December 18, 2010

Midseason Report and Letter Grades

With the Sioux on a little bit of a break, aside from playing some of the best young players in the game of hockey, I thought it might be a good time to blog about the WCHA and give each team a letter grade based on how they are doing. Feel free to add comments and whatnot. We'll go from top of the standings to the bottom.

North Dakota: A-
The only thing preventing me from giving the Sioux an A is the fact that they were swept by Maine early in the season. North Dakota is playing very well right now, with a solid goaltender in Aaron Dell and Matt Frattin leading the league in scoring. Chay is playing well and assisting his team quite nicely. This is an unusual start for a Hakstol-led team, but Sioux fans are enjoying being in first place at Christmastime.

Denver: A
For as much as I hate DU's fanbase and find their coach arrogant and egotistical, I'm very proud of this Denver team. Responding well to Jesse Martin's very unfortunate neck injury, DU has overachieved with a team of freshman and sophomores. Combine that with Sam Brittain in net who has done absolutely fantastic, and DU is in a great place at the break. I picked DU to finish in the top half, but still...I didn't think they would be this good.

Minnesota-Duluth: A-
Sandelin has had some really good teams and some really bad teams in his tenure at UMD. This is a really good team. The Connolly's are fantastic and both are Hobey worthy. The only reason I'm ranking UMD at an A- is they faltered a bit last weekend at the Gophers, but not for effort; UMD outplayed the Gophers in every aspect of the game except the scoreboard. This is a dangerous team; I look for them to return to the Frozen Four for the first time since Junior Lessard.

Nebraska-Omaha: A+
Mark Blehm convinced me to up them from an A to an A+, if nothing else then they were predicted to finish anywhere from 7th-9th in the WCHA. This UNO team is ranked, and ranked highly in the poll. Dean Blais, a coach Goon predicts will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame someday, has recruited a solid team that plays hard, physical, WCHA hockey. They are not the most talented, but certainly they work hard each night. I don't know if the grind of the WCHA will wear them down, but we shall see. So far, so good for UNO.

Colorado College: B
Had CC decided to show up earlier in the season, they very well could be a top 3 team right now in the WCHA. Jaden Schwartz, who made Canada's World Junior Roster, is a fantastic young player and leader for the WCHA ROTY. CC is one of those teams you cannot plan to walk all over; they will show up each night and play. I think they are overachieving right now and will come down to earth a bit, but Scott Owens has this team on the right track for now.

Minnesota: C-
Which team shows up on any given night? The Minnesota Golden Gophers that are able to dominate a team and showcase flashes of brilliance, or the Gophers that roll over and play dead? In the past few years, Minnesota has been struggling to find its identity, and this year is no different. Cepis has been absent for the most part, Barriball hasn't been playing well, and the goalie situation is a mess. The Gophers have way too much talent to not play better, but who knows if they can at this point.

Wisconsin: C
What to say about Wisconsin? They are falling right about where we all thought they would. They showcase some great talent, but for the most part, their freshman are struggling right now and their home crowd has booed the team, which never seems to happen in any Wisconsin stadium, ever. It's Wisconsin, so never count them out...but at the same time...this team isn't anything special this year, either.

I figured by this point UAA would be hovering in 11th or 12th place, with only a few points. Instead, UAA is playing very well at home. Shyiak might not have the top tier program recruitment, but he's recruited some freshman that are doing quite well, like Jordan Kwas who is 2nd on the team in points. Matt Bailey, another freshman, is 3rd on the team in points. UAA is one of those teams we all root for to do well and they usually end up disappointing their fans and us, but this UAA team might be different. We'll see.

Mankato: C
A couple weeks ago, Mankato was getting close to cracking the top-20 in the polls. But they've quickly come back down to earth. I don't doubt Mankato; in fact I believe they are always capable. However, they lack the killer instinct and because of that, they never seem to get over the hump. We'll see what they are capable of in the 2nd half.

Bemidji: D
No one can say they saw this coming. No one. Bemidji was picked to do pretty well in the WCHA this year. They opened a new arena, they had traditionally done well against the WCHA in non-conference play and were in the Frozen Four two years ago. What's happened? I think a lot of things, but mostly the players are probably a little star-struck. After all, the WCHA isn't the CHA; this league features some of the best talent at this level of hockey. Don't write Bemidji off yet; a sweep of UNO showed that they can beat teams. But they have an uphill battle to prove they belong in the top of the WCHA.

St. Cloud State: F
This team is too good to be where they are in the standings. But they are 11th and let's face it: they aren't climbing out of the cellar anytime soon. They play uninspired hockey and show no interest in showcasing the talent they have. Plus let's be honest: Bob Motzko is a crappy coach. A good alternative to Dahl maybe, but he's lackluster and better fit for the minors or juniors. St. Cloud will probably be back in the 2nd half, but we'll see.

Michigan Tech: D-
Mark Blehm again mentioned to me a few things about Tech: basically, they suck. They lack the winning instinct. They don't try hard enough. And from my observations, they are just not that good. It's rare that there's a team in the WCHA you can sleep on and win. Tech is one of those. The only reason they don't get an F is they cracked the top 20 early in the season. Otherwise, Tech is flat out bad and will continue to be so until Russell is fired, IMO.

December 11, 2010

Big Win!

You can say this team is mature. You can say they are experienced. Say what you want, whatever it is. This Sioux team is under its best start with Hakstol driving it and showed something in last night's win, coming back and scoring 3 quick goals to beat the purple Mavericks 4-3 on the road.

Granted, last night was far from the Sioux's best performance. They were lackluster for most of the game and the Mavs had 20 shots on goal in the 2nd period alone. However, the Sioux, down 2-1 going into the 3rd, took advantage of the Mavs mistakes and took the lead 4-2, eventually holding on for a 4-3 win.

Schloss had the fact that UND is 15-1-1 against the Mavericks in their last 17 games. This stat surprised me; I had always though of the Mavericks as a team that gave the Sioux problems. Of course, I remember in the 2001-2002 season the Mavs beating the Sioux 6-0 at the Engelstad, so maybe that memory has clouded my judgment...but regardless, the Sioux certainly seem to have their number as of late.

Kristo continues to not find the back of the net. I'm hoping he can shake the 1st half blues off in the new year and start lighting the lamp. I know he has the ability to; I just think he's ridiculously snakebitten right now. I like Kristo a lot and think he's an amazing talent. I think it will just come down to having a 2 goal game or something like that. Once that's done, he will regain the star form we all know he has.

I won't be able to catch most of the game since I'm working, but I might grab the 3rd period. Head over to the Schloss's blog to check out the goals scored last night. Frattin and Chay are highlight reel worthy.

December 8, 2010

USA Favorite to win World Juniors?

I'm in Canada watching TSN Sportscentre, which is so much better then Sportscenter in America, because they show a ridiculous amount of hockey. Anyway, just saw a piece on the World Juniors and the US is apparently the favorite to win the event again this year. Never mind that it's in Buffalo; it's the fact that the US roster is ridiculously stacked. D'Amigo is back, who was probably the best player on the team last year, but in addition, guys like Nick Leddy, Drew Shore, and John Ramage are attempting to play on the team, and the Sioux are sending both Derek Forbort and Brock Nelson to the tryout. In addition, Sioux recruit Rocco Grimaldi is in the mix.

I'm excited for the World Juniors this year. It should come down to Canada and the US again, but I wouldn't count out Russia or Switzerland.

December 7, 2010

Tuesday Reflections

Since I was in Vegas last weekend running a 1/2 marathon, I haven't had any time to blog, but I'm back in Denver and am able to get it done now.

A great performance by the Sioux on both nights, dominating St. Cloud and sweeping their hated rivals. Moreso, they did it by playing clean, smart hockey. There was no retaliation on Aaron Marvin; the Sioux decided the best revenge was beating them on the scoreboard.

