April 20, 2011

Blood to return

Some good news for the program is that Ben Blood is returning for his senior season. In addition, Aaron Dell is coming back for his junior season. This is good. We need to hear from the likes of Gregoire, Hextall, and Kristo, but so far so good.

NCAA Still Has Sour Grapes

By now, I'm sure most of you have heard that the NCAA has decided to uphold it's 2007 ruling that the University is not allowed to host post-season games or wear any Fighting Sioux apparel in the post-season, regardless of the ruling of the State that said the Sioux name is here to stay.

The point I'm trying to make here is that the NCAA is fighting for everything it can get. In the statement sent to UND President Robert Kelley, the NCAA said it was upholding the 2007 agreement, which said it must receive support from two state tribes to keep the logo, or retire the logo and namesake by August 1st, 2010. Since neither has happened (at least in the NCAA's eyes, we all know the tribes support the nickname), the NCAA has decided to uphold the 2007 ruling.

Why is it the NCAA is still picking on the Sioux? They have done everything the NCAA has asked, and yet the NCAA is still after this team. I have heard nothing about them going after other programs with namesakes and logos, such as the Utah Utes, Florida State Seminoles, or Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Also, the NCAA, being extremely hypocritical, decided to sell merchandise at the Frozen Four with the Fighting Sioux logo all over it. I know, I was there. I bought some of it.

The State Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Sioux nickname and logo and said the NCAA can't impose its will on the program. Yet the NCAA refuses to give up, at least for now. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.

April 13, 2011

Reflection

Nearly a week after the Sioux's season was ended by an extremely hot Michigan goaltender, I can finally talk about it and discuss what we as fans have learned.

It's very unfortunate what happened to this group of seniors and to this team. The heavy favorites entering the tournament, they didn't believe their own hype. The Sioux just wanted to take care of business and win the National Championship. As Hakstol said, losing never occurred to these guys as an option.

Why, then, did this team come up short when it seemed all the pieces were in place?

It's a weighted question.

The very simple answer is that it's an extremely difficult thing to win. Only 1 of 58 teams at the end of the season will claim the National Championship. At the beginning of any season, you can realistically pinpoint anywhere from 10-20 teams that will most likely be there at the end of the season. Certain teams like BC, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, BU, and Denver will always be in line to be there. Others, like UNH, Minnesota, Michigan State, Maine, CC, and Miami you can never count out. But every now and then, a Minnesota-Duluth comes along and runs the table, or an RIT steps up in a big way. Or Bemidji. The game is unpredictable, and as I've said for years now,
the parity in college hockey is closing.

Why then, could this amazing Sioux team, the best in recent memory and one of the great Sioux teams of all time, not close the deal, when the best teams in the past couple years (BC, BU, BC) were able to get it done?

I don't know.

There's no answer. None. 40 shots. Allowing only 20 shots, 11 of which were from the neutral zone. Banging the rebounds, playing tight defense. And yet, they fell short. You know what? Sometimes, there is no answer.

In the meantime, there's been some good news. Brad Malone signed with the Avs and I will look for him next year to make an impact with a young Avalanche team that is young and enjoys the college guys. Chay Genoway got picked up by the Minnesota Wild. The young guys coming in are very strong and should make their impacts felt right away.

And there's been some bad news. Apparently the Coyotes are interested in Hextall. I hope it's only interest and nothing more.

I know we've said this for way too long...but...

Wait 'til next year.

April 8, 2011

April 6, 2011

Waiting for Tomorrow

I'm awake in my old bedroom in my parents house, just contemplating what tomorrow will bring. I've read all the articles that various people have linked around, read newspapers about the Frozen Four, discussed it with local friends, and have just thought.

One thing I'm taking away from all this is the Michigan team/players/fans seem to be sandbagging to the nth degree. All I hear about lately is how Michigan will have to play "perfect" to beat North Dakota and that North Dakota is so good, so talented. Red Berenson himself said that Michigan is an "overwhelming underdog" in this game.

I'm sick of hearing Michigan sandbag. I'm sure that we'll all have to hear that little kid's Herb Brooks speech like 600 times in between now and the game, about how he's so sick of hearing how good North Dakota is. It's almost like Michigan is trying to bait North Dakota into believing it's the better team to lure them into a false sense of security.

The other side of the coin is the Sioux. The Sioux players, the coaches, the fans, no one is giving Michigan too much credit; yet everyone is giving them respect. I think that's how it should be. Believe you can win without conceding the game already to your opponent!

March 30, 2011

What a Ride it Has Been!

It's been a great season for our team. The achievements they have pulled off thus far have been nothing short of amazing. Capturing the MacNaughton outright for the 2nd time in 3 years. Winning the Broadmoor in back-to-back years. Frattin winning league MVP. Storming through the Midwest Regional, beating a scrappy RPI team and a DU team that was good enough to make the Frozen Four. This Sioux team, led by a deep senior class, has been downright scary.

There was no "2nd half surge" this year. There was no fighting to just stay above .500 for the 1st half of the season. Aside from a sweep at the hand of the Maine Black Bears, this team was never swept. Brad Malone overcame the emotion of an unfortunate hit that disabled DU player Jesse Martin. This team swept Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. Took 3 points against a surging St. Cloud State team. Drubbed Michigan Tech in convincing fashion. Went into the X facing both CC and DU, dispatching both. Kristo, injured for most of the year, scored in his first game back and immediately made his presence felt. Trupp carried the puck on his stick for a good 120 feet down the ice! This team is special. In a year where the WCHA seemed to be down, this Sioux team demonstrated the dominance that we are all used to showing the other conferences.

I've had the pleasure of watching a lot of good Sioux teams in my day, and I can safely say that this is the best team I have seen. Trupp has blossomed into the player we always expected he would be. Chay has returned with a furor, and Frattin has put himself in prime position to win the Hobey Baker Award.

