GRAND FORKS — For just the second time in a decade, the University of North Dakota will not have a player at the World Junior Championship—and that came as a surprise to head coach Brad Berry.
Berry thought that freshman forward Grant Mismash, who is tied for the team lead in scoring with 14 points in 17 games, would make the U.S. roster after a strong start to the season.
But Mismash was not one of the 28 players announced on the preliminary squad by USA Hockey on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 5.
"I was extremely surprised and very disappointed," Berry said. "We talk about that you can control three things in your life. That's your work ethic, your attitude and the choices you make every day. And he's done a great job of doing that. Our message to him—and his message back—was: 'All right, no big deal. Let's keep moving forward here. Let's worry about our close family here at hand at North Dakota.'
"Again, I'm disappointed, but it is what it is. You can't do anything about it, but control the things in your life that you can control."
Mismash is still eligible for the under-20 team next year.
The 6-foot, 185-pound forward and second-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators has shown a lot of versatility and skill early in his freshman season. He has the ability to play both wing and center. He has the ability to play both a physical, grinding style as well as a highly dynamic game.
"I think it's everything that we could imagine that he could bring to us with the categories he leads us on the team as a young guy," Berry said. "I think a lot of guys know that he plays through a lot of different things the way he plays the game. He's brought a lot to our group as a young guy.
"We don't get caught up on things other than what's currently going on in our family, and that's winning games with our North Dakota group."
Mismash has been the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's rookie of the week four times already this season.
Ironically, the U.S. World Junior team is coached by St. Cloud State's Bob Motzko, who will be on the opposite bench this weekend (7:37 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, 7:07 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, St. Cloud's National Hockey Center).
World Junior roster decisions are made largely by USA Hockey's executives and scouts with input from the head coach.
Minnesota Duluth has five players on the preliminary roster—forwards Joey Anderson and Riley Tufte and defensemen Mikey Anderson, Dylan Samberg and Scott Perunovich.
Other NCHC players include Western Michigan's Hugh McGing and St. Cloud State's Ryan Poehling.
If there's a bright spot, it is that Mismash should be fresh and ready to play UND's series against Omaha on Jan. 5-6. He may have risked missing that series had he been at the World Juniors, which will be held in Buffalo, N.Y., beginning on Dec. 26.
Olson back for UND
UND senior forward Trevor Olson, who returned to practice last week, is expected to be back in the lineup for this weekend's series at St. Cloud State.
Olson has missed the last 10 games due to an upper-body injury sustained Oct. 28 at Colorado College. Olson left that game in the second period and never returned.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound winger from Duluth, who had two assists in his first seven games this season, adds a little bit of physicality and some underrated skill to UND's lineup.
He's one of four right-handed shot forwards on the team and was being used on the power play before he sustained his injury.
Olson ended last season with nine points and three game-winning goals in the last seven games. He was the team's leading scorer in the month of March.
Bowen still out
UND will continue to be without forward Dixon Bowen, who injured his foot blocking a shot against the University of Denver.
Bowen has missed the last five games, and UND's penalty kill has sorely missed him.
In UND's 13 games with Bowen, the Fighting Hawks killed 92.3 percent of opponent power plays, ranking third nationally. In the five games without Bowen, UND's penalty kill is at 76 percent, ranking 48th in the country in that timespan.
Sophomore forward Ludvig Hoff and sophomore defenseman Andrew Peski—who both left last Friday's game against Western Michigan with injuries—are practicing again. Both are questionable for the weekend series against St. Cloud State.
West Regional tickets on sale
Tickets for the NCAA West Regional, which will be in Sioux Falls, S.D., go on sale at www.ncaa.com/frozenfour and in person at the host facility, the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.
If UND makes the 16-team NCAA tournament field, it will automatically be placed in Sioux Falls, because it is the host of that regional.
UND is 10-4-4 and ranked No. 5 nationally. The Fighting Hawks have reached the NCAA tournament 15 years in a row—the second-longest streak in college hockey history, only behind Michigan's 22.
The games will be played March 23-24. The games won't be set until the bracket is revealed on March 18.
Ticket packages—which include two semifinal games and the regional final—range in cost from $49 to $99.
Last year, Fargo's Scheels Arena hosted the West Regional. All of the games were sold out.
Costello to participate in all-star game
Former Grand Forks Red River forward Braden Costello has been named to the United States Hockey League/NHL Top Prospects Game.
The game will be played Jan. 9, in Kearney, Neb., home of the USHL's Tri-City Storm.
Costello, who is eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft, currently plays for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL.