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Daily Skate: UND ranked in final USCHO poll for 21st-straight season

The Fighting Hawks' run is three times longer than any other team in college hockey.

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UND's bench watches the action during a game in Omaha in the 2023 National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs.
Mark Kuhlmann / UND athletics

GRAND FORKS โ€” USCHO released its season-ending Division-I men's hockey poll Monday afternoon.

UND finished at No. 17.

It marked the 21st-consecutive season UND has been ranked in USCHO's final poll. That run spans three head coaches โ€” Dean Blais, Dave Hakstol and Brad Berry.

UND's streak is at least three times longer than anyone in the country.

Next up is Minnesota at seven-straight years, followed by Minnesota State-Mankato (six), Quinnipiac (five), Michigan (four) and St. Cloud State (three). Nobody else has a run longer than two years.

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It's another measure that shows how difficult it has been for programs to sustain annual success.

Heading into next season, there won't be a single team in the country with an NCAA-tournament streak longer than five years.

Since the USCHO poll started in 1997-98, UND has been ranked in the season-ending poll in 25 of 26 years. That ranks first in college hockey.

Michigan is second (24 times), followed by Denver (22), Boston College (22), Minnesota (20), Boston University (18), St. Cloud State (16) and New Hampshire (16).

Most consecutive years in final USCHO rankings Active streaks
Team Years
North Dakota 21
Minnesota 7
MSU-Mankato 6
Quinnipiac 5
SOURCE: GF Herald

Strand hired in Mankato

MSU-Mankato named Ohio State assistant Luke Strand as its next head coach Monday.

He replaces Mike Hastings, who left for Wisconsin after turning the Mavericks into a national contender.

Strand won a United States Hockey League Clark Cup a year ago with Sioux City, helping to springboard his candidacy. According to the Mankato Free Press, Strand will make $340,000 annually.

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Strand, 50, will have some re-building to do.

The Mavericks have lost their top nine scorers from last season's team. Seven have signed pro contracts. Two are in the transfer portal. Two other notable players entered the portal in forward Simon Tassy and defenseman Bennett Zmolek.

Strand's first priority may be trying to save Hastings' top recruits, notably defenseman Aaron Pionk of the Waterloo Blackhawks and forward Cade Littler of the Wenatchee Wild. According to multiple sources, teams have been preparing behind the scenes to make a run at Pionk if he is released from his National Letter of Intent.

The Mavericks will play a two-game series in Ralph Engelstad Arena on Oct. 27-28.

Roster moves hit Frozen Four teams

Most of college hockey has been dealing with offseason moves the last couple of weeks.

The NCAA Frozen Four participants joined them Monday.

Three Minnesota players have already signed NHL deals โ€” sophomore forward Matthew Knies (Maple Leafs), junior defenseman Brock Faber (Wild) and senior defenseman Jackson LaCombe (Ducks).

One Michigan player has signed an NHL deal โ€” sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes (Devils). Three others hit the transfer portal โ€” top-pair defenseman Keaton Pehrson, New York Rangers draft pick and forward Eric Ciccolini and forward Nick Granowicz.

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Five Boston University players entered the transfer portal Monday โ€” Detroit Red Wings draft pick and forward Ethan Phillips, forward Jamie Armstrong, forward John Copeland, forward Brian Carrabes and backup goalie Vinny Duplessis.

National champion Quinnipiac has only lost one so far โ€” defenseman Matthew Campbell, who did not play a single game, entered the transfer portal. But Craig Morgan reported that the Arizona Coyotes are interested in signing freshman forward Sam Lipkin, who set up the overtime winner in the title game.

WMU D-men announce returns

A pair of Western Michigan defensemen announced Monday their intentions to return for a fifth season.

Zak Galambos, a transfer from American International, and Carter Berger, a transfer from UConn, both were key players for the Broncos last season.

Galambos tallied 11 goals and 29 points from the back end. Berger, a Florida Panthers draft pick, had five goals and 23 points.

Although Western Michigan's entire top line turned pro โ€” Ryan McAllister signed with Florida, Jason Polin signed with Colorado and Max Sasson signed with Vancouver โ€” the Broncos should be set on the back end.

Aidan Fulp is the only regular Bronco defenseman gone. He signed with the New York Islanders.

But Dallas Stars draft pick Samuel Sjolund will be eligible to start next season. Sjolund sat out this entire 2022-23 season with eligibility issues stemming from a Swedish pro league he played in during the pandemic season.

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Western Michigan's other regulars โ€” Cedric Fiedler, Daniel Hilsendager and Jacob Bauer โ€” are all back.

Chrona signs with Sharks

Denver goalie Magnus Chrona, the team's primary starter for the last four seasons, has signed an NHL deal with the San Jose Sharks.

Chrona had one year of college eligibility remaining.

Next season, the Pioneers will have a new starting goalie for the first time since freshman Filip Larsson took over the job in 2019. Larsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings after one college season, opening the door for Chrona.

Who will follow Chrona?

That's up in the air.

Denver has two goalies on its roster. Sophomore Matt Davis is the No. 2 and junior Jack Caruso is the No. 3.

The Pioneers have two committed goalies in Paxton Geisel (.868) of the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints and Freddie Halyk (.910) of the Camrose Kodiaks in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

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Geisel has two years of junior eligibility left. Halyk has one.

Quick hits

  • As long expected, Todd Knott of Red Lake Falls, Minn., was officially introduced as Wisconsin's associate head coach Monday. Knott was offered the head coaching job in Mankato, but he passed on it to go to Madison.
  • The Idaho Steelheads, who tied an ECHL record for wins in a season with 56 last weekend, named former UND Hobey Baker Award finalist Jordan Kawaguchi its team MVP.
  • After spending his first week as a pro with the Cincinnati Cyclones, Drew DeRidder is already on the move in the ECHL. He is now with the Kalamazoo Wings for the final week of the regular season. DeRidder played arguably his best weekend of the season in Kalamazoo in December.
  • Grand Forks native and defenseman Bauer Berry scored his first USHL goal over the weekend for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The goal came in Berry's second USHL game.
  • UND incoming freshman defenseman Nate Benoit scored a game-winning goal in the final seconds of Waterloo's game against Sioux Falls.

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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