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22 posts categorized "Dodge County hockey"

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.

SECTION 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.


SECTION 1A

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.

March 17, 2013

High School Hockey | 2012-13 All-Area Team

Here we go with the fourth annual Faceoff Blog All-Area Team. I'll lay out the selection process once again: We have seven teams in our coverage area (Century, JM, Lourdes, Mayo, Austin, Dodge County and Red Wing). We pick a Player of the Year, a First Team, Second Team and PUC (players under consideration -- our honorable mention). We don't try to make sure a player from every team is on one of the teams, we just put the guys who we feel have been the best players this season on the team.

The story on the Co-Players of the Year will be posted soon and will appear directly above this post in the blog.

So, that said, here we go with this year's All-Area Teams:

FIRST TEAM

F — Alex Funk, Sr., Lourdes (Co-Player of the Year; 46-36—82): The most complete forward in Rochester and arguably the most complete forward to come through Lourdes in the past five years, during its run of five straight state tournament appearances. Funk had eight hat tricks, 13 multi-point games. He had point streaks of 16 games and 11 games during his senior season. He'll play for sure in the NAHL next season, though he'll also get some looks at USHL camps this summer.

F — Jason Samuelson, Sr., Lourdes (Co-Player of the Year; 28-53—81): Samuelson, somewhat surprisingly, surpassed 50 assists this season. I say somewhat surprisingly because he has one of the heaviest and best shots in Section 1. He was one of the top scorers in the Upper Midwest Elite League last fall and carried over his strong play into the high school season. Samuelson will play baseball at the University of Iowa next season.

F — Nick Paulson, Sr., John Marshall (16-23—39): Paulson tied for fourth in scoring in the Big Nine Conference and led all of Rochester's Big Nine players in scoring. He did so on a team that missed three key players for nearly half of the season, making Paulson one of the only options for the Rockets offensively. He had at least one point in 21 of 25 regular-season games and had 12 multi-point games. Paulson had one hat trick, in a five-point game against Faribault on Jan. 15.

D — Will Holtan, Sr., Mayo (10-15—25): Holtan, who had seven multi-point games from the blue line for the Big Nine champs, was one of the best two-way defensemen in the conference. Holtan was a key to Mayo's power play, too, and he was skilled at getting shots from the blue line, through traffic to the net. He went scoreless in five of the first six games, but then put up 24 points in Mayo's final 21 games.

D — Karl Krecke, Sr., Lourdes (8-20—28): The four-year varsity regular and two-year captain was the leading scorer among all defensemen in Rochester this season. Krecke was a rare two-year captain for the Eagles and played in four state tournaments. He was at his best late in the season, too, when he posted nine points in six postseason games.

G — Case Hansen, Sr., Mayo (21-6-0, 2.06 goals-against average, .908 save pct.): Hansen played all but seven minutes in goal for the Big Nine Conference champion Spartans, leading them to a 21-win season. It's the first time Mayo reached 20 victories since the 1999-2000 season. Hansen recorded three shutouts and allowed just 56 goals in 27 games. He stopped 555 of 611 shots, an average of 20.5 saves per game.


SECOND TEAM

F — Ryan Martin, Sr., Mayo (19-18—37): Martin, an equally good scorer and passer, led the Big Nine champs in scoring.

F — Adam Alcott, Sr., Mayo (15-21—36): Alcott, playing on a line with Martin all season, had at least one point in 21 of Mayo's 27 games.

F — Dalton Travis, Sr., Century (10-10—20): Travis was the leading scorer for a Panthers team that relied upon its top line quite heavily for offense.

D — Griff Slightam, So., Lourdes (9-13—22): Slightam can not only produce on offense, he was the most physical defenseman on the ice in most of Lourdes' games.

D — Tommy Fjelsted, Jr., Mayo (9-18—27): Like Slightam, Fjelsted has a great mix of offensive ability and physical play.

G — Jacob Garvey, Sr., John Marshall (12-11-0, 2.72, .904): Garvey did what the Rockets needed him to do — he got increasingly better as the season progressed.


