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4 posts from August 2011

August 21, 2011

H.S. Hockey | Minnesota's Top 100 of All-Time

Posted by: Feldman

If you haven't already checked it out, Loren Nelson and the guys at Minnesota Hockey Hub have taken on a major project this summer, and now, we, the hockey fans of Minnesota, are getting to see it, debate it, enjoy it. has put together a list of the 100 greatest players in Minnesota high school hockey history. They're releasing one name a day, starting last Tuesday, up through the start of the 2011-12 boys high school hockey season.

The list started last week with a bang — hockey icon Herb Brooks kicked off the list at No. 100.

"We wanted to start with a bang, with a big name," said Nelson, editor of

While it caught some fans off guard that Brooks would come in at No. 100, the project takes into account mainly how good a player was when he was in high school. Only a very small amount of where a player ends up is based on how he did after leaving high school.

As Nelson explained it, you have to take into account that, if a player didn't really blossom until he got to college, he can't really be considered the best high school player in state history. On the flip side, if a player lights it up at the Division I level, or moves on to play in the NHL, he must have been pretty darn good as a high school player, so that deserves some credit.

So far, Nos. 100-94 have been released, and you can see who those players are, as well as read stories about them, by clicking on the links above.

It's been a long and tedious project for Nelson, but it's been a labor of love, too. He spent a couple of hours one summer afternoon with legendary coach Willard Ikola, discussing players from the Iron Range who were stars when Ikola played at Eveleth. They also talked a lot about some of the best players Ikola saw while coaching Edina to 616 victories and eight state championships.

A (maybe?) little-known fact about Ikola: He's still a HUGE high school hockey fan. He told Nelson he's missed only seven state tournaments — four while he was in college and three while serving in the military.

The list has already done a nice job of spanning multiple generations and different parts of the state.

In all, Nelson said he received more than 400 nominations, and he described cutting that down to 100 as "impossible."

"To get to 100, we had to cut Mr. Hockeys, guys who played in hundreds of NHL games, guys who won three state tournaments or goalies who won two state tournaments," he said.

Some submissions, Nelson said, were great players, but didn't qualify for the list. That includes guys such as Zach Parise, a big-time star at Shattuck-St. Mary's, the University of North Dakota, and now with the New Jersey Devils. But, Shattuck isn't a Minnesota State High School League team, so he couldn't make the list.

Nelson did plenty of homework, too, on players from some of the state's best teams of all-time. He talked at length with coaches such as Mike Randolph in Duluth and Tom Saterdalen, formerly of Bloomington Jefferson. He also talked to long-time Albert Lea coach Roy Nystrom.

Rest assured, southeastern Minnesota will be represented. You can probably guess who the guys from this area will be, but even so, I won't let the cat(s) out of the bag. That's part of the fun of this project.

It looks like the articles about each player are being posted at about 10 a.m. each day, the perfect time to set your work down and take a little break. Make it part of your routine. It's worth it.

August 19, 2011

Hockey | Playing catch-up, part II (Lourdes, etc.)

Posted by: Feldman

Part I of me playing post-vacation catch-up on the blog is in the post below this one. The CliffsNotes version: It includes notes on Connor Faupel, Alex Kangas, Colin Stuart, Charlie Thauwald and Bill Norman.

Part II is pretty much all Lourdes:

I went over to one of the final days of the Eagles' summer camp late last month and chatted with coach Josh Spaniol about the team's outlook for 2011-12. He's pretty excited about the guys they have coming back up front, as he should be.

Lourdes loses just two mainstays at forward to graduation, but they both played key roles -- Brian Wasz and Andy Benner. Wasz was just a solid player. I don't know what better way to describe him than, I rarely, rarely remember ever noticing him because of something he did wrong. And Benner was a tone-setter when he came back from an injury in the second half of the season. He brought a ton of energy to every shift.

As for the mainstays the Eagles have coming back at forward, how's this for a lineup up front (I believe all these guys are back): Connor Nellans, Ryan Nicolay, Ben Weir, Jason Samuelson, Landon Farrell, Justin Dewitz, Eric Potvin, and Alex Funk.

Farrell attended the Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL) tryout camp a couple of weeks ago and performed well. Rory Vesel, a 2nd Team All-State d-man last season from Lourdes, will play for the Bobcats this year, too. Farrell went to the camp with the intention of just getting the experience, not thinking of skipping out on his senior season. He seems focused and ready to try to help Lourdes reach the Class A state tournament for a fourth consecutive season. He told me in a tweet a few weeks back, "new team, new season." If he can elevate his game from last year -- when he was clearly dominant, offensively, at times -- he's going to be fun to watch. He'll be fun to watch even if he doesn't elevate his game.

