MINNESOTA 5, NORTH DAKOTA 2
MINNESOTA 5, NORTH DAKOTA 2
Posted by: Feldman
To answer the question in the headline, Union and Ferris State do. They've already earned their places in the Frozen Four, set for April 5 and 7 in Tampa, Fla. They will play each other in one somewhat-unlikely national semifinal, while the other national semifinal will feature two powerhouse programs. It just hasn't yet been determined which powerhouses will fill those spots.
We'll know in a matter of hours, as Minnesota and North Dakota face off at 4:30 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center in the West Region final. Minnesota Duluth and Boston College meet at 7 p.m. in the Northeast Region final in Worcester, Mass. Both of those games are on ESPNU (channel 402 with Charter Cable in Rochester area) and ESPN3.com.
A couple of quick thoughts on today's Minnesota-UND game: 1. Watch out for Kyle Rau. The Gophers freshman always seems to come up big in big games. 2. Watch North Dakota's second line, of Mark MacMillan, Carter Rowney and Michael Parks. If UND has any chance to win this game, it has to get production out of that group.
We're just more than 4 hours from puck drop for the UND-Minnesota game, so if you're in the need of some time-killing activities, here are links to some articles about today's game and how the rivals got here:
STAR TRIBUNE: Gophers 7, BU 3
STAR TRIBUNE COMMENTARY: Gophers looking forward to rematch with rival
STAR TRIBUNE COMMENTARY: UND's Kristo is all the way back
STAR TRIBUNE: Gophers seniors enjoying the ride
STAR TRIBUNE: Gophers vs. UND in NCAA play (chart)
PIONEER PRESS: Gophers stop BU, set up rematch
PIONEER PRESS: Fighting Sioux name, logo out of sight, not out of mind
PIONEER PRESS: Lucia can handle pressure of coaching at Minnesota
GRAND FORKS HERALD: No name, no problem for UND
GRAND FORKS HERALD: UND-WMU notebook
GRAND FORKS HERALD: UND goes as its goalie goes
GRAND FORKS HERALD: UND keeps focus on ice, not jerseys
INSIDECOLLEGEHOCKEY.com: Old foes to meet again
USCHO.com: Gophers show scoring depth
COLLEGEHOCKEYNEWS.com: North Dakota survives physical battle
COLLEGEHOCKEYNEWS.com: Minnesota stays hot on Saturday nights
* * * * *
DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE: UMD rallies after Maine's hot start
INSIDECOLLEGEHOCKEY.com: Defending champs, perennial power to meet today
BOSTON.com: UMD sends Maine packing
BOSTON.com: BC holds off Air Force
Posted by: Feldman
I'm up at the NCAA West Regional all weekend. I'll have recaps of all thre games from this regional here on the blog and I'll have a column up on PostBulletin.com later tonight, after the second game. I'll also have a recap after tomorrow's regional final, and stories in the print edition of the P-B on Monday. So, Game 1 is in the books. Here's a look at it:
WEST REGION SEMIFINAL #1
North Dakota 3, Western Michigan 1
Quick recap: UND, playing without the use of its Fighting Sioux nickname due to an NCAA restriction, outplayed WMU early and built a 2-0 lead. UND then held off the Broncos, who controlled the game for most of the second period. WMU had a goal disallowed in the second period that would have tied the score. UND's Aaron Dell made 24 saves in the victory; Frank Slubowski made 25 saves for WMU.
The goals: FIRST PERIOD -- UND 1, WMU 0: Michael Parks (Mark MacMillan , Ben Blood) 6:04: MacMillan sent the puck to Parks going through the neutral zone. Parks carried it in through the right circle, went behind the net and scored on a wraparound.
SECOND PERIOD --UND 2, WMU 0: Corban Knight (Danny Kristo, Brock Nelson) 3:16: Nelson's shot from the slot deflects right to Knight, who has a wide-open net to tap it into.
UND 2, WMU 1: Kyle O'Kane (Derek Roehl, Dan DeKeyser) 12:57: O'Kane got behind North Dakota defenseman Ben Blood in the neutral zone, Roehl hit him with a perfect pass and O'Kane snapped a shot just over the glove of UND goalie Aaron Dell.
