December 29, 2008
I am not making any excuses anymore. There are none to be had.
December 25, 2008
Second, the Sioux have a few upcoming games that mean something. First they will take on Michigan State of...who cares? They are nobody's. And I mean that. Sure, they won the NCAA championship in 2007, but now? Last place in the CCHA. That's a 12 team league, mind all of you. And they are last. Behind NMU, for Christssake! If you want to see how pathetic NMU is...take a look at this:
But anyway...so Michigan State is bad, and hopefully the Sioux take care of business like they have been as of late. Michigan, on the other hand, will be tough. That's a program with a lot of pride, and 9 championships to boot. Of course, I think their coach has been in place for all 9 championships, and really, I'm just waiting for him to die already, but whatever. Michigan and the Sioux have history, and the most recent being a game in 2007...a regional game. The Sioux came back a lot in that game and eventually won 8-5. Check it out.
Anyway, again, Merry Christmas to all of you!
December 22, 2008
I've been pondering over the past few days about the Sioux team that we've seen this season. They have both delighted us and let us down as fans. We have seen flashes of brilliance and letdowns that leave us scratching our heads. Any way you try to spin it, this is a team that is barely above .500. And I can already hear the "second half team" argument coming from a lot of you...but as I have said in the past, the Sioux team cannot count on that every single year to get it done.
That all being said, I'll present you with some grades for the team:
This offense has shown consistency in the previous weeks, but against who? Harvard and St. Cloud? The offense has been inconsistent for most of the season, with former Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan not leading the team in scoring. Evan Trupp has missed the past few weeks with a shoulder injury. I will say the freshman are playing pretty well though, with Brett Hextall and Jason Gregoire paving the way with 10 points apiece. I look for this offense to continue it's good play into the second half of the season.
I'm trying to think off the top of my head how many times the defense has given the puck away leading to a direct goal. And I can't count how many. Simply put, the defense has struggled this year. The presence of Joe Finley would be huge, but he has been out nearly all season. The freshman have a steep learning curve and I wouldn't exactly say I'm impressed with their play thus far. I do like that Zach Jones got his first collegiate goal, however. This unit must step it up in the second half to allow the Sioux to make a run.
I am saying it for the 3238437101th time: The Walski experiment was a failure. Like OJ being guilty of murder, everyone knows it. Brad Eidsness had huge shoes to fill and stepped in nicely. I am seeing him grow every single weekend. He is still prone to mistakes, but he will learn from them. This kid has talent. And he has kept the Sioux in some close games.
I'm carrying some bitter feelings over that Hak didn't start another goalie last year sans one game. Not too smart. And at the beginning of the season, I was tired of hearing him say "we're one step away, bad bounces, yadda yadda yadda." Seriously man, get your team ready to play, and if you blow it, say you blew it! He has done better as of late, as the team has. He had them well prepared for St. Cloud and the 2nd Harvard game. Hak is a great coach and I believe he can get it done.
I look for this team to do well in the 2nd half. Not a surge that will propel them to 2nd or 1st in the WCHA, but home ice is not out of the question. This is an exciting team and an exciting year. I'm looking forward to the 2nd half.
December 18, 2008
Basically, since the Sioux are idle (yes, I know they are playing the U-18 team, but I don't care) I will kind of relax from blogging and let the bigwigs like Schloss and Goon take care of it. If you want some humorous reading, check out Dirty's blog. He is still a funny funny man.
I will be blogging again next week when the Sioux get ready to travel to the hellhole that is Michigan.
December 14, 2008
Last night, the Sioux best the Huskies 7-4 in a fun offensive showcase. The Sioux scored early thanks to Duncan and got scoring from 7 different guys all game. Eidsness, actually, played somewhat sloppy. His rebound control is not that great right now and he also seems prone to lapses in the net. He needs to remain focused. He is still playing well enough though to keep the Sioux in the games.
As I mentioned on USCHO.com in the Fan Forum though, it's not time to declare the ship has righted. It's not time to scream that the Sioux are ready to go to their 5th straight Frozen Four. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. The defense is still making some mistakes, Eidsness is still young and making mistakes, and will the offense keep the juggernaut going? But instead of being a downer this weekend, I will be positive. The Sioux played well. Very well. And they are now above .500 in the WCHA. No reason to take anything away from this team. I'm happy. :-)
Good job Sioux, good game.
December 13, 2008
A few observations of mine from the game:
- Hextall is the Energizer Bunny out there. He goes 300% every single night. He was held off the scoresheet, but he's constantly moving around and trying to make a play. That kid will be great
- Martens is obviously on fire
- Eidsness played great, again. Sure the first goal was a softie, but he continues to look great
- The Sioux did what they had to do to get to Weslosky: shoot, shoot shoot. Over 40 shots last night for the squad. At one point in the third, they were outshooting the Huskies 11-0
- Baby baby Lammy got his first goal last night. Congrats to him
- It looks to me like Kozek is trying too hard to make a play. I see him doing things with the puck that he maybe shouldn't be doing, like trying to skate it in through 3 guys. He needs to relax out there
- St. Cloud will come out tonight fired up. Guaranteed
December 11, 2008
December 9, 2008
Normally, I would have been really happy with a sweep. Giddy, even. But this one, for some reason, I'm not jumping with joy over. A lot of people might say "but Brandon, a sweep is a sweep." I disagree. Sweeping the Gophers in their barn, that's significant. Sweeping Wisconsin, that's significant. Sweeping Michigan Tech in your own house? Not that significant. This was a sweep the Sioux should have completed. You don't sweep a team you are supposed to and then be crazy happy about it.
Think about it for a second. Right now, the Sioux are 9th in the WCHA. 9th! Granted, they are out of first place by 7 points, but still...if the season were to end today, the Sioux would finish 9th. Can anyone tell me the last time they did that? Anyone????
Now, let's talk significant sweep. Let's say the Sioux sweep Cloud this weekend. Not split, but sweep. They would have 13 points. A record over .500. A lot of confidence. And Cloud, well...they are a team you should sweep. But even so, what it would do for the team morale, the confidence of the young goaltender Brad Eidsness...
Just pondering, folks.
December 6, 2008
Hak said last night in the press conference that the guys weren't "hootin and hollerin" in the locker room because they knew that in Harvard's building, the Harvard guys were gonna come out swinging Saturday night. And he's right. Tonight's game will be different. The key will be how the team approaches it.
December 4, 2008
Fast forward to this season. The Sioux are 5-8-1. Sure, they split with Cornell, but this team is still inconsistent. And really, I'm getting tired of the "we're a 2nd half team" talk. I know over the last 4 years the Sioux have done better in the 2nd half. But those were different bodies. Face it. This is a different team. Every year the team is different. Sioux fans everywhere need to stop counting on the 2nd half surge we have come to expect. Because one of these years under Hakstol, it's not going to happen.
I think this Sioux team is capable at the very least of making the NCAA's. I'm not sure they have the talent level to take it to the Frozen Four, but hey, anything is possible...I guess....as you can probably tell, I'm not optimistic.
December 3, 2008
To me, hockey is a way of life. I've played the game since I was about 5 years old. I was living in Utah at the time, and to be perfectly honest, I don't remember my first time on the ice, but I know it was with my dad at the Bountiful Ice Garden, one of two ice arenas in that state at the time. We went again and again, and every time I was loving it. I never had a skating coach back then; my skating coach was my dad. I never had one of those little metal things to lean on; I had to lean on the boards or not lean at all.
