Posted by: Feldman
Posted by: Feldman
I'll make my annual disclaimer here: The All-Area Team appears only on the Faceoff Blog (not in print or on PostBulletin.com) for a number of reasons, the main one being most of our other writers don't like to do all-area teams because they often become a bigger headache than they're worth. Many times, so many kids' stats are so similar, that it's a no-win situation for us. If we put a point guard who averages 14 points and 7 assists per game on an all-area basketball team, we'll get an earful from parents of kid who averages 15 points and 6 assists.
I'm fair game, though. Rip away if you don't like the team I've put together. I picked it based on who I thought the best players in our coverage area were. Since I don't see every game played, and some teams I only saw once or twice this season, I also went on word of mouth, the things I hear from area coaches and junior hockey scouts during the season. By chatting regularly with coaches, you get a pretty good idea of which players mean the most to their teams, regardless of what the stats say.
And as I've said in past years, there's nothing P.C. about the team (I don't try to balance it out or make sure that every area team is represented equally), it's just a list of who I think the best players in the area were this season.
Posted by: Feldman
With the high school hockey regular season coming to a close today -- it came to a close earlier this week for some teams -- it's time to take a look at Section 1A and 1AA and see if we can figure out how the playoff brackets will look when they come out tomorrow.
Section 1AA is fairly cut-and-dried, though it'll seem a little odd should possible No. 3 seed Farmington go into the postseason having defeated possible No. 1 seed Lakeville North twice.
That's the fun of the playoffs, though, eh?
1. NORTHFIELD (17-6-0): The Raiders have the hands-down best record in the section. Still, they haven't won a game outside of the Big Nine Conference (0-4-0), which includes a loss to Rochester Lourdes. The Raiders are the favorite in the section — they beat Mankato West twice by a combined score of 13-5 — but not an overwhelming or unbeatable favorite. Northfield can score in bunches, so West, Lourdes, Red Wing, et. al, need to figure out a way to slow that down or match it. One strike against the Raiders: Their strength of schedule (opponents' winning percentage) was just 5th in the section entering this week (.4475).
2. MANKATO WEST (12-11-2): The Scarlets' victory against Big Nine title contender Rochester John Marshall on Thursday locked up the No. 2 seed for them, in my mind. West also defeated Lourdes in their regular-season matchup, 3-2 on Jan. 12. West is also the only team in the section aside from Lourdes whose strength of schedule is above .500 (it's at .5142).
3. ROCHESTER LOURDES (7-17-0): Crazy as it may sound, a 7-17-0 Lourdes team will make an argument to be the No. 1 seed, and it's not a bad argument. The Eagles beat Northfield in their regular-season matchup and lost at West by just a goal. Lourdes also, by far, plays the toughest schedule in the section, facing opponents with a combined winning percentage of .6328, nearly .12 higher than West's, the next closest.
4. MANKATO EAST (15-9-1): What a jump for the Cougars this season. They're led by the Big Nine's leading scorer, Judd Schulz, who is also now the all-time leading scorer in program history. He has 26 goals and 60 points this season. The Cougars have five players with 25 or more points and a sixth on the verge of 20 (Bailey Marshall has 19). Goalie Jack Cusey has shown an ability to steal a game from time to time, too. East gets No. 4 by virtue of sweeping the season series vs. Red Wing and splitting against LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter/TCU.
5. RED WING (9-15-0): The Wingers are another team that hasn't won outside of Big Nine Conference play, but their victory against Mankato West and their 8-4-0 record vs. section opponents earns them the nod for the No. 5 seed. Red Wing is led by the Big Nine's leading goal-scorer, senior F Tyler DeFore (30 goals, 37 points).
6. LE SUEUR-HENDERSON/ST. PETER/TCU (15-10-0): The Bulldogs hold a quality victory over Mankato East, but they also lost to East (6-2) and West (4-2). The Bulldogs can produce some offense, too, with four players with 29 or more points. That group is led by Alex Hoehn (24-27—51). Goalie Zeke Haugen has been solid, too, posting a .920 save percentage while playing all but 26 minutes this season.
7. LA CRESCENT (16-6-1): The Lancers are a bit of a tough club to judge, simply because more than half of their games are against Wisconsin opponents. They're 2-1-1 against section foes, with wins against Winona and Waseca, a tie against Austin and a loss to LSH-SP/TCU.
8. AUSTIN (7-13-1): Austin split its season series' against Faribault and Albert Lea, and swept Winona. It gets the No. 8 seed because it's playing better right now than the teams it split with. Jace Greenman (11-19--30) is the Packers' first 30-point scorer in a handful of years and Isaac Arnold is right on his heels (16-12--28).
9. ALBERT LEA (8-17-0): The Tigers swept Faribault and Winona. They've lost four in a row, including losses to West, Lourdes and Austin.
10. FARIBAULT (6-17-1): The Falcons are 4-10-0 against the section, including a win against Waseca and two against Winona.
