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18 posts categorized "Big Nine Conference"

January 27, 2014

Boys Hockey: JM-Mayo Round 3, A look at the Section 1AA playoff race

Posted by: Feldman

We're just more than 24 hours past the third meeting of the season between Rochester Mayo and Rochester John Marshall and things are beginning to clear up a bit in both the chase for the Big Nine Conference championship and seeding in the Section 1AA playoffs.

Mayo's 6-3 victory against JM on Saturday gave it a sweep of the three-game season series, barring another matchup in the playoffs, which is a reasonable possibility, depending upon how both teams fare over the next three weeks as the regular season draws to a close.

Two things stick out to me in a big-picture view after Saturday's game:

No. 1, John Marshall is a much-improved team from the last time it met Mayo, on Dec. 28 in the seventh-place game of the Kiwanis Festival. Mayo beat JM by a combined total of 16-3 in their first two meetings this season. Mayo may have won Saturday's game by three goals, but it felt more like a one-goal game.

JM was much more competitive on both ends of the ice. I thought Rockets senior forward Sam Broman was the best player on the ice, for either team, for most of the game. He scored two goals, hit the crossbar twice and just made things happen when he had the puck and even when he didn't. He made a huge play at a tipping point in the game. With JM down 3-0 and time running down in the second period, Broman beat a Mayo defender into the Spartans zone, cut hard to the net and got off a high backhand shot before Mayo goalie Eric Gibson could get a poke-check.

That goal pulled JM within 3-1 after two and brought some life back to the Rockets bench. They struck for two more in the first four minutes of the third to tie the score and they had Mayo reeling. JM's skaters did a tremendous job of taking away space from Mayo's speedy forwards, something that killed the Rockets in the first two games against Mayo this season.

JM dictated play for a good portion of the third, until it took a couple of penalties in the final five minutes and Mayo cashed in with power-play goals from Tommy Hanson and Logan Haskins.

The Rockets are getting better, without question. If they continue to improve, particularly in getting the puck to the net on the power play, they'll be a tough out in the section playoffs.

No. 2, I really, really want to see how good this Mayo team can be if it plays its hardest and its best for 51 minutes. The Spartans completely controlled the game in stretches, holding the puck in JM's zone for minutes at a time. Mayo's power play was off-kilter early on, but they scored on three of their last four power-play chances and finished the game 3-for-6 on the power play.

It hurt the Spartans somewhat that two of their top six forwards are out with injuries, Matt Rogers and Nick Newman. With those two guys back in the lineup, Mayo instantly has three solid lines that they can roll against the top teams in the conference and section. The Max Billings-Anthony Oliveto-Austyn Renn line can score and play defense. They played with a lot of confidence for most of last night's game. Jordan Korte also looks like a top-six forward, while Justin Rein also looked comfortable playing a lot of minutes.

Along with the top line of Tommy Hanson, Logan Haskins and Justyn Sweet, potentially Mayo is looking at 11 solid forwards that could take the ice at almost any time. That kind of depth is invaluable at playoff time.

Spartans senior goalie Eric Gibson appears to have seized the starting job. His numbers continue to get better and better, too, with his goals-against average settling down below 3.00.

As for the Mayo-JM rivalry, Mayo now holds a 55-53-1 lead in the all-time series. It has won eight in a row against JM and nine of the past 10. The longest winning streak in the rivalry is 14 in a row by Mayo from 1996-97 through 2001-02. The teams have played 101 times in the regular season and are tied 50-50-1 in those games. Also, for stat junkies, Mayo has outscored JM 364-341 in their 109 games.

As for the Section 1AA playoffs, a lot will clear up after Tuesday's Mayo at Lakeville South game.

It's clear that Lakeville North will be the No. 1 seed. I won't call it a Miracle On Ice situation, but it will take a monumental effort for any other Section 1AA team to knock North off. Whether it's South, Farmington, Mayo, Century, whoever, they'll have to play the game of their lives to beat North, ranked No. 3 in the state in the most recent AP state poll.

A South victory against Mayo on Tuesday will leave it and Farmington to claim the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds. Farmington already has victories over Mayo, Century, Owatonna and John Marshall.

A Mayo victory at South on Tuesday will muddy the seeding process a bit.

