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« September 2012 | Main | November 2012 »

10 posts from October 2012

October 27, 2012

High school football picks: Section semifinals

Feldy gained a couple games on Phersy after Tuesday's section quarterfinals, so Phersy has some ground to cover. Feldy went 5-2 to bring his mark this season to 44-19. Phersy went 3-4, bringing him to 41-22 for the season.

Feldy has to pick first today, though, and we're into the section semifinals, which, in theory, means we should see some much better or closer games than we saw on Tuesday. So, Phersy, picking second, could make back some of the ground he lost.

THIS WEEK'S GAMES

SECTION 1AAAAA
No. 3 Rochester Mayo (6-3) at No. 2 Rochester John Marshall (6-2)

SECTION 1AAAA
No. 3 Byron (6-3) at No. 2 Kasson-Mantorville (7-1)

SECTION 1AAA
No. 4 P-E-M (6-3) at No. 1 Rochester Lourdes (9-0)

SECTION 1AA
No. 4 Triton (7-2) at No. 1 Caledonia (8-0)
No. 3 Chatfield (8-1) at No. 2 Lewiston-Altura (9-0) 

SECTION 1A
No. 3 Rushford-Peterson (6-3) at No. 2 Faribault B.A. (7-2)

SECTION 1 9-MAN
No. 3 Lanesboro (6-3) at No. 2 Grand Meadow (8-1)

* * * * *

FELDY: I think I know how Phersy will pick these games, so I'm going to go the opposite on a couple and see what happens. Either my lead grows, or he catches up. Or, as usually happens, we split the difference and nothing changes.

SECTION 1AAAAA
Mayo 27, JM 24: I've flip-flopped on this one all week. I'll probably flip-flop a couple dozen more times between now and the 7 p.m. kickoff tonight. I love this JM team. If it wins, I think it has a really good shot at knocking off Owatonna. But, I also like the confidence and enthusiasm I've seen from Mayo since they beat Austin on Tuesday.

SECTION 1AAAA
Kasson-Mantorville 36, Byron 28: Byron has put up 125 points in its past three games, but K-M has scored 104 in that span, including a 36-18 regular-season win against these Bears. My score prediction might be low; this could be a shootout.

SECTION 1AAA
Lourdes 35, P-E-M 20: A 5-3 regular season, with losses to three teams that were a combined 23-1 in the regular season, constitutes a "down" year for P-E-M. Not a bad "down" year. Lourdes hasn't lost yet, though, and I don't think it intends to. At all. I'll take the Eagles and their three-headed monster at running back.

SECTION 1AA
Caledonia 26, Triton 6:  The Warriors just don't give up points, especially at home. They've allowed 21 points in four home games this season. That trend continues.

Lewiston-Altura 20, Chatfield 18: I know Phersy's all aboard the Chatty bandwagon -- and I have been, too, all season -- but, L-A is undefeated. They're a very good team, too, and they're on their home field. They've shown the ability this season to win close, low-scoring games, or win shootouts.

SECTION 1A
Rushford-Peterson 29, Faribault B.A. 23:  R-P's three losses are to Lewiston-Altura, Caledonia and Chatfield. In R-P's six wins, only one team has come within a touchdown. I like the Trojans in a mild upset.

SECTION 1 9-MAN
Grand Meadow 36, Lanesboro 22: The Larks win and set up the rematch everyone in SEC country has been waiting for -- GM at Spring Grove with a trip to state on the line.

 ***

PHERSY: OK, now I'm in trouble ... I should be getting crazy with these picks ...

SECTION 1AAAAA

Rochester John Marshall 27, Rochester Mayo 19: This one is simple.  No Tommy Fjelsted, no victory for Mayo. I like the Rockets in the rematch.

SECTION 1AAAA

Kasson-Mantorville 30, Byron 13: K-M is too big and too balanced. The Bears would need a monster effort from their defense to get the job done.

SECTION 1AAA

Rochester Lourdes 21, P-E-M 20: Oh man, I really want to pick an upset here. PEM is healthy for the first time all year, and it showed in the opening round as it blasted Z-M. The Bulldogs will give Lourdes a go, but I have to stick with No. 1.

SECTION 1AA

Caledonia 30, Triton 7: Caledonia is good.

Chatfield 13, Lewiston-Altura 7: Chatfield is battle tested. L-A is tough as nails, too. Both can run the ball. I expect a low-scoring, smashmouth brawl!

SECTION 1A

Rushford-Peterson 34, Faribault B.A. 24: R-P is better than its record, and FBA struggled down the stretch after beating Blooming. I'll take RP because it faces better competition throughout the year.

SECTION 1 9-MAN

Grand Meadow 39, Lanesboro 30: Grand Meadow gets a bit of a scare here because it is already looking ahead to that rematch in the section finals.

