Tag: University of Michigan

Zach Werenski, Travis Boyd

Columbus prospect Werenski on return to Michigan

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The Columbus Blue Jackets gave their 2015 first-round pick Zach Werenski a choice regarding how to handle his next season of development.

Ultimately, Werenski opted to return to NCAA hockey rather than signing an entry-level deal back in August. He told the Columbus Dispatch why on Friday.

“I was 50-50 for a while,” Werenski said. “It’s a great position to be in — signing with Columbus or going to the University of Michigan are great options — but it’s a really tough call. Some of the teams I met with at the combine … they made it really clear: If we draft you, you’re going to do what we tell you to do and play where we say you’re going to play. Columbus didn’t do that, and I really appreciate it.”

He’s mere months removed from Columbus selecting him eighth overall, so the situation must have left his head spinning a bit. He excelled as a freshman defenseman at Michigan, yet he just turned 18 in July.

Werenski cited his young age – not to mention an urge to get his school back into the NCAA tournament – in explaining his return to Michigan.

One gets the impression that Blue Jackets management is giddy about him, even if they’re also trying to respect the patient approach.

“It’s all there for him to be a great defenseman in all facets,” NHL defenseman turned Michigan assistant Mike Komisarek said. “You talk to him, and you’d swear he was 25 years old. That’s how he plays, too. He’s in control of everything. I’m so excited about where this kid is going to go.”

First thing’s first, he’s going back to school.

For more, check out the full article at the Columbus Dispatch. For even more than that, read up on Werenski in this PHT profile.

Back to Class: A pair of North Dakota prospects are on fire

Danny Kristo - UND Athletics
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We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET as Harvard takes on Yale. 

North Dakota is climbing their way up the rankings and they’ve got a pair of senior forwards to thank for that.

Corban Knight, a Florida Panthers prospect, and Danny Kristo, a Canadiens prospect, are as on fire as hockey players can get. Knight has scored a point in 17-straight games while Kristo has been white-hot with 16 points in his last six games. Knight’s 31 points on the season are good enough to put him second in the country while Kristo’s 30 tie him with two other players for third.

Meanwhile, the two have combined to pile up 31 points together over their last seven games. Who do they think they are, Gretzky and Kurri?

With the kind of offensive heat they’re bringing, North Dakota has surged because of it. While they split their weekend series with Colorado College over the weekend, their record over their last nine games is fantastic at 7-1-1. As of this writing, they’re No. 7 in the country in the USA Hockey/USA Today poll and they’re one point out of the top spot in the WCHA.

If North Dakota is to continue their climb to the top, the road ahead won’t help them. Their next three weekends see them visit the top-ranked Gophers and then host St. Cloud State and resurgent Wisconsin. The WCHA is a meat grinder as it is, but UND is about to find out if their young guns have what it takes to lead them to first place.


Crucial week for Alabama-Huntsville: The future of the Chargers’ hockey program may be decided at this week’s NCAA convention. It would be really, really, really, really, really nice if the WCHA would lend a hand and invite them to the conference. Being the only independent team in college hockey is killing this program.

Quinnipiac keeps on rolling: We might as well keep tabs on the Bobcats’ ridiculous roll. While they tied Rensselaer on Friday, they came back from down 2-0 to beat Union 3-2 on Saturday. They’re still unbeaten in the ECAC (11-0-1) and they’re 14-0-2 in their last 16 games. They’re 10 points ahead in their conference. Good hockey is definitely being played in Connecticut.

Wolverines struggling: One team that’s a mainstay atop the CCHA standings is usually Michigan. Not so much this year. This year they’re tied for eighth with Michigan State and the losses are piling up all over. They’ve lost three in a row at home (two to Alaska, one to Bowling Green) and over their last 14 games, they’ve gone 3-10-1. Poor goaltending is killing them and Red Berenson cannot be pleased.

Games of the weekend: North Dakota vs. Minnesota duke it out twice and that’s as good as it gets. Miami and Wisconsin doing an out-of-conference double-dip is worth a watch as well.

(Photo: UND Athletics)

Back to Class: Denver’s bad weekend was a curious one

Chris Knowlton, Joey LaLeggia, David Makowski , Nick Shore

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN with a doubleheader this Friday night with No. 1 Boston College at Boston University (7:30 p.m. ET) and Denver vs. Wisconsin (10:00 p.m. ET)

Things were going so well for Denver University this season until they invited a pair of teams from New England to town this past weekend. The Pioneers were 9-1-0 and the No. 2 team in the country heading into action against Yale and New Hampshire.  But once things were over with on Saturday night, they’d lost 2-1 in overtime to the Bulldogs and blew a 4-1 second period lead to UNH before losing 6-4.

On their overtime loss to Yale, coach George Gwozdecky told Mike Chambers of The Denver Post, “Fortunately, we saw this coming. It was not a good week of practice. … Some of the plays we couldn’t make, whether it was the 5-on-3 power play or the other four power plays. It was awful. No other way to put it. If I had been sitting anywhere else, I would have been booing.”

And that was after their second loss of the season. If there’s a potential cure for Denver it comes in the form of this weekend’s visitors from the University of Wisconsin as the Badgers are just 1-7-2 to start the year and swept last weekend by Minnesota State.

While Denver will surely slip when polls come out later today, the question here for Gwozdecky’s team is if this is just a hiccup or a sign of problems on the way. With talent like Nick Shore (Los Angeles), Joey LaLeggia (Edmonton), Chris Knowlton, and David Makowski there’s plenty of balance in their attack.


