December 31, 2009
Basically I gave the facts (Frattin is back with the team) then gave my thoughts. I said there might be some people that see it as a desperation move and I might agree. To this moment, I have talked with two people that say the coaching staff was sitting in a room, scratching their heads, grabbing at every last straw when a lightbulb went off and someone said HEY! Let's bring back Frattin! I'm not of that opinion. However, any Sioux fan can admit the timing is pretty coincidental. I mean, let's look at the facts:
- Genoway is still out, and the team has gone 2-5-2 in his absence
- Zajac is out for most likely 6 weeks
- Kristo is not with the team right now
- The Sioux have blown plenty of leads in their losses
- Eids is not looking very good right now
I'm keenly aware of how Hakstol did not suspend Frattin for a year. Or 6 months. Or 3 months. Whatever. There was no timetable. I get that. He dismissed him from the team and said we will evaluate it. All I am saying is that the timing of it is quite interesting. And yes, I am happy to have Matt back on the team; I believe he will provide quite the spark and give the boys some good momentum.
Anyone who follows my blog knows I'm a realist when it comes to the Sioux team. I call it like I see it. If they are playing well, I am happy and my posts reflect that. If they are sucking, I am not afraid to call them out. Maybe it comes from knowing the game of hockey very very well and seeing things out there that other fans cannot. I don't know.
Anyway, hopefully Frattin can keep his nose clean and provide something that North Dakota is searching for.
December 30, 2009
December 25, 2009
Since the Sioux are in quite a bit of downtime, I figured I'd better make a post, even though there's not a lot going on. I'm hoping the team is using this time to cope with injuries and look deep within itself and find the winning ways that it had early in the season.
Rumor has it that Genoway may be eligible for medical redshirt. I personally think if this is true, the team should shut him down and let him return next year. I'm not saying it's a lost season; far from it, in fact. It's just with concussions being in the limelight and how serious they are treating them, I think it's a prudent thing to do.
Other than that, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas. :-)
December 15, 2009
After tying the Badgers, the Sioux fell on Saturday night 4-3 in a heated contest. The Sioux held a 2-1 lead for awhile but could not keep it.
I don't have a lot to say about it right now...I'm realizing the loss of Genoway is huge, thanks to a bush league hit that should have garnered a yearlong suspension. You should not be able to run a guy and get away with it.
The Sioux need these next few weekends to reenergize and re-group. That's about all they can do right now...
December 12, 2009
I was catching up through scoring updates in the 2nd and 3rd period and it sounded like the Sioux were playing much better. Aside from what sounded like an uber weak goal given up by Eidsness that got him yanked for Aaron Dell, the Sioux took it to the Badgers. It sounds like the Badgers either fell asleep or fell complacent. Either way, UND jumped on the opportunity and earned a tie.
Right now, I'll take a tie against one of the hottest teams in college hockey.
December 10, 2009
While in this writer's opinion the Badgers are not the Sioux's top rival, they are certainly a tough foe and one to be reckoned with. The Badgers are one of 3 teams in the WCHA you do not count out (the other two being Minnesota and North Dakota). They always seem to quietly put together a decent season, and often make the NCAA's. Two years ago, as a 4 seed, they nearly knocked off the Sioux in the championship game, forcing the Sioux to beat them in overtime. Wisconsin had no business being in that tournament; yet they nearly earned a trip to Denver.
Anyway, I know some Badger fans (who are all fat, cause it's Wisconsin, and everyone there is fat) are mad that their beloved team isn't ranked higher than North Dakota. Have you ever tried to rank the top 20? It's difficult. You factor in how the weekend went for each team, who they beat or lost to, what the ranking of said team was. Was either game a blowout? Were there injuries? All these things are a factor. When it comes down to it, Wisconsin does not deserve to be as high as North Dakota.
The Sioux are looking at a tough weekend though. Genoway is still out...and VandeVelde may be a game-time decision. Wisconsin is a big team and has a pretty dynamic offense. But they are beatable. It's going to be a great weekend of hockey.
December 6, 2009
A split on the road is always good, right? I mean, split on the road, sweep at home? That's the way it's supposed to work, I think. But what happens when the team had the lead with less than a minute left and were unable to close it out? What about then?
I'm not sure it's being noticed because the Sioux have put together a decent season in the W/L column. But in the WCHA, they are looking at a 6-5-1 record and a 6th place standing right now. Personally, I'm not too impressed. Now I know some people are going to say that the Sioux are playing much better in the 1st half than usual, .500 is better than the alternative, etc. But when they tie the lowly Gophers and lose to the hapless Seawolves, you can't help but to be a little frustrated.
Up next is a formidable opponent, the Badgers. We all know how much I hate Wisconsin, so stay tuned...
November 30, 2009
The Sioux did have a 5-3 lead going into the 3rd, and against the majority of teams, that lead would probably be safe. After all, they did score 4 goals in the 2nd, outplayed Miami of Ohio and quite frankly, looked much better. But in the 3rd, Miami came back and was able to tie the game.
I think a lot of people are upset the Sioux eeked out a tie. But me, I'm actually ok with it. I don't like blowing a two goal lead, but to tie the #1 team in the nation, a team that is very, very good, and in my opinion, has a Hobey worthy player in Carter Camper. Also, who is Reilly Smith? This freshman player was all over the ice and has some pretty sick hands. I was really impressed.
The Sioux had some great things happen. Danny Kristo continues to excel, scoring two goals on Saturday. Malone had a sick goal, as did Gregoire. And while Eids' numbers will drop, I don't think he was at fault for any of the goals.
Importantly, the Sioux are 3-0-1 in conference play, which will definitely bode well come tournament selection time. Up next...Daloot.
November 28, 2009
- UND is now tied with Bemidji State as the best defensive team in the country. Both are allowing just 1.69 goals per game
- UND and Colorado College lead the WCHA with six players that have 10 points. Nobody else has five. UND's players are VandeVelde (13), Evan Trupp (12), Chay Genoway, David Toews, Danny Kristo and Brad Malone (10)
- Eids now has a save percentage of .931
Now on to hockey...
The tournament got started off the way a good tournament should, with two teams that met up in the Frozen Four last year playing each other, Miami of Ohio and Bemidji. I watched the game last year in DC and it seemed to me that Bemidji was not only overwhelmed by being on the national stage and all the hype that followed them, but they were also overwhelmed by a Miami team that was and is very very good. Enrico Blasi has done some great things with that program and I'm excited to see some other names in college hockey. At the Frozen Four, Miami beat Bemidji 4-1, sending the Beavers packing. However, a lot of Bemidji fans stuck around Washington, and for that, I was very happy.
Yesterday afternoon, Bemidji carried a 2-0 lead into the 3rd period, but Miami evened the score at 2 with both their goals coming from junior forward Carter Camper. This kid had 41 points and 42 points respectively in his first two seasons with the Redhawks. He's a damn good player, in my opinion. However, Miami was unable to protect the lead and Bemidji went on to win 3-2, vaulting their record to 11-1-1. I gotta be honest, if this team does not get some first place consideration, I will be shocked.
Then came the game we were all waiting for. The Sioux took on the other team from Ohio, the Ohio State Buckeyes. I was curious to see how the Sioux would respond after a very tough weekend in Denver. As I said, while there was no reason for the players to hang their heads, getting swept is getting swept. And with the news that Genoway is still out, and there is really no timetable for his return, I'm sure the players are frustrated, to say the least.
The first period was interesting. I thought the Sioux dominated except for the last couple minutes. I thought it seemed like Sioux hockey as well. Physical, hard fought, etc. They took it to the Ohio players and ground it out. It came at a price though as David Toews took a crushing hit at center ice. He left the bench for a few minutes, but came back later in the game. No scoring in the 1st period.
