UMD’s Hickel Named to Team USA

Bulldogs Co-Captain Also Named a Finalist for Hockey Humanitarian Award

For UMD Women’s Hockey Co-Captain Zoe Hickel, Friday was a pretty good day.First, Hickel was named one of five finalists For the Hockey Humanitarian Award.Then the senior from Anchorage, Alaska was named to Team USA for the upcoming Women’s World Championships in Malmo, Sweden.The World Championships will be Hickel’s first time appearing for the U.S. Senior National Team. Hickel last represented her country at the 2010 Under 18 World Championships.

Banford Talks About Decision to Leave UMD

Softball Coach Turned Down a Contract Offer from the School

UMD Softball opens its season Thursday, however hits, runs, and errors were far from the players’ minds as the Bulldogs boarded busses Tuesday, bound for Monticello, Arkansas.Their thoughts were with Coach Jen Banford and her decision not to accept UMD’s contract offer.That announcement came Monday shortly after Banford informed the school.Both sides confirm the offer included a pay cut. The school says the lower salary reflected Banford no longer holding the job of Director of Women’s Hockey Operations and was in line with other Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Softball coaches.Banford says her relationship with UMD Was damaged beyond repair because of the situation with Shannon Miller and the Women’s Hockey team.She says now she has to get her team focused on softball and having a successful season.”You have to tell your team that you can’t accept that offer,” said Banford. “I never want to disappoint them and let them down. As a coach leading in to the season, I don’t want the focus to be me, the focus needs to be them.””She’s a successful coach, a big person in the community, is very kind,” said Junior Ashley Lewis. “It doesn’t really make sense to us. It’s a very big distraction, especially the day before we leave when all we want to do is play softball.””If anything, I think it’s going to bring us closer together and act as motivation for us to go out and have a successful season and finish strong for coach,” added Junior Sami Schnyder. “We’ll have her go out with a bang.”

Banford Turns Down UMD Contract Offer

2015 Will Be Softball Coach's Last Season at UMD

UMD Softball coach Jen Banford turned down the school’s contract offer Monday, and won’t coach the Bulldogs after this spring.The University’s announcement comes a couple months after Banford was told she wouldn’t be back as Director of Women’s Hockey Operations as part the school not renewing the contracts of Shannon Miller and her staff.2015 will be Banford’s 10th season as Softball coach.She led the Bulldogs to NCAA regionals in 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012.Banford was also named Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Coach of the Year in 2013 after the UMD won the league’s regular season title.Athletic Director Josh Berlo released a statement that read “We are sorry coach banford has not accepted an appointment to continue coaching umd softball. She leaves umd softball with a strong foundation. We appreciate coach banford’s contributions to umd athletics over the past nine years.”Banford has agreed to an interview with FOX 21 Sports Tuesday, this story will be updated then.

Superior Set to ‘Slam Dunk Cancer’

Spartans to Hold 3rd Annual Fundraiser Tuesday

The Superior Spartan Basketball teams will do their part in the fight against breast cancer Tuesday.The Spartans will host Duluth East in Superior’s 3rd annual Slam Dunk Cancer night, benefitting St. Luke’s Cancer Center.The Spartans will play in special pink jerseys, which will be auctioned off afterwards.Also in the silent auction will be signed Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson Packers jerseys.Slam Dunk Cancer is sponsored by Como Oil and Propane, but this year’s event doubles as the senior project for Spartans Nate Sanders and Jeb Kimmes, who say they wanted to make a difference.”This is a big event, a lot of people attend it,” said Sanders. “Bringing the community together, spreading breast cancer awareness, raising money for it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.””I didn’t really know a lot about breast cancer before this,” said Kimmes. “I know so much more and really care for more people that are going through that because I know how hard it is now.”

Hermantown’s Zuidmulder Leads UMD Recruiting Class

Bulldogs Add 26 New Football Recruits

The college football year unofficially starts with National Signing Day.High school seniors from across the country faxed their Letters of Intent to schools from coast to coast.At UMD, Curt Wiese’s third recruiting class featured 26 new Bulldogs.But only one local.He’s Hermantown’s Kole Zuidmulder.A two season starter at Quarterback, Zuidmulder moves to Tight End in college.At 6’5″, 225 pounds, he’s athletic enough to pull off the switch.But again, Zuidmulder is one of 26 new recruits, and as you’d expect, Wiese is proud of the class he and his staff put together.”There’s a reason we recruited these young men,” said Wiese. “I think they’re tremendous people, they’re quality students and good football players. The real test will come in the fall when we have an opportunity to work with these guys and see how they fit in to our schemes. We feel really good about this class, feel good about the guys we have coming to campus. I think our staff has done a tremendous job.”

