GRAND FORKS — The UND hockey team is back on the ice in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The Fighting Hawks are allowed on-ice practices with coaches present for four hours a week over the next three weeks. They’re also allowed four hours per week with athletic trainer Mark Poolman in the weight room.
Beginning Sept. 26, full 20-hour practice weeks are allowed. The 20 hours accounts for time both on and off the ice.
The opening date for full practices was moved up one week this season by the NCAA at the request of coaches and athletic directors.
UND also has started its annual Iron Man competition, which rates players based on a variety of strength and endurance workouts.
Jake Sanderson won last year’s competition, followed by Ethan Frisch, Connor Ford, Judd Caulfield and Jake Schmaltz. Gavin Hain, who would have been a candidate to win last year, was held out for precautionary reasons.
This year’s Iron Man competition has been a little bit more disjointed, though.
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“It’s been a challenge because of the weight room renovation project,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “We’ve done a majority of the testing, but we’re still waiting to get other parts of it completed here. We’re pecking away at it. It’s been a tough year (to complete Iron Man), but we’re very, very blessed to get this new weight room.”
Poolman and workers in The Ralph have moved weight room equipment around during the renovation project.
The weights and exercise machines sat on the floor of the main ice rink over the summer. But the equipment was moved out last month when the ice was installed.
“They’ve moved some of the equipment into the weight room,” Berry said. “It’s kind of make-shift right now. Some is on the concourse. Mark Poolman is doing a pretty good job staying ahead of the curve on it.”
Every National Collegiate Hockey Conference team has posted its roster for the 2022-23 season, but a few key newcomers are still waiting to be cleared to play.
American International goalie Jake Kucharski has transferred to Omaha, but has not been cleared, Mavericks coach Mike Gabinet said recently on a radio show. Kucharski, a Carolina Hurricanes pick, is a two-time transfer, which can make it more complicated. He was at Providence before AIC.
There’s enough concern about his eligibility that Omaha added Muskegon Lumberjacks goalie Raythan Robbins to the roster a couple of weeks ago to give the Mavericks three netminders even if Kucharski isn’t cleared. The other goalies are rookie Simon Latkoczy and third-stringer Jacob Zab.
Colorado College is waiting for clearance for rookie forward Ryan Beck, who starred for the Dubuque Fighting Saints last season.
Beck committed to the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League in the summer of 2020. Playing in a Canadian major junior league like the OHL normally wipes out a player’s college eligibility. However, the OHL shut down for 2020-21 and Beck never played in the league. In fact, he took that year off entirely, then played for Dubuque last season.
Western Michigan also is awaiting final word on the eligibility of rookie defenseman Samuel Sjolund.
During the 2020-21 coronavirus pandemic-altered season, Sjolund played for a league in his native Sweden that’s deemed professional.
The NCAA handed Sjolund, a fourth-round Dallas Stars draft pick, a 41-game suspension, but Sjolund is appealing the ruling. The puck-moving blue liner is expected to serve some sort of a suspension, but it could get cut down.
Omaha will have its second-leading scorer from last season back.
Tyler Weiss, a Colorado Avalanche draft pick, was not enrolled at Omaha on the first day of fall classes, but he did enroll by last Monday’s deadline. After enrolling, Omaha confirmed he will be back for his fifth and final season of eligibility.
That’s a big development for the Mavericks, who lost leading scorer Taylor Ward (signed with Los Angeles Kings), third-leading scorer Brannon McManus (graduation), fourth-leading scorer Brandon Scanlin (signed with New York Rangers), fifth-leading scorer Chayse Primeau (transferred to Notre Dame) and seventh-leading scorer Kevin Conley (graduation).
Weiss has tallied 89 points in four seasons of college hockey.