I had to leave in the 2nd, but from the outset, the Sioux were looking to dominate and they got on the scoreboard with a goal from Darcy Zajac (seriously, this kid is going to have a huge year). Again, they were taking to Ohio and in my eyes, overwhelming them. However, they were unable to get any more goals in the frame.
In the 3rd, from what I have been told, UND decided to quit monkeying around and basically smacked the Buckeyes around. They took the game over and refused to yield even after the Buckeyes scored to bring it to 2-1. Goals from Kristo and Hextall later in the game ensured a victory. 4-1 Sioux.
Some things I noticed. It's great to see Hextall back on the board. He was definitely in a slump. I also am glad to see Kristo continuing to progress. He was flying all over the ice last night. I think the line with him, Cichy, and Knight is going to work out real well. It gives UND 4 balanced lines, which is rare in college hockey. Hell, it's rare at any level. I also like how the Sioux were able to rebound after what was certainly a very tough week last week.
I look for them to keep it up tonight as they take on Miami.
November 26, 2009
Every year, I reflect on what I am thankful for, and it's always an amazing amount of things. It's the stuff you don't even think about on a daily basis and take for granted daily. But the fact that I have a job and am employed when over 10% of our country is not, the fact I am in good health, and the fact that I can blog about the Sioux are all things I am grateful for.
I also have a wonderful fiancee who I adore and love very much. She makes me very happy and I am very thankful for her.
So reflect on what you are thankful for today, and make sure your plate is full and your glass never empty!
November 22, 2009
I know. On paper it doesn't look too good. Two losses. Drops the record to 7-4-1. Doesn't matter how close the games were, doesn't matter if the Sioux played well, they got swept in Denver. That's the bottom line. However, there is a lot more to the story than the scoreboard...
Ok, I'll give it to DU on Friday night. They deserved that game. They outplayed the Sioux for the first period and most of the 2nd. North Dakota dominated the 3rd, but were unable to crack the brick wall that is Denver goalie Marc Cheverie. That's fine. That is going to happen every now and then...and in hindsight, at least the Sioux didn't get blown out. I figured they'd come back and play harder and stronger Saturday night. And that's exactly what they did.
The Sioux jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 1st period and like most Sioux fans, I assumed they were going to cruise to a victory. However, things were not going to be that simple for the Sioux. They started off the 2nd period on the penalty kill and DU capitalized. Fine, no biggie. But then, as the period went on, the Sioux were getting called constantly. At one point, DU had 9 powerplays to UND's 0. That's right. Nine penalties in a row on the Sioux! Granted, not every one of them was a bad call. But there were some that made me want to throw my laptop out the window. Naturally, DU was able to take the lead, 3-2.
In the 3rd, DU kept the pressure on the Sioux, but the Sioux seemingly tied it up late in the game. Take a look below.
Unfortunately, the call was reversed on the ice, and the goal was no good. In my opinion, I cannot tell that he decisively kicked it in. Because the call one the ice was a goal, I feel this should have stood. In fairness, had they called it no-goal, I don't see anything decisive on there that shows he did NOT kick it in. It's one of those goals, I guess. And sadly, the Sioux lost the game.
As I said above, on paper, this seems awful. But there are some good things that the Sioux can take away from this weekend.
- Cichy, Kristo, and Knight were all over the place. They had a fantastic weekend
- Eidsness played great all weekend, keeping the Sioux in the game the first night with some great saves
- Fienhage and LaPoint stepped up and played fine defensively all weekend.
- The Sioux kept up physically with the Pioneers all weekend
So like I said, they are still losses in the record books. But they do have another series with the scumbags from Denver in January. I suspect that it will be more important then two wins.
November 20, 2009
Anyway, we know Genoway is out. He didn't even make the trip. However, the DU side of things is a little more sketchy. Supposedly now Cheverie is "probable" and is apparently 100%. I get this completely, I just think it's uber shady. I get the mind games coaches want to play, but I also think it's poor sportsmanship. Not that I should be surprised by a DU program that has a coach who jumps on the ice when a call doesn't go his way.
What a joke! A clean hit by VandeVelde and George flips his lid!
Check this out too...
Again, classless. You're losing, so what do you do? You go after little Hextall. Way to pick on the little guy on the ice. Did they go after Finley last year? Of course not! DU players are classless and a bunch of cheap goons. I can't wait to see what kind of crap they pull tonight.
Bottom line is, this will be a hard fought series. Unfortunately, I see a split coming out of it. UND Friday, DU Saturday.
Editors note: I have met Coach Gwozdecky and have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He's a good coach and a nice guy.
November 19, 2009
Or it should have been...but both teams are dealing with some serious injuries. Cheverie and Wierciosh are both out for Denver while Chay Genoway is still out for UND. Without these players, both UND and DU are hurting real bad. Let's hope it's still a good series.
November 16, 2009
First, you saw my post about the goal on Friday night that should have not been a goal. The same thing happened Saturday night, except this time it was against the Sioux and it was a no-goal. The video is below.
I'll break it down as I see it. At :41 into the video, Hextall fires the puck into the leg pad of Dunn. I'm guessing the puck is under his pad. At :43 Hextall is swinging at the puck. At :44 seconds, the puck is in the net nowhere near the leg pad. This clearly should have been a goal. As it was explained to Hakstol, the ref said he wanted to blow his whistle and that renders the play dead. I know this is a new rule this year; the referee can say he intended to blow his whistle and that is the law. Obviously, this can be skewed in many ways if a ref has disdain towards a team...but I digress...
The second thing is the hit on Genoway Friday night. Take a look at the highlight...or lowlight below.
It's clear to me that Aaron Marvin was keying up on Genoway and hit him with intent to injure. How do I know? First, he's coasting towards him. He's not looking at the puck, he's looking at Chay. At :15 seconds into the video, you can see this. The puck is bounding around the boards and while Genoway is going to get the puck, it's obvious Marvin has no intention to play it. Secondly, take a look at the way he actually hits Chay. He actually rears up. Instead of throwing a clean shoulder check, he is winding up so he can inflict more pain. Finally, he went for the head. Any time a player is hunting for the head, I'm going to call him a dirty player.
This should not be tolerated at any level of hockey, and I think anything less than a yearlong suspension of Aaron Marvin is terrible. Of course, he was suspended for one game and that will be all that happens, but if this kid gets hurt, I will not be sad. Scumbags like that do not belong on the ice.
November 14, 2009
The Sioux beat the Huskies last night in a hard fought, gritty game 4-2. It unfortunately came at a price, as Chay Genoway was on the receiving end of a CFB and left the game, not returning and leaving his status for tonight up in the air.
Since I wasn't able to watch the game, I'm breaking down the highlights on YouTube. One thing I'm noticing here is the 1st goal for SCSU. Initially, in real time speed, it appears Eidsness never has control of the puck and Ryan Lasch did a fine job of getting to the loose puck and poking it in. However, if you watch the video, you'll notice at the 2:47 mark that Eidsness clearly has the puck under his glove and brings his goalie stick in to protect the puck. At 2:48, Lasch is crashing the net. At 2:49 his stick slides under Eidsness's glove and appears to knock the puck loose. He then is able to put it into the net. What baffles me is how this goal can go to replay and the refs are unable to determine that Eidsness clearly had control of the puck and froze it, therefore rendering the puck dead. The whistle should have been blown. The goal should have been no good. This has been called against North Dakota plenty of times, so you can understand my frustration here.
From what else I'm seeing, Baby Toews is really coming into his own this season. He's my definition of a true grinder. A very hard working player that gives 110% on every shift and makes things happen out of nothing. Of Sioux players in the past, some other grinders that come to mind are Erik Fabian, Chris Porter, and Quinn Fylling. Sure, these guys weren't exactly the best talent on the ice, like David Toews, but they were certainly hard workers who were able to make things happen. Baby Toews is making things happen out there. As are other guys like baby baby Lammy and Baby Zajac...notice a trend here?