Superior Spartans Sign Letters of Intent

O'Brien is School's 1st Div. I Soccer Playter While Football Duo Signs with Bemidji State

Nearly a year and a half after giving her verbal commitment, Superior’s Malley O’Brien signed her Letter of Intent to play soccer at the University of Wisconsin.O’Brien committed while playing with the Minnesota Thunder Academy in Minneapolis.Last Spring, in her only season of varisty soccer so far, O’Brien re–wrote the Superior record book, scoring 40 goals and 92 points.Being from Superior, O’Brien says it only made sense she chose Wisconsin.”I’ve always been a Badger fan,” O’Brien says. “I went there and vistied and basically fell in love with the campus. After meeting the coaches and playing soccer at their camp, I knew that I wanted to pursue going there.”Meanwhile, two of O’Brien’s classmates will suit up for UMD’s Northern Sun Conference rival Bemidji State.Quarterback Nick Mehlum and one of his favorite targets, Jake Libal signed their letters of intent Wednesday as well.This pair of Spartans are also teammates on the basketball court.They’re excited to continue the trend in college.”Just to have one of my best friends coming up there with me next year,” said Mehlum. “And one of the best football players I’ve ever seen, I’m really excited for it.””Having someone there to look after my back, having someone to room with, and he can keep me up with my grades,” aded Libal. “It’s very important, it’s pretty cool, and I’m excited.”

CSS Hockey Coach Takes Leave of Absence

Mark Wick Out Indefinitely with "Medical Issue"

With only four games left in the regular season, Saint Scholastica’s hockey team is without its leader.The school announced Wednesday Head Coach Mark Wick is taking an indefinite leave of absence because of medical issues.Wick’s 145 wins are the most in CSS program history.Assistant Coach Ben Gordon takes over on an interim basis, starting with this weekend’s series at St. Norbert.

Morris Set for Friday Fight

'Hooch' Looks to Improve Pro Record to 7-1

Duluth’s Hope of the Hillside, Markus ‘Hooch’ Morris is just a couple days away from his next fight.Morris will face Damien Hill Friday night at Grand Casino Hinckley.Last time Morris fought in Hinckley, he beat Nick Compton by unanimous decision to improve to 6–1 as a pro.A win Friday would put him in line for a shot at the Minnesota Welterweight title.But ‘Hooch’ says he can’t focus on the future if he wants to win Friday.”You look at the task that’s at hand, the task that’s right in front of you,” said Morris. “After that, whatever my coach and my team put in front of me, I’m accepting it.”

Bulldogs Look to Improve League Standings

Both UMD Men and Women are 3rd in Their Respective Conferences

UMD’s race to the top of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference has hit a couple speed bumps since the start of the 2nd half.The Bulldogs, who were so hot in the 1st half, have won only twice in six games since winter break.But UMD did snap a 5-game win-less streak, with last week’s win over the Gophers.Now, the ‘Dogs need to get back on track in conference.UUMD finished the 1st half tied for the NCHC lead.But the 2nd half swoon has left the bulldogs in 3rd and only four points in front of 5th place Denver.5th place is somewhere Scott Sandelin doesn’t want to be.He says the time to turn things around is now.”When you’re in a bit of a funk, we’ve got to get back to the things we need to do,” said Sandelin. “That’s pretty much all year, but really at this time I think you can put so much in their heads about what other teams have and what they do that you forget about what you need to do.”Like the men, the UMD women are also 3rd in their league.And in the next three weeks, Shannon Miller’s team will take on the other three teams in the WCHA’s top 4.The Bulldogs are coming off a weekend where they outscored Mankato 16–0, including a 12-spot friday.But a sluggish start Saturday led to Miller giving the ‘Dogs a little pep talk.”I challenged them,” Miller said. “I said you can either waste the opportunity today and just play well enough to win, or you can get down and get after it for the next 40 minutes and start playing like you want to be a champion.”

Marshall Girls Ready to Go Varsity

School Will Field 1st Girls Varsity Team in 2015-16

It’s an exciting time for hockey at the Marshall School.Not only do the Hilltoppers move up to Class AA in Boys Hockey starting next season, Marshall will also field a Girls varsity team for the first time.The Minnesota State High School League is expected to give the official go–ahead soonIn the meantime, Marshall has dominated junior varsity competition this season, winning 17 of 21 games.That’s promising beginning, but coach Sean Storie and company know the ‘Toppers are in for a big challenge next season.”It’s going to be a big jump, maturity-wise, strength-wise, speed-wise,” said Storie. “Minnesota is a great hockey state with a lot of tradition, and we’re just happy to be part of it.””We’re on a really good path,” said 8th Grader Claire Boettcher. “We’re working really well together, we have good team chemistry. We definitely could be headed to winning a lot of games, maybe eventually getting in the State Tournament.”