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Four NCHC Teams Open 2017-18 Season with Exhibition Wins Saturday

By NCHC, 09/30/17, 11:30PM EDT


SCSU, WMU and UND each score at least six goals, SCSU also records shutout; CC victorious too

On the first official day of the 2017-18 college hockey season, five National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) teams opened their season with exhibition contests and four NCHC teams came away victorious Saturday. No. 6/9 St. Cloud State and No. 20 Western Michigan each put up eight goals with the Huskies blanking Regina, 8-0, while the Broncos topped Wilfrid Laurier, 8-2. No. 7/7 North Dakota also poured on the offense in a 6-2 victory over Manitoba, while Colorado College defeated Lethbridge, 4-1, in a game held in Breckenridge, Colo. The lone NCHC team to fall Saturday was No. 11/6 Minnesota Duluth, which saw Alberta score three third-period goals to escape with a 4-3 win over UMD.

In the first game of the 2017-18 season, No. 20 Western Michigan gave up an early goal but tallied the next four markers in the first period en route to an 8-2 win over Wilfrid Laurier in exhibition action at Lawson Ice Arena. Junior forward Colt Conrad added two goals for the Broncos, while senior forward Aidan Muir and sophomore defenseman Cam Lee each had a goal and two assists. Sophomore goaltender Ben Blacker made 17 saves while playing the entire game as WMU outshot the Golden Hawks, 50-19. WMU opens the regular season next weekend with a home-and-home series against Ferris State.

No. 6/9 St. Cloud State also put up eight goals while three Huskies combined for a shutout in an 8-0 win over Regina in exhibition play at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Freshman forward Blake Lizotte recorded a hat trick in his unofficial collegiate debut, while forwards Blake Winiecki, Easton Brodzinski, Patrick Newell and Jack Poehling all tallied a goal and each added two assists. Goaltenders Jeff Smith, David Hrenak and David Zevnik totaled 25 saves in the whitewash as SCSU outshot the Cougars, 53-25. The Huskies open the regular season next Saturday at No. 15/18 Minnesota State.

Behind a four-goal second period, No. 7/7 North Dakota skated past Manitoba, 6-2, in exhibition play at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Sophomore forward Ludvig Hoff tallied two goals while freshman forward Grant Mismash and sophomore blue liner Christian Wolanin chipped in a goal and an assist each. Senior goalie Cam Johnson made 10 saves in nearly 40 minutes of work as UND outshot Manitoba, 35-17. North Dakota opens the regular season at Alaska Anchorage next weekend.

Playing its exhibition game in Breckenridge, Colo., Colorado College downed Lethbridge, 4-1, at Stephen C. West Ice Arena. Junior forward Westin Michaud scored two goals and added an assist to pace the Tigers. Sophomore goalie Alex Leclerc made 10 saves in the first two periods before giving way to rookie Alec Calvaruso, who had eight stops. The Tigers outshot the Pronghorns, 40-19. CC opens the regular season at Vermont next weekend.

No. 11/6 Minnesota Duluth jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but Alberta scored three goals in the third period to steal a 4-3 win in exhibition play at AMSOIL Arena. Freshman defensemen Dylan Samberg and Scott Perunovich and sophomore forward Riley Tufte notched goals for the Bulldogs, with two coming on the power play. UMD outshot Alberta, 32-29, despite the loss. The Bulldogs open the regular season next weekend hosting the Ice Breaker Tournament, facing No. 3/3 Minnesota on Friday night.

The only NCHC team in action Sunday is defending national champion and No. 1/1 Denver, which hosts the same Lethbridge team the Tigers defeated on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 5:05 p.m. MT at Magness Arena with the exhibition game available on

Individual game recaps, along with links to highlights, postgame comments and box scores, are below.

No. 20 Western Michigan 8, Wilfrid Laurier 2 (Exh.)

Box Score | Highlights | WMU Recap
Recap courtesy WMU Athletic Communications

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Junior forward Colt Conrad scored twice and six other Broncos scored as the Western Michigan hockey team beat Wilfrid Laurier, 8-2, in an exhibition game at Lawson Ice Arena on Saturday afternoon.

WMU fired off 50 total shots on goal on the night, while sophomore goalie Ben Blacker made 18 saves. The Broncos picked up goals from Cam Lee, Corey Schueneman, Aidan Muir, Josh Passolt, Dawson DiPietroand Brett Van Os.

After giving up an early short-handed goal to the Golden Hawks, the Broncos responded on the power play at 6:45 on Conrad's first of the night. Lee scored at 14:30 to give WMU a 2-1 lead and a flurry of goals followed. Schueneman scored just 51 seconds later after punching in a rebound on a shot by Aidan Muir to extend the lead to 3-1. Conrad netted his second on the night, again on the power play, at 17:53 in the first period.