Anyway, it was a hard fought game, a "character win" as Coach Hakstol put it. Looking for another good effort tonight from our beloved squad.
November 13, 2009
First, Schloss had an article about how popular college hockey is in the midwest. It really is impressive the numbers that the F5 puts up. I know it's an event I plan on attending every year, and have since 2003, only missing 2006 due to airline training.
Anyway, the Sioux play the Huskies of St. Cloud this weekend. I think while it should be a lock for a sweep, it won't come easy. The Sioux may be without Hextall for some injury reason. However, St. Cloud won't have Roe tonight for violating a team rule.
Bottom line is, the Sioux should come out this weekend with a sweep. That's my call.
Another interesting article here
November 11, 2009
Granted, I know there are players that leave programs early from every team in every league, but you have to wonder why so many players have departed the Gopher program early. Are some of these players coming in with unrealistic expectations? Is the coaching staff making these players roles unclear? Or are the players just selfish, looking out for their best interests and not the teams?
I think in the case of Lofquist, it's just selfish. He didn't play a lot this year (3 of 8 games) and didn't register a point. It's pretty clear to me that he had one foot in and one foot out of the Gopher program. You all know how much I hate the college player leaving early, but to leave in the middle of the season? Inexcusable. And ultimately, it has to fall on the coaching staff. Don't recruit guys that are flight risks. Make sure every player is understanding of their role. And if you think they are going to leave, yank their scholarship so you can give it to a player that is deserving of it and wants it.
Article from the Star Tribune
November 8, 2009
The Sioux traveled up to Houghton this last weekend, a place where they do ok, not great. Against a Tech team that for some reason, gives teams like the Sioux fits every now and then. But the Sioux rose up and swept the Huskies and are sharing first place in the WCHA with Denver and Colorado College.
My thing I was most impressed with this weekend was the play of Evan Trupp. This is a kid that had a great freshman season but suffered a crucial injury against Duluth, causing him to miss the rest of the season. Last year, he wasn't bad, but wasn't impressive either. I said it at the beginning of the year that the junior class would define this team, and Evan certainly looked up to the task over the weekend, scoring 3 goals in the two wins.
Also, a guy that I think is going to make a big impact this year is baby Toews. Following in his brothers footsteps, I'm sure he's getting a lot of flak from other teams about not being the better Toews brother. He might not be as talented as Johnny, but I tell you what, this kid can play. He's gritty, he hustles, and he is always looking to make a play. The goal he scored last night proves it. Banging in your own rebound is tough. But he stayed with the puck the whole time.
I don't want to look too far ahead...but in two weekends, it looks like the showdown of the WCHA powerhouses is going to come to a head in Denver. I know George is looking forward to it; he said so in his postgame interview. The Sioux first have to play St. Cloud.
November 4, 2009
The Sioux are playing Tech this weekend, in Houghton. I hate this town. In fact, I hate the region of the country that this stupid city is located in. Here's some reasons why.
Have you ever heard of the "Yooper Loop"? This is some sort of confusing roundabout that doesn't operate like a regular roundabout. Instead, it basically sucks you in and spits you out in random ways that you can't even comprehend. Every Tech fan will tell you it's really easy to figure out, but I still say it's a retarded piece of engineering.
The Michigan State Patrol has cars that still have the single light on top of them. I'm not talking cool either, like in Miami Vice. We're talking Unsolved Mystery era here. You drive by them and you're feeling like you're in some 70's Unsolved Mystery episode. And then you really do wish some unnamed killer would come up to your car and shoot you, just so you're put out of your misery.
The UP has some real creative names for roads and rivers. Two mile road, Three mile road, East Branch Firesteel River. Don't even get me started on the town names. Here are some examples: Bovine, Assanins, Baraga, and Gay. Plus there's just some things that are straight bizarre, like a hotel that advertises hot water and heat, another hotel that requires you to go to the lobby to use the phone because there aren't any in the rooms, and one random place where some dude named Bingo owns everything in town.
You ever eat a "Pasty"? I hadn't either until I visited the UP. As Dirty so infamously put it that day, these are nothing more than "glorified hot pockets". Seriously, it's a nasty crust, some potatoes, pepper, and I think eggs and meat. They should taste good, in theory, but no. They don't. They are disgusting.
I can think of one good thing about Houghton. They actually have a legit hockey arena. It's like a barn. You ever watch a game in Marquette? It's like watching a hockey game in a warehouse. I'm really amazed Brent doesn't go there more often to play forklift jockey. But Houghton actually reminds me of some of the arenas I played in as a kid.
October 26, 2009
In my opinion, the Sioux looked uninspired and quit playing hockey. And that brings me to my next point. Over the past couple years, I think we're looking at the parity in college hockey closing. In other words, on any given night, any team can compete and win. Take a look at Bemidji's run to the Frozen Four last year or Alabama-Huntsville upsetting Nortre Dame this year. These are just some examples. Now I can hear the argument of if the parity is getting closer, why aren't these teams winning the Frozen Four or their respective league championships? I think the reason is that while these teams are good enough to win on any given night, sustaining these victories is a lot tougher. Obviously schools like North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, BU, and BC are going to attract the prime talent that is available in college hockey. However, players may be electing to go to a school that is a better fit for them (see baby Lammy at Air Force, James van Riemsdyk at UNH last year) and therefore, the talent is getting spread out.
Granted, schools like AIC, Michigan Tech, UConn, or Western Michigan are going to play second fiddle pretty much all the time. Every now and then they might eek out a win against a good powerhouse team, but for the most part, I believe that college hockey is becoming more and more competitive every year.
October 23, 2009
DU at Minnesota
Neither team is looking spectacular early on. DU has split against Vermont and Ohio State, while Minnesota took 1 point from North Dakota last weekend. But I'm going to be bold and say DU breaks out of their rut. DU Sweep
Michigan Tech at CC
CC isn't that good, but Tech is not that good either. That being said, the battle of the should-be bottom feeders goes to CC. CC sweep.
Minnesota Duluth at St. Cloud
Duluth pulled out a great sweep against Mankato last weekend, while Cloudy couldn't sweep #26 Union. I'm going to say Duluth stays hot and sweeps the Huskies.
Wisconsin at Minnesota State
Kato might be awful, but Wisconsin isn't exactly playing good hockey early on this year. I'm going to go with a split in this series. Kato Friday, 'Sconni Saturday.
UND at Alaska-Anchorage
With Anchorage having two key defensemen out of the lineup, the Sioux keep rolling. UND sweep.
October 22, 2009
I can't figure out this city. First it was built simply out of convenience for the Alaska Railroad. Unlike other Alaska cities, this city had no mineral resources around it. Basically, it's a dump. Then they discover oil in the bay. But wait...aren't we not allowed to drill for oil in Alaska cause we might kill a sea otter? Or a seawolf? Really, what is a seawolf anyway?
This city actually matches New York City in a strange way. Only New York City has a higher percentage of residents living in its largest city. And aside from Anchorage, can you name me any cities in Alaska besides Fairbanks, Juneau, Barrow, or Dutch Harbor?
Not only that, but the Seawolves have Donald as a fan. Nuff said.
Is it possible to give a state back to the country that sold it to us? I think once we strip Alaska of its resources, we should sell it back to Russia for what we paid for it...7.2 million dollars. In fact, let's pay Canada to take Wisconsin and Michigan.
