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23 posts categorized "Albert Lea"

February 18, 2016

High School Hockey Today | Feb. 18, 2016 (The Section Quarterfinals edition)

Posted by: Feldman
Who's ready for some playoff hockey? 
The girls state tournament got underway yesterday at The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, with the top four seeds (Blake, Warroad, St. Paul United, Proctor/Hermantown) all winning their Class A quarterfinal matchups. Section 1A champ Northfield was shut out 3-0 by Section 8 champ Warroad. Northfield's season ended this morning with a 2-0 loss to Alexandria in a consolation game at Ridder Arena.
The Class AA girls state quarterfinals began at 11 a.m. today. Section 1AA champion Lakeville South is the No. 5 seed and will play the final game of  the day, scheduled for an 8 p.m. start against No. 4 Maple Grove. No. 2 Edina meets Eastview at 11 a.m. in the tourney opener. That's followed by No. 3 Eden Prairie against Forest Lake at 1 p.m. Top-seeded Hill-Murray, the only unbeaten girls team left in the state (27-0-1) faces Sartell-Sauk Rapids at 6 p.m.
The girls state quarterfinals are not televised, but Friday's state semifinals and Saturday's championship games can be found on Charter Spectrum channel 192 in Rochester. They begin at 11 a.m. Friday and run all day, with two Class A semis in the morning/afternoon, and two AA semis in the evening.
Closer to home, the Section 1A and 1AA boys hockey tournaments get going full force tonight. We'll be down to four teams in each section by about 10 p.m. today, assuming we don't have some 3-OT game or something. And I just jinxed things, most likely. I'll be at the Owatonna-JM game at the Rec Center, which now will probably go at least 3 OTs. 
Rochester Lourdes also plays in town tonight. The Eagles are the No. 3 seed in Section 1A and will play host to No. 6 seed LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter/TCU/Cleveland. Typing that name once helps me get much close to my desired word count. They should just go by the Bulldogs. Or, like, South Central Minnesota or something like that. 
Century, Mayo, Dodge County and Red Wing all are on the road tonight, with tough tests awaiting.
Here are some section previews that ran in Tuesday's P-B:
* I wrote a feature story on Lourdes' four seniors, who hope to guide the program back to the state tournament for the first time since 2013.
There are a lot of games tonight, so let's get to them:
7 p.m., Rochester Rec Center
Seeds/Records: No. 5 Owatonna 15-9-1; No. 4 Rochester JM 19-6-0
Coaches: Owatonna, Josh Storm (5th season, 68-53-9); JM, Jay Ness (5th season, 66-59-4)
Last meeting: JM won at Owatonna 5-1 on Jan. 23, 2016. The Rockets swept the two-game season series against the Huskies by a combined scored of 12-2.
Last game: Owatonna beat Austin 4-0 on Saturday; JM beat Red Wing 9-1 on Saturday.
Team leaders: OWT -- Sr. F Noah Scheid 26-23--49; So. F Tyler Wencl 9-26--35; Jr. F Adam Rehman 9-21--30; So. G Ryan Johnson 9-3-0, 1.42 GAA, .917 save pct., 6 SO. JM -- Sr. F Brady Dahl 22-27--49; Isaac Lamppa 25-23--48; Sr. F Conner Lee 12-26--38; Sr. D Josh Frerks 7-30--37; So. F Xander Lamppa 13-21--34; Sr. G Brady Meyers 19-6-0, 1.71 GAA, .930 save pct., 4 SO.
Notes: Owatonna's Scheid and JM's Dahl tied for third in the Big Nine in points (49). ... JM is looking for its first playoff victory since 2007. ... JM goalie Meyers is tied for 6th in the state in wins (19), ninth in goals-against average (1.71) and fourth in save percentage (.930). ... JM beat Owatonna 7-1 on Dec. 3, its second game of the season, then again 5-1 at Owatonna on Jan. 23. The Rockets led just 1-0 after two periods in the second meeting, but outscored the Huskies 4-1 in the third period.
7 p.m., Hasse Arena
: No. 6 Mayo 14-10-1; No. 3 South 14-10-1
Coaches: Mayo, Lorne Gross (49th season, 707-445-29)
Last meeting: Lakeville South beat Mayo 13-0 on Jan. 8, 2016.
Last game: Mayo defeated Rochester Century 4-1 on Saturday; South lost to Rosemount 6-3 on Saturday.
Team leadersMAYO -- Jr. F Anthony Oliveto 23-25--28; Sr. F Veikko Weckman 21-19--40; Sr. F Max Billings 20-11--31; Sr. D Nick Norby 7-18--25; So. G Liam Claton 13-6-1, 3.49 GAA, .870 save pct. L.S. -- Bradlyey Golant 16-12--28; Joshua Ess 8-18--26; Noah Rasinski 10-12--22; Sam Malinski 4-18--22; G Isaiah Dilaura 9-8-1, 2.41 GAA, .906 save pct., 3 SO.
Notes: In their first matchup this season, South led Mayo just 1-0 after one period, then scored nine goals in the second period and went on to a 13-0 win. ... South has lost three consecutive games and four of its past five. ... Former Rochester John Marshall standout Cory Checco is a sophomore forward for South. Checco has 7 goals and 17 points this season. ... Mayo has three 20-goal scorers. Oliveto led the team in scoring in the regular season, and was fifth in the Big Nine, despite missing three games with an injury. ... Mayo last played in the section semifinals in 2013.
7 p.m., Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena
: No. 7 Rochester Century 10-14-1; No. 2 Farmington 15-8-1
Coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus (5th season, 63-60-10); Farmington, Greg May
Last meeting: Farmington won at Century, 5-3, on Dec. 4, 2014.
Last game: Century lost at Rochester Mayo, 4-1 on Saturday; Farmington won at Eastview, 2-1 on Saturday.
Team leaders: CENT -- Jr. F Eric St. Marie 10-6--16; So. F Jon Thorvilson 7-9--16; Jr. D John Schmitz 6-9--15; So. F Ben Haas 3-11-14; Jr. D Will Zmolek 6-8--14; So. G Cole Walter 8-10-1, 3.53 GAA, .885 save pct., 2 SO. FARM -- Sr. D Erik Holmstrom 13-26--39; Sr. F Wyatt Jensen 13-23--36; Sr. F John Siebenaler 13-22--35; G Gavin Enright 15-8-1, 2.35, .910, 3 SO.
