UMD men's hockey: Laderoute, Jacques returning to Bulldogs for fifth season
Senior wing Tanner Laderoute is the Bulldogs' only returning captain from the 2021-22 season while senior center Jesse Jacques provides veteran depth at center.
DULUTH — Wednesday for the Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey program began with a goodbye to senior defenseman Hunter Lellig, who put his name into the transfer portal after four seasons as a Bulldog.
It ended with a cute video on social media announcing the return of senior forwards Tanner Laderoute and Jesse Jacques for a fifth season in 2022-23. Of UMD’s six true seniors from the 2021-22 season, they’ll be the only ones back for a fifth season in the fall.
"It's just one of the best places to play college hockey in the entire country. Other than a few teams, the atmosphere is just unparalleled. It's exciting every night and you have such a good fan base behind you," Laderoute said of UMD, where he is graduating this spring with a degree in finance. He'll use his fifth season to get his Master of Business Administration. "That opportunity is huge for me to grow as a player and as a person, leadership-wise. I can't be more happy that the coaches gave me the opportunity."
Laderoute and Jacques are the last remaining members of the 2018-19 NCAA championship Bulldogs team at UMD, having helped the program win a second-consecutive title as freshmen.
Laderoute, a winger from Edmonton, Alberta, is the lone returning captain from the 2021-22 squad, having served as an alternate last season. He put up 10 goals and three assists in 38 games last year, and has 28 goals and 23 assists in 135 career games.
Jacques, a center from Hermantown, had seven goals and four assists in 41 games last season, and has 10 goals and 15 assists in 119 career games. His return provides needed depth at the center position, where UMD loses graduate transfer Casey Gilling.
The Bulldogs are bringing in two centers from the USHL among five freshmen forwards: Jack Smith of the Sioux Falls Stampede and Kyle Bettens of the Youngstown Phantoms. Smith, however, has missed most of this season due to injury.
“We’re going to have a young team. What are we missing, like 13 guys after this year,” said Jacques, who is wrapping up his finance major and still undecided about whether he’ll do graduate school or another major next season. “It’s obviously going to be a big change. It’s going to be a lot of new faces, got to make a lot of new friends, learn a lot about them. I’m going to do everything I can to help the team. Get the guys together and create a special bond this year.”
The Bulldogs had six fifth-year players on last year’s roster in Gilling, redshirt senior goaltender Ben Patt (who was eligible for a sixth year) and fifth-year seniors Kobe Roth, Koby Bender, Matt Anderson and Louie Roehl. The only fifth-year seniors to move on were Nick Swaney, who signed an NHL deal with the Minnesota Wild, and Matt Cairns, a graduate transfer from Cornell who also went on to play pro hockey.
UMD, and other college hockey programs who chose to do so, was able to exceed the cap of 18 full scholarships in 2021-22, but that was just a one-time exemption from the NCAA. Now the salary cap is back in place. Teams are once again limited to a total of 18 full scholarships — which can be given out as a whole or divided up.
“Last year we had that luxury,” Bulldogs coach Sandelin said of exceeding the cap. “Some other teams did, some other teams didn’t. That’s why some kids hit the portal last year. This year you’re going to see more of those because of that (scholarship) rule.”
The return of the cap has resulted in some tough decisions this spring for Sandelin — and the players themselves — with dollars already committed to incoming recruits, and just one underclassman, junior goaltender Ryan Fanti, signing an NHL deal after the season.
Of UMD’s six true seniors eligible to return for a fifth season in 2022-23 because of their participation during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, captain Noah Cates signed an NHL deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, while defensemen Hunter Lellig and Jake Rosenbaum and forward Jarrett Lee (who originally transferred in from Northern Michigan) entered the transfer portal this spring to extend their college careers.
“It’s extremely tough,” Lellig said Wednesday when discussing his decision to enter the transfer portal, which he said was partially a financial decision and partially related to where he fit in the lineup. “I think it varies, too. For some, it might not be as tough, but I think for the most part, you find it pretty tough. You spend four years of your life in a place you’re familiar with — the town, the people, the rink, everything — and then having to jump into a new situation is definitely scary. It’s not something that’s easy. It’s a lot harder than people think it is.”