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15 posts from November 2011

November 30, 2011

H.S. Hockey | Lourdes remains No. 5 in state poll

Posted by: Feldman

The Rochester Lourdes boys hockey team opens its season Thursday night at home against rival Red Wing. The Eagles will take a top-5 state ranking into that game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Graham Arena. Lourdes remains ranked No. 5 in this week's Class A Associated Press state poll, which was released this afternoon by Let's Play Hockey magazine.

Here are this week's complete Class A and AA boys hockey polls (first-place votes in parentheses, Section 1 teams in bold):

1. St. Thomas Academy (8)
2. Breck (2)
3. Hermantown
4. Totino-Grace
5. Rochester Lourdes
6. Thief River Falls
7. Warroad
8. Duluth Marshall
9. Little Falls
10. Duluth Denfeld
11. Hibbing/Chisholm
12. Blake
13. Rogers
14. St. Cloud Cathedral
15. East Grand Forks
16. Virginia/Mt. Iron-Buhl
17. Mahtomedi
18. South St. Paul
19. Mound-Westonka
20. Orono

1. Duluth East (8)
2. Eagan (2)
3. Benilde-St. Margaret's
4. Minnetonka
5. Maple Grove
6. Hill-Murray
7. Eden Prairie
8. Grand Rapids
9. Edina
10. Burnsville
11. Wayzata
12. Blaine
13. Moorhead
14. Lakeville South
15. Bemidji
16. White Bear Lake 
17. Elk River
18. Bloomington Jefferson
19. Holy Angels
20. Centennial 

High School Hockey | Kiwanis Festival pairings

Posted by: Feldman

The brackets are set for the 2011 Kiwanis Hockey Festival, Dec. 28-30 at the Graham Arena complex in Rochester. 

The only change in the lineup of teams from what I was given a few weeks back, is in the Class A bracket, where Ashwaubenon, Wis., has replaced Sioux Falls, S.D. Ashwaubenon is a nice addition. The Jaguars were 19-4 last season and had two players score more than 50 points. They opened this season on Nov. 22, with a 3-2, OT loss, to Appleton United. The only downside I can see to this is that Ashwaubenon is about 3 miles from Green Bay. :-)

If you're already looking for players to keep an eye on during the Festival, how about Jaguars' senior forward Filip Chlupac. He's listed at 6-feet-1, 220 pounds. And, by the way, he had 52 points last season. Nice.

Ashwabenon is the third Wisconsin team in the Kiwanis field this year, joining mainstay New Richmond and Eau Claire Memorial, which was a first-time entrant last year. Memorial is currently ranked No. 4 in the state.

We'll have plenty more on the Festival as it draws near. For now, here are the pairings. So mark your calendars. And practice your fake cough/stuffy nose voice so you can skip out of work to watch some hockey. (click on "CLASS AA" or "CLASS A" to take you to the actual brackets)

Wednesday, Dec. 28
(second team listed is the home team)

1 p.m. -- Prior Lake vs. Eastview
3:15 p.m. -- Eau Claire Memorial vs. Rochester Mayo 
5:30 p.m. -- Fargo (N.D.) South vs. Rochester John Marshall
7:45 p.m. -- New Richmond vs. Rochester Century 
Thursday, Dec. 29
Consolation games at 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.; semifinals at 4:45 and 7 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 30
Games at Noon (7th place), 2:15 p.m. (3rd place), 4:30 p.m. (5th place) and 7 p.m. (championship)

Wednesday, Dec. 28
(second team listed is the home team)
12:30 p.m. -- Albert Lea vs. Dodge County
2:45 p.m. -- St. Michael-Albertville vs. New Ulm
5 p.m. -- Ashwaubenon vs. Northfield
7:15 p.m. --  Richfield vs. Rochester Lourdes
Thursday, Dec. 29
Consolation games at Noon and 2:15 p.m.; Semifinals at 4:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 30
Games at 11:30 a.m. (7th place); 2 p.m. (3rd place); 4:15 p.m. (5th place); and 6:30 p.m. (championship). 