Notes: Century has lost two consecutive games after a four-game winning streak. ... The Panthers have just two seniors and four juniors on their roster. They have 13 players who will play in their first varsity playoff game tonight. ... Farmington, last year's section runner-up, has 10 seniors on its roster. ... Tigers goalie Enright, a sophomore, has allowed one or fewer goals in five of his past eight games. ... Farmington is ranked No. 20 in the latest Class AA state poll.
7 p.m., Ames Arena
: No. 8 Dodge County 4-21-1; No. 1 Lakeville North 19-5-1
Coaches: Dodge County, Chris Ernest (1st season, 4-21-0); North, 
Last meeting: North beat Dodge County 14-0 on Feb. 19, 2015, in a Section 1AA quarterfinal game.
Last game: Dodge County lost 3-2 in OT at Becker/Big Lake on Friday; North won 7-6 at Prior Lake
Team leaders: D.C. -- Sr. D Max Blaisdell 9-11--20; Sr. F Ethan Strunk 8-9--17; Sr. D Drew Kirmse 6-8--14; Fr. G Cole Kundert 4-18-0, 5.47 GAA, .845 save pct. L.N. -- Jr. F Ryan Poehling 20-34--54; Jr. F Henry Enebak 17-29--46; Sr. F Max Johnson 27-19--46; Sr. F Taylor Schneider 18-21--39; Jr. G Buzz Eigner 13-3-1, 2.07 GAA, .892 save pct., 3 SO.
Notes: North is ranked No. 7 in the latest Class AA state poll. The Panthers are the defending Section 1AA and Class AA state champions. ... North lost five players off last season's team who are committed to Division I colleges. Three players on this year's team are committed to D-1 schools, with a fourth likely to commit soon. ... The Panthers have won eight consecutive games and 14 of their past 15.
* * *
7 p.m., Graham Arena I
: No. 6 LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter 16-10-0; No. 3 Rochester Lourdes 7-17-0
Coaches: L-H/SP/TCU, Shea Roehrkasse (1st season, 16-10-0); Lourdes, Josh Spaniol (7th season, 105-88-8)
Last meeting: Lourdes beat L-H/SP/TCU 8-2 in a Section 1A quarterfinal game at Graham Arena IV on Feb. 21, 2013.
Last game: L-H/SP/TCU beat Waseca 8-1 in a Section 1A first-round game on Tuesday; Lourdes won 5-4 at Red Wing on Feb. 11.
Team leaders: LHSP -- Sr. F Alex Hoehn 26-28--54; Jr. F Isaac Westphal 21-23--44; Sr. F Nathaniel Wenner 15-23--38; Sr. D Avery Bachman 10-22--32; Sr. G Zeke Haugen 15-10-0, 2.98 GAA, .920 save pct., 1 SO. LOU -- Jr. F Tucker Chapman 21-13--34; Jr. F Montana Streit 10-20--30; Sr. F Peter Alexander 6-13--19; Sr. F Mason Carstens 10-7--17; Jr. G Adam Renn 5-13-0, 4.30, .865, 1 SO.
Notes: Lourdes is looking to get back to the section semifinals after a one-year absence. ... The Eagles played in six consecutive section championship games between 2008-13. ... Lourdes' Carstens, Chapman and Streit all played in the 2013 state tournament. ... L-H/SP won a first-round playoff game on Tuesday for a sixth consecutive season. The Bulldogs' season has ended in the section quarterfinals each of the past five years.
5:15 p.m., All Seasons Arena
: No. 5 Red Wing 10-16-0; No. 4 Mankato East 15-9-1
Coaches: RW, Bob Rajanen (3rd season, 22-57-1); East, Adam Fries (3rd season, 35-41-1)
Last meeting: East won 8-5 at Red Wing on Feb. 4. Nick Salzle, Chase Kunst and Tyler Lebert had 3-point games for East.
Last game: Red Wing beat Winona 6-0 in a Section 1A first-round game on Tuesday; East won 3-2 in OT at Rochester Century on Feb. 11.
Team leaders: R.W. -- Jr. F Tyler DeFore 32-11--43; Sr. F Sam Hanson 12-22--34; Jr. D Seth Cushing 15-21--36; So. G Zachariah Harding 8-11-0, 4.07 GAA, .891 save pct, 2 SO. EAST -- Sr. F Judd Schulz 24-36--60; Sr. F Chase Kunst 15-21--36; Jr. F Tyler Lebert 15-19--34; So. Jack Cusey 15-9-1, 3.67, .879, 1 SO.
Notes: Red Wing snapped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday. ... DeFore led the Big Nine Conference in goal scoring this season. ... East has won four consecutive games and five of its past six. ... East senior Judd Schulz led the Big Nine in scoring this season. ... East is looking for its first postseason win since 2010, when it beat Austin 7-1 in a first-round game.
7 p.m., Northfield Ice Arena
: No. 9 La Crescent 16-6-1; No. 1 Northfield 18-6-0
Coaches: La Crescent, JP Piche; Northfield, Mike Luckraft
Last game: La Crescent won at Austin 4-2 in a Section 1A first-roudn game on Tuesday; Northfield beat Faribault 10-2 on Saturday.
Team leaders: LaC -- Sr. F Zack Hanno 22-52--74; Jr. F Carter Schmitz 40-21--61; So. D Laudon Poellinger 14-20--34; Sr. G Josh DeBoer 16-6-1, 2.44 GAA, .922 save pct., 3 SO. NFLD -- F Ryan Torbenson 24-29--53; Jr. F Jackson Cloud 10-24--34; So. F Jacob Halvorson 22-11--33; Jr. F Nicholas Kvernmo 10-23--33; Jr. G Ryan Bielenberg 18-6-0, 2.28, .898, 4 SO.
Notes: Northfield tied Rochester John Marshall for the Big Nine Conference championship. ... Hanno is the leading point-scorer in the section and Schmitz is the section's leading goal-scorer. ... A Northfield victory tonight would be its first this season against a non-Big Nine Conference opponent. ... Raiders goalie Bielenberg has won 12 of his last 13 starts. 
7:30 p.m., All Seasons Arena
: No. 7 Albert Lea 9-17-0; No. 2 Mankato West 12-11-2
Coaches: A.L., Roy Nystrom; West, Curtis Doell
Last meeting: West beat Albert Lea 4-1 in Mankato on Feb. 4, 2016.
Last game: Albert Lea beat Faribault 9-1 on Tuesday in a Section 1A first-round game; West beat Rochester John Marshall 6-5 in OT on Feb. 11.
Team leaders: A.L. -- Jr. F Austin Dulitz 6-20--26; Sr. F Foster Otten 12-13--25; Sr. F Jack Pulley 8-15--23; So. F Bergen Lundak 17-5--22; Jr. G Ben Witham 6-16-0, 3.91 GAA, .871 save pct., 1 SO. WEST -- Sr. F Tyler Loe 21-21--42; Jr. D Kyle Looft 15-18--33; Jr. F Jimmy Miller 11-17--28; Jr. G Jackson Peterson 12-11-2, 3.17, .862, 2 SO.
Notes: West swept the two-game regular-season series against Albert Lea, winning 4-1 both times. ... West's Loe finished seventh in the Big Nine in scoring. ... Albert Lea had three players reach double figures in goals scored, Lundak (17), Otten (13) and Mitchell Evans (12). ... West has won three consecutive games, on the heels of a three-game losing streak. ... Four of West's current players -- Loe, Looft, Brandon Pahl and Nick Spiess -- played in the Section 1A championship game two years ago, when West was edged by New Prague 3-2.

