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6 posts categorized "Faribault"

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.

June 27, 2012

Hockey | Notes, notes, notes

Posted by: Feldman

Hockey notes in June? Why the heck not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 16, 2012

H.S. Hockey | All-Big Nine Team announced

Posted by: Feldman

The All-Big Nine Conference boys hockey team was released on Thursday. As you'd expect, the conference champion Century Panthers led the way with six players on the team, plus four honorable mention. Big 9 runner-up Mayo has five players on the team, plus four honorable mention; JM has two players on the team and six honorable mention. 

Here's the complete list, which you can also find by going to the Big 9 website and clicking the link that says "2011-12 Big 9 Boys Hockey All-Conference."

BIG 9 ALL-CONFERENCE

Century: F Nick Jacobs, Sr.; D, Brandon Kautz, Sr.; G, Erik Wennberg, Sr.; F, Dalton Travis, Jr.; F, Hayden Ashworth, So.; D, Riese Zmolek, Fr.
Mayo: D Steve Serratore, Sr.; G Case Hansen, Jr.; F Adam Alcott, Jr.; F, Ryan Martin, Jr.; F, Max Whitney, Jr.
John Marshall: F, Gavin Sandwick, Jr.; D, Alec McGinn, Jr.
Owatonna: F, Justin Brown; F, Soren Colstrup; F, Matt Ratzloff.
Mankato West: F, Tyler Resnar; G, Zach Fox.
Albert Lea: F, Levi Hacker; D, Auston Larson.
Winona: D, Luke Hemker.
Austin: F, Ethan Larson.
Mankato East: G, Lucas Weihe.
Faribault: None.

HONORABLE MENTION
Century: D, Matt Sturchio; F, Blake Heroff; F, Tyler Iverson; F, Isaac St. Marie.
Mayo: D, Jack Dingle; D, Tommy Fjelsted; D, Will Holtan; F, Nolan Edwards.
JM: G, Jacob Garvey; D, Matt Broman; D, Ryan Lakin; F,  Alex Lovett; F, Hunter Heightland; F, Kyle Andrews.
Owatonna: G, Luke Ebeling; Aaron Kirsch; Robert Dietz; Tyler Yentsch; Alex Whited.
Mankato West: D, Billy Bingham; Josh Christenson.
Albert Lea: None.
Winona: F, Cameron Kelly; F, Ryan Grant.
Austin: F, Marcus Stoulil.
Mankato East: None.
Faribault: G, Cody Morsching.

January 26, 2012

High School Hockey Tonight | Jan. 26, 2012

Posted by: Feldman

It's been a light week for sports events among Rochester teams, since the public schools were testing this week. A couple of boys hockey teams get back to game action tonight, including Century, which has been off for nine days since finishing a brutal stretch of seven games in a two-week span. Big Nine Conference-leading Mayo is also back in action, with a non-conference game at Graham Arena.

JM and Lourdes are off until Saturday.

TONIGHT'S GAMES

CENTURY at FARIBAULT
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Faribault Ice Arena
Records: Century 7-2-1 Big Nine, 11-5-2 overall; 2-7-0, 3-12-0
Coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus; Faribault, Brad Ryan
Last meeting: Century beat Faribault, 5-4, on Dec. 8 at the Rochester Rec Center. Century scored twice in the third period to rally from a 4-3 deficit. Senior Nick Jacobs led the way for the Panthers with two goals and two assists.
Last game: Century tied at Owatonna, 2-2, on Jan. 17;  Faribault lost to Owatonna, 5-0, on Saturday.
Game notes: Jacobs leads Century in scoring (9-15--24), but has just two points in the past seven games. ... Century is 1-2-1 in its past four games, after an eight-game winning streak. ... Faribault hasn't won more than one game in a row this season and has suffered a pair of five-game losing streaks. ... The Falcons have just one player who has reached double figures in scoring. Sr. F Caleb Sevier has 8-3--11.

SOUTH ST. PAUL at MAYO
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Graham Arena I.
Records: South St. Paul 6-9-1 overall; Mayo 11-5-0.
Coaches: SSP, Jeff Lagoo; Mayo, Lorne Grosso.
Last meeting: South St. Paul beat Mayo, 3-2, on Jan. 13, 2011. Mayo coach Lorne Grosso was seeking career win No. 617 that night, which would've moved him past Edina's Willard Ikola for first place on the all-time wins by a Minnesota coach list. 
Last game: South St. Paul lost to North St. Paul, 8-5, on Tuesday; Mayo beat John Marshall, 4-1, on Saturday. 
Game notes: SSP is led by senior F Mick Grundtner (7-8--15) and sophomore F Billy Brandecker (6-9--15). .. The Packers are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games, though that includes a narrow 1-0 loss to the No. 2-ranked team in Class A, St. Thomas Academy. ... Mayo has won five of its past six games. In the five victories, the Spartans have allowed a total of seven goals. ... After tonight, Mayo plays seven of its final eight games against Big Nine Conference opponents. 

January 24, 2012

High School Hockey | Breaking down the Big 9 race

Posted by: Feldman

While the boys hockey regular season is two-thirds complete, most Big Nine Conference teams are only halfway through their conference schedules. Still, to me, it's not too early to break down the race for the conference crown.

I know, teams are ultimately judged on what they do once the Section 1 tournament starts, but let's not discount the significance of the bragging rights, the banner and the great memories that come with winning a conference championship.

Austin and Mankato East are officially eliminated from winning the conference; Winona and Faribault are on the verge of elimination.

Mayo, Owatonna, Century, John Marshall and Albert Lea all still have realistic hopes of winning the Big Nine; Mankato West can still be considered a contender, too, though they'll need a little more help than others to win the conference.

