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22 posts categorized "Gophers hockey"

March 18, 2012

College Hockey | Kirby for Hobey, tournament notes

Posted by: Feldman

We haven't had much time to talk college hockey on here this season, thanks to a 12-pound 3-month-old who clearly doesn't think I should work at home, and a 5-year-old with a much more active social life than me or Mrs. Feldy.

But, with the high school season having wrapped up, we can talk some college hockey now and through the national tournament. Let's get right to it:

* Huge news came Friday for former Austin High standout defenseman Tim Kirby, who was named one of the top 10 Hobey Baker finalists this week. Kirby, a senior at Air Force, is the third Falcons player to be honored as a top-10 finalist since 2007 (Eric Ehn, 2007; Jacques Lamoureux, 2009). Kirby, of course, is coached by former Rochester Mustangs head coach (and quote machine) Frank Serratore

KIrby has 12 goals and 27 points in 36 games. His 12 goals are third-most by a defenseman in the country. He ranks ninth in school history in points by a defenseman (87) and holds the AFA record for most career games played (152). He's never missed a game in his four seasons.

The top-10 list will be cut down to three names (the Hobey Hat Trick finalists) on March 29. The Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced on April 6 in Tampa, Fla., the day before the national championship game. You can find bios of all 10 finalists here.

Kirby had an assist on the game-winning goal Saturday as AFA topped Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology, 4-0, in the Atlantic Hockey championship game. That victory gives the Falcons an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, which begins Friday. It appears that the Falcons will likely be sent to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., where they will face top-ranked and No. 1 overall seed Boston College.

* There's a good chance that Western Michigan ends up in the West Regional, at the Xcel Energy Center, as the No. 4 seed in that region. The Broncos beat Michigan for the CCHA postseason championship on Saturday, earning an automatic bid into the national tourney.

The Broncos are coached by longtime NHL coach Andy Murray, and Rochester native Pat Ferschweiler is an assistant coach for WMU.

* We could have a meeting of two former Rochester Mayo players out east as USCHO.com is projecting Maine and Minnesota-Duluth to meet in the first round. Defenseman Bill Norman, a 2011 Mayo grad, is a freshman at Maine, though he hasn't played in a game this season. UMD's head equipment manager is 1997 Mayo grad Chris Garner, who is in his fourth season with the Bulldogs.

* The Gophers are in the tournament for the first time since Alex Kangas was a freshman (2007-08), and as the site host, they're locked into playing in the West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday-Sunday, most likely as the region's No. 2 seed. By the time you're reading this, we'll probably know the other teams who have been slotted into that regional (the tournament selection show will air at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU), but it sounds like there's a good chance that North Dakota will end up back at The X for a second consecutive weekend.

Either North Dakota or Michigan is expected to the be the No. 1 seed in the West Regional. The question that the selection committee faces, though, is this: Do they hold up what's referred to as "bracket integrity" (send the No. 1 seeds as close to their homes as possible?) or do they consider attendance issues? If it's the latter, then Michigan will come to The X and UND will head to Green Bay and the Midwest Regional.

From the NCAA's point of view, the Gophers will carry the West Regional, attendance-wise. Sending UND to St. Paul would guarantee a sellout crowd, but it might also guarantee a a lot of empty seats in the Resch Center in Green Bay (with Michigan, Ferris State, Denver and Cornell the likely teams to land in that region).

Either way, if the Gophers get past their first game (quite possibly against Boston U.), they'll be staring down a big rival in the regional final -- UND or Michigan.

November 25, 2011

High School Hockey Today | Nov. 26, 2011

FELDY: Here we go!

It's been more than nine months since Kyle Rau made an unbelievable "hustle" play to tap a puck into an open net in the third overtime of a classic Class AA state championship game. Rau is now a Gopher, tearing up the WCHA as a rookie forward, and Duluth East -- the team that lost to Rau's Eden Prairie club in the state final -- is the No. 1 ranked team in Class AA to start the season.

A good number of games were played around the state on Friday, including one Big Nine team playing. Owatonna lost to Delano, 5-0.