One of the things that continues to impress me as a Sioux fan is the play of Dell. We barely saw him in action last year and when we did, there was nothing to indicate he would be the starter this season, or even get any playing time. While no Sioux fan anywhere has ever said Eidsness is the greatest goalie, certainly his performance last year indicated he would be the starter this year and be good enough to lead the Sioux to a title. But Eidsness struggled early and Dell was given the opportunities. And he seems to be making the most of them. Granted, it's easy to look good when you're spotted big leads like he was for the Wisconsin Saturday game and St. Cloud Saturday game, but regardless, Dell is sharp and solid. I like him and see no reason to go with Eidsness at this point.

Another thing I like is the scoring is being spread around. A lot of guys got their first goals of the season on Saturday night. With Gregoire and Hextall out with injuries, it's great to see others able to step up into their roles. That should continue this weekend against Mankato, as I don't see either player able to return.

All in all, this season so far is quite pleasant; I think the Sioux are playing very well so far and have very few complaints. Let's keep it up.

December 3, 2010

Friday. Here we go

Alright, the tinderbox has been filled. Let's see what is going to cause it to go up in flames this weekend.

Truly, I don't think it will. I think both teams are very eager to prove that the incident of last year is behind them and they are both moving on. Neither team is going to do anything stupid this weekend. UND needs this sweep badly to gain some standing in the WCHA. St. Cloud needs the sweep, or hell, a win, just to assert themselves in the WCHA. Neither team needs to put guys in the box for no reason, so I don't think that will happen. Instead, I anticipate a hard-fought series where points will be difficult to come by. Whoever gets the points this weekend will earn them either night.

So who will win?

Both teams. I'm calling split. UND Friday, SCSU Saturday.

December 1, 2010

No Love Lost

We all know by now that the Sioux and the Huskies of Minnesota don't like each other. I've never thought of St. Cloud as a big Sioux rival, but last year, that all changed.

Aaron Marvin, the goon of the NCAA, decided to take a run at the Sioux's leader and captain, Chay Genoway, skating nearly 200 feet to put a punishing elbow into Chay's head and effectively ending Genoway's season. Aaron at first was not even penalized for the hit, but later was assessed a game misconduct for it. St. Cloud fans felt that this was a gross injustice. After all, it was a clean hit and certainly Aaron didn't have any intention of knocking Genoway out of the game, right?


Here's a review of the hit. Again.

You can clearly see that Marvin throws his elbow into Chay's head. You can also see that Marvin has no intention of playing the puck; he is a man on a mission, and that mission was to knock Chay out of the game and possibly end his career.

He nearly succeeded.

Instead, Chay is back and emphasizing the best way to pay back the Huskies is to win. Certainly this is the right attitude to have, as St. Cloud is quite frankly a disappointment this season. It will be a hard-fought game and I'm looking forward to it.

November 30, 2010

Sioux move in the poll

A win and a tie against Notre Dame was enough to cause some shaking and moving in the polls this week, as North Dakota moved up to the 7th spot in the poll.

Here's what I don't understand. Sioux fans have been moaning and complaining for weeks about how the Sioux haven't moved in the polls and have gone the wrong way and aren't getting a fair shake. Then they move up two spots and all is forgiven. I don't get why. I mean, after all, they took 3/4 from a very good Notre Dame team and essentially controlled the play all weekend. Why wouldn't they be ranked higher than 7th?

Oh wait, it's because I've been trying to beat this in the head of people for years. POLLS DON'T MATTER!

Seriously. Voting is an inexact science in sports polls. It's done by humans. It's the reason every now and then you will see the team that ranks 5th get a 1st place vote. Sports writers and columnists can put whoever the hell they want wherever the hell they want. It doesn't mean anything. There's no point in reading into this. North Dakota is proving to be a good team and will be a force to reckon with over its homestretch here. The real battle will come with the pairwise rankings, which aren't out yet.

Relax, Sioux fans. Relax.

November 26, 2010

Friday Musings...and Happy Thanksgiving

While my Thanksgiving was spent mostly on airplanes and in airports trying to get back to Denver, I hope you all had a great day and didn't kill yourselves eating delicious food.

Now, we still have a hockey series this weekend, as do a lot of WCHA teams. Albeit, most are out of conference, but still.

The Sioux get a chance to earn some pairwise respect when they face Notre Dame this weekend, who isn't a bad team. They are sitting at the top of the CCHA with a .750 winning percentage and an overall win/loss record of 9-3-1. This is a different Notre Dame team then the Sioux faced last year; but this is a different Sioux team as well.

North Dakota is, by all regards, doing pretty well this season. An overtime loss and a .3 second loss prevent them from having 18 points and being at the top of the WCHA. Right now, they are in third place, behind Denver and Duluth. Considering they have played a ridiculously tough schedule so far, I'm pretty satisfied with where they are right now. But getting swept by Maine is going to hurt them later in the pairwise, and if they get swept by Notre Dame this weekend, that's going to smart a lot. Remember, in the NCAA playoff scenario, to be a lock, you have to finish in the top 11. You have to assume someone will win every conference championship that isn't ranked in the top in pairwise. It's early though for a pairwise discussion, so let's move on.

Aaron Dell will most likely get the nods both nights. While I would like to see Brad Eidsness get a start this weekend, this series is too crucial for the Sioux. They have to come out with a sweep if they hope to remain in serious contention for the pairwise later in the year. With how shaky Brad has been in net, I think it would be foolish to do a rotation this weekend. You can make the argument that if Eids goes out and has a big game and gets the win, it would allow him to regain his confidence, but if he goes out there and sucks, the Sioux not only lose a game, but they also probably lose the opportunity to go with two goalies this season. It's a tough decision; one I'm certainly glad that I don't have to make.

Hextall needs to get some points. He's been pointless in his last 7 games. He needs to find the back of the net or help out his team. He's usually lethal on the powerplay, so if the Sioux can get some PP time, that might be the spark he needs.

Danny Kristo needs to get it going too. Sure he's got one goal, but let's see him score some more, please. Also, let's keep getting the puck to Frattin. He was leading the nation in goals until some dink from Niagara retook the lead on Tuesday. Let's see him score this weekend in a big way, shall we? Eidsness compared Frattin's shot to Andrew Kozek's wrist shot, which was potent and lethal.

Schloss linked an article about the Notre Dame players possibly playing with a chip on their shoulder due to their disappointing performance last year. Coach Jeff Jackson almost seems to be using the 12 freshman he has in a competition game. And it seems to be working. I've always respected Jeff Jackson as a coach and recruiter and it looks to me like he's turning the program back on the right track.

The other thing Schloss mentioned is how UND needs to get some garbage goals. I'm a big fan of garbage goals; in my opinion, you need to score goals however you can. Teams like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Boston College do not rely on the garbage goals. BU, North Dakota, Miami of Ohio, and Sparty are teams that are willing to bang in the garbage on the doorstep. It's time to get the puck to the point, grab the rebounds, and bang it home. I've been saying all year that someone needs to step up and do this. Gregoire, Hextall, and Trupp seem like perfect players to get this trend going this year.

That's all for now, see you tomorrow.

November 21, 2010

.3 seconds

Twice now in the past 3 seasons, we've seen the Sioux burned by a last second (literal) goal. UNH tied the Sioux with .1 on the clock of the Regional game in the 2008-2009 season and last night, the Mavericks won the game with the only goal of the night, scoring with .3 seconds left. From the radio call, it sounded like the Mavericks were blatantly offsides, but you take a look at a youtube video clip of it and I'm not so sure. I think they were, but it's very hard to tell. Regardless, the Sioux had plenty of opportunities to seal the deal last night and were unable to do so.

Aaron Dell continues to establish himself as the go-to goaltender for the Sioux. It sounds like he is making the saves he needs to, and let's face it; over this roadtrip, he was solid. He shut out the Badgers one night, kept the Sioux in the 2nd game, replaced Eidsness on Friday night in Omaha and did a stand-up job there and played 59:59.7 minutes of shutout hockey on Saturday. You can't ask for much better then that! It really just sucks that the team was unable to come away with a victory last night.

