March 29, 2010

After some time to reflect...

I've been contemplating the Sioux's loss to Yale and the ending of the season over the weekend...all while fighting an infection in my tooth (painful).

What to say? The Sioux fell in the opening round of the NCAA's for the 2nd straight year and will be watching the Frozen Four on TV again. So why did this happen again this year? I have a few thoughts on the matter:

1. The Sioux ran out of gas. After playing 6 games in 9 days, they had to fly 1500 miles to the east coast to play a Yale team that had essentially a 3 week break. Simply put, the Sioux team was not rested for this game.

2. They were no longer the underdogs. Most of the season, the Sioux were playing from behind, be it on the scoreboard or in the standings. The team seemed to embrace that role, and it worked all the way through the Final Five, where no one expected them to do anything. Once in the regional, everyone expected the Sioux to go all the way. This could have presented problems.

3. The defense was banged up. Yes, I know good teams play through injuries, but when your best player is still suffering from concussion symptoms, another is out, and two others are playing through injuries, it's not easy. I hate using it as an excuse, but certainly could be a reason.

4. The Sioux underestimated Yale. It's possible that UND was thinking this game would be easy against a ratty ECAC team that has no clear cut goaltender and is missing it's best forward.

5. Yale overachieved. As the Sioux did in the Final Five, Yale might have just said F this and risen up. Let's be honest; they were playing with house money and when that happens, teams generally do very well.

I don't want to sit here and say that it's ok that the Sioux lost because it's not. I don't care that they "did better" then they were supposed to. Once you get to the playoffs, do your job and win games. At the same time, I still am proud of this team. They worked very hard in the face of some ridiculous adversity. Let's not forget that the Sioux are one of the premier teams in the NCAA and always have a target on their back.

That being said, as Sioux fans, sit back and enjoy the Frozen Four.

Good job Sioux, good game

March 26, 2010

Down goes Denver

It's no secret how much I dislike the Denver program. I think it's on par with Minnesota in terms of arrogance from its fanbase. And Chambers is pretty much the worst reporter/beat writer on the planet.

Yet today, the program was humbled in a way it never has been before, falling 2-1 to RIT in the East Regional, sending the #15 Tigers to the regional championship game and sending Denver to the golf course.

Chambers made it quite clear earlier in the season that DU was well on it's way to its 8th championship and was making comparisons to the Boston University team that won it all last year. With all due respect, that Boston team was the best team I have seen in college hockey since the 1999 Maine Black Bears. This DU team was built around one line and a goaltender. This was not a complete team. Sure, in February they were clicking on all cylinders, but is it possible the DU boys were reading their press clippings a little? Starting to believe the National Championship would be theirs?

You can never lay down in college hockey, because as soon as you do, another team will jump on top of you and destroy you. As I've discussed before, the parity in college hockey is going way down. Any team on any given night can win. And in a one and done scenario, there is no second chance. You either show up or you're saying "what if?"

Hats off to RIT!

March 25, 2010


The WCHA correspondent for USCHO wrote a piece for USCHO about the Sioux yesterday. Here it is:

25-12-5 (15-10-3 WCHA, t-4th place)

NCAA tournament appearances: 25 (40-19, 7 national championships)

Players to watch: F Danny Kristo (20-17—37 in 42 GP), F Evan Trupp (8-26—34 in 42 GP), G Brad Eidsness (24-9-4, 2.09, .915).

Why the Fighting Sioux will get to Detroit: The Sioux are one of the hottest teams in hockey, winners of 12 of their last 13 games. Though that doesn’t always guarantee success this time of year, the Sioux more importantly have the correct attitude to succeed this time of year — playing one game at a time, which is how they were able to win the Final Five despite playing their sixth game in nine days for the championship.

Why the Fighting Sioux will get bounced: As hot as the Sioux are, they’re also a young team and experience can mean a lot come playoff time. Also, even though they will have had six days off by the time the puck drops again, their WCHA playoff grind may come back to bite them.

