January 31, 2010

On the Outside Looking in...

The Sioux are in a real tough position right now...

Let's discuss the weekend series against Denver. I was going to blog on Friday how Denver might be UND's biggest rival. Right now, it seems irrelevant. Why? Because UND showed up and played like they were playing a team from another conference. DU showed up and took the Sioux seriously. UND showed up and acted like the season was over.

On Friday night, the Pioneers stormed to a quick 2-0 lead, then seemed content to sit on their heels. The Sioux team, while trying to take advantage of a lot of opportunities, couldn't capitalize on a very, very good goaltender. Needless to say, they lost 2-0.

On Saturday night, the Sioux scored twice to lead 2-0. They kept the pressure up, but DU got one goal and it just deflated the team. Just like that, DU scored two more to get a 3-2 lead. They scored a 4th and won 4-2.

While I was watching the game, I noticed the team was just uninspired. They looked flat and no one really is seeming to play with fire in their heart. Schloss pointed out that the contribution from the 3rd and 4th line has been non-existent in the past few games. This was where UND needed a lot of contribution if it had any hope of having a decent season.

I'll echo my thoughts on losing Genoway again...teams lose good players to injury all the time. It happens. To compare, the Minnesota Twins lost Justin Morneau, their all-star and MVP 1st Baseman to a back injury last year right in the heart of their run to the post-season. Other players stepped up in his absence, and while it took a playoff game to get into the post-season, they pulled it off, even without one of their best players. They didn't quit. They pressed on. The Sioux should be able to do the same. Every kid on that roster is capable of playing well at the collegiate level. Or else they wouldn't be there. Plain and simple. These guys need to start playing with some heart. While home ice may not be achievable, they can ensure they will play the 5th place team in the playoffs, which will be a toss-up game at best.

January 27, 2010

You've gotta love DU People

I was reading up on the series and decided to read Mike Chambers column in the Denver post about the series. Bad idea. Let me point out every thing that is wrong with the article.

Last Saturday, the then-No. 1-ranked University of Denver hockey team was greeted by the first Kohl Center sellout of the season, losing 4-3 at Wisconsin before a relatively good-natured gathering of 15,237.

The Badgers' lively student section undoubtedly made it a difficult place to play for the Pioneers. But the atmosphere in Madison will be considered tame compared with the expected antics that will unfold this weekend against North Dakota in Grand Forks.

The Pioneers, who fell to No. 3 in the media polls after failing to win a weekend game for the first time this season, will face the always-willing-to-fight Fighting Sioux, who are ranked fourth.

"I wouldn't say we have to make up for it, but they're big games as far as seeing what we're made of," DU senior center Tyler Ruegsegger said. "Having a tough weekend (at Wisconsin) and then going to North Dakota, where there will be an even more hostile arena, is a big challenge."

DU captain Rhett Rakh-shani is confident the unwanted baggage left from the Wisconsin series won't be brought to North Dakota. The Pioneers played well only in stretches against Wisconsin.

"They're all important from here on out, and this weekend is just as important as next weekend, and so on and so forth," Rakhshani said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing, when you're playing, what the standings are, what you're ranked, what they're ranked. You want to play the same. So we're going to want to bring forth our best game, no matter who we're playing, and that will be the same for North Dakota."

Six teams, six big games.

The rugged Western Collegiate Hockey Association will show off its star power this weekend, with its six nationally ranked teams involved in league showdowns.

In addition to the DU-North Dakota series, league-leading Minnesota-Duluth hosts Wisconsin and St. Cloud State visits Colorado College.

Based on the PairWise Rankings, all six WCHA teams are in position to qualify for the 16-team NCAA Tournament.

"Every weekend is going to be a battle," Rakhshani said of the race for the MacNaughton Cup as regular-season WCHA champion. "It's up for grabs and whoever wants it more is going to take it."

What Would George Do?

So...Hextall is probably not going to play this weekend, which means who will step up to taunt Coach Gwozdecky?

As we remember last year, the Denver coach was whining over a non-call on the Sioux. This got him a bench penalty which enraged him further. Then he jumped onto the ice to leave.

This seems to happen every time the Sioux play the dirty scumbags of Denver. Denver is the cheapest team in the WCHA by far. Ever since Paukovich decided to try to end a players career, these two teams have hated each other. Here's what I hope happens this weekend: Chay throws peanut shells at the DU bench, which hit George in the head. This frustrates George and he asks for a penalty. Todd Anderson, knowing the history of Whiny McWhiny Pants, instead gives George a penalty. George flips out and does something like this:

January 25, 2010

A Nice Rebound

The Sioux bounced back on Saturday night, beating Cornell 3-1 and earning a split. This vaulted them to 10th in the pairwise and 4th in ranking on USCHO.com. Most importantly, I hope it built some confidence in the fellas. A big win like that should help them out a lot.

Up next is a big series. Huge in fact. DU, along with its coach Curious George is coming to the Ralph. Let's hope we don't see George go crazy again. If he buys a product endorsed by Billy Mays, he shouldn't. For more on this, head over to Dirty's Diatribe. :-)

January 23, 2010

*shakes head*

That's about all I can say right now. A 1-0 loss to Cornell. A 1-0 loss to the freakin ECAC.