You do have to give UNO credit though. They are a tough, well-coached team and certainly can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. I can't help but wonder if the grind of the WCHA will wear them down as the season goes on, but for right now, I give their program a lot of credit. It starts with coaching for sure. Dean is a classy guy; we all have a lot of good memories of him at North Dakota and you can't take that away for sure. UNO will have some great success with him at the helm.

November 20, 2010

Coming from behind and winning

Sorry I haven't been blogging this week; I was in Tucson getting some R&R. I'm back though and raring to talk about last night's game and looking forward to tonight's game.

The Sioux won their third game in a row last night, beating the (Red) Mavericks 6-5 in Omaha. Facing a 2-0 deficit to start the 2nd, the Sioux tied it up with goals from Frattin and Marto. From there, it was a back-and-forth contest, with the teams swiping the lead from each other time and time again. Some big things happened last night though.

Kristo netted his first. It's been a long time coming for the sophomore, who is still a ridiculous talent and is always buzzing all over the ice. A lot of Sioux fans have predicted that once he gets his first, they will come in waves. I'm one of them.

Chay Genoway got his 100th point last night, and is now at 101 points for his UND career. He's just a freaking catalyst out there and a very classy hockey player. I'm just waiting to see one of his end-to-end rushes this year. Chay has the potential to finish his career with 120+ points.

The thing that is impressing me the most is the Sioux are winning right now on the road. They swept Wisconsin in the Kohl Center last weekend and last night beat UNO on the road. Both arenas are hostile environments that ridiculously favor the home team. You have to be impressed that this Sioux team is able to get league wins on the road. The old montage of "win both at home, split on the road" might not apply to this team if they can continue to get sweeps on the road.

Matty Frattin is leading the NCAA's with 12 goals. Dean Blais mentioned he's worthy of the Hobey Baker. Unfortunately, I think his character issues will prevent that, much like TJ Oshie's character issues prevented him from winning the award.

The fact that we're hearing Cichy's name more and more this year is great. He definitely was an up-and-down player last year, not playing in every game. If he continues the way he is playing now, he should be a mainstay for this Sioux team this year.

The one frustrating thing right now is the goaltending situation. By giving the start to Eidsness last night, Hakstol, in my opinion, was telling him that Dell has not won the job and that it was still up for grabs, if Eids wanted it. Eidsness continues to struggle and was replaced by Dell to start the 3rd period, who only surrendered one late 3rd period goal. When you're fighting for your roster spot, you do everything in your damn power to make sure you don't give it up. Eids had a chance to get a convincing road win last night and failed to do so. Give him his next start at home, and if he fails to perform again, I think Dell is the goalie to go with. Eidsness is good, not great, but a 2 goalie rotation would not hurt this team.

MacWilliam was back in the lineup after missing a few games with mono. The Sioux are generally healthy right now, which is good.

In the WCHA, scores from last night. Minnesota beat a scrappy Tech team 6-4. Minnesota-Duluth handed the Badgers another loss, 6-5 in OT. Denver upended Bemidji 3-1, and UAA beat St. Cloud 3-2. Let the overrated chant on St. Cloud begin.

In some other NCAA action, Army destroyed AIC 9-3, Air Force and Canisius tied 1-1, Miami beat Bowling Green 4-3, Sparty lost to Notre Dame in a 6-2 game, Northern Michigan and Alaska tied 1-1, Michigan won 7-2 over LSSU. BC blanked Maine 4-0, BU fell to UHN 5-2. Yale beat Cornell 4-2.

The Sioux look to sweep tonight. Let's see it happen.

November 15, 2010

A great weekend and some laughs

This weekend was awesome in sports. The Sioux swept the Badgers, Pacquiao proved he's the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and I have a very safe lead in Fantasy Football this week.

And then the Vikings got destroyed.

But I digress...

Anyway, the Sioux swept the Badgers with a convincing 4-2 win over them in the Kohl Center on Saturday night. It gave the Sioux their first sweep of Wisconsin in Wisconsin since 2002-2003 and quieted the doubters of this team. The Sioux have ridiculous talent, and when that talent is firing on all cylinders, there is realistically not a better team in the country.

This weekend wasn't without some controversy though. Questionable penalties on Friday night marred the Sioux's ability to get into a rhythm, and only because the Sioux were so disruptive on the PK did they even have a shot of winning that night. On Saturday night, we saw Wisconsin committing numerous fouls and in my opinion, some of them should have been whistled for 5 minute majors, based on what the Sioux have been whistled for this season. Kristo appeared to finally net his first of the season, but it was called no-goal after a review found a Sioux player in the crease. (never mind that he didn't interfere with the goalie) We also saw a Wisconsin player lose his cool and bring back memories of Tyler Hirsch at the Final Five, although Craig Smith forgot to lay his stick at center ice.

Good on Mike Eaves for not letting Smith back into the game, who was trying the...I really don't know. Neither did the Sioux players though.

Corban Knight -
“I honestly… I don’t know. I was in front of the net and I was getting ready to regroup there and… and I honestly don’t know. It’s just one of those things… I don’t know if he… you know… I honestly don’t know. I don’t know what to say.”

Chay Genoway - “I don’t know if that guy… I don’t know. I think he just kind of… I don’t know. A bit undisciplined on his behalf. I’m not sure. I don’t think he lost an edge or anything…”

So where do the Sioux go from here? They face a tough UNO team that has clearly exceeded early expectations and is excelling so far in the grind-it-out WCHA. But UNO hasn't exactly faced any powerhouses yet this season, and the Sioux are proving as of late they are a tough foe to be dealt with. It'll be a great series this weekend.

November 13, 2010

Winning in the best way

Last night's win by the Sioux was probably the most satisfied I've been with a win in a long, long time. A hard fought, gritty, tough tough game in which the Sioux were stymied by another great goaltender and two major penalties, they were able to eek out a 1-0 win behind a great goaltending performance from Aaron Dell and Jason Gregoire's snipe of a shot.

The Sioux were put on their heels from the get-go, losing Joe Gleason to a CFB penalty. A questionable call and yet the Sioux responded in the best way possible, limiting Wisconsin to 0 shots on goal. Later in the game, they were called for another 5 minute major, this time contact to the head by Hextall and still they got the job done, again limiting Wisconsin to no shots. Gregoire's goal came at a great time in the 3rd, and finally the Sioux had their lead they had been looking for all night long.

I was listening to Hak's postgame show and trying to read in between the lines. He sounded very upbeat and happy and was saying things like "our team" and "our guys". He praised about everyone on the team at one point, especially Danny Kristo, who could have fired at the open net late in the game but instead passed it to Trupp, who didn't have enough time to score. We all know how much Kristo wants that first goal and it will come, but to be unselfish like that shows a lot of poise on Danny's part.

Back to Dell. I said yesterday whoever was in net needed to take charge. While Dell didn't exactly see a lot of shots yesterday (Wisconsin was held to their lowest at the Kohl Center since the 02-03 season set by...the Sioux!) he made all the saves he needed to and earned a shutout. That's gotta be a huge boost to both him and Eids, who will definitely want to duplicate that feat next time he's given an opportunity. The defense can be rest assured he will make the saves as well.

Tonight will be very interesting. Wisconsin was booed last night and Andy Baggot's article mentioned it more than once. I think Wisconsin will come out on fire tonight and definitely grind the axe, but the Sioux should be up to the task.

A great win. A satisfying win.

November 12, 2010

A Few Hours away...

Well, we're a few hours away from puck drop. I have a couple thoughts on this series.