The inside story: Given their recent play, there really is no one inside story about this year’s edition of the Fighting Sioux. Rather, there are a few small ones.

First: You’ll notice that the players to watch above aren’t necessarily the Sioux’s leading scorers, but rather the players that are probably currently playing their best hockey. Unlike previous versions of UND, this year’s team doesn’t have that one superstar player.

Second: Even though fatigue is mentioned as a reason this team might fall short in its quest for an eighth national title, coach Dave Hakstol almost thinks of it as an excuse.

“The fatigue factor certainly is an obvious one, but [we’ve taken] care of that,” he said. “That’s a nice benefit that we don’t play until Saturday.”

Third: This team is focused. Throughout the Final Five, Hakstol deflected questions about a game that was further in the future than the one on deck. That mind-set got them through the WCHA championship and he hopes it’ll get them even farther.

“It’s no time to relax,” he said. “It’s one goal to get into the national tournament, but we got into the WCHA tournament two weeks ago as one of 10 and said our goal was to win it. Well, we’re in a tournament now as one of 16 and our goal is to win it.”

March 21, 2010

Out east we go!

The Sioux are heading out east as the highest number two seed, as most of us were predicting yesterday. However, I think their road got a little easier just by the "smoking room". Somehow, instead of playing Michigan or New Hampshire, the Sioux get to face Yale, a team that is reeling as of late.

I sure hope this game is on TV this weekend...

Broadmoor Champions!

The Sioux are just steamrolling their way into the post-season.

Last night, they became only the 2nd team to win the play-in game and also win the tournament (Duluth in 2009). And they did it in convincing fashion after going down 2-0 in the opening minute! St. Cloud opened with two quick goals and had the Sioux fans reeling before most of them had even sat down. Yet the team persevered and found a way to crawl back into the game, as they have so often this season.

One of the most special moments for me, in all my years of watching Sioux hockey, was watching the team force Chay to accept the trophy, even though he didn't really want to. Essentially, it shows me how unified this team is. Schloss sums it up by saying "this team gets it."

The powerplay was extremely effective last night, with the Sioux going 3-5. The PK held up too, killing off 5 SCSU powerplays.

On a more personal note, every year, I bid my vacation around the Final Five. This event is THAT important to me. It's something I look forward to every single year. It's a chance to get together with fans who are as passionate about the game as I am. I had a great time this year again and really want to thank all the fans that came out. It didn't have quite the same feel as when the Gophers are in it, but I still had a great time seeing people I don't get to see very often. It truly is the fans that make the Final Five experience, and I think we as fans did a great job this year.

We'll find out today where the Sioux are heading and who they'll open up against. My theory is out east against UNH in the same bracket as Boston College and Alaska. Stay tuned...

March 20, 2010

Shorthanded goals becoming a trend...

The Sioux have scored 5 shorthanded goals in their last 11 games. Not too shabby. Their powerplay might not be clicking as we saw in that game against SCSU in early February, but it's still doing well. The trend, of course, is special teams. UND's special teams are on fire right now. Combine that with some good goaltending and you've got a pretty damn good team.

Last night, the Sioux finally snapped that losing streak against the Pioneers, winning 4-3 and setting up a rematch of the 2006 Final Five championship game against SCSU. Behind a great game from Evan Trupp, who has come out of nowhere as of late to become a catalyst for the Sioux, they made goaltender of the year Marc Cheverie look off-balance and at times, silly.

The goal of the game was definitely the game winning goal. It came later in the third period on a penalty kill for the Sioux. Patrick Wiercioch and Evan Trupp were in a footrace for a puck that had been cleared out of the Sioux zone. When it appeared Wiercioch had the edge on Trupp, Trupp danced to the OTHER side of Wiercioch and gained control. He pulled a sick counter move and fed Brad Malone, who beat a standing Marc Cheverie. This goal sealed the deal for the Sioux and caused me to remark to my buddy Steve that the Sioux's passing has just been incredible this run.