Farmington is 15-3-1 right now. The Tigers have a realistic shot at finishing the regular season with 19 or 20 victories. Lakeville South is 6-12-0 right now and will likely finish with 8 or 9 victories. It's tough to vote South ahead of Farmington.

So if Mayo beats South and can manage to beat Century and Owatonna down the stretch, the Spartans should be the No. 3 seed. That would also mean South and Century would likely be the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in some order. That would mean there would be no shot of another all-Lakeville section final.

Whew. (and by "whew" I mean "whew" as in, that was a lot of scenarios to ramble through, and I hope I didn't put you to sleep; not "whew" as in, "whew" we won't have to see another all-Lakeville section final.)

In other words, everything is clear as mud, but that mud will start to dilute quite a bit after Tuesday's game in Lakeville.

January 10, 2014

Ice Time | Friday, Jan. 10

Posted by: Feldman So we're a week and a half into this new year; it's time to get the blog fired up again since I've been slacking all hockey season. I'll try to put something new up here each day, whether it's about the local high school teams, the Austin Bruins (I'll leave Ice Hawks notes to Phersy; he's all on top of that beat and I don't see them play often enough), former Rochester players who have moved on to juniors, college or pros, or maybe just some random thoughts on the Wild or NHL or college hockey. Whatever it may be, I'll try to have something fresh up here as often as possible. I have high school hockey on the brain right now, so let's get to it: * Rochester Century: The Panthers took one on the chin on Thursday night, a 12-0 loss to No. 6-ranked Lakeville North. But, at least from what I observed, it's not as bad as that score may indicate. For one thing, North piled on six goals in the third period, including four after Century made a goalie change. Not that North shouldn't have kept playing hard -- they are relentless on the forecheck and every bit deserving of their top-10 ranking in the state -- but when you get down 6-0 after two like Century did, then it climbs to 7 or 8 and keeps going, it's easy to sort of shut down. Century can take a couple of positive things out of the loss, though. First, if Century wants to make a run in the postseason, it's going to have to meet North again at some point. Aside from Lakeville South, Century is the only team in Section 1AA that will have faced North in the regular season. Century knows exactly what to expect and how hard it'll have to play if they meet North again. Second, from what I've seen of this Century team, it's not afraid to be physical and match opponents when it comes to hitting and battling in the corners and in front of the net. I also like to see that star defenseman Riese Zmolek has the green light to jump into the offensive play, and not only does he take advantage of those situations where he can join the rush, but his teammates are aware that he can and will do that and they cover for him defensively. Things don't get much easier for the Panthers, who are still unbeaten in Big Nine COnference play. They'll face Mankato West, the conference co-leader, on Saturday at the Rec Center. Speaking of West ... * Rochester Mayo: Mayo showed that it is among the best in the Big Nine on Thursday, playing West -- the No. 7-ranked team in Class A -- to a one-goal game at Graham Arena. West's Derek Frentz scored a short-handed goal with less than 30 seconds to go to win it 2-1. One of Mayo's concerns after the Kiwanis Festival had to be its play in its own end. And I'm not just talking about the defensemen, but all five skaters. It looks like they cleared some things up against West, and Mayo got another nice effort in goal from senior Eric Gibson. Gibson and Luke Utley have split time equally in goal and will continue to unless/until one of them grabs the job and runs with it. Mayo and Century meet next Thursday for the first time this season. Their matchups could be very important when it comes to home-ice advantage for the opening round of the section playoffs. North is clearly the No. 1 seed and Farmington has an argument to be No. 2, based on wins over all three Rochester teams already. If Lakeville South can beat Mayo when they meet on Jan. 28, the Cougars could have the inside track to the No. 2 or 3 seed. That would leave Century and Mayo to battle for No. 4 and a home game in the section quarterfinals, likely against each other. All of those things will shake out soon enough, but it's not too soon to start thinking about playoff matchups. * Rochester Lourdes: I can't remember a team I've covered being hit as hard by injuries as the Eagles have been this season. They lost D Griff Slightam before the season started. They've lost leaders Cody Cossette, Connor Fitzpatrick, Nick Roth and now Mason Carstens to injuries during the season. All that considered, the Eagles should still be competitive come playoff time. They're getting excellent goalie play from junior Jack Burkel and they've learned how to play in close, low-scoring games. That's likely how they'll have to win if they want to have some success in the postseason. They're also eight days away from playing on state-wide TV in Hockey Day Minnesota. It's a real bummer and shame that a few guys won't get to play in that game. ... While I'm thinking of HDM '14, I'll have a bunch of preview stories in next Friday's paper, the Jan. 17 edition. Regardless of how many players Lourdes is missing, I know the coaches and players will be sure to soak in the experience and just enjoy being a part of it. That's it for tonight. I'll try to put together more coherent thoughts from now on; tonight's post is just sort of a stream of consciousness that came out while watching a replay of the Wild game. I'm in the process of putting together this year's "The List." A list of all former Rochester-area players who are currently in juniors, college or pros. There are so many leagues and teams, I'm sure I'm bound to miss someone, but as soon as I get through all the leagues and team rosters, I'll post the list here. As always, let me know if I've omitted anyone.

