UMD men's hockey notebook: Tufte to make debut with Bulldogs this weekend against Notre Dame

Finally, Bulldogs hockey fans are going to get to see what this Tufte kid is all about. Minnesota Duluth men's coach Scott Sandelin announced Wednesday during his weekly news conference that freshman forward Riley Tufte will be in the lineup at 7...

Riley Tufte

Finally, Bulldogs hockey fans are going to get to see what this Tufte kid is all about.

Minnesota Duluth men’s coach Scott Sandelin announced Wednesday during his weekly news conference that freshman forward Riley Tufte will be in the lineup at 7:07 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday when fourth-ranked UMD (2-0-2) hosts No. 5 Notre Dame (2-0-0) at Amsoil Arena.

Tufte is the 2016 Minnesota Mr. Hockey out of Blaine High School. He was the 25th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, going in the first round to the Dallas Stars. He’s a candidate to play for Team USA in the upcoming IIHF World Junior Championship tournament, which is how he ended up in his recent predicament. 

Tufte broke his left wrist Aug. 1 during an exhibition game against Sweden at the USA Hockey 2016 National Junior Evaluation Camp in Plymouth, Mich., and it caused him to miss UMD’s first four regular-season games.

“I want him to get out there and get some shifts and play and we’ll see how that’s going for him. I know he’s going to be excited to play,” Sandelin said. “We’ve got some time next week with the exhibition (against the U.S. Under-18 national team) to work him into the power play. You might see him there. We’ll see how some other guys do.”


Despite suffering the broken wrist, Tufte has been practicing with UMD since he arrived on campus and practicing in full since before the two wins over Michigan Tech to open the season Oct. 1-2.

Tufte said in the middle of September his wrist felt fine and that he was ready to go. His only adjustment would be playing with a brace. Tufte acknowledged Wednesday his wrist still hurts a little, but he’s rid himself of that annoying brace.

“It feels awesome. I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been waiting for this day to come. It’s finally here Friday,” Tufte said. “We just didn’t want to push it. I think it was smart for coach to hold me out a couple weeks.”

Tufte began the year practicing on the third line with junior center Jared Thomas and freshman wing Joey Anderson. In Wednesday’s practice he was alongside Thomas and freshman wing Jade Miller on the third line.

“He’s pretty excited and amped up to play,” Thomas said. “He’s a good young player. He’s learning the ropes right now. You have to sometimes tell him where to be and just be helpful if he’s got questions.

“The big thing for him is just getting out there and playing finally.”

Tufte’s availability is good news for UMD, which had only 11 healthy forwards in the two ties at Massachusetts-Lowell. The Bulldogs will have 12 this weekend, with sophomore wing Parker Mackay ruled doubtful for the series against the Fighting Irish with an upper-body injury.

Freshmen defenseman Nick Wolff also is doubtful and freshman defenseman Will Campion was ruled out by Sandelin on Wednesday.


Five Bulldogs on opening night NHL rosters

Five former Bulldogs are on opening-night NHL rosters to start the 2016-17 season, with all five alumni dropping the puck on the season tonight.

Forward J.T. Brown (2010-12) and defenseman Jason Garrison (2005-08) are back together with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who host the Detroit Red Wings. Brown is entering his fifth season with the Lightning organization and fourth in the NHL. This is Garrison’s ninth professional season and third in Tampa.

Defenseman Justin Faulk (2010-11) is beginning his sixth season with the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in Winnipeg, and defenseman Matt Niskanen (2005-07), a Mountain Iron native, opens his 11th NHL season and fourth year with the Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.

Forward Mason Raymond (2005-07) makes his Anaheim Ducks debut at Dallas tonight. It’s his fourth NHL team in 10 seasons. Former Bulldogs captain and defenseman Andy Welinski of Duluth is with the San Diego Gulls, the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate.

Also in the AHL are former UMD goaltenders Alex Stalock (2006-09) with the Iowa Wild and Kasimir Kaskisuo (2014-16) with the Toronto Marlies. Hermantown native, forward and former UMD captain Adam Krause (2011-15) is with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Forward Justin Fontaine (2007-11), who had professional tryouts with Florida and Dallas before being cut by both teams, is not currently on a roster. The Minnesota Wild opted not to re-sign Fontaine this summer after he played with the NHL club the past three seasons.

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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