Bulldog hockey notebook: Loheit to captain Bulldogs in 2023-24

Luke Loheit will captain Minnesota Duluth as a fifth-year senior, and he'll be joined by alternate captains Quinn Olson and Dominic James

college men play ice hockey
Minnesota Duluth forward Dominic James (17) and Minnesota Duluth forward Luke Loheit (16) celebrate a goal during the NCHC quarterfinals at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Sunday, March 12 in St. Cloud.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Captain of the Bulldogs’ Movember campaign in the fall of 2022, senior Luke Loheit will captain the Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey team for all of the 2023-24 season as he returns for a fifth and final year.

Fellow rising fifth-year senior wing Quinn Olson will serve as an alternate captain for a second-consecutive year while center Dominic James, who will be a junior, joins the leadership group as an alternate captain.

Loheit, a 2018 seventh-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, was an alternate captain last season and took home the team’s Mike Sertich Award in 2022-23 as the team’s most improved player. The top-line winger posted 19 points — eight goals and 11 assists — last season after totaling 17 points in his first three years.

Off the ice, he became the mustachioed face of UMD’s annual campaign during the month of November to raises funds and awareness for men's physical and mental health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide.

Olson, a 2019 third-round pick of the Boston Bruins, had seven goals and 17 assists last year while James, a 2022 sixth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, posted 10 goals and 18 assists as the top-line center.


UMD lands 6-foot-3 defenseman from Rosemount

Rosemount senior defenseman Jake Toll, who finished his 2022-23 season with the NAHL's North Iowa Bulls, verbally committed to the Bulldogs on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound left-shot defenseman had 12 goals and 19 assists with the Irish as a senior and then posted a goal and seven assists in 13 games with the Bulls in March and April.

Toll, 18, has at least another year of junior hockey ahead of him before attending UMD. He was drafted in the first round, No. 12 overall, by the Sioux Falls Stampede in Phase II of the USHL draft this month. He's also tendered by the Bulls for the 2023-24 season.

Hermantown’s Zam Plante to defer enrollment to 2024-25

Via Taylor Haase of DK Pittsburgh Sports, Hermantown native Zam Plante is returning to the Fargo Force of the USHL for one more season before joining the Bulldogs men's program in 2024-25.

Plante signed a National Letter of Intent with UMD last fall for the 2023-24 season, however, injuries have held back his development. He missed the start of the 2022-23 season with the Chicago Steel recovering from shoulder surgery. He was traded to the Force at the end of February.

Plante tells Haase that he's still planning to play for the Bulldogs, and that his dad — former Bulldogs associate head coach and captain Derek Plante — endorses another season in the USHL.

"That's where both of my parents went, it's all I've ever known," Plante told Haase about UMD. "College is a hard level, (Derek Plante) says you want to be really good at the level you're at before the next level."


Soderberg, Flaherty sign PHF deals with Whale, Whitecaps

Women's hockey players compete in game at Amsoil Arena
Minnesota Duluth goaltender Emma Soderberg (30) hugs defenseman Maggie Flaherty (29) after she scored against Harvard at Amsoil Arena on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Duluth.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Bulldogs outgoing fifth-year seniors Emma Soderberg and Maggie Flaherty signed deals with the Premier Hockey Federation this week. Soderberg, the Bulldogs' All-American goaltender, signed a two-year deal with the Connecticut Whal e while Flaherty, an All-WCHA defenseman, inked a one-year deal with the Minnesota Whitecaps.

Soderberg — whose original plan was to return to Sweden to play pro hockey after the 2021-22 season before reversing course and returning to UMD in 2022-23 — is a big get not just for the Whale, but for the PHF as the league continues to grow. The PHF doubled the salary cap for teams in 2023-24 to $1.5 million and raised the salary floor for teams to 75 percent of the cap.

Sweden’s starter at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing and now for the national team, Soderberg is a finalist for IIHF Female Player of the Year in 2022-23 after an impressive all-star performance at the 2023 World Championship, where she notably made 51 saves on 54 shots in an overtime loss to Canada in the quarterfinals. Back in Duluth, she set UMD's single-season record for shutouts (12) and the program record for shutouts in a career (23) in 2022-23.

Flaherty is coming off her best college season, scoring nine goals and 16 assists after missing the second half of 2021-22 due to injury. She put up 16 goals and 61 assists in 153 career games at UMD over five seasons.

Flaherty is one of four former Bulldogs now signed to the Whitecaps for 2023-24, joining Sidney Morin, Anna Klein and Ashleigh Brykaliuk, who are entering the final year of two-year deals signed prior to 2022-23.

UMD women add Swedish defenseman for 2023-24

Following the sudden departure of senior defenseman Taylor Stewart to Minnesota for her fifth season, the Bulldogs have added Swedish Olympic defenseman Paula Bergstrom, a who played three of the previous four seasons at Long Island University.

Bergstrom will be a senior in 2023-24 after playing 30 games for the Sharks in 2022-23, tallying three goals and 12 assists. She is recovering from a broken ankle, suffered in April at the IIHF World Championship. Bergstrom was making her second World Championship appearance after playing for Sweden at the 2022 World Championship and 2022 Olympics in Beijing. She took a sabbatical from LIU in 2021-22 for the Olympics.

Bergstrom has a number of ties to the Bulldogs already, having played with Soderberg at the Olympics and World Championships. They both grew up together in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Bergstrom was also teammates with Soderberg and former Bulldogs Sidney Morin and Michela Cava on MODO in the SDHL in 2017-18.


Bergstrom is one of two Swedish defensemen coming to the Bulldogs blue line in 2023-24 along with freshman Ida Karlsson.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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