I grew up cheering for the North Stars. When they relocated in 1993 thanks to Norm Greed, I quickly took up love for one player in the NHL: Pavel Bure. I had followed him since his rookie season, amazed by his speed and skill. I was never a Vancouver Canucks fan, or a Panthers fan, or even a Rangers fan, but always a fan of Bure.
My true love of hockey though will always come back to the Fighting Sioux. Growing up in the Twin Cities, everyone around me loved the Gophers. Not me. I went to one Gopher game against Maine in 1997, when they had a player named Ek on their roster. I cheered for Maine. They lost that game 7-3. My dad, a Gopher alum, was convinced he could get me to be a Gopher fan. Not going to happen. Even playing two games in a spring league at the Mooch couldn't convince me.
I started following the Sioux in 1998. The previous summer, I worked with some Gopher players and Sioux players in various clinics and weightlifting sessions. Brad Defauw was almost a mentor to me that summer.
I have watched the Sioux win a National Championship and come up short in two of them. I have seen them lose in the playoffs and have that be their seasons end. I have watched them lose heartbreaking games and seen them break hearts. Every single year I could provide you with a memory of a specific game.
My point here is, Joe caused me to think this morning. Why do we watch hockey? What is it about the game that we love so much? Is it the hope that our team will be the best? Or is it that we admire the hell out of the athletes out there on the ice. There's a lot of reasons why people love the game so much, and I know for me, I have multiple reasons. Think about yours.
November 30, 2008
After taking it to Cornell 7-3 on Friday night, the offense was pretty flat Saturday night. An apparent goal by Ryan Duncan was disallowed because forward Chris VandeVelde was called for goaltender interference. Cornell scored later in the 2nd period and took a 1-0 lead into the 3rd period. Hextall tied it up 1-1 late in the 3rd, but Cornell responded with a PP goal and finished off the Sioux.
Again, scratching my head. I wish I had answers. I really do. I think the team has the talent to make a run, and the goaltender to make a run, but right now the inconsistencies the Sioux are having are unreal. And sitting right now at 5-8-1 doesn't look too good.
November 28, 2008
Big contributions came from Evan Trupp, Chay Genoway, and Matt Frattin. Frattin netted a hat trick and also got the Sioux on the board in the first period. Trupp assisted on three goals and scored one of his own, and Genoway got his first goal of the season and also got four assists. Duncan contribued as well, scoring a goal.
The Sioux pretty much did everything right, including responding quickly after Cornell got on the board. They stayed out of the box tonight, only having four penalties on the evening. Probably most significant is the fact they had 3 powerplay goals.
Very impressed with the effort tonight. Nothing to get too excited about, yet. Sweep and we'll talk.
November 25, 2008
Anyway...I've been thinking about the Sioux. A lot. Where they are at and where they need to be. 4-7-1. It's tough to swallow. Losses to Anchorage, Duluth, and Wisconsin. The Sioux are in a familiar position; yet for some reason it's not exactly feeling like a position they can crawl out of. Every casual Sioux fan I've talked to says not to worry about it, they are a 2nd half team, etc. While I do agree that you don't want to peak too early, I'm looking at this from beyond the causal fan perspective, because I am not a casual fan. I am a fan who has played the game nearly my whole life.
I wouldn't call the goaltending situation a mess. Why? Because it's pretty clear to me who the starter is. Would I say our starting goaltender is not playing his best? For sure. Would I say that he's a better option than the alternative? Of course. I certainly think Eidsness is the answer, and that in the long run, he will be a fantastic goaltender. But people need to remember that he's a freshman. And that he will have growing pains. That being said, keep him as your starter, give him rest every now and then, but keep him as your starter. You need to build towards the future here.
Finley missing on defense is more devestating than I thought it would be. A true leader and grinder, he could certainly be useful right now. With no timetable on his return, the Sioux are left scratching their heads and in the meantime, playing with a rag-tag defense that is including a bunch of freshman.
The offense is in a drought. And they need to pick it up. VV, Duncan, these guys need to get it going. We need these guys both to step up and be leaders, especially now.
Mostly though, I am concerned with the coaching staff. I was chatting with the WCHA Writer on Sunday about the Sioux. She was explaining to me that Gwozdecky, the coach of the Pioneers, basically chewed his team out after a 5-2 defeat against Minnesota. He called out some guys without mentioning names, saying that people need to put their egos behind them and start playing as a team. Hakstol and Eades need to do the same thing. I don't know about the rest of you Sioux fans, but I am a little tired of hearing how "we are so close" or "the bounces aren't going our way". Good teams make the bounces go their way. Leadership comes into play and the team doesn't have to rely on "lucky bounces." If Hakstol was showing a sense of urgency, I would probably be less worried. But let's face it. The season is a 1/3 of the way over. And Hak is doing nothing to show he is concerned. Should he be? I'll leave that up to you, the fan.
On a lighter note, Thanksgiving is two days away. It's one of my favorite holidays and a time where I actually take note of what I am thankful for.
- My family who continues their support of me
- My friends who are always there for me (not you, Dirty :-p)
- The fact that I have a job in this rough economy
- My wonderful girlfriend who has helped me struggle throughout a pretty rough year for me and gives me unconditional love
Enjoy your holiday. The Sioux have Cornell coming up.
November 23, 2008
I listened to last night's game on the radio, and there were maybe two times where I thought the Sioux had good scoring chances. That's pathetic, in my eyes. The top line of Duncan, VandeVelde, and Hextall struggled bigtime last night to find the open lanes and get shots on net. These are your top guys. They need to be producing, especially in what was a must win game in my eyes.
Now I know people are going to say "but Brandon. It's early still. The Sioux are a 2nd half team!" You know what? I'm tired of people saying it's early. Because it's not early anymore. You're 2 months into a 5 month season. The playoffs start in March. The season started in October. That's not a lot of time to get your shit together. Let's face it: The Sioux are a mess right now. They cannot capitalize on power-plays to save their lives, their defense is still prone to giving up the odd man rush that Eidsness cannot stop, and their forwards are not finding the open shooting lanes. All that adds up to is a team that cannot score goals when they need to be.
I want to believe this team can turn it around. Yes, they are young, but the talent is there, IMO. We've seen flashes of it all season. And a team that can go into CC and split should be a top half team in the WCHA. But this Sioux team right now has a lot of problems. And like I said, there are more questions than answers right now.
November 22, 2008
From what I understand, Eidsness looked very sharp in net, and the freshman Hextall and Gregoire continue to impress Sioux fans. Baby Toews looked good as well. I can only hope it continues.
November 21, 2008
The Bulldogs are basically meeting expectations this year that they are not playing very good hockey. The are coming off of a loss and a tie to the Badgers last weekend, whereas the Sioux are coming off a split this last weekend at home against UAA.
Finley is still out of the lineup for the Sioux, and his return is indefinite. This is not good news. Genoway and Jones appear to be fine, however. No injuries on offense, as far as I can tell.
I would like to believe the Sioux can sweep the Bulldogs...but until they show me they are capable of playing a full weekend, I'm calling a split on this one.
November 17, 2008
November 16, 2008
It's obvious Brad Eidsness is the starter for the Sioux. To say otherwise would be foolish. He has at times looked lost; other times, brilliant. But it's obvious to this Sioux fan that the Walski experiment is done. I'm not blaming Walski for every goal let in, but I'm also not blaming Eidsness for every goal he has let in. Aaron Walski needs to ride the pine. Give Graeme Harrington a start sometime here! You have two freshman goaltenders on the roster; both will be needed down the road, why not give the other kid some playing time as well?
Hextall is coming together nicely. After a slow start he has played well, scoring two goals on the weekend and is now 4th on the team in points, with 4 goals and 1 assist. This kid is a fun player to watch and deserves to be on the top line.
