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2 posts from June 2012

June 27, 2012

Hockey | Notes, notes, notes

Posted by: Feldman

Hockey notes in June? Why the heck not?

* High school hockey teams around the state are into their summer practice/scrimmage schedules. I'll try to get out to the Rochester teams practices and post some updates. They can practice the rest of this week, then have a mandatory week off for the Independence Day holiday, then practice again the following week.

* Former Roseau and Warroad high school boys hockey coach Bruce Olson died Tuesday in Rochester after a battle with liver cancer that spread quickly. Olson was just 55 years old. He led Roseau to the Class AA state championship in 1999. He also coached the Bemidji State women's hockey team for three-plus seasons. He played college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth, graduating from the school in 1979. He had 93 points in 137 career games.

* The P-B's Scott Kolb broke the news a couple of weeks ago that Austin has a new boys hockey coach. Erik LaRock, who played college hockey at St. Mary's in Winona and has coached in Austin Youth Hockey for three years, will be the Packers' new head coach. LaRock has also coached the Austin girls golf team the past two seasons. He replaces Tim Peterson, who was the Packers head coach for three seasons.

* Another Big Nine Conference and Section 1A team, Faribault, will also have a new head coach. Dean Weasler will replace Brad Ryan as the boys hockey head man. Weasler was the head JV coach at Farmington the past two seasons. He has also coached at Burnsville, Eastview and with the St. Cloud State women's team.

* The Star Tribune reported today that four standout high school players have decided to leave their teams early to play in the USHL. Among them is center John Wiitala of defending Section 1AA champion Lakeville South. Wiitala, who had been voted a team captain for this coming season, will now play for Waterloo of the USHL. That's good news for the rest of the section; bad news for high school hockey that these guys are leaving. I don't blame these guys for moving on to the USHL, I just hate to see good high school players leave their teams, especially teams that have a shot at getting to the state tournament.

The other three leaving their schools are Maple Grove defenseman Jordan Gross (USNTDP or Green Bay), Hill-Murray forward Jake Guentzel, son of Gophers' assistant Mike Guentzel (Sioux City) and Duluth East forward Connor Valesano (Sioux Falls).

* I'd like to tell you that I was told at the Wild Road Tour on Monday that it's a lock that Zach Parise will sign with our favorite NHL club on Sunday when free agency opens. I'd like to tell you that, but I can't. Like the rest of you, though, I've read/heard that the Wild is going to throw Craig Leipold's checkbook at him at 11:00:01 a.m. Sunday. I wouldn't be shocked if the Wild offer Parise $9-$10 million/year over an 8-to-10-year deal.That's not a huge deal in the NBA, NFL or MLB, but it's as big of annual salary as you'll see in the NHL. Parise may not sign with the Wild, but they won't be outbid. I could see him winding up in Pittsburgh. I could see him winding up in Detroit. New Jersey seems like more of a long shot to me, only because, if he absolutely wanted to stay there, he would've worked it out already.

As for defense, my fellow Faceoff writer, Phersy, is convinced the Wild needs to take the bank to Ryan Suter's 110-plus acre ranch. Personally, where defense is concerned, I'd rather see the Wild make a strong push for someone like Florida's Jason Garrison (now that Washington's Dennis Wideman has had his rights traded to Calgary, and signed a 5-year deal with the Flames). Garrison is a strong two-way player who'll command a big salary, but not in the range of Suter's.

TSN -- Canada's version of ESPN -- has a great free agency tracker that you can check out here.

June 12, 2012

H.S. Hockey | Some notes (and changes to Kiwanis Festival lineup)

Posted by: Feldman

Whew. That was a fun Stanley Cup Final, eh? Too bad the last game had to be the least enjoyable of all, but congrats to L.A., what a run for the Kings as a No. 8 seed. And I'm sure glad I picked them to win; it's in print and everything (but don't go back and look at my prediction, just take my word for it. Please.)

On to some local hockey stuff.

* A reminder: The Minnesota Wild Road Tour will stop in Rochester on June 25. Players Matt Kassian and Charlie Coyle will be here, as well as former player Antti Laaksonen and TV color analyst Mike Greenlay will be here. They'll stop at the Wells Fargo on 55th St. NW from 4:15-5:15 p.m. More info. on the Road Tour can be found here.

* The annual Don Lucia Model Camp began on Monday, with 108 players from around the state (and some from bordering states) divided into six teams of 18 players. Players from our area/Section 1 who are competing this year: Jared Bromberg, F, Rochester John Marshall (will be a junior this fall); Soren Colstrup, F, Owatonna (junior); Luke LIjewski, F, New Prague (junior); Ryan Jutting, F, Mankato West (senior); Andrew Scofield, F, Northfield (senior); Ryan Drazan, D, New Prague (junior); Austin Kilian, F, New Prague (junior); and Colton Schmidt, F, New Prague (junior).