All the gushing aside of this wonderful team, we Sioux fans know that this team isn't going to the Frozen Four just happy to be there. This team is on a mission. This team has goals. The focus of this team has been unreal. Scary. They didn't touch the MacNaughton or Broadmoor when they were presented with these. They didn't put on championship hats for winning the Final Five or winning the Midwest Regional. Hell, they didn't even celebrate winning the Midwest Regional. Aside from patting Dell on the head and lining up for the handshake, it was business as usual for this team.

They have two more games to win. Two more games.

March 28, 2011

HERE WE GO!

Ok, the Sioux are off to the Frozen Four. Yay!

I'm going to do a nice blog about the season later today. I just still need to assemble my thoughts.

March 27, 2011

Who do you cheer for?

Yesterday was interesting in following people on Facebook. A lot of hockey fans, especially WCHA fans, were cheering against the Sioux against RPI. When asked why they wouldn't want to support the conference, they said they'd rather the WCHA not have anyone then North Dakota.

Really?

Why would you not want your conference to represent?

Unless it's the Gophers, Wisconsin, or DU, you always cheer for your conference. And you cheer for those teams if they are playing Michigan, BC, Yale...basically, you cheer for your conference.

The Michigan Goal that wasn't

I'm tired of this. Tired tired tired.

This controversial goal sent Michigan onto Saturday night, where they beat CC 2-1 to advance to the Frozen Four. This was not a goal. The call on the ice was no goal. Yet about 4 minutes after this play happened, they went upstairs to review it and of course, Michigan got the benefit of the doubt. You know if it was UNO scoring a goal like this, it wouldn't have even been reviewed.

What a joke.


Sioux drub RPI, face DU

For a period yesterday, it looked like RPI was going to make this tough on the Sioux.

Then the Sioux got rolling.

Behind 2 goals from Malone, a nifty toe-drag from Kristo, and goals from Gregoire, Knight, and Frattin, the Sioux blanked RPI 6-0, earning the right to play Denver again, who beat Western Michigan 3-2 in double overtime later that night.

The Sioux were evenly matched in the first period. RPI came out fast and physical, which is what you have to do to beat this North Dakota team. It was only a 1 goal game at the end of 1, and RPI had to feel pretty good. But they started taking undisciplined penalties in a tightly called game, and UND's powerplay was suddenly pretty potent.

Ultimately, the boys were able to put the last two frustrating years behind them and did exactly what they were supposed to do. While number 1 seeds were falling left and right, the Sioux look like the only number 1 seed that deserves to be there.

Puck drop today at 4:30 cst.

Chambers Strikes Again

If you haven't seen this article written by Sioux hater Mike Chambers in the Denver Post yet, check it out. Basically, Chambers has done everything in his power to drag the Sioux, Brad Malone, and Dave Hakstol through the mud using Jesse Martin as a martyr. I am quite frankly disgusted by this and have already sent an email to the Denver Post demanding an apology from Chambers. He's not an opinion writer; he's a reporter. He has a responsibility to report the news. Not inject his opinion. Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald does a great job of simply reporting the facts. Chambers is not Tom Powers or Jay Mariotti. He has no right to do this.

Before you all jump on me as a DU hater, I've been nothing but respectful to that program this year. I watched the game where Martin got hit and immediately said a prayer for his safety and well being. I know what it's like to lose a player to an injury like that, and no team deserves to have that happen to them. That being said, Chambers has brought this frustration on himself.

Disgusting.

March 24, 2011

Final Five notes and a preview of this weekend

It's been a week since the Final Five opened with the new format, two teams that no one expected to see, and no Minnesota or Wisconsin to bolster attendance. I think it's safe to say this Final Five was going to be different, exciting, and bring many opinions to the table.

After the dust has settled, I can safely say that DU/UND game was intense, exciting, and showcased two VERY good hockey teams.

Now, onto this upcoming weekend.

The Sioux are in an interesting position, IMO. They face an RPI team that has had 3 weeks off from any type of game situation. They have practiced from what I understand, but 3 weeks ago, most RPI fans had written their team off and were just waiting for the other teams that still were playing hockey to propel them into the NCAA tourney. Sure enough, RPI made it. Under normal circumstances, I would be really happy for them. I like RPI; they are a proud program that has very loyal fans. A couple of NCAA Championships decorate the trophy room. My friend Joe Yerdon is a huge RPI fan, as well as Tom Reale. But right now, I'm not an RPI fan. In the other game, Denver will face a Western Michigan team that has overachieved and quite frankly, has nothing to lose.

So the ultimate question is, can the Sioux beat RPI?

Sure.

No words on injuries yet. Hakstol is in lockdown mode on those according to Schloss. The team leaves for Green Bay today. I sure hope they got some rest after their two overtime game against DU.

March 16, 2011

Final Five Notes

Yesterday in the WCHA Conference Call Hak told the people listening that Kristo was practicing. I guess I didn't realize the extent until Schloss reported today that he's practicing in full and has the potential to return to the lineup. That's some very good news for the Sioux. Combine that with the fact they are only playing two games this weekend. That's really really good news.

I'll be at both games tomorrow and will blog about them.

March 14, 2011

The Final Five is Set

I attended last nights CC/UW game and didn't come away disappointed. The game was lousy for the first two periods, but the last was exciting and some fine hockey. CC won 2-1 and advanced to the Final Five; Wisconsin's season ended.

Could this be a bigger nightmare for Bruce McLeod and co.? I mean, let's look at the games.

Thursday Afternoon: Bemidji vs. Minnesota Duluth
Thursday Night: UAA vs. CC

Friday Afternoon: Bemidji/UMD vs. Denver
Friday Night: UAA/CC vs. North Dakota

Saturday Night: Winner of Friday afternoons game and Friday nights game

This is, in my opinion, a nightmare for the money counters of the WCHA. For those of us that are fans of the WCHA and fans of the game of college hockey, this is quite frankly the best case scenario I could envision. You have a first time team, two Colorado teams, a team that hasn't been there since 2004, and the two previous Broadmoor champions. Talk about a unique field! I look forward especially to Bemidji and UAA getting to play on a big stage. And I'm counting on big hockey fans to still turn out for the games.