In a WCHA Final Five that was surprisingly sterile and goal-absent for the first two games, the third game of the tourney certainly provided some spark to the fans. Last night, pretty much any fan not wearing Sioux stuff was cheering for Denver. I always find that kind of funny, since during the SCSU-Wisconsin game I was more cheering for an arena collapse then anything else.

Check out this youtube video below for the highlights. On Trupp's 2rd goal, look at the zamboni tunnel. The guy jumping and pumping his arms? Yeah, that's me. :-)


March 19, 2010

Sioux take care of business on Thursday

The Sioux were in their first play in game in the Final Five since 2002-2003 when they lost 2-1 to the Bulldogs. Last night, they played Minnesota-Duluth again. However, the outcome was different. The Sioux took care of business and won 2-0. There's a couple interesting facts about this.

- Duluth had the best powerplay in the WCHA, but went 0-5 last night and gave up a short handed goal
- Duluth had the league's longest streak of having not been shut out, going back to 2008 and 83 games
- Evan Trupp scored his first goal in 21 games
- Eids earned his 3rd shutout of the season, and 2nd in 4 games. He is currently 10-1 in his last 11, 1.36 GAA and a .945 save percentage
- There were two disallowed goals. One for each team. The Duluth goal that was disallowed took a long time to sort out and is still in question. The Sioux goal that was disallowed was waved off quickly and took about 10 seconds to determine was not legit

March 16, 2010

Frattin suspended for hit

There's a few things to discuss regarding this...I wonder if I should start backwards and work my way to the front.

To borrow a term from Gross Misconduct Hockey, the Wheel of Justice was out again Monday, as commissioner Bruce McLeod decided to hand Sioux forward Matt Frattin a one game suspension for his hit on Wehrs in the Sunday night game. Thank you to Joseph Alaric Remington Horatio Daxen Izaiack Zebedee Johnny-Cage XXXVIII, Esq.

There's a choppy video of the hit on Youtube that actually makes the hit look legit, aside from Frattin leaving his feet. But Schloss has some stills from the hit that we can check out...a la the Kennedy assassination. Let's do it.

Here's Frame 1. Wehrs knows he's about to be blasted and appears to be bracing himself. Frattin is moving towards Wehrs at a very fast rate. Can't see the puck but Frattin is going to be unable to stop himself at this point anyway.
Here's Frame 2. There's a couple things. One, I think the puck is right below the Chevy logo under the Rydell logo. If that's the case, Wehrs had the puck and Frattin is in every right to check him. Two, as it looks right now, in this frame, Frattin is at the same level as Wehrs. He has yet to leave his feet. So far, this appears legit.

Finally, here's Frame 3. You can clearly tell that's the puck in between the Chevy and Cadillac logo. Frattin is driving Wehrs into the boards. I can't tell for sure, but at this point, it seems Frattin has his shoulder into Wehrs head. I can't tell for sure though. The more important thing is what happens in the next frame that you can't see...which was Frattin leaving his feet to finish the check.

As I discussed with my buddy Tim, if Frattin doesn't leave his feet on this hit, we're not even having this discussion right now. The fact that he left his feet is why this is a big deal today.

Also, Tim told me that the FSN broadcasters were saying that Frattin should go to jail for that hit and basically associating him with Marty McSorely or Bertuzzi. Um, I'm sorry, but that is not assault. A dangerous hit? Possibly. But assault? No. I wonder if both those announcers were saying the same thing about Marvin's hit on Genoway...

In all seriousness, the Sioux are down a man Thursday night in St. Paul and I wish Wehrs a speedy recovery.

March 14, 2010

A great win and an apology to my readers

Hooray! The Sioux took care of business tonight! They responded nicely and made big plays when necessary. When Hextall scored the 4th goal to seal the deal, I could finally breathe again.

But the real reason I'm writing this post is to apologize to you, the readers of this blog.

I've taken quite the flak over the past couple days for various reasons. Some Sioux fans disagreed with me picking Minnesota to beat them. Others got upset with me for my ranting, rambling post yesterday. And I feel the need to explain myself a bit...