PUC (Players Under Consideration)
FORWARDS
Sam Broman, Jr., John Marshall (11-20—31)
Tanner Dufault, So., Dodge County (15-24—39)
Ethan Larson, Sr., Austin (15-20—35)
Alex Rezansoff, Sr., Red Wing (14-14—28)
Sam Robinson, Jr., Dodge County (19-12—31)
Marcus Stoulil, Sr., Austin (23-16—39)

DEFENSEMEN
Jared Bromberg, Jr., John Marshall (2-18—20)
Alec McGinn, Sr., John Marshall (3-13—16)
Riese Zmolek, So., D, Century (8-3—11)

GOALIES
Rainer Londino-Green, Sr., G, Austin (6-16-0, 3.63, .898)
Eric Rohleder, Sr., G, Century (7-19-0, 4.22, .881)

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.

ROCHESTER CENTURY
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.

ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL
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.

No. 8-ranked ROCHESTER LOURDES
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).

ROCHESTER MAYO
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.

DODGE COUNTY
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.

RED WING
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).

June 12, 2012

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

Posted by: Feldman

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

On to some local hockey stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* KIWANIS FESTIVAL NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 17, 2012

Boys Hockey | Looking at Section 1AA

Posted by: Feldman

The boys hockey regular season comes to a close on Saturday and it doesn't look like much can happen in Saturday's games to alter the way teams will be seeded in next week's Section 1A and 1AA tournaments.

Section 1AA appears pretty clear cut, aside from the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds.

Before my long-winded theory on those two seeds, here's how the section should shake out (explanations shouldn't be necessary, aside from the 5-6 seeds): 1. Lakeville South, 2. Lakeville North, 3. Rochester Century, 4. Rochester Mayo, 5. Rochester John Marshall, 6. Owatonna, 7. Farmington, 8. Winona, 9. Dodge County.

The actual seeds will be determined Sunday afternoon. JM should be the No. 5 seed and Owatonna should be No. 6. For the past few weeks, it looked like it should fall the other way around, but a few games in the past week have changed things.

First, JM went to Owatonna last Saturday and shut out the Huskies, 2-0. That gave the teams a split of the season series, with Owatonna having beaten JM, 2-1 in OT, when the teams played in Rochester on Jan. 10.

Second and third, JM beat Austin on Thursday night, while Owatonna lost to Mankato West.

In my mind, those results sealed JM as the 5 seed for a couple of reasons. One, JM will now finish above the Huskies in the Big Nine Conference standings by at least one point. Two, JM is playing better hockey right now, having won four in a row, and the teams' records are nearly identical (JM is 12-5-0 in the Big Nine, 13-10-2 overall; Owatonna is 10-5-1, 13-8-3).

JM is done with its regular season, while Owatonna plays  host to Austin on Saturday, an almost certain victory.

Of course, coaches are human and emotion often plays a part in the seeding process when it really doesn't need to. We saw that a couple years ago in Section 1A when Faribault coach Brad Ryan seeded Rochester Lourdes No. 4, when all reasonable logic said the Eagles should have been no worse than No. 2 on every ballot. (In the end, Faribault got the top seed, but was knocked off by Red Wing in the section semifinals).

And though JM's record is just slightly worse than Owatonna's, that shouldn't really be a factor. Last season, Mayo was awarded the No. 3 seed ahead of JM, despite JM having beaten Mayo two out of three times in the regular season and having three more wins than the Spartans. Mayo had defeated JM in their final regular season meeting and, in all fairness, the Spartans were playing better than any team in the Big Nine when the regular season ended.

The seedings didn't work out for either team. Mayo lost to No. 6 seed Century in the quarterfinals, while JM lost at home to No. 5 Farmington.

The twist if JM gets the No. 5 seed ahead of Owatonna: it sets up a fourth meeting of the season between Mayo and JM. Mayo won two of the previous three. A fourth meeting would be a tossup. There's not much, at this point, these two teams don't know about each other. I could be wrong, but I bet both teams would be OK with not playing a fourth game against its oldest rival this year. The fans may want it, the players and coaches may get jacked up for it, but it also probably would cause coaches on both sides some restless nights next week.

From an unbiased perspective, I'd love to see JM and Mayo play again. There's nothing much better than rivals facing off with their seasons on the line. Of course, we will have an intra-city showdown if JM ends up as the 6 seed, too. The Rockets would stay on their home ice and face No. 3 Century in Thursday's quarterfinals.