It's going to be a fun Final Five. Stay tuned

March 13, 2011

An Irish Wake for Minnesota

Most of the series are done, surprisingly.

North Dakota took care of business last night. So did Denver, coming back (again) and beating Mankato in overtime. Duluth won in triple overtime, ending St. Cloud's season.

But there were some upsets.

Bemidji, a team that is used to the big stage in college hockey, will get to be the first new team of the WCHA to head to St. Paul as they knocked off UNO in a sweep at the Qwest Center. I can safely say with confidence that the #10 seed has never advanced to St. Paul.

The biggest story of the night though, was the Seawolves ending Minnesota's season. Behind a stunning goaltending effort from Chris Kamal, UAA blanked Minnesota 2-0. The Minnesota fanbase seemed stunned and not surprised at the same time, and almost immediately after the game, the speculation of where the coaching staff would be began. Meanwhile, UAA is off to its first Final Five since 2004, and is on a 5 game winning streak. The possibility of UAA making the NCAA's is exciting and shows the true grit of the WCHA.

I, for one, was not going to mock the Gophers. While I don't like a lot of their fans, they do have passion and care a lot about the game. My own dad is a huge Gopher fan and donates his money to the University. This is a proud program who is unfortunately in a bad position right now. Many Gopher fans are not used to failure. This is a program that will be back. I believe that. A change at the top? It's gotta happen, and sooner rather then later. For now though, it's just time to mourn the end of the Gophers season.


Most Exciting Time in College Hockey

I was driving home from the airport last night and was on the phone with my friend and frequent commenter on this blog, Steve. We were talking, nonstop, about this time of year. How we all become scoreboard watchers and suddenly what all 58 teams in college hockey are doing is important. How we all calculate the PWR rankings and the what-if scenarios. I realized that this time of year, this playoff hunt, is the most exciting time in college hockey.

October could be. Start of the new season. New life. New blood. Every team is 0-0. But then a team like Michigan Tech makes a little noise and everyone in their fanbase is screaming for a huge season, which ultimately doesn't happen.

The Frozen Four could be. But by that point, the majority of hockey fans have gone home and are "waiting until next year".

This is the time of year where everyone is on their computers, digging into the games. Finding out who is winning. This is the best time in college hockey.

WCHA Champions



I've seen some poignant moments in Sioux hockey over my years. The team not touching the MacNaughton might be the most poignant of all.

March 12, 2011

Frattin's Hattrick

Upsets Galore

The Sioux's drubbing of Michigan Tech last night was certainly impressive, given how Tech has played in the playoffs in the past. Behind a great team effort and a hattrick by both Frattin and Gregoire, the Sioux won handily, 8-0.

The biggest story of the night though was UAA upsetting the Gophers in Minnesota. All we've heard all week is how the Gophers unbeaten streak was at 7 games, how they never lose in the playoffs at the Mooch, how UAA is overrated, etc. Well last night, the Seawolves humbled the Gophers on home ice, winning 4-3 after being spotted a 3-0 lead. After the game, an interview with coach Don Lucia proved how arrogant and cocky that program is. Don said something to the effect of "they probably deserved to win tonight." Probably? Your team was completely inept in the first period, had to fight and claw its way back, and after tying it up, took a ridiculously stupid penalty that allowed UAA to win the game. I'd say that UAA certainly deserved to win the game.

Aside from UAA upsetting, Wisconsin beat CC 3-1 down in the Springs and Bemidji beat UNO 4-2 in Omaha. While Wisconsin's win isn't all that surprising, Bemidji's certainly is. UNO is very solid at home and is a very pleasant surprise in the WCHA, while Bemidji struggled this year. Yet they had a good record against Omaha and got the job done last night.

In other WCHA scores, DU overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat Mankato 4-2, and Duluth upended St. Cloud 4-2. Ironically, Minnesota isn't in that bad of shape pairwise, since Western Michigan and Dartmouth both lost last night. UND moved up to number 2 in the pairwise. I don't think they can catch Yale for the number 1 spot, but I believe they have secured a number 1 spot, regardless of what happens here on out.

March 11, 2011

The Playoffs Begin

Tonight, we watch the Sioux take the first step towards the NCAA's as they take on Michigan Tech at the Engelstad.

First, I'd like to congratulate Matt Frattin on earning the WCHA Player of the Year. His troubles a year ago have been well documented and his comeback from those troubles are nothing more then spectacular. Putting his team first, Matt was able to climb back on the horse and prove how valuable of a player he can be. A player that will most likely be a Hobey Baker finalist, he's a truly dynamic player and will help the Sioux go deep, in my opinion.

Now, onto this weekend. I'm a believer in the fact that the playoffs give teams chances to start over. Chances to prove the doubters wrong. Every team is 0-0 at this point. Every team can, in theory make the WCHA Final Five.

Yes, even Tech.

How can Tech, the team that got dismantled by the Sioux last weekend, rise up?

I don't know.

My point is, while Tech can IN THEORY go to the Final Five, I don't see it happening. UND should take care of business pretty easily this weekend.

Now, onto the other series that are happening.

