October 30, 2008

Sioux Preview

As I mentioned with the Badger preview, this is a big series for the Sioux. Both teams are coming in and could possibly consider this a "must win" series. I was having a chit-chat with the WCHA Writer for USCHO and we both discussed the possiblities of what would happen with a Sioux sweep, a Badger sweep, or a split.

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.

Badger Preview

Tomorrow night the Sioux open up their season at home. Against a beaten down Badger team that has started off the season 0-5-1, the worst start in the modern era for them. For a team that a lot of people claimed were ready to contend for another NCAA Title, this is not the start Wisconsin was looking for.

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

Big shakeup weekend in the WCHA

I've talked to a few people about the WCHA recently. My buddies from college, Joe, who writes Gross Misconduct, and my dad. The main thing that comes up is unpredictibility. Yes, it's only October. Yes, the season is not won in this month. But I tell you what, this last weekend certainly provided some interesting things to talk about.

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

Sioux drop to 16 in the USCHO Poll

Splitting this weekend against Mankato dropped the Sioux in the polls, as they moved from 13th to 16th in the USCHO.com poll. They moved to 15th in the USA Today/USA Hockey poll.

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

Former Sioux players making an impact in the NHL

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

We did it! A split on the Weekend!

Alright, so normally a split would bring feelings of blahness to me (is that a word?) but right now, I am elated. Our Sioux, who got crushed on Friday night in a humbling 5-1 defeat decided to show up for a period of hockey and topple the Mavericks of Mankato 4-3, earning a split on the weekend and showing signs that they are ready to play hockey.

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

Don't panic, Sioux fans

Brad Schlossman had an interesting piece the other day, and I wanted to share it with you all. It can be found here.

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.

So I had a dream...

I had this dream last night that the Sioux were up 6-0 on Mankato in the 3rd period of Friday night's game.

True story.

October 14, 2008

Sioux ranked 13th in polls

The Fighting Sioux have fallen fast in the poll rankings, dropping to 13th in both the USA Today national poll and the USCHO.com poll. The Sioux were ranked 5th in both polls to start the season. Dropped 8 spots since getting swept in the Icebreaker tournament by BU and UMass.

October 13, 2008

Congrats to TJ Oshie

T.J. Oshie, the former Sioux forward scored his first point of the season for the St. Louis Blues in a 5-4 shootout win over the Maple Leafs today.

October 11, 2008

A rough opening weekend

The 2008-2009 season did not get started the way the Sioux wanted or expected it to.

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

Preview of the weekend

The Sioux open the 2008-2009 season on the road against Boston University and UMass in the Icebreaker tournament. This is a fun challenge for the Sioux and should be two very entertaining games.

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

A take on the Terriers

The following is a take of the Boston University Terriers team. Thank you to Sarah Gutherz for her take and preview:

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 have been labeled as a traitor by THIS man

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.

Coaches preview and are Tech fans worried?

Browsing a few of the other blogs I read, I stumbled upon the Tech hockey blog. Let's just say they are not looking forward to the season...check it out here

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

USCHO Ranks the Sioux #5 to start the Season

uscho.com has come out with their preseason poll, and finally someone gets it right: they ranked our beloved Sioux #5 preseason. Rankings 1-20 can be found here.

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

INCH Ranks the Sioux 7th in the WCHA

Jess Myers has written his predictions for the WCHA this year. The garbage he wrote can be found here. The long story short is, the Sioux get ripped by him pretty good.

Here's his rankings:

Predicted Finish
School Of Note
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:


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

Musings about the Season

Talking to many of my fellow Sioux fans, the general consensus on this year is that the team is yet again a contender. With a strong freshman class coming in, veteran leadership, a coach that has taken them to the Frozen Four all four years he has served in the position, reliable defense, etc., this team should be ready to do well.

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 Bemidji State. I will contend that Walski held his own in that game, but putting your trust in a goalie that has one start in his whole career is no different than starting a freshman goaltender, IMO. I would like to believe that Walski will come in, make the spectacular diving saves that JPL made over the past two years, but honestly, I’m a little more skeptical. Optimistic, yes, but that’s cause I’m still ultimately wearing the green blinders.

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 Wisconsin for the return of Ryan Duncan, Mr. Hobey. After the Frozen Four, every fan base in the WCHA was trying to convince me that he would be gone. I asked why? He’s not ready for the NHL, if he even ever will be. He loves playing in North Dakota. He can get still another year and probably contend for the Hobey again. The leadership that he brings to this team is undeniable. I’m going to look for him to lead the offense and mentor the freshman coming in.

That all being said, let’s look at the incoming freshman, shall we?

Corey Fienhage – Played at Eastview High School in Apple Valley. Was a Mr. Hockey finalist in 2007-2008. Big kid at 6’3” and 214. Adds depth to the defense.

Mario Lamoureux – Every time I look at his name, I either think Mario Lemieux. Anyway, kid is out of Grand Forks (duh…) and has played the last 4 seasons in the USHL. He is the all time leading scorer of the Tri City storm. 5’9” forward that will make an impact this year.

Jason Gregoire – As Dirty's Diatribe has mentioned, he ditched his commitment to Denver to come to the Sioux. Spent the previous two seasons with the Lincoln Stars. He was a 2008 CCM All-USHL First Teamer. He got hurt towards the end of the season and it should be interesting to see if he bounces back from that.

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 Minnesota and CC last year with Kangas Khan and Richard. Sort of.

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 Oregon. Third, he played in Dryden, where I have gone fishing many times before. It’s not that I don’t like fishing, in fact I love Dryden, but had a bad piece of pizza there once. Anyway, this kid may get a shot as well. Who knows?

Like I said, excitement is brewing in Grand Forks for the start of the season. Exhibition opener this weekend, and although we won’t see Andy Schneider go ballistic, hopefully someone will. Hell, Mike Prpich won a fight against Marco Peluso in the season opener against Duluth wearing a throwback….anyway…..