Tag: University of Minnesota-Duluth

Justin Faulk, Some jerky Sabres fan

Is Justin Faulk the secret to Carolina’s success this season?

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The Carolina Hurricanes came awfully close to making the playoffs last season. While they had great seasons out of Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner, one area they had struggles with was on defense. Cam Ward had a busy and great season in goal, but the Carolina blue line left a bit to be desired.

This offseason Carolina signed Tomas Kaberle away from Boston as a free agent but he may not end up being the most impactful season this time around. With training camp over with, rookie Justin Faulk is leaving a huge impression on everyone in Carolina. Coach Paul Maurice is loving the youngster’s play and GM Jim Rutherford is heaping the praise upon the former Minnesota-Duluth standout in a big way.

Chip Alexander of The Raleigh News & Observer gets the big compliments out of Rutherford about their national championship blue liner even saying that he feels Faulk is a top-four defenseman for them.

What has impressed Rutherford the most about Faulk, who’s 19 and was enrolled at Minnesota-Duluth this time last year and set to play college hockey?

“Pretty much everything,” Rutherford said. “To think that he’s 19 years old, and to have the composure he has, and the way he handles the puck and the way he handles different situations, how he moves the puck, how he skates. He knows the game.

“I haven’t seen many flaws in his game to this point. This is great for us. We knew we had a good player in Justin, but as a defenseman we always say it’s going to take longer. But for him to do what he did in the preseason as a 19-year-old is pretty impressive.”

After seeing Faulk up close and personal in Lake Placid at the Team USA World Junior Development Camp, he’s a guy well ahead of the curve age-wise. Offensively he’s highly gifted. He’s a slick puckhandler with a great shot from the point. Offensively and on the power play, Faulk should help Carolina improve there immensely. With Faulk and Kaberle teaming up with Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason, it gives them a healthy balance between offensive and defensive play.

One thing they’ll have to watch with Faulk is his actual defense. He’s such a potentially dynamic player offensively that sometimes he does so at the risk of getting back to protect his own end. Paul Maurice and the Hurricanes veteran defenders will help him work those things out.

At 19 years-old Faulk is going to make a few mistakes, but his upside is tremendous and for Carolina, after seeing Jeff Skinner thrive as an 18 year-old last year they don’t have any fears about having a young guy seize the chance to make a positive addition to the squad. It makes for a heck of a year for Faulk as he was a key member of the Minnesota-Duluth national championship team back in April and now he’ll be starting in the NHL. They sure do grow up fast these days.

Minnesota-Duluth wins first national championship, beats Michigan 3-2 in overtime

Max Tardy, Kenny Reiter

The University of Minnesota-Duluth can finally call themselves champions of men’s hockey.

Minnesota-Duluth defeated Michigan in the national championship game 3-2 with a thrilling overtime victory. Minnesota native Kyle Schmidt scored the game-winning goal thanks to a great pass from Travis Oleksuk at 3:22 of overtime.

In a game that was back and forth and saw both teams deliver great goals and great saves, ultimately it was Minnesota-Duluth’s destiny as Kenny Reiter made 22 saves to lead the Bulldogs to victory. Semifinals hero for Michigan Shawn Hunwick did everything he could to lead the Wolverines, but ultimately fell short after saving 35 shots in the loss.

Michigan’s Ben Winnett scored in the first period to get the Wolverines a lead after one, but in the second, UMD roared back.

Oleksuk was the night’s hero scoring a goal to tie the game in the second period while adding an assist on the game-winning goal. Max Tardy scored his first goal of the season on the power play for UMD in the second period to put the Bulldogs ahead 2-1. Jeff Rohrkemper would knot things up late in the second scoring his third goal of the year. After a scoreless third the teams headed to overtime where Schmidt would end it for the Bulldogs.

The national championship was Minnesota-Duluth’s first for their men’s team in their history. Their women’s team won the NCAA title last year. Just like that, all of a sudden Duluth, Minnesota is college hockey’s version of title town. The school that once was home to NHL Hall of Famer Brett Hull can now claim their first title and the fans in Duluth couldn’t be prouder.

Michigan stuns North Dakota, UMD beats Notre Dame – Sets title game for Saturday

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It’s not a true Frozen Four without at least one surprise and tonight, the University of Michigan and goalie Shawn Hunwick (brother of Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick) made sure that they had one more upset in the bag for college hockey fans this year. Michigan upset North Dakota 2-0 tonight thanks to Hunwick’s 40 saves and shutting out the Fighting Sioux and their high octane, NHL prospect loaded team.

The Wolverines got a first period goal from Ben Winnett and then an empty net goal late in the third from Scooter Vaughn to seal the victory. Michigan fell back upon a stingy defensive plan to stifle the Sioux attack. While the Sioux were able to get tons of shots on goal and control the attack zone for large parts of the game, Michigan stayed intense blocking passing lanes and getting in the face of Sioux puck carriers. For Michigan, they’ll be aiming to win their tenth National Championship on Saturday night. Their opponent is one that’s really stepped up their play in the NCAA Tournament.

Minnesota-Duluth was able to hold off a third period rally by Notre Dame to take out the Fighting Irish 4-3 to advance to their second ever National Championship game. Hobey Baker top ten finalist Jack Connolly scored what turned out to be the game winning goal early in the second period. Carolina Hurricanes prospect Justin Faulk had three assists for UMD as did forward star Justin Fontaine.

Bulldogs goalie Kenny Reiter helped make the result stand up for UMD despite giving up a shorthanded goal to Calle Ridderwall in the third that cut the lead to 4-3. Reiter stopped 31 shots to help lead the Bulldogs to the first National Championship game since 1984. That year, UMD lost to Bowling Green in quadruple overtime. That Bowling Green team featured future NHL’ers Rob Blake and Garry Galley. Caps GM George McPhee was also a key player on that team. If UMD were to win the National Championship, it would be their first men’s hockey title. UMD’s women’s team won the national championship last season.

The National Championship game will be Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET from Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.