Genoway back in the lineup was huge for the Sioux. He did well both nights, on Friday getting two assists. He's clearly a playmaker and when Finley returns, those two will be giving the Sioux a much needed boost on defense.
The special teams were clicking last night as the Sioux scored all 3 goals on special teams, two on the powerplay and one shorthanded. They still need some work though, as the Sioux couldn't convert on a 5 minute major at a critical time on Friday night.
So again, don't panic Sioux fans. There are positives to look at with this team.
Also, Hakstol I believe sent an important message to some of the players on Saturday night. Kozek, Trupp, and Fienhage all were out of the lineup, and as far as I know, none were due to injury. I think what Coach Hakstol is saying is if you aren't willing to give 100% while you're getting playing time, you'll be watching Sioux hockey, not playing it. It goes to show that no one is safe on this team. That you better work 100% all the time, or you will not play. Great move by Hakstol, even if you are taking out a good playmaker in both Kozek and Trupp and not allowing Fienhage to develop.
Next week: UMD Bulldogs, who got one point off of the Badgers.
November 15, 2008
blog and you would think the Sioux team has shown no promise or won any games yet this season. Let me remind you this is a banged up team. Genoway suited up, but anyone who thinks he is out there playing 100% is a moron. They miss Joe Finley at defense. There is no doubt. But everyone relax. Jesus Christ, relax.
You can still take some positives from last night. Hextall scored again. He's looking better and better every time out there. Eventually he will command respect from opposing defenses and will free up VV and Duncan. Gregoire was getting good chances last night. He's a strong freshman playing well. Miller playing D is doing a fine job. Genoway was back in the lineup. Eidsness, once put in, didn't let a goal by him. Take the positives people! We can still get a split out of the weekend.
Seriously, do not be bandwagon jumpers.
November 13, 2008
Basically she said what I have been saying all along. NOT TIME TO HIT THE PANIC BUTTON!!!!!! She got a few quotes from Coach Hakstol who stated that the Sioux have played one bad period in their last 15. He said they just need to finish.
As Schloss reported, both Finley and Genoway will be doubtful for this weekend, leaving yet again big holes at defense. Miller played very well at D in the Springs last weekend, and I look for him to do the same this weekend.
The Sioux's offense came alive last weekend, lighting up the darling goalie of the league Richard Bachman 7 times. The Sioux got contributions all around, including goals from Zajac, Gregoire, Hextall, and Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan.
Keys to a Sioux Sweep this weekend:
- Limit the rebounds. Eidsness has to do a better job of controlling the rebounds, and in turn, his defense has to clear them out
- Convert on the power play. Again, UND's power play suffered last weekend, going just 2-14. If the Sioux can convert on their power play opportunities, Anchorage could be in for a long weekend
- Contributions from the freshmen class. It was good to see Hextall and Gregoire getting involved, and Hextall was on the starting line last weekend with VandeVelde and Duncan.
- Strong goaltending. Eidsness is playing better each game, and he needs to continue to make the saves he is not supposed to make..
- Stay out of the box. A 5x3 two weeks ago killed a 2-0 lead the Sioux had against Wisconsin . A 5 minute major on Hextall Saturday night (albeit a questionable call) gave CC two goals and the lead. Have to stay penalty free
- Limit the mistakes. Yes, this is a young team that is still coming together, and they will make mistakes, but turning the puck over in the defensive zone will cost you every time in this league
That all being said, I think we will come out of this weekend the victor in both games and carry a .500 record into Duluth.
November 12, 2008
To sum it up, he swings from Richard Bachman's junk, calling him the best goaltender in the conference. Kind of funny when he lets North Dakota score 7 goals on him in a weekend. Jess thinks the Gophers are the suprise of the NCAA. Um, AIR FORCE undeated???? And he says St. Cloud is in a must win situation this weekend, even though it's NOVEMBER!!!! But the biggest thing Jess talked about that bugged me is the Sioux. He couldn't even name Eidsness as the starter and said that ND is just "ok". I agreed with the producer that you do have to come up in the Frozen Four and beat Boston College, but still. For Jess to say for Wisconsin, Mankato, and St. Cloud "oh it's early in the season" and to say to North Dakota "I don't say I told you so...but I told you so" in his defending of the Sioux's 7th place prediction is pretty poor journalism at best.
My question to you readers is...what do you think Jess has against the Sioux, if anything? Or is he just trying to keep the pot stirred?
Anyway, to the upcoming series against the Seawolves of Alaska-Anchorage. Alaska is coming off of a loss and a tie at home to the Mavericks of MSU-Mankato. Their record so far is 2-2-2, which is somewhat surprising, given that pretty much every person in the country picked them to finish last in the WCHA, including me. I was torn between Tech and Anchorage, but ultimately settled on Alaska.
Should hear more from Schloss today about the Sioux's injuries on the D-line. They have taken quite the pounding there this year, so we need them to get healthy.
November 9, 2008
CC got on the board first, scoring in the first period, but the Sioux answered right back with young Hextall slapping a one time in from just above the crease. Duncan put the Sioux up 2-1 with a nice shot over Bachman's right shoulder, but it came at a price, as Hextall was given a 5 minute major for checking from behind. Questionable call to say the least. CC then tied it up late in the first.
In the 2nd, CC still took advantage of the PP and scored again. UND answered with VandeVelde, then took the lead again with Gregoire firing a snipe into the net, making it 4-3 Sioux. CC answered again though twice, making it 5-4 going into the third.
The 3rd continued to see action, but the Sioux faltered and ended up losing 7-4.
I was at this game, which was up and down, exciting, and filled with action. A few observations from the weekend:
- The Sioux had a patchwork defense in for the weekend. Friday it worked. Saturday, with Genoway out and Jones with a broken hand, not so much
- Hextall got screwed on that 5 minute major call Saturday
- CC fans are pretty classy actually. Other than good natured ribbing, they were respectful of the Sioux and the fans. Thank you CC fans
- Gregoire is going to be a special player, as is Hextall
- Eidsness is coming into his own and had a strong showing Friday night. Saturday I would say only 2 goals he should have flat out saved. The rest he was screened by his own guys or the defense didn't clear out the rebounds
- The players played hungry. They were fired up. Good to see
- CC is a great defensive team. They make you pay for mistakes
- UND travels very well. Thanks to all the alumni who showed up this weekend, many of whom do not live in the Denver area
Back home against Anchorage next weekend. A chance for their first sweep of the season. Good weekend Sioux.
November 8, 2008
I was at the game last night. Things started off pretty well for the Sioux. UND was applying pressure and CC didn't register their first shot of the game until 5 minutes in. Then almost 10 minutes in, the Sioux were cycling the puck down low and Darcy Zajac wrapped it around, freezing Richard Bachman on the near post and put it in far side, giving the Sioux a 1-0 lead.
In the 2nd period, the freshman contributed. Brent Davidson was in position to poke a rebound in 8:14 of the period. 14 seconds later Brett Hextall backhanded a Ryan Duncan rebound to give the Sioux a 3-0 lead.
The 3rd period started off not good. The Sioux took some stupid penalties and were in a 5x3 situation for 1:25. But they did a great job killing it off and coasted to a victory. CC got a meaningless goal with 1:27 left in the game, ruining Eidsness's chance for a shutout, what would have been the first shutout of his young career.
Interesting line combinations last night for sure. Hak had Hextall playing with Duncan and VV. Zajac, Watkins, and Kozek all were cycling the puck very well. Brent Davidson, Mario Lamoureux, and Ryan Martens looked to be on the same page, and
Jason Gregoire, Evan Trupp, and baby Toews saw good ice time as well. It was great to see that Hak can run 4 lines confidently. Matt Frattin was scratched and Brad Miller was moved to D.