January 21, 2016

High School Hockey Today | Jan. 21, 2016 (The 'Due For A Sweep' edition)

Posted by: Feldman
Pop quiz: When was the last time all four Rochester hockey teams won a game in the same night?
Answer coming soon. I'll give you a little time to ponder it (if you want the answer NOW, it's listed right before the breakdowns of tonight's games.)
This could be a night where Rochester goes 4-for-4, though as we've seen this season, nothing is guaranteed.
Winona plays at Century, JM (undefeated in Big Nine play) plays host to Albert Lea, Lourdes plays at Dodge County and reeling Mayo plays at suddenly surging Austin. 
Austin is playing very well, having won three in a row and five out of six, so don't be shocked if it gives Mayo a battle. The Spartans have struggled to generate offense in the past week, but having leading scorer Anthony Oliveto back should help that issue. Oliveto returned in Mayo's 9-0 loss to red-hot Owatonna on Saturday. 'Tonna has won four consecutive Big Nine games by a combined score of 32-0. That's an impressive roll and it has the Huskies in position to pounce at the Big Nine title if JM and Northfield trip up at all.
Elsewhere tonight, a couple of big games to watch with Section 1 seeding implications: No. 7-ranked Lakeville North plays host to Farmington (receiving votes in state poll), and No. 20 Lakeville South plays non-section rival Prior Lake (ranked No. 18). That game doesn't directly impact the Section 1 seeding process, but it would be another good win for South when it comes time to argue for seeding position with North and Farmington.
North, South and Farmington will be the top three seeds in Section 1AA, in some order. JM likely will be No. 4, though Owatonna and Mayo both still have an outside shot at earning a home game. They both play JM once more, so if either wants to pass the Rockets, they'll have to beat them and hope JM loses a couple more sometime during this home stretch. I'd say Owatonna has the inside track, slightly, on Mayo right now for the No. 5 seed. The teams split their regular-season series, with Mayo winning at Owatonna by a goal and the Huskies rolling to a 9-0 win at Mayo last Saturday.
Century will likely be the No. 7 seed and Dodge County the No. 8 in the section playoffs, which begin exactly four weeks from today.
We'll break down the Section 1A and 1AA races a little more in the coming weeks, but for now, we're back to the present.
Quiz answer: Feb. 9, 2013. That's the last time Rochester's four boys hockey teams all won on the same night. Mayo beat Faribault 4-1, JM beat Owatonna 5-2, Century beat Mankato East 3-0, and Lourdes beat New Prague 4-1. All four Roch teams winning on the same night actually occurred twice that season; it also happened on Jan. 31.
Onto tonight's games...
7:30 p.m., Graham Arena IV
Records: Winona 0-13-0 Big Nine, 1-15-0 overall; Century 3-8-0, 6-11-1.
Coaches: Winona, Fran McDevitt; Century, Josh Klingfus (5th season, 59-57-10 overall)
Last meeting: Century won at Winona 7-0 on Dec. 17, for its first conference win this season. Cole Walter had an 11-save shutout.
Last game: Winona lost to Austin 6-0 on Tuesday; Century lost at Northfield 8-1 on Tuesday.
Team leaders: WIN -- Jr. D Ty Mannor 7-1--8; Jr. F Joe Brinkman 0-5--5; Jr. F Andre Russeau 2-2--4; Sr. G Matt Schoh 1-10-0, 6.38 GAA, .842 save pct. CENT -- Jr. D John Schmitz 5-7--12; Jr. D Will Zmolek 4-8--12; So. F Ben Haas 3-8--11; So. F Jon Thorvilson 5-6--11; So. G Cole Walter 6-9-1, 3.74, .882.
Notes: Century has dropped two consecutive games, but both were against the top two teams in the Big Nine, JM and Northfield. ... Century G Cole Walter has faced an average of 40 shots in his past four games. ... Winona earned its first victory of the season on Saturday, a 5-1 win at Worthington. ... The Winhawks scored five goals in their victory; in their 15 losses, they have totaled 11 goals and have been shut out nine times.
7:30 p.m., Rochester Rec Center
Records: Albert Lea 4-9-0 Big Nine, 5-11-0 overall; JM 9-0-0, 12-5-0.
Coaches: Albert Lea, Roy Nystrom; JM, Jay Ness (5th season, 59-58-4 overall)
Last meeting: JM won at Albert Lea, 4-3 in OT, on Jan. 22, 2015. JM's Josh Frerks scored the game-winning goal at 2:49 of OT.
Last game: Albert Lea lost to Red Wing 4-3 on Tuesday; JM beat No. 12-A St. Paul Johnson 3-1 on Saturday.
Team leaders: A.L. -- Sr. F Foster Otten 9-7--16; Sr. F Jack Pulley 6-9--15; Jr. F Austin Dulitz 4-11--15; So. F Bergen Lundak 10-2--12; Jr. G Ben Witham 4-11-0, 3.62 GAA, .872 save pct., 1 SO. JM -- Sr. F Brady Dahl 13-19--32; Sr. F Isaac Lamppa 20-10--30; Sr. D Josh Frerks 5-21--26; Sr. F Conner Lee 6-17--23; Sr. G Brady Meyers 12-5-0, 1.77, .930, 2 SO.
Notes: JM G Brady Meyers ranks in the top 10 in the state in wins (12, T-9th), GAA (1.77, T-8th) and save pct. (.930, T-9th). ... This is the only meeting of the season between these teams and is worth 4 points in the Big Nine Conference standings. ... Albert Lea has lost four in a row and five of its past six, since the start of January. ... The Tigers have scored a total of five goals in their past four games.
7:30 p.m., Riverside Arena
Records: Mayo 6-4-0 Big Nine, 10-8-0 overall; Austin 3-6-0, 5-7-1.
Coaches: Mayo, Lorne Grosso (49th season, 703-443-28 overall); Austin, Erik LaRock (4th season, 17-68-5).
Last meeting: Mayo beat Austin 5-3 on Jan. 22, 2015, at Graham Arena in Rochester. 
Last game: Mayo lost to Owatonna 9-0 on Saturday; Austin won at Winona, 6-0, on Tuesday.
Team leaders: MAYO -- Jr. F Anthony Oliveto 14-18--32; Sr. F Veikko Weckman 15-13--28; Sr. D Nick Norby 6-12--18; Sr. F Max Billings 12-6--18; So. G Liam Claton, 9-5-0, 3.63 GAA, .869 save pct. AUST -- Jr. F Isaac Arnold 11-9--20; Jr. D Jace Greenman 6-13--19; Jr. F Kory Potach 2-11--13; Jr. F Brayden Merritt 7-6--13; So. G Noah Bawek 4-6-1, 2.89, .874.
Notes: Austin has won five of its past six games and three in a row after an 0-6-1 start to the season. ... The Packers have won three consecutive Big Nine games. ... Freshman G Ryan Flanders earned his first career victory in the Packers 6-0 shutout at Winona on Tuesday. ...  Mayo is just 1-3-0 in its past four games. The Spartans' first-liners have combined four just four points in those games, though leading scorer Anthony Oliveto missed three of those games with an injury. ... Mayo has seven games remaining in the regular season, five of them are on the road.
time, location
Records: Lourdes 4-13-0 overall; Dodge County 3-14-0.
Coaches: Lourdes, Josh Spaniol (7th season, 102-84-8 overall); Dodge County, Chris Ernest (1st season, 3-14-0)
Last meeting: Lourdes beat Dodge County 11-0 on Feb. 3, 2015, at Graham Arena in Rochester.
Last game: Lourdes lost to No. 7-A St. Paul Academy 8-1; Dodge County won at Waseca, 3-2.
Team leaders: LOU -- Jr. F Tucker Chapman 13-8--21; Jr. F Montana Streit 6-15--21; Sr. F Peter Alexander 6-10--16; Sr. F Mason Carstens 6-4--10; Jr. F Logan Olson 2-8--10; Jr. G Adam Renn . D.C.-- Sr. F Max Blaisdell 8-7--15; Sr. D Ethan Strunk 5-7--12; Sr. F Isaac Thoe 7-2--9; Sr. F Drew Kirmse 4-5--9; Fr. G Cole Kundert 3-11-0, 5.54 GAA, .843 save pct.
Notes: Dodge County's win at Waseca on Tuesday snapped a seven-game losing streak. The Wildcats had won two consecutive games prior to that losing skid. ... Five of Dodge County's losses have been by one goal. ... Lourdes has faced five of the top 10 teams in this week's Class A state poll, as well as the Nos. 2- and 5-ranked teams in Wisconsin.
 Red Wing (7-3-0 Big Nine, 7-10-0 overall) at Northfield (12-1-0, 12-5-0), 7:30 p.m., Northfield Ice Arena: Northfield is on a six-game winning streak; its last loss occurred on Jan. 2 against Rochester Lourdes. ... The Raiders haven't won by less than three goals on their current winning streak. They have outscored those six opponents 46-9. ... Raiders G Ryan Bielenberg is 6-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and 2 shutouts in the past six games. ... Northfield senior F Ryan Torbenson is equally hot, recording 5 goals and 18 points during the six-game win streak. ... Northfield won at Red Wing a week ago, 3-0, outshooting the Wingers 48-27. ... Red Wing is 3-2-0 in January, on the heels of a five-game losing streak to close 2015.
 Farmington (9-6-1) at No. 7-AA Lakeville North (11-4-1), 7 p.m.: The Section 1AA and South Suburban Conference rivals meet for a second time this season. Farmington beat North 5-3 on Dec. 10. ... Defending state champion North is on a six-game winning streak. Farmington has lost three of its past five.
 No. 18-AA Prior Lake (11-6-0) at No. 20-Lakeville South (9-5-1), 7 p.m.: Prior Lake took it to South in the first meeting of South Suburban rivals this season, winning 7-1 at home on Dec. 10. ... P.L. has won four of its past six, losing only to No. 17 Duluth East (3-1) and No. 7 Lakeville North (3-2). ... South is among the state's hottest teams, going unbeaten in its last eight games (7-0-1) after a 2-5-0 start. ... Former Rochester JM standout Cory Checco is seventh in scoring for South with 4-8--12.
 No. 13-AA Wayzata at No. 2-AA Minnetonka (13-4-0), 7 p.m.: Tonight's premier matchup in Minnesota features a Wayzata team that has won once in its past four games (1-2-1) against Minnetonka, which has won five in a row and nine of its past 10.
 North Shore (13-3-0) at No. 3-A Greenway (16-3-0), 7:30 p.m.: How much fun are they having in hockey-rich Coleraine right now? Greenway is 16-3-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state. The program has made nine trips to state, including winning state titles in 1967, 68 and 92. It hasn't been to state since 2001. Greenway gets an unranked North Shore team that is quietly having a nice season (13-3-0).
• No. 1-N.D. Grand Forks Red River (13-0-0) at No. 11-A East Grand Forks (11-6-1), 7:30 p.m.: The top team in North Dakota travels across the Red River to face the two-time defending Minnesota Class A state champion.

January 14, 2016

High School Hockey Today | Jan. 14, 2016 (The 'One Last Go-'Round' edition)