October 23, 2012

High school football picks: Section quarterfinals

FELDY: So, my 6-year-old didn't fare much better last week than I did the week before. Abby Feldman went 3-4, brining my season record to 39-17. Phersy gained another game, going 4-3 to bring his record to 38-18. Looks like we're going to come down to the final week of picks once again. Playoffs get going this week and, Phersy, we had to stretch to find seven games to pick. Could be lots of lopsided results tonight:

SECTION 1AAAAA
No. 5 Century at No. 4 Winona

SECTION 1AAAA
No. 5 Albert Lea at No. 4 Waseca 

SECTION 1AAA
No. 5 Zumbrota-Mazeppa at No. 4 Plainview-Elgin-Millville
No. 6 Winona Cotter at No. 3 Stewartville 

SECTION 1A
No. 5 Goodhue at No. 4 Southland
No. 6 Fillmore Central at No. 3 Rushford-Peterson

SECTION 1 9-MAN
No. 5 Mabel-Canton at No. 4 Houston

***

PHERSY: Well Feldy, I'm planning to go ahead and pass you by this week, and I'll never look back, obviously. Let's do this ...

SECTION 1AAAAA

No. 5 Century 27, No. 4 Winona 14: Alex Crawford ... enough said.

SECTION 1AAAA

No. 4 Waseca 20, No. 5 Albert Lea 16: Waseca is much better than their record would indicate. The Bluejays lost several close games and had to forfeit one game due to an ineligible player.

SECTION 1AAA

No. 4 Plainview-Elgin-Millville 25, No. 5 Zumbrota-Mazeppa 21: At home, I'll stick with the Bulldogs.

No. 3 Stewartville 14, No. 6 Winona Cotter 13: These are two teams headed in different directions. Stewartville lost four of its final five games, while Cotter won its last two. But...the Tigers were playing better competition. They'll do enough.

SECTION 1A

No. 4 Southland 13, No. 5 Goodhue 6: If this one was in Goodhue, I'd take the Wildcats. But Southland finally got things going again last week.

No. 3 Rushford-Peterson 30, No. 6 Fillmore Central 15: Feldy must have been hurting with games ... why is this one here? Or Maybe Feldy has a big upset in mind?

SECTION 1 9-MAN

No. 4 Houston 47, No. 5 Mabel-Canton 29: Houston will bounce back after last week's setback.

***

FELDY: I guess, since you haven't been able to beat me the past two years, you might as well hope you can this time, Phersy.

SECTION 1AAAAA
Winona 34, Century 27:  No doubt, Century's Crawford is a beast, but Winona is playing well. They better not let that win against Faribault go to their heads, though, or Century will flip this score around.

SECTION 1AAAA
Waseca 31, Albert Lea 17:  Waseca steamrolled Albert Lea in the season opener and the Bluejays have been competitive against some very good teams. 

SECTION 1AAA
P-E-M 23, Z-M 14: Seems like every time I've picked Z-M this year, they've lost. And P-E-M is playing well; its three losses are to Caledonia, Chatfield and Lewiston-Altura, which have a combined record of 23-1.

Stewartville 28, Cotter 21: I'm tempted to pick Cotter here in an upset, but Cotter's wins have come against below-average teams. Stewy is just 1-4 in its last five but those losses are to pretty good teams -- Lourdes, Lake City, Cannon Falls and K-M.

SECTION 1A
Goodhue 16, Southland 11: I'm not sure why I continue to pick Goodhue; seems like I can never pick their games correctly, either. I swear, though, if the Wildcats lose tonight, I'm not going to pick them to win again this season. (yes, I know, their season would be over.)

R-P 35, Fillmore Central 20: No big upset in mind here, Phersy. Fillmore played R-P to a 12-pt. game in the regular season, though ... and there aren't any better games left to pick this week.

SECTION 1 9-MAN
Houston 43, Mabel-Canton 29: The 'Canes beat M-C rather convincingly during the regular season. They'll do so again tonight.

October 19, 2012

Junior Hockey | The weekend ahead for the Austin Bruins

Posted by: Feldman

The Austin Bruins beat defending NAHL Central Division champion Bismarck last weekend at Riverside Arena thanks to three things: 1. great goaltending by Nick Lehr, 2. four special teams goals (two power play, two shorthanded), and 3. tremendous play by the team's penalty killers (holding Bismarck to a 1-for-11 night on the power play).

So, it's no surprise that specialty teams are the focus for both teams again this weekend as they play a two-game series at the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck. The teams meet at 7:15 p.m. tonight and 7:15 p.m. Saturday.

* The Bruins have the second-best power play in the entire NAHL. (PostBulletin.com)

* Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie credited Lehr for being a thorn in Bismarck's side last weekend, in this story by Bobcats Director of Broadcasting Paul Teeple. (BismarckBobcats.com)

* Pre-game notes and statistical breakdowns for each team can be found here. (NAHL.com)

* Bismarck has one of the best goalies in the league in Bryan Nies. It added another this week when Bismarck native Aaron Nelson returned to the team after being let go by the Fargo Force of the USHL. Sedevie said Nelson's return gives the 'Cats two D-I caliber goalies. (BismarckTribune.com)

* The Bismarck Tribune's Lou Babiarz also has a brief look at this weekend's series.

