During the nine years the National Collegiate Hockey Conference has been active, its programs have been among the most competitive on the NCAA landscape. It’s schools have won four of seven national championships awarded since 2014, and currently three of the top seven teams in the country (St. Cloud State, Minnesota-Duluth, and North Dakota) are from the NCHC.
Black Hawks alumni have already made their mark on the young conference. Players like Brock Boeser, Nick Swaney, Cam Johnson, and Patrick Russell have each earned All-Conference or All-Rookie Team honors in past seasons.
Ahead of a busy schedule of conference games this weekend, here’s an update on ten former Black Hawks on the NCHC’s eight teams this season.
Luke Bast • Fr.
Freshman former Hawks are scattered throughout the conference this season, including Bast as a member of the Fighting Hawks. After skating in Waterloo the past two winters, the Red Deer, Alberta-native has played in three NCAA games, debuting during a home-and-home series between North Dakota and Bemidji State. North Dakota has opened the year 6-3-0, including a 2-0-0 start in the NCHC.
Connor Caponi • So.
Caponi scored his first goal of this season versus in-state rival Air Force in non-conference action on October 15th. He has appeared in all eight Pioneers games and owns a +2 plus/minus differential. As a freshman last season, Caponi produced two goals and two assists in 24 games. The 4-4-0 Pioneers are at home this weekend to host Western Michigan.
Joe Cassetti • Jr.
In only a half dozen games, Cassetti is already having his most productive season at the NCAA level, having generated three goals and two assists. He was on the ice for 11 games with four points last winter and had two assists in 14 appearances during a partial season with Merrimack in 2019/20. Tied for the lead in goals among RedHawks players, Cassetti was not on the ice last weekend against Omaha.
Kyler Kleven • Fr.
The Bulldogs aspire to keep rolling after playing in four consecutive Frozen Fours, and Kleven joins the squad after his single season in Waterloo. The Moorhead, Minnesota, native has played in five of eight games and notched his first goal in the most recent appearance. Kleven made the most of his only shot to score during a 4-3 loss to Western Michigan last Friday.
Hunter Lellig • Sr.
The Waterloo native is the elder statesman among Hawks alumni in the NCHC and has been part of tremendous success with the Bulldogs. His college career has included 65 appearances, including all eight games this season. Lellig scored his first NCAA goal last season – shorthanded – during conference play against Omaha. Lellig and his 6-2-0 UMD teammates meet Colorado College Friday.
Dane Montgomery • Fr.
The Black Hawks’ 2020/21 captain has seen limited action for North Dakota, taking the ice for three games. That includes an appearance last Friday against Denver, one of two games the Grand Forks native has played at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Montgomery is still seeking his first point. The Fighting Hawks are on the road for a pair of games against Miami this weekend.
Griffin Ness • So.
Ness has missed a little bit of ice time this season, playing in six of nine North Dakota contests, but he was on the ice for both games versus Denver last weekend. He is seeking his first point of the year. As a freshman in 2020/21, Ness recorded a pair of assists in 19 games. Not shy about shooting at the junior level (155 shots on goal in 45 2019/20 games), Ness had only eight shots last year and six this season.
Owen Ozar • Fr.
After playing in one of two games against Arizona State during the opening weekend of the season, Ozar was out of the lineup until conference play began last weekend against North Dakota. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan-native played in both games against the Fighting Hawks. Ozar is still seeking his first point at the college level.
Max Sasson • Fr.
The Broncos opened the year with wins in five of six non-conference games, including a victory over then #1 Michigan on the road October 22nd. Last weekend, Western Michigan split their first conference series against Minnesota-Duluth. Even as a freshman, Sasson has been a fixture in the Western Michigan lineup, appearing in all eight games, with eight shots on goal.
Wyatt Schingoethe • Fr.
Like Sasson, Schingoethe has played in every game to this point during his freshman campaign. Both players joined the Broncos program after three seasons in the United States Hockey League. Each is still looking for his first college point. They will be on the road this weekend in Denver for a matchup against 2020/21 Black Hawk teammate Owen Ozar.
Where Are They Now features are presented by Karen’s Print Rite, 2515 Falls Avenue in Waterloo.