All kidding aside, the Sioux do have a tough weekend ahead of them. I am aware that two defensemen for UAA are out, Nils Backstrom and Trevor Hunt. Coach Shyiak has been forced to put freshman in their place, but is optimistic right now about their play. I know cause I heard the WCHA writer interview him yesterday. Hak said he might try to get Aaron Dell some playing time at goaltender this series. Personally I am excited for that and hope we do get to see him.
Prediction coming tomorrow. Be prepared to stay up late to watch the games. Oh, and Dirty is calling Sioux sweep.
October 19, 2009
Saturday night the Gophers played much better. Or the Sioux played much worse. I think the Gophers played better. And still, the Sioux were able to salvage a tie and take 3 of 4 points. Against your most hated rival, in a game this early on in the season, I'll take that any day.
The Sioux travel this weekend to visit the Seawolves. Should be a tough series...although really, is any series easy?
October 16, 2009
I was talking to the WCHA Writer of uscho.com and tried to get my thoughts together on how the series will go down. I can see it going any which way, to be honest. Gopher sweep, Sioux sweep, split, ties, one tie and a win for each team. Really, it can go anywhere in this case. So I'll break it down by each team...and determine it by then...
WHY THE GOPHERS CAN WIN
Aside from not losing a lot of people last year, the Gophers are coming in with a year more of experience under their belt. Kangas is looking to rebound after what last year was a miserable series for the then sophomore goaltender. The entire team will be fired up to play their biggest rivals, and the guys from last year are not going to forget how North Dakota trounced them. They are also going up against a questionable goalie in Brad Eidsness.
WHY THE SIOUX CAN WIN
Simply put, it's the talent. This freshman class is dynamic and balanced. All the freshmen that played last weekend against Merrimack contributed in some way. The leadership and talent of Chay Genoway and Chris VandeVelde will keep the team fired up for what is clearly their biggest rival. Certainly the team knows they are capable of beating what looks on paper to be an inexperienced Gopher team and a goaltender who slumped last year.
So, after looking at the facts, my inclination is to call a Sioux sweep. But it's too early in the season and Minnesota is too angry and hungry to let it happen. So I'm calling split. North Dakota Friday, Minnesota Saturday.
Now drop the puck!!!!
October 13, 2009
October 11, 2009
"The saddest day of my life was when Jason Notermann checked Pat O'Leary from behind and O'Leary wasn't permanently injured." - Dirty
"My son is a UND grad so it's always sweet to beat him, and me being a UMN grad, it's all that much more sweet." - My dad
"I like the Sioux vs Gopher series because it's an opportunity for the Fighting Sioux to beat down the Golden Boys from Minnesota. 7 > 5. You can't save sieve without Kangas." - Goon
As you can see, this rivalry means something to a lot of people, both on the Sioux and Gopher side. This is the equivalent of Michigan/Ohio State or Vikings/Packers for many of the fans on both sides. So what does it mean to me?
Although I hate Wisconsin, whenever the Sioux play Wisconsin, it's like Armani vs. Wal Mart. Wisconsin has nothing. It's a blue collar state. It's fat. It's people are fat. It has towns like Milwaukee. Overrated and disgusting but somehow the locals love it. Unreal. No, Minnesota vs. North Dakota is epic. This is a battle of two powerhouses. A battle of egos. A battle that rivals BC/BU. One team with 7 national championships, the other with 5. Both teams draw great talent and both teams have good fan bases, although I'll say North Dakota's fans are more educated in terms of hockey.
Predictions to follow tomorrow...
October 10, 2009
I wasn't able to watch the game as I was working, but from reading the recaps and whatnot, it sounds like it was a pretty complete game. The Sioux scored 21 seconds into the 1st period, as Gregoire netted his first of the season with an assist coming from the freshman Kristo and the senior Genoway.
Baby Toews found the net later in the period to make it 2-0 UND. Check it out here.
Merrimack tied the game by the end of the 1st period, with their goal coming with 24 seconds left. I have a rule in hockey. Don't give up a goal in the 1st minute of the period or the last minute of the period. So I guess UND balanced it out there.
However, the Sioux came back in the 2nd and scored two more. Chris VandeVelde scored his first of the season 5 hole to put the Sioux up 3-2. Freshman Corban Knight made it 4-2 with a very pretty goal you can see here.
Finally, in the 3rd, UND put the game away with a beautiful Brett Hextall goal.
The Sioux outshot the Warriors 40-17. That, my friends, is how you are going to win games.
October 5, 2009
2008-09 Record: 9-21-4
2008-09 HE Finish: 9th
Head Coach: Mark Dennehy (5th season, 30-89-17)
Why they’ll finish 8th
So, as I attempted to come up with my 1-10 Hockey East predictions, I had the Warriors all over the place. In some cases I had them as high as sixth. In others, they were in the basement. Not so much because Merrimack is a tough team to gauge, but rather the rest of the league has some considerable question marks.
Merrimack finishes ahead of Maine and Providence because the Warriors have better goaltending than both teams, their defense is also better, and the offense is good enough. Out of the three teams we’ve looked at thus far, Maine has the best offense and Providence is second best. But the disparity between the Warriors’ offense and the Friars’ and Black Bears’ isn’t as wide as the disparity in defense/goaltending in which the Warriors have the edge over both.
Pat Bowen, Karl Stollery, Adam Ross and Fraser Allan bring experience and toughness to the blue line – Stollery is a PP quarterback and Bowen can play the point on the PP as well. Allan, who has been among the Warriors’ best defensemen since joining the team in 2007-08, is finally healthy (he’s been battling knee issues his first two seasons).
Losing Joe Loprieno to the NHL hurts, but Kyle Bigos will do more than pickup the slack. Bigos will make an immediate impact.
On offense, the Warriors should have to see increased production from guys like Chris Barton, whose development continued as a sophomore last season. Rob Ricci’s graduation leaves an opportunity for someone else to step into the go-to role, and expect that to be freshman Stephane Da Costa.
As I said, I had them higher in some other projections, but Northeastern and UMass will finish higher simply because those teams have shown that winning big games isn’t going to be as much of a hardship as it will be for the Warriors.
Make no mistake about it, Merrimack has to prove to me that it can score goals. From a defensive standpoint, they can shut down any team on any night – that’s thanks to head coach Mark Dennehy’s systems and a very good goalie tandem (the best in the league? I’d put Braithwaite/Cannata up against any other 2 goalies in Hockey East).
The Warriors lost an eye-popping 14 one-goal games last year (winning four). If you consider some added experience turns just three of those one-goal losses into wins, then the Warriors would have finished higher than Maine last season.
But, this is a team that needs to prove that they can score goals, and prove that they can win those one-goal games. It’s not a given, just because some players have another year under their belts, that those 14 losses automatically turn into some more wins.
In theory, it sounds nice. But the Warriors have some proving to do before the rest of the league will even consider respecting them.
Why they could finish higher
Joe Cannata and Andrew Braithwaite, for my money, is the best one-two goaltending punch in the league. Cananta was stellar as a freshman, he needs to avoid the “sophomore slump” (i.e. John Muse last season), but there have been other goalies, like former Maine netminder Ben Bishop, who really solidified themselves as top players in the league as a sophomore.
Teams are going to have a hard time scoring goals against this Merrimack team. Kyle B
igos brings a new dimension to this defense – a big guy (6-foot-5) who isn’t your typical “big” defenseman. He can move, he can hit, and he’s a pest to play against. He’s also a guy that is used to winning.
If Da Costa has the type of season I and many others believe he can have, even as a rookie, and others like Barton, Francois Ouimet, Joe Cucci, etc. can carry the offense, the Warriors could finish as high as fifth or sixth. It really depends on goal-scoring – that was Merrimack’s biggest weakness last season.