AROUND THE CENTRAL DIVISION

* The Coulee Region Chill step out of division play this week to travel across their state (Wisconsin) and face the Janesville Jets, in a battle of the only two NAHL teams from the state. The teams will battle for the America's Dairyland Milk Can Trophy. (crchill.com)

* Minot, which is just 1-8-1 through 10 games, plays a pair of Central Division games this weekend. The Minotauros play host to Aberdeen tonight, then play at Brookings on Saturday. Brookings is off tonight; Aberdeen does not play on Saturday.

October 17, 2012

High school football picks: Week 8

PHERSY: Feldy, objects in your rear-view mirror! We comin!! OK, you're still ahead, but I'm closing in and plan to pass you by in the postseason. Feldy, it actually wasn't pretty last week, but the games were darn tough. I went 4-3, bringing my season record to 34-15. Feldy went a gross 2-5, bringing his season record to 36-13. So, I made up ground, but I'm still two back. Let's go!

BIG NINE

Austin (2-5) at Albert Lea (1-6)

Rochester Mayo (5-2) at Owatonna (7-0)

HIAWATHA VALLEY LEAGUE

Cotter (2-5) at Goodhue (3-4)

THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE

St. Charles (1-6) at Dover-Eyota (1-6)

Lewiston-Altura (7-0) at Plainview-Elgin-Millville (5-2)

Chatfield (6-1) at Rushford-Peterson (5-2)

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

Lanesboro (4-3) at Houston (4-3)

* * * * * 

FELDY: Last week was gross, so I'm letting 6-year-old Abby Feldman have some say in this week's picks. She neither knows nor cares much about football, but she couldn't be much worse than I was last week. Good luck against her, Phersy.

BIG NINE

Austin over Albert Lea: Abby went to Austin with me a few weeks ago, when I went over there for a work assignment. She loved the SPAM Museum, so she said go with Austin. I agree with her on this one; the Packers' offense has been pretty good this year and I think they'll outscore the Tigers.

Owatonna over Mayo: Abby's a big fan of the indoor water park in Owatonna, so that's apparently enough for her to take the Huskies over the Spartans. This is a tough bounce-back game for Mayo, after an emotional loss to JM last Friday. There's a lot on the line for both teams here. Owatonna hasn't been as sharp in recent weeks as it was early in the season, though.

HVL

Goodhue over Cotter: Abby likes cats. So Wildcats win out over Ramblers. I agree with her again; Goodhue is ready to put last week's big loss to Lake City behind it.

TRC

Dover-Eyota over St. Charles: Abby says D-E, because it won last week. Can't fault that logic, make it two in a row for the Eagles to end the regular season. 

Lewiston-Altura over P-E-M: This was a tough one; Abby's a big fan of bulldogs, but the Cardinals' unbeaten record swayed her. P-E-M is playing well, but, again, hard to argue with the Cardinals' defense; it has allowed more than eight points just once this season.

Chatfield over R-P: Abby's bored with this now, so she just picked the first team I said. One more time, though, can't argue with her. Chatfield's defense has been lights-out all season. It hasn't given up more than six points since Week 2.

SEC

Houston over Lanesboro: What's a burro? Abby asked. Oh, well, Hurricanes are scarier than burros. ... I don't know; I've been close to a burro before. They can be scary, too. But, why not go with Houston? The Canes lost a 4-point game to Lanesboro in the season opener; we'll say they flip that score this week and win a close one.

* * * * *

PHERSY: Really Feldy? So you are trusting a girl who told you last week that she's a Packers fan? What's wrong with you? That said, I'm absolutely certain she's better than you are at picking high school football games. That means I'm in trouble this week. Maybe I should have my dog Tiny make this week's picks ...

BIG NINE

Austin 39, Albert Lea 30: Abby has this one right. The Packers are motivated and they're healthy again. Gabe Gerstner and Elijah Dahmen will make a huge difference in that Austin lineup.

Owatonna 30, Mayo 20: The Spartans are a solid team. Owatonna has the potential to be great, but even though the Huskies are unbeaten, they haven't been consistent. I think the Owatonna depth in both the backfield and at receiver will be the difference. Oh yeah, they're offensive and defensive lines are incredible, too.

HVL

Cotter 12, Goodhue 8: Ugh, Abby picked my Wildcats. Darn here. This is going to be a close game. If it's more than one score, I'd be shocked. Similar resumes, though they get the job done much differently. But I'll go with Cotter in a barn-burner.

TRC

Dover-Eyota 25, St. Charles 13: D-E proved last week that they're not a bad football team, they've simply faced the best of the best in the TRC. They win again.

Lewiston-Altura 14, P-E-M 0: L-A wins again. It will be close and low-scoring, but it's a big game for L-A to prove it belongs among the state's top teams.

R-P 8, Chatfield 7: Toughest game for me to pick this week. R-P at home ... two stolid teams going at it. Going to be fun. Wish I was covering this one!