Denver vs. Minnesota State
Denver hasn't been playing very good hockey lately, while Mankato might be playing fantastic hockey without the wins to show for it. These two teams meet in Denver, and while it'll go to 3 games, Denver will be in St. Paul next weekend. Denver in 3

Nebraska-Omaha vs. Bemidji State
One of the WCHA newcomers will be at the Final Five. That's pretty cool. One of these newcomers had a great season, while the other team was humbled. Bemidji learned pretty quick how tough a full season can be in the WCHA, while Nebraska-Omaha proved us all wrong with a great year. The question is, can Bemidji repeat its success it had this year against the Red Mavs? I don't think so. Nebraska-Omaha in 2

Minnesota-Duluth vs. St. Cloud State
Some coach earlier in the season mentioned that St. Cloud is the best 11th place team he had ever seen. Seems pretty accurate. Last weekend St. Cloud was in the fight for home ice. This team has suddenly decided to show up. Duluth on the other hand is in free-fall mode. Again. A team that was challenging the Sioux for first place has suddenly found itself down in the pairwise. I think that while St. Cloud has enough firepower to get the job done, Duluth will be making a trip to St. Paul. Duluth in 3

Minnesota vs. Alaska-Anchorage
The Gophers have been on fire lately as well, currently on an unbeaten streak of 7. Gopher fans are ready to declare their team the NCAA champions. Yet if they don't sweep UAA this weekend, they are probably going to have to run the table at the Final Five to make the NCAA's. And that's assuming UAA doesn't pull a massive upset. And that is what I'm calling. No, it's not because I'm a huge hater of the Gophers. It's simple factors. UAA is overachieving this season. Doing well with what they have. The Gophers, they are the ones with the target on their backs. All the pressure in the world. UAA will be loose, limber, and stun the Gophers on Sunday, ending the Gophers season. UAA in 3

Colorado College vs. Wisconsin
In another rematch from last weekend, CC and Wisconsin simply swap venues and continue. Neither team is bad, neither team is good. They split last weekend, and while Wisconsin seemed to be carrying the play (I watched both games) I put a lot of that on being in the Kohl Center. CC should be able to beat 'Sconni and end their season. CC in 3

There you have it folks. On Sunday, we can see how wrong I was.



March 8, 2011

Inaugral Blogger Poll Standings

Earlier this year I was asked to participate in the first WCHA Blogger poll. 15 of us came together and put our thoughts down on how we thought the season would turn out. Needless to say, don't gamble based on our picks.

Here's what we said for final standings:

1. North Dakota (12)
2. St. Cloud (2)
3. Minnesota-Duluth (1)
4. Denver
5. Minnesota
6. Wisconsin
7. Nebraska-Omaha
8. Colorado College
9. Bemidji State
10. Minnesota State
11. Michigan Tech
12. Alaska-Anchorage

Needless to say, we nailed two teams - North Dakota and Minnesota.

For player of the year, here's what we picked:

Jack Connolly - Duluth (6)
Garrett Roe - St. Cloud (5)
Jacob Cepis - Minnesota - (1)
Chay Genoway - North Dakota (1)
Jason Gregoire - North Dakota (1)
Matt Read - Bemidji (1)

My guess is none of those players will get it. Rather, it will go to Matt Frattin of North Dakota.

Here's who we picked for Rookie of the Year

Jaden Schwartz-Colorado College (6)
Beau Bennett-Denver (2)
Derek Forbort-North Dakota (2)
Nick Bjugstad-Minnesota (1)
Erik Haula-Minnesota (1)
Matt White-Nebraska Omaha (1)
Mark Zengerle-Wisconsin (1)
Sam Rendle-Bemidji (1)

Again, we royally whiffed on this one, as it will most likely go to Jason Zucker of Denver.

March 6, 2011

Some stats to boggle your minds...and one to be concerned about

Schloss had a ton of stats about this Sioux team to end the regular season on his blog. While I won't recap them all, I'll run down a few of them. For the complete list, head over to his blog. Goon also recapped them as well.

- Frattin won the league scoring title. He is tied for the NCAA lead with 29
- Aaron Dell won the WCHA goalie title with a 1.97 GAA
- The Sioux were the top scoring team with 4.00 GPG
- 1st in offense, defense, special teams, and PP

Pretty impressive stats for this team. There's one fact thought that troubles me. No team has won the WCHA title and the National Championship since Northern Michigan did in 1991. There's been some real good teams that have won the MacNaughton cup during that timespan, and not one of them won the NCAA Championship. Definitely something this team can hopefully reverse, but man, it's not a good sign.

March 5, 2011

11-2

11-2. The Sioux were the delivers of an 11-2 drubbing today to Michigan Tech. With Eidsness letting Aaron Dell rest, the Sioux's offense was potent, scoring 6 goals in the 1st period.

A Tech fan commented to me that this Sioux team is insane in how talented it is, and should have no problem running the table. To me, it's not worth even talking about yet. They have to get to the Final Five first, which means taking care of business next weekend.

One step at a time...

March 4, 2011

Count it!

Your 2011 MacNaughton Cup champions!

Great game by the Sioux tonight, dominating the Huskies and winning 6-1. I'm so proud of this team, it's unreal.

March 1, 2011

Fighting in college hockey...is it a good idea?

Goon has been raging debate over the past week about the issue of no fighting in college hockey. For those of you who follow him, you know his stance on this issue. For those of you who don't, let me bring you up to speed on what our resident homer Sioux fan thinks about the subject.

Goon is a fan of old time hockey. Old time meaning guys squaring off and throwing down, sometimes multiple times a game. Goon likes fighting in hockey. He's not alone. A lot of hockey fans enjoy the fighting aspect of the game. Then there are others, like myself, who think fighting, while it has a place in hockey, should not be a the forefront of it. To me, fighting is more of a gimmick. A way to draw causal fans to the arena. My argument is supported by the many minor league hockey teams who promise things like "a fight or your money back". I mean, really? Hockey is a skill game, a game of finesse. To dumb it down for the masses is ridiculous. I don't care if less fighting draws less fans. To me, I'd rather watch a battle of skill then a battle of fists. And I'm a huge boxing fan.

Now, Goon, in fairness, has some points to back up his argument. His thought regarding the ban on fighting in college hockey is causing more injuries. To beat a dead horse and make it deader, let's bring up the Marvin hit on Genoway (maybe the last time, maybe not). Marvin put a vicious, deliberate hit on Genoway that nearly ended his college hockey career. Marvin showed a history of bad hits, and was able to continue to do so thanks to the inability to teach him a lesson. If fighting was allowed in college hockey, one of the Sioux's enforcers (they really don't have any right now...maybe Forbort?) could go and beat him down, thus ensuring he would pay for his actions. This is an interesting point, but the question is, would a beatdown deter him from making this type of hit?