THIRD PERIOD -- UND 3, WMU 1: Brock Nelson (unassisted) 19:35 (en): Nelson chips the puck past a WMU defenseman, collects it and kicks it to his stick. He fires it into an empty net from just across center ice.
Turning Point: With UND clinging to a 2-1 lead, WMU came into the zone on a 3-on-1 rush. Ian Slater put the puck in the net, just as the net was coming off its posts. The goal was disallowed, with the official announcement being made that the puck was played with the upper body. WMU continued to control the play after that, but its fate could've been different had that goal counted.
Key WMU player: G Frank Slubowski. After lifting the Broncos to their first CCHA tournament title sine 1986 last weekend, the freshman netminder played extremely well in his first NCAA tournament game. Slubowski stopped 25 of 27 shots he faced and was key in keeping UND scoreless on the power play.
Key UND player: F Brock Nelson. The sophomore from Warroad had an assist on Knight's game-winnng goal, then scored the empty-netter to clich the win. Nelson is playing at an elite level right now; his goal scoring skills among the best in the country.
Key stats: WMU: 0-for-3. The Broncos, who entered the game with one of the top power plays in the country, went 0-for-3 against UND and had trouble maintaining puck control at all with the man-advantage.
UND: 34-22. That was the advantage North Dakota had in the faceoff circle, led by junior Corban Knight (14-6) and senior Mario Lamoureux (7-3).
Up next: UND (26-12-3) will face either Minnesota or Boston U. at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the West Regional final.
WMU Senior F Kyle O'Kane
* on the disallowed goal: "It was a huge turning point. If we tie it up there, it's a new game. But we continued to work hard, pressure and get the puck to the net."
* on the Broncos' attitude after falling behind 2-0: "It was a wakeup call. We didn't come out the way we wanted to. We got down 2-0, then we found some energy and realized we had to come back."
WMU Freshman G Frank Slubowksi
* on playing in his first NCAA game: "It was exciting. Anytime you get to play against a great program in a national tournament it's exciting. But it's been a pleasure playing with all these (teammates) and this team. It's a great team on and off the ice."
WMU coach Andy Murray
* on the disallowed goal: "I haven't seen it yet. The ref wanted to give me an explanation but I waved him away. They called it no goal, what can you do? We wanted to keep the game going. We were playing well overall. The ref wanted to give me an explanation, but ... (laughing) college refs talk to the coaches too much, let's just get back to the game."
* on WMU's 5 seniors: "They're going to be a big part of the Bronco hockey family. Maybe they won't wear the jersey again, but they'll be a big part of the family for the rest of their lives ... and now they need to send us money."
UND Junior C Corban Knight
* on UND finding ways to win in the second half of the season: "You look at our locker room, we have a lot of character guys, guys who have huge hearts and would do anything for the team. We've faced some adversity, some injuries and we've had some young guys step up and play really well."
* on facing WMU: "We had a ton of respect for them coming in, but after that game, we have even more. That was a tough game against a really tough team."
UND coach Dave Hakstol
* on shutting down WMU's power play: "We felt coming in their specialty teams were a key factor for us to counteract. We had good puck pressure, good clears when we had the chances and, most importantly, when the puck was in our zone, we had four guys on the same page. You have to have that on the penalty kill."
* on UND playing its first game in its new jerseys (the NCAA does not allow the use of the "Fighting Sioux" nickname in NCAA tournament play): "To be honest, it hasn't been an issue for our team. We've dealt with it, off and on, for two seasons. I don't mean to make light of it at all. I think (senior captain) Mario Lamoureux said it best, we came here to win two hockey games and that's all that really matters to us."
Posted by: Feldman
We haven't had much time to talk college hockey on here this season, thanks to a 12-pound 3-month-old who clearly doesn't think I should work at home, and a 5-year-old with a much more active social life than me or Mrs. Feldy.
