December 29, 2008

What to say...

My faith in the Sioux team this year is gone. Gone. Flat out gone. Why? Because the Sioux went into the GLI and quite frankly, sucked. Two goals against bad teams. Yes, Michigan State is a bad team. Yes, Tech is one of the worst teams in memory. And the Sioux, which were supposed to be a contender yet again this year, sucked.

I am not making any excuses anymore. There are none to be had.

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas...and the GLI is upcoming

First, Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope Santa was good to all of you...except the Wisconsin fans. :-p

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 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

My Midseason Grades

So...can't sleep...might as well blog about my favorite team, right?

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

Happy Holidays to you all

Hello everyone, hope this holiday season is finding you well so far.

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

Bring out the brooms!

The Sioux completed the task of the weekend, sweeping the Huskies of St. Cloud and vaulting into 6th place in the WCHA.

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 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

Sioux did great, beat Huskies 3-2

The Sioux played very well last night, dominating the third period and beat the Huskies of St. Cloud 3-2 a the Ralph.

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

A good article on Toews

The article can be found here. Basically it's just a nice summary of how the kid is growing up real fast but is handling everything in a mature manner.

December 9, 2008

Been Pondering

I've kind of spent the last two days pondering the Sioux and what kind of team they are this year.

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

Another big Friday night win...

I know I should be more giddy about the Sioux putting up a 10 spot on Harvard last night...but honestly, it means nothing if they can't close it out tonight. Sure the Sioux performed great, getting scoring from a variety of guys. Even Jones scored his first goal in like 18 billion games. Eidsness looked very solid. But they have to close it out tonight.

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

We've been here before...

Goon pointed out to me that this team's record is very similar to the 2006-2007 team that eventually, yes, went to the Frozen Four. I looked it up and he was right. 7-10-1 right before Christmas, including getting swept by Wisconsin and Michigan Tech. That's 18 games into the season. This team rebounded incredibly in the 2nd half. I remember this season well, because in February, I was listening to KFAN and Jeff Dubay (God rest his crack-addicted soul, assuming he died) was raving about the Gophers and said North Dakota is written off. I thought he was correct. (ducks)

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 you can probably tell, I'm not optimistic.

December 3, 2008

Love of the game

Joe Yerdon, my buddy who writes a blog for Fox Sports 980, has a nice blog entry about why he loves the game.

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.