We'll see if they can get it done again tonight. Bachman is not a wall. He can be beaten.
November 6, 2008
First she said that a 2-4-0 record is not going to help the Sioux get ranked. If anything, 2-4-0 is damaging to the Sioux. I mean, a loss against UMass and handing Wisconsin their first win is not exactly something to be proud of. Secondly, the Ivy League teams like Harvard and Princeton have a rule that prohibits them from starting the season this early. It’s not fair to penalize those teams in the polls that haven’t had a chance to prove themselves yet.
As for my take on everything, I don’t think fans should care right now if the team is ranked or not. Does it suck given the position they are in? Of course. We’re facing an uphill battle. I’m not going to lie. And that is depressing, to say the least. I think about how the Sioux can probably lose or tie 10 more games this season and their hopes of making the NCAA tourney go bye-bye real quick. But I also think of the positives surrounding this team. Schloss reported that Duncan put the loss on his shoulders; something that you look for from a captain and to me shows a lot of leadership. Eidsness, while at times is giving up a goal he should save, is also making saves he shouldn’t. That is significant to me. He will make progress as the season goes on. Anyone that thought he or Walski would just come in and make an impact right away either doesn’t know hockey or is delusional.
And the Sioux play CC this weekend. A team that is playing well enough to win, but not exactly looking like a powerhouse team ready to repeat as WCHA champions. Denver only lost last Friday night against them because they missed 7623478641 open nets. Like I said in my earlier blog, CC is beatable, but they will make you pay for your mistakes. Let’s hope the Sioux keep their mistakes to a minimum in Colorado Springs this weekend.
November 2, 2008
On Friday, the Sioux outplayed the Badgers for most of the game by being physical and outshooting the 'Sconni team 45-22. Wisconsin scored first, but the Sioux responded. Wisconsin scored again and again the Sioux responded. And in the third, Jason Gregoire netted his first of the season and gave the Sioux the lead for good.
Saturday night, the Sioux outplayed the Badgers immensely in the first period, but again the score was 0-0 after one. The Sioux jumped up 1-0 on a shorthanded goal by Ryan Duncan late in the 2nd, and Gregoire added his second goal of the season a few minutes later on a shot that Goon has up in his blog. One of the best shots I have seen in a long time.
Unfortunately, in the third period, the Sioux started off two men down and the Badgers wasted no time capitalizing on this, just 56 seconds in. Within a minute and a half, it was 3-2 and the Sioux and their fans were scratching their heads, hoping that this is just early season woes.
Look, as I said in an earlier post, a split really doesn't mean much for the Sioux. Sure, they are 2-4-0. That's not hard to ignore, and no, it's not going to go away. But let me remind all of you that the Boston College Eagles started off their season last year winning 3 of their first 12 games. Yes, the same BC Eagles that crushed our Sioux 6-1 in the Frozen Four. I really think that the press and the college hockey writers are just overreacting right now. Oh no, the Sioux are off to a slow start!!! Time to panic already!!!
No. Not time yet. We're seeing flashes of Gregoire's scoring ability, great saves by Eidsness, etc. As Goon said in his blog, it's going to take some time to get everyone on the same page. And as Wilbur, the most reliable Sioux fan I know has told me, IT'S EARLY!
Now, on to a lighter note. Dirty, of Dirty's Diatribe won Tony Grieco's mask in an auction at the Ralph. Dirty paid $425 for this. Pictures to follow soon.
November 1, 2008
I was at the DU/CC game last night. One of the greatest games I have ever seen in the WCHA, falling in with the UMD/UND game in February 2004 and the UMN/MSU playoff game last year. Both teams were fast, both goalies played well, and the student section of DU was awesome, quite frankly.
My observations include the following:
- DU missed about 43723910374632 open net opportunities. Seriously.
- CC will make you pay for mistakes
- They are also weak offensively
- Neither team is exactly a physical team; both rely on skill and speed
- Cheverie is shaky and can be beat
- Bachman can be beat as well
It was a great game and I'm glad I got to see it. Too bad it had to end with a mediocre overtime.
October 30, 2008
If the Sioux sweep, their season is back on track. The young guys will have more confidence, the goalie situation will be solidified, and the coaching staff will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. On the visiting side, the Badgers will be reeling badly. 0-7-1 is going to be tough to recover from, and we will probably be looking at the Badgers missing the NCAA's.
If the Badgers sweep, they can salvage their season. They will be able to say they the hardest part of their schedule is behind them and look forward to getting back home and their season on track. To the Sioux, looking at a 1-5-0 start, it looks grim, to say the least. The goaltender situation will be messy, the freshman and sophomores not really contributing, and the coaching staff will be scratching their heads wondering what went wrong thus far.
If a split happens, neither team is asking a lot of questions.
Now, my 3 reasons why the Sioux will sweep the Badgers:
1. They have figured out the powerplay. After going 1-22 heading into the 3rd period, the Sioux scored 3 of their goals on the powerplay. They also added a short hander to seal the deal in Mankato. Wisconsin takes a lot of penalties, so the Sioux should be able to capitalize
2. Ben Street is out. And for the season. A Wisconsin fan confirmed to me that Street has hurt his knee, most likely an ACL injury, and is out for the year. This is the one guy Wisconsin had returning that was going to save their season. Not anymore.
3. Connelly is shaky. He has let in a lot of soft goals and gets flustred easily.
The freshman and sophomores have to step up for the Sioux. The underclassman have yet to reach the scoreboard, sans Gregoire with an assist. Frattin and Trupp need to step up this weekend and have big games.
On the injury side, Matt Watkins should be in the lineup, as will the young Toews. Finley is still injured, and his status is at best questionable. If he's out, Ben Blood and Corey Fienhage should get significant playing time.
I recently saw the Badgers in action against Denver. Here are some of my observations:
- Wisconsin's D, which was supposed to be one of the top in the country, is poor at best
- Connelly is a decent goaltender, but gets flustered easily
- Wisconsin has a decent PP
- They are also undisciplined
With Ben Street out for 3-6 months, the Badgers are down one of their key players. This won't make things any easier for them.
October 26, 2008
Take the Bemidji/St. Cloud series. St. Cloud is "supposedly" a top 5 team in the WCHA, according to some bloggers. *rolls eyes* Yet they drop the first game to BEMIDJI 4-2. This is a team that was owned by Air Force the previous weekend. (I'm not saying Air Force is a bad team; I'm just saying they were owned) The Huskies salvaged a split on Saturday, winning 5-3, but again, unpredictable. It gets better though.
CC vs. Clarkson. Who is Clarkson, you ask? I'm not going to write about them, cause I'm lazy. Here's a link to their dealie on USCHO. CC is supposed to repeat as WCHA champs, right? Even I picked them for that. But they skate to a 1-1 tie and a 2-2 tie. Where is the high flying CC offense? Rau, Sweatt, and Testwuide were supposed to be the best combo in the WCHA since the DOT line of UND. But only scoring 3 goals on the weekend? The only solace in that series tie is that Bachman is still playing solid.
Sconni's woes continue. And this time, at the Kohl Center. Against a Minnesota team that really had no offense against St. Cloud the previous weekend. Minnesota salvaged a 2-2 tie on Friday, outshooting the Badgers 36-20. Stoa continues to prove his doubters wrong (Brandon hides right now). On Saturday, the Badgers got lit up 5-2 in a penalty laden game. Minnesota had 19 for 38 minutes, the Badgers had 20 for 51 minutes. You read that right. Shane Connellly is struggling mightily right now, and I can't help but wonder if Eaves will try the sophomore Gudmandson against North Dakota next weekend. The Gophers are playing very well right now, with solid goaltending and Stoa scoring 3 goals on the weekend.