- The Sioux need to stay out of the box. We've seen how well they roll when all 4 lines are clicking and Hakstol has the depth to do so. When they players are constantly in the box, it disrupts this flow. Wisconsin is a talented team and also very physical, so it will be interesting to see how they do

- Whoever is in net needs to take charge. I'm not a huge fan of splitting the goaltender duties, but right now, the Sioux don't have a clear-cut #1 goaltender. Eids has not played like he did last year and Dell, while filling in nicely, isn't exactly stellar. Neither seems capable right now of making huge saves to keep the team in it. This weekend, that might have to happen. We'll see if either goalie is up to the task

- Gregoire and co. need to find a bit of puck luck. We've seen a lot of hit pipes, pucks bouncing over sticks, etc. The old cliche of "good teams make their own luck" I guess can apply here, but seriously. The boys are in some dire need of good luck

- Be physical. I want to see the Sioux not afraid to hit guys this weekend. Wisconsin is always a big, physical team and never have been afraid to throw their weight around. The Sioux need to match that intensity from the first drop of the puck.

A lot of people are calling this a statement series. A sweep at the hands of Wisconsin will not be crushing to the Sioux, but certainly will cause doubt to creep into the players' minds. A lot of Sioux fans will be reaching for the panic buttons and the "Fire Hakstol" threads will show up. I think a split is doable, likely, and will be just fine for this series.

November 10, 2010

What to talk about...

I've been pondering the start the Sioux have had to their season.

I don't think any of us thought they would be undefeated at this point. Certainly we knew there would be a couple issues to look for. And while they have had their struggles, I think there's a lot of positives to take away so far.

But has the team underachieved?

I'm not sure. I think there's areas where the team certainly hasn't looked strong. Take a look at the goaltending. Eids was definitely the clear cut starter at the beginning of the season, but a couple lackluster performances have forced Hakstol to go to a goalie rotation. I'm not downing the idea of rotating goalies, but Dell hasn't exactly been spectacular either. Neither goalie has stood out as a stand-up, make-huge-saves type of goalie.

The defense has not been spectacular. A lot of opponent goals have been scored off of turnovers. They are too prone to giving the puck away and letting the opposing forwards walk in. This has to stop.

The offense has been dynamite some nights and other nights, they just can't seem to catch a break. Notice I didn't say bad. There have been a ton of opportunities (see the DU Saturday night game) where forwards like Gregoire, Kristo, and Frats make plenty of opportunities but either the goalie stands on his head or just a bit of bad puck luck.

I think the Sioux are in a good position. There's a lot of room to improve, but the team I'm sure is up to the task of doing so. This upcoming stretch against Wisconsin and Nebraska-Omaha is going to be a good test of what this team is capable of.

November 6, 2010

Sioux win, I was wrong

So, I said that UMD would sweep. I said that their record in the Engelstad didn't matter and they would control the weekend series and reverse their trend of struggling here. I figured with the rash of Sioux injuries, illnesses, and suspensions, that UMD would basically be able to score at will and control the entire game.

Someone at UMD didn't read my blog, aside from Donna, who worships me.

The Sioux dominated last nights game, winning 4-2. Behind an offense that was buzzing all night long, good defense that limited UMD's chances, and decent goaltending by Aaron Dell, the Sioux were able to do what it took to beat the Bulldogs. Their goals were gritty, Fighting Sioux hockey style goals.

So was I sandbagging?

No. I was not. Let me explain why.

Past records do not mean a damn thing in the WCHA. How's that, you might ask? Because past records fall all the time in this league. DU had never lost the Final Five when they were there. Fell last year. Two years ago, Duluth stormed the Final Five and won the whole thing from the play-in game. Never had happened before. Hell, Minnesota had never missed the Final Five since it moved to the Xcel Energy Center, but we saw how that went last year, didn't we? My point is, records don't mean a thing. Minnesota-Duluth, normally stymied by the superiority of the Engelstad, had the skill and the ability to come into the Sioux's house and make a statement Friday night. Instead, the Sioux won, Duluth is no longer undefeated, and I'm forced to explain that I wasn't sandbagging.

Besides, a split is possible still.

In the post-game radio interview, Dave Hakstol and Tim Hennessey again mentioned the benefit of having the Sioux roll with 4 lines. Hak loves to roll the 4 lines. It showcases the depth of this hockey team. Generally, the teams in the Minnesota high school hockey tournament that can run 3 lines compared to 2 are the ones that have the most success. With the Sioux running a strong 4 line system, it keeps the best players fresh. Even guys who don't see the most playing time (Bruneteau) got a chance last night, and it didn't seem wasted on anybody.

In other news...

- Minnesota got blanked by Bucky in Minneapolis last night 6-0. After a strong showing in CC, Minnesota definitely struggled last night
- DU won at home against CC 4-1. The student section chanted Jesse Martin's name in the pregame
- St. Cloud put up half a dozen against Bemidji State, who continues to struggle in the WCHA
- In the battle of the Mavericks, Nebraska-Omaha won 5-1, continuing to do well in the WCHA

and outside the WCHA...

- Boston College fell to UNH 2-1
- Michigan got shutout by Alaska 3-0
- Ferris State beat Miami of Ohio 3-2
- Air Force continues to get beat up by the AHA, losing to Mercyhurst 6-2
- UConn beat Canisius 3-2
- Sparty, one of my early teams to watch out for, lost to Western Michigan 4-3. So much for that
- Union over Harvard 2-1

There will probably be a big shake-up in the polls based on those results. BU, with the bye, could be #1.

November 4, 2010

Malone Suspended

Yep, we all saw it coming. A one game suspension.

Why? Why was he suspended? For a hit that was clean but caused an extremely unfortunate injury? Or is it because the WCHA can't figure out what to do when something like this happens and instead lumps everyone in the same boat? Regardless, the Sioux are going to be even more depleted on the offensive side of the puck on Friday night.

Thursday ramblings

Hi everyone.

First off, I was put through The Gauntlet last night. I had a very long day on Wednesday and was quite ornery, so I don't think Donna got to see my best side. Then again, I don't know if Donna thinks I have a good side to see. Regardless, go check it out and read the (sometimes) funny convo that took place last night.

Secondly, a few things to touch on for this coming weekend. Derek Forbort and Andrew MacWilliam are out with illness (I'm guessing mono; it's touched DU and Minnesota as well). Carter Rowney is hurt and will not play, with no timetable on his return. We should hear today about Brad Malone, whether he will be available this weekend or not. My guess is Malone will not be suited up this weekend, and possibly for two weekends. I hope this isn't the case, but the WCHA Wheel of Justice likes to thump its chest in situations like this...oh wait...only when it's a Sioux player.

Duluth is red-hot coming into this series, and there's no reason to think that the Sioux can shake their blues against this team. I hope I'm wrong.

November 1, 2010

Martin reaches out to Malone

You have to admire this move by Martin. Here he is with a halo around his head and he reaches out to the player that caused it to be there. I can only hope this allows Malone a bit of closure and helps him focus for the upcoming series against Minnesota-Duluth.


October 31, 2010

Martin in stable condition

The Denver Post is reporting Jesse Martin is stable in Minneapolis and will undergo a series of tests to determine whether or not he will need surgery.

I'm rooting for the young man and hope he can bounce back from this.

Jesse Martin to have emergency surgery

Just got the word from Mike Chambers that Jesse Martin is having emergency surgery in Grand Forks. He's apparently got three fractures in his neck and the surgery is to remove some swelling in his spinal cord.

This is a damn shame. I wish Jesse the best in his recovery. I never ever want to see a guy get hurt and it's a shame this happened. Here's hoping to a speedy recovery.

Edit: turns out he's heading to Minneapolis. That's probably a better thing.

Sioux fall to DU, Pony gets tossed

The Sioux fell last night to Denver, 3-0. Denver was benefitted from another brilliant goaltending performance from Sam Brittain, who saved all 33 shots he faced. Gregoire, Kristo, Hextall, and the rest could not figure out a way to solve Brittain, who was great all weekend. DU may have found its goalie, regardless if Murray comes back soon and healthy.

