Southern Utah rolls past North Dakota 79-67

Southern Utah rolls past North Dakota 79-67

CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) Jackson Stevenett scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, helping Southern Utah start Big Sky Conference play with a 79-67 victory over fellow conference newcomer North Dakota on Monday night.

Stevenett added a team-leading five assists. Wade Collie chipped in a career-high 18 points off the bench for the Thunderbirds (3-6), and Damon Heuir had 13.

Aaron Anderson led North Dakota (2-7) with 16 points but was just 3 of 9 from the field, part of a 30 percent team shooting effort. Mitch Wilmer had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

In the first-ever meeting between the schools, Southern Utah never trailed after the opening minutes, but Alonzo Traylor's jumper pulled North Dakota within 62-59 with 3:56 left. An A.J. Hess 3-pointer and a Stevenett layup gave the Thunderbirds some breathing room, and Southern Utah hit nine free throws in the final minute to secure the win.

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3 bold predictions: Caps headed for a Wild night in Minnesota

3 bold predictions: Caps headed for a Wild night in Minnesota

The Capitals start the road trip in Minnesota to face former coach Bruce Boudreau and the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m., CSN). Here are three bold predictions for the game.

1. Washington will not trail after the first period

To say that Minnesota is struggling right now would be an understatement. They have lost eight of their last nine games. In every one of those eight losses, Minnesota was either trailing or tied at the end of the first period. In their one win? They took the lead into the locker room. The Caps will not trail after the first and if they do, they will be in trouble.

RELATED: ESPN experts send Grubauer to Vegas in mock draft

2. Alex Ovechkin will score

Who were the Caps playing against when Ovechkin broke a 10-game goal drought? Minnesota. Now with two goals in three games, he's starting to light it up again and he will get another on Tuesday.

3. Braden Holtby will limit Minnesota to two goals or less

The Wild have scored three or more goals only twice in their last nine games. Against Holtby and a team that has allowed the fewest goals per game in the NHL this season, that's a trend Minnesota seems unlikely to break.

For more Capitals coverage, check out the newest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast!

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ESPN experts unanimously pick Philipp Grubauer for Vegas in mock draft

ESPN experts unanimously pick Philipp Grubauer for Vegas in mock draft

Every team in the NHL is going to lose a player on June 21 to Vegas in the NHL's expansion draft. ESPN seems to think that player will be Philipp Grubauer for the Caps.

In a mock draft conducted among four ESPN hockey analysts, each one selected Grubauer to Vegas.

The article does list one caveat, however.

In the real expansion draft, the Knights likely won't be taking the best possible players, but rather will optimize the entire process in terms of acquiring assets. In other words, they might agree not to take some of the players we've listed in exchange for a side deal that nets them a draft pick and/or prospect. Or [general manager George] McPhee might work a deal to take an exposed player with a bigger contract, provided he gets other assets in return.

Basically, while they believe Grubauer is the most likely candidate, the team can make a deal with McPhee for him to take a different player in exchange for other assets, such as prospects or draft picks.

RELATED: Holtby could soon join some select company

In Washington's case, that seems unlikely to happen if Grubauer is indeed McPhee's top target.

We don't know exactly who Washington will protect in the draft because they have some expiring contracts that makes it difficult to project. What we do know for sure is that, since each team is only allowed to protect one goalie, Grubauer will be exposed in order for the team to protect Braden Holtby. Regardless of who else the team exposes, a young, up-and-coming goalie like Grubauer will certainly be one of the Washington's biggest assets in the expansion draft.

Having a dependable backup is important and the Caps would certainly hate to lose him. So why wouldn't they work out a deal to protect him?

With Holtby locked in as the team's starter for years to come and Ilya Samsonov considered to be one of the top goalie prospects in the world, Grubauer does not likely factor into Washington's long-term plans. Given that every team is going to lose someone to the expansion draft, losing a backup goalie would not be the worst thing in the world.

As good as he has played this season (2.10 GAA, .925 save percentage), is it worth giving up other assets to keep him just to lose somebody else? Let's not forget, the Caps do not draft until the fourth round of the 2017 draft. Their prospect pool also is not particularly deep. There's just not much there for the Caps to offer Vegas even if the wanted to 

Ultimately, it may not be worth going through that for a goalie they are going to lose in the next few years anyway to make room for Samsonov.

For more Caps coverage, check out the newest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.