Joe, my friend and blogger, is also a fan of old time hockey. He can go toe-to-toe with anyone on fighting trivia in hockey. His stance on fighting is that it has a place in the game, but in college hockey, guys aren't mature enough to understand what a fight is all about. They are too hot-headed. They'd see a hit on one of their players and immediately want to drop the gloves. This would lead to many ejections and really, amount to nothing.

My personal stance is I do not want to see fighting in college hockey. It's a unique level where you see incredible talent; yet the game is not tainted by stoppages in play every 9 minutes with someone dropping their gloves. There's pushing and shoving, sure, but that's at every level. Hell, in high school, that was a common occurrence. It's not a big deal. But Goon does have a point that there are goons in the leagues that can make hits and hide. How can you deal with these players? Simple. Increase the penalties for vicious acts.

When Marvin hit Genoway, I don't care that it was a St. Cloud player. He should have been suspended for at least 1/2 the season. A hit like that is inexcusable and there's no question in my mind Marvin should have paid dearly for it. A St. Cloud fan will tell you he did his time. Sure...long enough to knock out the Badger captain late in the season. I'm not saying ban these guys from playing immediately, but some sort of severe punishment system would deter these guys from making hits that are dangerous. Knowing they could potentially lose a season of eligibility should be enough of a scare tactic.

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a fan of the game.

February 28, 2011

Another sweep, clinching 1st. This team is good.

The Sioux are flat out good. What more can you say? This team is just good.

Both Saturday and Sunday were convincing. A 5-2 win on Saturday and a 5-1 win on Sunday with goals from Gregoire, Frattin, Davidson, and Trupper. Big saves by Dell. Coming back after falling behind on Sunday.

My big question to all of you Sioux fans is this? Does this team have what it takes to run the table now? My guess is they could lose all their remaining games and still make the NCAA's as a #2 team. We know they won't do that and will be in St. Paul at the Final Five or whatever it's called now. With a few more wins, this team should be good enough to get a number one seed and potentially the highest number one seed in the nation. As long as they don't face some ridiculous team on the rise like god forbid the Gophers, they should be fine.

My friend Tim texted me last night and is very optimistic. I think we all should be.

February 26, 2011

The WCHA Shakeup

The Sioux don't play until this afternoon, but they got help last night in getting closer to clinching the MacNaughton Cup, as UNO beat DU 5-2 and CC beat Duluth 5-4. Furthermore, teams they might have to face come NCAA time, Minnesota and Wisconsin, saw their pairwise ranking drop, even though Minnesota beat Tech 5-2. Wisconsin fell to St. Cloud 4-2.

UAA took itself out of being a TUC with a 5-1 falling to Alaska. St. Cloud continues its climb in the pairwise, while Denver fell all the way to 7th.

Regardless if the Sioux clinch 1st this weekend, the MacNaughton won't make it's debut until playoff time.

February 21, 2011

Sioux in the drivers seat

By taking 3/4 points from SCSU this last weekend, the Sioux remain 2 points ahead of DU in the race for the MacNaughton Cup. The Sioux have the easy schedule of the two as well, facing Bemidji at home and Tech on the road. If the Sioux are able to sweep Bemidji and DU splits against Omaha, the MacNaughton Cup could very well make its presence known in Grand Forks next weekend. Stay tuned.

Also, I'm sure most of you have seen this goal already, either on Sportscenter, YouTube, or any of the ESPN talk shows, but here it is again. DU's David Makowski launched the puck nearly 190 feet down the ice and after taking a funny bounce, it found its way into the back of the net. Kevin Genoe, Michigan Tech's goalie, looks just embarrassed more then anything, not that I blame him. It brought back memories for me of Robbie Bina scoring on Long Island Jeff Frazee back in the 2006-2007 season. Sad thing is, Makowski's goal was longer, as Bina shot his from the bottom of the circle, while Makowski's was from below the goal line.



I'd like to thank my friend Tim for taking this video of Hextall's go-ahead goal in St. Cloud. He got lucky with the timing, but I give him a lot of credit for being in the right place at the right time. Thanks Tim for your permission to post this.


video

Finally, the Sioux are ranked #1 in the country after their effort this past weekend. BC, Yale, and Merrimack all received 1st place votes. The Sioux are also sitting 2nd in the pairwise. As I said earlier, they are in the driver's seat at this point.

February 19, 2011

A Tie = No Harm Done

Normally, the Sioux earning a tie wouldn't bring much happiness, but thanks to an interesting night in the WCHA, the Sioux are actually now two points ahead of Denver in the chase for the MacNaughton cup. How?

Because Denver lost to Tech, Duluth lost to Mankato, Omaha lost to UAA, and Wisconsin lost to Minnesota.

The Sioux are in prime pickings for the MacNaughton cup. That being said, some things last night didn't go so well. After having a 2-0 lead, the Sioux gave up 3 goals and it took a beauty from Frattin to tie it up and send the game to OT. Without Chay on the powerplay, the Sioux are now 2-21 on their last powerplays. Last night they lost the face-off battle for the first time in who knows how long. I don't want to say they are complacent, but at the same time, it's the little things come playoff time that allow you to come up big. And at all times, you need to be able to roll 4 lines. Hak said himself that 4 lines were ineffective last night. That's not a good thing.

Still, the Sioux control their own destiny. And that's a very, very good thing.

February 18, 2011

Is There Something to the Black Jerseys?

We all know how dominant the Sioux have been in their black swift jerseys (IIRC, they have lost one time in them...to BC...in the Frozen Four...) so it's safe to say they would bring them this weekend to St. Cloud, right?

Apparently not.

St. Cloud must be joining the trend, because they requested that they be able to wear their black jerseys this weekend. According to the rule book, it's the visiting team that gets to decide which jerseys to wear, so apparently Hakstol gave permission to Motzko to wear said jerseys. Either Hak has ridiculous confidence in his team without the swift jerseys, or he's sandbagging hoping his team doesn't win the MacNaughton. I think I know which one I'm going with.