Posted by: Feldman
It's tough to believe, but there is just one month left in the boys high school hockey regular season. The last regular-season games will be played Saturday, Feb. 13, with first-round playoff games set for Tuesday, Feb. 16.
The end of a sports season always brings lots of "lasts" -- the last home games for seniors, last road games, last practices and, ultimately, last games.
But a very different kind of "last" will occur tonight in Albert Lea. 
Lorne Grosso, Mayo's head coach for 49 seasons will coach for the final time opposite Albert Lea's Roy Nystrom, who has been with the Tigers for more than 40 years. The two played college hockey together at Minnesota, where they were on the same line. Then, after seven seasons of coaching in North Dakota, Nystrom took the job in Albert Lea. 
Mayo won the first meeting of the season between the teams, 6-2 on Dec. 10 at Graham Arena in Rochester.  
Mayo is in Section 1AA, Albert Lea in Section 1A, which means there's no chance they'll meet in the postseason. It will be an interesting stop on Grosso's unofficially-titled "Farewell Tour." (He won't call it that, but others of us will). He has been presented with plaques, food, handshakes and recognition from coaches, players and fans at road games this season.
But this one is different. It's Albert Lea. It's his long-time friend. Neither Grosso or Nystrom will tell you just how much these games mean to them, but trust me, they do. Who doesn't even want bragging rights over their buddy? Maybe if Albert Lea wins tonight, Grosso will have to come back for another season.
Here's a look at tonight's games:
7:30 p.m., Rochester Rec Center
Records: Century 3-6-0 Big Nine, 6-9-1 overall; JM 8-0-0, 10-5-0.
Coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus (5th season, 59-55-10 overall); JM, Jay Ness (5th season, 57-58-4).
Last meeting: JM defeated Century 4-0 on Dec. 22 at the Rec Center. Isaac Lamppa scored twice and Brady Meyers had a 17-save shutout for the Rockets.
Last game: JM lost to Tartan 2-1 on Tuesday; Century defeated Albert Lea 4-1 on Tuesday behind 52 saves from sophomore goalie Cole Walter.
Team leadersCENT -- Jr. D Will Zmolek 4-8--12; So. F Ben Haas 3-8--11; So. F Jon Thorvilson 4-6--10; Jr. John Schmitz 4-6--10; So. G Cole Walter 6-7-1, 3.28 GAA, .895 save pct. JM -- Sr. F Brady Dahl 13-16--29; Sr. F Isaac Lamppa 19-9--28; Sr. D Josh Frerks 4-17--21; Sr. F Conner Lee 3-17--20; Sr. G Brady Meyers 10-5-0, 1.73, .929.
Notes: Five of the last six games between these teams have been decided by a goal or less (one tie). ... Century has a 12-game lead in the all-time series and has led the series since 2001. ... Four of JM's five losses this season have come by one goal and all in non-conference play. ... JM has outscored Big Nine opponents 55-9. ... Walter has been Century's backbone since taking over as the starter midway through last season. He has stopped 40 or more shots in a game three times this season, including a career-high 52 saves in Tuesday's 4-1 win at Albert Lea (the initial report from A.L. showed Walter with 47 saves, but it was later corrected to 52). He is 14-10-2 as a varsity starter.
7:30 p.m., Albert Lea City Arena
Records: Mayo 5-3-0 Big Nine, 9-7-0 overall; A.L., 4-6-0, 5-8-0.
Coaches: Mayo, Lorne Grosso (702-442-28); A.L., Roy Nystrom (688 career wins, 594 in Minnesota)
Last meetingMayo defeated Albert Lea 6-2 on Dec. 10, 2015, at Graham Arena I. Veikko Weckman had a hat trick for Mayo, while linemate Anthony Oliveto had five assists.
Last gameMayo lost to Northfield 6-1 on Saturday; Albert Lea lost to Rochester Century 4-1 on Tuesday.
Team leaders: MAYO -- Jr. F Anthony Oliveto 14-18--32; Sr. F Veikko Weckman 15-11--26; Sr. F Max Billings 12-6--18; Sr. D Nick Norby 4-12--16; So. G Liam Claton 8-4-0, 3.39 GAA, .877 save pctA.L. -- Sr. Foster Otten 8-7--15; Jr. Austin Dulitz 3-11--14; Sr. Jack Pulley 5-8--13; So. Bergen Lundak 10-2--12; Jr. G Ben Witham 4-8-0, 3.78, .858.
NotesMayo will likely be without its leading scorer once again. Oliveto has been out since Dec. 30, when he suffered an upper-body injury in the fifth-place game of the Kiwanis Festival. He missed last week and Grosso said he expected him to miss at least all of this week, too. ... The Tigers have had an up-and-down season. It is 3-3-0 in its past six games after a four-game losing streak. ... A.L. put 53 shots on goal in its 4-1 loss to Rochester Century on Tuesday. ... Albert Lea had defeated Mayo three consecutive times until the Spartans beat the Tigers on Dec. 10.
7 p.m., Graham Arena
Records: N.U. 8-6-2 overall; Lourdes 3-12-0.
Coaches: N.U., Ryan Neuman (1st season, 8-6-2 overall); Lourdes, Josh Spaniol (7th season, 101-83-8)
Last meetingLourdes defeated New Ulm 5-2 on Jan. 15, 2015, at the New Ulm Civic Center. Five players scored once each for Lourdes in the game.
Last gameNew Ulm won at Worthington, 14-2, on Tuesday. Lourdes lost at Mankato West 3-2 on Tuesday.
Team leaders: N.U. -- Jr. F Brandon Mehlhop 11-25--36; Sr. F Ethan Kraus 13-18--31; Fr. F Landon Strong 8-7--15; Sr. F Noah Webb 7-8--15; Sr. G Cody Banal 5-4-1, 3.66, .833; Sr. G Adam Larson 3-2-1, 4.28, .859LOURDES -- Jr. F Tucker Chapman 11-8--19; F Jr. F Montana Streit 5-11--16; Sr. F Peter Alexander 6-8--14; Jr. F Logan Olson 2-8--10; Jr. G Adam Renn 2-9-0, 4.22, .871.
NotesNew Ulm qualified for the Class A state tournament last season. It beat Willmar and Hutchinson, then upset state-ranked Luverne in the Section 3A title game. ... New Ulm snapped a seven-game winless streak with the win at Worthington on Tuesday. It started the season 7-1-0. ... Mehlhop ranks 8th in the state with 25 assists. The 5-foot-8 junior has 14 points in the past four games. ... Lourdes is searching for some consistency on offense. It has just two players with more than five goals -- Chapman (11) and Alexander (6). ... Lourdes has played just two games against Section 1A opponents this season, but has done well in both, beating likely top seed Northfield 4-2, then playing likely No. 2 seed Mankato West to a one-goal game on Tuesday.
 Winona (0-11-0 Big Nine, 0-13-0 overall) at Austin (0-6-0, 2-7-1), 7:30 p.m., Riverside Arena: Something has to give between the only two winless teams in Big Nine Conference play. ... Austin is 2-1-0 in its past three games. ... The Packers have scored 16 goals in those three games after scoring 14 goals in their first seven games. ... Austin junior F Isaac Arnold has four points in the past four games. ... Winona hasn't come closer than two goals to any opponent this season. The Winhawks have scored just nine goals this season and have been shut out eight times.
 Northfield (9-1-0 Big Nine, 9-5-0 overall) at Red Wing (6-2-0, 6-9-0), 7:30 p.m., Prairie Island Arena: This is the first meeting this season between the two newest teams in the Big Nine Conference; they'll play at Northfield a week from today. ... Red Wing is led by senior F Tyler DeFore, the second-leading goal scorer in the conference (18). ... Northfield beat Red Wing three times last season, each time by three goals. The Raiders won 3-0 and 5-2 in the regular season, and again 4-1 in the Section 1A quarterfinals.
 No. 12-AA Grand Rapids (11-5-1) at No. 4-A Hibbing/Chisholm (14-0-0), 7:30 p.m.: Grand Rapids takes its three-game winning streak to Hibbing to attempt to top one of the two unbeaten teams left in the state. H/C outscores its opponents by an average of 3.93 goals per game, but has won four games by one goal.
 No. 10-A East Grand Forks (11-4-1) at No. 11-AA Bemidji (11-2-2), 7:30 p.m.: The two-time defending Class A state champion EGF is on a roll, unbeaten in seven of its past eight games. It goes against a ticked-off Bemidji team that had a four-game winning streak snapped in OT on Tuesday against unranked Moorhead.
 No. 17-AA Centennial (8-5-1) at No. 2-AA Blaine (12-2-0), 7 p.m.: Blaine has won five in a row since a 6-3 loss to Anoka on Dec. 19. It's led by two of the state's best forwards and best scorers, Luke Notermann (17-28--45) and Riley Tufte (25-19--44).
 No. 20-A Minneapolis (10-6-0) at No. 12-A St. Paul Johnson (11-3-1), 7 p.m.: The Civil War of the Twin Cities takes place at Phalen Arena in St. Paul. Johnson is 6-1-1 in its past eight games, Minneapolis is 5-2-0 in its past seven.

December 10, 2015

High School Hockey Today | Dec. 10, 2015 (The 'Welcome Back' edition)

Posted by: Feldman

We're three weeks into the high school hockey season and I'm just now getting back into the HSHT routine. Well, I suppose we have to do this more than once to call it a routine, eh? But, it's definitely past the time to get "Today" going again.

Before we get into today's games, there have already been a few highlights from our southeastern Minnesota teams in the early going:

* Rochester Mayo coach Lorne Grosso recorded his 696th career victory, moving him into 2nd on the all-time high school hockey coaching wins list in the United States. The leader is far out of reach, even if Grosso decides not to retire at the end of this season (no, not trying to plant a seed in his head; his wife, Joni, would not be happy if I tried that). Bill Belisle of Mt. St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I., has more than 970 career victories. His lead is safe until Minnesota decides to let high school teams play 50-game regular season schedules.

* Red Wing junior forward Tyler DeFore is off to a red-hot start for the 3-3-0 Wingers. DeFore has 9 goals already, which is tied for 6th in the state. He has at least one point in all of the Wingers games so far, highlighted by his 4-goal effort in a 5-4 OT win against Albert Lea. The only goal he didn't score that night? The winner in OT. That was scored by Joe Renshaw. DeFore also has one assist, giving him 10 points for the season. He was Red Wing's leading scorer with 21 goals and 34 points last season. He leads the Big Nine in scoring and is tied for third in points.

* Rochester Mayo's top line has been on fire to start the season. The 3-2-0 Spartans have received 28 points from the Veikko Weckman - Max Billings - Anthony Oliveto line. Weckman is second in the Big Nine with 7 goals and 12 points. Oliveto is tied for third in the conference with 10 points, while Billings is second on the team in goals (6). The line has accounted for 17 of Mayo's 20 goals. 

* Three players from southern Minnesota are among the top 10 in the state in goals scored. La Crescent junior Carter Schmitz is tied with Luverne's Jaxon Nelson atop the list, with 12 goals. Schmitz has two hat tricks and two other two-goal games already this season. Red Wing's DeFore is tied for sixth place in the state with 9 goals, as is Isaac Westphal of LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter. Westphal, a junior, has scored in five of the Bulldogs' six games, including a hat trick on Nov. 28 at Worthington.