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 13, 2013

High School Football Picks | Week 3

FELDY: There are a couple of really big early-season games this week, none bigger than No. 1 Owatonna at No. 2 Mankato West in a game that could decide the Big 9 Conference champ. Phersy went 4-3 last week and is 8-6 overall; I was 6-1 and improved to 11-3.

Phersy picks first this week, so here are the games we'll predict in Week 3:


Owatonna (2-0) at Mankato West (2-0)
Winona (0-2) at Rochester Century (1-1) 

Plainview-Elgin-Millville (1-1) at Byron (2-0)
Stewartville (2-0) at Lourdes (2-0)
Cannon Falls (1-1) at La Crescent (1-1)
Lewiston-Altura (0-2) at Triton (1-1)

Mabel-Canton (1-1) at Lanesboro (1-1) 


PHERSY: I hate picking second; you always pick a few just to be different. At least that's my excuse for stinking last week. I have no excuse this week ...


Owatonna 40, Mankato West 21: I know it's in Mankato, but I'll take Huskies to win big in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. Owatonna is a more balanced team, and West doesn't have as many offensive weapons this season (after Claussen, there's a big dropoff at receiver).

Century 20, Winona 6: Battle of the bottom half of the Big Nine. Century doesn't have much, but Winona is really down.


Byron 15, Plainview-Elgin-Millville 8: The Bulldogs look like one of the better defensive teams in the SFA. But Byron will do just enough.

Stewartville 26, Lourdes 21: Stewartville is coming off of an impressive victory over Lake City, while Lourdes beat PEM by a point. Maybe this is a sucker game? Lourdes has the tools, but I love that Stewartville passing game.

La Crescent 28, Cannon Falls 14: La Crescent is back. It lost a close game to K-M last week, but the Lancers already have a win over Triton and they look much improved. Cannon Falls has great line play, but the Bombers need some skill players to step up.

Triton 19, Lewiston-Altura 6: This might be a better game than people think...


Lanesboro 34, Mabel-Canton 33: This might be the game of the week. But I learned my lesson. I'm not betting against Niko Anderson again. He's a monster on both sides of the ball.

* * *

FELDY: Lots of tough games this week. Maybe Phersy will be back in this thing come Week 4...


Owatonna 35, West 21: Not only is this a matchup of the top two teams in the state, it's also likely a battle for the Big 9 title and, dare we say, a possible preview of the Class AAAAA state title game? The Huskies are just too good in every phase, though. They prove it tonight.

Winona 23, Century 12: The Winhawks have had a really tough start to the season, having to face Rochester JM and Owatonna in the first two weeks. They'll rebound this week against a Century team that struggled to get much going up front against Mayo last week.


P-E-M 18, Byron 15: P-E-M showed just how good it is defensively a week ago, when it limited a potent Lourdes offense to one touchdown in a 10-9 loss. The 'Dogs will try to slow down another strong offense (Byron averages 34 points per game through two weeks) this week, on the road. 

Lourdes 27, Stewartville 24: This isn't a bad upset special on your part, Phersy, picking Stewie to beat Lourdes, especially based off how they played last week. I think Lourdes received an early-season wake-up call, though. It doesn't matter how talented you are, you can't let down in practice or on game day, especially in an SFA Red Division that is strong from top to bottom. This is the Eagles' home opener; they'll go up by a couple scores in the third quarter and hold off a very good Stewie team in the fourth.

La Crescent 33, Cannon Falls 23: The Lancers pushed a really good Kasson-Mantorville team to the end last week at K-M. The Lancers return home this week and get a two-score win against the Bombers.