SEC

Lanesboro 30, Houston 28: My "inside source" says that if Houston comes out in the spread and goes four-wide, the Hurricanes will come out on top. But if they stick with the wishbone, they're in trouble. I'll go with Lanesboro, based on Houston sticking with the wishbone. Of  course, our track record of picking Nine-man games is outstanding, so ...

October 13, 2012

Football | More thoughts on JM's dramatic victory against Mayo

Posted by: Feldman

As I said last week after Rochester Mayo's dramatic come-from-behind win against Mankato West, it's hard to mentiona all of the key plays and key players in a close game in a 20-column inch story. So, here are some other thoughts and notes that didn't get into today's print edition stories:

• First, here's a link to the story from JM's 27-21 victory at Mayo on Friday night. You can also find a slide show by P-B photographer extraordinaire Scott Jacobson here.

• Mayo actually finished with 202 yards rushing, not 198 as I had in the game's box score today. I failed to add in a 4-yard run by QB Eric Manges.

• Neither quarterback was sacked in the game. Mayo had just two plays go for negative yards; JM had just three.

• That was one of the best high school football games I've seen in my eight years here. Well played on both sides. Drama to the final seconds. Both teams battled extremely hard. Great crowd. Nice night. Can't ask for much more.

• Mayo had allowed just three points in the fourth quarter all season prior to Friday. JM scored 13 in less than seven minutes in the fourth on Friday.

• JM leads the all-time series, 33-19-1.

• This was just the third time since 1997 that a JM-Mayo game was decided by one score. Mayo had won the previous two.

• It was about as clean a game as you'll see. Both teams turned the ball over once (Mayo's turnover came on the final play of the game when it was lateraling a kickoff return).

• There were just two penalties in the entire game (both on Mayo for a total of 10 yards). That said, the officials missed an obvious pass interference call against JM on Mayo's first drive of the fourth quarter. A Mayo receiver was open at about the 50 for what could've been a 20-yard gain. A JM defensive back pushed him down before the ball got there, but it wasn't called. It came on a 3rd-and-9 play, so the penalty would've given Mayo a first down and extended the drive. Instead, Mayo punted and JM scored on the ensuing possession to tie the score 21-21.

• Video of this game should provide a lesson for the rest of Mayo's opponents: do not kick to Mayo's Maurice Cain. The speedster is a dangerous kick returner. He had an 82-yard return for a TD in the first quarter, then brought one back 64 yards to the JM 16 late in the first half.

• Mayo's Jake Hanson had a pretty good game at cornerback. He had an interception and two other pass breakups. On the first play after Hanson's pick in the second quarter, Mayo RB Alex Proell went 48 yards for a TD.

• Mayo trailed for just 19 seconds in the entire game.

• JM's punter, Jason Rieke, was an unheralded key to the Rockets success. He punted four times for a 39.7-yard average and helped JM win the field position battle. He had one 40-yarder that pinned Mayo at its 4 in the closing minutes of the first quarter.

• Mayo RB Alex Proell becomes more impressive every week. He ran for 160 yards on 25 attempts and two TDs. Proell's combination of vision, power and speed is impressive enough, but he has become so good at stopping on a dime and changing direction. That caused a lot of headaches for JM on Friday.

• I wrote a lot about him in the print edition, but I can't overstate how good JM QB Aaron Grad was in Friday's game. He ran for 115 yards and three TDs and passed for 171 yards. He's a big, strong kid who was pushing the pile for five, six, seven yards on a lot of runs. He was deceptively fast, too, making Mayo defenders take poor angles sometimes. It was an incredible performance by the senior in what, to this point, was the biggest game of his life.

• There is still a lot to shake out in terms of seeding for the Section 1AAAAA playoffs. The bottom three seeds in the six-team section appear set: Century should be No. 4 and play host to a quarterfinal game on Tuesday, Oct. 23. The Panthers will get either Winona or Austin. Those teams will be the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds, in some order. Owatonna would be the No. 1 seed if the season ended today. The No. 3-ranked Huskies are 6-0 in the Big Nine and 7-0 overall. Mayo is 5-1 in the Big Nine, 5-2 overall. JM is 4-2 in the Big Nine, 5-2 overall.

Mayo plays at Owatonna on Wednesday, while JM plays host to Century. A Mayo victory would possibly give the Spartans the No. 1 overall seed, though they would still have a worse overall record than Owatonna. If anybody outside of the Minnesota State High School League's secret lair was allowed to know how these QRF rankings work, maybe we could figure out all the scenarios. The one thing that seems certain: If Mayo loses at Owatonna, the Spartans should be the No. 3 seed in the section, meaning Owatonna would be No. 1 and JM No. 2. Owatonna and JM then would get first-round byes.

Confused? Me too. Check back after Wednesday's games and maybe we'll have a better idea.

October 12, 2012

High School Football Picks | Week 7

FELDY: Whoa, hard to believe it's already Week 7. That means we're on a short week next week, so we'll do picks either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. By that time, Phersy should be completely out of this thing. Then again, I've been known to collapse late in the season. I went 5-2 last week for a 34-8 record for the year; Phersy was 4-3, bringing his season record to 30-12. 