11. WASECA (9-15-0): The Bluejays are 1-5-0 against section opponents, their only victory against Winona on Tuesday. Waseca has won three in a row heading into today's regular-season finale against Redwood Valley.
12. WINONA (2-22-0): The Winhawks have won just twice this season, have been shut out 13 times and, if these seedings hold, will travel to Red Wing for a first-round game. Red Wing beat Winona 6-1 on Jan. 12.
• • • • •
1. LAKEVILLE NORTH (18-5-1): The defending section and state champions feature three D-1 commits: Ryan Poehling (St. Cloud State), Max Johnson (Bowling Green) and Keaton Pehrson (Michigan Tech), as well as another who will play D-1 at some point, F Henry Enebak.
2. LAKEVILLE SOUTH (14-9-1): In the Section 1AA merry-go-round, South lost twice to North, but defeated Farmington twice. South has lost three of its past four games.
3. FARMINGTON (14-8-1): The Tigers hold two wins over North, but have also lost twice to South. They beat Rochester John Marshall 4-0 in their only other game against a section opponent this season.
4. ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL (18-6-0): The Rockets lost their only meeting with a top-three team in this section, 4-0 to Farmington. JM swept Owatonna, Mayo and Century this season.
5. OWATONNA (14-9-1): The Huskies have been one of the hottest teams in the Big Nine the second half of the season. They have won eight of their past 10 games, including a 9-0 rout of Mayo. They also defeated Century twice this season by a total of 9-0.
6. ROCHESTER MAYO (13-10-1): The Spartans have defeated Century once, but split with Owatonna. Their 9-0 loss to the Huskies on Jan. 16 flipped the 5-6 argument in Owatonna's favor.
7. ROCHESTER CENTURY (10-13-1): A young Panthers team has improved as the season has gone along. It had a four-game winning streak snapped on Thursday in an overtime loss against a good Mankato East team.
8. DODGE COUNTY (4-21-0): The Wildcats have won just twice since the start of 2016.
Posted by: Feldman
I can't imagine how Lorne Grosso will feel when he steps foot on the Rochester Mayo bench before today's game, when he coaches the Spartans against rival Rochester Century, then when he walks off the Graham Arena ice after a game for the final time.
I've known Grosso for 10 years. It'll be odd for me to see him do that. I can't imagine how it'll feel for a guy who has done that for 50 years, a coaching career that has spanned all or parts of six decades.
This is really it.
Mayo will play Century today, then likely go play at Farmington or Lakeville South on Thursday in a Section 1AA quarterfinal game. If the Spartans can pull an upset, they'll be back in Rochester a week from today, playing in the Section 1AA semifinals.
But they won't play another game at Graham.
We've written a lot about Grosso this season, and deservedly so. He announced just prior to the start of the season that this would be his last on Mayo's bench, a farewell tour of sorts.
It's a decision he came to late last summer and finalized with Mayo A.D. Jeff Whitney — a former player and co-coach — early in the fall.
A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking on the phone with Grosso one evening after one of Mayo's games. He jokingly said to me, "(Whitney) hasn't hired anyone. Maybe I'll come back next year and see if I can get to seven decades. Wouldn't that be something?" He didn't get the last few words out when his wife and biggest supporter, Joni, cut him off -- "NO YOU WON'T!!" she said.
It will certainly be different going to the rink next winter and not seeing Grosso there.
Like I said, I've known Lorne for 10 years and, though the time I spend talking with him is but a small fraction of his day, he treats me like he treats everyone else -- he treats me the way he'd like to be treated if he was in my shoes. That's a rare thing to find someone who treats everyone that way.
I was thinking over the past few days about some of my favorite coach Grosso stories. It struck me that, after hearing him talk for 10 years about the life lessons he teaches his players and hearing him talk about doing things the right way, that's what has rubbed off on me the most.
Sure, I have to report what happens in a game, whether Mayo wins by 10 or loses by 10, but Grosso is someone you don't want to disappoint, whether you're playing for him, coaching with him or writing about his teams.
The first year I covered Mayo — the 2006-07 season — the Spartans lost to Century 4-1 in the section semifinals, ending their season. After the game, I asked Grosso, "so, how are you feeling? Think you'll be back on the bench next winter?"
He laughed and said, "Well, when I decide to hang it up, after Joni and (Whitney), you'll be the first to know."
I never asked him again, and though he probably told a few more people than his wife and A.D. before he told me, he spent a lot of time one November afternoon answering questions about his career and telling stories.
That's the thing about Grosso that makes him so endearing. Not only does he listen to whoever is speaking to him, he always has a story, a joke, an anecdote to lighten the mood or make you feel like he can relate to you.
When my mother passed away a little more than a year ago, the first time I saw Grosso after that, before he let me ask him questions about the game I had covered, he stopped me in mid-sentence.
"How are you doing? I'm very sorry to hear about your mother," he said.
Sometimes in this job we get a bit robotic. We can laugh and joke with coaches or players, be serious when the situation calls for it, but most of the time, we go through our nuts-and-bolts interviews and go our different directions.