Let's get into tonight's games:

7:30 p.m., Graham Arena I
Records: Albert Lea 2-2-0 Big 9, 2-2-0 overall; Mayo 3-1-0, 3-2-0
Coaches: Albert Lea, Roy Nystrom; Mayo, Lorne Grosso
Last meeting: Albert Lea beat Mayo 9-1 on Jan. 15, 2015, at Graham Arena. Three Tigers players scored two goals each in that game.
Last game: Albert Lea lost to Red Wing 5-4 in OT on Dec. 3; Mayo beat Winona 9-1 on Dec. 3 at Graham Arena.
Team leaders: A.L. -- Soph. F Bergen Lundak (7-1--8); Soph. F Micahel Savelkoul (0-7--7); Jr. F Austin Dulitz (2-5--7); Jr. G Ben Witham (2-2-0, 3.22 GAA, .889 save pct.). MAYO -- Sr. F Veikko Weckman (7-5--12); Jr. F Anthony Oliveto (4-6--10); Sr. F Max Billings (6-0--6); Soph. G Liam Claton (2-1-0, 3.67, .863)
Notes: There likely won't be a matchup between two coaches with more combined victories than these two coaches. Grosso (696) and Nystrom (685) have combined for 1,381 career wins. They were linemates at the University of Minnesota in the 1960s and have coached against one another at their current schools for about 40 years. Grosso started at Mayo when the school opened in 1966. Nystrom spent some time coaching in North Dakota before coming to Albert Lea. ... Albert Lea is loaded with underclassmen. The top three and four of the Tigers' top five scorers are underclassmen. ... Mayo's Weckman is an exchange student from Finland. 

7:15 p.m., New Prague Community Center
Records: Lourdes 1-4-0 overall; New Prague 2-4-0.
Coaches: Lourdes, Josh Spaniol; N.P., Chris Lonke
Last meeting: Top-seeded New Prague edged eighth-seeded Lourdes 2-1 in a Section 1A playoff quarterfinal game on Feb. 19, 2015, at the N.P. Community Center. Lourdes led 1-0 early in the 2nd period, but N.P.'s Zach Davis scored twice -- including just 11 seconds after Lourdes' goal -- to lift the Trojans.
Last game: Lourdes lost at No. 6-ranked St. Cloud Cathedral 5-1 on Saturday; New Prague beat Red Wing 3-2 on Tuesday.
Team leaders: LRDS -- Jr. F Tucker Chapman (3-2--5); Jr. F Montana Streit (1-3--4); Sr. F Peter Alexander (1-2--3); Sr. F Logan Olson (0-3--3); Jr. G Adam Renn (1-3-0, 4.86 GAA, .845 save pct.). N.P. -- Sr. F Alex Gregor (7-3--10); Sr. F Zach Davis (1-8--9); Sr. F Nathan Simon (2-3--5); Sr. D Connor Pint (0-5--5); Jr. G Graydon Skok (2-3-0, 3.92, .884).
Notes: This will be the only meeting of the season between these non-conference rivals -- barring both making the Class A state tournament. New Prague, which won the past two Section 1A championships, has moved to Section 2A this season, while Lourdes remains in a balanced and competitive Section 1. ... Producing offense has been an issue for both teams so far. Lourdes averages 2.0 goals per game while New Prague averages 2.5 goals per game.

6:30 p.m., Bud King Ice Arena
Records: JM 2-0-0 Big Nine, 2-1-0 overall; Winona 0-2-0, 0-3-0
Coaches: JM, Jay Ness; Winona, Fran McDevitt
Last meeting: JM won at Winona 5-0 on Jan. 27, 2015
Last game: JM lost at Spring Lake 3-2 in OT on Saturday; Winona lost 4-1 at Owatonna on Tuesday
Team leaders: JM -- Sr. F Brady Dahl (3-4--7); Sr. F Isaac Lamppa (3-2--5); So. F Xander Lamppa (2-1--3); Sr. F Conner Lee (1-2--3); Sr. D Josh Frerks (1-2--3); Sr. G Brady Meyers (2-1-0, 2.27 GAA, .929 save pct.). WIN -- Jr. F Joe Brinkman (0-3--3); Jr. F Andre Russeau (2-1--3); Sr. G Matt Schoh (0-3-0, 7.12 GAA, .855 save pct.).
Notes: Just three games into its season, JM has had 14 players record at least one point. ... Meyers has allowed just seven goals through three games. ... JM averages 4.3 goals per game and allows 2.3. ... Winona averages 1.7 goals per game and allows 6.3. ... JM has 15 seniors listed on its varsity roster.

* * * * *


* Red Wing at Austin (7:30 p.m., Riverside Arena): Red Wing is 3-1-0 Big Nine, 3-3-0 overall; Austin is 0-2-0, 0-3-1. ... The Wingers are led by junior F Tyler DeFore, who has the sixth-most goals in the state (9). He has 10 total points this season. ... Sophomore Zachariah Harding has played every minute in goal this season for the Wingers. He is 3-3-0 with a 3.15 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage. The latter stat is fourth-best in the Big Nine and he is one of two goalies in the conference to record a shutout this season. ... Austin has played four close games this season. The Packers tied La Crescent, lost to Faribault by one goal and LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter by two. ... Austin is searching for scoring. It has scored a total of four goals in its three losses.

* * * * *


* No. 8-AA Lakeville North (1-1-0) at No. 20-AA Farmington (2-2-1), 7:30 p.m.: In a matchup that will go a long way to determining the top seed in the Section 1AA playoffs, North goes on the road for a second consecutive game. Defending state champ North lost its opener to Stillwater, but bounced back with a big 10-1 win at Shakopee on Saturday. Farmington will provide a stiffer test.

No. 4-AA Blaine (4-0-0) at No. 16-AA Centennial, 7 p.m.: Blaine opens Northwest Suburban Conference-North Division play by putting its unbeaten record on the line in Circle Pines. Centennial's only loss came against No. 6 Edina, 4-1, on Dec. 3. 

* No. 2-A Breck (5-0-0) at No. 7-AA Wayzata (4-2-0), 7 p.m.: Breck's offense has been nearly unstoppable, putting up 32 goals through five games. Its defense has been shaky, though, allowing seven goals to No. 9-A Delano/Rockford in a 9-7 win, and four goals to Totino-Grace in a 7-4 win. Wayzata's two losses have come against a pair of state powers from up north, No. 1-A Hermantown and No. 3-AA Duluth East.

* Lakeville South (0-1-0) at No. 14-AA Prior Lake (2-1-0), 7 p.m.: South is playing for just a second time this season, and the first time since a tragic car accident resulted in the deaths of two South students late last week. That accident caused South's game against Rochester Mayo last Saturday to be postponed. 

No. 15-A Duluth Denfeld (4-2-0) at No. 1-A Hermantown (3-0-1), 7:30 p.m.: The top-ranked Hawks are coming off a 4-4 tie against unranked Hopkins. Hermantown rallied for two third-period goals in that game to force OT. 

February 19, 2015

High School Hockey Today: The Section 1 tournaments roll on

Posted by: Feldman

After a wild opening night in the Section One, Class A boys hockey tournament, what should we expect tonight? More of the same, most likely. I sound like a broken record, but nothing that happens in the Section 1A tournament from this point on will be a surprise. Three of the five games played Tuesday were decided by a goal, one in double overtime and another in OT.

No. 4 seed Faribault avoided a major upset when it scored a power-play goal with 3:30 left in the third period to eke out a 2-1 win against No. 13 seed Austin, which won just three games all year. Austin competed well against the best teams in the section, though. The Packers played No. 2 seed Mankato West and Faribault to one-goal games this season, tied No. 6 seed Red Wing, and also played one-goal games against section opponents Winona and Waseca.

The Section 1AA tournament gets going tonight, with undefeated and No. 1-ranked Lakeville North (25-0-0) the clear-cut favorite.

The game to watch tonight in 1AA is right here in Rochester, as No. 4 seed Mayo plays host to No. 5 seed Century in the third meeting this season and 51st overall between the long-time rivals. The teams split a pair of 4-3 games during the regular season, with Century edging Mayo last Saturday in the regular-season finale. Both of those regular-season matchups were played with the intensity cranked up to 11. My guess is both teams will take that even higher tonight; if one of them doesn't, its season will be over.

That said, tonight's game will come down to which team plays smart hockey, makes the simple plays, executes its systems the best and STAYS OUT OF THE BOX. We could say that about pretty much every postseason game at any level of hockey, but it's true, stupid penalties are killers this time of year. They dang near cost Rochester Lourdes on Tuesday in a 3-2, overtime, first-round Section 1A victory against Mankato East.

So let's get to tonight's Section 1 games; I'll cover 'em all in two sentences each. Since I posted Section 1A predictions on Tuesday, I should do the same for 1AA (you'll never ever guess who I pick to win it) today. After looking at each of today's games, I'll post some more thoughts about Lourdes' dramatic win on Tuesday, then my Section 1AA predictions.