Now, onto this weekend. A lot has been made about the Sioux struggling at St. Cloud on Friday nights. In fact, the last time they won a game here was 1998. Think about it. Some of the best Sioux teams of the past decade couldn't get a win here on Friday night. However, last year, they swept CC in Colorado Springs, which was the first time they did that since 1999. I'm pretty confident they can get a sweep this weekend, even if Kristo and Genoway are both still out with injury.

Also, assuming the Sioux split the rest of their series along the way, they will have 4th place in the WCHA locked up. I predict they will face Minnesota-State in the playoffs, which is a team that doesn't scare me or the Sioux.

February 15, 2011

Gregoire named WCHA Offensive POTW

Gregoire, after a superb weekend against UAA, has been named the offensive POTW in the WCHA. He had two goals and two assists on the weekend.

What the Sioux need to do

The Sioux are in first place. By one point. 1st through 4th in the WCHA are separated by all of 2 points. UND has 32, DU has 31, and UMD/UNO both have 30. The next closest team is Wisconsin with 24 points. With three series left in the regular season, the Sioux are in a good position to get some points and probably take the MacNaughton. The question is, is that the best move for this team?

We've seen the past couple years the Sioux add some hardware to their trophy case, with the winning of the MacNaughton in the 2008-2009 season and the winning of the Broadmoor in 2009-2010. While these were nice additions to an already very full trophy case, none of them are the one that all us Sioux fans covet ridiculously, which is the NC trophy. In my opinion, the teams exhausted themselves by winning both the MacNaughton and the Broadmoor. Now people will be quick to point out that the Sioux went to the Frozen Four in 2006 after winning the Final Five, but that team also had John-Phillipe Lamoureux as goalie, who was quite frankly the best goaltender for the Sioux the past decade.

So the question is this: does this team have the ability/stamina to make a run at all 3 trophies? To help me figure it out, I asked my buddy Steve, who saw the team play in CC a couple weekends ago.

Steve summed it up as this: If they play like they did Friday night, the Sioux are going nowhere. If they play like they did Saturday night, this team will run the table no problem.

It seems a little more complicated then that, but then he and I discussed the depth of this team. To be honest, I can't remember a Sioux team that was this stacked from top to bottom. Sure, teams in the past have had great talent, and this team is no exception, but while this years team might not have the flashy players of the past, Frattin, Marto, Pony, Genoway, Blood, Trupp, and Gregoire are doing a damn fine job of playing hockey. Kristo and Genoway are out and yet the team didn't miss a beat last weekend against a feisty UAA team. There's something special about this team this year. I can't quite put my finger on it, and to be honest, it might just be the coaching intangibles. But regardless of what it is, you gotta be impressed with the Sioux this year.

They are in the drivers seat for their own destiny. Keep playing like they are, and a #1 seed is in their grasp. As Steve said, if they play like they did against CC on Saturday, their destiny should include the Frozen Four.

Thanks Steve for your "insight" ;-)

February 13, 2011

A Nice Sweep, Home Ice, Ahhhhh

I'm still convinced UAA is a good team and I'm still afraid for whoever faces them in the playoffs, regardless of who it is. The Sioux had some great puck luck last night, but regardless, they capitalized on their opportunities, took advantage, and won 3-1 in front of a near-record crowd at the Engelstad. The win gave UND home ice for the 7th year in a row in the WCHA playoffs and sole possession of first place, with Minnesota-Duluth tying St. Cloud and Denver being routed by Minnesota.

Again, the scoring was spread out last night, with Hextall, Trupp, and Gregoire getting the goals. Again, guys that you hope are going to step up in games like this got it done. Aaron Dell, while not tested in net as much as Friday, still held firm and was able to help his team get the win.

I'm really proud of the boys. They put the Kristo media circus behind them and Chay's injury as well. Hopefully Chay will return soon. I'm pessimistic about Danny, but we'll see.

February 12, 2011

A Convincing Win

Lately, the Sioux have struggled in the Friday night games of their series, dropping the last 3 Friday games and only earning splits in their series.

That changed last night in convincing fashion.

Jumping out to an early 3-0 lead, the Sioux cruised to a 6-1 victory behind 21 saves from Aaron Dell and scoring spread out amongst the team, with 6 different players finding the back of the net. The boys were able to put the distraction of Danny Kristo's frostbite behind them and Chay's unfortunate injury. As Hak said, "We've had guys out of the lineup all year. We're not shorthanded." That's what I thought as guys who you hope would step up in this situation did.

Take Derek Forbort. He was a 15th overall pick in the NHL draft; a big kid who I expected to find enormous success in the WCHA. He hasn't had a bad season, but it's not like he's shattering teams out there. Last night, he was the key setup guy on two goals. His shot from the point was deflected in by Mario Lamoureux for the third goal of the game, and he centered the puck to Gregoire who tapped in the 4th goal. He made plays when necessary last night, stepping up in a big way.

Aaron Dell, who in my opinion has fallen back to earth in recent weeks, looked as sharp as ever, making some big saves and not allowing UAA back into the game. A game like that can give a goalie ridiculous confidence and show his team that if they can't sustain great offense, he can keep them in the game. Aaron Dell, unlike Eidsness, has proven time and again he can shut out an opposing team. And I think his confidence will be highly restored after last night.

As for UAA, they remain tied for 6th in the WCHA, so they can still make up some points tonight. They will come out feisty tonight, and it's important for the Sioux to capitalize again.

One interesting stat pointed out by Schloss is that the Sioux have scored 6 goals in their past two games, and in both games, no player had a multi-goal game. It just shows you the diversity of scoring this team can have.

February 11, 2011

Is UAA for real?

Most years, UAA is an interesting team. They seem ready to break out, only to falter by the end of the year and finish in the basement or near the basement of the WCHA. This year, at this time, UAA is sitting in a tie for 6th place and seems to be playing some good hockey. I saw them play a couple weekends ago against Denver, and though they were swept by the Pioneers, they played some good hockey on Friday night, keeping the game close and if not for a few untimely penalties, could have stolen the Friday night game.

