Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service
FARGO --The NCAA Division I Council passed legislation Friday, April 19, to take a big bite out of early recruiting in college hockey. Beginning May 1, coaches will be barred from having any communication with prospects until Jan. 1 of the prospect’s sophomore year. In the past, prospects were allowed to initiate contact at any time. The legislation also bans unofficial visits until Jan. 1 of the prospect’s sophomore year and official visits -- which are paid by the school -- until Aug. 1 before the prospect’s junior year.
FARGO -- Fargo has landed yet another NCAA hockey regional. Fargo’s Scheels Arena will be the host of the NCAA Midwest Regional in 2021. The NCAA announced the next two years of regional sites on Friday, April 19. Next season, the four regional sites will be Albany, N.Y., Worcester, Mass., Allentown, Pa., and Loveland, Colo. In 2020-21, the four regional sites will be Bridgeport, Ct., Manchester, N.H., Fargo and Loveland.
The NCAA Division I Council started a two-day meeting Thursday in Indianapolis that could result in significant changes to recruiting in men’s hockey. Two proposals are on the table that are aimed at delaying recruiting timelines and putting a dent in early recruiting. Both proposals would ban contact between men’s hockey prospects and coaching staffs until Jan. 1 of the prospect’s sophomore year. Currently, prospects are allowed to contact coaching staffs at any time, which has led to increasingly young recruiting.
GRAND FORKS -- There have been a few constants this year with the NHL Draft Rankings: Jack Hughes has remained at the top, Spencer Knight has always been the highest-rated goalie and University of North Dakota recruit Shane Pinto seems to keep rising every time a new batch of rankings is released. That was true again Monday, April 15. Pinto shot all the way up to No. 28 in the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s top-available North American skaters, leading a group of eight future/current UND players who could get selected in June in Vancouver.
FARGO -- University of North Dakota commit Tyler Kleven stepped onto the ice at Scheels Arena on Friday night, April 5, for warmups, but his teammates didn’t follow. They let him skate a solo lap, as is often done in the NHL for players making their debuts. This wasn’t a debut, though. This was a homecoming lap for Kleven, a former Fargo Davies defenseman who returned home this weekend to play against the Fargo Force as a member of the U.S. Under-17 Team.
Goals were hard to find this weekend in the NCAA hockey tournament. In fact, this was the lowest-scoring regional weekend since the NCAA tournament switched to its current 16-team format in 2003. There were only 50 goals scored in the 12 NCAA regional games, eclipsing the previous low of 55 set in 2004. Unless Denver, UMass, Minnesota Duluth and Providence combine for 17 goals in three games at the NCAA Frozen Four in Buffalo’s KeyBank Center, it will also become the lowest-scoring NCAA hockey tournament ever.
FARGO -- The NCAA West Regional kicked off Friday afternoon, March 29, and for the second year in a row, the University of North Dakota was not there. But just like last year in Sioux Falls, S.D., the UND-hosted regional avoided those unsightly scenes of large, vacant arenas that has sometimes plagued West and Midwest Regionals during the past 10 years. The Denver-Ohio State game wasn’t completely packed, but well over half of the 5,000-seat Scheels Arena was full to see the Pioneers blank the Buckeyes 2-0 to advance to Saturday night’s regional title game.
GRAND FORKS -- The NCAA tournament bracket was revealed Sunday night, March 24. For the second year in a row, the University of North Dakota was not on it. To that, UND can point back to one fateful weekend in early January. What seemed bad enough at the time -- UND was swept by Atlantic Hockey’s last-place team, Canisius, in Buffalo’s HarborCenter -- may seem even worse now. It kept the Fighting Hawks out of the NCAA tournament. Had UND swept Canisius -- instead of being swept -- the Fighting Hawks would not only be in the NCAA tournament, they would be a No. 3 seed.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of North Dakota men's hockey team landed in New Mexico on Wednesday night, March 13. Yes, you read that correctly. UND left Grand Forks on Wednesday afternoon before the blizzard arrived but the team was unable to land at Denver International Airport because of a massive snowstorm in Colorado. The wide-ranging storm made it unsafe to land at other Colorado airports, so the team's flight was diverted to Albuquerque. It landed at 7 p.m. Central.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Faded-yellow bleachers from the early 1970s wrap around Lawson Ice Arena on the campus of Western Michigan University. The center-hung scoreboard has no video capabilities. The press box is attached to the low ceiling and hangs over the student section, which takes up nearly an entire side of the 3,667-seat venue. The students are nicknamed the Lawson Lunatics for their reputation of being loud and vulgar. The public address announcer frequently scolds them for their chants like a stern father, “Luuuunaaatiiiics.”