Player to Watch
J.C. Robitaille needs to have a big season. He was one of the best freshmen in his class in 2006-07 (a miserable year for the team, just 37 goals in 34 games). In 2007-08 he had a quiet start to the year before coming on as a first-line winger that January. But as a junior, there were times when he was almost invisible.
Robitaille has to establish himself as a first-line forward for this team. He’s a senior, he one of the guys the Warriors have to look to for some goals. He doesn’t need to score 20 goals – in fact, I don’t think that’s his style, but 10-15 goals and 20-25 assists is what this team needs from J.C. Robitaille. His game lends itself to being more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, and that’s OK. He showed that when he took some shots as a sophomore, pucks were going in.
He has the ability to make anyone on his line better, and the Warriors need him to be that player. He needs to fill that hole left by Ricci.
Edit: here's the logo...found by my girlfriend, who is better at searching than me or Dirty.
The other observation, and this is what is most important to me, is that Ben Blood has stepped up his game BIG TIME. It sounds like he is a completely different player. This is really important if the Sioux hope to have success this year. Last year the defense struggled at the end of the season. I'm looking for a turnaround this year.
Up this weekend is Merrimack. I'll hopefully get a Merrimack preview to post here in the next couple days.
For more on the Sioux win, click here.
October 1, 2009
The North Dakota State Board of Education is expected to make a ruling today as to whether the school will get an extension to get Tribe approval of the nickname. The deadline to get tribe approval was today. With a Sioux supporter in Charles Murphy, if North Dakota can get an extension, it's a safe bet to say the Sioux name will stand firm.
UPDATE: The North Dakota Board of Higher Education has agreed to a 30 day extension. This should ensure the nickname stays in place. For more on it, click here.
September 29, 2009
Both polls were very close in how the order was picked; the only difference was Mankato and CC were flipped.
Here are the results of the coaches poll:
1. Denver (8) 80
2. UND (2) 70
3. Wisconsin 61
4. Minnesota 58
5. St. Cloud State 55
6. Minnesota-Duluth 37
7. MSU-Mankato 34
8. Colorado College 26
9. Alaska-Anchorage 20
10. Michigan Tech 9
Schloss had some interesting notes about the pre-season polls. For more on that, head over to his blog.
September 28, 2009
What cracks me up about it is that the blogger, who I actually like and respect, thinks that the University cares about me. This blog has not affiliated in any way with the University of North Dakota, nor endorsed by the University of North Dakota. Yes, I am a Sioux fan, as are hundreds of thousands of other people. Fans sound off on message boards, blogs, and other public forums, and I am no different. I think Alanna Rizzo was wrong to call out Sioux fans in the type of arena where they had no recourse to defend or protect themselves. For all we know, Alanna blew the story way out of proportion. I've met her and quite frankly, she is not a friendly person.
To answer some of the comments on the DU blog, I find it funny that these readers are mad at me for unfairly ripping on Alanna, yet they slander me by calling me inbred or any other person in North Dakota an inbred. I'm not even from North Dakota! And I don't live there now. But I know a lot of people who are from there, who have lived there their whole lives and they are by no means inbred people.
It'll be interesting to see if the DU blogger calls down his fans that are referring to the people of North Dakota this way.
September 26, 2009
I don't condone swearing at kids (most of the time) or telling a female reporter that she can't do her job (even though Alanna Rizzo sucks at her job and really a can of beer could do better), but really, Dancing Nancy? You have to be Alanna's special friend and make sure that everyone appreciates her? I don't think that's a problem, George. She's a fairly attractive woman, and I'm sure she gets Googled nearly as much as Erin Andrews (before her privates got plastered on the internet).
I tell you what. This wouldn't be an issue if Magness Arena would fill to capacity with Pios fans. Maybe if DU could draw some fans out to sing its retarded school song in the 3rd period, they would be able to talk about their own fan base. But instead, when Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Michigan Tech, UAA, or Daloot come to town, 9/10 fans are cheering for someone not in a weird looking uniform. Sure, you have your loyals like Dubbie, CO14ers and Swami, but aside from that, it's a bunch of non-hockey fans in that dump.
And proof that George is a mean mean man? Check this picture out.
September 15, 2009
Without further ado...
Michigan Tech University Huskies
Let's be honest. Tech was horrible last season. Just terrible. I blame their negative fan base who seems to accept that their team will suck every year. Last year the Huskies won a total of 7 games with only two of those being conference wins. This year doesn't look much better for the kids in Houghton, with only two seniors on the roster. There is a deep sophomore class at this school, and with leading scorer Jordan Baker returning, the Huskies may be able to win 10 games this year...but don't hold your breath
University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves
UAA! UAA! We are the Seawolves and we're ready to play! Sorry, had to. The best part of UAA's season is right now, when they are in first place. They showed some grit last year early and even cracked the top 20 in USCHO's poll. But by Christmas, the Seawolves were on their way to the depths of mediocrity in college hockey. They closed off the season strong though, sweeping a red-hot Minnesota Duluth team. Kevin Clark is coming off of a 30 point season and returns to the roster. Jon Olthuis returns in net for the Seawolves, who may surprise some teams this year. Or maybe not...
Minnesota State University - Mankato Mavericks
If anyone thought that Mankato would fall so fast, raise your hand. *pauses, waits* That's right, none of you. The 2007-2008 season was so surprising and the Mavericks just missed both the WCHA Final Five and the NCAA Tourney. Last year, they started out somewhat strong but quickly stumbled and never really recovered. Senior goalie Mike Zacharias departed last year, as well as senior defenseman Blake Friesan. The team does return some quality players though. Andrew Sackrison and is returning, so the Mavs can hope for some better offense production this year. Coach Troy Jutting is signed on for 4 more years.
University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
Face it. None of us predicted their return to the NCAA's. And let's be honest. It's not like they had a spectacular season. In their last 7 regular season games they were 2-2-3! But they got hot at the right time. Swept Colorado College on the road then steamrolled over the competition in St. Paul to capture the WCHA championship. They took care of Princeton in an amazing game but the magic run out against eventual runner-up Miami of Ohio. Can the Bulldogs repeat what they did last year? I doubt it. 7 seniors depart the team, including MacGregor Sharp, who provided the Bulldogs with much spark late in the season. Goalie Alex Stalock has departed, though. I'm not ruling the Bulldogs out, but I don't think it's going to be like last year for them.
St. Cloud State Huskies
Another season of hope, another season of disappointment. Really, St. Cloud is that team that you have to pick early in the season based on the talent they have, but they can never seem to put anything together. They are like the New York Jets. Seem good on paper, should be good, but really, they are not. One of their best players, goalie Jase Weslosky departed the team for academic reasons and they also lost forward Brent Borgen to him being a senior and graduating. Ryan Lasch is back, at least for now, as well as defenseman Garrett Roe, who everyone loves for some reason. Goalie is obviously a huge question mark right now, so we'll see on this team.
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
Chants of YOU GOT LUCKY! should be flying all over the place here. They somehow pulled a split of both Duluth and Michigan Tech to gain home ice for the WCHA playoffs. Goalie Alex Kangas was not nearly what he was freshman year and the offense could never really get going last year. Combine that with young defensemen and the Gophers, some might say, overachieved. They did miss the NCAA tourney for the first time since like, the thing was invented. But this year brings some more promise. As far as I'm concerned, the only loss from this team was Ryan Stoa. RJ Anderson being gone is probably better for this team. Kangas is returning and hoping to shake off a sophomore slump. Freshman phenom Jordan Schroeder is returning for his sophomore year even though the Vancouver Canucks REALLY wanted to sign him. Combine that with another year of experience for the D and the Gophers will be back near the top of the WCHA standings.