This UAA team is not fast by any means; in fact, I compare watching them to watching a team out of Atlantic Hockey, such as Mercyhurst or Niagara. However, they are gritty. They are able to force turnovers in the neutral zone and capitalize on odd man rushes. Combine that with goalies that can face 35+ shots a game and keep the team in it. UAA makes up for what they lack in talent with good overall hockey skills.

The Sioux will have their hands full this weekend. With both Kristo and Genoway out, the Sioux are down two of their best players. With Hextall playing too inconsistent for my taste, and Dell coming back down to earth in recent weeks, UAA can take advantage of the Sioux. Not only that, but they are scrapping for every point they can get. UND, it's safe to say, is going to be home in the 1st round of the WCHA playoffs, and will most likely lock up a 1,2, or 3 seed. The big question is, can the finish the season on a strong note or will they limp to the finish line?

February 9, 2011

Finally have a computer again!

I finally have a computer again, and can finally catch up on the blog!

That being said, I'll have some stuff later today.

January 22, 2011

Wow...

Is there anything more to say then wow? I mean seriously. UND got absolutely smoked last night. They played like garbage. Probably the worst home loss in the Engelstad since my freshman year, where they got blanked by Mankato 6-0 and the boo birds came out. Last night, I hope the fans booed the team again. A loss like that, playing like they did, is simply unacceptable.

Like Goon, I'm not hitting the panic button yet. It's one loss. Sure it's a bad loss, but regardless of how much you lose by, it only goes into the books as a loss. Tonight allows the Sioux to regroup, come out strong, split the series, and basically recharge their batteries.

I do admire Hakstol for putting the blame on himself, because quite frankly, I agree with him. A loss like that starts with the coaching staff.

January 21, 2011

Friday Stuff

A few thoughts and pontifications for today.

I was reading the Denver Post today while enjoying a #14 from Jimmy Johns and there was an article about Jesse Martin on the front page of the sports. To see DU actually getting the front page of the sports section is a great accomplishment, considering this town is all about the Broncos and to a lesser extent what Carmello is up to in his daily trade talks.

Again, I'm blown away at how well Jesse has handled this incident. He's a good kid, and I truly do wish him the best in his recovery effort. You can read the article here.

Now onto the Sioux...

There's a little bit of hype surrounding this game as it's the first time Dean Blais returns to the Engelstad as an opposing coach of the Sioux. Dean led the Sioux to two NCAA championships and is certainly in the Sioux Hall of Fame. I've spoken with a couple Sioux fans about the reaction they think Dean will get when he is on the opposing bench tonight coaching UNO and the general consensus is he will be received warmly. Me personally, I'd do nothing more then razz him a little bit but I have no issues with Dean being on the other side of the benches.

That's about it for today. I won't be watching tonights game as I'll be attending DU/UAA, looking for UAA to steal one from Denver tonight.

January 16, 2011

A Gritty Win

Sometimes, the Sioux are able to put on a dazzling display of talent in their wins. Other times, they are feisty. And even more often, they grind it out, taking what the opponent gives them and taking advantage of it. That was the case last night.

The Sioux bounced back from a tough loss on Friday night, beating Minnesota 4-1, salvaging a split and ensuring they stay atop the WCHA standings.

After a fluky first period goal by Cretin-Derham Hall grad Mark Alt, Evan Trupp quickly ensured it would be the only lead the Gophers saw all night. Stealing the puck in the offensive zone, Trupp walked in with a clear shot at the net, beating Patterson and allowing the Sioux nation to breathe a collective sigh of relief. Another goal would follow after Minnesota decided to be dumb and got called for some penalties. A tic-tac-toe play from Frattin to Genoway to Malone gave the Sioux their 2nd goal of the night.

In the 3rd, a shot by Hextall deflected off of Corban Knight, hit the post, and bounced in, making it 3-1. Finally, some hard work by Danny Kristo gave the Sioux a 4-1 lead and capped off a good night for North Dakota.

Another interesting thing I noted was the penalties last night. The game seemed to be called fairly tight and most of the penalties were warranted and justified. What surprised me though was the ineptness of the Gophers powerplay, which went 0-6 on the night with just 6 shots. The Sioux seemed unafraid of the Gophers on special teams, which of course decided the game, as the Sioux scored 2 PP goals.

Last night, the Sioux did what they needed to do to win. It wasn't pretty or flashy, but they did it. Up next, they hope to get revenge on UNO, who is in a bit of a skid.

January 15, 2011

Time to reflect

Yes, the Sioux lost a close game to their closest and most hated rivals. No, it's not a huge deal. We all know Minnesota, even on down years, is still a decent team capable of putting up some points. The problem that I have with last nights game is not the fact the Sioux lost; the Sioux actually played a good game. I'm frustrated by the Gophers and their lack of class last night.



This video is already viral and discussion amongst college hockey fans is rampant. The discussion is whether or not this hit by Brad Malone on Kevin Wehrs was clean and furthermore, why after a big scrum, did North Dakota get a powerplay? Let's take a look.

At 9 seconds into the video, there's .9 seconds left on the clock. Wehrs has the puck and is looking to clear it. Malone eyes him up, looking to make a play on the body. At 10 seconds of the video, with .6 left, Malone throws a clean check on Wehrs, sending him into the boards. There's no malicious intent here, it's simply making a clean play on the body. A body check. Furthermore, the ref is standing right on top of the play and can easily make a call if necessary. But there is no call needed. Clean hit before the horn sounds, end of the period, go to the locker room.

Nope. Not for the Gophers. As soon as the period ends, Wehrs sat there on the ice looking just pissed that someone would dare hit him. At 14 seconds in, you can see a linesman skating towards Malone, I assume, to assure no one comes after him. At 15 seconds in, take a look to the left. You see Gregoire tangling with a Gopher who is clearly taking a run at Malone with intent to injure him. Turns out its resident dickweasel Cepis, who has a reputation of being a dirty player. Gregoire is protecting his teammate from this malicious player, and from there, it just grows into a melee.