But, with the high school season having wrapped up, we can talk some college hockey now and through the national tournament. Let's get right to it:
* Huge news came Friday for former Austin High standout defenseman Tim Kirby, who was named one of the top 10 Hobey Baker finalists this week. Kirby, a senior at Air Force, is the third Falcons player to be honored as a top-10 finalist since 2007 (Eric Ehn, 2007; Jacques Lamoureux, 2009). Kirby, of course, is coached by former Rochester Mustangs head coach (and quote machine) Frank Serratore.
KIrby has 12 goals and 27 points in 36 games. His 12 goals are third-most by a defenseman in the country. He ranks ninth in school history in points by a defenseman (87) and holds the AFA record for most career games played (152). He's never missed a game in his four seasons.
The top-10 list will be cut down to three names (the Hobey Hat Trick finalists) on March 29. The Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced on April 6 in Tampa, Fla., the day before the national championship game. You can find bios of all 10 finalists here.
Kirby had an assist on the game-winning goal Saturday as AFA topped Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology, 4-0, in the Atlantic Hockey championship game. That victory gives the Falcons an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, which begins Friday. It appears that the Falcons will likely be sent to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., where they will face top-ranked and No. 1 overall seed Boston College.
* There's a good chance that Western Michigan ends up in the West Regional, at the Xcel Energy Center, as the No. 4 seed in that region. The Broncos beat Michigan for the CCHA postseason championship on Saturday, earning an automatic bid into the national tourney.
The Broncos are coached by longtime NHL coach Andy Murray, and Rochester native Pat Ferschweiler is an assistant coach for WMU.
* We could have a meeting of two former Rochester Mayo players out east as USCHO.com is projecting Maine and Minnesota-Duluth to meet in the first round. Defenseman Bill Norman, a 2011 Mayo grad, is a freshman at Maine, though he hasn't played in a game this season. UMD's head equipment manager is 1997 Mayo grad Chris Garner, who is in his fourth season with the Bulldogs.
* The Gophers are in the tournament for the first time since Alex Kangas was a freshman (2007-08), and as the site host, they're locked into playing in the West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday-Sunday, most likely as the region's No. 2 seed. By the time you're reading this, we'll probably know the other teams who have been slotted into that regional (the tournament selection show will air at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU), but it sounds like there's a good chance that North Dakota will end up back at The X for a second consecutive weekend.
Either North Dakota or Michigan is expected to the be the No. 1 seed in the West Regional. The question that the selection committee faces, though, is this: Do they hold up what's referred to as "bracket integrity" (send the No. 1 seeds as close to their homes as possible?) or do they consider attendance issues? If it's the latter, then Michigan will come to The X and UND will head to Green Bay and the Midwest Regional.
From the NCAA's point of view, the Gophers will carry the West Regional, attendance-wise. Sending UND to St. Paul would guarantee a sellout crowd, but it might also guarantee a a lot of empty seats in the Resch Center in Green Bay (with Michigan, Ferris State, Denver and Cornell the likely teams to land in that region).
Either way, if the Gophers get past their first game (quite possibly against Boston U.), they'll be staring down a big rival in the regional final -- UND or Michigan.
PHERSY: Hello ladies and gentlemen, your Rochester Ice Hawks are a few hours away from opening the Bush Cup finals.
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to catch up with coach Nick Fatis, and I'm headed out of town for the weekend so won't be able to grab him for an interview this morning.
But, there's still plenty to talk about, and I also figured this would be a good opportunity to introduce some of the great video work being done by Jon Volker to those who haven't seen it yet. So, at the end of this post, check out the embedded video, which is a preview of Game 1.
The Ice Hawks take on the Twin Cities Northern Lights at 7:05 tonight at the Rochester Recreation Center. Due to some scheduling conflicts, this Bush Cup finals is a little messed up. But who cares ... the Ice Hawks open the series in their building tonight.
Game 2 is at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Bloomington Ice Gardens. If a third game is necessary, it won't be until 6:45 p.m. Saturday, March 24.
It's a goofy scheduled, but whatever.
Both teams already have wrapped up a spot in the Junior A, Tier III National Tournament, which is in Rochester starting March 30. The Bush Cup finals will determine which MnJHL team is the No. 1 seed and which is the No. 2 seed heading into nationals.
A couple other notes ... first off, tonight is RED ALERT night at the Rec Center. Ice Hawks fans are asked to wear red so they can RED OUT THE REC CENTER!!