Lots of good games this week, including two right here in Roch tonight that could go either way.

BIG NINE
* Rochester John Marshall (4-2) at Rochester Mayo (5-1)

HVL
* Kasson-Mantorville (6-0) at Rochester Lourdes (6-0)
* Triton (4-2) at Zumbrota-Mazeppa (4-2)
* Cannon Falls (3-3) at Stewartville (4-2)

TRC
* Wabasha-Kellogg (0-6) at Dover-Eyota (0-6): Somebody has to get No. 1 tonight.

SEC
* Grand Meadow (6-0) at Spring Grove (6-0)

GOPHER CONFERENCE
* Blooming Prairie (5-1) at Faribault B.A. (6-0): Note, this is a 2 p.m. game on Saturday.

**************

PHERSY: Feldy, this season is starting to remind me of last. I have one bad week, fall behind, and then I start pressing and I'm never myself again. Well, I should stop that. Time to make up some ground:

BIG NINE

Rochester John Marshall 29, Rochester Mayo 19: I think the Rockets will be very motivated this week. Tommy Fjelsted is a beast, and I love that Mayo linebacking group. But JM is deeper, and the Rockets get back on track.

HVL

Kasson-Mantorville 35, Rochester Lourdes 30: I hate picking against the Eagles at home, but they're dealing with some injury issues. That K-M line is unreal, though. And with Broc Berge and crew running behind it, I'll stick with the KoMets.

Triton 24, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 20: Sticking with the road teams ... the Cobras got off to a slow start and took some lumps against the bigger schools in the HVL. But they seem to have things figured out now.

Stewartville 18, Cannon Falls 17: While most will have their eyes on the Lourdes-KM game this week, this game might quietly be the best. These teams can throw the football. But it will be cold and windy, so it should keep things tight.

TRC

* Dover-Eyota 30, Wabasha-Kellogg 12: D-E is 0-6, but they've only played the TRC's best teams. W-K has struggled against all the clubs ... it's a chance for someone to get a win, but I think it's D-E at home.

SEC

* Spring Grove 47, Grand Meadow 39: I'd like to be at this game ... this is going to be a lot of fun. I'll go with Spring Grove at home.

GOPHER CONFERENCE

* Faribault B.A. 28, Blooming Prairie 21: FBA is legit. Blooming will have its hands full.

* * * * * 

FELDY: All right, time to put Phersy way in my rearview, or let him back in this thing.

BIG NINE
Mayo 28, JM 24: I've been on the Rockets bandwagon all year, but I like the way Mayo has improved each week and the way it doesn't panic if it falls behind. That said, JM's strength -- its passing game -- could pick away at Mayo's secondary. Ball control will be Mayo's friend tonight.

HVL
Lourdes 31, K-M 27: I won't disagree with Phersy's assessment of K-M. Berge is a beast. But so is Lourdes' three-headed monster at RB, the Carstens twins and Griff Slightam.

Z-M 18, Triton 16: Triton, as we'd expect, is playing much better in the second half of the season. But Z-M has its sights on a division championship and it needs to win this week to stay in the driver's seat.

Stewartville 32, Cannon Falls 24: Stewy has been one of the toughest teams to figure out. They posted a big win over Byron, only to get blown out by two good teams, Lourdes and Lake City. Stewy bounced back last week with a big win against P.I. The Tigers keep that momentum going this week.

TRC
Dover-Eyota 23, Wabasha-Kellogg 18: The Eagles have played pretty well the past two weeks, so I'll take them at home, to get their first 'W' of the year.

SEC
Grand Meadow 38, Spring Grove 32: I like the way the Larks are playing. Call it an upset if you like, but with a pair of 6-0 teams, it could go either way.

GOPHER
Faribault B.A. 27, Blooming Prairie 20: B.A.'s defense has been outstanding this year. The Blossoms will give B.A. its biggest test, but I'll take B.A. at home.

October 09, 2012

NAHL Hockey | Look back, look ahead for @theaustinbruins

Posted by: Feldman

Now that the NAHL season is in full swing, I'm going to attempt to do a look back/look ahead type thing here on the blog each week. Some weeks I may not get to it, especially when we're in the middle of the high school playoff seasons, but I shall do my best to get something up here.

I'll take a look at how the Austin Bruins did over the past weekend and who they're facing the coming weekend. I'll also try to take a brief look around the Central Division.

I usually have plenty of leftover quotes from Bruins players and coach Chris Tok. I'll put some of them up here; some I'll save for Thursday's Austin Post-Bulletin print edition, when I'll try to run a story of some sort each week, looking ahead to the upcoming weekend's games.

Here we go...

Looking back at last weekend (Oct. 5-6)

BRUINS CLIP WINGS: Austin swept a two-game series from Aberdeen at Riverside Arena on Friday (5-3) and Saturday (6-3). Perhaps the best news to come out of the weekend is that the Bruins picked up four more points in the standings despite playing average hockey at times.