Lewiston-Altura 21, Triton 14: I went back and forth on this one before deciding on L-A in a slight upset. Sure, it's Triton's first home game and the Cobras are coming off a big win at Cotter last week. L-A played well in its opening loss to P-E-M despite the 26-9 score. The Cards are still searching for their first win; I think they get it this week.


Lanesboro 38, Mabel-Canton 30: The Burros get back on track after a tough loss to a top-10 team last week (Spring Grove). I still think Lanesboro shows up as the third-best team in a really good SEC, behind No. 8 Spring Grove and No. 2 Grand Meadow.

February 05, 2013

Boys Hockey | Mayo closing in on Big Nine title

Posted by: Feldman

The 2012-13 Rochester Mayo boys hockey team has a chance to make its mark on the school record book, in a couple of ways, on Thursday night at Graham Arena I against Mankato West.

A Mayo victory would give it at least a share of the Big Nine Conference championship, marking the first time since 2001-02 the Spartans could claim that honor. 

Mayo (12-0-0 Big Nine, 17-4-0 overall) leads West (13-2-0, 17-4-0) by just two points in the conference standings (Mayo has 28 points, West 26), but the Spartans have more points remaining to play for, so a conference title is not lost if they lost to the Scarlets. FYI, Mayo won the first meeting between these teams, 2-1, at Mankato, on Dec. 6.

A Mayo win on Thursday all but guarantees it an outright Big Nine title. The Spartans would only need to tie one of their remaining three games -- against Faribault, Century or Winona -- to win the Big Nine outright. It's a goal the Spartans have had marked on their calendars since the end of last season, when late-season loss to Century gave the Panthers the conference crown by one point over Mayo.

Players such as goalie Case Hansen and forwards Adam Alcott, Ryan Martin and Max Whitney, have all told me at various points this season how big of a goal it is for Mayo to not only win the conference, but to not have to share it.

It's been 11 years since Mayo last won the conference title, which seems crazy, considering some of the talented teams they've had since then.

That 2001-02 title team finished the season with 17 victories. No Mayo team has won more since then. A win on Thursday would give the '12-'13 Spartans 18 victories, the most since 1999-2000, when Mayo went 24-4-0 and placed sixth in the state tournament.

I've had several people ask why Mayo hasn't received any votes or made any waves in the state Class AA rankings. I don't vote on the poll, but, first, any team south of the Twin Cities really has to earn its way into the poll (or even the receiving votes part of the poll). Also, Mayo's four losses came against Eastview, Lakeville North, Hibbing and Virginia. North and Virginia are not ranked; Eastview is No. 18 in Class AA and Hibbing is No. 17 in Class A. 
So, how did the Spartans get to this position? In exactly the way the coaching staff pictured before the season:
* Looking at the team from the goal out, Hansen has been outstanding in net. He has played nearly every minute, posting a 17-4-0 record, an impressive 1.88 goals-against average and a very good .915 save percentage. He has recorded three shutouts and has held five other opponents to just one goal. There have been times when he hasn't had to make a lot of saves. Mayo's defensemen and forwards have been very good about keeping shots to the outside and not allowing quality scoring chances, specificially second or third chances. And Hansen has made some saves that have left opponents shaking their heads. That's a pretty good recipe for success.
* Defensively, Mayo knew what it had in big, physical d-men such as Will Holtan and Tommy Fjelsted. Let's just say, if I was entering the Mayo zone with the puck, I would stop short of trying to skate through or past those two. They've also been good on the offensive end; Fjelsted is the team's fourth-leading scorer, Holtan its fifth-leading scorer. Mayo also converted Justyn Sweet to defense and he has made a difficult transition nicely. James Johnston hasn't shown up on the scoresheet much, but he's been a valuable part of Mayo's blue-line group.
* Offensively, the depth the Mayo coaches thought they could have prior to the season has panned out. The Spartans can skate three quality lines -- the second line, with Nolan Edwards, Matt Rogers and Tommy Hanson doesn't always get as much attention as the other two, but the trio has combined for 44 points and have improved with every game. The top line of Adam Alcott, Ryan Martin and Max Whitney has done its job. They are the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 scorers on the team, combining for 35 goals, 49 assists and 84 points. Mayo's third line -- sophomores Nick Newman, Ethan Moore and Logan Haskins -- has produced 25 points (including nine goals from Haskins), but more importantly, it has give Mayo depth that most teams in the conference can't match. The Spartans can roll three lines, and put any of the three on the ice in just about any situation. That depth creates a lot of matchup problems for opposing teams.
If Mayo does clinch the conference title, outright or shared, it will mark the 19th time in the last 21 seasons that a Rochester team has won or shared the championship. The two years where it didn't happen are recent: 2008 (Mankato West) and 2011 (Albert Lea).

