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.

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.