Last summer, college hockey approved a new rule that allows officials to use video review on potential major penalty calls during the regular season.
The theory behind it was simple: Nobody likes more video reviews that slow down the game, but major penalty calls are so critical -- it hands a team a five-minute power play that doesn’t expire and it usually involves an ejection -- that it’s more important to get the call is right than it is to speed up the game.
This season, there has been some pushback on that.
Some have questioned whether there are too many video reviews and that it’s the wrong direction for the game.
But what happened Tuesday night in Game 7 of the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights NHL playoff series likely solidifies college hockey’s position and may lead to the NHL adopting a similar rule.
With Vegas holding a 3-0 lead in the third period, Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin was called for a five-minute major penalty for cross-checking Joe Pavelski, who was injured on the play. It was the wrong call, but NHL officials don’t have the ability to double check.
The Sharks ended up scoring four times on the ensuing power play and taking the lead. They eventually won the game in overtime.
Prior to last season, college hockey officials could use video review for potential majors during the playoffs, but that was expanded nine months ago.
Even if no penalty is called on the ice, officials can go back and use review to call a five-minute major. However, if no penalty is called on the ice, they cannot use review to call a two-minute minor.
If a two-minute minor is called on the ice, officials can change it to a five-minute major on video review, but cannot rescind the minor call.
The NHL controversy happened just days before college hockey coaches and administrators are scheduled to meet in Florida for their annual convention.
Although this is not a rules change year -- NCAA allows rules changes every other year -- the Sharks-Golden Knights game will certainly have some re-thinking whether they should eliminate video review for majors next summer.
A college hockey first
Providence freshman forward Jay O’Brien is in the transfer portal, according to New England Hockey Journal’s Jeff Cox. O’Brien, a first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, is looking for a new home after a two-goal, five-point rookie season.
With that, O’Brien will make college hockey history.
It will mark the first time that a first-round NHL draft pick has ever transferred to a new school.
There have been 164 first-round NHL draft picks in college hockey since 1964, but not a single one has transferred to another school.
Three second-round picks have transferred. Sam Kurkur, who went No. 56 to St. Louis in 2012, played a year and a half at Boston University (2012-13) before transferring to Northeastern (2015-17). Mike Golden, who went No. 40 overall to Edmonton in 1983, played a year at New Hampshire (1983-84) before transferring to Maine (1985-88).
Connor Hurley, who went No. 38 overall to Buffalo in 2013, played three years at Notre Dame (2014-17) before transferring to Minnesota. But after sitting out his transfer year, he never played for the Gophers.
Cox reported that O’Brien is expected to play in the British Columbia Hockey League during 2019-20 before returning to a new school. Mark Divver of the Providence Journal speculated that O’Brien could end up in Penticton.
Could Bulldogs be done with signings?
Minnesota Duluth lost a second player to an early signing on Tuesday when defenseman Mikey Anderson signed with the Los Angeles Kings.
Earlier, junior forward Riley Tufte signed with the Dallas Stars.
While a number of other players are expected to get offers, it is entirely possible that Anderson and Tufte are the only two to turn pro early from the Bulldogs.
Matt Wellens of the Duluth News Tribune reported that free agent defenseman Nick Wolff has opted to return for his senior season. Goalie Hunter Shepard, a free agent, also has said he’s coming back.
"There ya go." - Hunter Shepard will return for his senior season in a Bulldog uniform pic.twitter.com/gbIWhFT7AV
- Kelly Hinseth (@kellyhinseth) April 24, 2019
It is believed that blue liners Scott Perunovich (St. Louis Blues) and Dylan Samberg (Winnipeg Jets) are getting strong pushes to sign NHL deals, but sources believe they're both leaning toward returning at this point.
Dell witnesses another epic comeback
Aaron Dell’s pursuit of a Stanley Cup remains alive after the wild comeback Tuesday night in Game 7.
While pundits debated where San Jose’s rally ranked among the best all-time in the NHL playoffs, Dell also was a part of one of UND’s greatest playoff comebacks of all time.
In the 2012 Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five semifinals, UND trailed Minnesota 3-0 late in the second period and was getting outshot badly, when it flipped the script and scored six straight to win 6-3. UND won the championship game against Denver the next day.
Dell saw action in two of the seven games between the Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights, coming in relief of Martin Jones both times.
USHL holds dispersal draft
The United States Hockey League held its Central Illinois dispersal draft Monday morning. Central Illinois is going dormant next season.
The Fargo Force won the draft lottery and selected Maine commit Lynden Breen No. 1 overall. Breen, 5-foot-9, 166 pounds, had 37 points in 61 games this season for Central Illinois.
Two UND commits were picked in the draft as well.