Anchorage and Duluth. Anchorage was up 4-1 and Duluth tried to storm back. But they only managed 21 shots. But wait! Anchorage managed 14. 14! The teams skated to a 1-1 tie on Saturday. I thought it was interesting to see Anchorage respond to losing two guys this last week for "personal reasons". And Duluth, while I love them, could end up falling farther than expected in the WCHA this year.
Finally, Denver hosted The Ohio State University. (someone please shoot me)
Denver was in control on Friday, winning 3-1. Kyle Ostrow came up big, scoring 2 goals, and Cheverie made 41 saves. Saturday though, it came apart. Ohio St. scored first in the 1st period. Denver scored 3 in the 2nd and it looked like again they would cruise to victory. But Ohio came roaring back, scoring 2 in the third and sinking the Pioneers at home. Cheverie is not the answer in Denver, IMO. I saw him a week ago against Wisconsin, and he is shaky, at best.
So there you have it. You see why this has been a talked about subject recently with my friends and family. Hope next weekend provides the same excitment.
October 21, 2008
I'm a bit surprised to see them move backwards, but as long as Wisconsin stays unranked, I'm happy. :)
A recap of the Wisconsin/DU game that I saw on Friday will come tomorrow.
October 19, 2008
Last night in the Blues/Blackhawks game, TJ Oshie scored the game winning goal in a shootout, giving the Blues a win over the Blackhawks. Chris Porter also got involved, scoring his first NHL goal of the season.
There's an article I jacked from the Blues website found here that talks about the former teammates. It's a good piece.
Good to see the Sioux players making an impact.
October 18, 2008
Friday night's game was forgettable, to say the least. The Sioux scored first, but Mankato answered quickly and went on to rout the Sioux. Walski again looked shaky and it became obvious the team still was not clicking. Saturday night changed all that, I hope.
Jason Wiley got things started for the Mavericks, taking a pass from Andy Sackrison and beating Brad Eidsness just 1:31 into the game. The Sioux outshot the Mavs 15-9 in that period, but went 0-3 on the powerplay. The Mavs struck again in the 2nd period, scoring at 9:31 on the powerplay. It sounds like Eidsness was hung out to dry as Bruess was wide open on the goal. At this point, I did say that it was time to hit the panic button. The Sioux were just not clicking. Trying to do one too many things in the offensive zone. One pass too many, one stickhandling move too many. Trying to be too cute. Didn't help that at this point, they were 1-30 on the powerplay for the season.
But the Sioux finally got going. At 9:11 of the third, Kozek netted a pretty goal just as a Sioux PP expired. One minute nine seconds later, Duncan got his first of the season, also on the powerplay. And four minutes, twenty-two seconds later, Ryan Martens scored, again on the powerplay, to give the Sioux a lead. Yes, you are reading that right. The Sioux had the lead!
But 36 seconds later, Bruess scored his second goal of the night to tie it at 3. At this point, I was content with the Sioux just taking a point off of Mankato. And it didn't look like they would even be able to do that. Duncan got a hooking call at 1:20 of the third period to give the Mavs a powerplay. It looked not good. But VandeVelde, who has been quiet this year, scored a short hander with 9 seconds left, giving the Sioux the lead, and eventual victory!
The panic button is still on, folks. Eidsness didn't exactly play spectacular. And it took nearly 50 mintues for the offense to get going. But there is solace in all this. The team might finally be clicking. I said it during the game. Crash the net! Get the garbage goals! Stop dinking around! And they finally did.
Good job Sioux, good game.
October 16, 2008
Brad discussed in his blog how everyone is jumping off the Sioux bandwagon after two losses and that Sioux fans are already melting down. This is very true; for evidence (albeit sarcastic) check out Dirty's Blog. Or check out the MSU/UND thread on USCHO.com. But Brad gives some facts about the Sioux that might ease some fears.
Bottom line is, the team does have work to do, yes. The powerplay is not off to a good start. These losses will affect the team in the pairwise later in the year. And we all know the goalie situation is questionable right now. But what he does point out is that Boston College started the year last year 3-9. And they still managed to win the Frozen Four.
I, for one, have stated time and again that this is not the time for Sioux fans to panic. When I was in college, I used to keep in my AIM profile the rankings each week for the Sioux. I remember one year (2003-2004) that the Sioux were not even ranked at the beginning of the year in the top 15. Then, as the year progressed, they steadily climbed in the rankings, eventually reaching #1. I didn't panic as a Sioux fan back then. And think about the 2006-2007 season. Everyone had written the Sioux off in January. They had finished December off being swept at home by Tech and Wisconsin. Yet in late January and February, they rattled off 6 wins in a row, played strong, and ended up going to St. Louis.
There's still 30some games to be played. Let's not hit the panic button for awhile, kids.
October 14, 2008
October 13, 2008
October 11, 2008
After a trouncing by Boston University Friday night, the Sioux outshot the Minutemen of Massachusetts by a wide margin, but still could not get a victory, falling 3-2. Walski got the nod in net, but did not fare much better than his freshman counterpart, stopping only 13 shots in the loss.
Let's review some stats from this weekend:
- Eidsness made 28 saves, but let in 5 goals against BU
- Walski made 13 saves, but let in 3 goals
- The Sioux powerplay was 0-7 against BU and 1-7 against UMass. 1-14 on the weekend.
- Only 23 shots in the game against BU
- 42 shots against UMass; yet couldn't find the net more than twice
What does this mean for the Sioux? This isn't good for their pairwise. I can tell you that right off the bat. It's crucial to win these early non-conference games. But in fairness to the Sioux, they were playing on the road in BU's home arena and an hour from UMass. So I can cut a little slack there. Also, I'm sure the first 1/2 of the season will be spent working on the goalie situation. CC last year lost 3 in a row early on, 2 at New Hampshire and 1 at ND.
The goalie situation is a bit concerning to me. I'm not sure if Hak has no confidence in Walski or if he's thinking Eidsness is the future of the team, but why you give the freshman goaltender the nod in the opening game is beyond my comprehension.
Right the ship next weekend, fellas.
October 9, 2008
The Sioux opened up the season with an exhibition win over the University of Manitoba at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. They defeated the Bisons 6-2. UND got big contributions from their senior class, as both Matt Watkins and Andrew Kozek found the net, and senior leader and Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan netted two. The freshman also contributed, with Jason Gregoire and Brett Hextall each scoring a goal. Each goalie got playing time and did a good job, with Walski saving all 10 shots he faced, Eidsness saving 8 of 10, and Harrington saving the two shots he faced. The Sioux outshot the Bison 51-22.
The top line of seniors Chris VandeVelde, Duncan, and Brad Miller had a spectacular game, according to a few Sioux fans. Also, Evan Trupp looked great in his return from injury, and Chay Genoway made a lot of nice plays.
As Hakstol said in the WCHA Coaches Call, the sophomore class will need to have a big impact this season. As much as I hate to say it, the freshmen last year didn't really stand out, sans Evan Trupp. I'm looking for Matt Frattin to get some shots this year and prove himself, as well as Brent Davidson.
With senior Andy Kozek working on a line with freshman Gregoire and Evan Trupp, that should be a dominating second line.
I look for the Sioux to dominate the Terriers this weekend, especially going up against a freshman goaltender for BU.
