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16 posts from March 2012

March 25, 2012

College Hockey | NCAA West Region championship game: Minnesota 5, UND 2

MINNESOTA 5, NORTH DAKOTA 2

Quick recap
Minnesota controlled the game throughout and never trailed as it earned its 20th Frozen Four appearance, and first since 2005. The Gophers seized momentum for good in the second period, scoring three times to build a 4-1 lead. Minnesota's third-liners -- Taylor Matson, Travis Boyd and Nate Condon -- each scored once. It was the sixth meeting of the season between the long-time rivals. Minnesota won four of the six.
The goals
FIRST PERIOD
1. UM 1, UND 0 -- Ben Marshall (Zach Budish, Kyle Rau) 12:19:  Minnesota enters the UND zone 3-on-3 with some speed. Budish pulls up just inside the blue line at the left point and slides the puck to Marshall at the right point. Marshall takes a hard slapshot that deflects off the stick of UND's Mario Lamoureux and past goalie Aaron Dell.
SECOND PERIOD
2. UM 2, UND 0 -- Erik Haula (Nick Bjugstad, Jake Hansen) :20 (pp): The Gophers opened the second period on a power play and Haula converted when Bjugstad found him all alone on the doorstep for a two-goal lead.
3. UM 2, UND 1 -- Danny Kristo (Brock Nelson, Andrew Panzarella) 1:43: Nelson's shot goes high and bounces off the glass to the slot, where Kristo corrals it, spins and fires a shot past Gophers goalie Kent Patterson.
4. UM 3, UND 1 -- Taylor Matson (Nate Schmidt, Jake Parenteau) 9:08: Matson is stopped on a rush, but Dell leaves a rebound right in front of him and Matson, who went hard to the goal behind Schmidt, flips it in.
5. UM 4, UND 1 -- Travis Boyd (Nate Condon, Taylor Matson) 14:28: Matson got the puck to Condon in the right circle. Condon sent it toward the goal and Boyd made a nice play to tip it past Dell for his first career goal.
THIRD PERIOD
6. UM 5 UND 1 -- Nate Condon (Travis Boyd, Zach Budish) 15:53: Boyd sends a pass to Condon along the wall in front of the UND bench. Condon comes in through the right circle and snaps a shot past Dell.
7. UM 5, UND 2 -- Mario Lamoureux (Joe Gleason) 16:07: Gleason blasts a slapshot from the right circle and Lamoureux gets his second tip-in of the game; this one in his team's favor.
Turning point
UND goalie Aaron Dell was unable to control a rebound on a close-range shot by Nate Schmidt on a 2-on-1 rush. Dell left the puck right in front of him at the top of the crease and Taylor Matson, who was going hard to the net, lifted it past Dell. That swung the momentum back to Minnesota, after UND's Danny Kristo pulled his team within 2-1 on a hard wrist shot seven minutes earlier.
Key UM player(s)
The third line. Gophers forwards Nate Condon, Taylor Matson and Travis Boyd each had a goal in the 5-2 victory. Boyd was moved to the line this week and took over at center, with Matson shifting to wing. It couldn't have worked out better for the Gophers.
Key UND player
Danny Kristo. The junior forward from Eden Prairie was the only UND player who seemed to get any momentum going. He scored UND's first goal, but Minnesota's defensemen kept him in check most of the game.
Key stats
UM -- 2. The number of shots the Gophers allowed in the second period, when they dominated play and took control of the game with three goals.
UND -- Minus-3. The combined plus-minus rating of North Dakota's top two defensemen, senior Ben Blood and sophomore Derek Forbort.
Up next
Minnesota (28-13-1) plays in the NCAA Frozen Four on April 5 in Tampa, Fla. The Gophers will play the second game of the day, against either Minnesota Duluth or Boston College. North Dakota's season ends at 26-13-3.
REACTION
Minnesota coach Don Lucia
* on his team's effort: "I'm just really happy for the guys. They've been through ups and downs, peaks and valleys, but when that happens, you just have to stick with it, and this team has."
* was this the Gophers best game of the season? "We've played a lot of good games this year. I mean, we played North Dakota six times and won four. That's not an easy thing to do."
* on play of senior goalie Kent Patterson, the regional's Most Outstanding Player: "He was very good this weekend, spot-on with his saves. He was the MVP of the tournament. Your goaltender has to do that this time of year if you're going to keep advancing."
Minnesota captain Taylor Matson
* On the Gophers strong play in a big game: "Our team plays its best when our backs are against a wall. You just have to keep moving forward. We had a team meeting this week and shook off the (loss to UND in the Final Five semifinals). We worried all week about Boston U ... took it one game at a time."

