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Former Bulldogs contend in NHL playoffs

Eight former Minnesota Duluth hockey players concluded NHL regular-season play over the weekend and five of them will continue action in the playoffs.

Minnesota Wild right winger Justin Fontaine (2007-11 at UMD) scored 13 goals and added eight assists for 21 points in 66 games, though the rookie is looking for his first goal since March 18. The Wild open the first round of the playoffs versus Colorado.

Goaltender Alex Stalock (2006-09) spent his rookie season with the San Jose Sharks as a backup to Antti Niemi, but he posted a team-leading 1.87 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. The Sharks open the playoffs with home-ice advantage over the Los Angeles Kings.

Right winger J.T. Brown (2010-12) scored four goals and added 15 assists for 19 points in 63 games during his Tampa Bay Lightning rookie season, which continues against Montreal in the first round.

Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen of Mountain Iron (2005-07) set career highs in goals (10), points (46) and games (81) to help the Penguins earn home-ice advantage against Columbus.

Philadelphia left winger Jay Rosehill (2004-05), nearly 10 years removed from UMD, had two goals in limited playing time for the Flyers, who open the playoffs at the New York Rangers.

Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk (2010-11) had five goals and 27 assists in 76 games and earned a spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team, though the Hurricanes failed to make the playoffs. Toronto left winger Mason Raymond (2005-07) had 19 goals and 26 assists — the second-best totals of his career — in 82 games, though the Maple Leafs’ season ended prematurely. Jason Garrison (2005-08), a 6-foot-2, 218-pound defenseman with Vancouver had seven goals and 26 assists in 81 games.

Stapleton makes U.S. roster Another former UMD player, Tim Stapleton, was among 15 players named Tuesday to the 2014 U.S. men’s national team that will compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship from May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus.

The 31-year-old Stapleton, a former NHL player with Toronto, Atlanta and Winnipeg and who played for AK Bars Kazan in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia this season, is a veteran of previous world championships in 2011 and 2013. He scored two goals and had three assists in last year’s event when the U.S. took home the bronze medal.

Stapleton scored 63 goals and totaled 89 assists in 163 career games from 2002-06 at UMD.

Website ranks AMSOIL No. 1, a website dedicated to ranking various facilities in the country, ranked Amsoil Arena No. 1 among college hockey venues in a posting Monday night.

The site, which visited 57 of the 59 NCAA Division I arenas, gave the $80 million facility five out of five stars in the following categories: food and beverage, atmosphere, neighborhood, access, return on investment and extras. Only fans received a less-than-perfect score, netting a four.

The site summed up its reasoning as follows: “Amsoil Arena was designed to take the history of hockey in Duluth and capture it all in one place, and capture it they did. With no expense spared, Amsoil Arena challenges the likes of Ralph Engelstad Arena (in Grand Forks, N.D.), long considered to be the best arena in college hockey, for the title. While Amsoil may not surpass Ralph Engelstad in terms of atmosphere, it has the means to give it a run-for-its-money. If you ever find yourself in Duluth, do yourself a favor and catch a game at Amsoil Arena. Whether the game you attend is a closely contested game or not, you will walk out of Amsoil Arena feeling like you got your money’s worth for the experience alone.”