Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

2018 UND College Hockey Preview: 10 things to know about college hockey this season

Mason Morelli. Omaha athletics.

The college hockey season is about to start with some new twists, some familiar names popping up in different spots and some local players who figure to play prominent roles across the country.

Here are 10 things for local hockey fans to know about this upcoming season:

1. Big Ten joins NCHC, WCHA using 3-on-3 OTs

The NCAA proposed making overtimes uniform across all college hockey conferences.

At the behest of Eastern conferences, the proposal would have ended games after a five-minute, 5-on-5 overtime in a tie.

But after an uproar from the Western leagues—which wanted to keep 3-on-3s for league points only—the NCAA decided to leave overtimes alone.

Now, there is a direct split in college hockey. The three Western-based leagues—the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and the Big Ten—will use 3-on-3 overtimes for conference points if nobody scores in the five-minute, 5-on-5 overtime. The Big Ten will do it for the first time this season.

The three Eastern-based conferences—Atlantic Hockey, the ECAC and Hockey East—will end in ties after a five-minute, 5-on-5 overtimes.

2. Watch out for the 19th skater

College hockey teams have been limited to dressing 18 skaters (forwards/defensemen) during games.

The traditional alignment is 12 forwards and six defensemen. But starting this season, teams will be able to dress a 19th skater.

Will teams use that 19th skater in case of injuries during a game? Will it be someone who specializes in certain areas of the game like the power play or penalty kill? That's something to watch this season.

3. 2014 East Grand Forks state champions

The 2014 East Grand Forks Senior High state championship team—the first boys hockey squad to win one in school history—is spreading out across college hockey.

Four players from that team will be playing Division I this season: juniors Colton Poolman and Dixon Bowen at UND, sophomore Taylor Brierley at Union and freshman Grant Loven at Northern Michigan.

In addition, defenseman Eddie Eades will be a junior at Concordia-Moorhead.

4. North Dakota/area captains

Players from North Dakota and this area are earning leadership roles at several different programs.

UND's captain is Poolman of East Grand Forks.

Former Grand Forks Red River state champion teammates Jon Lizotte and Jacob Benson will both wear an 'A' at St. Cloud State.

Former Minot standout Mason Morelli will wear the 'C' for Omaha.

Bowling Green has yet to name captains, but Bismarck's Alec Rauhauser is expected to be in the mix. Rauhauser led Bowling Green in scoring as a sophomore defenseman last season.

5. Chris Wilkie, Matej Tomek eligible

Two members of UND's 2016 NCAA national championship team will be eligible to suit up for other programs beginning this season.

Forward Chris Wilkie is expected earn an scoring-line role for Colorado College, which didn't have a single senior on last year's team. Wilkie, who sat out last season, will wear No. 34 for the Tigers.

Goalie Matej Tomek will be eligible at Omaha, where he'll battle veterans Evan Weninger and Alex Blankenburg for the starting role. Tomek, who played last season with Waterloo in the USHL, will wear No. 30.

"I hope they can have success wherever they're at," UND coach Brad Berry said.

6. Wahlstrom is this year's super-freshman

In recent years, college hockey fans have seen rookies step in and make massive impacts right away.

Think: UND's Brock Boeser, Boston University's Jack Eichel, Michigan's Kyle Connor.

This year, there's another big-time rookie who could instantly be among the top players in college hockey.

It is Boston College's Oliver Wahlstrom, who has starred at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program the last two years.

7. More new coaches

There have been 17 coaching changes in the 60 college hockey programs over the last two years.

That is the most all-time in a two-year span. There are some young coaches in this new group, too.

Last season, Omaha's Mike Gabinet was the youngest coach in the country at age 36. This season, there are three younger than that: 35-year-old Matt Curley at Alaska Anchorage, 31-year-old Erik Largen at Alaska Fairbanks and 28-year-old David Carle at Denver.

Curley and Carle will coach in The Ralph this season.

The other new coaches are Albie O'Connell at Boston University, Bob Motzko at Minnesota, Brett Larson at St. Cloud State, Scott Borek at Merrimack and Mike Souza at New Hampshire.

8. Bob Motzko back with Gophers

Bob Motzko was behind the bench as an assistant coach for Minnesota for four seasons from 2001-05.

The Gophers won two NCAA national championships and went to three Frozen Fours in those four seasons.

Motzko left for St. Cloud State in 2005, and in the 13 seasons he was gone, the Gophers went to two Frozen Fours and played for one national title.

When Don Lucia stepped down this spring, the Gophers lured Motzko back to campus, where he'll try to end their national championship drought.

9. DU's star rookie not yet ready

Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet led the Pioneers to a pair of NCAA Frozen Fours and an NCAA national title in the last three seasons.

Although he graduated, Denver reloaded at that position by bringing in the Herald's No. 1 NCHC recruit in Swedish goalie Filip Larsson.

Larsson, 6-foot-2, 181 pounds, was having an incredible year with Tri-City in the USHL — .941 save percentage, 1.65 goals-against average — until he suffered a season-ending injury on Feb. 24.

Tri-City was 26-15-2 before Larsson's injury and 3-14-2 after his injury.

Denver announced Monday that Larsson is out indefinitely with a "lower-body injury" and won't be ready to start the season.

That leaves the starting job to rookie Michael Corson or sophomore Devin Cooley.

10. Could Western Michigan win NCHC?

On Jan. 12 of last season, Western Michigan beat St. Cloud State in the series opener and had a chance to move alone into first place in the NCHC in the series finale.

The team's top three scorers were Wade Allison, Colt Conrad and Hugh McGing.

But that weekend, Allison suffered a season-ending injury. Conrad suffered a broken jaw that kept him out for more than a month. And sometime in the second half of the season, McGing broke his hand.

The Broncos faltered down the stretch, but all three players are back this season.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman 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.

(701) 780-1129