Forward Stephen Halliday, who once went No. 1 overall in the USHL Phase I Draft, was selected No. 3 overall by the Dubuque Fighting Saints, while defenseman Luke Bast was picked No. 9 overall by the Waterloo Black Hawks.
Halliday, who is just 16 years old, had 34 points in 55 games for the Flying Aces. Bast currently plays for the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he had 35 points in 45 regular-season games. Brooks is hosting the Canadian Junior Hockey League national championship, the RBC Cup, this spring. Brooks automatically qualifies for it.
Other top five picks were Chad Hillebrand (Alaska Anchorage), who went to Green Bay at No. 2, Chase Foley (Colorado College), who went to Sioux Falls at No. 4 and Bradley Marek (Michigan State), who went to Youngstown at No. 5.
Lincoln took defenseman Jake Boltmann (Minnesota), whose brother Brock plays wide receiver for the UND football team, at No. 6.
Pinto racking up points
The transition to playoff hockey hasn’t been a problem for UND commit Shane Pinto.
Pinto, who plays for the Tri-City Storm, racked up eight points in three games in a Western Conference semifinal sweep of Des Moines.
Pinto currently leads the USHL playoffs in points.
The center from Franklin Square, N.Y., had a four-point game (one goal, three assists) in his playoff debut Friday, then followed that up by scoring another goal in his second playoff game Saturday. He tacked on three more points (goal, two assists) Tuesday night.
This week, Pinto also was named to the USHL all-rookie first team. He is expected to be a second-round NHL draft pick in June and will come to UND in the fall.
- USHL (@USHL) April 24, 2019
NCHC reloading with top recruits
All-USHL teams were announced Tuesday and they’re more evidence that the NCHC is getting deeper.
Four of the five college-bound players on the all-USHL first team will be in the NCHC next season -- and none of them are going to the teams that finished 1-2 in the league last season, St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth.
Forward Bobby Brink (Denver), forward Brett Murray (Miami), defenseman Ronnie Attard (Western Michigan) and goalie Isaiah Saville (Omaha) are on the first team. Western Michigan-bound goalie Brandon Bussi is on the third team, while Pinto (UND) and Saville are on the all-rookie first team.
The NCHC has won four consecutive NCAA national championships -- UND in 2016, Denver in 2017 and Minnesota Duluth in 2018 and 2019.
Roster turnover at Minnesota
Minnesota will have a large turnover on its roster for next season.
In addition to having nine seniors on last season’s team, the Gophers also lost a pair of players to early NHL signings: junior forward Rem Pitlick signed with the Nashville Predators and junior goalie Mat Robson signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Wild.
There could be more roster shuffling, too.
Defenseman Clayton Phillips, who the Gophers added to the roster midway through the 2017-18 season to try to boost their power play, is weighing options for next season, too, according to two sources. Phillips, a third-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, had a goal and 10 points in 34 games last season as a sophomore for the Gophers.
If Phillips opts to leave, Minnesota would be losing 12 of 27 players from last year’s roster. If he ends up returning, Minnesota could return five of six regulars on the blue line.
Minnesota finished 18-16-4 in Bob Motzko’s first year at the helm. The Gophers host UND on Thanksgiving weekend this season in Mariucci Arena.
Beer in Mariucci?
When UND takes on Minnesota in Mariucci this season, could fans be drinking beers in their seats for the first time?
University President Eric Kaler is asking the Board of Regents to allow it. The Star Tribune has a story with the details.
Previously, alcohol was only allowed in the suites at Mariucci.
Grimaldi promoted for finale
Rocco Grimaldi’s season came to an end Monday night in Dallas, but the former UND forward had an eye-opening playoff run that earned him a promotion for Game 6.
Grimaldi played on the second line for the Nashville Predators alongside Kyle Turris and Mikael Granlund -- quite the rise for a player who started the season in the American Hockey League.
Grimaldi led all Nashville forwards in both goals and points during the playoffs. He had three goals in five games for the Predators.
The 5-foot-6, 180-pound had his best pro season yet with a strong Nashville team. In his first four pro seasons, Grimaldi never played more than 20 NHL games in a single year. This season, he played 53 in the regular season and had a standout playoff series against Dallas.
Grimaldi was on a one-year, two-way contract with Nashville. He will be a restricted free agent this summer.
TRF's Myers commits to BSU
Forward Aaron Myers of Thief River Falls committed to Bemidji State late last week.
Myers had 50 points in 57 regular-season games for the Minnesota Wilderness in the North American Hockey League this season. He was the leading scorer for the Prowlers a year ago as a senior.
Myers is the son of former UND player Rick Myers.
- Tanner Mack, who led East Grand Forks Senior High’s Section 8A champion team in scoring this season, has signed to play junior hockey with the Lloydminster Bobcats in the Alberta Junior Hockey League next season.