 

College Hockey | Who wants a ticket to Tampa?

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

* * * * * 

UMD

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

March 24, 2012

College hockey | NCAA West Region semifinal recap: Minnesota 7, BU 3

Posted by: Feldman
(EDIT: Here's a link to my story on PostBulletin.com about the Minnesota-UND rematch)
The rematch that everyone (well, Gophers fans, anyway) wanted is set. Minnesota took it to Boston University in the second NCAA West Region semifinal game at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday. The Gophers beat the Terriers, 7-3, and now get a crack at one of their top rivals, with a berth in the Frozen Four at stake. Minnesota and North Dakota will meet at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at The X in the West Region final.
I'll have more on that matchup later tonight at PostBulletin.com/Sports, but for now, here's a recap of
the Gophers first NCAA tournament victory in five years.
WEST REGION SEMIFINAL #2
Minnesota 7, Boston U. 3
Quick recap: Minnesota picked up its first NCAA tournament victory since 2007 by outworking BU and overcoming a handful of glaring miscues. Jake Hansen scored twice and five others scored once each for a balanced Gophers offense. The game was filled with penalties, as Minnesota went 2-for-8 on the power play, while BU was 2-for-7 with the man advantage. Kent Patterson made 31 saves for the Gophers, while Kieran Millan -- playing in his first NCAA tournament game since winning the national title in 2009 -- made 35 saves.
The goalsFIRST PERIOD -- UM 1, BU 0: Kyle Rau (Nate Schmidt, Erik Haula) 5:55 (pp): On an early power play, a Gophers shot squirted behind BU goalie Kieran Millan and Rau poked it into an open net.
SECOND PERIOD -- BU 1, UM 1: Wade Megan (Adam Clendening, Alex Chiasson) 7:49 (pp): On a power play, Clendenings point blast hits the pipe to the right of UM goalie Kent Patterson. The rebound bounces to Megan, who knocks it in.
UM 2, BU 1: Jake Parenteau (Nate Condon, Travis Boyd) 9:21: The puck slides to Parenteau at the top of the left circle and he rips a wrist shot past Millan for his second goal of the season. 
BU 2, UM 2: Ross Gaudet (unassisted) 13:20: Just seconds after Parenteau broke up a BU 3-on-2 rush, he coughed up the puck right in front of Patterson. Gaudet scooped it up and put it over Patterson's blocker.
UM 3, BU 2: Seth Helgeson (Zach Budish, Kyle Rau) 15:09: Less than two minutes after BU tied it, Faribault native Seth Helgeson puts a shot through traffic from the high slot that gets by a screened Killan. Zach Budish sets up the play with a nice feed to Helgeson from below the goal line.
UM 4, BU 2: Jake Hansen (Nate Schmidt, Kyle Rau) 15:38 (pp): Just 20 seconds after BU's Justin Courtnall is ejected for contact to the head and BU is given a 5-minute major penalty, Jake Hansen blasts a point shot through traffic for a two-goal lead.
THIRD PERIOD -- UM 4, BU 3: Adam Clendening (Garrett Noonan, Alex Chiasson) 3:09 (pp): Just 7 seconds into a power play, Clendening's slapshot from the right point beats Patterson to the short side.
UM 5, BU 3: Nico Sachetti (unassisted) 8:08: Sachetti picks up the puck along the wall in front of the BU bench, goes hard to the net and stuffs it past Millan for a two-goal Gophers lead.
UM 6, BU 3: Jake Hansen (Sam Warning) 18:04 (en): Hansen misses the empty net from the blue line, but Warning goes hard after the puck and gets it to Hansen, who tucks it in the open goal.
UM 7, BU 3: Nick Bjugstad (Zach Budish, Kyle Rau) 18:56 (en): Bjugstad puts it into the empty net on the Gophers' 40th shot of the game.
Turning point: Sachetti's third-period goal that made it 5-3 seemed to sap the energy out of BU. The Terriers kept rallying through the first two-plus periods and pulled within 4-3 when Clendening scored a power play goal just more than 3 minutes into the third. Had BU scored the next goal, to make it 4-4, it's a game up for grabs. Instead, Sachetti effectively put Minnesota within one win of the Frozen Four.
Key BU player: Adam Clendening. The sophomore defenseman had a goal and an assist, blocked four shots and logged a heavy load of ice time. His power-play goal early in the third pulled BU within a goal, at 4-3.
Key UM player: Jake Hansen. The senior captain scored twice, including a power play goal that turned out to be the game winner. Hansen was critical of his own play -- he took two penalties -- in the postgame press conference, but not only did he score twice, he led the Gophers with six shots on goal.