Thursday can't get here soon enough!

December 28, 2011

It's Tourney Time!

Posted by: Feldman

So, we're a little more than 12 hours away from the first puck drop of the Kiwanis Festival. It's always a fun time of year for me — three straight days of nothing but hockey. And sometimes I actually call this work (don't tell the bosses I said that, please).

If you can't be at all of the Festival games, I'll provide as many updates as I can via Twitter (@PBFeldy), then I'll try to recap the tourney each night here on the blog. I'll probably miss the opening game in each bracket today, because of a doctor appointment for Baby Feldy that has to happen today, but I'm hoping to be to the rink by the time the puck drops for the Eau Claire Memorial vs. Mayo game, at 3:15 p.m.

Games start at 12:30 p.m., with Albert Lea facing Dodge County in the Class A bracket opener at Graham Arena IV. Over at Graham I, play in the Class AA bracket begins at 1 p.m. with two South Suburban Conference rivals facing off, Prior Lake vs. Eastview.

As for tourney preview stuff ... well, you want links? I'll give you links, mainly because I don't feel like re-typing all this stuff!

Tuesday's P-B featured a story on Century senior captain Blake Heroff, who has battled through some pretty nasty injuries the past couple years. He's finally healthy and enjoying his senior season. He's a heart-and-soul type of guy on a Century team whose expectations seem to grow with each game.

Also on Tuesday, I had capsule profiles of all 16 teams in the Kiwanis Festival, as well as a tournament schedule and three players to watch in each bracket.

In today's (Wednesday's) paper, I'll have a story on Rochester Mayo coach Lorne Grosso, who is itching to get back to the rink on a full-time basis after having quadruple bypass surgery on Nov. 28.

Here are the links to all of the pre-tournament coverage:

Grosso recovering well from quadruple bypass surgery

Healthy Heroff leads Century

Class A bracket team profiles

Class AA bracket team profiles

December 15, 2011

High School Hockey | Poll Time

Sorry, forgot to post these yesterday. This week's Associated Press/Let's Play Hockey high school hockey polls (first-place votes in parentheses:

CLASS AA BOYS
1. Duluth East (9)
2. Minnetonka (1)
3. Maple Grove
4. Eagan
5. Burnsville
6. Benilde-St. Margaret's
7. Grand Rapids
8. Eden Prairie
9. Edina
10. Blaine
11. Moorhead
12. Hill-Murray
13. Bemidji
14. Elk River
15. Wayzata
16. White Bear Lake
17. Brainerd
18. Lakeville South
19. Centennial
20. Roseville Area

CLASS A BOYS
1. St. Thomas Academy (6)
2. Breck (4)
3. Hermantown
4. East Grand Forks
5. Rochester Lourdes
6. Duluth Marshall
7. Thief River Falls
8. Totino-Grace
9. Mahtomedi
10. St. Cloud Cathedral
11. Blake
12. Duluth Denfeld
13. Warroad
14. Hibbing/Chisholm
15. Virginia/Mt. Iron-Buhl
16. Orono
17. South St. Paul
18. Mound-Westonka
19. Rogers
20. Delano/Rockford

• • • • •

CLASS AA GIRLS
1. Roseville (5)
2. Benilde-St. Margaret's (3)
3. Hill-Murray (2)
4. Edina
5. Minnetonka
6. Anoka
7. Stillwater
8. Elk River
9. White Bear Lake
10. Blaine
11. Eagan
12. Lakeville South
13. Lakeville North
14. Irondale
15. Roseau
16. Mounds View
17. Wayzata
18. Hopkins
19. Eden Prairie
20 (tie). Dodge County
20 (tie). Moorhead

CLASS A GIRLS
1. Breck
2. Warroad
3. South St. Paul
4. Mound-Westonka
5. Thief River Falls
6. Blake
7. Orono
8. Red Wing
9. Chisago Lakes
10. Mankato East
11. Hutchinson
12. Visitation
13. East Grand Forks
14. Crookston
15. Proctor-Hermantown
16. Mahtomedi
17. Rogers
18. Totino-Grace
19. Willmar
20. Alexandria

June 21, 2011

H.S. Hockey | random notes (Dodge County notes, shootouts in high school games?)