Further of note, Wehrs was obviously shaken up by the play, right? Not so much. He got up and got right into the scrum. Hard to feel sorry for the guy when he wants to be out there picking fights. That's not going to garner much sympathy, son.

In the end, because of Cepis's stupid action, the Sioux got a well-deserved powerplay and capitalized on it. Perhaps Jacob Cepis has learned his lesson. I doubt it though, and although I don't wish many players ill harm, I can't wait for him to take an elbow to the back of the head tonight.

January 14, 2011

Damn

What more is there to say? The Gophers won, the Sioux lost.

Recap coming tomorrow.

January 12, 2011

Kangas is done with college

Gopher blogger and homer Roman Augustoviz has reported that Alex Kangas is having season ending surgery, thus ending his collegiate career, as he has played in too many games to be redshirted.

Kangas was considered a good goaltender by the Gopher nation and it's unfortunate that his career has to end this way.

January 11, 2011

Matt Frattin Highlight Video

This is circulating all over the place. But check it out. It's awesome.


Sioux/Gopher Week...here we go

Like the Bud Light commercials say...here we go!

Our beloved Sioux team is hot. There's no denying that. Aaron Dell has been spectacular in net, the forwards are firing on all cylinders right now, and the defense is doing a great job of taking it to the opponent in the defensive zone. Matt Frattin is leading the nation in goals scored and even with Gregoire injured, this team is showing no signs of slowing down. As a few people have alluded to already, if this is the 2nd half surge that is so typical under coach Hakstol, be very afraid.

On paper, this should be an easy sweep for the Sioux, who have had Minnesota's number as of late at the Engelstad. The last time these two teams met, it was in the playoffs for a spot at the Final Five. #4 vs. #7. The Sioux were up to the task, and although it took them 3 games to knock off Minnesota, they did it convincingly and eventually ended up Broadmoor champions.

Don't count the Gophers out though. They recently took 3/4 points from Duluth and showed in that series that they are capable of greatness. I think the Gophers are a slightly different team this year then in the past years. Coach Lucia has been plagued by health issues that have affected his ability to coach effectively. Early player departures have plagued this team, as well as this year dealing with a goalie situation that has been sadly inconsistent.

So is it possible for the Gophers to win this weekend against the Sioux? I think it is...but I'm not ready to make a prediction yet...stay tuned.

January 5, 2011

SCSU in Shambles

For a program that had preseason dreams of NCAA success, St. Cloud is heading the wrong way down a one way track, to borrow a line from Minneapolis band Soul Asylum.

One day after forward Chris Hepp announced he signed a pro contract with the ECHL, St. Cloud also announced Tony Mosey was dismissed from the team for violating team rules. For those who don't remember, Hepp has previously had issues with the law, causing destruction in St. Cloud to various vehicles. He also had a minor earlier in college.

This incident apparently involved something at the Florida Classic Tournament. I haven't been able to confirm what it was, but Goon is on the case and as soon as he finds out, I'll let you know.

Denver also lost William Wrenn to the WHL. I've never seen him play very much, so I can't blame him for making this move. Gwozdecky has a tendency to play favorites, so if you never get on his good side, you aren't going to get the time you deserve. This move, while not all that surprising, will not affect DU very much.

Goon also had a link to an article about the Sioux's first half success. What I find interesting is that we all as Sioux fans are so used to a 2nd half run...what happens if that doesn't happen this year and the team comes back down to earth? I'm just saying hypothetically...since really, I don't believe that will happen at all. The only thing hurting this team right now is that Gregoire is still out with no timetable to his return. Granted, Gregoire is probably the best overall player on this roster, but with guys like Genoway and Frattin playing well, I don't think the Sioux will miss a beat.

Looking at Robert Morris this weekend. Robert Morris used to be the laughing stock of college hockey. This year, they are a team to be taken seriously.

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year...much things to discuss

Happy 2011 to you all. We can only hope that it's better then 2010. A sour economy, a crappy job market, and our Sioux not hanging a National Championship banner...but we can look behind us now and move on.

In case you're wondering why I haven't blogged lately, I have dealt with computer issues and have left my computer off for the most part. I think I may have given it enough life though to allow me to put my thoughts together.

Let's first discuss the Hall of Fame game two nights ago against Minnesota-Duluth. The Sioux blanked the Bulldogs 5-0, spoiling the opening of Duluth's new arena, in what could best be described as an all around team effort. Pony netted two goals, while Frattin, Rowney, and Kristo also provided scoring. Aaron Dell got his 2nd shutout of the season, and the Sioux quite frankly made Minnesota-Duluth look weak and incompetent.

In other Minnesota-Duluth news, Dylan Olsen is leaving Minnesota-Duluth for the AHL. The rumor out of the Duluth camp is that he would have been academically ineligible to return the 2nd semester anyway, but regardless, this is a huge blow to the Bulldogs, who have been reeling in the past couple weeks.

The World Juniors are going quite well for Team USA, who are 4-0 and earned a bye into the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory over Switzerland. I thought Switzerland would provide the toughest challenge for Team USA, and our boys proved they were up to the task. In the World Juniors, CC suffered a blow when Jaden Schwartz fractured his ankle. Look for him to be out for up to 6 weeks.

Finally, in holiday play in the WCHA over the past couple nights, UNO got swept by Quinnipiac, which is very humbling for UNO. Sconni swept the Minutemen from UMass 5-1 and 4-2. CC lost 6-5 to Michigan, while Tech lost 5-3 to Michigan State. Last night, Denver scored 5 in the 3rd period to beat Northern Michigan 5-2, Minnesota lost in overtime to Union 3-2, and Bemidji State beat Ferris 3-2. More games coming tonight.

It's time to reflect on last year, and look forward to the new year.