Wilfrid Laurier's Anthony Conti scored at 4:00 in the second period to cut the lead to 4-2, but Muir's goal on a redirect of a shot by Paul Stoykewych gave the Broncos a 5-2 lead. It was the third power play goal of the night for the Broncos.

Passolt, DiPietro and Van Os also scored in the third period to put the game away, 8-2. The power play finished 4-for-8 on the night, while WMU's penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5.

Western Michigan opens up the regular season with a home-and-home series against Ferris State next Friday and Saturday. The Broncos host the Bulldogs on Friday at 7 p.m. and then travel to Big Rapids the following night. WMU also hosts Bowling Green on Tuesday, Oct. 10. 

No. 6/9 St. Cloud State 8, Regina 0 (Exh.)

Box Score | Highlights | Postgame CommentsSCSU Recap 
Recap courtesy SCSU Athletic Communications

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - The No. 6/9 St. Cloud State University men's hockey team opened its 2017-18 campaign with an 8-0 victory over the University of Regina in exhibition play on Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn.

The Huskies dominated the contest as they outshot the Cougars 53-25 in the game and also led 3-0 after the first period of play.

Jack Poehling posted the eventual game winner early with a goal at 4:23 of the first period with a solo assist from Easton Brodzinski.  The Huskies then stretched their lead to 2-0 with a goal by rookie Blake Lizotte at 4:57 of the first with assists from Blake Winiecki and Nick Poehling.

On the power play, Robby Jackson made it 3-0 at 19:41 of the first period with helpers from Jimmy Schuldtand Patrick Newell.  The Huskies continued to roll in the second period with an opening shot from Newell at 4:45 on assists from Ryan Poehling and Schuldt.  The goals continued at 6:27 of the second as Blake Winiecki connected on a PPG with assists from Newell and Jackson.

Brodzinski joined the scoring parade at 14:52 of the second period with an assist from Jack Poehling, which made the tally 6-0.  To round out the scoring, Lizotte claimed the hat trick with a pair of goals to make the final score 8-0.

At 15:15 of the second period, Lizotte scored with assists from Winiecki and Nick Poehling.  He ended the day's goal production at 8:15 of the third period with assists from Brodzinski and Jack Poehling.

The Huskies' goaltending trio of Jeff Smith, David Hrenak and David Zevnik combined for the shutout.  Smith was the goalie of record with four saves in the first period, while Hrenak added 11 saves in the second period and Zevnik finished the game with 10 saves in the third period.  On the day, SCSU was 2-of-6 on the power play and Regina was 0-4.

SCSU will continue its 2017-18 season on Saturday, Oct. 7 with a 7:07 p.m. game at Minnesota State University, Mankato. 

No. 7/7 North Dakota 6, Manitoba 2 (Exh.)

Box Score | Highlights | Postgame Comments | UND Recap
Recap courtesy UND Athletic Media Relations

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - On media day for UND hockey earlier this week, head coach Brad Berry said that if this team is to have success this season, the depth of the roster has to be a strong suit following key player losses after last season to NHL teams.

Chalk one up to the depth chart for the Fighting Hawks after they downed the University of Manitoba 6-2 Saturday night in the season-opening exhibition game in front of 10,682 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Players from all four lines scored goals and all six freshmen skaters in the lineup had at least a goal or an assist in a win over the Bisons (4-5), playing their ninth game this season but outshot 35-17 overall by the speedier Hawks.

This marks the 14th straight win for UND over the Bisons since moving into the current rink beginning with the 2001 season.

So the win wasn't unexpcted, but the contributions of rookie forwards Grant Mismash (goal, assist), Collin Adams (2 assists), Jordan Kawaguchi (goal), Nick Jones (assist) and defenseman Josh Rieger (assist) were noticeable.

They combined to score 33 percent of UND's goals (2 of 6) with the goals by Mismash and Kawaguchi featuring both assists on the goals from fellow freshmen.

"It was pretty surreal,'' Mismash said of his first game at REA in front of a large crowd. "Obviously the first period I was a little nervous, kind of getting into it. Once the team started settling down, it was like playing good-old hockey.'

In this case, good-old UND hockey, with a high tempo, some pretty goals and a promsing start by rookies to excite the fan base going forward.

"Overall it was awesome,'' said Mishmash, an Edina, Minn., native who came to UND highly-touted from the U.S. National Under-18 Team. "I've never experienced a crowd like this, and it was just an exhibition game. It was pretty crazy.''

UND blew the game open with a four-goal second period, with goals by Wolanin, Hoff, Kawaguchi and Johnny Simonsonturning a 2-1 game into a 6-2 cushion before a scoreless third period.

Adams, who played right wing on a line with Mismash on the left side and Rhett Gardner at center, chipped in with two assists and some strong playmaking.

He also chipped in by creating a new word for Webster's Dictionary in describing his linemates, Mismash and Gardner.

"My line is great,'' Adams said. "We've got a lot of skill, a lot of smart, 'IQ-ness' from our line.''

