UNO will have at least seven spots to fill on its hockey roster for next season.
In addition to the departure of its three-player senior class and NHL-bound junior defenseman Andrej Sustr, UNO coach Dean Blais has released forwards Andrew Schmit, Joe Krause and Charlie Adams.
Schmit, a 6-foot-4, 213-pounder from Grafton, Wis., is the most accomplished of the three, having scored the game-winning goal in an upset of then-No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth in the 2010-11 season. It was the only goal of his two-year career, in which he skated in 38 games and scored three points.
Krause and Adams were walk-ons.
Krause, from Hermantown, Minn., sat out 1½ seasons before becoming academically eligible, then played 1½ seasons, appearing in 17 games — including seven this past season, in which he recorded one point.
Adams, from Mahtomedi, Minn., showed promise in his 14 games with the Mavs, scoring goals against Minnesota State-Mankato in the regular season and in Game 2 of the WCHA playoffs.
“I've gotten a few phone calls from schools who are interested,” Blais said.
UNO has plenty of candidates to fill the openings.
The Mavericks signed a five-player recruiting class in the fall in forwards Jono Davis, Jake Guentzel, Jake Montgomery and Austin Ortega as well as defenseman Ian Brady.
Additionally, the Mavs have received commitments from defenseman Preston Hodge of the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede and forwards Jake Randolph of the Omaha Lancers, David Pope of West Kelowna of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, Tyler Vesel of the Shattuck St. Mary's (Minn.) prep program and Justin Parizek of Aberdeen (S.D.) of the North American Hockey League.
“We're bringing in some high-powered scorers,” Blais said. “Jake Guentzel, Austin Ortega and Jono Davis all led their teams in scoring, and they should help our depth up front right away. Jake Montgomery is a good up-and-down winger, and Ian Brady was one of the top stay-at-home defensemen in the USHL.”
Blais is unable to comment on other recruits until the school receives signed national letters of intent.
In the NHL's Central Scouting ratings, Pope is ranked as the 67th-best draft prospect and Guentzel 80th.
Also, the Mavs are interested in adding a goaltender to join holdovers Ryan Massa and Dayn Belfour.
Guentzel, 18, is the son of Mike Guentzel, a former Lancers head coach and UNO assistant who is now an assistant at Minnesota. The younger Guentzel had 29 goals and 44 assists for 73 points in 60 games for Sioux City of the USHL, ranking sixth in the league in assists and points.
The 19-year-old Ortega totaled 34 goals and 26 assists for 60 points in 66 games with the USHL's Indiana and Fargo teams, finishing fourth in the league in goals.
Assuming another goalie comes on board, UNO would have up to 10 candidates for its seven roster spots, though that could also be juggled. And several players are likely headed for at least a season of junior hockey.
Blais said veterans such as All-American Ryan Walters and Matt White are expected to return for their senior seasons, but he also feels more secure about his options than a year ago — when high scorers Terry Broadhurst and Jayson Megna left for professional hockey with eligibility remaining.
Megna's departure was a particularly difficult blow, as he left in July with three seasons left to play.
“Guys have said they're coming back, but you never know what's going to happen in June, July and August,” Blais said. “But we're more prepared now. We're not going to get caught in a situation where a player signs and we don't have anyone to replace him.
“With the number of guys coming in, we're not going to get caught off-guard again. We've got some depth now.”
UNO is still trying to recover from the midseason departure of freshman goalie Anthony Stolarz, a second-round NHL draft pick, for major-junior hockey. Massa returned to the program at midseason, but burned a potential redshirt season in late February as UNO looked to replace struggling senior John Faulkner.
Faulkner, defenseman Bryce Aneloski and forward Brent Gwidt were the Mavs' only seniors.
Aneloski, a former Ottawa draft pick, has appeared in seven games with the Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League, recording two goals and an assist.
Gwidt, a former Washington Capitals pick, is with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL, for whom he had a goal and an assist in five regular-season games and added one assist in three playoff games.
Sustr, a highly pursued free agent, played two games with Tampa Bay in the NHL and has since been sent to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, where he recorded two goals and an assist in eight regular-season games and two assists in three playoff games.
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