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Daily Skate: Next generation of UND coaches rising the ranks

Bryn Chyzyk was named USHL General Manager of the Year, while Evan Trupp was hired in Muskegon this week.

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Bryn Chyzyk (29) and Troy Stecher (2) of North Dakota and Tony Cameranesi (13) of Minnesota Duluth compete for the puck during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. North Dakota defeated Minnesota Duluth 3-0.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

GRAND FORKS β€” The list of Gino Gasparini's former UND players who turned into excellent hockey coaches is extensive.

Two of them rose to be NHL head coaches β€” Dave Hakstol and Dave Tippett. Others have filtered across all levels of hockey, including recent NCAA men's hockey national championship-winning coaches Brad Berry (UND) and Scott Sandelin (Minnesota Duluth).

The next generation of coaches β€” players who skated under Hakstol β€” have now started rising the ranks.

This week, former UND forward Bryn Chyzyk was named the United States Hockey League's General Manager of the Year after helping the Waterloo Black Hawks to a 40-win season, tying for the most victories in the league.

This was Chyzyk's second year as Waterloo's general manager.

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Whether Chyzyk's path is ultimately on the management, scouting or coaching side, he will likely be a hot commodity after this season.

Last year's USHL General Manager of the Year, Andy Johnson of Sioux City, immediately landed a job with the Los Angeles Kings. The 2020-21 winner, Ryan Hardy of Chicago, immediately landed a job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Other winners in the last 15 years include current NHL personnel such as San Jose Sharks scout Jon Hull, Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery and Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

Two previous UND players have won the USHL's General Manager of the Year honor β€” Cary Eades with Dubuque in 1991 and Steve Johnson with Lincoln in 2001.

Also this week, former UND forward Evan Trupp was hired as an assistant coach for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL. He will coach a pair of UND recruits next season in forwards Cody Croal and Sacha Boisvert.

Trupp served as head coach of the Anchorage Wolverines in the North American Hockey League this season. In 2021-22, he was an assistant coach for Anchorage, which made a run to the Robertson Cup Finals.

As the NCAA opens the door to pay a third assistant coach beginning next season, two other former UND players are going to get interest β€” Waterloo Black Hawks head coach Matt Smaby and Sioux City Musketeers associate head coach Colten St. Clair.

Smaby, who has led the Black Hawks to back-to-back playoff appearances, received college offers in previous summers. Smaby also could be a candidate for pro jobs.

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Of interest: Matt McIlvane, who gave Smaby his first full-time coaching gig in Salzburg, was named head coach for the San Diego Gulls in the American Hockey League this week.

St. Clair won a Clark Cup as the associate head coach in 2022 with Sioux City. The head coach of that Musketeers team, Luke Strand, was recently named the head coach at Minnesota State-Mankato. Strand has not yet named any assistant coaches.

Oliver named coach of the year

Nick Oliver, a Roseau High graduate who played college hockey at St. Cloud State, was named the USHL's Coach of the Year this week.

In his first year behind the bench for the Fargo Force, Oliver led the Force to their first Anderson Cup in franchise history. The Anderson Cup goes to the team with the best regular-season record.

Fargo is currently up 1-0 on Lincoln in a best-of-five Western Conference Finals series.

Prior to taking the job in Fargo, Oliver was an assistant coach at St. Cloud State for four seasons.

Three current NHL head coaches are previous USHL Coach of the Year winners β€” Hakstol, Cooper and Derek Lalonde of the Detroit Red Wings.

Simpson named Man of the Year

Former UND captain Dillon Simpson was named the Cleveland Monsters' AHL Man of the Year.

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Simpson's off-the-ice work included Simmer's Sidekicks, Special Olympics, A Special Wish, Hockey For Heroes and hospital tours.

Minot's Mason Morelli, who played college hockey at Omaha, was named the Hershey Bears' AHL Man of the Year.

Grimaldi headed to Worlds

Former UND forward Rocco Grimaldi is headed to the IIHF Men's World Championship, which will be held May 12-28 in Tampere, Finland.

The Americans also will play a preliminary game against Germany in Munich on May 9.

Grimaldi played the 2022-23 season in the AHL for the San Diego Gulls and Rockford IceHogs.

Grimaldi finished third in the AHL in goals with 33 and sixth in points with 73.

The 5-foot-6 winger has previously won gold medals with Team USA at the international level. He won two golds at the IIHF World Under-18 tournament and one at the 2013 World Junior Championship.

Ulmer goes viral

Two-time UND national champion and current volunteer assistant coach Jason Ulmer went viral this week on social media.

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Someone on TikTok took on a challenge to figure out what hockey game was playing in the background of a scene from the television show, 'How I Met Your Mother.'

The guy tracked it down to UND's 2000 NCAA quarterfinal game against Niagara, thanks to recognizing Ulmer's jersey.

Hedquist to BCHL finals

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have reached the finals in the British Columbia Hockey League, sweeping Chilliwack in the semifinals.

UND goalie commit Hobie Hedquist was off to a great start in the playoffs, posting a .925 save percentage through eight games, but suffered an injury and did not play at all against Chilliwack.

It's unknown whether he will be available in the BCHL finals β€” the Bulldogs are not divulging a timeline on Hedquist's return β€” but sources say it's not expected to be something serious enough to cause UND worries.

Hedquist is expected to be one of three UND goalies on the roster in the fall. The others are Miami transfer Ludvig Persson and junior Kaleb Johnson.

Quick hits

  • Six UND recruits are playing in the USHL conference finals β€” Fargo's Mac Swanson, Youngstown's Andrew Strathmann and Chicago's Jayden Perron, Michael Emerson, Jake Livanavage and Grayden Slipec. Fargo leads Lincoln 1-0 in its best-of-five series. Chicago and Youngstown begin their series Friday night.
  • Wisconsin associate coach Todd Knott of Red Lake Falls, Minn., signed a three-year contract with an annual base salary of $275,000 with the Badgers. He passed on an offer to become Minnesota State-Mankato's head coach and instead followed Mike Hastings to Wisconsin. The Mavericks are paying Strand, the new head coach, $340,000 annually.
  • The Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL became the league's first team ever to win four consecutive overtime games in the playoffs. The Steelheads went down 2-0 in their first-round series against Idaho, but won the next four in overtime β€” all of them finishing within four minutes. Idaho has several UND connections in Idaho, including Jordan Kawaguchi, Casey Johnson, Adam Scheel and Wade Murphy. It also has two other area players in Minto's Jade Miller and Fargo's Cody Haiskanen.
  • Cam Johnson, the reigning MVP of the ECHL's Kelly Cup Playoffs, is off to a hot start. He finished Florida's first-round series with a .947 save percentage and two shutouts.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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