Hoff, moved into the center spot on the top line for this game with Shane Gersich and team captain Austin Poganski on the wings, led the way with two goals. It's a promising sign for the Oslo, Norway, native, who had four goals in 36 games all of last season as a rookie.

"That made it a lot more fun for me,'' Hoff said of being paired with veterans Poganski and Gersich. "They're two very talented players.''

Hoff played more at wing last season, but relishes the move to center.

"I talked to Bubs (coach Berry) about it, and he thinks I look pretty comfortable at center,'' Hoff said. "We're just going to keep trying that now.''

Berry always talks about how building the team through the season is a process, one block at a time.

"I learned we're not a one-line team,'' Berry said of Saturday's showing. "We've got a little bit of depth. The way we're going to have success is with everybody pulling the rope.''

Berry also saw parts of the game that need more work, including play in the defensive zone. A defensive turnover at the UND blue line set up Ryan Laurencelle for a breakaway goal for Manitoba's first goal less than five minutes into the game.

"There were a lot of good efforts tonight,'' Berry said, "but there's lots of things to work on. We were not as sharp as we could have been, but that's to be expected because of the first game.

"But now it's game-on, and we've got to be sure we're ready for Alaska (Anchorage) next week,'' Berry added.

UND officially opens the season next Friday and Saturday with a non-conference series against the Seawolves.

Colorado College 4, Lethbridge 1 (Exh.)

Box Score | CC Recap 
Recap courtesy CC Athletic Communications

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - Junior Westin Michaud scored a pair of goals and added an assist to lead Colorado College to a 4-1 victory over Lethbridge University in an exhibition game Saturday evening at the Stephen C. West Arena in Breckenridge.

Michaud scored 1:40 into the contest and the Tigers took a 2-0 lead when fellow junior Trevor Gooch took a pass from Michaud and found the net two minutes later.

Mitchell Maxwell cut the Lethbridge deficit in half with one minute to play in the second period, but Michaud and freshman Zach Berzolla added third-period tallies for CC to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

“Westin played great for us tonight,” head coach Mike Haviland said. “He worked extremely hard in the offseason and seems to be a different player.”

Sophomore Nick Halloran dished out a pair of assists for the Tigers.

Sophomore Alex Leclerc made 10 saves during the first two periods for Colorado College before giving way to freshman Alec Calvaruso, who stopped eight shots during the final 20 minutes.

Ty Edmonds steered aside 36 shots for Lethbridge.

The Tigers were 3-for-7 on the power play and outshot Lethbridge 40-19. The Pronghorns did not score on their two power-play opportunities.

“This is a great start to our season,” Haviland said. “We had good speed and made some plays. We saw a lot of good things with not a lot of time with the guys.”

Colorado College officially kicks off its 2017-18 campaign next week at the University of Vermont.

Alberta 4, No. 11/6 Minnesota Duluth 3 (Exh.)

Box Score | Highlights | Postgame Comments | UMD Recap
Recap courtesy UMD Athletic Communications

DULUTH, Minn. - Prior to Friday night, the University of Minnesota Duluth had not lost to a Canadian University since the University of Alberta prevailed 8-5 back on Dec. 15, 1989.

Those same Golden Bears ended that 28-year slump by striking for three unanswered goals in a span of just under four minutes midway through the third period on their to a 4-3 exhibition game triumph over the Bulldogs at AMSOIL Arena.

All 27 rostered Bulldogs took shifts in the game, including 11 who did so for the first time in a UMD uniform. That included rookie defensemen Dylan Samberg, who opened the scoring with a goal 52 seconds, and Scott Perunovich, whose snipe from the low slot on a 5-on-3 power play gave UMD a 3-1 lead midway through the second period. Sophomore Riley Tufte accounted for the Bulldogs' other goal which came off a rebound while UMD was a man up at 6:11 of the second.

The game featured an abundance of penalties (the two teams combined for 23 infractions for 60 minutes) and that resulted in plenty of power play opportunities (UMD was 2-for-9 while Alberta went 1-for-10. UMD's three goaltenders each played a period with sophomore Nick Deery allowing one goal on seven shots in the first, sophomore Hunter Shepard turning aside all 10 shots he faced in the second and freshman Ben Patt giving up three goals on 12 shots the rest of the way.

"I thought this was a good starting point against a good team," said Scott Sandelin, who is 19-3-0 in 22 lifetime exhibition games during his 18 seasons as UMD's head coach. "I knew it was going to be a test and it certainly was." 

"I saw some good in our whole team, saw some bad and I saw some ugly, but we are going to look at the good things and try to build off those"

UMD, which is now 36-4-2 all-time against Canadian universities, including a 1-2 mark against Alberta (this was the first meeting between the two clubs since last Bulldog loss on Dec. 15, 1989), will launch its 74th season of intercollegiate hockey by taking on the University of Minnesota Friday night in the Ice Breaker Tournament semifinals at AMSOIL Arena.