So, here's where the contenders for the Big Nine title stand with about three weeks to go in the regular season:

ROCHESTER MAYO
Currently: 8-1-0 Big Nine, first place, 18 points
Conference loss: John Marshall 
Points remaining to play for: 16
Total possible points: 34
Notes: Mayo has the best-case scenario on its side. The Spartans get to use the cliche, they "control their own destiny." Indeed, if they win out, they win the Big Nine. They're the only one-loss team left, though they still have games left against four of the other five teams with hopes of winning the conference. The Spartans have avenged their only conference loss twice, beating JM at the Kiwanis Festival and again last Saturday.

OWATONNA
Currently: 7-3-1, second place, 17 points
Conference losses: Albert Lea, Century, Mayo.
Conference tie: Century
Points remaining to play for: 12
Total possible points: 29
Notes: The Huskies hold one-goal wins against JM and Mankato West, a tie and a one-goal loss against Century, and a one-goal loss against Mayo. In other words, they're a couple of bounces away from leading the conference right now. ... If the Huskies are going to capture the Big Nine crown, they'll have to be road warriors. They have road games remaining against Albert Lea, Mayo and Mankato West.

JOHN MARSHALL
Currently: 7-4-0, T-3rd place, 16 points
Conference losses: West, Century, Owatonna, Mayo
Points remaining to play for: 12
Total possible points: 28
Notes: JM holds victories against two of the Big Nine teams it lost to -- Mayo and Century. The Rockets can avenge their other two conference losses, with games against West (Thursday) and at Owatonna (Feb. 11) still to come. ... JM plays four of its final six conference games on the road.

ALBERT LEA
Currently: 7-3-0, T-3rd place, 16 points
Conference losses: Mayo, Century, JM
Points remaining to play for: 14
Total possible points: 30
Notes: The Tigers will have to find some consistency if they hope to challenge for the conference title into the final week. They had a five-game winning streak early in the season (Dec. 6-Dec. 20), but have not won two games in a row since then. 

CENTURY
Currently: 7-2-1, 5th place, 15 points
Conference losses: JM, Mayo
Conference tie: Owatonna
Points remaining to play for: 16
Total possible points: 31
Notes: Along with Mayo, Century has the most remaining points to play for. The Panthers have been battling some injury issues, particularly on defense, but it appears as though they may be getting healthy in time for the stretch run and the postseason. They also have two four-point games remaining -- at Austin and at Mankato East. Four of Century's six remaining conference games are on the road.

MANKATO WEST
Currently: 6-5-0, 6th place, 12 points
Conference losses: Albert Lea, Mayo, Century (x2), Owatonna.
Points remaining: 14
Total possible points: 26
Notes: The Scarlets need to win out and get a lot of help; they need Mayo to lose at least three more times, and need the other teams in front of them to lose at least once. West has games remaining against JM, Albert Lea, Mayo and Owatonna. Five of the Scarlets' final eight games are at home, including their last three.

December 02, 2011

High School Hockey Tonight | Dec. 2, 2011

Posted by: Feldman

After opening its season with a 3-1 non-conference loss to Red Wing on Thursday, Rochester Mayo jumps into Big Nine Conference play in a big way. The Spartans play their first of four consecutive conference games tonight, when they play host to Faribault at 7:30 p.m. at Graham Arena I. It's also the second of four consecutive home games to open the season for Mayo. In fact, counting the Kiwanis Festival at the end of this month, Mayo will play nine of its first 11 on its home ice.

FARIBAULT at MAYO
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Graham Arena I
Records: Faribault 1-0-0, Mayo 0-1-0.
Last game: Faribault beat Dodge County, 5-1, on Saturday in its season opener. Mayo fell to Red Wing, 3-1, on Thursday.
Last meeting: Mayo beat Faribault, 4-3, on Feb. 17, 2011. Mayo scored four goals in the second period for a 4-1 lead, then held off the Falcons in the third.
Coaches: Faribault, Brad Ryan. Mayo, Lorne Grosso, Todd Huyber and Bob Haskins.
Spotlight players:  For Faribault, it's junior defenseman Connor Wierschem, the team's top returning scorer. Wierschem is the only player back for the Falcons who scored in double digits last season, when he had five goals and 10 assists for 15 points. ... For Mayo, it's junior forward Adam Alcott, who finished third on the team last season with 23 points. He turned into one of Mayo's top two or three forwards by the end of his sophomore season. He was a key member of a power play that seemed unstoppable at times late in the regular season. For Mayo to get that power play going again, Alcott will have to be a big part of it.

AROUND THE STATE
* No. 4 A Totino-Grace (0-0-0) at No. 6 A Thief River Falls (0-0-1): Totino opens its season with a long road trip north to face TRF tonight and East Grand Forks on Saturday. Thief River continues its tough schedule to start the season. The Prowlers opened their season on Tuesday by tying Roseau.
* No. 7 A Warroad (0-0-0) at No. 19 A Mound-Westonka (2-1-0): The Warriors open their season at M-W, which has already played three times. The White Hawks have held their own against three good opponents, falling at Virginia, 5-3, before winning at Hibbing, 3-2, and beating Chaska, 7-3.
* No. 9 A Little Falls (1-1) at No. 16 A Virginia/Mt. Iron-Buhl (1-0): This is the second in a tough stretch of five consecutive home games for Virginia to start its season. The Blue Devils beat Mound-Westonka last Friday. After today's game, they face Grand Rapids, Duluth Denfeld and International Falls over the next two weeks.
* No. 12 AA Blaine (0-0-0) at Roseau (0-0-1):It's odd to see these teams not ranked in the top 10 in the state, and in Roseau's case, completely unranked. The Rams opened their season by tying Class A power Thief River Falls, so a win against a good Blaine team could get the Rams back in the state poll.