October 8, 2008
On the heels of a rough season that saw the suspension of the captain, several seniors, and Junior Brandon Yip and a complete breakdown of goaltending, Boston University's Hockey Team is looking to right their ship. Colin Wilson, #7 in this years NHL draft, is returning as is stellar Forward turned Defenseman (and now Captain), Matt Gilroy. They're poised to lead a young team, which features 10 freshmen, including two highly touted goalie, Keiran Millan and Grant Rollheiser. The team will miss the leadership of firecracker "General" Peter MacArthur, but the co-captains (Matt Gilroy and John McCarthy) and assistant captain Brian Strait led the team through the off-season and attempted to foster bonds that will create a united team this season. To quote Coach Parker: "We have the capabilities to be a very strong team, but it will only be if we act like a team," said head coach Jack Parker, who enters his 36th season at the helm of the BU program. "If we are a bunch of individuals, which sometimes crept up last year, we'll never get to where we need to be." Despite rumblings from current and former players, aging coach Jack Parker returns with his support staff of David Quinn, Mike Bavis, and Mike Gerogosian.
At forward, BU returns captain John McCarthy, as well as seniors Brandon Yip (drafted by the Avalanche), Jason Lawrence, and Chris Higgins. Lawrence and Higgins were featured on the first line during BU's exhibition against the University of New Brunswick and high production is expected from both with Colin Wilson centering their line. Sophomore hotshot Nick Bonino returns looking faster and more comfortable on his skates, while freshmen Chris Connolly and Corey Trivino have already put up points this season. Kevin Gilroy, brother of captain Matt, looks like a solid addition to the fourth line. Vinny Saponari, younger brother of sophomore Victor Saponari and hometown team Atlanta Thrashers' draft pick, hopes to continue his scoring trend after being the third highest scorer on the US- National Under-18 team.
On Defense, senior captain Matt Gilroy and junior assistant captain Brian Strait anchor the starting pair. Eric Gryba "Smash" returns to BU as a junior and there are hopes that the Goon from Saskatoon will be turning in more mature performances as he's likely to be paired with Freshman David Warsofsky, St. Louis Blues draft pick from the US- National Under-18 team and local from Marshfield, Mass. Sophomores Kevin Shattenkirk, #14 Draft pick for the Colarado Avalanche, and Colby Cohen return to the team, bringing another year of experience (both have played together since being in the US National Development Program) and were the leading two defensemen in Hockey East for assists. Speedster Steve Smolinsky moves from forward to defenseman and will battle freshman Ryan Ruikka for playing time. With the graduation of senior goalie Karson Gillespie and the departure of sophomore goalie Brett Bennett, goaltending is a open question for the Terriers. Sophomore Adam Kraus played sparing last year (2 starts and logged 118 minutes total on the season), but BU brings in two highly regarded Canadian freshmen, Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser.
BU played it's first exhibition game on Sunday, October 5th against the University of New Brunswick. Lines were: Lawrence-Wilson-Higgins, Connolly-Bonino-Yip, Trivino-McCarthy-Vin Saponari, Glass/K Gilroy-Popko-Pereira. Defensive pairings were: Strait-Gilroy, Cohen-Shattenkirk, and Warsofsky-Gryba. Each freshman goalie played half of the game. Connolly and Trivino each notched goals in the first. McCarthy skated very quickly and appeared to be fired up in his new position as co-captain. Wilson appears to have put on more muscle mass in the offseason and was skating very aggressively throughout the game. Gryba also appears to have grown in the offseason, but did not appear to have improved his skating or defensive ability. Higgins, Lawrence, and Yip again looked sluggish and uninspired, which may allow Trivino to move up to the 2nd line. Millan looked good in goal, but didn't face as much pressure as Rollheiser. He has a quick glove, but doesn't have a lot of horizontal movement. Like former Terrier and current Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin starter, John Curry, Millan appears to give up a lot of juicy rebounds, something that UNB did not capitalize on, but could be a problem when BU faces NCAA teams. Rollheiser looked huge in goal (at 6'4") and displayed a quick glove and a lot of movement as well as good coverage of the 5 hole. He faced significantly more pressure as the Terriers seemed to breakdown on offense and defense as the game progressed.
October 7, 2008
I understand that I have been accused of being a traitor by Dirty, a fellow Sioux fan and blogger.
I am the person on the left, Dirty is the person on the right of the picture.
Dirty is the most die hard Sioux fan I have ever met. He was one of the first people in line for tickets during Hockey Fest 2003. He is one of the consistent bidders for Sioux jerseys at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. He is my go-to guy for Sioux information. But unfortunately, Dirty is as crooked as any person out there. In fact, I'm not even sure he's a Sioux fan anymore.
You see, Dirty consorts with fans of all shapes and sizes. I respect that and appreciate it. But Dirty has taken it one step too far. Take a look at the picture below.
That's right! Dirty is POPPING a GOPHERS JERSEY! HOW DARE HE! Out of all the teams to possibly consort with, he is not only WEARING a Gophers jersey, he is POPPING it ala Blake Wheeler who defeated our beloved SIOUX in the 2007 Final Five. Yet Dirty the SIOUX FAN feels it it not only ok to wear the jersey, but it is ok to pop it.
You know what, Sioux fans? To me, Dirty has spit on all of us by doing this. He has spit in the faces of every Sioux fan that has bled green and pink over the course of the years. Am I dating a female from Boston University? Yes. Is that "consorting with the enemy"? I think not. How often do we play Boston University? Not often, and the last time we did, we destroyed them in Mass! How often do we play the Gophers? EVERY SINGLE YEAR!!!!!
And what Dirty doesn't even realize is all apparel in the picture she was in is all women's hockey apparel that she earned by playing on the women's hockey team at BU.
I have proven that I am a die-hard SIoux fan and will always be. But Dirty? We don't know anymore. He might be a Gopher fan for all we know.
I also had the opportunity to listen to the WCHA coaches conference call this morning. It was mostly boring, but I picked up a few tidbits:
- Troy Jutting sounded very confident about the upcoming season, describing his team as "veteran" for the firs time in a long time.
- Scotty Sandelin had really nothing to say about his team other than the freshman; mostly was raving about the new DECC.
- Jamie Russell talked about the difficulty of recruiting to Michigan Tech (not that I blame him, Houghton sucks). He also talked about the upcoming freshman class.
- Owens talked about Rau and Bachman, and that's about it.
- Mike Eaves said nothing in typical Wisconsin fashion.
- Motzko was cautiously optimistic that they have a lot of good things but need more 5 on 5 scoring.
- Don Lucia raved about Kangas, hates the idea of a shootout, and is excited for the return of Stoa
- George mentioned talent, got flustered when the Rug asked him something, and that goaltending is key
- Alaska boy said they need to score more goals, the budget is fine even with rising costs and don't care that they are ranked last. He sounded cranky as usual.
As for Hakstol, he avoided talking about the goalie situation until someone directly asked him what is going on. He talked about developing the freshman class and the sophomores are going to be key. Trupp is looking good. He's looking for big seasons from Kozek and VandeVelde.
October 6, 2008
So...the rankings have definitely varied on our team this year. I'm not surprised, but at the same time, I can't figure out why the writers of the college hockey world are so high on teams like Denver or Boston University, while the Sioux are quite frankly getting dumped on by MOST polls and writers. I mean, I guess if the expectations are low and the Sioux exceed these (which they will) I will be able to tell everyone that I was right, they were wrong, blah blah blah.
Anyway, good win for the boys last night in a 6-2 victory over Manitoba. Duncan netted two and the freshman contributed nicely. Grigoire's goal was described as a "laser" by a buddy of mine.