Key stats: BU -- 29. The Terriers committed nine penalties for 29 minutes. Neither team was able to find a rhythm five-on-five, as the Gophers also committed 9 penalties (for 18 minutes).
Minnesota -- 6. The Gophers had six players score at least once. Coach Don Lucia pointed that out in the postgame press conference, praising his team for showing its depth. 
Up next: No. 3 seed BU ends its season at 23-15-1. No. 2 seed Minnesota (27-13-1) faces North Dakota at 4:30 p.m. Sunday for a spot in the Frozen Four, April 5-7 at Tampa, Fla.
REACTION
BU senior captain Chris Connelly (a Duluth native and brother of UMD star Jack Connolly)
* on BU's penalty issues: "It's a discipline thing. It's hard to control your emotions when you're in such a big game and want to win so badly. It's tough, but I'm very proud of the guys and our effort all season."
* on playing a game in his home state for the first time in seven years: "I feel fortunate to be able to come back here. Though I wanted the best for this team, it's nice to end things here at home."
BU head coach Jack Parker
* on the game's outcome: "The better team won tonight. Minnesota played hard and dominated us down low in our zone. They were really good every time they had a power play."
* on BU's 9 penalties for 29 minutes: "Rule No. 1 is don't beat yourself. We didn't follow that tonight. Way too many penalties. ... I thought the game was well-refereed, to tell you the truth. There weren't too many penalties called that weren't penalties. We took three penalties in our offensive zone tonight. You can't do that 180 feet from your own net."
* on BU's roller-coaster of a season (the Terriers had two players arrested on sexual assault charges and another, Wild prospect Charlie Coyle, leave the team for major juniors in Canada): "It was a rewarding season for me as a coach with what we went through, the turmoil, the sadness. We had seven walk-on players in our lineup tonight. A lot of guys ended up playing who maybe weren't going to play much college hockey this year."
Minnesota senior F Jake Hansen
* on getting back to the NCAA tournament and winning a game there: "It's been a rewarding year already, winning the MacNaughton Cup (as WCHA regular season champion), getting back to the (WCHA) Final Five, but we didn't want to be that senior class that went through at the U without getting to the national tournament. To get here and beat a team like BU feels really good, but we have a big game tomorrow."
* on his play after taking two penalties: "I was playing too worried about taking penalties. I took two, that's unacceptable. I had to be smarter than that."
Minnesota coach Don Lucia
* on the week leading up to this game: "I'm just proud of our guys. We had a great week of preparation getting ready for Boston University. Everybody -- our coaches and players -- understand what a great program they have. It made it that much easier to get ready for this game. That was our total focus. The guys were obviously hungry to play."
* on the keys to beating BU: "We've made a great jump this season. I'm really happy for our seniors. One of the differences tonight was we scored some goals with guys we don't always rely on. Our D scored a couple. Nico's goal was huge. This time of hte year you can't rely only on your key guys. Some guys have to step forward and score a big goal at this time of year."

College hockey | NCAA West Region semifinal recap: UND 3, Western Michigan 1

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.

REACTION

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."

March 18, 2012

College Hockey | Kirby for Hobey, tournament notes

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.

March 16, 2012

Ice Hawks open Bush Cup finals tonight

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!

H.S. Hockey | All-Big Nine Team announced

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.
Faribault: None.

HONORABLE MENTION
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.

March 15, 2012

High School Hockey | 2011-12 All-Area Player of the Year

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).

High School Hockey | 2011-12 All Area Team

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.

FIRST TEAM
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.

SECOND TEAM
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)

March 13, 2012

4 Roch. players named HM All-State

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.

They are:

* 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

FIRST TEAM
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

SECOND TEAM
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