In particular, Tok was not pleased with the number of turnovers the team committed in Saturday's win. The Bruins built a 3-0 lead midway through the second period, then relaxed too much. Aberdeen pulled within one goal twice — at 3-2 and 4-3 — but the Bruins put it away with goals by newcomer Rhodes Dolan and Scott Nelson (his second of the game).

"It gets frustrating when you see that many turnovers with a lead," Tok said. "We played OK for awhile, then we had a lot of turnovers at the blue line. Finally, the seventh turnover ended up in the back of our net. But that's a learning curve. When you don't play it right in this league, the other team will bring it right back at you. As long as we learn from it, it's good."

FISCHER IS A STAR: Forward Chris Fischer, one of two third-year Bruins (along with forward Nolan Kirley) was named the NAHL Central Division Star of the Week after putting up four points (two goals, two assists) in the two-game sweep of the Wings. Bruins defenseman Cody Dixon was named honorable mention. Here's a link to the announcement on the NAHL website. The article that appeared in the Post-Bulletin can be found at this link.

Fischer is quickly becoming one of my favorite players to watch. As coach Tok said in the announcement from the NAHL, Fischer isn't a flashy player, but he does everything well. And he's on a line with two players — John Simonson and CJ Smith — who, like Fischer, make their linemates look good.

EVERY DAY THEY'RE SHUFFLIN': We should expect a good amount of roster shuffling early in the season, when players are being let go by USHL teams (see: Dickman, Jay) and become available, and when players are resting injuries that they might play through in the regular-season stretch run or in the postseason.

We've already seen a good amount of shuffling in Austin — though not nearly as much as some teams around the league. The Bruins traded two forwards to Springfield for Dixon after the NAHL Showcase. They added Dickman at the same time, after he was released from Fargo of the USHL.

Last week, Austin added big defenseman Rhodes Dolan, a high schooler who was drafted by his hometown Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL but was not on their active roster. Dolan, who was listed at 6-feet-4, 180 pounds during the high school season last year, made an immediate impact. He scored a third-period goal on Saturday — the day he arrived in Austin — to give the Bruins some breathing room, a 5-3 lead, against Aberdeen. Dolan was added because two regular defensemen, Josh Bretner and Kody Reuter, were both out of the lineup Saturday with injuries. Forward Austin Nelson also missed the games with an injury.

In order to put Dolan on the active roster, the Bruins removed Rochester John Marshall grad Zach Johnson from it. However, Tok said he anticipates Johnson being activated again when the injury situation at defense shakes itself out.

AROUND THE CENTRAL: Bismarck and Minot both had the weekend off, while Aberdeen played a two-game set at Austin and Coulee Region played two at Brookings.

Coulee pulled out a wild 6-5 victory on Friday. The Chill outscored the Blizzard 3-1 in the third period, including a goal by Mac Jansen that capped his hat trick. Jansen was clearly their most dynamic forward when I watched them play at Austin two weeks ago and they may have to lean heavily on him to spark this team if it wants to remain in the hunt for a playoff spot deep into the season. Jansen added two assists for a big five-point night. The Chill also killed off a five-minute elbowing major to Andy Faust during their third-period comeback.

Saturday, Brookings had the big third period. The Blizzard scored three times, including an empty-net goal by Thomas Williams with 10 seconds to go to seal a 4-2 victory.

Looking ahead to this weekend

HIT THE ROAD, HEAD HOME: Austin (5-2-0, 2nd place, 10 points) will play its first Central Division road game of the season at 7 p.m. Friday at division-leading Brookings (6-2-0, first place, 12 points), then the Bruins will hop on the bus and return home top play host to defending division champion Bismarck (3-5-0, third place, 6 points) at 7:05 p.m.

A NEW ROAD TRIP: Friday's game at Brookings will mark the first-ever trip to Brookings for the Bruins. Brookings, which moved from Alexandria after last season, is led by forward Thomas Williams. The 20-year-old third-year Blizzard player has 93 career points in the NAHL, including a team-high 11 this season (6-5—11). Three goalies have split time for the Blizzard, though Drew Weigman has played the most. He is 3-1-0 in four starts with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. Weigman, who turns 19 on Saturday, played the entire game and allowed all six goals in the Blizzard's loss to Coulee Region last Friday.

PLAYOFF REMATCH: Saturday will mark the first time the Bruins and Bobcats have met since Bismarck knocked Austin out of the playoffs in the 2011-12 Central Division finals series. The Bobcats are anchored by goalie Bryan Nies. The Grand Forks, N.D., product has played in six of Bismarck's eight games, compiling a 3-3-0 record with a 2.17 GAA and a .919 save pct. Forward Adam Knochenmus, from Roseau, is their leading scorer, with six points. Knochenmus has one assist in each of the past three games, but he has gone six games without scoring a goal.