As always, there is a JV bracket for the teams in the Class AA tournament. You can find that bracket here.

Podein assembles all-star team at St. Louis Park

Posted by: Feldman

When Rochester native Shjon Podein, now in his first season as a high school head coach, at St. Louis Park, had his team here a couple of weeks ago to scrimmage the Rochester teams, one of the things I neglected to mention in my blog post about him was the coaching staff he has assembled at SLP.

How's this for an all-star cast? 

Rochester natives Mike Stuart (three years playing at Colorado College, followed by eight in the pros, including appearing in three NHL games) and Aaron Gill (four years at Notre Dame, followed by four in the pros, followed by two years as head coach at Lourdes, which he led to the state tournament in 2009). 

Oh, yeah, there's also Paul Ranheim (1,013 NHL games, 360 career points in NHL) and Dave Paradise (four years at St. Cloud State, seven in the pros), among others. I imagine the players at St. Louis Park don't like the coaches vs. players scrimmages. 

Seriously, though, one of the things Podein told me when he was here was that this year is a learning experience for him, too. He's leaning a lot on lessons learned from his high school coaches at JM -- Gene Sack and Bob Frerker -- as well as guys who coached against him (such as Mayo's Lorne Grosso).

St. Louis Park went 2-23 last season. Podein said this season is about raising expectations. He didn't set a specific goal in terms of victories, but he wants the players there to start believing they can win on a nightly basis.

I would imagine having so many guys with college and pro experience around the team will only help the Orioles achieve their goals.

Game 1 of the Podein Era is Saturday, when St. Louis Park plays at Waconia.