Second, there is a tailgate party for all Ice Hawks fans starting at 5 p.m. in the Rec Center parking lot. Fans are asked to bring a chair, a beverage and a dish to pass.
One last note — there is a big swimming tournament in town, so parking could be rough at the Rec Center tonight. Get there early!
That's it. Enjoy the video, and go Hawks!!!
Hopefully, I'll be catching up with coach this week to discuss the team's Bush Cup finals victory!
Posted by: Feldman
The All-Big Nine Conference boys hockey team was released on Thursday. As you'd expect, the conference champion Century Panthers led the way with six players on the team, plus four honorable mention. Big 9 runner-up Mayo has five players on the team, plus four honorable mention; JM has two players on the team and six honorable mention.
Here's the complete list, which you can also find by going to the Big 9 website and clicking the link that says "2011-12 Big 9 Boys Hockey All-Conference."
BIG 9 ALL-CONFERENCE
Century: F Nick Jacobs, Sr.; D, Brandon Kautz, Sr.; G, Erik Wennberg, Sr.; F, Dalton Travis, Jr.; F, Hayden Ashworth, So.; D, Riese Zmolek, Fr.
Mayo: D Steve Serratore, Sr.; G Case Hansen, Jr.; F Adam Alcott, Jr.; F, Ryan Martin, Jr.; F, Max Whitney, Jr.
John Marshall: F, Gavin Sandwick, Jr.; D, Alec McGinn, Jr.
Owatonna: F, Justin Brown; F, Soren Colstrup; F, Matt Ratzloff.
Mankato West: F, Tyler Resnar; G, Zach Fox.
Albert Lea: F, Levi Hacker; D, Auston Larson.
Winona: D, Luke Hemker.
Austin: F, Ethan Larson.
Mankato East: G, Lucas Weihe.
Century: D, Matt Sturchio; F, Blake Heroff; F, Tyler Iverson; F, Isaac St. Marie.
Mayo: D, Jack Dingle; D, Tommy Fjelsted; D, Will Holtan; F, Nolan Edwards.
JM: G, Jacob Garvey; D, Matt Broman; D, Ryan Lakin; F, Alex Lovett; F, Hunter Heightland; F, Kyle Andrews.
Owatonna: G, Luke Ebeling; Aaron Kirsch; Robert Dietz; Tyler Yentsch; Alex Whited.
Mankato West: D, Billy Bingham; Josh Christenson.
Albert Lea: None.
Winona: F, Cameron Kelly; F, Ryan Grant.
Austin: F, Marcus Stoulil.
Mankato East: None.
Faribault: G, Cody Morsching.
Posted by: Feldman
Alex Funk has a chance to accomplish something special next season.
The Rochester Lourdes forward — who, along with linemate Jason Samuelson have already been voted as team captains for 2012-13 — can help lead the Eagles to a fifth consecutive Class A boys hockey state tournament.
While many kids in Minnesota grow up dreaming of playing in one state hockey tournament, Funk has a chance to play in four. And he has the proper attributes to accomplish that.
"His overall work ethic is incredible," Lourdes coach Josh Spaniol said. "His hard work paid off this year and he and his teammates are already back in the weight room. And he's one of the friendliest kids we've had. He makes the locker room an easy place to be."
Funk, a junior center, is also in line to become, statistically, the best player ever to put on a Lourdes sweater. He has 140 career points, 32 shy of tying 1992 graduate Shawn Corfits' career mark of 172.
And after a remarkable 70-point season that wrapped up last week at the Class A state tournament, Funk is The Post-Bulletin Faceoff Blog 2012 All-Area Player of the Year.
"His quickness, his willingness to work and be a leader in practice," Spaniol said when asked what Funk had improved upon this season. "He hit the weights hard last offseason and you could see it in his shot. His shot improved a lot."
Funk centered a line, with fellow junior Jason Samuelson and senior Landon Farrell, that combined for 196 points this season. All three of those players earned Honorable Mention All-State honors, and Funk was named to the Class A All-State Tournament Team.