Colorado College Tigers
Oh how the mighty have fallen! CC was picked by many to repeat, but couldn't ever get into a groove. Goalie Richard Bachman fell into the trap known as the sophomore slump and forwards Chad Rau, Bill Sweatt, and Mike Testwuide never found the spark they had in the 2007-2008 season. And take a look at the offseason the poor Tigers have had to endure. Assistant coach Mike Guentzel left the program for the Des Moines Buccaneers, prized recruit John Moore chose to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets instead of play for CC, and Colten St. Clair changed his verbal commitment from CC to University of North Dakota. It's certainly been a rough off-season for CC, and IMO, it's not looking much better on the ice either.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgers
It's no secret how much I hate Wisconsin. And it's no secret I want that school to explode. But Wisconsin had a decent season last year. They definitely struggled early but ended up putting together a decent season. This upcoming season should be even better. This team is loaded with talent on both sides of the puck. Ryan McDonagh and Blake Geoffrion return for their senior seasons. The ultimate question, as usual, is goaltender. Wisconsin has a history of excellent goaltending, so if they can get a good season out of junior Scott Gudmandson, the Badgers could be knocking not only on the door of the WCHA top, but the door of Ford Field as well. But I still hope they fail.
University of Denver Pioneers
George is a funny coach. He gets so riled up against North Dakota. I mean, really? Do they piss you off that much? Ok, that out of the way, let's focus on the team that that most will pick as the preseason favorite. And why not? They had a great season last year, relinquishing first place to UND really late in the season. They return some ridiculous talent, including forward Tyler Bozak, Anthony Maiani, and Brandon Vossberg. They also return goalie Marc Cheverie, but I'm not convinced he's all that great. He's good, but not great. I watched him last year. When he's on, he's ON! But when he gets off, oh boy. He has a tendency to get rattled really easily, so if teams get to him early, that can spell trouble for the Pioneers. But with this roster, this team should be the favorite.
University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux
I'm convinced that after Minnesota, North Dakota is the most hated school in the WCHA. Because they are good. And because of events like last year, where they go from 9th place to winning the WCHA. Even though the Sioux stumbled in the Final Five and eventually against UNH in the NCAA's, they still had a great season. This year, the Sioux lose proven playmaker Ryan Duncan as well as cornerstones Ryan Martens, Matt Jones, Brad Miller, Andrew Kozek, and Joe Finley. However, they are bringing in some ridiculously talented freshmen, Eidsness is looking to improve on what I would call an above-average season, and seniors Chay Genoway and Chris VandeVelde were willing to stick around. And it's the Sioux. Can you really count them out?
Alright, there you have it. Takes on every team. Now, time for the rankings. Like last year, the bottom two teams are easy to pick. Unlike last year, there is no clear cut #1. I think the middle is easier to pick this year than last year, but #1 is tough, as well as 2-3-4. Oh well, here we go:
8. St. Cloud
September 9, 2009
In any event, the season last year opened up with some questions. Oshie left for the big leagues, there were glaring question marks at the goaltender position, and really, aside from Finley, who was there on defense? Nevertheless, with Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan leading the offense, the Sioux were still looking to have a decent season.
It got off to a rough start as the Sioux lost their first 3 games of the season. The losses were not just tough losses, but the goaltender question was looking even more glaring. Watkins, who had only started one game in his collegiate career was struggling and it looked like early on the Sioux would be using Brad Eidsness as their go-to-guy. The Sioux won their next game in Mankato by scoring 4 goals in the 3rd period, including the game winner by VandeVelde at 19:51.
The Sioux split their next 3 series against Wisconsin, CC, and Alaska-Anchorage, respectively. Hakstol continued to try to split the time with the goalies, but it was becoming pretty clear that Walski wasn't the answer. I didn't have the greatest confidence in Eidsness, but at that point, Dirty would have been a better goaltender than Walski.
After a loss and a tie to eventual WCHA champion Minnesota-Duluth, many fans were ready to write the team off, including me. This team didn't seem ready for a 2nd half turnaround that we have all become accustomed to under Hak. They pulled together a good win against Cornell and swept both Harvard and St. Cloud, but at the GLI, they came crashing back to earth quickly, losing to both Michigan State and Michigan Tech.
At this point, nearly every Sioux fan was saying the season was over. They were looking at the top of the standings from 9th place. 9th! Granted, at some points in the 2nd half, 1st and 9th were separated by 9 points, but still! The Sioux needed to start that 2nd half turnaround fast. And get it started they did!
Sweeping both Bemidji and the hated Gophers, the Sioux vaulted in the standings. They took 3/4 from Michigan Tech and 3/4 from Denver, causing Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky to get thrown out of the game by dancing on the dasher AGAIN! Check out the video for hilariousness! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNumTfae7Z0
Along with splitting a series against St. Cloud and sweeps of Mankato and UAA, North Dakota was riding a 5 game win streak into the most pivotal series of the season...a home series against CC. The first night was played to a 4-4 tie. The 2nd night, CC tied the game at 3 with a crucial goal in the 3rd period. It appeared in overtime that the game would be a tie and the Sioux would have a share of 1st place in the WCHA...then this play happened...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOROJlNPCL0
Anyway, the Sioux were now not only in sole possession of 1st place but could clinch the MacNaughton cup with a win over Wisconsin...and that's exactly what they did. On the Kohl Center ice, the Sioux were presented with the trophy for the first time since 2004. Now they were looking at playing last place Tech for the playoffs.
They took care of Tech with a convincing 5-1 win and a not-so-convincing 4-3 win. Then it was off to St. Paul for the WCHA Final Five. They would have to wait until Friday night to find out who they played...Minnesota-Duluth or Minnesota. Minnesota played an uninspired game and Minnesota-Duluth took amazing 2nd half momentum and a heavily-laden senior class and beat the Gophers. The Sioux played an uninspired game and some mistakes led to a 3-0 victory for the Bulldogs. The Sioux would play in the consolation game and lose to the Badgers 4-1. Some rumblings about the lackluster performance popped up and the fact that the Sioux shot themselves in the foot and would most likely be in a rough bracket for the NCAA playoffs. And that's exactly what happened.
The Sioux got sent out to New Hampshire, where they would face the Wildcats. Even if they won the game, they would be going up against undisputed #1 Boston University.
The Sioux had a 2-1 lead going into the 2nd period, where we finally got to see the game thanks to ESPNU playing a REGULAR SEASON lacrosse game that went into like 11837891372871 overtimes. The Sioux looked decent, but there was just something off. I couldn't put my finger on it, but being that I have probably watched over 1000 hockey games in my lifetime, I could sense it.
In the 3rd period, it was 5-4 North Dakota. Face-off was in the UND defensive end. About 5 seconds left. All they had to do was win the face-off and the game was over. Or fall on the puck. Or anything. But none of that happened. And with .1 seconds left, UNH tied the game. That's right....1 seconds left. I was dumbfounded. And I knew deep down that the season was over.
In overtime, UNH quickly ended UND's season with a goal :45 seconds in. Just like that, the Sioux were sent home. No 5th Frozen Four for Hakstol. No 8th championship for UND. The Sioux were left wondering "what went wrong?" My theory is they ran out of gas too early. They peaked just a tiny bit too early. Too much catch-up. Too much emotion. Regardless of the why, I had to endure a Frozen Four with 0 WCHA teams. Seeing Bemidji in the Frozen Four was really special, and the championship game was as exciting as you'll ever see. Plus my girlfriend's alma mater got their 5th championship. :-)
In any event, time to dust ourselves off and prepare for the next season.
August 19, 2009
The Schloss blog talks about it more. You can read it here.
Personally, I think this sends a message to Sioux players, both current and upcoming that if you fuck around, they will come down on you. I'm glad to see this. Now, the question is, how will this affect the Sioux next year?