November 29, 2011

High school hockey tonight | Nov. 29, 2011

Rochester teams get going in full force (well, 3/4 force, as Lourdes doesn't open until Thursday) tonight. There are two games in town -- Mayo and Century are both at home -- and JM travels to Section 1AA foe Farmington. Here's a quick look at tonight's three games:
When: 7:15 p.m.
Where: Schmitz-Maki Arena, Farmington
Records: JM 0-0, Farmington 0-0
Coaches: JM, Jay Ness; Farmington, Keith Revels
About the Rockets: JM opens its season -- the first under new head coach Jay Ness -- against the team that ended its season a year ago. Farmington beat JM, 6-1, in a Section 1AA quarterfinal game at the Rec Center back in late February. JM is a much different team since then, with eight players lost to graduation. ... The Rockets I'm interested to watch early this season are the three juniors who make up the team's top line -- Gavin SandwickHunter Heightland and Alex Lovett. Those three combined for 49 points last season (including 29 by Sandwick), yet they'll be asked to play an even more prominent role this year.
About the Tigers: The Tigers went 14-13-0 last season, losing to Lakeville South, 7-0, in the Section 1AA semifinals. ... Three of the team's top four scorers last season are gone, including forward Tyler Grubb, who finished with 52 points, including 27 goals. ... Farmington still has some firepower. Senior F Andrew Peterson, last year's second-leading scorer (36 points) is back, as is junior F Grant Hauswirth (19 points). The Tigers also have their top goalie back from last season, senior Victor Simones. He went 11-8-0 with an .893 save pct. ... The Tigers open their season with six consecutive games against Section 1AA opponents. Five of those six are against Big Nine Conference teams.
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Graham Arena I
Records: Red Wing 0-0, Mayo 0-0
Coaches: RW, Mike Belisle; Mayo, Lorne Grosso.
About the Wingers: The big area of interest for the Wingers is in goal. How do they replace three-year starter Sam Amendolar? They have two goalies on the varsity roster -- junior Preston Blaney and sophomore Jack Burkle. Blaney is the only goalie with varsity experience, and that is limited. He played one game last season, allowing four goals on 26 shots in a loss against Shakopee. If we've come to learn anything about Red Wing, though, it's that what you see in November isn't going to be what you see in late February. Whether they start off well or not so well, this is a team that will improve as the season goes along. ... This is the first of two trips to Rochester this week for the Wingers; they face Lourdes on Thursday at Graham I. 
About the Spartans: The Mayo bench will be an odd site. For what is believed to be only the third or fourth time in program history, Lorne Grosso will not be on the bench as the team's head coach (Grosso also took a one-year sabbatical in the late 1980s). Grosso underwent quadruple bypass surgery on Monday and will be out for a month or more. The Spartans are in good hands, though, with assistants Bob Haskins and Todd Huyber taking over. I'm guessing senior Michael DeBusman will start in goal. After playing sparingly behind Alex VanGalder last season, it's now DeBusman's turn to show if he can seize the starting job. Junior Case Hanson and sophomore Chase Utley will likely get their chances as well, but I'm guessing DeBusman gets the first shot.
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Rochester Rec Center
Records: North 0-0, Century 0-1.
Coaches: North, Trent Eigner; Century, Josh Klingfus.
The matchup: Something tells me this isn't the last time these teams will meet this season. They've met on an almost annual basis in the postseason for nearly a decade. And one of the two has represented Section 1AA at state every year but one since 2002 (Lakeville High School went in 2002, 03 and 04, before it split into North and South). 
About the North Panthers: Both of these teams are under first-year head coaches. Eigner takes over for Randy Schmitz, who was forced out because of parent pressure over the summer. Eigner inherits some talented players, but one who is not back is goalie Charlie Lindgren, who nearly single-handedly carried North to a fifth-place finish at the Class AA state tournament last spring. North's players to watch are forwards Blake Winiecki and Charlie Hayes. They were the team's top two scorers a year ago (with 52 and 29 points, respectively). 
About the Century Panthers: Century did a lot of good things in a season opening 6-2 loss to No. 18 White Bear Lake on Saturday. But one brief stretch late in the second period turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-1 deficit. If the Panthers can learn from that, they'll be fine against North. ... Century's top two lines generated a number of scoring chances against WBL that they did not convert. Both of Century's goals in the loss came from defensemen. If they can get those top two forward lines off to a strong start tonight, that will give those forwards some confidence. They're going to need a lot of points out of those lines this season to be successful.

November 28, 2011

Grosso out of surgery, resting in ICU

Posted by: Feldman

Long-time Rochester Mayo boys hockey coach Lorne Grosso is out of surgery and resting in the intensive care unit at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester tonight.

Grosso, 69, underwent a quadruple bypass. Mayo activities director Jeff Whitney — who played for Grosso and was a co-coach with him in the 1990s and up until 2005 — said he spoke with Lorne's wife, Joannie, about a half hour ago. Joannie said Lorne will be kept in the ICU and monitored closely for about 24 hours as he begins his recovery.

The Grosso family is requesting that, because of the magnitude of the surgery, friends wait to visit Lorne until he returns home, hopefully by this weekend.

Grosso has been at Saint Marys since Friday, when he had an angiogram that showed one artery was almost completely blocked. Whitney said doctors initially thought they would do a double- or triple-bypass, but ended up performing a quadruple bypass.

Grosso went into surgery at about 2 p.m. today. The procedure was finished sometime after 7 p.m.

Mayo opens its hockey season Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. against Red Wing, at Graham Arena. Assistant coaches Bob Haskins and Todd Huyber will assume most of Grosso's duties. Whitney will temporarily help out in practices and join Huyber and Haskins on the bench for games.

November 27, 2011

Grosso to have bypass surgery Monday

Posted by: Feldman

Rochester Mayo boys hockey coach Lorne Grosso has rarely missed a game during his 45-plus seasons on the job. Unfortunately, he won't be on the bench for at least the first four or five games of this season, perhaps more.

Grosso was admitted to Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester on Friday after an angiogram showed severe blockage in at least one artery. He's scheduled to undergo heart bypass surgery on Monday.