You see, I'm a pretty candid guy. Those who know me understand that I call it like I see it. In all aspects of life. Not just with hockey. I'm a direct individual. If I don't like you, you're going to know it. If someone does something wrong, I call them out on it. And yes, sometimes, this gets me into trouble. It's a risk that I take by being this blunt. But honestly, I don't want to be one of those people that talks about others behind their backs just to look good. I don't really care what people think of me. I don't mind being well liked, but if someone doesn't like me, that's their problem. Not mine.

I love Sioux hockey. They are, by far, my favorite sports team. And I have a ridiculous passion for the game of hockey. I've played the game since I was 5 years old. I love it. It's one of the reasons I started this blog. I wanted to bring a different perspective to the game of college hockey and specifically, Fighting Sioux Hockey. And that's where I can clash with my readers. This blog is not intended to be a "feel good" blog or a "rah-rah" blog. This blog is meant to cover more of the intricacies of the game. It's why I show as many youtube video clips as possible. And unlike some fan blogs out there, I'm not going to pick the Sioux to win every weekend. And I'm not going to defend them when they do wrong. But believe me, when the Sioux do well, I will be the first to praise them, both in public and private.

I understand that some people come to this blog to see happy feel good posts. But you're not going to get that here. I'm sorry. I can't do it. I wish I could pick the Sioux in every game...and believe me, I cheer like they have a shot in every game. But they aren't perfect. They will lose sometimes.

Take this weekend. Minnesota was 7th in the league. They were not a great team. On paper, yes, North Dakota was the better team. But think about how even the series was. And keep in mind, Minnesota blew out the Sioux the last time these squads met. The reasons I picked a Minnesota sweep are hard to explain, but I will attempt to:

1. Bruce McLeod has made it clear that Minnesota is an important draw for the F5. Who is to say there can't be a little referee intervention?

2. This is a rivalry series. BU/BC has nothing on Minnesota/North Dakota. And you all know that in a rivalry game, BOTH teams come out more emotional and fired up.

3. North Dakota was bound to have a letdown

4. Minnesota just came off drubbing Wisconsin

5. Which Kangas/Eids would show up?

My theory was, Minnesota would come out on fire on Friday and win a close game. Then on Saturday, they would seal the deal. I was wrong. The Sioux won. And yes, I'm ecstatic. I'm going to be at every F5 game. I'm pumped beyond belief right now.

I hope this offers an explanation of why I blog the way I blog and some insight for those of you who question my fandom. Good day.

March 13, 2010

Going to a 3rd game

I told you all not to get excited. I told you that the Gophers were going to win this series. But no. You all yelled at me, called me a non-Sioux fan. Told me I need to be more excited. Well here's why I wasn't, Sioux fans. Because it's not over until it's over. You all overlooked the Gophers. Every one of you. You all let your hatred of that program cloud your judgment and assumed the Sioux would stomp them both nights. Stomp them the first night they did. But look who came roaring back tonight. Look who said HEY! We're not done yet!

We're going to a 3rd game tomorrow. And as far as I'm concerned, the season is on the line for both teams. UND loses, they are done. Minnesota loses, they are done. I don't care that UND is currently 5th in the pairwise. They will plummet to 8th or 9th after tonight. And if they lose tomorrow, well, probably 14th. And since two CHA teams are going to be in the big dance, you are not safe unless you are in the top 13.

Don't read my blog if you don't want to hear the truth. But reality is, the Sioux have their backs against the wall. The Gophers...not so much now.

Don't get excited yet...

The Sioux dominated last night and beat a lifeless Gopher team 6-0. Hooray. Now quit celebrating. The series isn't over yet. There's one more game to be played.

March 11, 2010

What is the X factor in this series?