Cornell dominates Frozen Apple: The Big Red took advantage of the big stage of Madison Square Garden handing a 5-1 beating to Michigan in front of a packed house. Without the Rangers to bring the roar to Broadway, Mike Schafer’s team helped keep hockey alive in NYC for at least one night. Here’s a great idea: How about a Frozen Four at MSG one of these years?

Best goalie you haven’t heard of: How about the play of Niagara junior Carsen Chubak? He’s 8-1-3 this season but tops in the country in goals against average (0.99) and save percentage (.970). That’s just 12 goals in 12 games played. Yes, he’s doing it against Atlantic Hockey competition but those numbers are astounding regardless, plus he’s doing it all coming off of knee surgery.

Hot freshman action: Staying in goal, how about Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox? Playing for the Golden Gophers is loaded with pressure as it is, but the first-year starter is pretending like it’s nothing by putting up numbers that make him the third best guy in the nation behind Chubak and Ohio State senior Brady Hjelle. If he keeps this up, they’ll build a statue for him by his junior year in the Twin Cities.

Scourge of Denver: The Pioneers’ loss to New Hampshire was almost single-handedly because of junior Kevin Goumas. While he assisted on the first two of teammate Grayson Downing’s three goals, he helped ice Denver scoring a natural hat trick of his own in the five point effort.

Reminder: There’s been plenty here about Denver, but Friday’s first game between No. 1 Boston College and No. 10 Boston University is about as good as it gets in the college ranks. Jerry York vs. Jack Parker. Johnny Gaudreau vs. Wade Megan. It’s must-see TV, even more so without the NHL to occupy our eyeballs.

Back to Class: Defending champion BC taking care of business early

Johnny Gaudreau, Isaac MacLeod, Pat Mullane

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN Friday night November 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET, as Cornell takes on Harvard.

When Boston College dropped their first game of the year, a 3-1 road loss to Northeastern, it was enough to knock them out of their preseason No. 1 ranking in the polls. After returning to No. 1 last week, the Eagles could’ve found themselves in a trap against last season’s NCAA tournament surprise team and Hockey East rival UMass-Lowell this weekend.

Instead, BC swept the weekend earning a 1-0 win in Lowell on Friday and a 6-3 decision at home on Sunday. Now that they’re on track and riding a four-game winning streak, BC next heads off to Orono on Friday for a battle against early season disappointment Maine and follow that with a rematch against UMass at home on Sunday.

Jerry York’s club best not get caught looking ahead to what sets up for an early-season throwdown with Notre Dame the following week. With the play of sophomore Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary) and senior Pat Mullane (undrafted), Maine and UMass will have their hands full.


Butt-whooping of the weekend: Frozen Four semifinalists Union College got to stretch their legs on Friday night taking out a hapless American International team 8-0. The Dutchmen must’ve tired themselves out as they merely drew a 2-2 tie against UConn the following night. Union had better be ready to go this weekend as they’ve got a home-and-home set with local rivals RPI.

CCHA going out in style: It’s the final year of the conference as everyone is heading for either the Big Ten or NCHC, but Michigan and Miami made this weekend worthwhile as the teams split their games over the weekend. Michigan won Friday night’s tilt 4-2 while the Redhawks won a 4-3 thriller on Saturday. Let’s hope these two hockey powers keep it up all year long.

New home on the range: Nebraska-Omaha earned approval for a new on-campus rink. With the Mavericks headed to the NCHC next season, a new building and a new big-time conference will help coach Dean Blais sell that program even more.

Black Knights bounce back: Sure, Army lost to the new kids on the block, Penn State, 5-0 last week — but they bounced back big this weekend thumping Holy Cross 7-2. That makes a nice gift to coach Brian Riley for his 100th career win.

Back to Class: A WCHA referee shut down an airport with a “bomb joke”

Salmon Plane

 We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN on November 16 as Cornell takes on Harvard. 

One of the big trips in college hockey is when teams and officials have to fly the friendly skies for a weekend set in Alaska. For WCHA referee Peter Friesma, he found out that making a joke about a bomb being in a bag while “perhaps an effort to be funny or flirtatious” isn’t cool to do while in an airport as the Anchorage Daily News reports.

“But my friend’s bag has a bomb in it,” the agent remembers him saying, according to a charging document. He recounted it to authorities slightly differently, more to the effect of “what if my friend’s bag has a bomb in it?”

File that away under “failed pick-up lines that could land you in jail for a long time.” At the very least he’ll have an even better story to try and flirt when on the road.


Upsets of the week: It started on Thursday night with RIT coming back from a 4-2 deficit against No. 3 Michigan to shock the Wolverines 5-4 in overtime. On Friday, it was Rensselaer beating No. 11 Ferris State 3-1, last year’s national championship runner-up, and then tying them 2-2 on Saturday. Finally, Hockey East saw Northeastern upset No. 1 Boston College on Saturday night 3-1.

Welcome to the big leagues: Penn State’s Division I campaign got off to a tough start on Friday losing 3-2 in overtime to lowly American International but things changed for the better on Saturday. The Nittany Lions earned the programs first win with a 4-3 overtime victory in front of a sold out crowd. Coach Guy Gadowsky, the former head man at Princeton, is going to do big things there.

Disappointment of the week: St. Cloud State getting swept on the road by New Hampshire isn’t becoming of a team that has hopes of winning the WCHA and making noise in the tournament. UNH isn’t a bad team and having the home ice advantage helps, but St. Cloud is better than that.