January 15, 2013

This Week in High School Hockey | Jan. 15

Posted by: Feldman

First, if you weren't at the Mayo-Century game on Saturday night, and you haven't seen the video of Mayo sophomore Logan Haskins' second goal of the game (it's pinged around Twitter for two days), here it is. I highly recommend watching if you haven't yet.

Last week: 1-0-1; beat New Ulm, 5-3; tied Richfield, 3-3.
Season: 5-10-2 overall.
What happened: The Wildcats lost to New Ulm by four goals on Dec. 27. Last Tuesday, the Wildcats turned it around and beat the Eagles by two. While this New Ulm team isn't as strong as some of its state-tournament teams of recent seasons, this was still a nice 'W' for Dodge County. If nothing else, it should provide some confidence for the young players on the team. In the 3-3 tie against Richfield on Saturday, the 'Cats discovered they have a little depth at goalie, as Joe Biwer made his first varsity start and stopped 36 shots.
This week: Thursday, vs. St. Paul Highland Park (7:30 p.m.).

Last week: 0-2-0; Lost at Chanhassen, 4-2; lost at Holy Angels, 7-1.
Season: 0-12-1 overall, 0-3-1 Missota Conference.
What happened: The Wingers struggles on both ends of the ice continued as conference play got into full swing. Red Wing has allowed 19 goals, while scoring just five, in its past three games. The Wingers' best shot at a win might come next Tuesday, when it plays host to Shakopee.
This week: Tonight, at New Prague (7:15 p.m.); Thursday, vs. Chaska (7 p.m.).

Last week: 0-2-0; lost at Albert Lea, 2-1; lost to Rochester Mayo, 7-1.
Season: 2-12-0 overall; 1-6-0 Big Nine Conference.
What happened: While Century was outshot, 34-20, at Albert Lea, it was in the game until the final buzzer. Eric Rohleder made 32 saves to keep the Panthers in the game, as he has done a number of times this season. Century played a solid first 16 minutes against Mayo, but the Spartans scored twice in the final 45 seconds of the first period for a 3-0 lead, then Mayo's depth took over as it controlled the remainder of the game. ... The good news last week for Century was the return of sophomore defenseman Riese Zmolek, who was back in game action nearly three weeks ahead of schedule. Zmolek had missed the entire season to that point after suffering a broken ankle last fall.
This week: Tonight, vs. Owatonna (7:30 p.m., Rec Center); Thursday, at Benilde-St. Margaret's (7 p.m., St. Louis Park Rec Center).

Last week: 0-3-0; lost at Owatonna, 6-2; lost to Eastview, 3-1; lost to Austin, 3-2.
Season: 3-11-0 overall; 2-5-0 Big Nine.
What happened: JM led Owatonna after one period, 2-1, and trailed 3-2 after two, but the Huskies scored three in the third period to pull away. The Huskies scored all three of their third-period goals in a span of 69 seconds, in the final five minutes of the game. ... JM responded with one of its best games of the season, falling to Eastview in a close game. Eastview won the Kiwanis Festival in Rochester two weeks ago, putting up seven goals on Mayo in the title game. JM goalies Jacob Garvey and Patric Sadecki combined to limit the Lightning to three goals on 41 shots.
This week: Tonight, at Faribault (7:30 p.m.); Thursday, at Albert Lea (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, at Rochester Mayo (7:30 p.m., at Graham Arena I).