Robby Campbell will return as well, though Spaniol said he'll likely take advantage of Campbell's versatility and move him back to defense, where he can provide a bit of a veteran presence for a group that will need it. It's not that the Eagles lack talent on the blue line, but when you lose a group that includes Vesel, Sam Slightam and Alec Brandrup, that experience and leadership is difficult to replace.

Karl Krecke will be an anchor defensively. Just a junior, Krecke will be in his third season as a varsity regular, and I would expect would be part of the team's No. 1 pairing. Griff Slightam, just a freshman who got his feet wet in some varsity action last season, is back, as is junior Nathan Roth. Along with Campbell, that's a nucleus of four d-men that Lourdes can build around. Spaniol said, for the most part, he likes what he saw out of his d-men over the summer, in practice sessions and tournament play. They'll all get thrown right into the mix, so they'll have to adjust quickly to playing alongside one another.

The goaltending situation will be one to watch. Senior Jesse Neumann and junior Andrew Ellingson will probably split time early in the season, and I believe Lourdes has one goalie coming up from Bantams who could be in the mix at some point, too.

The Eagles won't open their season until Thursday, Dec. 1 (vs. Red Wing), which will give them a few extra days of practice before actually taking the ice for a game that counts. That said, their schedule is tough off the bat. How's this for an opening stretch: vs. Red Wing, vs. Tartan, vs. New Prague (re-match of last year's Section 1A final); at St. Cloud Cathedral; at Little Falls; vs. St. Thomas Academy (defending state champion).

After the Kiwanis Festival, Lourdes comes out of the holiday break with this four-game stretch: vs. Duluth Marshall, at Mankato West, vs. New Ulm (state qualifier last year), vs. Eau Claire Memorial (Wisconsin state tourney qualifier and 2010 Kiwanis Festival runner-up).

Lourdes also faces Breck, Blake and Totino-Grace in three of its final five games.

In other words, by tournament time, the new/young defensemen and goalies will know what it's like to face some of the best competition in the state.

August 18, 2011

Hockey | Playing catch-up, part I

Posted by: Feldman

Amazing what can pile up when you're on vacation for a bit (Phersy should know what this feels like, since he's always on a vacation).

Here are a few notes to toss out there for now, and I'll have a post on the Lourdes boys hockey team's summer practices a little later tonight. I went over and talked to coach Josh Spaniol during their final week of summer workouts in late July. I didn't get around to posting anything, as I was waiting to hear how a couple of their players did in Junior tryout camps (not that any of them anticipated leaving high school, but I was waiting to see how they fared at those camps).

So, for some notes:

• Former Rochester Century standout d-man Connor Faupel will play for Neepawa of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League this coming season. It's a nice move for Faupel, who passed up his senior season at Century to play for the Russell Stover midget program in Kansas City. I'll put in a call to Faupel tonight and hopefully find out more about his decision.

From what I'm told, he had the chance to go to three or four other places, including another team in the MJHL (which is a Tier II league in Canada), and to Helena, which won the USA Hockey Junior A, Tier III, national championship here in Rochester back in April. Faupel leaves for Neepawa on Tuesday. Neepawa is about 45 miles northeast of Brandon, Manitoba, or about 130 miles west of Winnipeg.

• Former Rochester Mayo forward Charlie Thauwald has become the most recent Rochester native to commit to a Division I hockey program. Thauwald made it official with Minnesota State, Mankato, last week. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Thauwald could make an immediate physical impact for the Mavericks. He'll be the biggest player on the team (along with LaCrescent's Eriah Hayes, who goes 6-4, 210) and the second member of his family to play D-I hockey (his brother, Scott, played at Colorado College and now plays professionally in Australia).

Charlie left Mayo before his senior season to play with Chicago of the USHL. After suffering an injury there, he played part of the 2009-10 season with Owatonna of the NAHL. Last season, he was a key member of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs' run to the NAHL (Robertson Cup) championship, along with Lourdes grads Tyler Voigt and Pete Spratte.

• The University of Maine has posted its men's hockey roster, and former Mayo defenseman Bill Norman will wear No. 12 for the Black Bears. Norman is listed at 5-feet-9, 160 pounds, so he'll have to use his speed and hockey sense — like he did at Mayo last season — to have an impact in Hockey East this year. The closest Maine comes to Minnesota this season is a two-game series at North Dakota, Oct. 14 and 15.

• Another former Century standout, goalie Alex Kangas, is officially a free agent. He wasn't signed by the team that drafted him — Winnipeg (actually drafted by Atlanta, of course, in 2006) — by Monday, so he's free to sign with another NHL team, or go overseas, if he chooses.