Funk was arguably the Eagles' most consistent player this season. His patience with the puck, his vision and his overall hockey sense set him apart from most forwards in Section 1A.
He had 16 points in the postseason — eight in the Section 1 tournament, eight in the state tournament. More impressively, Funk had a 13-game point streak, from Jan. 10 through Feb. 23. That streak was snapped on Feb. 25 in a Section 1A semifinal game against Red Wing. How did Funk respond? With a hat trick against Northfield on Feb. 29 in the Section 1 championship game.
Though Lourdes often rolled three, sometimes four, lines, Funk's line logged a lot of ice time. He played in all situations, scoring eight power-play goals and a team-best five short-handed goals.
"His ability to see the ice, you can't teach that," Spaniol said. "He has come a long way since his freshman year. The game has slowed down for him. I thought he'd be a special player from the time he was a ninth-grader."
FACEOFF ALL-AREA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2012 — Alex Funk, Jr., F, Lourdes
2011 — Rory Vesel, Sr., D, Lourdes
2010 — No POY (inaugural All-Area Team didn't include a POY).
Posted by: Feldman
Here we go, the third annual Faceoff Blog All-Area Team. I'll lay it out the selection process once again: We have six teams in our coverage area (Century, JM, Lourdes, Mayo, Dodge County and Red Wing). We pick a Player of the Year, a First Team, Second Team and PUC (players under consideration -- our honorable mention). We don't try to make sure a player from every team is on one of the teams.
So, that said, here we go with this year's All-Area Teams:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Alex Funk, Jr., F, Lourdes (36-34--70): Story here.
F -- Nick Jacobs, Sr., Century (13-24--37): Jacobs was second in scoring for the Big Nine Conference champion Panthers. He was at his best down the stretch when Century had to keep winning to have a shot at the conference crown. He had nine points over the final six regular season games, then added four points in a 5-2 Section 1AA quarterfinal win against Owatonna.
F -- Landon Farrell, Sr., Lourdes (17-39--56): Farrell, one of the fastest skaters in Section 1A, used his speed often to his advantage. He used it not only to set up scoring chances for teammates, but also to draw penalties. He finished third on the team (and in Rochester) in scoring and has been selected to participate in the Ted Brill Great 8 tournament at the end of March. The Great 8 is for the state's top seniors who have yet to commit to a college. He was outstanding in the postseason, with eight points in three Section 1 playoff games and five points in three state tournament games.
F -- Jason Samuelson, Jr., Lourdes (32-38--70): Samuelson tied for the scoring title in Rochester and on the Eagles. He had at least one point in Lourdes' final 13 games of the season. He was on fire in the playoffs, with 15 points in six games, including seven points at the state tournament. He was extremely consistent throughout the season. He had 32 goals, but just one hat trick all year. Samuelson had at least one point in 27 of the Eagles' 31 games.
D -- Brandon Kautz, Sr., Century (14-18--32). The Panthers' third-leading scorer was a model of consistency and often spent more than half the game on the ice. Century played 27 games this season. Kautz had at least one point in 21 of them. He also had an eight-game stretch, from Dec. 8-29, when he had at least two points in every game.
D -- Steve Serratore, Sr., Mayo (6-17--23): Serratore was a rock on the blue line for the Spartans, who came up a point shy of a Big Nine Conference championship. He contributed offensively and was relied upon to log lots of ice time in all situations -- even strength, power play and penalty kill. His versatility will be missed next season; he was the team's second-leading scorer and a smart player in his own end.
G -- Erik Wennberg, Sr., Century (17-6-2, 2.58, .898): Wennberg posted six shutouts as he backstopped the Panthers to their first outright Big Nine Conference title and first Kiwanis Festival championship since 2006-07. He received strong goal support, but was nearly unbeatabe for a stretch from early to late December. He allowed a total of two goals in three games at the Kiwanis Festival and he shut out one of Wisconsin's best teams, Eau Claire Memorial, in the title game.
F -- Adam Alcott, Jr., Mayo (9-26--35): The Spartans' leading scorer proved he can not only score goals, but his strong suit may be setting up his linemates.
F -- Taylor Hanson, Jr., Red Wing (16-19--35): The Wingers' leading scorer had 11 multiple-point games during the regular season and one point in each of their playoff games.