* * *


All games at 7 p.m., at higher seed

* No. 8 Dodge County (7-17-0) at No. 1 Lakeville North (25-0-0), Ames Arena, Lakeville: North has 3 Mr. Hockey finalists, 5 Division I commits (so far) and the No. 1 ranking in the state. To say it's an uphill battle for D.C. is like saying "I think I'll take a little stroll to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro today."

* No. 5 Rochester Century (15-7-3) at No. 4 Rochester Mayo (16-8-1), Graham Arena I: Juding by their regular-season meetings, this should be the game of the night in 1AA. Storyline to watch: A confident senior in goal for Mayo (Chris Wileman) vs. a confident freshman in goal for Century (Cole Walter).

* No. 6 Rochester John Marshall (13-12-0) at No. 3 Farmington (17-7-1), Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena, Farmington: Farmington has ended JM's season two of the past three years, but I haven't seen the Rockets look intimidated against anyone this season. For JM to win this one, junior goalie Brady Meyers has to be lights-out and JM's scoring depth has to show through.

* No. 7 Owatonna (11-12-2) at No. 2 Lakeville South (14-10-1), Hasse Arena, Lakeville: Owatonna is playing well, going 4-1-1 in its final six regular-season games. However, the Huskies have only beaten two teams with winning records all season.

* * * * *

All games at 7 p.m., at higher seed

* No. 8 Rochester Lourdes (6-18-2) at No. 1 New Prague (17-8-0), New Prague Community Center: Lourdes has a lot of confidence and momentum on its side after finally getting a one-goal victory, rallying from two down to beat Mankato East in Tuesday's first round. New Prague, the defending section champion, probably isn't thrilled to see Lourdes come to town for the Trojans' first playoff game this season.

* No. 5 LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter/TCU/Cleveland (19-7-0) at No. 4 Faribault (18-7-1), Faribault Ice Arena: Faribault is not playing its best hockey right now and just suffered a 4-1 loss against LH/SP/TCU/C only nine days ago. The Falcons need to find their scoring touch again and can't get into a track meet against L-H/SP and the state's top scorer, Sam Wenner.

* No. 6 Red Wing (8-17-1) at No. 3 Northfield (14-9-2), Northfield Ice Arena: Northfield beat Red Wing twice during the regular season, both times by three goals. Guessing this one will be closer, but does Red Wing have enough energy left for another tight game after going to double-OT on Tuesday?

* No. 7 Albert Lea at No. 2 Mankato West, All Seasons Arena, Mankato: Albert Lea was the only Section 1 team that didn't have to sweat out a close first-round game on Tuesday, beating La Crescent 7-1. As for West, wouldn't it be something if, after all of the talented seniors it lost from last season, the Scarlets end up going to state this year?

* * * * *

Lourdes is playing with confidence

Some might say that, if we're being honest, Rochester Lourdes probably shouldn't be playing tonight. But that's really not the case. Sure, the Eagles got a fluke goal to start their rally late in the third period of a 3-2 overtime victory against Mankato East on Tuesday.

The Eagles outplayed East for a majority of the game, they just couldn't get anything past Cougars goalie Jack Cusey. That changed once Lourdes senior D Griff Slightam lofted a puck toward the goal from the blue line; it landed behind Cusey and went into the net to pull Lourdes within 2-1 with less than five minutes to go. Slightam scored again two minutes later to force OT, then fed Tucker Chapman seconds into OT for the game winner.

Lourdes has been through so many close games -- 11 1-goal losses, 17 losses by 2 or less -- this season that the hockey gods were bound to give them one sooner or later. The question is: Can Lourdes get another one?

The Eagles have their work cut out for them tonight, facing defending section champion and No. 1 seed New Prague.

Lourdes is playing with confidence, though. And it knows it can hang with New Prague. The teams played a pair of one-goal games in the regular season, with the Trojans winning both times (New Prague went 6-0-0 against section opponents). As always, Lourdes needs senior goalie Jack Burkel to be sharp and they'll have to have a more defense-first mindset tonight. East got behind the Eagles' defensemen a handful of times on Tuesday. My guess is Lourdes won't get away with allowing a bunch of odd-man rushes tonight.

* * * * *

Now, some Section 1AA predicitions, and I really go out on a limb here, so brace yourself...

Lakeville North 13, Dodge County 1: D.C. gets a late goal to spoil the shutout.
Lakeville South 9, Owatonna 3: South scores early, often to advance to semis.
Farmington 5, Rochester JM 3: Rockets push til the end before an empty-netter seals the Tigers' win.
Mayo 4, Century 3: The coin says heads; Mayo wins by the same score as the other two Mayo-Century games had this season.

North 7, Mayo 2: What can we say? North is the best team in the state.
South 3, Farmington 2, OT: Maybe the best game of the tournament, South finds a way to beat Gage Overby and the Tigers.

North 8, South 2: North wants to send a message to the teams it'll face at state. It does that against its top rival.

February 17, 2015

High School Hockey | Breaking down the Section 1A tournament

Posted by: Feldman

This will serve as an extended version of High School hockey today. The Section 1A tournament begins with five first-round games tonight (I cringe when they are called play-ins; they're tournament games, just like quarterfinals and semifinals), so we'll take a look here at the wide-open 1A tourney.

I'll preview the Section 1AA tournament in Wednesday's P-B and take a look at that bracket here on the blog either Wednesday or Thursday (it's safe to say that tournament is not as wide-open as 1A).

This should be as fun as any Section 1A tourney in recent memory. Last year's was enjoyable to watch, too, particularly the well-played section title game between New Prague and Mankato West, where New Prague built a 3-0 lead through two periods then held off a furious charge by West in the third.

Could we see a rematch of that title game? Absolutely.

Could we see two different teams in this year's title game? Absolutely.

I have been looking at the bracket since it came out Sunday and I think every time I look at and pick winners in my head, the results are different.

First, some hockey-related links to stories from around the area and the state:

* Here is my preview of the Section 1A tournament, including a short look at the top seeds and the local teams, as well as three players who could have a big impact on the tournament.

* The girls hockey state tournament begins Wednesday. Red Wing is going for a fifth consecutive season and it's bringing its deepest defensive corps.

* The Star Tribune looks at each of the 16 boys hockey sections in one sentence each.

* Mankato Free Press hockey writer Shane Frederick writes that Mankato East seniors are looking to win the first playoff game of their high school careers, and Mankato West hopes to navigate a competitive Section 1A tournament and get to the state tournament.

* * * * *

As for the Section 1A bracket, it had to be fun to be part of the seeding meeting.

Maybe the only clear-cut decision was New Prague earning the No. 1 seed by going 6-0-0 against section opponents.

Every other team had some wins and losses along the way that could have justified moving them up or down. For example, Mankato West was awarded the No. 2 seed, which they earned and deserved, but the Scarlets lost to LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter, Faribault and Red Wing, and tied Rochester Lourdes, all teams seeded below them.

The seeds played out like this: 1-New Prague, 2-West, 3-Northfield, 4-Faribault, 5-L-H/SP, 6-Red Wing, 7-Albert Lea, 8-Lourdes, 9-East, 10-La Crescent, 11-Waseca, 12-Winona, 13-Austin.

If I had a vote, this is how I had them ranked: 1-New Prague, 2-West, 3-Faribault, 4-Northfield, 5-LHSP, 6-East, 7-Albert Lea, 8-Red Wing, 9-Lourdes, 10-LaCrescent, 11-Waseca, 12-Winona, 13-Austin.

It just goes to show that there was a lot of wiggle room for those teams from about Nos. 6-10.

I also had Faribault ahead of Northfield because they split during the regular season and Faribault finished ahead of Northfield in the Big 9. But I have no problem with Northfield being the 3, as you'll see at the end of this post.

* East was the one team I was way off about. My guess is the Cougars' 1-5-0 record down the stretch didn't help their seed, but I was looking at their wins against Albert Lea (twice), Faribault, Red Wing and L-H/SP. They also lost to Faribault, Red Wing and L-H/SP late in the season, so that justifies East as the No. 9 seed. As I looked through results, I wished Lourdes and East had played during the regular season. I guess we'll get that wish tonight.

* It is good to see Red Wing get the No. 6 seed. The Wingers are 6-3-0 in their past nine games after a 1-14-1 start. That start wasn't as bad as the record looks, though, as they went to OT six times in that stretch and lost seven one-goal games. If Red Wing gets past Waseca, Northfield better lace its skates tight for a quarterfinal matchup on Thursday. (Though, to be fair, Northfield was the one Big 9 team that handled Red Wing fairly well during the regular season, scoring a pair of three-goal wins).

Against my better judgement, I'll go ahead and make some picks. Feel free to let me know why I'm wrong...


Rochester Lourdes 4, Mankato East 3: East is a scrappy team. Its 7-5 loss to Rochester Mayo on Feb. 3 keeps sticking in my head. Mayo coach Lorne Grosso talked about how resilient East is, how they don't stop coming after you. I'm extremely tempted to pick them here, but I think Lourdes senior goalie Jack Burkel will win this one for his teammates. Lourdes has only scored more than three goals in a game four times this season. They'll do it for a fifth time and advance to face top-seeded New Prague on Thursday.