Last week: 3-0-0; beat Mankato West, 3-2; won at New Ulm, 7-3; beat Delano/Rockford, 6-5, OT.
Season: 10-4-0 overall.
What happened: Lourdes scored a big win -- in terms of seeding for the Section 1A tournament -- when it beat West last Tuesday. The win likely locked up the No. 1 seed in the section playoffs for the Eagles, barring a disastrous stretch to close the regular season. The victory against Delano/Rockford was a big one, mentally. Lourdes hadn't fared so well in its past couple outings against ranked teams, so to beat one -- on a goal in the final 30 seconds of OT -- is a big boost. The Eagles still need to improve in the defensive zone; they've played six games in January and have allowed a total of 24 goals in those games.
This week: Saturday, at Duluth Marshall (3 p.m.).

Last week: 2-0-0; won at South St. Paul, 3-2, OT; won at Rochester Century, 7-1.
Season: 11-4-0 overall; 6-0-0 Big Nine Conference.
What happened: The win at SSP was a big one for the Spartans, who had lost a pair of one-goal games against hot goalies the weekend before (against Hibbing and Virginia). The victory against Century showed off Mayo's depth. They received at least one goal from their top three lines, scored two power-play goals and a short-handed goal. The Spartans have nothing but conference games remaining on their schedule. They control their own destiny in the chase for the Big Nine title, but there are still 10 games remaining.
This week: Tonight, vs. Winona (7:30 p.m., Graham I); Saturday, vs. John Marshall (7:30 p.m., Graham I).

December 02, 2012

High School Hockey Rewind | Week 1

Posted by: Feldman

The first week-plus of the boys high school hockey season is in the books and it was a mixed bag for Rochester and area teams. Rochester teams Mayo and John Marshall went 1-1, Century went 0-2 and Lourdes went 0-1. As for the area teams, Dodge County is 1-3, Red Wing is 0-3.

That's a combined 3-11 among the six teams in our circulation area, but those records aren't all as bad as they may seem.

Last week: 0-2-0. Lost to Farmington, 6-0; lost to Tartan, 4-0.
Season: 0-2-0 overall, 0-0-0 Big Nine Conference.
What happened: Yes, Century was outscored 10-0 in two games. Yes, Century was outshot 44-13 and 52-15 in those two losses. Reason to panic? Definitely not. The Panthers have 23 games left in the regular season. This is a team that will get better as the season goes on. They're running a lot of young guys and first-year varsity players out there and they've played two pretty good teams. The loss to Farmington was not nearly as lopsided as the score indicates. Farmington led just 1-0 entering the third, then scored five times in the third, including four times in the last 6:35 (the last three of those on a five-minute major penalty against Century). And one really bright spot: Senior goalie Eric Rohleder is playing well. He made 38 saves in the opener and 48 against Tartan. That's a good start for a guy who had seen minimal varsity experience coming into the season.

Last week: 1-1-0. Lost to Farmington, 4-3. Won at St. Paul Johnson, 6-2.
Season: 1-1-0 overall, 0-0-0 Big Nine Conference.
What happened: I really believe this JM team can challenge for a Big Nine title. Why? It has two quality scoring lines and four veterans on the blue line (two, as has been noted multiple times here and in print, are brand new to the position). The Farmington score was a bit of a surprise, and it could ultimately play a factor in the seedings for the Section 1AA tournament, but keep in mind that JM played its first two games without starting goalie Jacob Garvey. That said, Patric Sadecki played well in his first two varsity starts, making a total of 49 saves. His early-season playing experience will be a benefit as the season goes on. His nerves will be gone. He's played two full varsity games. ... JM doesn't play again until Saturday, when it opens Big Nine play at home against Mayo. The one thing I know coach Jay Ness wants to develop is some consistent scoring from the second line. The Rockets got a little of that against Johnson, but they'll need more than just Gavin Sandwick, Nick Paulson, Jared Bromberg and Sam Broman to score on a regular basis.

Last week: 0-1-0. Lost at No. 1-ranked St. Thomas Academy, 8-1.
Season: 0-1-0 overall.
What happened: What happend is, a Lourdes team that had about six or seven guys with just a few days of practice under their belts, ran into the top-ranked team in the state, and the defending Class A state champ. The Eagles know they have to be patient this year and they'll have some ups and downs early in the season. A half-dozen or so guys just returned to practice last week after making a run to the state football championship game. Thinking back to 2010, when Lourdes won the state football title (and had a handful of players miss the first two-plus weeks of hockey practice), it took until mid-January before they really began clicking on all cylinders. We'll have a better idea of where this team is at right now after the upcoming week, when it goes to New Prague (Tuesday), and plays host to Chanhassen (Thursday) and No. 5-ranked St. Cloud Cathedral (Saturday).