FELDY: Obviously, it's a slow time for hockey news around here, especially since the hiring of Josh Klingfus as Century's new head coach means all of the are coaching vacancies are now filled.

I had been working on a piece on the change to the checking age limit in youth hockey, but I'm having a hard time reaching some youth coaches, so I'll probably put that story on the backburner until hockey season arrives. If you hadn't heard, checking will now be banned at Pee-Wee level, meaning only Bantam-age players and older will now be allowed to check.

I talked to a couple of high school coaches last week and both were kind of more on the side of leaving things as they are now, rather than make players wait another year or two before they learn how to check. USA Hockey made the change in the interest of safety for 11- and 12-year-olds, which is understandable. The coaches, and a couple of area hockey fans I spoke with, all said that, if players are being coached properly, checking shouldn't be an issue at the pee-wee level. I guess we'll start seeing the results of this change at the high school level in 3-5 years.

But, as the headline suggests, I have a couple of points to hit on today: 1. good things are happening in the Dodge County program this offseason, and 2. shootouts are going to be a part of high school hockey in the regular season this coming year ... in North Dakota.

First, Dodge County coach Eric Hofmann has ramped up the offseason workouts a bit for his players, in his second summer as head coach. It's that time of year where coaches are permitted to work with their players during the week, on and off the ice.

Hofmann is doing a couple of really positive things this summer. First, he is working hard with the youth players in the Dodge County program. He is guiding the pee-wee and bantam summer workouts at Kasson Ice Arena. This can only be a good thing for the future of the program, because when these kids get to the high school level, they've been in the same system with familiar coaches for three or four years. They will know what is expected of them and, judging by the dryland training they were going through, they'll be in good shape.

Second, as I just mentioned, Hofmann is putting all of DC's players, from youth through varsity, through a good workout program. If nothing else, the Wildcats will be well-conditioned.

Will this mean instant success in Dodge County? That's hard to say; Hofmann's in just his second year with the program and these things take time to build. If the coaches and players stay committed to this program, though, they could have something built up in a few years.

SHOOTOUTS ... So, a few years back, I wrote a column in the P-B asking several area coaches and players what they would think of using shootouts to determine a winner in regular season high school hockey games. Opinions were mixed, and, aside from the Kiwanis Festival each year, it's not an issue in MInnesota.

However, there are plenty of Minnesota teams in the western part of the state who play regular season games against North Dakota teams. And, this week, the North Dakota High School Activities Association voted in favor of deciding regular season games by shootout.

Here's a link to a story on the issue.

As a hockey fan, I've never seen anything wrong with ties. I guess it goes back to the whole "purist" thing. I like the game as it is. Ties are pretty much unacceptable to fans of other sports, but they're a part of hockey.

I get it, shootouts are exciting, and if they're only used in the regular season, nobody's season is ended because of them. Still, here's one vote for Minnesota not going that direction.

May 25, 2011

Catching up on some random hockey items...

Posted by: Feldman

The blog's been kind of slow lately, so I figured we'd patch together a few random notes.

• I heard from two sources today that Rochester Century is close to having a new head boys hockey coach. Can't provide the name just yet, but I'm hearing it's someone who is very familiar with the program, who played high school hockey in Rochester.

• Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School has been added to the Dodge County boys and girls co-op for next season. Wildcats coach Eric Hofmann tells me he's not yet certain how the addition of any new players will impact the program, other than adding depth. He said he would need to see any new players skate and compete before he can assess what kind of impact they'll have on the team.

• Rochester John Marshall has yet to announce its varsity assistant coach for next season. Former Lourdes coach Jay Ness will take over as head coach in the winter.

• A few high school programs around the state have filled vacant head coaching positions.

The most recent announcement came today, when Wayzata hired former Gopher forward Pat O'Leary. The Plymouth native had 15 goals and nine assists for the Gophers from 1998-99 through 2001-02, before playing three seasons of minor league pro hockey. O'Leary, an assistant at Wayzata the past three seasons, takes over for Carl Davis, who resigned shortly after the season. Wayzata lost to eventual state champ Eden Prairie in double OT in the Section 6AA championship game.