I listened to the WCHA Correspondent talk to both Hakstol and Lucia this week about the upcoming series. The tone of their voices and the way they described the upcoming series were very different. She talked to Lucia on Monday and he sounded extremely confident, if not cocky. He didn't even know the name of the arena! He said something along the lines of "it's not even the Engelstad anymore....the Ralph!" Can you believe that? To me, it sounded like he just figures the Gophers will win and that will be that.

Hakstol on the other hand, sounded very business-as-usual. She asked him about the rivalry and coach Hakstol said that it shouldn't be a factor...because if it is, the players and team aren't focused. It seems the two coaches have a very different viewpoint on this series.

That being said, I'm trying to figure out how the Sioux can win this series. I get that they are the better team and I get that they are riding a 7 game win streak into the playoffs. But that doesn't matter. Nothing matters at this point. People are trying to convince me that the Sioux will make the NCAA's regardless of what happens in this series. I disagree. The Sioux need to make the F5 to make the NCAA's.

So...both teams can score goals. Both teams can hold opponents to shutouts and one goal games. So what does it come down to? I'm gonna go with goaltending. The X factor in this series is going to be goaltending. Both goalies have shown signs of brilliance, and both goalies have shown total incompetence at times. Ultimately, whoever has the goalie that decides to show up will win this game.

That being said, I still see the Gophers making the trip to St. Paul next weekend.

March 7, 2010

Sioux sweep Huskies...and get Minnesota

Two come from behind victories over the weekend ensured a couple things. One, it gave North Dakota a 7 game winning streak. Yes, it seems the 2nd half surge has come. Two, it vaulted North Dakota up to 5th in the pairwise. The team is being rewarded for it's stellar effort over the past few weekends. Third, the victory last night ensured the Minnesota Golden Gophers will be coming to the Engelstad for the WCHA Playoff.

I'm very apprehensive about this series. Ever since I heard Bruce McLeod publically say that the WCHA was nervous about Minnesota not making the Final Five in 2008, but were relieved when they did. It makes me wonder how many calls will not go the Sioux's way. I mean, granted, the refs cannot take the game away, but wonder...

Also, it's a rivalry series. We know how much both teams get fired up for these games. Minnesota will be coming in fighting for their lives. A couple victories over the Sioux and they play in St. Paul, where anything can happen.


March 4, 2010

The Marvin suspension...the saga continues

I was directed to Bruce Ciskie's blog today because he has some interesting information on the Aaron Marvin suspension.

Bruce McLeod seems hesitant to hand out suspensions for anything outside of the rule book. If it's not in the rules, he doesn't want to suspend players. This is a poor way of being a league commissioner. It's very black and white. 16 years and he's never handed out more than a one game suspension. That's unacceptable. I can think of many incidents that should have been more then one game, but that's a story for another day.

Anyway, the story goes that the league was going to suspend Marvin for about 8 games, but due to appeal from St. Cloud, it got reduced to 3. Fair? You decide.

March 1, 2010

Lotsa stuff

First off, big win by the Sioux on Saturday. My goodness. They dominated CC on the pk and when they got their first powerplay, they took advantage. Eids is playing very well right now, and I can only hope that continues.

Second off, UND is sitting 6th in the pairwise and 7th in the USCHO poll. They also secured home ice for the playoffs by sweeping CC. Basically, things are looking real good.

Finally, to borrow a quote from a very good blogger, Joseph Horatio Terrence Remington Giancarlo Israel Q-Bert Yerdon XXVIII Esq., the WCHA "Wheel of Justice" handed down a 3 game suspension to the headhunter from SCSU, Aaron Marvin. I'm guessing that this is not only retribution for his garbage hit on Chay Genoway earlier in the year, but his blatant headshot to Blake Geoffrion.

SCSU fans have expressed their disgust at this turn of events, but really, they shouldn't be surprised. Had the WCHA doled out the proper suspension right after the Genoway suspension, which should have been 1/2 a dozen games minimum, Brucie and co. most likely wouldn't have had to do this. But let's face it. Marvin has proved himself to be a goon in a couple incidents this season and he had this coming.

Anyway, looking at one more season series against the Techies.