BRUINS LEADERS: F Brandon Wahlin (2-7—9) has five points in the past three games ... F Jay Dickman (2-3—5) has five points in three games since joining the Bruins after the NAHL Showcase. … G Nick Lehr has played all but one game. He is 4-2-0 with a 2.80 GAA and an .890 save pct.

SPECIAL SITUATION: Austin is second in the 24-team NAHL in power-play efficiency (23.3 pct.) but 20th in penalty kill (74.1 pct.) … Brookings is ninth on the PP (18.9 pct.) and eighth on the PK (89.2 pct.) … Bismarck is 23rd on the PP (6.7 pct.) and third on the PK (93.1 pct.).

High School Hockey | Funk, Samuelson among Elite League leaders

Posted by: Feldman

With two weeks remaining in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League regular season, a pair of Rochester Lourdes forwards are among the top 10 in scoring.

Seniors Jason Samuelson and Alex Funk (it's weird to call those two seniors, since we've been watching them since they were freshmen) have helped Team Southwest to a 10-2-3 record through 15 games, good for second place in the UMHEL.

Funk is third in the league in scoring, with 20 points (9-11--20) in 13 games played. He is second on Team Southeast, behind Edina's Bo Brauer, who has 21 points.

Samuelson is tied for seventh in the league in scoring, with 18 points (7-11--18) in 14 games played. He is fourth on the team, behind Brauer, Funk and Dan Labosky (19 points) of Benilde-St. Margaret's. Samuelson had four points in three games last weekend, while Funk -- who leads Team Southwest with three power-play goals and one short-handed goal -- had one point in two games. 

Team Southwest has six games remaining, beginning with a 9 a.m. game Saturday against Team Northeast at New Hope Ice Arena.

Boys high school hockey practice begins in 33 days! Teams can get going on Monday, Nov. 12.

Lourdes opens its season at St. Thomas Academy on Saturday, Dec. 1. The Eagles' first home game is Thursday, Dec. 6, against Chanhassen.

October 06, 2012

H.S. Football | A big night in Rochester

Posted by: Feldman

I'll get into more thoughts on Rochester Mayo's homecoming win against Mankato West in a bit, but first, if you haven't heard or read it yet, Rochester Century running back Alex Crawford set a city record for rushing yards in a game. He ran for 388 yards in a win against Austin, at Century, on Friday.

Perhaps more important for Century is that it likely locked up a home game in the first round of the Section 1AAAAA playoffs. Winona and Austin will likely fall into the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds, which means Century will likely be No. 4. The winner of next week's Mayo-JM game will be at least the No. 2 seed. The Spartans still have a shot at the No. 1 seed, if they can beat JM next week and Owatonna the following Wednesday.

Lourdes also won big, against Cannon Falls, while JM suffered a setback to Faribault.

For now, though, I have some more thoughts on Mayo's win against No. 10-ranked West.

The Spartans trailed 27-14 at halftime, but Mayo's defense shut down the Scarlets in the second half and Mayo pulled out a 34-30 victory. Part of the problem with trying to report on such an entertaining, wild, back-and-forth game is that you can't fit everything you'd like to fit into a 20-column inch print story.

So, here are some notes that didn't get into Saturday's print edition:

* THE RUNNING GAME: Mayo's offensive line and running game have come a long way since the season opener at Farmington five weeks ago. Alex Proell had 34 rushing yards on 18 attempts that night; the Spartans had 26 net rushing yards as a team. It stands as their only loss of the season so far. 

Twice now I've meant to point out the Spartans' o-linemen in print and haven't fit it into the article. So, center Troy Penz, tackles Cameron Gray and Nate Bathke, guards Jonathan Rojas and Alex Selle, and tight ends Jorden Serrano and Matt Rogers were outstanding on Friday night. Fullbacks Loren Lorang and Tommy Fjelsted were often able to get outside and seal the edge for Proell, who had a career night with 182 rushing yards on 30 carries, and four TDs.

Penz mentioned to me after the game that the linemen have become closer off the field and those friendships have translated to the on-field product. West had some beefy dudes playing on its defensive line, but Mayo was winning the battle at the line of scrimmage and Proell ran as hard as I've seen him run in two years. He was making all kinds of yards on his own. He had four TD runs, but the runs that stick out to me were an 8-yarder, where it looked like Proell was going to be taken down at the line, but broke two tackles, then dragged a West defender forward for a nice gain. The other was a 3-yarder where, again, he should've lost yards, but spun away and made a short gain out of the play. Proell is showing good patience and the ability to read a defense. The running game in general is getting better each week.

* THE PASS DEFENSE: No mincing words here, Mayo's defensive backs got exploited early in the game. West QB Ryan Schlichte threw TD passes of 14 and 15 yards, and he dug the Scarlets out of a hole at their own 2-yard line by completing a long pass that was taken deep into Mayo territory. But head coach Donny Holcomb and Mayo star senior CB Maurice Cain both credited defensive coordinator Joe Ties with making the right halftime adjustments. Mayo's corners were playing tight coverage on West's receivers in the first half. In the second half, the corners dropped off to about eight yards, which made a world of difference. Zach Robertson forced a fumble, Jake Hanson recovered it, and Cain had two big-time pass breakups in the second half that halted West drives. Mayo gave up 27 points in the first half, 3 in the second half. The secondary will be tested again next week against JM QB Aaron Grad and the Rockets' passing attack.