Mayo activities director Jeff Whitney, who is a close friend of Grosso's and served as a co-coach with him for a number of years in the 1990s and up until 2005, said Grosso remains in good spirits. The surgery could be a double- or triple-bypass, Whitney said. 

Grosso was admitted to Saint Marys on Nov. 19 (the day after the scrimmage fest at Graham Arena) because of a heart arrhythmia. It didn't seem abnormal to anyone who knows Grosso; he'd been admitted for the same reason several times before. This time, the doctors scheduled an angiogram (which took place this past Friday) and didn't like the results. So, they admitted Grosso immediately and scheduled his surgery for Monday.

To be clear, Grosso did not suffer a heart attack. 

However, his doctors were concerned that if a heart attack occurred over the weekend, they didn't want him even 10 or 15 minutes away from the hospital in the event things got worse.

As I mentioned, Whitney said Grosso is his usual self, meeting this head-on.

"His first question to the doctor was 'when can I get back to work?'" Whitney said. 

Assistant coaches Bob Haskins and Todd Huyber will assume most of Grosso's duties in his absence. Whitney will also help with both the JV and varsity on a temporary basis (Huyber, Haskins and Grosso had all been jointly coaching the JV and varsity this season), until Grosso is fully recovered.

Mayo opens its season at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Red Wing at Graham Arena.

I'll have more on this in Monday's print edition and I'll hopefully have an update for you sometime Monday, after Grosso's surgery. 

November 25, 2011

High School Hockey Today | Nov. 26, 2011

FELDY: Here we go!

It's been more than nine months since Kyle Rau made an unbelievable "hustle" play to tap a puck into an open net in the third overtime of a classic Class AA state championship game. Rau is now a Gopher, tearing up the WCHA as a rookie forward, and Duluth East -- the team that lost to Rau's Eden Prairie club in the state final -- is the No. 1 ranked team in Class AA to start the season.

A good number of games were played around the state on Friday, including one Big Nine team playing. Owatonna lost to Delano, 5-0.

The season gets going in Rochester tonight, as Century head coach Josh Klingfus makes his debut when the Panthers play host to No. 18-ranked White Bear Lake at 7:30 p.m. at the Rec Center. So, here you go, the first edition of the season of High School Hockey Today:


When: 7:30 p.m. tonight
Where: Rec Center
Records: WBL 0-0 (22-7-2), Century 0-0 (11-16-0 in 2010-11)
Coaches: WBL, Tim Sager; Century, Josh Klingfus.
About the Bears: WBL made it to the Class AA state tournament last season, where it placed sixth. It played a total of seven overtimes in its three tournament games, yet finished 1-2 in the tournament. WBL lost to eventual state runner-up Duluth East, 4-3 in double OT, in the state quarterfinals; then defeated Blaine, 4-3, in double OT in the consolation semifinals, before falling to Section 1AA champion Lakeville North, 4-3, in triple OT in the fifth-place game.
WBL players to watch: The Bears lost their top three scorers -- the clear-cut top three on their team -- to graduation: Brandon Wahlin (34-31--65), Mac Jansen (38-17--55) and Max Birkinbine (19-23--42). That's a total of 162 points. Senior F Mitch Morrisette (7-12--19) is the top returning scorer for WBL. The strength of the Bears will be from their blue line back, with four top defensemen returning (seniors RJ Majkozak and Jack Morrisette, and juniors Lance Carney and Thomas Delaney) and a third-year goalie, senior Jared Schletty. Schletty is built more like a defensive lineman (he's listed at 6-1, 247), but he put up very good numbers last year (17-4-2, 2.31 GAA, .907 save pct.) and Century will have to figure out a way to solve him. He had three shutouts last season, including one against Century in the season opener at WBL.
Century player to watch: I'm more interested in seeing how Century performs as a team, what looks different about it with a new head coach in charge. As for a particular player, I'll probably spy No. 4 quite a bit. Junior F Dalton Travis will anchor the team's second line after putting up 10 points (3-7--10) as a sophomore. He'll be joined by senior Isaac St. Marie and freshman Jake Roth. Coach Klingfus called Travis the most consistent forward on the team throughout last week's scrimmage fest at Graham Arena. Klingfus said Travis did a very good job of adapting to what the opponents were doing and what Century's coaches were asking him to do.
Useless trivia: White Bear Lake is the only boys hockey team in the state with the words "White" or "Bear" in its name (excluding nicknames, of course). (Yeah, I know you don't care, that's why I called it "useless" trivia).