For more information on the camp, including full rosters for each team, click here.

* First off, congrats to former Lakeville North goalie Charlie Lindgren, who has committed to play at St. Cloud State. The Huskies and coach Bob Motzko, an Austin native, are getting a steal. Lindgren was a pain in the side for Section 1AA teams for four years; I'm certain the Rochester teams were happy to see him graduate.

Lindgren's rise to a D-I scholarship reminds me of the path former Rochester Century standout Alex Kangas took. All of us in this part of the state realized how special Lindgren was from the time he stepped in the goal as a freshman. Two years ago, we watched him nearly single-handedly lift his team past Lakeville South in the section final, then nearly single-handedly win two consy games at the state tournament. I can't wait to see how he does in St. Cloud and the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which begins play in the 2013-14 season.

* This is pretty cool: The Ottawa Citizen newspaper recently reviewed the book "Scarlet Ice," written by Roger Dier. It's the story of the 1995 Mankato West hockey team, the issues it had on and off the ice, and more importantly, the story of its sparkplug player, John Janavaras. Just 15, Janavaras was a workhorse. He also died that year after a outbreak of bacterial meningitis swept through the school. Read the review, then check out the book. The writing is quite good in spots, not so good in others, but Dier has put a tremendous story in print.

* For college puck fans, I talked with Minnesota State, Mankato, beat writer Shane Frederick (follow him on Twitter @Puckato -- great follow) last week at the state softball tournament. I asked him how things were going so far with new Mavs head coach Mike Hastings officially on the job. He said it sounds like MSU has seen a spike in season ticket sales; the real test might be to watch the sales of single-game tickets. We know MSU can sell tickets when the Gophers, Wisconsin and North Dakota come to town. How will Hastings' presence impact the sales for games against teams like Michigan Tech or Anchorage, though? I suppose it all comes down to winning.

Frederick also said he expects that MSU assistant coaches Darren Blue and Todd Knott will be retained, at least through this season, if not longer. It would be tough for Hastings to start searching for assistant(s) now, anyway, with a short time before players report to campus. Plus, St. Cloud State is already on the hunt for a top assistant, after Steve Johnson left to join head coach Dean Blais in Omaha.

* KIWANIS FESTIVAL NEWS

I fully admit I'm a dork, and I spend time in the middle of June digging through high school hockey schedules five months in advance of the season beginning. But as I did, I noticed a handful of teams who have been regulars at the Rochester Kiwanis Festival do not have the tourney listed on their schedules for this December.

I don't have the AA field (though I'll take a guess at most of it) yet, but I do have a tentative list of teams for the Class A field. I'll post what I know (and what I think I know) and let you formulate your opinions:

CLASS AA: Rochester Century, Rochester John Marshall, Rochester Mayo and Eau Claire Memorial all have the Festival listed on their schedules. I don't know this for certain, but I'm assuming long-time Festival attendees New Richmond (Wis.) and Fargo (N.D.) South will return. Those teams are a part of the Festival; it wouldn't be the same without them here. Eastview does not have its non-conference schedule posted as of yet, so there's a good chance the Lightning could return.

The eighth team in the AA field could be Richfield. The Spartans at one point had "Rochester tournament" listed on their schedule, but it noted "vs. Rochester Century" ... that has been removed from their schedule as of now. They only have 22 games listed -- three short of the 25 allowed by MSHSL rules -- so perhaps they're seeking a different tourney, or are waiting to confirm a spot in the Kiwanis? 

Prior Lake -- a team I was really hoping would return this year -- is out. The Lakers have the Schwan's Cup Silver Division listed on their schedule.

CLASS A: Here's the way the Class A field shakes out, tentatively, I'm told. Looks like long-time tourney participant Albert Lea is out, as are St. Michael-Albertville and Northfield, both of which were in it last year. Albert Lea is scheduled to play in Simley's tournament, in Inver Grove Heights.

The Kiwanis Class A tournament appears to include the following: Lourdes (defending champ), Dodge County, New Ulm (2010 champ), Ashwaubenon (Wis.), Verona (Wis.), WSFLG (Wis.), Northland Pines (Wis.) and Kansas City.

That would mean half the field has turned over. Lourdes (defending champ), Ashwaubenon (4th place last year), New Ulm (6th) and Dodge County (8th) are back; the other four teams are new.

Verona could be a nice addition; it went 22-1 in the regular season last year and qualified for the state tournament, where it lost in the semifinals to eventual state champion Notre Dame Academy.

That's all I know for now; I'll pass on more about the tournament as I find out.