The absence of Genoway is being felt more and more each day...

January 22, 2010

Articles and Friday reading

There was an interesting article in the GF Herald about the upcoming stretch the Sioux are facing. Let's face it; it's not going to be easy. Looking this weekend at a Cornell team who is desperate to earn some OOC wins, followed by games against Denver, St. Cloud, and Minnesota-Duluth, all of whom are playing very good hockey right now.

For those of us who are used to Hakstol's second-half surge, let's hope they start it this weekend by sweeping Big Red.

Here's the article.

Also, there is still no word on Chay Genoway returning. Theresa Spisak had an interesting bit on her weekly USCHO column about WCHA hardship. This is what most people refer to when they talk about "medical redshirt". She makes an interesting point in talking about how Chay's concussion might not qualify if he is healed but the team holds him out "just in case". Personally, I can't see the NCAA denying this because concussions have clearly had the spotlight in recent months. However, it's the NCAA and nothing they do really makes sense anyway, so we'll see.

While we're talking about injuries, I can't remember a Sioux season in recent years where so many guys have had injuries. The Genoway injury was an injury done by a scumbag SCSU player who had intent to injure. That's unfortunate and yes, we're all still angry. But Zajac was hurt, Dell is hurt, and now Hextall and Knight are out. When Gaborik was still with the Minnesota Wild, it became expected that every single year he would be out with a groin injury. But then when 4 or 5 other Wild players went down, I started thinking. Who is this on? The players, or the training staff? I'm not suggesting in any way the UND training staff is responsible for these injuries this year, but if this trend continues for the next 3-4 years, you have to start wondering, right?

Anyway, it is a big series this weekend. I expect the Sioux to come out fired up tonight and hungry. And if they play the cards right, they should be able to sweep Cornell.

January 18, 2010

What to say...

No sugar coating this one, Sioux fans. The Sioux got manhandled in Minnesota on Saturday night. Behind a strong performance from Alex Kangas and some good bounces, the Gophers made our beloved team look silly and drive back to Grand Forks with their tails between their legs.

Now I will admit that the Sioux still showed me something on Saturday night. Being down 5-1, you could expect the game to get very chippy and Sioux players to lose their cool. This didn't happen. And I don't want to hear how the hit on Cepis was cheap and unnecessary. Cepis is a showboating transfer. Yes, he has talent, but he celebrates every goal like he's never been there before and in my opinion, taunts the opposition. If you're going to be doing that, expect to pay the price. But the Sioux kept their composure. That impressed me a lot.

The time has come to call out Eidsness. I haven't been a fan of this kid since he took over for Walski last year. Eids will typically make the saves he's supposed to. However, he VERY rarely will make a save he's not supposed to. I think about some of the goalies before him, especially Lammy, and how he would make spectacular saves that were just unreal. Eids has none of those. You simply cannot count on him to keep the team in the game. I really hope this kid starts improving; otherwise Hak is going to have to look at other options.

Anyway, if I was Cornell, I'd dread playing the Sioux this weekend. Something tells me they are going to be playing with a bit of passion. As long as Eidsness doesn't screw them over.

January 14, 2010

Gopher/Sioux time...again!

You can go back and read my previous posts on the Gopher/Sioux series. I don't feel the need to elaborate. We all know this series is big. Regardless of where each team is in the polls or the standings, both teams will come out guns blazing this weekend and it will certainly be a good series.

Instead, what am I looking for this weekend? Well, there's a few things...

1. Gregoire to continue to shine
He scored 4 goals over the weekend against Mankato and should continue to have a big series

2. Kristo to light it up
Playing in his backyard should help him find extra motivation to score

3. A shutout from Eidsness
Minnesota has been piling the shots up on their opponents but have been unable to score many goals. If Eids can put up a donut against Minnesota, that should just crush their spirits.

Also, on a somber note, Chay Genoway is still struggling and will most likely be redshirted this season...

Big weekend Sioux fans!

January 12, 2010

Taking care of business

The Sioux did what they were supposed to do this last weekend, sweeping the Mavericks and earning their first conference sweep of the season.

I watched the game Saturday night. I was very impressed by what I saw. Even though the team looked like they were going to fall apart after having a 3-1 lead, they stuck with it and won 3-2.

Up next is a series that should mean a lot more than it feels like. The Sioux head to Engelstad South to play the Gophers. Maybe if these two teams were 1-2 in the WCHA, this series would have so much more meaning. Instead, it's the battle of a team that is disarray and a team that has given up way too many leads.

More to follow this week.

January 6, 2010

Team USA Takes Gold

As I'm sure you all know by now, Team USA beat Canada last night in overtime for gold in the World Junior tournament. John Carlson, a Washington Capitals prospect scored the winning goal, giving the US their first gold medal in the World Juniors since 2004.

Team USA was certainly fired up in the locker room after the game. Check out this clip of the Battle Cry the team has in the locker room. It was lead by none other than UND's own Danny Kristo!

The top scorers for the US are both on college hockey teams. Derek Stepan, a Wisconsin player, lead all scorers in the tournament with 14 points. Jerry D'Amigo, an RPI player, had 12 points.

Check out the game winning goal below.

What a great tournament by the young Americans. I'm hoping that can carry over to the big boys playing in Vancouver in another month.