Ritch Menne, a 1990 Centennial High School graduate, will take over the reins at his alma matter. Erik Aus stepped down after this past season, after 24 years as the team's head coach.

I'm not sure this one has been reported, but Centennial assistant coach Adam Schmidt has been named the new head coach at Irondale. Schmidt and I went to school together at North Dakota, and he'll do a great job with a team that struggled last season. As he told me this week, "we have a long way to go, but there's only one way to go ... up!"

• International Falls, an annual competitior in the Kiwanis Festival here in Rochester at holiday time, is again looking for a new head coach. Mike Bolstad stepped down recently after just one season as the Broncos' head coach. Bolstad took over for long-time coach John Prettyman. The Broncos went 10-15-1 last season, losing to Duluth Marshall in the Section 7A quarterfinals.

• The North American Hockey League will hold its annual entry draft tomorrow (Thursday), beginning at 1 p.m. Amateur players who are younger than 21 on or before Dec. 31, 2011, are eligible, unless they are on an NAHL roster or have signed a tender from an NAHL team prior to the draft. Also, any player who was on an NAHL roster in 2010-11, but played less than 10 games, is eligible.

Rochester Lourdes defenseman Rory Vesel, a Second Team All-State player, has signed tender with the Bismarck (N.D.) Bobcats, and is not eligible for the draft.

Some rosters have been posted for the annual Don Lucia Model Camp, to be held at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis June 13-18. I'm not sure if the rosters are complete; only 10 of the 12 rosters are listed online right now. Registration deadline was last Friday, so perhaps they're still filling spots in the camp.

The only Rochester player listed as of now is Mayo D Jack Dingle, though I contacted Lourdes coach Josh Spaniol today and he believes a couple of his players have applied for the camp and may be attending.

Other current/former Section 1 players listed include former Faribault D Brandon Parker, who played for the Russell Stover AAA team last season with former Rochester Century standouts Connor Faupel and Drew Anderson; Lakeville South forward Michael Chuinard; LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter goalie Chris Amsden; Lakeville North forward Evan Peterson; Lakeville South defenseman Charlie Heller; South forward and Gophers commit Justin Kloos; Lakeville North goalie Charlie Lindgren; and New Prague goalie Joe Morris.

• We're less than a month away from the NHL Draft, to be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, June 24 and 25. New Prague native and University of Minnesota recruit Seth Ambroz is ranked 31st among North American skaters in the final NHL Central Scouting Service rankings.

Here's a blog Ambroz did throughout his final USHL season for NHL.com.

• Members of the Big Ten Hockey Conference are mulling two possible scenarios for their postseason tournament format.

• The Minnesota Wild have scheduled a Fan Fest to coincide with the first day of the Draft, June 24, at the St. Paul Crowne Plaza hotel. Some big names are scheduled to appear, including 2010 first round draft pick Mikael Granlund, who showed the world what he could do earlier this month at the IIHF World Championships.

Tickets for the Fan Fest are $20 (ticket does not get you access to the Draft) and go on sale on June 1. More information is available here.

March 18, 2011

H.S. Hockey | 2010-11 All-Area Team

FELDY: You'll see in the post below this, that for the first time, I decided to name a Player of the Year, to go along with our All-Area Team. Yes, we've also changed our boys hockey All-City team to an All-Area Team, to incorporate Dodge County and Red Wing players; both of those teams are squarely in our coverage area.

As I've mentioned when I've done this the past two years, the All-Area hockey team shows up only on the Faceoff blog for a number of reasons. The main one is, our other writers don't want to choose All-Area basketball teams because they usually end up being more of a headache than they're worth, particularly with moms and dads who feel their sons or daughters were overlooked.

I'm fair game, though. Go ahead and rip away if you don't like the way the A-A Team is put together. For the first time in the three years I've put this team together, I decided to get some input from some area coaches and people who follow hockey closely.

I'll stop rambling now and get to the First Team, Second Team and PUC (Players Under Consideration, a somewhat clever, or not so clever way of saying "honorable mention").

ALL-AREA FIRST TEAM
GOALIE -- Nick Heimer, Sr., Rochester Lourdes (25-5-1, 1.88 GAA, .908 save pct.)
Comments: Heimer led the state in victories (25) and was in the top 10 in goals-against average most of the season. The three-year varsity player set the school record for single-season victories this year, backstopping Lourdes to its third consecutive Class A state tournament appearance. Earned honorable mention All-State honors.

