College men's hockey: UMD picked fifth in NCHC preseason media poll
MINNEAPOLIS -- Adam Krause was the big man on campus at Hermantown High School, where he was named an all-state hockey selection and the 2010 News Tribune's All-Area Player of the Year.
MINNEAPOLIS - Adam Krause was the big man on campus at Hermantown High School, where he was named an all-state hockey selection and the 2010 News Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year.
But when Krause showed up at Minnesota Duluth, the Bulldogs already were stacked with talented forwards such as eventual Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Jack Connolly and Travis Oleksuk, therefore, his playing time was curtailed.
So the 6-foot-3, 210-pound forward did what any enterprising young player would do and found ways to sneak into the lineup.
“When I came in as a freshman, our lineup was pretty stacked,” Krause said Thursday at the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s media day at Target Center in Minneapolis. “I was thinking, ‘What can I do to play minutes?’ I saw an opportunity on the penalty-kill, and I rode with it. I did well with it, so I thought that this could be my role.
“It’s a little bit less glamorous role, but that’s fine. I love it. The main thing is the (players)
respected me for it. That meant a lot to me.”
Krause was so well-respected that despite totaling just seven career points in his first two years, he was named co-captain as a junior last season. He’s captain again as UMD’s 2014-15 season kicks off in just over a week.
“He’s a tremendous leader for us,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “He has a tremendous work ethic and his character is outstanding. I’m proud of where he’s come from.”
Krause only played one year of junior hockey in the United States Hockey League with the Sioux City Musketeers before coming to UMD.
“He probably could have played another year of juniors,” Sandelin said. “We told him he can come in, but we couldn’t guarantee how much he was going to play. He came in like a lot of young players thinking that he was going to be this certain type of player and then transformed into the actual type of power forward that he is. He worked hard to get stronger and worked hard on his skating.”
Krause bettered his numbers as a junior, scoring seven goals and adding six assists, and is just one of several key players the Bulldogs are relying on this year in a quest to return to the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time since 2012.
UMD was picked fifth in the NCHC media poll released Thursday. North Dakota earned the top spot with 12 of 25 first-place votes, while Miami, defending Penrose Cup champion St. Cloud State and defending NCHC tournament champion Denver followed in the rankings.
Miami, last year’s preseason pick, finished last in the debut of the eight-team conference yet reached the tournament championship game before falling to sixth-place Denver.
“I hope you guys are better (selecting) this year,” North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol joked. “That speaks to the competitiveness of this league.”
Fellow coaches agreed, saying they wouldn’t be surprised to see similar playoff upsets this year.
“That’s going to be a norm in our league,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “You take your eye off the ball for a second and you’re going to get knocked down in this league. Anything can happen on any given night.”
For UMD to compete, the Bulldogs first need to figure out who will replace Aaron Crandall in goal. Junior Matt McNeely split time with Crandall early last season, however, incoming freshman Kasimir Kaskisuo, who played for the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League a year ago, is thought to have a good chance to earn playing time right away.
“McNeely has proven he’s a very capable goaltender - he’s the most experienced guy we have back,” Sandelin said. “Kas is an unknown. He had a solid year in the North American league, with really good numbers. Both goalies have really good size but are a little different in styles. I’m excited to see where that battle goes. That area is the biggest unknown.”
The defensive corps, led by Andy Welinski and Carson Soucy, is another year older and the depth at forward has greatly improved. Freshman standouts Kyle Osterberg, Alex Iafallo and Dom Toninato have turned into sophomores and former Cloquet-Esko-Carlton star Karson Kuhlman highlights a group of six freshmen.
“They are a young group, but as seniors, it’s our job to get them up to speed as quickly as possible,” Krause said.
Even rival coaches don’t doubt Krause’s ability in that regard.
“You don’t take on a leadership role if you’re not getting recognized by your teammates and your peers,” said Motzko, who coached the 2013 Hobey Baker winner in Hermantown’s Drew LeBlanc. “We all know too well the fabric of the kids coming out of Hermantown. If he has any of the fabric that LeBlanc has, they are in good hands with that kid.”
Though he’d like to score more than in previous seasons, Krause knows his contributions likely will be felt in other ways.
“This year I really want to do right by the team,” he said. “Obviously I want to be offensively productive, but there are some other guys who can be offensive. As long as I’m creating space and opportunities for other guys, that’s all I care about.”
NCHC media poll (First-place votes in parentheses)
1. North Dakota (12)
2. Miami (9)
3. St. Cloud State (4)
5. Minnesota Duluth
7. Western Michigan
8. Colorado College