* SPECIAL TEAMS: Mayo's kick return coverage units were not sharp, but senior Drew Burt came up big twice, blocking two West PAT kicks in the first half. West makes those and they only need to get into field goal position on the final drive of the game. 

*THE PASSING GAME: I'll admit now I didn't know what to expect from senior QB Eric Manges this season. He had massive shoes to fill, after playing behind program record-setter Nate Penz the past two years. I expected Manges to be a game manager. A 75-yards-a-game type of QB. I couldn't have been much more wrong. Manges has been an integral part of the Spartans' offense. He is making good decisions (I'm sure he'd like to have one pass back that he threw tonight, but what QB doesn't throw a bad one every now and then?) and spreading the ball around. He finished with 185 yards and a TD against West. He led Mayo on a nice 65-yard drive -- into the wind -- to open the game and get the Spartans off to a good start with a TD on their first possession. Mayo will need him to continue his strong play the rest of the year.

That's all I have for now; just had all these thoughts stuck in my head and had to get them out before bed time. Anyone have an early prediction on next week's JM at Mayo game? I honestly have no idea who I'll pick. It's a coin flip to me at this point. Hopefully it lives up to the rivalry's history.

October 04, 2012

High School Football Picks | Week 6

PHERSY: Feldy, let's just go right into the picks, because nobody wants to hear about how awesome you are ... OK, OK, Feldy was a perfect 7-0 last week. He drew a line in the sand, and I seemed to step in a puddle, going 4-3. So, now Feldy is 29-6 and after my worst week of the season, I'm 26-9.

I'm getting some back this week Feldy.

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

Austin (2-3) at Century (2-3)

Faribault (3-2) at John Marshall (4-1)

Albert Lea (0-5) at Mankato East (0-5)

THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE

Chatfield (5-0) at Caledonia (5-0)

Southland (3-2) at Rushford-Peterson (3-2)

Fillmore Central (1-4) at Kingsland (1-4)

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

Mabel-Canton (1-4) at Lyle/Pacelli (1-4)

• • •

FELDY: I was like Will Ferrell in his "Old School" debate last week. Just slipped into a zone that I won't be able to find again. Lots of tough games to pick this week. Phersy, you could argue either way on all seven of these, which I'm sure you will.

BIG NINE

Century 28, Austin 23: Like I said last week, we're getting deep into the regular season, which means a Jon Vik-coached team starts to play its best. Austin will play better than it did a week ago, but the Panthers get the edge on their home field.

JM 35, Faribault 31: After correctly picking JM to knock off West last week, I'm tempted to pick Faribault to knock off the Rockets this week. But, Faribault has had a couple of painful losses in a row and I think they'll come up just shy against a very good JM team.

Albert Lea 26, Mankato East 16: Someone's "0" must go. I've got nothing more on this one.

TRC

Caledonia 23, Chatfield 15: Caledonia's defense is stout. The Warriors are allowing less than a TD per game. Chatfield will be their biggest test to date, but this will also be Chatfield's biggest test to date.

Rushford-Peterson 34, Southland 18: R-P is 3-2. Both of its losses are to teams that are still undefeated (6-0 Lewiston-Altura, 5-0 Caledonia). Southland has lost two of its last three and had to eke out a 1-point win last week. I like the Trojans by a couple of scores.

Kingsland 14, Fillmore Central 12: Both of these teams have played a tough schedule over the past few weeks. Kingsland was solid defensively last week, nearly knocking off Southland. I'll take the Knights on a late TD.

SEC

Mabel-Canton 54, Lyle/Pacelli 42: Both of these teams topped 50 points last week. M-C played better defensively. The Cougars run their winning streak to two.

• • • • •

PHERSY: Yeah, let's roll ...

BIG NINE

Austin 29, Century 20: Feldy, I'm missing the game this week ... but Austin is the team I cover every week. They weren't focused last week and it killed them. They're capable of winning this game. But, they have to find a way to slow down Crawford.

Faribault 30, JM 24: I live in the JM district ... so this is just mean, right? How do the Rockets slow down Jandro? Not sure. And Faribault better be motivated after last week's monumental collapse.

Albert Lea 25, Mankato East 6: The Tigers aren't as bad as people think ... they've lost to the top teams in the conference. East is struggling, though.

TRC

Chatfield 15, Caledonia 14: Game of the week. But I've stuck with the Gophers all season. I'll do it again.

Rushford-Peterson 30, Southland 11: Agree with Feldy here ... these teams are heading in opposite directions.

Fillmore Central 12, Kingsland 0: Why not?

SEC

Lyle/Pacelli 42, Mabel-Canton 40: Two in a row? Someone has to do it ...