* No. 2 Breck at No. 14 Duluth Marshall, 4 p.m.

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: Black Friday Edition

PHERSY: We're back folks!!! Sorry for the long layoff ... but we're officially back in the swing of things.Nick07_thumb

The Ice Hawks have a huge weekend ahead. They're hosting the MnJHL leading Twin Cities Northern Lights at 7:05 p.m. tonight at the Rec Center. BIG GAME! 

And then Saturday the Ice Hawks will play the Lakers in Owatonna. Another big game as the Ice Hawks look to avenge their earlier loss to Edina.

Coach and I shot a new TV show this week, BAR DOWN with Phersy and Fatis. But unfortunately, the sound quality wasn't up to par (hopefully DJ Jeffy can iron out the kinks for next week). We had a good half hour of quality material (OK, maybe like 30 seconds of good material and 29 minutes of garbage) down the drain. Like I said, hopefully we can debut the show next week. It will be part of the website here, the Ice Hawks website and their web broadcasts.

Anyway, no further delay. Coach brings everyone up to speed on the team's myriad injuries ... yeah buddy!


November 21, 2011

Thoughts on Friday's scrimmages

Posted by: Feldy

Sorry I didn't get around to this over the weekend, but things are busy at the Feldman mansion on the northeast side of Rochester. Mrs. Feldy's tummy is looking like she's hiding a turkey in there these days (good thing she doesn't read the blog), but we're told by doctors that it's actually a baby girl, due in two weeks. So, much of my time at home has been spent sorting through pink clothes, pink blankets, pink bottles, pink-whatever-you-can-think-of. If you see me wearing pink, don't laugh. I'm just numb to the color now.

OK, back to what we're here for: Hockey, hockey, hockey.

Big week here for the Post-Bulletin boys hockey coverage team (it's a team of one, but "boys hockey coverage team" sounds better, doesn't it?). Our 2011-12 season previews are coming out in Thursday's paper, so if overloading on turkey doesn't make taking a nap easier, maybe my writing will.

Kidding! Make sure to read the previews, which will include a profile of Lourdes senior Landon Farrell as well as previews on all of our Rochester teams, Dodge County and Red Wing. If there's room, I may even get a brief Big 9 conference preview in.

So, read 'em all once, then read 'em again, and again. Please. Pretty please?

I, along with a nice sized crowd at Graham Arena, got a first look at all of Rochester's teams on Friday night. The first "scrimmage fest" was a hit, to say the least. It included Century, JM, Mayo and Lourdes, as well as St. Louis Park, coached by former JM standout and Stanley Cup champ Shjon Podein.

I think it's safe to say the recurring theme of the night among fans, players and coaches was: "Why didn't we do this before?"

I'd have to agree with that, whole-heartedly.

I walked into Graham 3 when Century and Lourdes were scrimmaging and there was almost no room to stand. The balcony was full and fans were rimmed around the boards almost the entire way around. For a later scrimmage in Graham 4, I did a rough count and came up with about 200 fans. That's pretty darn good for a 35-minute running-time scrimmage.

As for the teams themselves, it was tough for me to get a handle on who played well. The guys weren't wearing their game jerseys, so I wasn't always sure who was on the ice.

A few guys who did stick out to me: D Karl Krecke and Fs Alex Funk, Farrell and Jason Samuelson from Lourdes. Mayo G Case Hanson had one really strong scrimmage. Spartans d-men Steve Serratore and Jack Dingle are going to be forces this season, too. Same for JM, with veteran d-men Ryan Lakin and Matt Broman.