F -- Gavin Sandwick, Jr., JM (14-24--38): Sandwick was the team's leading scorer, putting up the most points in a season by a Rocket since Adam Wiesner had 57 in 2006-07.
D -- Justin Dewitz, Sr., Lourdes (12-28--40): Dewitz excelled in his first, and only, season as a defenseman. He was the Eagles' fourth-leading scorer.
D -- Karl Krecke, Jr., Lourdes (11-14--25): Krecke was a captain and veteran leader on a defensive corps where all other players were young or inexperienced.
G -- Case Hansen, Jr., Mayo (13-9-0, 2.50, .898): Hansen seized the starting job right after the holiday break and allowed more than three goals just five times in 22 games.
PUC (Players Under Consideration)
Hayden Ashworth, So., F, Century (12-27--39)
Jacob Garvey, Jr., G, JM (8-7-2, 2.27, .898)
Hunter Heightland, Jr., F, JM (14-16--30)
Ryan Martin, Jr., F, Mayo (15-7--22)
Alec McGinn, Jr., D, JM (11-11--22)
Alex Rezansoff, Jr., F, Red Wing (14-16--30)
Griff Slightam, Fr., D, Lourdes (5-13--18)
Dalton Travis, Jr., F, Century (15-8--23)
Max Whitney, Jr., F, Mayo (12-10--22)
Riese Zmolek, Fr., D, Century (5-8--13)
Posted by: Feldman
The third annual Faceoff All-Area Team and Player of the Year will be unveiled Wednesday evening on the blog, but the Associated Press Minnesota All-State Boys Hockey Teams were named today.
Rochester didn't have anyone make the First or Second Team this year, after Lourdes defenseman Rory Vesel did so last year, but four players were named All-State Honorable Mention.
* Brandon Kautz, Sr., D, Century: Kautz had 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points as a senior. He was the team's rock on defense (particularly after losing fellow senior blue-liner Wyatt Travis late in the year), often playing more than half the game.
* Landon Farrell, Sr., F, Lourdes: Farrell finished his senior season with 17-38--55, and helped Lourdes to its fourth consecutive state tournament appearance.
* Alex Funk, Jr., F, Lourdes: Funk tied for the scoring title in Rochester this season, with 36-34--70. He had a 13-game point streak during the second half of the year and was named to the Class A All-State Tournament Team.
* Jason Samuelson, Jr., F, Lourdes: Samuelson tied with Funk for the city scoring lead (32-38--70) and was second in goals scored. He also played in his third consecutive state tournament.
Here are the AP First and Second Teams for 2012. Three of these guys -- Kloos, Schurhamer and Dickman -- played in Rochester this season. Kloos, from Section 1AA's Lakeville South, was named the state's Mr. Hockey over the weekend.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jake Randolph, Duluth East
F— Jake Randolph, sr, Duluth East
F— Justin Kloos, sr, Lakeville South
F— Grant Besse, jr, Benilde-St. Margaret's
D— Eric Schurhamer, sr, St. Thomas Academy
D— Jordan Gross, jr, Maple Grove
G— Michael Bitzer, sr, Moorhead
F— Jared Thomas, sr, Hermantown
F— Vinni Lettieri, jr, Minnetonka
F— Dom Toninato, sr, Duluth East
D— Jay Dickman, sr, St. Paul Johnson
D— Jared Kolquist, sr, Hermantown
G— Kyle Koop, sr, Maple Grove
SECTION 1 HONORABLE MENTION
F -- Landon Farrell, sr, Rochester Lourdes
F -- Alex Funk, jr, Rochester Lourdes
F -- Levi Hacker, sr, Albert Lea
F -- Alex Harvey, sr, Lakeville South
F -- Jason Samuelson, jr, Rochester Lourdes
F -- Blake WIniecki, sr, Lakeville North
D -- Joe Freemark, sr, Lakeville South
D -- Brandon Kautz, sr, Rochester Century
D -- Jack Swanberg, sr, St. Peter/L-H
G -- Chris Amsden, jr, St. Peter/L-H
G -- Joe Morris, sr, New Prague