College men's hockey: Who would you take in an all-time Bulldogs fantasy draft?

Bulldogs hockey broadcasters Bruce Ciskie and Zach Schneider and beat reporter Matt Wellens draft their all-time squads.

KDAL’s Bruce Ciskie, My 9 Sports’ Zach Schneider and the News Tribune’s Matt Wellens selected their all-time Bulldogs men’s hockey teams via a fantasy draft. The top six picks were: 1. Hunter Shepard; 2. Alex Stalock; 3. Brett Hull; 4. Scott Perunovich; 5. Bill Watson; and 6. Tom Kurvers. (File / News Tribune and UMD Athletics)

What do the Twitter direct messages between a pair of Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey broadcasters and a beat reporter look like during a pandemic?

Well one day last week — between sophomoric attempts to rile one another up — it resembled a disorganized fantasy draft as KDAL’s Bruce Ciskie, My 9 Sports’ Zach Schneider and the News Tribune’s Matt Wellens selected their all-time Bulldogs men’s hockey teams.

In a plan concocted by Ciskie himself, the trio each selected 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders in an all-day snake draft. Then their rosters were submitted to former longtime Bulldogs sports information director Bob Nygaard to be ranked, though the veteran of 37 years at UMD didn’t know whose team was whose.

“Put these three clubs in a round-robin tourney and you are sure to see plenty of 3-on-3 OTs,” said Nygaard, who noticed a number of notable goaltenders were not among the six drafted.


UMD goalie Bob Mason (1) in 1983. (File / News Tribune)

Bob Mason, Rick Kosti, Glenn ‘Chico’ Resch and Chad Erickson were all passed over, as were All-American skaters Ron Busniuk and Murray Keogan.

“Bob Mason has to be at least a backup on one of these three clubs,” Nygaard said. “I have been told (because I was still in college then) that his performance in 1982-83 was the one for the ages — as evident by his WCHA MVP Award — for a goalie whose club finished in the bottom half of a six-team league.”

Overall, the three teams put together by Wellens, Schneider and Ciskie include six Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners, 21 All-Americans and 15 NCAA national champions. Here are the three teams, in the order Nygaard ranked them.

For a more in-depth discussion about each of these teams, Wellens and Schneider will be appearing with Ciskie on The Bruce Ciskie Show from 10-11 a.m. Thursday and Friday on KDAL 610 AM and 103.9 FM.


team wellens.jpg

Hobey Baker finalists/winners: 4/3

All-Americans: 9

NCAA champions: 6

Matt’s strategy: I wanted to build my team from the net out, which is why I took two-time national champion goaltender Hunter Shepard with the first overall pick, and then nabbed defensemen Tom Kurvers and Norm Maciver the next time around. It was probably wishful thinking that a Bill Watson, Derek Plante, Brett Hull or Keith “Huffer” Christiansen would be around by the time my name came up again in the fourth and fifth rounds, but I came out OK with my next four picks — bolstering the blue line even more with Curt Giles and Neal Pionk, while nabbing two Hobey winners in Junior Lessard and Chris Marinucci up front. After that I was especially proud to get a number of strong character guys — and good hockey players too — in Karson Kuhlman, Andrew Carroll and Shjon Podein. I took Brant Nicklin with the very last pick of the draft, knowing Shepard would never leave the crease and he could use a good sounding board on the bench. There’s no one better than Nicklin, the man behind UMD’s current goaltending dynasty.

Bob’s take: If you have Pat Boutette centering your third line, you must be loaded. Plus, that D-corps is lights out. And, of course, there's that Shep fellow.


Team Schneider.jpg

Hobey Baker finalists/winners: 2/2

All-Americans: 8

NCAA champions: 7

Zach’s strategy: After using the No. 2 pick on my goaltender, three of my next five picks were used on an explosive top line with All-American forwards, two of them Hobey Baker winners. I loosely tried to use Scott Sandelin’s two-thirds of a line strategy, drafting twosomes like the Connollys — Mike and Jack — and Alex Iafallo-Dominic Toninato. The forward group has four more All-Americans and, most importantly, lots of leaders. Four of my bottom six wore some sort of letter at UMD.

Defensively, I grabbed my “flashy” picks of Justin Faulk and Mikey Anderson early on, but later paired them with “steady” picks of Nick Wolff and Andy Welinski. Again, the goal was to combine top-end talent with top-end character and heart. Brett Hauer and Brett Larson on the third pairing does that as well, putting an All-American with a former captain.

The back end is as good as it gets with Alex Stalock, especially with a team that can score, so I used my backup goalie pick on one of my childhood favorites and grabbed Taras Lendzyk. With two goalies who love to play the puck, we’ll for sure have a goalie goal at some point.

Bob’s take: Up front, they are the most balanced of the three teams and you can't go wrong with Alex between the pipes.


Team Ciskie.jpg

Hobey Baker finalists/winners: 3/1

All-Americans: 4

NCAA champions: 2

Bruce’s strategy: With all due respect to UMD's forwards over the years, I saw the defense and goaltending as deeper groups, so I put a priority on getting forwards early. In retrospect, I probably put too much of a priority on that, as Zach and Matt swooped in and got defensemen Curt Giles and Mikey Anderson, who I targeted, before I could. Then I panicked and started taking defensemen. This is why I stink at fantasy sports. Anyway, I do like my team, no matter what Bob says. I really like my power play potential, thanks to Scott Perunovich triggering for Brett Hull and Derek Plante. MacGregor Sharp can go win a few faceoffs on the penalty kill. Dan Lempe, Plante, and Keith “Huffer” Christiansen were great centers. Guys like Harvey Flaman (look him up), Scott Carlston, Gregg Moore, and Justin Fontaine can fill the net. Jimmy Johnson was Nick Wolff before Nick Wolff was even born, and Beau Geisler was a great player and leader during Scott Sandelin's early years at UMD. Finally, it's easy to forget Hunter Miska and Kasimir Kaskisuo both were darn fine goalies before Hunter Shepard strolled in and took all the records for himself.

Bob’s take: Wouldn't it be something to see Huffer, Hull, Plante, Perunovich and Lempe (on the point) working the power play?


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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