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UMD hockey notebook: Bulldogs finding new opportunities after hitting transfer portal

Six of the nine UMD men's and women's student-athletes who entered the transfer portal this spring have committed to new programs, including four of the five from the Bulldogs men's team.

Minnesota Duluth Men’s Hockey faces North Dakota at Amsoil Arena Friday
Minnesota Duluth defenseman Hunter Lellig (8) skates with the puck against North Dakota defenseman Tyler Kleven (25) on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Nine Bulldogs between the Minnesota Duluth men’s and women’s hockey programs entered the transfer portal this spring and of those nine, six have found new homes for 2022-23, including four of the five UMD men’s players.

Senior defenseman Jake Rosenbaum was the latest men's re-commit on Monday, announcing via his Twitter that he’d play his fifth season of NCAA eligibility with American International in 2022-23 after spending four seasons in Duluth. Rosenbaum, 25, appeared in 44 games for the Bulldogs — often times as the seventh defenseman — and posted two career assists for his only points at UMD.

The NCAA granted student-athletes who played through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21 an extra season of eligibility, and with the cap of 18 full scholarships back in place for 2022-23 after it was suspended for 2021-22, some seniors — like Rosenbaum — were forced to look elsewhere to play their fifth season.

Senior defenseman Hunter Lellig, 23, is among those Bulldogs who sought a new home this spring for financial and playing-time reasons. He’s heading to Bowling Green in 2022-23 for his fifth year after appearing in 98 games and totaling two goals and 10 assists for the Bulldogs over four seasons. Lellig has two seasons of eligibility remaining after missing all but four games in 2019-20 due to a broken leg.

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The NCAA's reinstatement of a maximum of 18 full scholarships for hockey for 2022-23 has put teams and players in tough spots, and the Bulldogs are now facing their biggest influx of new faces since bringing in 10 freshmen in 2017-18.

Other Bulldogs to find new schools include sophomore defenseman Connor Kelley going to Providence and junior forward Ben Almquist, who is heading to Alaska-Anchorage to help the Seawolves restart their program after not playing the previous two seasons.

Senior forward Jarrett Lee of Hibbing, who transferred from Northern Michigan to UMD in 2020, is still seeking a new school after playing 21 games over two seasons in Duluth.

Two of the four UMD women in the transfer portal are also still seeking a home for 2022-23, though one of those — senior defenseman Lizi Norton — has not ruled out a return to the Bulldogs for her fifth year.

Bulldogs senior defenseman Lizi Norton is keeping her options open after helping UMD reach back-to-back NCAA Frozen Fours and earning an education degree over the past four seasons.

Freshman goaltender Holly Gruber announced last week via her Instagram she is transferring to Clarkson for 2022-23 after appearing in one game at UMD while sitting behind senior Emma Soderberg and sophomore Jojo Chobak in 2021-22. Also heading to the ECAC with Gruber is junior forward Kassy Betinol, who announced Tuesday via her Instagram she is transferring to Colgate. Betinol spent the entire 2021-22 season with the Chinese national and Olympic teams.

Gruber is one of two UMD goalies that went into the transfer portal this spring along with Chobak. Both decided to transfer out of UMD after Soderberg decided to come back for a fifth season . Chobak has not announced a destination, yet.

Winter sports student-athletes had until May 1 to enter their name into the NCAA transfer portal. After May 1, student-athletes may only enter if their program undergoes a head coaching change, or if their financial aid is reduced or dropped.

Kuhlman making international debut

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Seattle Kraken
Seattle Kraken forward Karson Kuhlman (25), the former Minnesota Duluth captain from Esko, skates with the puck against the New Jersey Devils at Climate Pledge Arena on Apr 16, 2022, in Seattle.
Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports

Former Bulldogs captain Karson Kuhlman of Esko will make his international debut this month with the 2022 United States Men’s National Team at the IIHF Men’s World Championship in Finland.

The U.S. plays Canada in an exhibition game at 7 a.m. CDT on Wednesday before taking on Latvia in its preliminary round opener at 8:20 a.m. on Friday.

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Kuhlman, 26, is in his fourth NHL season, having been traded from the Boston Bruins to the Seattle Kraken in January. Kuhlman posted two goals and six assists in 25 games for the Kraken after tallying a goal and an assist in 19 games this season with Boston.

A standout in high school for Cloquet-Esko-Carlton and Clark Cup Champion with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League, Kuhlman captained the Bulldogs to an NCAA title in 2017-18 and was named the Frozen Four MVP that year at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Bulldog Bites

The UMD women’s team handed out its team awards on Monday, with senior linemates Gabbie Hughes and Elizabeth Giguere sharing the team MVP honors. Both forwards were Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-10 finalists in 2021-22, with Hughes finishing in the top three.

Fifth-year senior forward Anna Klein, also a linemate of Giguere and Hughes, was given the Maroon and Gold Award, which is voted on by the players. It goes to the Bulldog who, “best combines the team values of work ethic, attitude and commitment to the team and to the game of hockey.”

The coaching staff selected junior defenseman Taylor Stewart as the Breakthrough Player of the Year after stepping up to help fill the void of missing Ashton Bell (off winning gold with Canada at the 2022 Olympics) and Maggie Flaherty (injured late in the season).

  • Six future Bulldogs landed on NHL Central Scouting’s final 2022 draft rankings last week, with incoming freshman Isaac Howard coming in at No. 9 among North American skaters. Other incoming Bulldogs included in the rankings are center Cole Spicer (121) and Aiden Dubinsky (176). UMD recruits to make the list include Hermantown junior forward Zam Plante (64), Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) forward Matthew Perkins (106) and Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL) forward Gavin O’Connell (178).
MORE BULLDOGS HOCKEY OFFSEASON COVERAGE:
The Grand Forks native was originally committed to North Dakota, having already signed an NLI. He re-opened his recruitment this spring and settled on the Bulldogs following two seasons with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

This story was updated at 9:08 p.m. on May 10, 2022, following Kassy Betinol's announcement she is transferring to Colgate. It was originally posted at 4:30 p.m. on May 10, 2022.

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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