September 29, 2009

Sioux picked 2nd in Media Poll and Coaches Poll

The pre-season polls have come out, and UND is expected to do well by both the media and the coaches of the WCHA. In both polls, UND was picked to finish 2nd behind DU.

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

Called out by a DU blogger

It came to my attention that a DU blogger called out my last blog post. You can read it here.

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

George Gwozdecky is a mean mean man

Sioux fans were thrown under the bus last night in a place where they really can't defend themselves. At Coors Field in Denver, CO. That's right. DU Pioneers coach George "Dasher Monkey" Gwozdecky, while pimping out the DU program and how wonderful it is and how awesome their 4 fans are decided to give dirty hooker reporter Alanna Rizzo a special shout out. If you remember correctly, this hooker had a bad experience in Grand Forks. Apparently fan bases are not allowed to make fun of the other team or laugh when the opposite coach is dancing like Michael Jackson or Patrick Swayze. (R.I.P. both of you)

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

Season Preview and Predictions

Yep, I've done a little research. And I've done a little thinking, and the time has come to talk about each WCHA team and make my predictions. It's a little early, but hey, the season is right around the corner!

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:

1. DU
2. Wisconsin
3. UND
4. Minnesota
5. Mankato
6. CC
7. UAA
8. St. Cloud
9. Daloot
10. Tech

September 9, 2009

Recap of 2008-2009

Yes, that time has come again this year. A recap of last season. Since we have like a month until the puck drops, I figured I better get cracking, since I really haven't done a lot of blogging this summer. Yeah, I have a life outside this. Not much of one, but I digress.

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!

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...

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.