That's not the case with Lorne. He always has a question or two for me, too, and for whoever he's talking with, whether it's about my kids, or my job ... whatever.
Another of my favorite Grosso stories came probably the first or second year I was on the boys hockey beat.
Before Lorne does anything after a game, he always calls Joni. She stopped going to games a number of years ago. Anyway, this particular night, probably in 2007 or 2008, a game had just finished and I was waiting outside the locker room. "Hold on a second, I have to call home," Grosso told me. Then he turned to one of his assistant coaches. "Coach?" he said. "How do I dial my own number." He has since mastered his cell phone, I believe. :)
I could go on and on, but we need to get to today's games.
So, bottom line: If you can, get to Graham Arena by 12:45 today. Hopefully Grosso's last game at Graham is one he'll remember.
CENTURY at MAYO
1 p.m., Graham Arena I
Records: Century 7-10-0 Big Nine, 10-13-1 overall; Mayo 9-6-1, 13-10-1
Coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus (5th season, 63-59-10 overall); Mayo, Lorne Grosso (49th season, 706-445-29)
Last meeting: Mayo defeated Century 5-3 on Jan. 5 at the Rochester Rec Center. Max Billings had 2 goals and 1 assist for Mayo; Ben Haas had 2 assists for Century.
Last game: Century lost to Mankato East 3-2 in OT on Thursday; Mayo tied Faribault 5-5 on Thursday.
Team leaders: CENT -- So. F Jon Thorvilson 7-9--16; Jr. D John Schmitz 6-9--15; Jr. F Eric St. Marie 10-5--15; Jr. D Will Zmolek 6-8--14; So. G Cole Walter 8-9-1, 3.50, .886. MAYO -- Jr. F Anthony Oliveto 19-23--42; Sr. F Veikko Weckman 20-17--37; Sr. F Max Billings 16-10--26; Sr. D Nick Norby 7-16--23; So. G Liam Claton 12-6-0, 3.68, .866.
Notes: The presentation of the 2016 recipients of the Shannon O'Hara Foundation scholarships will take place on the ice after the second period of this game. ... Century has a slim one-game lead in the all-time series as the teams meet for the 53rd time today. ... Mayo has won seven of the past 10 games against Century. ... Century had a four-game winning streak snapped on Thursday against East. ... Mayo is winless in its last three games.
RED WING at JOHN MARSHALL
3 p.m., Rochester Rec Center
Records: Red Wing 9-6-0 Big Nine, 9-15-0 overall; JM 14-1-0, 18-6-0
Coaches: Red Wing, Bob Rajanen; JM, Jay Ness (5th season, 65-59-4 overall)
Last meeting: JM won 3-2 in OT at Red Wing on Feb. 14, 2015. Cory Checco scored the OT winner, with assists from Isaac Lamppa and Conner Lee.
Last game: Red Wing lost to Rochester Lourdes 5-4 on Thursday; JM lost at Mankato West 6-5 in OT on Thursday.
Team leaders: R.W. -- Jr. F Tyler DeFore 30-7--37; Sr. F Sam Hanson 10-22--32; Jr. D Seth Cushing 14-18--32; Sr. F Joe Renshaw 5-7--12; G Zachariah Harding 7-10-0, 4.01 GAA, .894, 1 SO. JM -- Sr. F Brady Dahl 22-26--48; Sr. F Isaac Lamppa 24-20--44; Sr. F Conner Lee 11-26--37; Sr. D Josh Frerks 7-29--36; Sr. G Brady Meyers 18-6-0, 1.74, .930, 4 SO.
Notes: This is a big one for JM. If it wins, it's the Big Nine Conference champion. If the Rockets lose, Northfield is the outright conference champion. ... This game features the Big Nine Conference's leading goal-scorer (DeFore, 30) against the conference's Nos. 3, 5 and 8 scorers -- JM's Brady Dahl, Isaac Lamppa and Conner Lee -- as well as the top-scoring defenseman in the conference (Frerks). ... It also features the Big Nine's top goalie, Meyers, who is tied for 7th in the state in wins (18), tied for 10th in the state in GAA (1.74) and tied for 5th in the state in save pct. (.930). He's also tied for 11th in shutouts (4).
• • • • •
• Austin (4-12-0 Big Nine, 7-13-1 overall) at Owatonna (11-5-0, 14-9-1) 1 p.m.: Austin has won two of its past three games and is coming off a big victory against its biggest rival, 4-1 at Albert Lea on Thursday. ... Owatonna has been one of the hottest teams in the Big Nine in the second half of the season and is locked in to a third-place finish in the standings. The Huskies have won eight of their past 10 games. ... Huskies senior F Noah Scheid is a player to watch. He has 26-21—47 this season and has 11 points in the past five games.
Posted by: Feldman
We have a big rivalrly game in Rochester tonight, all four Rochester boys hockey teams play, AND there is a game in Lakeville that could help settle the seeding process for the top three teams in Section 1AA, or it could turn that process basically into a coin flip.