LeSueur-Henderson/SP/TCU/C 6, Winona 1: The state's leading scorer Sam Wenner and the LHSPTCUC (that looks like I hit the caps-lock button and mashed my hand on the keyboard) Bulldogs roll on.

Faribault 8, Austin 2: I thought Faribault should have a bye tonight, but the No. 4 seed in the section will pounce on the Packers early and pull away to move on to Thursday's section quarterfinals.

Red Wing 6, Waseca 3: The Wingers are 6-1-0 over the past month against Section 1A opponents. They'll make it 7-1-0 after taking down Waseca.

Albert Lea 5, La Crescent 2: Albert Lea is on a three-game winning streak after snapping a seven-game losing skid. The Tigers are playing with confidence and that will carry them past the Lancers (19-6-0), who put up a good record primarily against teams from Wisconsin.


New Prague 4, Lourdes 2 (en): Lourdes pushes the top-seeded Trojans, but NP gets a late empty-netter.

L-H/SP/TCU/C 4, Faribault 3: The Bulldogs pull the first (mild) upset of the tourney and advance to the Rec Center.

Northfield 5, Red Wing 3: The Raiders were the only 1A team to beat Red Wing over the past month. They'll do it for a third time this season.

Mankato West 6, Albert Lea 2: West's upperclassmen have had a sour taste in their mouths for a year, since that close loss to New Prague in last year's section final. They start their push for a state tourney berth with a big win.


New Prague 5, L-H/SP/TCU/C 2: The Trojans figure out how to slow the Bulldogs' high-scoring offense and return to the section final.

Northfield 6, Mankato West 5: The game turns into a track meet at the Rec Center and Northfield gets the last goal, late in the third, to win.


Northfield 2, New Prague 1, OT: Why do I think this is Northfield's year to get to state? I just feel like, in a wide-open section like this, someone other than the top seed will come out of it. The Raiders have lost five games since the start of January. Three of those came against Class AA teams. The other two -- against Mankato West and Faribault -- both came by one goal. I think the Raiders flip those two one-goal games in the playoffs and advance to state. Plus, when these teams met in the regular season, New Prague had to score twice in the third period to rally from a 2-1 deficit to win. Northfield hangs on this time.

* * *

My apologies to Northfield for likely jinxing you.

This section is entirely up for grabs. The team I just picked to win it could quite possibly not even play a game at the Rec Center. Would it really surprise anyone if Red Wing went to Northfield on Thursday and won? No. Would it completely surprise anyone if No. 9 East or No. 8 Lourdes goes to New Prague on Thursday and wins a close one? It shouldn't.

Finally, if you're looking to follow tonight's games on Twitter, here's a quick list to check:

No. 9 East at No. 8 Lourdes -- me (@PBFeldy), Lourdes activities (@LHSEagles), and perhaps @PaulAllan5 for the East perspective

No. 12 Winona at No. 5 LHSPTCUC -- Bulldogs hockey (@BBulldog_Hockey)

No. 13 Austin at No. 4 Faribault -- check out Miles Trump (@FDNMilesTrump), Faribault activities (@Frbo_Falcons), Faribault hockey (@FBO_BHS_Hockey)

No. 11 Waseca at No. 6 Red Wing -- I'm guessing either Kyle Stevens (@RE_KStevens) or Joe Brown (@RE_JBrown) will be at Prairie Island Arena for this one

No. 10 La Crescent at No. 7 Albert Lea -- check Albert Lea hockey (@BoysALhockey), La Crescent coach JP Piche (@JeepPiche30), or the Albert Lea Tribune (@altribunesports)


February 05, 2014

Boys Hockey | Looking at potential Section 1A, 1AA matchups

Posted by: Feldman

There are still 10 days left in the boys hockey regular season, and a couple of key games remain that will impact the seeding process in both Section 1A and 1AA, but since I start thinking about this stuff the minute the Kiwanis Holiday Tournament finishes, I thought we'd try to map out some of the possible seeding scenarios.

I do this with one big asterisk: * I can't figure out how or why some Section 1 coaches vote certain ways each year (there always seems to be a vote or two cast for purely selfish or political reasons). And I haven't seen all of these teams play, so I'm going by records, stats, wins over quality opponents, etc.

Let's start with 1AA.


I started digging into stats and numbers and trends for 1AA teams, but, let's face it, this section goes through the No. 1-ranked team in the state, Lakeville North. I honestly don't know when the last time a Section 1 (A or AA) team was ranked No. 1 in the state. 

This North team is the best team to come through the section since the 2006-07 Century team that placed third at the state tournament. If I had a time machine, it wouldn't be the first thing I'd do, but I'd certainly go back, load that whole 06-07 Century team into the machine and zap it into 2013-14 to watch it play against this year's North team. I could write a whole blog post just about that fantasy matchup, and maybe I will at some point during the playoffs...

The most intriguing battle for playoff positioning in 1AA lies among three Big Nine Conference teams: Century, Mayo and Owatonna. Those three teams are fighting for the 4-5-6 seeds. There's a chance that all three of Rochester's 1AA teams -- Mayo, Century, JM -- may have to go on the road for the first round of the playoffs. I don't ever recall that happening, but we'll get to those teams in a bit. Let's start at the top:

No. 1 seed: Lakeville North. It's clear North is the No. 1 seed. It's 18-3-1 and the top-ranked team in the state. It has played three games against section opponents, outscoring them by a combined 25-2. The Panthers battled injuries early in the year and started the season 2-3-0. They haven't lost since Dec. 7, going unbeaten (18-0-1) in their last 19 games. They hold wins against No. 3 Hill-Murray and two over No. 5-ranked Burnsville. They tied No. 6 Blaine, 3-3, on Dec. 27. They've won 11 consecutive games since that tie, outscoring those 11 opponents 58-13. Their depth is their strength; they have 12 players with 11 or more points.

No. 2 seed: Farmington. The Tigers schedule isn't as difficult as Lakeville South's, but it's really hard not to give the 18-3-1 Tigers the nod for the No. 2 seed ahead of a South team that is 7-14-0. Farmington hasn't lost since Dec. 17, going 13-0-1 since. It outscores its opponents by an average of more than 3 goals per game (5.32-2.14). 

No. 3 seed: Lakeville South. The Cougars (7-14-0) get the No. 3 seed because of their 6-3 victory over Rochester Mayo. South has lost twice to North this season. South has a couple of the top players in the section, sophomore F Nick Swaney (12-28--40) and senior F Patrick Lauderdale (15-25--40).

Nos. 4, 5, 6: Owatonna, Mayo, Century. These seeds may not be clear until the final day of the regular season, Feb. 15, when Mayo and Century play for a second time this season. For Century (11-10-0) to have a shot at the No. 4 seed, it will have to beat Mayo and it might have to win its other three remaining games (at JM, vs. Albert Lea, at Mankato West). Of the three teams battling for the No. 4 seed (which means home-ice advantage in the section quarterfinals) Mayo likely controls its destiny. If the Spartans beat Owatonna (Feb. 11) and Century (Feb. 15), they should be in line for the No. 4 seed. Owatonna's next three games are against opponents with a combined 48 losses, so the Huskies should be 13-8-2 by the time they face Mayo. So, if Owatonna wins that game, it'll be 2-0 this season against Mayo and 1-1 vs. Century. That will likely be enough to give it the No. 4 seed and send all three Rochester teams in 1AA on the road for the opening round of section play.

No. 7 seed: Rochester John Marshall. The Rockets (5-15-1) are playing better than they were a month ago, but they're still struggling to finish scoring chances. That said, if the seeds play out the way I have them here, a JM at Farmington quarterfinal game would be really intriguing to watch. JM lost its season opener at Farmington by just one goal, 4-3, on Nov. 21.

No. 8 seed: Dodge County. The Wildcats (9-9-3) will, unfortunately, have their work cut out for them again in the opening round. They'll have to face Lakeville North in the opening round of the postseason.


The top two seeds in 1A are obvious, but after that, arguments can be made among two or more teams for seeds 3-13. I'd love to be a fly on the wall during the seeding meeting. 

No. 1 seed: New Prague. The No. 6-ranked Trojans are 15-4-3 with three games remaining. Their losses are to Eagan, ranked No. 18 in Class AA; Farmington, an 18-win Class AA team; Hermantown, the No. 1-ranked team in Class A; and St. Cloud Cathedal, No. 10 in Class A. The Trojans get the nod for the top seed because of their 2-1 win at Mankato West on Jan. 4.

No. 2 seed: Mankato West. It's tough to think a team that sits 20-2-0 and is unbeaten in the Big Nine right now won't get the top seed, but, to me, West's head-to-head loss to New Prague trumps the differential in number of victories. That said, West and New Prague appear to be on a collision course that ends on Feb. 26 at the Rochester Recreation Center. 

No. 3 seed: Albert Lea. The Tigers (11-7-1) are playing very good hockey right now, having won five in a row and six of their past seven. Four of those six wins are against Class AA teams (Owatonna, Rochester Century, Rochester JM and Rochester Mayo), all by at least two goals. The other two victories came against section foes Faribault and Austin. A.L. also has one of the top goalies in the section, junior Garrett Matz (11-7-1, 2.49 goals-against average, .923 save percentage).