• Rochester native Colin Stuart re-signed with the Buffalo Sabres organization last month. Stuart reportedly signed a one-year, two-way deal, which will pay him $525,000 if he sticks in the NHL, or less if he plays with Buffalo's AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine. Stuart had 16 goals and 28 assists in 72 regular season games with Portland last season. He added three goals and four assists in 12 playoff games. He also played in three games for the Sabres, with no points and two penalty minutes.

• As Phersy noted in a previous post, the Rochester Ice Hawks are holding their final tryout camp this weekend, beginning tomorrow (Friday) and running through Sunday. They jump right into training camp on Monday.

August 17, 2011

Ice Hawks open camp this weekend

PHERSY: Ahhhh, my favorite time of year ... junior hockey is back, baby!!!

The Rec Center will be rocking this weekend as the Ice Hawks hit town for training camp. I caught up with coach Fatis yesterday to get all the details.

Most of the info will appear in today's print edition. So grab a copy! C1 8-17 Fatis mug

I will include the FULL camp schedule on here, for fans, parents, etc. The boys have their work cut out for them this weekend. If they can survive the weekend, they then get into the real training camp, which starts next week. 

Coach said they're bringing 40 players in this weekend, and they'll be split into two teams. Priorities include goaltending and defense. Coach didn't seem concerned with the goaltending. He likes the guys they're bringing in, and it sounds like he has his eyes set on two specific players, though there's room for other guys to impress.

Defensively, there are some returners with guys like Brock Stahlke, Shaun Foster and Derek Rahme. It's an interesting group. Obviously, loads of potential.

"We're in a weird spot on defense," Fatis said. "If they all play as well as we know they can, we're going to be great. We'll have maybe the best blue line in the league, because these guys have top-end talent. But if they don't play up to their potential, even these vets are guys who aren't going to be in the lineup. We saw that with a few of them last year. When they were good, they were top-end guys. When they weren't, we couldn't even put them in the lineup. So I think we're definitely looking for more consistency from that unit."

Coach seemed pretty pleased about the forwards he's bringing in. He talks more in depth about that in the print edition story.

So, I'm back! I will be at the Rec Center on Sunday for the final games and cuts; it will be good to see everyone back at the rink!

Here's the final camp schedule (SCROLL DOWN ...):

Training Camp Itinerary

Friday 8/19  
10:00 - 11:30 PM Check In/Vital Stats Recording Rink & Bob Fick Room
12:00 - 12:30 PM Team Meeting - Orientation/Workout Groups Expectations Rink & Bob Fick Room
1:00 - 2:30 PM Red Team - Testing Session 'A' In Front of Rec Center
1:00 - 2:30 PM  Black Team - Testing Session 'B' Back of Rec Center
3:00 - 4:00 PM RAC Off Ice Site Tour Rochester Athletic Club
4:00 - 7:00 PM * Break *  
7:00 - 8:30 PM BlackTeam - Testing Session 'A’  Back of Rec Center
7:00 - 8:30 PM Red Team - Testing Session 'B' Front Rec Center
8:30 - 9:15 PM Cool Down Stretch/Team Talk In Front of Rec Center
10:30 PM Curfew  
Saturday 8/20    
8:30 - 9:15 AM Red Team Practice Rec Center
8:30 - 9:15 AM Black Team Meet With Dr. Fatis (GM) Bob Fick Room
9:30 - 10:15 AM Black Team Practice Rec Center
9:30 - 10:15 AM Red Team Meet with Dr. Fatis (GM) Bob Fick Room
10:45 - 11:30 AM Testing Session 'C' Soccer Field
11:30 - 12:30 PM Lunch as a Team T.B.A.
12:45 - 1:15 PM Red Team w/ Coach Peterson D-Zone T.B.A.
12:45 - 1:15 PM Black Team w/ Coach Dubois O-Zone T.B.A.
1:30 - 2:00 PM Black Team w/ Coach Peterson D-Zone T.B.A.
1:30 - 2:00 PM Red Team w/ Coach Dubois O-Zone T.B.A.
3:00 - 4:45 PM Game #1 Rec Center
5:00 - 7:30 PM Dinner Break on your own  
7:30 - 9:00 PM Game #2 Rec Center
9:00 - 10:00 PM Team Meeting Bob Fick Room
10:30 PM Curfew  

Sunday 8/21    
8:30 - 10:00 AM Game #3 Rec Center
10:00 - 11:30 PM Lunch on your own  
11:30 - 1:00 PM Game #4 Rec Center
1:00 - 3:00 PM One on One Meetings  Bob Fick & Act II Room
3:00 - 4:30 PM 2011/2012 Ice Hawks meet with Dr. Fatis Bob Fick Room
5:00 - 8:00 PM Ice Hawks Welcome BBQ