The bigger story was the 5 minute major penalty called on Brad Malone. In the 2nd period, Jesse Martin was carrying the puck when Pony stepped up and delivered what appeared to be a clean check with his shoulder. Initially, no call was made, but as Martin was laying on the ice, possibly unconscious, the refs decided to give Malone a 5 minute major and the gate for charging with intent to injure. On USCHO immediate comparisons were being made to Aaron Marvin and Chay Genoway, saying Pony had intent to injure and should be banned from hockey. This couldn't be further from the truth.

The video shows Martin carrying the puck and Pony stepping up and hitting him. Pony led with his shoulder, never left his feet, didn't line up Martin. He checked Martin. I don't see any charging motion. From what I can tell, he did hit Martin in the head. Can't say whether this was intent to injure or not. No matter what I say about this situation, I will be a hypocrite for not calling out Pony for this like I called out Aaron Marvin, but it's two very different situations.

- Pony didn't line up Martin like Marvin lined up Genoway. A source at the game told me from what he saw, Malone didn't have a bead on Jesse Martin. Granted, this was a Sioux fan...but still.
- The Marvin hit on Genoway knocked out the best Sioux player for nearly his entire season, jeopardized his career, and possibly the rest of his life. Martin is fine, he's moving around, is alert, and will likely be with the team next weekend. The hits are not even close in comparison

Marvin was also not ejected from that game. In fact, it took until the end of the period to even give him a penalty.

Had Martin not been injured, this is a non-issue. Instead, the debate will rage on: is Pony the Sioux's Aaron Marvin?

October 30, 2010

A solid win

Very proud of the Sioux last night. They did exactly what they needed to do: beat a decent Denver team. The scoring was spread around; Dillon Simpson netted his first collegiate goal, Mike Cichy got his first of the season, and Corban Knight scored two. The Sioux limited Denver's chances; basically any decent chance Denver got, they capitalized on. Gregoire was buzzing all over the ice last night, as was Hextall. The Sioux stayed out of the box; in fact, there were no penalties in the first period at all. Both teams played a decent hockey game. The term I use for a game like last night is "smart".

What is still frustrating for me as a Sioux fan is the lapses in defense and the spotty goaltending. Dell didn't exactly establish himself as the clear starter last night. I'm confident Eidsness will get the start tonight and a shutout or a 1 goal performance will cement him in place. But this weak goaltending cannot continue. The Sioux cannot have that later in the season.

Here's the Sioux goals from last night.

In other news around the WCHA...

- Bemidji fell to Duluth in overtime, 3-2. Is it just me or does Duluth shine in extra hockey?
- Mankato beat UAA 3-2 in Anchorage.
- Minnesota beat CC 4-1 in the Springs. I'll be attending the game tonight and taunting tDon
- 'Sconni scored 3 in the 3rd period to beat Tech 5-2 and bring them back down to earth a bit.
- St. Cloud fell to Quinnipiac 4-2. The Bobcats scored 3 in the 3rd.

And around college hockey...

- BU fell Mass-Lowell 5-1. Parker's squad looking surprisingly strong this year
- BC raised their championship banner and followed it up with a win, 3-2 over Merrimack
- Alaska beat Bowling Green 4-1
- Northern Michigan beat tOSU 2-1 in Marquette
- Michigan and Ferris skated to a 2-2 tie. Michigan has yet to establish itself as the powerhouse we thought it would be this year
- Sparty and Alabama-Huntsville sister-kissed at 4 apiece

Looking for a more physical game tonight out of DU. the question is, will the Sioux still play a smart game?

October 29, 2010

Friday Notes

Alright, the time has come. UND is facing its biggest rival in Denver at the Ralph, which is certainly going to be a joy for both the fans and the players, being that North Dakota has spent the last three weekends on the road. There's some things to look for this weekend:

- DU is starting freshman goalie Sam Brittain. This will be a huge test for him, facing the potent Sioux offense in a very hostile environment

- DU has been bitten by the injury bug early this season. Paul Phillips actually had a nosebleed that had to be cauterized. I have seen a family member have this happen to them, so I know what he's going through. Sophomore goalie Adam Murray is out for this series as well with a groin injury, junior Dustin Jackson has mono, and freshman Nick Shore is out with a wrist injury.

- Will Hextall get under DU's skin? Brett Hextall is an agitator, nearly on par with Claude Lemieux or Matthew Barnaby. He has been known to get under DU's skin quite a bit, and this is very well shown in a video two years ago. The Sioux were beating down DU and Hextall caused a DU player to slash him, giving the Sioux a 5x3 advantage.

- What will UND's goalie situation be? Eids, we know he's good, but he's not playing well. Dell has been good, but has gotten shelled too. Neither Sioux goalie seems up to the task right now, and against Denver, they will have to be. It'll be interesting to see who starts on which nights. Both goalies need to have a big game, and this would be a superb weekend to do so.

- Kristo. He needs to get going. He's been quiet so far and his name really hasn't been called at all this year. Time for him to show up and play. He played well against DU last year and I expect the same this weekend.

- The Sioux MUST keep it together mentally. Denver, as I mentioned, is North Dakota's biggest rival right now, and these two teams do not like each other. We saw what happened last weekend when the Sioux spent half the games in the box. They have to keep their heads about themselves. No retaliation penalties. No stupid crap that will force the officials hands. The WCHA is more inclined to let things go; it doesn't give the Sioux an excuse to play stupid hockey. DU will be coming at them guns blazing. Let them take the penalties. The Sioux have an excellent powerplay; it would be nice to see it showcased some.

Playing your biggest rival can be very taxing. The Sioux know they are under pressure to perform. They have the tools to succeed and the coaching staff believes in them. It's time for the players to start believing in themselves. They are definitely a hot and cold team this year thus far. And I know everyone will use the 2nd half argument, but we've also seen the team crash and burn come post-season time. Personally, with the weapons they have this season, I'd like to just see them crush the opposition and damn near run the table, similar to what BU did in the 2008-2009 season.

I'm looking forward to both games though. Time to rebound, boys!

October 26, 2010

HUGE Series this weekend

This rivalry in the past couple years is as good as any in college hockey. Both teams are big, both are physical, and they don't like each other. North Dakota and DU have both seen very good success in the last few years.

Last year, the Pioneers swept the entire season series. The Sioux fought very hard in Denver and were rewarded with losses of 1-0 and 3-2. On that Friday night, Magness was as loud as I have ever heard it, with nearly 40% of the crowd being Sioux fans. Saturday night, the refs hosed UND clearly, giving DU a huge advantage on the powerplay. Even Schloss made it quite clear that DU was getting beneficial calls. The Sioux should have tied the game but a video replay that was unclear gave DU the game. In January, the Sioux had a lackluster effort at home, getting swept by the Pioneers, but that possibly provided the spark they needed to turn their season around, which they did.

The Final Five finally gave the Sioux a victory over DU. Trupp played a great game and had Wooger singing his praises. UND eventually went on to win the Final Five championship game against St. Cloud.

So what will we see this weekend? Not Alanna Rizzo. She wants to hide from the Engelstad. Just as well. She can't report and she's really unfriendly. George get ejected? He's been ejected twice and both have come against the Sioux. A scrum? If we don't, neither team showed up. A fired up Sioux team? After getting their butts handed to them by Maine and their first home series of the season? Damn right.

It's going to be a hard-fought, physical series. And it's going to be a lot of fun. :-)

Calling out my own stupidity

As most of you know, last Saturday, I wrote a pretty scathing piece about the ECAC writer on this blog. I have since taken it down. I would like to explain why.