No. 4 seed: Rochester Lourdes. Yes, the Eagles are just 5-14-1, and, yes, you need more than one hand to count the number of key players they've lost to injuries this season. But Lourdes has played a tough schedule (as usual) and it's younger players/guys who are new to varsity continue to improve. Now, can Lourdes find enough scoring to keep up with the top three seeds? That's going to be difficult. If the Eagles are going to beat some of the top teams in the section, they'll have to win close, low-scoring games. That means they'll need junior goalie Jack Burkel to steal a win or two for them in the postseason. Lourdes could make an argument for the No. 3 seed if it beats Albert Lea on Thursday.

No. 5 seed: Northfield. Northfield (9-12-1) has four losses to section opponents, but those are all to the four teams listed ahead of it here. The Raiders have played better over the past two weeks, following a six-game losing skid by winning three out of four. That one loss in the last four games was  3-2 setback to Farmington, a Class AA team that is 18-3-1.

No. 6 seed: Faribault. I'll make an argument for the 7-10-2 Falcons here, even though there are teams in the section with more wins (LeSueur-Henderson/SP has 11, La Crescent 13, but we'll get to those teams soon). I'd give Faribault the 6 seed because it has five wins against section opponents and a tie against Northfield. The Falcons four section losses have all come against teams with double-digit victory totals (two losses to Mankato West, one to Albert Lea, one to L-H/SP). The Falcons also have defeated Albert Lea once this season, which is another checkmark in their favor to get this seed.

No. 7: La Crescent. The Lancers (13-5-4) get the nod here ahead of LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter because of their victory over L-H/SP. La Crescent plays most of its game against Wisconsin opponents, so it's tough to guage exactly where it falls in this section, but aside from beating L-H/SP, its section wins are against Mankato East, Waseca and Faribault, all teams with losing records. The Lancers also tied a 3-win Winona team.

No. 8: LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter/TCU/Cleveland. The Bulldogs (11-7-2) are 4-3-0 against section opponents, including a win against Faribault. They also suffered a loss to Austin,which has just three wins. The Bulldogs are playing well over the past two weeks, going 4-1-1 in their past six games, and they won't be an easy opponent for anyone in the section.

No. 9: Mankato East. The Cougars (7-15-0) have wins over three of the four teams seeded below them.

No. 10: Red Wing. The Wingers (3-19-0) have lost to Northfield, New Prague and Lourdes. They beat Winona in a regular season game and also scored a big win earlier this season against Academy of Holy Angels. 

No. 11: Austin. The Packers (3-16-1) are 1-1-1 against the other two teams remaining, Winona and Waseca. Austin has split with Winona and tied Waseca. Austin also holds a victory over L-H/SP.

No. 12: Winona. The Winhawks (3-15-2) holds wins over Austin and Mankato East, and a tie against La Crescent.

No. 13: Waseca. The Bluejays (4-13-1) are just 1-5-1 against section opponents this season.

We'll have a much better idea a week from now of where all these teams will land. So keep a close on games the rest of this week and next week because there are still a handful of games remaining that will have an impact on these seedings.

September 27, 2013

High School Football picks | Week 5

FELDY: Last week was a tricky week. Neither Phersy nor I saw Austin beating Winona or Mankato East winning for the first time in a couple of years. I still managed to pick up a game on Phersy; I'm 20-8 overall, he's 16-12. Lots of good games this week that could go either way. Here are the games to watch this week. Phersy picks first:

Rochester JM (3-1) at Rochester Mayo (3-1)
Albert Lea (0-4) at Rochester Century (1-3)

Plainview-Elgin-Millville (3-1) at Kasson-Mantorville (4-0)
Rochester Lourdes (3-1) at Byron (2-2)

Rushford-Peterson (4-0) at Chatfield (4-1)

Pine Island (3-1) at Triton (3-1)
St. Charles (1-3) at Kenyon-Wanamingo (1-3)

* * * * *

PHERSY: Yeah, this is getting tough ...


Rochester Mayo 28, Rochester JM 22: This will be another classic in a long line of great games between these two schools. I've put a lot of stock in the Spartans this season, and hopefully, they continue moving in the right direction after the big win over Faribault.

Albert Lea 7, Rochester Century 6: Yep, I'm calling the upset. Injuries have ravaged an already thin Panthers team, and they have WRs playing quarterback.


Kasson-Mantorville 35, Plainview-Elgin-Millville 28: This is the best game of the week. KM has stumbled a bit, but the KoMets have survived to remain unbeaten. They'll get another tough test this week.

Rochester Lourdes 24, Byron 13: Lourdes bounced back last week after its first loss of the season. They have enough firepower to run past a dinged-up Byron club.


Chatfield 20, Rushford-Peterson 0: The Gophers' lone loss is a one-pointer to Caledonia. They've also had three consecutive shutouts. RP has a great defense, too, but the Gophers hold on.


Triton 24, Pine Island 16: This is a tough game to pick, but I'll go with the Cobras at home.

Kenyon-Wanamingo 40, St. Charles 39: Flip a coin ... I'll go with the home team.

* * * * *

FELDY: Lots of tough choices this week. Might have to toss a coin a few times...


Mayo 24, JM 20: Mayo is finding its identity, starting to figure exactly what works for it and what doesn't. Plus, its line is improving each week, which will be crucial against a strong Rockets team. JM gets LB/QB Kaeleb Stangler back this week, which will be a huge boost. He'll give Mayo problems on both sides of the ball. This game is likely to determine the No. 2 seed in the Section 1AAAAA playoffs. Mayo wins this one -- but only if it can eliminate the penalties and mental mistakes that allowed Faribault to stay in the game last week.

Century 14, Albert Lea 8: Sounds like the Panthers will have a QB healthy enough to play this week. And there's some pride involved in this one; Century doesn't want to let Albert Lea get its first win of the year on the Panthers' home field. 


Kasson-Mantorville 29, P-E-M 26: P-E-M is a 1-point loss to Rochester Lourdes away from being undefeated. The Bulldogs will be the KoMets' toughest test yet, but they'll pass it -- in a close one -- on their home turf.

Lourdes 24, Byron 16: What a stretch for Byron -- P-E-M, Stewartville and Lourdes in consecutive weeks. This SFA Red Division is difficult every week. The Bears get up for this rivalry game, though, and they'll give Lourdes a battle, but the Eagles' defense will hold off Byron in the end.


Chatfield 23, R-P 7: R-P is a strong team, unbeaten through four weeks, but Chatfield is borderline elite this season -- bringing a 4-1 record into the game only because of a one-point loss to Caledonia in a Zero Week game. The Gophers' defense hasn't allowed a point in September.


Pine Island 19, Triton 17: Pine Island has scored 98 points in the past three weeks; Triton has allowed 7 in that same span. Something has to give. This is as big a game as the P.I. program has had for some time. I think they'll be up for it physically and emotionally and I'll take the Panthers in what some might consider a mild upset.

St. Charles 28, Kenyon-Wanamingo 24: I flip-flopped a few times on this one, so the coin settled it: The Saints get their second win of the season, their first on the road.

September 11, 2012

Hockey | NAHL Showcase to feature 129 Minnesotans

Posted by: Feldman

The Austin Bruins begin their 2012-13 North American Hockey League season in just more than 24 hours. All 24 NAHL teams will converge on the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine for the annual junior hockey showcase.

The Bruins open their season at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday against Amarillo (Texas). Here's my Bruins/Showcase preview from today's Austin P-B print edition. By the way, Bruins coach Chris Tok had some nice things to say about former Rochester John Marshall forward Zach Johnson. Tok mentioned Johnson as one of three young forwards who have stuck out in camp so far. Tok said Johnson has done a nice job at center, opening up space for his linemates and setting them up for scoring chances.

Here's a link to the Showcase website, where you can find schedules and Internet broadcast information.

According to Let's Play Hockey, this year's Showcase will feature 129 players from Minnesota, including five from Rochester -- Johnson and Drew Anderson (Century) from the Austin Bruins; goalie Brock Kautz (Century) from the Janesville (Wis.) Jets; defenseman Rory Vesel (Lourdes) from the Bismarck Bobcats; and defenseman Alec Brandrup (Lourdes) from the Coulee Region Chill (Onalaska, Wis.). Another former standout Big Nine Conference/Section 1 forward, Eric Carlson of Albert Lea, will play for Janesville this season.

Janesville will face Austin on Saturday, the final day of the Showcase, at 7 p.m. Vesel and Brandrup both play for Central Division teams, so they'll play in and against Austin often during the regular season.

Here's a link to Let's Play Hockey's list of the 129 Minnesotans who will play in the Showcase.

The Showcase is well-attended by college coaches and scouts, and professional scouts. This year's Showcase will feature far more than just the 24 NAHL teams. There will be 36 teams from the North American Prospects Hockey League competing at the Tier I 18U major midget level and 16U midget minor levels. Eight teams from the Upper Midwest High School Elite League will play this weekend, too, as will all six 18U midget major teams from the Tier I High Performance Hockey League (Compuware, CYA, Honeybaked, Little Caesars, Mission and Team Illinois).

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.


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.