luke Johnson, Bryn Chyzyk, Colten St. Clair and even rookies Nick Schmaltz, John Simonson and Trevor Olson.
It worked last season.
It will have to again.
A new era of recruiting?
The end of college hockey’s gentleman’s agreement — the coaches agreeing not to recruit verbally committed players even though it’s allowable by NCAA rules — appears to be coming to an end.
Even though a majority of coaches favor keeping it in place, it has been suspected that some will no longer abide by it, and on Thursday, Mike Eaves publicly stated that his staff does not plan on following the gentleman’s agreement.
In a story in the Wisconsin State Journal, Eaves said: “I could live with the gentleman’s agreement before, but now things have changed.”
Minnesota coach Don Lucia has publicly opposed the gentleman’s agreement and the State Journal story says Boston College coach Jerry York also opposes it (York’s Eagles recently picked up a big-time commitment from star forward Sonny Milano, who had been committed to Notre Dame).
If some schools start recruiting verbally committed players, you have to expect that it’s only a matter of time before others follow. They aren’t going to watch other schools have a leg-up on them in the recruiting game.
- Grimaldi’s three-year contract with the Panthers is worth $925,000 per year if he’s playing in the NHL or $70,000 per year if he’s in the minor leagues. He also earns a $92,500 signing bonus for each of the next three seasons.