Century has six freshmen listed on its combined varsity/JV roster. I'll be interested to see if any of those guys have an impact on the varsity. I haven't talked with new Panthers coach Josh Klingfus yet, so I'm just guessing here, but there's one frosh with a familiar name who might — Riese Zmolek. I haven't seen Riese play yet, but I caught the end of one of his Bantam team's practices last season and watched him boom one-timers from the blue line. I felt bad for the crossbar and pipes that he hit.

The Panthers will be led by a great group of seniors. Look at these names, seems like it's about the 8th year on varsity for some of these guys, we've been hearing about them for so long: Brandon Kautz, Nick Jacobs, Wyatt Travis, Blake Heroff, Tyler Iverson, Isaac St. Marie. That's a good group for a first-year head coach to build around.

I'll be writing a lot more about all of those guys and plenty of others in the coming weeks and months, but just one more thought on last week's scrimmages: Please make that an annual thing.

Not only does it save the Rochester schools from having to travel for some of their scrimmages, but it's obviously something that fans enjoy. It's more loose and laid-back than an actual game, but there's still some good hockey, as all the boys are trying to earn their spots or prove that they've become better players since the previous season.

It might even be worth moving it back a week to, say, the day after Thanksgiving, and making it an annual thing. I know some teams like to start their regular season games at that point, so maybe that wouldn't work. Just a thought. Either way, keep that scrimmage fest going.

November 19, 2011

H.S. Hockey | Podein returns to Rochester as a head coach

Posted by: Feldman

Shjon Podein was back in the Graham Arena complex on Friday night for the first time in, well, a number of years.

"It's been awhile," Podein said. "Back when I used to play here, you couldn't get lost. There was only one rink."

Podein, the former Rochester John Marshall, Minnesota-Duluth and NHL standout, brought his St. Louis Park boys varsity hockey team to Rochester to compete in a first-time event — a scrimmage "fest," which included all four Rochester teams and Podein's SLP squad.

I'll offer more thoughts on the "scrimmage fest" — which, by all accounts, was a big success — later.

Podein and SLP brought about 15 skaters. It looked like they had enough for three lines and a couple of defensive pairings. SLP went 2-23 last season, but Podein said he's looking forward to watching this team grow. More than victories, he said getting the players to believe they can jell and become a true team is what he hopes to accomplish.

And when the voice telling the young players these things has been to a state tournament and won a Stanley Cup, well, that carries a little more weight.

"It's a blast. The kids are great," Podein said. "Everyone has bought in to setting the expectations a little higher and working hard, doing all the things that you need to do to have success on and off the ice. The kids really make it worth the time.
"I've seen it with kids at all different levels. When you believe in them and know that they're capable of doing more than they're doing, they can meet those expectations much easier."

I've seen it with kids at all different levels. When you believe in them and know that they're capable of doing more than they're doing, they can meet those expectations much easier."

Podein also gave a ton of credit to former JM head coaches Gene Sack and Bob Frerker. He played for both of those coaching legends during his time on the Rockets varsity. He also said he's taking ideas from long-time Mayo coach Lorne Grosso and many other coaches who helped him throughout his days in the Rochester Youth Hockey program.

Podein's first night as a head coach in a game situation got off to a rather comical start. When St. Louis Park arrived at the Graham Arena complex, the team headed straight to its locker room in Graham Arena 3, while Podein talked in the lobby with friends and family.

After a few minutes, Podein excused himself and went to make sure the players were getting ready to go for their first scrimmage. He walked into the SLP locker and saw ... no one. He looked in a couple of other locker rooms, before giving up and coming to talk to a reporter. As he did, his team came walking back into the rink. They had been running/stretching.

Podein just laughed at himself.

"My first night as a coach and I lost my team," he said. "You'll have to make sure to mention that."

SLP opens its season on Dec. 3 at Waconia.