Last week: 1-1-0. Lost to Lakeville North, 3-0. Won at Faribault, 4-2.
Season: 1-1-0 overall, 1-0-0 Big Nine Conference.
What happened: The Spartans are one of the favorites to win the Big Nine and a big reason why is senior goalie Case Hansen. He was sharp last week, stopping 30 shots against North and 18 against Faribault. Mayo managed just 14 shots against North, but I know at least one of the Spartans' top forwards was feeling ill that day, plus they had four or five sophomores playing in their first varsity game. Plus, North is always one of the top teams in Section 1AA and has generally put up six, seven or more goals against the Rochester teams (North beat Mayo 12-1 last season). Mayo's win at Faribault was a bit disjointed without a lot of five-on-five time. Still, the Spartans will want to make more of a statement in their next three games, all against teams expected to be in the top half of the Big Nine: Thursday at Mankato West, Saturday at John Marshall and Dec. 11 against Owatonna.

Last week: 1-3-0. Lost to Faribault, 3-2; lost at Minnehaha Academy, 5-2; lost to Waseca, 4-3 (OT); won at Austin, 9-7.
Season: 1-3-0 overall.
What happened: The Wildcats are 1-3-0, but could just as easily have two or three wins. They led Faribault entering the third period, but gave up the game-winning goal with just 1:33 to go after taking a penalty 21 seconds earlier. Against Waseca, Dodge County had a 3-2 lead late in the third, after a seemingly momentum-changing short-handed goal by Stefan Rechtzigel with 7:13 to go. Waseca tied it 59 seconds later, then won 50 seconds into OT. The 'Cats offense broke out on Saturday, with seven players scoring at least once. Their defense wasn't as sharp as it had been, though, allowing seven goals and 37 shots on goal. ... Dodge County plays host to Winona on Tuesday in a game that could have a big impact on the seedings for the Section 1AA playoffs.

Last week: 0-3-0. Lost at Buffalo, 5-1; lost at Hudson (Wis.), 5-3; lost at South St. Paul, 3-1.
Season: 0-3-0 overall; 0-0-0 Missota Conference.
What happened: No need to panic, Wingers fans. Just think back to two years ago, when Red Wing started 0-9-0. That team made it all the way to the Section 1A semifinals and pushed Rochester Lourdes in a 4-2 loss. So far, it looks like this year's team needs to figure out how to be a third-period team. The Wingers have been tied or trailing by just one goal entering the third period of all three games so far. Eight players have at least one point so far for the Wingers, so they know they don't have to rely on one or two guys to do all the scoring. ... The Wingers play four of their first five games on the road, including games this week at North St. Paul (Thursday) and Fergus Falls (Saturday).

November 20, 2012

High School Hockey | A trip around the Rochester rinks

Posted by: Feldman

Our annual boys hockey season preview is scheduled to come out in Saturday's paper, but the family Feldman is heading out of town for T'giving, so I made my trip around Rochester today and stopped at practices for all four Rochester teams.

Without getting too much into the info that will appear in Saturday's preview, here are some initial thoughts and notes after visiting with each coach and team. I'll go in the order of the practices I stopped at:


They won't say it, but reading between the lines, I sense a lot of optimism about where this season could lead for the Spartans. They've lost the Big Nine Conference championship by one point each of the last two seasons and they seem determined to not let that happen this season.

It starts with an established goalie — senior Case Hansen — and very good depth up front. Mayo's all-senior top line of Ryan Martin, Adam Alcott and Max Whitney has shown it is capable of scoring, and senior Tommy Hanson could be a big scorer this season, too. Mayo will have three lines — 10 forwards, really — that will rotate and all can provide some scoring.

We can't leave out top returning d-men Will Holtan and Tommy Fjelsted because I don't want to get checked by either of those guys. They'll provide toughness and offensive ability from the blue line. That's a good combination to have.

Watch out for: Mayo's all-sophomore line; it could will a key group for the Spartans by the end of the season.

Opener: Nov. 27, vs. Lakeville North, Graham Arena I

• • •


Don't be surprised if the Eagles don't hit their stride until after the calendar hits January.