Boston University on Friday in the Icebreaker tournament. Preview of the game coming in the next couple days.
October 3, 2008
Here's his rankings:
|Colorado College||Yes, Jack Hillen is gone. But so many formidable elements return as the Tigers seek their fourth MacNaughton Cup in the past seven seasons.|
|Denver||Rakhshani and Ruegsegger (with a hefty helping of Bozak) make the Pioneers as hard to stop as they are to spell. The lone question is in goal.|
|St. Cloud State||Good goaltending and great offense return to the fold, as Husky fans swear this is the year they'll be playing in April, in Roe's backyard.|
|Wisconsin||With Gardiner joining McBain, Smith, Goloubef and McDonagh on the back side, the Badgers have arguably the most defensive talent in the nation.|
|Minnesota State||The political world isn't the only place where you'll find hard-working Mavericks who talk about the importance of veteran experience.|
|Minnesota||Thirteen members of the Gopher roster didn't play college hockey last year. A dozen of them are freshmen, and one, thankfully, is Ryan Stoa.|
|North Dakota||A lack of proven talent in goal is the big question for the Sioux. Of course, we had similar thoughts about CC last year, and that turned out fine.|
|Minnesota Duluth||The offensive depth and the goaltending are the bright spots at the DECC. But defensive questions need answers for the Bulldogs to move up.|
|Michigan Tech||The duo of Nolan in goal and Kinrade on the blue line is a good place to start. But the Huskies need goal-scorers to stay in the home ice race.|
|Alaska Anchorage||The trio of Lunden, Crowder and Clark combined for 73 points last season. Beyond them, well, did we mention that you can see Russia?|
This is what he said about the Sioux:
PRIMED FOR A FALL
|North Dakota doesn't have any superstars, unless you count a former Hobey Baker winner.|
The words sound like a sports cliché, until you remember that the guy uttering them has a Hobey on his resume.
"There are no superstars on our team this year," said North Dakota senior forward Ryan Duncan, who took home the game's top individual award as a sophomore. "There's a different team aspect here than in previous years."
The list of would-be Fighting Sioux who have elected to take a paycheck instead of a fourth (or in some cases, a third) year of college hockey is impressive. What remains in Grand Forks is a close-knit group of seven seniors determined to lead North Dakota on a fifth straight Frozen Four trip, and to win two more games than they have in previous years. Still, there are myriad questions to be answered about defense, goaltending (returning senior Aaron Walski has less than two full games worth of playing time in his college career) and who will lead the offense. Duncan welcomes the challenge, and invites opponents to make him the center of attention at their peril.
"If you're going to concentrate on me, you're going to have a whole heap of trouble from other guys," said Duncan, who is the team's top returning scorer with 40 points last season. "I'm just one piece of the puzzle, so if they want to focus on me, that's fine."
First off, as Goon as alluded to in his blog, Duncan isn't exactly going to tell the media that the Sioux will walk all over everyone this year; nor is he going to throw his team under the bus. But let's take a look at Jess's own words and tear him down piece by piece, shall we?
Still, there are myriad questions to be answered about defense...
Oh are there now? Last I checked the likes of Joe Finley, Chay Genoway, and Zach Jones are ALL returning this year. And let's see...that's 3 defensemen. 2 seniors and a junior. Adds up to...11 years worth of WCHA Hockey experience. But apparently those are big question marks. (rolls eyes)
Who will lead the offense...
Rumor has it that VandeVelde is returning this year. So is Matt Watkins. And Andrew Kozek. And Ryan Martens. And Brad Miller. Oh, and a former HOBEY BAKER winner in Ryan Duncan. Wow, I guess there is really no one to lead the offense this year. These will just be a bunch of ragtag nobodys that will not perform. (rolly eyes, again)
The only thing I do agree with him on is goaltending. Yes, there are questions at goal. We as Sioux fans know this, accept it, etc. But until the Walski gets a chance to perform and prove to us that he is NOT capable of the job, writers should not pin the Sioux at the bottom of the conference. I mean, let's face it here. CC returns mostly intact. UND returns mostly intact. DU lost a lot of players. But somehow CC and DU get mad props from Myers, whie the Sioux drop to 7th. I don't buy it. No Sioux fan should.
edit: my buddy Steve pointed out to me that the total experience adds up to 8, not 11. I was counting this year as experience. Thanks Steve.
October 1, 2008
First things first…who the Sioux lost. The seniors of JPL, Rylan Kaip, Kyle Radke, and Robbie Bina. Lammy was huge in net, no question. Kaip, while not exactly a huge name for Sioux hockey played efficiently. Radke, IMO, was one of the biggest underachievers I have seen since the days of Eric Lindros. And Bina’s leadership + skill level = Sioux D suffering a little bit. Also factor in the loss of underclassmen TJ Oshie and Taylor Chorney. Chorney was a reliable defenseman for MOST of the season, although he made some dumb plays that had me scratch my bulbous head. Oshie, well…let’s just say St. Louis was looking forward to a possible playoff run until Erik Johnson got drunk and tore two ligaments in his knee playing golf…
The big question coming into the Sioux season this year is goaltending. With the departure of Lammy, the workhouse of the Sioux that broke the Fighting Sioux record of starting in consecutive games, the Sioux are turning to senior Aaron Walski. Playing as Jordan Parise’s and Lammy’s backup for most of his career, he got one start last year against non-factor
Shifting towards offense, the Sioux are going to be looking for Evan Trupp to return to the great form that he had going last year until a leg injury sidelined him. This kid had the chance to win WCHA rookie of the year but due to the injury was a non-factor by voting time. Fully healed I anticipate him to have a big season.
One thing that we as Sioux fans cannot discount this year is that the team can simply replace an offense powerhouse like TJ Oshie. When Jonathan Towes departed the Sioux after the 2006-2007 season most Sioux fans, including myself, turned a blind eye, thinking that one player doesn’t make a team complete. The Sioux struggled the entire 1st half of last season to put away games, and I do believe some of it can be attributed to losing our star in Towes. I hope the team adjusts properly to the loss of Oshie, but again, when you lose a guy who scores 45 points last year, you are going to feel it.
On the plus sides of the Sioux offense this year, I think every Sioux fan thanked the same Jesus that hates
That all being said, let’s look at the incoming freshman, shall we?
Corey Fienhage – Played at
Mario Lamoureux – Every time I look at his name, I either think Mario Lemieux. Anyway, kid is out of
Jason Gregoire – As Dirty's Diatribe has mentioned, he ditched his commitment to
David Toews – Yes, he’s the brother. Yes, expectations will be high. And yes, he will put up. He put up huge points at Shattuck and helped them win two national championships. I’m excited to watch him.
Brett Hextall – He’ll have to live up to his dad’s legacy, mostly the fact that Ron scored two goals as a goaltender. Played in the BCHL for two years, scoring 72 points last year, and was also voted fan favorite. Hooray!
Brad Eidsness – A goalie. If Watkins slumps, I could see this kid getting some face time. Who knows, it worked for
Graeme Harrington – This guy has the 3 strike thing going right now. One, his first name is the same as my college physics professor, who just sucked. Second, his last name is the same as a washed up NFL QB that played at
Like I said, excitement is brewing in
September 23, 2008
No that won't happen with every post I make, but really, I am just kind of excited for the season...and I tend to do things like that when I am excited. Seriously, I was watching a kids hockey tournament the past weekend and wanted to yell out SIOUX YEAH YEAH! in hopes that someone would respond, but held off. Obsessed. I told you.
