Brad Elliott Schlossman
Schlossman is in his 12th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.
- Member for
- 4 years 5 months
The best 1991-born Minnesota hockey player according to USA Hockey committed to UND on Wednesday night. Nick Mattson, a 16-year-old sophomore defenseman from Chanhassen, Minn., called the Sioux coaching staff and told them he will play for them beginning in 2010. "North Dakota kind of matches my personality," Mattson said. "I'm a small town kid. I just really felt comfortable with the coaching staff and facilities.
After two seasons of slow starts and struggles at home, the UND men's hockey team coined a phrase for its objective this season. "When we're in our own barn, we always want to push the other team back on their heels," T.J. Oshie said. "We use the term 'push them through the Zamboni doors,' which is their end in the first period. I think that's what we did tonight." The Sioux left little doubt about that.
The lobby of Ralph Engelstad Arena had been packed for at least 20 minutes. Everyone was waiting for UND coach Dave Hakstol to address the crowd, which gathered to welcome the team back from its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Frozen Four. Hakstol, the leader of all three of those teams, was making his way to the podium when a young fan stopped him. Hakstol turned toward the boy, paused and listened. "Make sure you smile!" the boy told the 39-year-old coach. During his tenure at UND, Hakstol has become known for his stoic, never-changing expression on the bench.
A look at the stat sheet may go a long way to explaining UND's slow starts the last three years - none of those teams retained their top two scorers from the previous season. The last time that happened was 2003-04 when Zach Parise and Brandon Bochenski returned for the Sioux. That team started the season 18-2-2. Four years later, UND once again has its top two scorers back. And the talk among Sioux players this week has been surrounding the team's first goal of this highly anticipated season - getting off to a good start.
UND isn't the most veteran team in the 16-team field for the NCAA men's hockey tournament that begins today. But it has a hat trick of coaches who can do far more than teach the intricacies of the game to their players. They can pass on their experiences as players themselves in past NCAA tournaments, lessons that might prove valuable to the Sioux as they battle Michigan on Saturday in the West Regional in Denver.
Maybe I'll come back in my next life as a preacher and follow in the footsteps of my father, uncle and cousin. It seems like a logical step, since I certainly found a congregation of fellow believers after I ripped the quality of officiating in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in a recent column. I heard from readers via e-mail, through the telephone and many who stopped me out in public to voice their anger as well. I was even given a voice on two radio stations to address the subject. I heard from the head cheese himself, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod.
Chris Chelios has played nearly as many years in the National Hockey League (23) as Robbie Bina is old (24). Yet the former Wisconsin Badger defenseman and the current UND defenseman are forever linked for scoring the most improbable goals I've seen in college hockey, 25 years apart. Both came with their teams skating shorthanded, both traveled at least 170 feet and both figured in victories for their respective teams. Bina's goal came Jan. 27 against Minnesota late in the first period and tied the game 3-3 in a 7-3 Sioux victory.
I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. Sad to say, though, I don't have a choice in the matter. And neither do you, the loyal college hockey fans of Greater Grand Forks and the surrounding area. What I am mad about is the poor officiating we are subjected to at nearly every UND home hockey game. It is truly a mixed bag for us college hockey fans. We are blessed with being able to watch the finest college hockey in the world in the world's finest hockey rink, Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The world slowed down for most of us as we celebrated Christmas and welcomed in the New Year. But when you're a semi-retired journalist as I am, the whole year slows down to a most comfortable pace. It gives one time to be an observer, of the good and the bad. In the world of sports, both shades of that can be found on a daily basis. Take Jonathan Toews, for example, UND's 18-year-old sophomore hockey player who already has played on two Canadian World Junior Championship gold medal-winning teams.
College hockey recruiters spend countless hours each year traveling the back roads in the United States and Canada looking for the next great player. It'll be a bit easier task for UND recruiters later this week when the Little Caesars North America Showcase comes to Grand Forks. There will be 16 teams consisting of players in the 18-and-under age bracket from the United States and Canada in the tournament that will be played out at four different rinks from Jan. 11-14.