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Daily Skate: Ashton Calder is headed to Penn State

The winger finished second on UND in goals last season.

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UND's Jake Sanderson and Ashton Calder celebrate the Fighting Hawks fourth goal against Denver in the third period Saturday.
Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Ashton Calder has picked his next destination.

The former UND forward will play his final year of college hockey at Penn State.

Calder was a key pickup for UND out of the NCAA transfer portal last summer.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound forward, who spent three seasons at Lake Superior State, finished second on UND's team in goals with 11 and helped the Fighting Hawks to a third-straight Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular-season champions.

Calder finished fifth on the team in points with 21. His last point at UND — an assist on March 4 at Omaha — marked No. 100 for his college career.

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The Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., product has one year of eligibility left because the NCAA ruled the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season didn't count against anyone's eligibility.

UND has been managing a logjam of forwards for the 2022-23 season and wasn't able to bring back all of its seniors for fifth seasons. Calder went into the transfer portal on April 8 and quickly became one of the top available forwards.

"Thank you to my coaches and teammates for making my time at North Dakota special," Calder said in a Twitter post. "The memories will stay with me for the rest of my life."

Two other UND players are looking for new homes — forward Brendan Budy and goaltender Harrison Feeney. Both entered the portal this week.

The Fighting Hawks have 16 forwards penciled in for next season: Mark Senden (fifth-year senior), Gavin Hain (fifth-year senior), Judd Caulfield (senior), Carson Albrecht (senior), Riese Gaber (junior), Louis Jamernik V (junior), Griffin Ness (junior), Matteo Costantini (sophomore), Jackson Kunz (sophomore), Jake Schmaltz (sophomore), Nick Portz (sophomore), Dane Montgomery (sophomore), Jackson Blake (freshman), Owen McLaughlin (freshman), Ben Strinden (freshman) and Dylan James (freshman).

Smaby, Waterloo pull upset

Former UND captain Matt Smaby, who is in his first year as a USHL head coach, led the Waterloo Black Hawks to an upset in the first round of the playoffs.

Waterloo beat Lincoln 5-4 in overtime in a decisive Game 3 on Wednesday night to advance.

Waterloo was trailing 4-2 with less than three minutes left in the game, but Western Michigan commit Connor Brown scored three goals in the span of 4 minutes, 16 seconds to lift Waterloo. He scored twice with the goalie pulled and buried the winner just 1:21 into overtime.

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Brown, who is only 16 years old, scored four of Waterloo's five goals.

The Black Hawks now advance to take on the Sioux City Musketeers, whose associate head coach is former UND alternate captain Colten St. Clair. Sioux City also has a pair of UND-bound forwards on the team in Owen McLaughlin and Dylan James.

Waterloo's general manager is former UND alternate captain Bryn Chyzyk. He was senior classmates with St. Clair on UND's 2016 NCAA national title team.

Ferschweiler in mix at MSU

There have been no coaching changes in the NCHC so far this offseason.

But there's one situation to keep an eye on.

Western Michigan coach Pat Ferschweiler is among the candidates to be the next head coach at Michigan State, which parted ways with Danton Cole last month.

Ferschweiler was a highly successful recruiter at Western Michigan under coach Andy Murray. This year, in his first season as the head coach, Ferschweiler led the Broncos to their first NCAA tournament victory in program history.

Michigan State has fallen on hard times recently, finishing in last place in the Big Ten five of the last six seasons.

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Since the NCHC started in 2013, there have only been two offseasons without a head coaching change in the league — 2016 and the coronavirus pandemic summer of 2020. The other six offseasons featured at least one.

Lucius signs

The offseason started with Minnesota getting several key players back — forward Matthew Knies, defenseman Brock Faber and defenseman Jackson LaCombe.

But some departures arrived Wednesday.

Chaz Lucius, a first-round NHL draft pick, signed with the Winnipeg Jets, after just one year with the Gophers. Lucius missed 15 games due to two separate injuries. He tallied 19 points in 24 games when in the lineup.

It's highly improbable that Lucius will make the Jets next season, so there are two possible destinations for him — the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League or the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.

Considering his age, Portland is probably the better bet right now. If he goes to Portland, the next question is whether his brother, Cruz, will follow. Cruz is committed to Minnesota. Seattle owns his rights in the WHL. If Cruz's rights get traded to Portland, that's probably a sign both Lucius brothers are headed there next season.

Cruz is eligible for the NHL Draft this summer.

Minnesota also lost forward Tristan Broz this week. Broz, who played junior hockey in Fargo, entered the NCAA transfer portal after one season with the Gophers. Broz, a second-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, had 11 points as a rookie.

NIT begins in Plymouth

The CCM Boys NIT tournament is underway in Plymouth, Minn.

Team North Dakota is the defending champion.

North Dakota's roster features several from Grand Forks — defenseman Dillon Kuntz, defenseman Wyatt LeDuc, forward Mason Reynolds, forward Michael Coleman and forward Carter Sproule. Grafton-Park River forward Landon Carter also is on the roster.

North Dakota opens against Michigan Seniors at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.

North Dakota also has pool play games scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Friday vs. Wisconsin HP 18 and 2:30 p.m. Saturday vs. Minnesota HP 18. The placing games are scheduled for Sunday.

Quick hits

  • The U.S. trounced Latvia 13-3 in the IIHF World Under-18 tournament quarterfinals Thursday afternoon in Germany. Grand Forks native Cole Spicer tallied one assist for USA in the game. The Americans will play Czechia on Saturday in the semifinals. Sweden will play Finland in the other semifinal.
  • Longtime Youngstown Phantoms coach Brad Patterson is out after a first-round USHL playoff exit. Patterson had been behind the bench for the Phantoms since 2009 and had been the head coach since 2016.
Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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