Anyway, let's recap last season, shall we? *ahem*
The 2007-2008 season had a lot of optimism. Most of the big starters were returning, including a seasoned goaltender, the Hobey Baker winner, and his linemate, TJ Oshie. Losing Toews to the Blackhawks was a blow and the departure of a true leader, Chris Porter hurt, but the Sioux were still looking strong.
A convincing win to open the season against
Continuing the strong play, they came back in the Friday night game against a tough
To close out the season, the Sioux had two games at home against
The game against
As nervous as I was about the upcoming game, I was also excited. Anything can happen at the Frozen Four. Unfortunately, that anything was a domination by
Yet again, the Sioux could not get it done on a national stage. Already speculation was rampant about who would return for this team in 2008-2009. And already, Sioux fans were talking about a 5th consecutive trip to the Frozen Four. I was one of those. Still am.
This next season brings a lot of optimism. Look for my season preview in a few days. Until then...
September 17, 2008
Ok, now that we got that out of the way, time to discuss why I'm starting this blog, what I hope to bring to you, my fellow Fighting Sioux fans as well as college hockey fans out there.
I am obviously a Fighting Sioux hockey fan but also a WCHA fan and a hockey fan in general. I plan on blogging a lot about the Sioux, but also other games that I attend. I will bring a perspective of not only fandom, but the nuances about the game as well. Hopefully some insight that can help you look at the game a little differently.
So...first, my WCHA Predictions for the year. A little synopsis about each team, as well as where they will end the year. I'll start off with each team based on where they finished last year, starting with 10th place. Here we go...
University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves
Coach - Dave Shyiak
The Seawolves are coming off of a disappointing season, winning just 3 games last year in league and finishing with an overall record of 7-21-8. They struggled at the end of last season, losing 9 of their last 10 games with the non-loss being a tie. However, a little credit should be given here being that they took the Colorado College Tigers to overtime in their final game of the season, possibly derailing the Tigers going into the playoffs. I don't see a lot coming from this team, unfortunately in the next year. I am of the firm belief that Shyiak is at best a mediocre coach and the talent just simply isn't there.
Michigan Tech Huskies
Coach - Jamie Russell
High hopes for the Huskies in 2007-2008. After making it to the WCHA Final Five in 2006-2007, this team was expected to contend again. But a lackluster offensive effort early on and a goalie that checked out early mentally brought this team down to earth quickly. They did take the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux to 3 games in the playoffs, which is impressive considering the drubbing North Dakota gave them in January. Teslak departing at goaltender isn't going to help either.
Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs
Coach - Scott Sandelin
Duluth is one of those teams that has talent but tends to underachieve. They should have won the Frozen Four in 2004, but couldn't capitilze on a 6 on 3. Since the days of Junior Lessard and Issac Reichmuth, this team has tanked, and fast. Stalock finished last year with a decent save percentage and GAA, but a very mediocre offense returns. Not only that, but their defense is subpar at best. Not too excited about Duluth.
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
Coach - Don Lucia
This team was a mess, plain and simple. Okposo departing the team, a cluster at goaltender, and youth spelled disaster for the Gophers. Fans were calling for tDon's head, or at least for him to step down. By the end of the season though, things started looking up. A solid freshman goaltender, Alex Kangas, emerged. Blake Wheeler started playing better. They played tough in the end against a very good Mankato team and even made the NCAA tournament when all looked lost. This team is poised for a good season, as long as Kangas doesn't have a sophomore slump.
University of Wisconsin Badgers
Coach - Mike Eaves
Another team that underachieved last season and didn't turn it up until it was too late. Wisconsin finished under .500; yet made the NCAA tourney, where they nearly knocked off North Dakota to make the Frozen Four. The departure of under-achiever Kyle Turis should not hurt this team, as far as I'm concerned. But other than Ben Street and Michael Davies, I'm not really excited about the Badgers. There's not a superstar on this team, which Wisconsin needs. They had Earl a few years ago who I've been told was a cancer on the team but still had the talent to lead this team to their 6th National title. Questions at goaltender are also there.
St. Cloud State Huskies
Coach - Bob Motzko
Ok, I'll get it out of the way right now. O-fer in the NCAA's. A loss to Clarkson. A terrible game played against a lousy team. Yet again. Ok, enough. This was a team that despite that game, they finished strong, winning 8 of their last 11 going into the playoffs, including sweeping 'Sconni to go to the Final Five in what some considered an upset, even though St. Cloud had the home-ice advantage. Pretty sure Roe is not going to have a slump this year and is probably looking for more goals this year. This team could be a dark horse this year.
Minnesota State University Mavericks
Coach - Troy Jutting
Finally, the Mavericks break out of the WCHA basement for the first time since 2003. I've always been a huge Jutting fan and hope that he can help his team build on what was by all means a surprising season last year. And screw you Wisconsin fans, this team deserved to make the NCAA's over your team. Andrew Sackrison returning is huge, as is Zacharias at goaltender. Another dark horse team that might finally get the credit it deserves.
University of Denver Pioneers
Coach - George Gwozdecky
This is a team that I am torn on this year. Last year, they took the WCHA Final Five. They were the team to beat in the 1st half of the season. In the second half, they started falling. After a game against Wisconsin in which Randy Schmidt blew a call (maybe, probably, Schmidt just sucks), Denver began falling apart. Swept against North Dakota, swept against Mankato, and being swept in the home and home against Colorado College and it's a wonder this team did anything. They played pretty convincingly against Duluth but got smoked by 'Sconni in the regional. Key losses on defense, including Chris Butler and Andy Thomas leave some holes in the defense. Also looking at an unproven goaltender. However, offense is mostly intact, with Bozak, Rakhshani, and Ruegsegger returning. On top of that, you have what I personally believe to be the best coach in the WCHA.
University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux
Coach - Dave Hakstol
Hooray, I get to rant about my own team. Of course, this will just be the abbreviated version; you will get a better version later on. So what, we're 0-4 in the Frozen Four under Hak? Last year's loss being the most embarassing, a 6-1 defeat with the Sioux being down 4-0 after the first and me out in the concourse of Pepsi Center walking with no direction, almost being in a daze. Luckily, the Sioux remain mostly intact. Losing the Oshie and the Chorney hurts, as does losing Lammy and Bina. However, Duncan is sticking around again and VandeVelde is looking to improve on what I would call a weaker season. Trupp will be even better after a leg injury sidelined him. The BIG question will be at goaltender. An unproven goalie in a program that is expecting results AGAIN.
Colorado College Tigers
Coach - Scott Owens
A team that surprised is the best way to put this. A fantastic goaltender emerged in Richard Bachman and the CC offense churned out a lot of points. However, as many teams in the WCHA tend to do, this team may have peaked too early. A disappointing showing in the Final Five and Regionals. They fought for the home seed and blew it bigtime against Notre Dame, an unproven program. Things are looking good this year though. Sweatt, Rau, and Testwuide emerged last year as the DOT line of 2007. The loss of Kilpatrick and Hillen are big, but this team looks poised and ready to repeat, as long as Bachman doesn't have a slump.
Ok, there's my brief take on every WCHA team. Aside from CC being the #1 team and Anchorage and Tech fighting for last, 2-8 can be tossed up. I might as well draw cards to pick. But I won't. I'll use my superior hockey knowledge and hatred towards Wisconsin to make my picks. *ducks at whatever is being thrown at him*
6. St. Cloud
Like I said, this is a toss-up. I put Denver ahead of UND purely on the coaches. Mankato edges Minnesota based on goaltending, and 'Sconni just sucks, but not as much as the bottom 3 programs.
There's my take. Enjoy my blog this year!