I blog about two things: my exercise regiment and Ironman dreams and the Sioux hockey program. Both are topics I'm very passionate about and both allow me to convey to the public my thoughts about each. Yet both are very different. With the exercise blog, it's a continual work in progress. It's something that I'm dabbling in constantly and learning about all the time. With the Sioux blog, I bring a near lifetime of hockey knowledge to the table. I try to cover a lot of things about the team while injecting my own personal take. I try to keep it different from the other blogs out there; otherwise what would be the point of reading it? And I like to think the perspective I bring is something refreshing and sometimes exciting. I mean, there's a lot of blogs out there. Dirty, when he does blog, is just a sarcastic goober, but that's who Dirty is. We all love him for it. Goon is all over the place, but let's face it, he definitely is on top of things.

For those who don't know what the feud was about, I'll quick explain. Brian and my finacee were friends at Boston University. I got the opportunity to meet him and the meeting didn't go well. Ever since then, I have been downright mean to him; commenting on his USCHO blog, slandering him on this blog, and telling my fiancee that I want nothing to do with him ever. The feud came to a head this weekend, when Brian wandered into the USCHO scoring thread and mocked the Sioux and justified his low ranking of the Sioux in his poll. Frustrated with the Sioux loss and the fact Brian slighted the Sioux, I came on here and demanded for him to be fired and slandered him on one occasion.

Brian has since apologized to me for how he treated me in Washington DC at the 2009 Frozen Four. He has explained his reasons why he did and I don't need to display them here. I'm in the process of constructing an apology to him as well for continuing our feud. Brian and I really have no reason to feud and we both realize that we are hurting the one person we have in common: my fiancee. Because he was willing to man up and apologize, I took the blog post down.

I'm not afraid to call someone out on here for their stupidity. As you see in this post, I'll even call out my own idiocy. But I don't want my blog to become a tool of hate. I want it to be something unique. Special. It is enjoyable to me to blog about the Sioux team. It's something I love to do. I don't want to turn into something I'm not. The internet makes it real easy to hide behind a screen and become the "internet tough guy". I'm not a tough guy in real life and don't want to be one on the internet either.

Thanks, readers.

October 24, 2010

Sioux get swept

Wow. After last weekend's cleaning of Bemidji, I think we were all looking forward to the Sioux going into Orono and sweeping a struggling Maine team, or at least taking a few points off of them. Needless to say, that didn't happen. The Sioux got swept 7-3 and 4-2, leaving them headed back to Grand Forks licking their wounds. What happened Saturday?

It appeared the Sioux were carrying the play in the 1st period, and the game was being called evenly. A 0-0 1st period resulted. In the 2nd, the Sioux got on the scoreboard first thanks to Ben Blood netting his first goal of the season. Then the refs, who you know I don't complain about that much, took the game into their hands. The Black Bears got their first two goals on powerplays. Penalties that were called on the Sioux were blatantly poor calls. Maine was diving left and right and the refs were calling it on the Sioux. Don't ask me why; I have no idea. But nonetheless, Maine took advantage of these lucky calls and went on to win the game. What are the Sioux to do?

Go back to North Dakota and face Denver, that's what. Denver is, in my opinion, the Sioux's biggest rival as of late due to Minnesota being flat out awful over the past few years. This series promises to be hard, physical, and might even feature a coaching ejection. I'm counting on the Sioux to bring their "A" game this upcoming weekend.

October 21, 2010

Hilarious Goal Celebration

You gotta love kids, huh?

When I was a mite growing up in Minnesota, I got to skate on the ice of the Met Center quite a bit, and it was always a highlight to be able to skate in between periods of North Stars games. I definitely didn't score goals back then though and certainly our team never came up with a fun goal celebration like what you're about to see below.

During the intermission of a Caps game, a mite team from Reston, VA scored and unleashed the most hilarious goal celebration I have seen since Fulton Reed pointed his stick at the Iceland goalie like a sword and sheathed it.

Good job, kids.

October 19, 2010

CHL Brawl Could Lead to Criminal Charges

Everyone that reads this blog knows I'm no advocate of fighting in hockey and quite frankly, find most fights disgusting. To me, hockey is a game of skill and precision, and I don't feel fighting has a place in the game. Nevertheless, it does exist and that isn't changing anytime soon. However, there are certain instances that are just mind-boggling. Take, for instance, this fight that happened in Loveland, CO.

This video shows interviews with the Jackalopes players, one of whom had to have 18 screws put into his jaw. It also shows some glimpses of the fight. Take a look at the blood on the ice.

This isn't what I think of when I think of hockey. I know I'm not the majority either.

October 18, 2010

Musings from last weekend

Aside from the Sioux sweeping Bemidji in the new arena this weekend, a few other things took place that are worth noting.

- Tech took 3 of 4 points from Mankato. Tech? Getting close to cracking the polls? Yes, it's true. Is Tech for real? I don't think so. But let's be honest. They are playing some good puck right now.

- Denver got swept by Boston College in Denver. Goon posted an article from the Denver Post about the officiating over the weekend. I'm not a Mike Chambers fan in the slightest; I find him arrogant and a douche. But this is not the first time that DU has been spotted a bunch of powerplays.

- Minnesota got swept at the Mooch by Nebraska-Omaha. While the sweep itself was significant for Nebraska-Omaha, who demonstrated that they belong in the WCHA, the sweep has to hurt Minnesota even more. This is a team who had a player call out the coaches for voting them so low in the preseason poll. A team who many of us (myself included) feel is right on the cusp of greatness. They were down 4-0 on Friday night, came back to tie it up, only to lose 5-4. On Saturday, from certain observers, they played a very lackluster effort, especially on the defensive side of the puck. We knew coming into the season that defense would be a struggle for Minnesota, but you would expect them to try a little bit harder. Makes you wonder if they just don't want to play for Hill, Lucia, Maturi, or a combination of all the above. Also, with the dismissal of football coach Tim Brewster, who coached football about as well as Ray Rhodes did in Green Bay, you have to wonder if a cleaning of the Gopher hockey coaching staff is imminent...time will tell.

- Duluth did what it was supposed to do, sweeping the horrible team from Rhode Island. Nothing special there.

- UAA suffered two losses, one to CC and one to UAA in the Gold Rush tournament. Still, good to see UAA putting some points on the board.

- CC was unable to beat Alaska Fairbanks on Saturday night, losing 2-1.

- Sconni swept independent team Alabama-Huntsville over the weekend.

- Miami of Ohio took 3 of 4 from St. Cloud State

In non-conference news, BU couldn't hold off UMass on Saturday night, earning a 2-2 tie. The team the Sioux face, Maine, only earned 1 point against a decent Michigan State team. Michigan and UNH tied 4-4 and 3-3.

The Sioux take on Maine in Orono this upcoming weekend. I expect this to be a hard fought, physical series. Maine is a team on the rise and the Sioux will certainly have their hands full.

October 17, 2010

Videos of the weekend

RedFrog has posted videos on YouTube of the weekends goals. Thanks RedFrog for these.

October 16, 2010

Sioux Sweep the Beavers

The Sioux spoiled the opening of the Bemidji Regional Event Center and welcomed Bemidji State to the WCHA by sweeping them with two 5-2 wins. They played solid hockey both nights, and while they still have a lot of growing to do, so far, I'm very impressed with what I see thus far.

Some important highlights from the weekend:

- Chay scored his first goal of the season on Saturday night
- Trupp also got his first on Saturday
- Frattin got a hatty the first night and sealed the win for the Sioux on Saturday, scoring the 4th goal of the game
- The split rotation of the goalies seemed to work pretty well

As a Sioux fan, you have to be impressed with the team. The powerplay is extremely effective and in these last two games, the Sioux kept the pressure on when they had a lead. We saw last year they were unable to hold leads. Let's hope this trend continues.

October 14, 2010

Upcoming series vs. Bemidji and a few notes

The Sioux christen the new Bemidji State arena this weekend, and it promises to be a good series. Bemidji is excited to be in the WCHA and I know coach Serratore is happy to be playing more than 3 other teams for the majority of the season, as he emphasized in the WCHA Coaches Media Call.

