As much as I’d prefer to stop talking about dirty hits/blindside hits/questionable hits altogether, I’m sure many of you want to stay informed about them. College hockey apparently has its fair share of problems too, judging by the one game suspension North Dakota Sioux (and Maple Leafs prospect) Matt Fratin received for his hit on Minnesota’s Kevin Wehrs.
We actually touched on the Fratin hit briefly yesterday but didn’t devote an entire post to it. Now seems like a good time to bring it to light. Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy posted video of the hit, along with a little background on Frattin and the decision to suspend him.
Frattin, you may recall, has had a checkered past year at North Dakota. In July, he was arrested, along with Washington Capitals prospect Joe Finley(notes) for “throwing cups, plates, a kitchen table and a lawnmower onto a Grand Forks street” in the middle of the night. He was given a 10-day suspended sentence and put on probation for the incident. Weeks later, Frattin was dismissed from the hockey team after being arrested and charged with a DUI. On December 30th, he was reinstated to the team by North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol and acquitted of the DUI charge in early February.
According to the Grand Forks Herald, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod told North Dakota that the league felt the hit warranted supplemental punishment aside from the five-minute major, but declined to specify any exact reasoning for the one-game suspension, saying: “I don’t want to get into specific things. There were a number of factors that went into it, though. It wasn’t one single thing.” Herald reporter Brad Elliott Schlossman posted three screen caps of the hit on his blog showing Frattin’s skate remaining on the ice as the hit was being delivered, but the amount of distance he traveled skating towards Wehrs is what drew the “charging” call.
It’s hits like these that occasionally make it difficult to accept the moral conundrum of being a hockey fan. The speed and inherent violence of the game can no doubt be exciting, but reconciling the fact that these are human beings putting their health on the line is difficult. Especially when the players involved aren’t even paid to do so professionally.
From what I’ve read, Wehrs didn’t play the rest of the game so hopefully he didn’t suffer any major injuries.
For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.
Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.
But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.
Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.
When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.
Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.
The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.
Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.
This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.
Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.
Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?
Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.
Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.
Official update on the really important story of the evening:
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.
Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.