August 11, 2009
Whatever, way to kill off a team there CCHA. Way to go. I've always hated Michigan; now I hope everyone else does as well.
July 9, 2009
I personally am glad to see teams survive. That is all.
June 15, 2009
Basically, the NCAA doesn't care that a coach lets ineligible players that have crappy ACT scores play, but if a player is honest and comes forth with an honest mistake, he is banned and stoned and crucified. Like Jesus, minus the stoning and rising from the dead.
I hate the NCAA. You should too.
June 13, 2009
I certainly hope for Bemidji's sake that this is true.
May 14, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 24, 2009
April 22, 2009
April 12, 2009
First, the Sioux season:
- People on SiouxSports need to relax. Hakstol won't be fired. He's a good coach
- Walski didn't pan out...
- Duncan is a game-changer
- The Sioux fanbase is the best in the WCHA. No questions asked
- I swear my stress level rises tenfold in the 2nd half of every Sioux season
- The best game they played all season, IMO, was the 2nd Gopher game
- The most exciting game, IMO, was the CC game in which the Sioux won in overtime
- The F5 was a huge disappointment...and the beginning of the end
- I was sad after the UNH game, but it could have gone either way
- Eids is good, but not great...he's going to have more growing pains
- I hope VV stays around
Now, the WCHA
- The Sioux had a magical season...one that sadly ended too early
- Wisconsin sucks. I hate their program. I always will
- Minnesota is going to be mediocre for a few years to come. Gopher fans are going to be miserable
- The WCHA Final Five is amazing. It is a yearly highlight
- UAA was a pleasant surprise. They are on the upswing
- Duluth was as well. Too bad they will return to near the bottom next year
- DU has some of the stupidest fans in the country
- I hope tDon gets better. Seriously
- Bachman = most overrated player in the last 4 years
Now onto the college hockey season:
- Air Force proved their doubters wrong. And Frank is awesome
- Northeastern was a big surprise this year. Honestly, who would have picked them?
- I'm happy two teams from the CHA found homes. Let's hope the other two can find homes as well
- The WCHA was mediocre. The AHA is still mediocre...although RIT gave Air Force a run at the end
- The parity in college hockey is closing. With the exception of about a dozen teams, on any given night, any team can beat any other team
- The passion for college hockey is as high as ever
- The swing of dominance from west to east is happening...and looks to continue for years to come
- Boston College is falling...and falling fast
- The ECAC continues to disappoint. Cornell or RPI need to rise up and get this league some respect
- BU was a steamroller of a team that just destroyed their opponents all season
- The regionals were the craziest in memory. Seriously...no team could be counted out
And finally, the Frozen Four:
- Bemidji making the Frozen Four = awesome
- Same with Miami of Ohio
- Love the support of Bemidji in Washington DC
- At the beginning of the season, I said there would be two of four college hockey teams in the Frozen Four that no one thought would be there. I was only one off...should have said three teams
- BU found a way to win when all the chips were down. Hats off to them. Seriously
- Their student section is probably the best in college hockey
- The Verizon Center sucks to watch hockey in
- Vermont fans were quick to leave on Thursday...seriously people. Support hockey!
- It's great to see people you haven't seen in a year
- Others, you wish you didn't have to see at all
- I love being able to drink with important people
- It's great to be able to talk to some of the bigger names in hockey. Coaches, AD's, SID's, players, etc.
- Only 5 schools in college hockey had no representation at the Frozen Four. In other words, we couldn't find anyone in a jersey, hat, jacket, etc. Those 5 were Bentley, Quinnipiac, St. Lawrence, Merrimack, and Huntsville. Every other school was represented in some way
- In addition, there were several others represented, including Navy, Penn State, Arizona State, Oswego (GLM), Tufts, Towson, UMBC, Virginia and Virginia Tech, MIT, West Virginia, St. Olaf, Augsburg, Wayne State, University of Illinois-Chicago, and Concordia-Moorhead
- The Frozen Four is a great gathering. Every college hockey fan should attend, even if your team is not in it. It's an experience all in its own
April 5, 2009
As heartbreaking as the loss was, it's true that it was a great season full of wonderful moments. I look forward to next season. I certainly will remember this one though.
It seems that some programs emphasize this a little more than others, and I think UND is one of those teams. When I hear Hak talk about players having the best time of their lives at UND and how they only get 4 years of this, it makes me feel better and have faith in the college hockey program.
I hope VandeVelde sticks around. I'm sure he can make an impact in the NHL, but for selfish reasons, I hope he stays.
April 1, 2009
In other WCHA news, the only team to apply for admission to the WCHA was Bemidji State. This means that if the vote is approved, we will be seeing an 11 team league. I was a little surprised that Alabama-Huntsville didn't even apply or that Nebraska-Omaha or Northern Michigan didn't apply. Regardless, I hope that Bemidji gets admission into the WCHA. With them playing in the Frozen Four this year, they will certainly be a force in recruiting.
March 29, 2009
In an ever-dramatic heartbreaking game, the Sioux's season ended yesterday at the hands of UNH. 6-5 in overtime. Just like that, we don't watch our beloved team play anymore for the 2008-2009 season. Just like that, Ryan Duncan, a beloved senior who has been a fixture of this team the past 4 years is done. Just like that...
A lot of people are playing the what-if game today. What if Duncan scores on that tip in front? What if Duncan wins the faceoff with 5.9 seconds left? What if Finley bounces the puck off the glass? Well you know what? What if the Sioux don't turn it around in the 2nd half? What if they don't win the MacNaughton? What if, what if, what if. I'm tired of hearing about what ifs. I'm not a believer in them. The Sioux played hard and lost. Plain and simple. I'm sad that the season is done, but in all honesty, someone had to win that game and someone had to lose. Personally, hats off to UNH for a job well done.
I'm really proud of this team and what they accomplished this season, and I think every Sioux hockey fan can be. Let's face it...they aren't the only team to suffer a heartbreaking loss in the postseason this year.
March 25, 2009
The Terrier faithful have cautiously started to become hopeful again after a long drought between sustained NCAA successes. This year’s team, while posting a strong 31-6-4 record, has struggled down the stretch of the season and has their freshman phenom, Kieran Millan, to thank for much of their recent success. Millan currently has a GAA of .184 and a .923 save percentage. He was recently named Hockey East’s Player of the Week and was named MVP of the Hockey East Tournament after holding the University of Massachusetts Lowell to a shutout and stopping 53 of 55 shots on the weekend.
On offense, there has been much talk about Hobey Top 10 Finalist Colin Wilson, who is expected to depart for Nashville after this season. After coming back from the World Junior Tournament with a renewed energy, Colin seems to have slowed a bit and has taken a backseat to several other members of the team. Senior (and co-captain) John McCarthy has surprised many Terrier fans with not only his production this season, but also with his speed. Junior Zach Cohen, who at the beginning of the season was fighting for playing time, has solidified his place on the ice and contributed 10 goals (up from 2 last season) this season and gained significant speed. Both Chris Higgins and Brandon Yip now boast over 100 career points, 125 and 104 respectively.
Defensively, the positive impact of Matt Gilroy’s decision to stay at Boston University can’t be overstated. Both on and off the ice, Gilroy, who is also a Hobey Top 10 Finalist, has shown that he is capable of leading the team. An offensive defenseman, he has been paired with several different defensemen due to injuries and healthy scratches and has adjusted well each time. Junior Eric “SMASH” Gryba, BU’s Goon from Saskatoon, has started to come into his own on the ice. Taking advantage of his size in a positive way, Gryba delivers brutal hits and has started to take better control of the puck. Unfortunately, sophomore Colby Cohen has been a bit of a defensive liability of late, but expect him to play as BU does not feel comfortable with their only other defensive option, senior forward-turned-defenseman Steve Smolinsky.