DEFENSE -- Bill Norman, Sr., Rochester Mayo (17-30--47)
Comments: Norman, a foreign exchange student from Sweden, did a lot of everything for the Spartans. The University of Maine recruit ran the power play, played on the penalty kill, skated the puck into the offensive zone and whatever else Mayo needed. His speed and vision are his strongest assets, and he has a deceptively good shot. Earned honorable mention All-State honors.

DEFENSE -- Rory Vesel, Sr., Rochester Lourdes (13-19--32)
** PLAYER OF THE YEAR **
Comments: See the blog post below this for all you need to know about Vesel's season. The four-year varsity player leaves some big skates to fill. Earned Second Team All-State honors.

FORWARD -- Jason Samuelson, So., Rochester Lourdes (27-20--47)
Comments: Just a sophomore, Samuelson was often the most dynamic player on the ice. His speed and vision caued fits for many opponents, and he was often at his best in big games. The honorable mention All-State forward finished the state tournament with seven points, after scoring five goals in the Section 1A tournament.

FORWARD -- Derek McMasters, Sr., Rochester Mayo (23-15--38)
Comments: McMasters gave Mayo the scoring forward they were searching for a year ago. Much of his success came on the power play, and was a result of how well he worked with the two sophomores on his line, Adam Alcott and Ryan Martin. The honorable mention All-State pick was the Spartans top-scoring forward and their second-leading scorer overall.

FORWARD -- Landon Farrell, Jr., Rochester Lourdes (16-19--35)
Comments: Farrell gets the nod here for a couple of reasons. He was arguably the Eagles' best two-way forward and he stepped up his play in big games this season (the late-season meeting with St. Thomas Academy comes to mind). The honorable mention All-Stater had at least one point in 22 of Lourdes' 31 games.

ALL-AREA SECOND TEAM
GOALIE -- Alex Van Galder, Sr., Rochester Mayo (11-10-2, 2.87, .897)
Comments: Got stronger as the season went on. Was 7-1-2 in last 10 regular season games.

DEFENSE -- Nick Raehsler, Sr., Rochester Century (7-10--17)
Comments: Great defenseman on both ends of the ice. Created a lot of offensive chances for Panthers. Numbers were down because wasn't playing with the dynamic first-line players Century had a year ago.

DEFENSE -- Alec Brandrup, Sr., Rochester Lourdes (10-17--27)
Comments: Had six points in the postseason and 11 in the final eight regular season games. Key cog in Lourdes power play and penalty kill.

FORWARD -- Chad Mundy, Sr., Dodge County (17-24--41)
Comments: A leader for the Wildcats on both ends. Was a dynamic forward, after previously playing D.

FORWARD -- Eric Mackey, Sr., John Marshall (17-16--33)
Comments: The diminutive forward started season with two hat tricks in first five games. Scored the best goal I saw all year, against Century, coming out of the penalty box, chasing down a sliding puck near the goal line, diving and batting it in from a sharp angle. Named honorable mention All-State.

FORWARD -- Alex Funk, So., Rochester Lourdes (17-24--41)
Comments: Dangerous scorer anytime he was near the puck. Had 10 points in the postseason. Had 12 multiple-point games this season. An honorable mention All-State player.

ALL-AREA PUC (Players Under Consideration)
Goalie -- Sam Amendolar, Red Wing (10-17-0, 3.52, .882).
Defensemen -- Brandon Kautz, Jr., Century (9-12--21); Steve Serratore, Jr., Mayo (9-14--23); Jack Strusz, Jr., Red Wing (6-14--20).
Forwards --Adam Alcott, So., Mayo (10-13--23); Austin Head, Sr., Dodge County (20-10--30); Nick Jacobs, Sr., Century (10-12--22); Zach Johnson, Sr., JM (16-14--30); Sam Orth, Sr., Dodge County (13-19--32); Gavin Sandwick, So., JM (12-17--29); Mike Stegora, Jr., Red Wing (13-14--27); Dillon Stevens, Sr., Dodge County (17-17--34); Drew Wohlfiel, Sr., Dodge County (13-19--32).