I remember when the Sioux opened the Engelstad to the University of Minnesota and were handed a 6-3 defeat. Let's hope the Sioux are able to deliver the same to Bemidji on Friday night.

Some notes from Schloss's blog that I'm borrowing and reemphasizing. One of them is the fact that the Sioux are going back to a system of not announcing who will be the starting goaltender until Friday night. I'm excited for this. It means that either the coaching staff has great confidence in Aaron Dell, not as much confidence in Eidsness, both, or that they have confidence in both guys and assume both players can carry the team on any given night. Either way, it bodes well for the Sioux, who in recent years have watched their goalies melt down in big games at the end of the season.

One thing to note is this will be Bemidji's first game of the season. They haven't even played an exhibition game yet. The Sioux have already played 2 regular season games and one exhibition game. In all three games, we have seen the talent and what this team is capable of. We've also seen some rust and some things that don't look so good. Bemidji will certainly be hyped up for this game; there is no doubting that. But will they show some rustiness and nerves? Most definitely. Building the Bemidji Regional Event Center was a huge step for this program in staying competitive in Division 1 hockey and as far as this blogger is concerned, shows that Bemidji is ready to compete with the "big boys" of hockey (North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, etc.) With building a new arena though, comes an expectation of success. Fans and alumni of that great university will expect to see results. Players and coaches know this. We'll see how it shakes out the rest of the year, of course.

In lighter news, the USCHO ECAC writer has decided to make his weekly voting poll public, and he ranked our beloved Sioux at #13. I am understanding that people have an east coast bias, but this is absurd and ridiculous. To rank the Sioux that low is spitting in the face of every single Sioux player, coach, fan, and alum. To fire this writer would not be good enough for him. Brian Sullivan is a disgrace to society.

Also, the Sioux bus was hit today while waiting at a railroad crossing. None of the players were hurt, but the drivers car was totaled. No word whether the car was driven by St. Cloud goon Aaron Marvin or if he will be penalized for hitting from behind. :-)

See you tomorrow.

October 10, 2010

Weekend Recap and Notes

The Sioux bounced back from their rougher night on Friday to decisively capture victory over Alaska-Fairbanks, winning 3-1. The win is important from a couple standpoints, in that it showed the Sioux players are capable of putting a rougher night behind them and bouncing back, and it also is important in terms of non-conference wins, which will affect pairwise later in the season. (too early for pairwise mention?)

Last night, the Sioux defense really tightened up, holding Fairbanks to 5 shots on goal through two periods, which is just ridiculous. So far, Derek Forbort is showing his skill and ability, netting an assist on every goal last night. Gregoire is playing very well thus far, and Trupper was involved as well, getting two assists last night. A hard-hitting game in which the Sioux did the right things and won seemed like, well, Sioux hockey. Another thing to point out is that the Sioux special teams have done quite well, scoring 4 power-play goals on the weekend.

In other WCHA news, DU earned a tie with Vermont 1 all, Minnesota held off a rally by the Minutemen of UMass and won 5-4, sweeping the series. St. Cloud split the series with woeful Clarkson, losing 6-2 last night. RPI and CC tied at 2 down in the Springs, Nebraska-Omaha beat RIT 5-3, and UAA beat Air Force 3-2. Mankato tied St. Lawrence 1-1, Michigan Tech beat Lake Superior State 6-2, and Minnesota-Duluth beat Northern Michigan 3-2. Wisconsin takes on Holy Cross in St. Louis today.

Powerhouse Boston College beat Northeastern 2-0 last night, Maine tied with UConn 3-3, and Michigan beat Bowling Green 4-2. New Hampshire beat perennial powerhouse Miami of Ohio 6-3.

Up next: opening Bemidji's new arena.

October 9, 2010

What to say?

Coughing up a lead when you're up 5-1 is not easy. Doing it against the woeful Seawolves makes it that much worse.

How could the Sioux, who were dominating and scoring at will suddenly be completely inept at stopping UAA's weak offense and give up 4 goals to bring it to a 5-5 tie? I have a few ideas.

- It's early! Relax! Oh em gee. We all know that championships aren't won in October. This team has a ridiculous amount of time to gel, and they will gel. The first game is not an indication of how the season will go.
- The Sioux were too confident. They had just proved that they were an offensive force to reckon with, so why not sit back and relax? Because it's the WCHA. You cannot sit on any team in this league. The Seawolves are not going to lie down this year. No team will.
- Putting too much pressure on themselves. The Sioux are expected to perform. Not only perform, but blow out certain opponents. Up 5-1, no biggie. But give up that crucial 5-2 goal and it all starts to unravel.

I am not concerned about this. Not in the slightest. But I certainly look for the team to rebound tonight against UAF.

October 8, 2010

Friday Stuff

First thing I want to post is a list of truths that college hockey has. It's an incomplete list and certainly could use some additions, so I welcome anybody that has anything to add.

There are goons in college hockey. They are not very good
- The best player doesn’t always win the Hobey
- East Coast bias is alive and well. It always will be
- Each fanbase has its douchenozzles
- Most fanbases have fans that actually know the game of hockey. Some don’t
- Minnesota will always have a target on its back
- Michigan will too…but not as big as Minnesota
- DU will always have a good recruiting class. So will North Dakota. So will Wisconsin

- The Engelstad is a palace. It’s a great place to watch a game. Its ice is soft and slow
- BU has the best student section in college hockey. No one comes close
- Northern Michigan fans have one NC to claim. It’s all they have. Remind them of this. It upsets them greatly

INCH has its WCHA Preview out. There's a couple interesting things to note in here.

- Jess Myers, a longtime Sioux hater, nails his "breakthrough team" and "primed for a fall" in Minnesota-Duluth, and Wisconsin, respectively. Duluth is a lock for top 3 in the WCHA, and damn well could give North Dakota a run for the top spot. Wisconsin, no matter how good their recruiting class is or their coaching is, will struggle this year.
- Jess says the "pressure to perform" team is Minnesota. I disagree with him here, and can think of two teams that are under more pressure. One is North Dakota, being that they have the depth and the return of Chay. Everyone is picking them to do well; time to step up. But the team that I think is under more pressure then anyone realizes is Bemidji. Making the long-awaited jump to the WCHA, Bemidji is not that far removed from their 2009 Frozen Four appearance. They have fared well against the WCHA in the past; it will be interesting to see how they fare full-time.
- He's got North Dakota as 1, but also says that Hak is under a lot of fire for "can't win the big one". Personally, I've never attacked Hakstol for that. It's the players that need to play the game. It's not like Hak hasn't gotten them to the title game before.

Overall though, this is one of Jess's better season previews.

Also, Jay Barriball voiced his frustration with the WCHA coaches in the Star Tribune, saying "we should never be ranked #5 in the preseason poll." Arrogance, Jay? Your team finished 7th last season, missed the Final Five, and the NCAA's. First time in 17 and 8 years, respectively. If anything, you should be thanking the coaches for picking you as high as they did, being that your team still lacks the scoring line it once had, has defense that can't fill any holes, a goalie who is hot and cold to the nth degree, a coach that clearly checked out last year, another coach that is unworthy of coaching a mites team, and fans that turn on your team in a heartbeat. Let's keep in mind that the Gophers are still a team that lacks chemistry. They have some ridiculous talent, but they can't seem to harness that talent and get it to play well together.

Other then that, looking forward to finally opening the Sioux season tonight!

October 5, 2010

Is Chay a little tentative?

I was unable to watch the exhibition game due to work, but I had some friends fill me in on how it went. I was particularly interested in Chay and how he would play in his first game back. One guy told me that he played "ok". Another told me he was tentative going into the corners. This is what I was more wondering, and am not really surprised.