They're missing 10 guys right now, two out with injuries and eight who are on the Eagles' football team that will play for a state championship this Saturday. The good news: A lot of young guys and borderline JV/varsity players are getting a chance to impress the coaches and possibly earn a spot on the varsity roster.

Even if the Eagles had their full roster right now, they would need some time to figure out line combinations. Nothing's set in stone, including who will play on the top line with vets Jason Samuelson and Alex Funk. It could be Ben Weir, could be Griffen Buck, could be one of the three Carstens brothers, could be someone else.

Lourdes will have a good battle for the top goalie job, too, as senior Andrew Ellingson and sophomore Jack Burkel — a transfer from Red Wing — will both get their chance early in the season to seize the job.

Watch out for: Eighth-grader Tucker Chapman, a forward and a transfer from Texas, who could stick on the varsity from the get-go and play significant minutes. ... The Eagles again have a stacked schedule, including games against both defending state champions (St. Thomas Academy and Benilde-St. Margaret's).

Opener: Dec. 1, at St. Thomas Academy, 7:30 p.m.

• • •


The Panthers are in a different spot than they're accustomed to: They have a lot of young players and will use the regular season to build toward the playoffs. Their goal won't be to come storming out of the gate.

That said, the Panthers still have some skilled guys leading the way, particularly forwards Hayden Ashworth and Dalton Travis. Ashworth excelled as a sophomore last season, while Travis, now a senior, was arguably the team's best forward in the final weeks of the season.

Senior Matt Sturchio is the only defenseman back with a lot of varsity experience. Sophomore Riese Zmolek is in that category, too, but he likely won't be able to start skating until sometime in January after suffering a broken ankle nearly two months ago.

Watch out for: A good battle for the starting goalie job. Senior Eric Rohleder is the only goalie with varsity experience. He'll be pushed by sophomores Max Andrist, Joey Pundt and Carter Downs.

Opener: Nov. 29, vs. Farmington, 7:30 p.m., Rochester Rec Center

• • •


The Rockets lost a lot of exprience, particularly on the blue line. And that's where they'll be looking for help early on. In fact, at least two veteran forwards — Alex Lovett and Jared Bromberg — have volunteered to make the switch to the blue line. That will hurt JM's forward depth, but there's still enough returning talent up front that JM could be in the mix for the Big Nine title deep into the season, as it was a year ago.

Senior Jacob Garvey will be looked to to hold down the fort in goal. Junior Patric Sadecki will also get some chances.

Watch out for: The Rockets' top line of Gavin Sandwick, Nick Paulson and Sam Broman. Those three are together right now and have clicked well in scrimmages and practices. They'll be relied on for a lot of offense as JM looks to develop some other lines behind them.

Opener: Nov. 27, vs. Farmington, 7:30 p.m., Rec Center.

November 16, 2012

H.S. Hockey | Scrimmages at Graham Arena tonight

Posted by: Feldman

Sorry for the short notice, but if you're interested in getting a first look at Rochester's boys high school hockey teams (at least the three public school teams), tonight's a good chance to do so.

Century, JM and Mayo will once again play a series of varsity and JV scrimmages against one another, and St. Louis Park (coached by former JM and NHL standout Shjon Podein) will join them.

Podein led a rather remarkable turnaround at SLP last season, helping the Orioles go from two wins in 2010-11 to 18 wins last season. However, Podein learned late in the summer that three key players -- senior D Marshall Tema, sophomore F Josh Passolt and freshman F Alec Baer -- are not returning to SLP this year. Tema is playing in the NAHL, while Passolt transferred to Maple Grove and Baer transferred to Benilde-St. Margaret's.

Here's a more complete story on those players leaving the Orioles' program. Passolt and Baer were the team's second- and third-leading scorers last year.

Here's a schedule for tonight's scrimmages (notice the Rochester varsity teams will not scrimmage each other):

5:30-6:05: Mayo vs. SLP
6:20-6:55: Mayo vs. SLP
7:10-7:45: JM vs. SLP
8-8:35: SLP JV vs. JM JV
8:45-9:30: Century vs. SLP

5:45-6:20: JM JV vs. Century JV
6:30-7:05: Mayo JV vs. JM JV
7:15-7:50: Mayo JV vs. SLP JV
8:05-8:40: Mayo JV vs. Century JV
8:55-9:30: SLP JV vs. Century JV 

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).