UMD men’s hockey: Lellig enters the transfer portal as the Bulldogs look at the large turnover on the list – Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH – Minnesota Duluth senior defender Hunter Lellig became the fifth Bulldog – and third defender – to enter the NCAA’s transfer portal on Wednesday.

Lellig, 23, has two seasons left of eligibility after receiving a waiver from medical difficulties from the NCAA because he missed most of his second season in 2019-20 with a broken leg. He had two goals and 10 assists in 98 career matches at UMD and was part of the national championship team in 2018-19 as a beginner.

“Staff, I can not say enough good things about everyone here,” said Lellig, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in finance this spring. He hopes to take a master’s degree in finance. “The staff, the coaches, everyone, they have been so good to me. My time here has been incredible. I had good teammates and I have definitely made a lot of memories that will last a lifetime. “

A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Lellig called it an “extremely tough” decision to move on from the Bulldogs.

“You spend four years of your life in a place you’re familiar with – the city, the people, the rink, everything – and then it’s definitely scary to have to jump into a new situation,” Lellig said. “It is not something that is easy. It’s much harder than people think it is. ”

Minnesota Duluth Men's Hockey meets North Dakota at the Amsoil Arena on Friday

Minnesota Duluth defender Hunter Lellig (8) skates with the puck against North Dakota defender Tyler Kleven (25) on Friday, February 18, 2022 at the Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

In 2021-22, the Bulldogs brought back four seniors – plus a red-shirt senior goalie and candidate transfer center – for the fifth season, the NCAA allowed anyone who played in the pandemic-shortened season 2020-21, but schools were allowed to exceed the limit of 18 full scholarships .

That salary cap is now back in place for 2022-23 and beyond, meaning programs must balance the long-term scholarship commitments given to recruits and possible short-term gains by bringing a senior back to a fifth season.

“We knew this day was coming,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “You have to make some difficult decisions, and it’s just like – – y thing, but that’s the way it goes.”

From Wednesday afternoon, UMD will pick up three first-year defensive players for the fall in NHL draft prospect Aiden Dubinsky, 6-foot-3 Riley Bodnarchuk and Hermantown native Joey Pierce.

The Bulldogs are losing four from their blue line 2021-22, including three of their top six.

Fifth-year senior defenders and two-time national champions Matt Anderson and Louie Roehl have run out of eligibility. And in a move that Sandelin admitted he did not see coming, second-year defender Connor Kelley – one of the five Bulldogs entering the portal this spring – has left UMD for Providence.

Lellig is one of two senior defensive players on the transfer portal along with Jake Rosenbaum, who has only played seven games in the past year. Junior forward Ben Almquist and senior forward Jarrett Lee are also switching after seeing minimal time last season.

“They want an opportunity to find a place to play a little more, and I’m fine with that,” Sandelin said. “I want them to be happy.”

Lellig played in 41 out of 42 matches last year for UMD, but mostly in the role of the seventh defender. He said his decision to leave UMD was partly a financial decision and partly related to potential playing time next season.

“All I have wanted to do is play and I feel like I’m good enough to play,” Lellig said. “They bring in some guys, some young guys who want opportunities that are really good. I just could not see myself fitting the way I wanted it to go. It’s definitely a tough decision, my four years here have been incredible, but for the longevity of my career – hopefully – it was time. “

With six fifth-year players moving on, two players signing NHL contracts and five players replacing, the Bulldogs face the largest turnover on their list since 2017-18, when they picked up 10 rookies that fall.

Sandelin said Tuesday that he is looking to pick up 10-11 players for 2022-23, and he is still awaiting final decisions from senior forwards Jesse Jacques and Tanner Laderoute to return for a fifth season.

“We’re definitely going to have a lot of revenue, and that’s exciting, too,” Sandelin said. “It’s time to pass the torch on to some younger guys, and hopefully the younger guys have learned a lot from the guys who travel.”

As of Tuesday, the Bulldogs have nine players secured for 2022-23, including four freshman strikers, three freshmen defenders, a freshman goalkeeper and a Maine transfer goalkeeper in Matt Thiessen.

Sandelin said Tuesday that he expects at least one more player from the transfer portal – “We’re just looking for the right fit right now” – and at least one new recruit more, though it could be more if Laderoute and Jacques can not return.

“I like the mix. It’s going to be exciting. You’ll get some fresh faces. We have good returning guys,” Sandelin said. “Time will tell, but I think we’re all excited. A little bit of conversion is good. It’s going to be different because we trusted a lot of those guys and their experience. “

Kobe Roth, 5thSr, F (grad)
Casey Gilling, 5thSr, K (grad)
Noah Cates, Sr., F (Grad / NHL)
Koby Bender, 5thSr, F (grad)
Ben Almquist, Jr., F (transfer)
Jarrett Lee, Sr, F (Grad / Transfer)

Matt Anderson, 5thSr, D (degree)
Louie Roehl, 5thSr, D (grad)
Connor Kelley, So, D (Transfer)
Hunter Lellig, Sr, D (degree / transfer)
Jake Rosenbaum, Sr, D (Degree / Transfer)

Ryan Fanti, Jr., G (NHL)
Ben Patt, RSr, G (Degree)

Freshmen
Kyle Bettens, F, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
Jack Smith, F, Sioux Falls (USHL)
Ben Steeves, F, Sioux City (USHL)
Isaac Howard, F, USA Hockey National Team Development Program

Aiden Dubinsky, D, Tri-City (USHL)
Riley Bodnarchuk, D, Okotoks (AJHL)
Joey Pierce, D, Lincoln (USHL)

Zach Sandy, G, Minot (NAHL)

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Matthew Thiessen, G, Maine

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