We all remember how Geoff Paukovich broke Robbie Bina's neck in the 2005 Final Five. Paukovich was never quite the same player after that. He was always an aggressive player that wasn't afraid to throw his weight around in the corners. Since that incident, he has become a lot more tentative, holding up when making a hit. I don't think that's always a bad thing, but the bottom line is, Pauk is no longer the same player he once was.

Chay is probably the best player in college hockey. Even with him being a little more meek, I don't think we can take that away from him. I still anticipate him being able to go into the corners, mix it up, come out with the puck, and make the play. I just think it'll take a little time.

October 3, 2010

News and Notes

A couple things to note this morning.

Danny Kristo will be suspended for the exhibition game for a violation of team rules. The rumor has it that he was suspended for underage drinking. If that's all, I'm not too concerned, but at the same time, I mentioned things that would derail this team. Stupid mistakes off the ice will not help. Thankfully, this was something relatively minor, and shouldn't affect the team.

Also, Kane Lafranchise has been ruled academically ineligible at UAA and will sit out the first 1/2 of the season. This guy is a talented defenseman, one of the bright spots on a UAA team that will struggle mightily this season. Losing him will ensure even more struggle. Coach Shyiak put some spin on it by saying "The second half of the season, he really came on offensively. But with [Lafranchise out], it gives some other guys opportunity." Good luck with that, coach.

St. Cloud State beat Manitoba 7-4, with Drew LeBlanc scoring twice and Garrett Roe also netting one. Well known Goon Aaron Marvin provided two assists. Mike Lee was sharp in net, stopping everything he faced; Dan Dunn allowed 3 goals.

Michigan Tech held off Nippising 5-3. At one point, Tech had a 4-1 lead. Mercyhurst came back from a 4-1 deficit to tie Michigan 4-4. Not ever college team was immune to Canada though, as St. Francis Xavier tied University of New Hampshire 3-3, Ontario IT beat Ferris St. 3-2, and Western Ontario beat LSSU 5-4. UAA was able to beat Windsor 4-1, and DU crushed the US Under 18 team 8-1.

The Sioux take on Manitoba tonight. The Gophers take on British Columbia. BC will face Toronto, and Denver takes on Lethbridge. Hockey has started.

September 30, 2010

Steps for success

The puck is close to dropping for the season, and I'm excited, of course. This Sioux team is loaded, and could be the best one that the Sioux have seen in years. With the return of Chay at defense, there are very few glaring weaknesses on this team. I'm trying to figure out if the Sioux have anything to worry about, and yes, I found a few things that need to go in their favor this year to continue success.

1. Stay healthy

The loss of Chay hurt the team early on in the season last year, and various injuries up and down the team hindered their progress. Losing Hextall for 9 games shattered their power-play. Certainly, injuries are a part of the game, but if the Sioux can stay healthy for the most part, they will be fine.

2. Stay out of the box

The Sioux get a lot of attention when they are out on the ice, most of it unwarranted. And last year, we saw the bias in officials when they played DU at Magness on Saturday night, when they were called for 9 penalties in a row compared to DU's 0. But that being said, the Sioux need to continue to be smart. They antagonize a lot of teams and if they can play that to their advantage, they will be looking at a lot of powerplays.

3. Fill the voids

VandeVelde returned for his senior season, and his presence on the ice will definitely be missed. Darcy Zajac definitely shined in his senior year, especially on the faceoff dot. Guys like Brett Hextall, Corban Knight, and Mario Lamoureux will have to step up this year. We saw Evan Trupp really shine in the Final Five and when Frattin returned to the team, he certainly provided a nice spark. It is critical that those guys continue to produce like they were last year.

4. Give Eids a rest

Eidsness has established himself as one of the best goaltenders in college hockey. He had a great GAA last year of 2.11 and a save percentage of .914%. That all being said, I don't want to see the Sioux leaning on him all season long. We saw that with Lammy in the 2007-2008 season and while I'm not blaming him for the 6-1 defeat in the Frozen Four, it would have been nice to have him get some rest during the year. Brad is a great goalie; Aaron Dell is just fine and can spell him when necessary. I'd like to see Dell play 8-10 games this year.

Polls are out

And clearly, the expectations for our beloved Sioux is very high. UND was the runaway for both the coaches poll and the media poll, garnering the majority of first place votes in both polls. The Sioux, with all they are returning, are expected to do great things this year. Anything less then a FF appearance will be a disappointment, IMO.

Coaches Poll

Team (first-place votes)   Points
1. North Dakota (10) 120
2. St. Cloud State (2) 105
3. Minnesota-Duluth 100
4. Denver 88
5. Minnesota 82
6. Colorado College 67
7. Wisconsin 64
8. Nebraska-Omaha 55
9. Bemidji State 46
10. Minnesota State 31
11. Alaska-Anchorage 19
12. Michigan Tech 15

Media Poll

Team (first-place votes) Points

1. North Dakota (28) 347
2. Minnesota-Duluth 300
3. St. Cloud State (1) 295
4. Denver 242
5. Wisconsin 218
6. Minnesota 203
7. Colorado College 182
8. Bemidji State 156
9. Nebraska-Omaha 125
10. Minnesota State 97
11. Alaska-Anchorage 51
12. Michigan Tech 46

September 20, 2010

Season Preview

Ok, I've been putting this off for awhile, but it's time to finally dive into the season preview.

So...let's break it down, shall we?

The Sioux return loaded. Aside from senior departures Darcy Zajac and Chris VandeVelde, the Sioux lost David Toews and Corey Fienhage to the pros. Other then that, everyone returns. The Sioux lost 1 person on a great defensive corps and return their leader and catalyst, Chay Genoway, who, in my opinion, is the best player in college hockey.

Brad Eidsness returns for his junior season, and brings with him a great sophomore season campaign. He posted a very respectable 2.11 GAA and .914 save percentage. Some of his big games included a 2-0 shutout of Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA Final Five play-in game, made 33 stops in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Denver, in which questionable officiating cost UND the game, and he shut out the Gophers at the beginning of the season. Eids has controlled his rebounds better and wanders less from the net. He is still prone to lapses, but overall, he has become a lot more consistent and was a big reason the Sioux saw a lot of success last year. His backups, Aaron Dell and Tate Maris have yet to show their talent, but assuming the Sioux do what they are expected to do this year, I expect we will see both of them get some playing time.

As I mentioned earlier, the Sioux lost no defensive players in the offseason other then Fienhage. After losing their defensive catalyst Chay Genoway to a concussion thanks to a dirty hit from SCSU goon Aaron Marvin, the defense stepped up nicely, finishing ranked #3 in the country. That can only improve this season, with the addition of Derek Forbort, who was drafted in the first round by the LA Kings. Junior Ben Blood will build on his great sophomore season, and senior Jake Marto will continue to be a strong force at the blue line.

As I said, the Sioux are returning a lot of people this year. Evan Trupp is here for his senior season, and it's time for this kid to be the consistent leader that I think he can be all year. Brett Hextall was quiet last season after a great freshman year, and he should return hungry and ready to piss off a lot of teams again. Gregoire is still great and just needs to harness that talent that he has. Matt Frattin's return to the Sioux last year was critical to their post-season run and having him around all year will help tremendously. Brad Malone could be the most underrated player on the Sioux. He's strong, he's fast, he's got great hands. Brock Nelson, a freshman, is coming to the Sioux and should immediately contribute.

The coaching staff remains intact and is continuing to do a great job. Hakstol continues to impress me and Cary Eades is a fine assistant, who is capable of being a head coach no problem. I think the players enjoy playing for Hakstol, who demands a lot from his players, but is clearly a players coach. He doesn't play favorites and juggles the lines when necessary.

I think this is a do or die year for the Sioux. They have a ton of talent and a lot of seniors. The WCHA appears to be in a downward spiral, so the Sioux need to capitalize on that. There's no reason to think that a run to the Frozen Four is out of the question. And with this team and talent, I think anything less would be unacceptable.