As a team, the Terriers seem to play down their opponents. Since the Beanpot (the first two Mondays in February for you out-of-towners), the Terriers blew out a struggling the University of Maine 7-2, only to struggle to a 2-2 tie the following evening. Following the tie at Maine came two overtime ties against a sliding Northeastern team. Convincing wins against the University of Massachusetts and Providence were followed by a dreadful three game series against the 8 seeded University of Maine in the Quarterfinals and uninspired play by much of the team in the rest of the Hockey East Tournament.
Heavy hitters for this team are Gryba and Yip, PIM leaders on the team at 98 and 110 minutes. Wilson and Bonino are considered the two best puck handlers on the team. Like most teams in this post-season, injuries have started to wear down the team. Sophomore Joe Pereira, a hard hitting and hard skating forward, sustained a ruptured spleen in the Hockey East Finals and is out for the remainder of the reason. Senior Chris Higgins is playing with a broken hand.
March 23, 2009
The Sioux are facing IMO an uphill battle. Traveling to New Hampshire, the Sioux will first play UNH. A team that while stumbling down the homestretch, is still dangerous and will have the home field advantage. The Sioux, if they win, will face the winner of Boston University/Ohio St. Boston University is a great team who dismantled the Sioux early on.
I'm nervous and excited for this weekend.
March 17, 2009
On Saturday, after the Sioux swept the Huskies, I watched the team at center ice. Every single one of them was watching the video screen and seeing highlights of the season. It got me to thinking about some of my highlights of the season, and I decided to compile my own top 5 moments of the 2008-2009 Sioux Hockey Regular Season. There's a lot, but for me, these are my top moments of the season.
5. Sweeping the Gophers
In January, the Gophers and Sioux met up for a crucial series for both teams. UND showed up to play and pummeled the Gophers both nights. I'm sure this was a huge booster for the rest of the Sioux's season and a killer for the Gophers season.
4. Jones gets his first college goal
In his senior season, and having gone a ton of games without registering a goal, Zach Jones finally scored his first, on the powerplay against Harvard. What a moment. Sure he hasn't scored since, but that's ok.
3. Clinching the MacNaughton Cup
A hard fought game against Wisconsin, at the Kohl Center. Sioux are tied and seem content to play for it. Then VandeVelde gets the puck and puts it in, giving the Sioux a win and clinching the MacNaughton outright. It was truly a special moment, especially after so many people wrote the Sioux off.
2. Darcy Zajac scores in overtime to put the Sioux in 1st
CC had played hard all game. The game was in overtime. The Sioux were fighting for first place. When a 3 on 2 rush occured...Kozek fires the puck on Bachman who kicks out a rather large rebound that Zajac corraled and didn't miss. The Sioux were vaulted into sole possession of first place. I can't describe it as good as the video shows it though...watch
1. The Sioux sweep Michigan Tech and finally get to hold the MacNaughton Cup
It was a hard fought game. It almost had a feel to last year's Saturday night game, where Tech tied it up with 5 seconds left and then won it in overtime. But the Sioux held on to a 4-3 lead and finally got to skate with the MacNaughton cup for the first time since the 2004 season.
There you have it folks, my top 5 Sioux highlights of the year.
Runners up included Hextall drawing 47 penalty minutes by himself, George dancing on the dasher AGAIN, and Eidsness getting his first collegiate shutout.
March 15, 2009
Watching the game Saturday night, I noticed Tech was a desperate team (obviously, season would be over after this game if they lost) and they were very very aggressive. The Sioux matched the intensity, but Tech got on the scoreboard first.
In the 2nd period, former Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan scored 3 goals in 3 minutes, 15 seconds, propelling the Sioux to a 3-1 lead. Hats rained down on the ice. For me, it was an incredible moment. Duncan is a kid who is overlooked every single year as a great player. He never gets kudos for his Hobey Baker award (99% of the hockey community thinks Eric Ehn was robbed) yet last night, Duncan put his team on his shoulders and carried them.
The Huskies brought it within a goal to close the 2nd period. In the 3rd period, Matt Frattin, a guy who has really impressed me all season, scored a nice wrister to make it 4-2. Tech scored again with 3:25 left and I'm sure every Sioux fan, including me, was thinking oh no, not again. But UND held their own and won the game.
After the handshakes and passing out the WCHA champion hats, the Sioux gathered at center ice. The lights were dimmed and a video started playing. The Wallflowers song Heroes playing in the background, the fans were treated to picture highlights of the Sioux season. Then the moment came that some of us have waited years for. Bruce McCloud handed the MacNaughton cup over to Ryan Duncan and the Sioux celebrated like they deserved to.
I'm sure they will enjoy this moment for quite a few days. But the task ahead is important. Friday night's game against either UMD or...the Gophers.
Thank you to Dirty for some of these pictures.
March 13, 2009
The first period started off a little funny. I didn't think the Sioux were off, per se, but I think they were expecting Tech to play a little more timid. Tech was pressing early and the Sioux seemed thrown off by this. However, I had the feeling they smelled blood in the water and they were the sharks. They seemed to almost be toying with Tech, letting them get a false sense of confidence. IMO, that's what led to UND's first goal.
In the 2nd period, UND dominated, plain and simple. 2 quick goals and the Sioux had the game in control. Here's where things get really good.
In the 3rd period, the Huskies scored to cut the lead to 3-1. I thought how UND responds would show me what type of team this really is. And respond they did, with a shorthanded goal and a quick wrist shot that trickled past Nolan. 42 seconds apart, and the game was out of reach for the Huskies.
A great overall game for North Dakota. A few things they can improve on for tomorrow, but I'm impressed. This series shouldn't go to 3 games.
March 11, 2009
I overheard the WCHA Writer talking to Hakstol this morning. He said that Michigan Tech is a solid team capable of beating anybody in the league. He also complimented their style of play. I take this as Hak is not overlooking Tech at all. He also said he doesn't compare this years series to last years series at all.
Personally, I think Tech will be challenging, and this matchup is no gimme for the Sioux. However, I do believe that the Sioux will take care of business and we'll see them Friday night in St. Paul
March 8, 2009
Regardless, here's where we stand at the end of the season:
6. St. Cloud
Here were my picks at the beginning of the season:
6. St. Cloud
I guess 3/10 isn't terrible? What do you all think?
March 7, 2009
Yes the Sioux have risen from 9th place to 1st in the WCHA, and this time, no one will catch them. A gritty 2-1 victory last night over the Wisconsin Badgers gave the Sioux 38 points, sole possession of 1st place and the MacNaughton Cup.
A very grinding game, the Badgers appeared to be frustrating the Sioux last night, clogging the passing lanes, shooting lanes, and skating lanes. The Sioux were really unable to generate a lot of good offensive pressure early on. But what struck me as interesting was how Wisconsin refused to keep the pressure on as well. They definitely could have had more offensive pressure, but once they got their 1 goal they seemed content to play with that one goal lead. I noted several times that the Sioux broke it out and already 3-4 Wisconsin players were back to stop the Sioux's offensive attack. I had a good feeling that North Dakota would be able to win the game; it would just take a Wisconsin mistake. And it came in good ol Jamie McBain, the "glorious" player of Wisconsin, who leads the WCHA defensemen in +/- on the - side. Watkins was given a gift and took full advantage of it. Shorthanded, nonetheless.
In the 3rd, the Sioux took advantage on the PP, with VandeVelde beating Connelly and sending the Sioux to a 2-1 victory. A hard fought game, a grind. As my buddy Steve said to me, good teams win the games they are supposed to, great teams find a way to win the games they shouldn't.
I hope the boys don't let up tonight. Keep 'Sconni at bay, and keep the momentum going into the playoffs.