The season gets going in Rochester tonight, as Century head coach Josh Klingfus makes his debut when the Panthers play host to No. 18-ranked White Bear Lake at 7:30 p.m. at the Rec Center. So, here you go, the first edition of the season of High School Hockey Today:

GAMES IN ROCHESTER

No. 18 WHITE BEAR LAKE at CENTURY
When: 7:30 p.m. tonight
Where: Rec Center
Records: WBL 0-0 (22-7-2), Century 0-0 (11-16-0 in 2010-11)
Coaches: WBL, Tim Sager; Century, Josh Klingfus.
About the Bears: WBL made it to the Class AA state tournament last season, where it placed sixth. It played a total of seven overtimes in its three tournament games, yet finished 1-2 in the tournament. WBL lost to eventual state runner-up Duluth East, 4-3 in double OT, in the state quarterfinals; then defeated Blaine, 4-3, in double OT in the consolation semifinals, before falling to Section 1AA champion Lakeville North, 4-3, in triple OT in the fifth-place game.
WBL players to watch: The Bears lost their top three scorers -- the clear-cut top three on their team -- to graduation: Brandon Wahlin (34-31--65), Mac Jansen (38-17--55) and Max Birkinbine (19-23--42). That's a total of 162 points. Senior F Mitch Morrisette (7-12--19) is the top returning scorer for WBL. The strength of the Bears will be from their blue line back, with four top defensemen returning (seniors RJ Majkozak and Jack Morrisette, and juniors Lance Carney and Thomas Delaney) and a third-year goalie, senior Jared Schletty. Schletty is built more like a defensive lineman (he's listed at 6-1, 247), but he put up very good numbers last year (17-4-2, 2.31 GAA, .907 save pct.) and Century will have to figure out a way to solve him. He had three shutouts last season, including one against Century in the season opener at WBL.
Century player to watch: I'm more interested in seeing how Century performs as a team, what looks different about it with a new head coach in charge. As for a particular player, I'll probably spy No. 4 quite a bit. Junior F Dalton Travis will anchor the team's second line after putting up 10 points (3-7--10) as a sophomore. He'll be joined by senior Isaac St. Marie and freshman Jake Roth. Coach Klingfus called Travis the most consistent forward on the team throughout last week's scrimmage fest at Graham Arena. Klingfus said Travis did a very good job of adapting to what the opponents were doing and what Century's coaches were asking him to do.
Useless trivia: White Bear Lake is the only boys hockey team in the state with the words "White" or "Bear" in its name (excluding nicknames, of course). (Yeah, I know you don't care, that's why I called it "useless" trivia).

AROUND THE STATE
SATURDAY'S GAMES OF INTEREST
* No. 2 Breck at No. 14 Duluth Marshall, 4 p.m.

June 23, 2011

Hockey | NHL Draft notes, Aikens settling in Omaha (UPDATED — up to 19)

FELDY: Any of our Faceoff Faithful headed up to The X for the NHL Draft this weekend? If so, you're probably as excited as me. This will be my first NHL Draft to attend and/or cover for the paper, so I'm looking forward to seeing all of that NHL brainpower in one facility.

I'll have a bunch of NHL Draft preview stuff in Friday's Post-Bulletin, so check that out (please, please, please), and I'll be up in St. Paul Friday and Saturday to cover the draft, so check out Saturday and Monday's print editions, too, for that coverage.

I'll also be posting here on the blog throughout the weekend, hopefully live from The X both days. I don't know exactly what the setup is going to be like for media or where I'll be stationed, but I'll do my best to get on here and/or Twitter (@PBFeldy).

The draft begins at 6 p.m. Friday (on Versus), for Round 1, and 10:30 a.m. Saturday (NHL Network), for Rounds 2-7.

As I was doing some research for my draft preview stuff, I found some facts that I thought Rochester hockey fans might be interested in.

(Update: I had forgotten that Scott Schneider was drafted, as well as goalie Jeff Kruesel, so my total of 14 goes up to 16. Much thanks to former JM star/coach Scott Lecy for reminding me that Schneider was drafted, as well as to Jeff Kruesel's parents for notifying me he was not on the list.)

(Update #2: So, of course, an hour after our print edition goes to press today (Friday, June 24), I get a complete list of all the Minnesotans who have ever been drafted. Turns out, there are 19 from Rochester, so I missed three in today's print edition. My apologies to those guys -- Ethan Philpott, Ross Johnson of Mayo and Doug Wieck of Mayo; I'll try to run their short bios, like I did for the other 16, in Saturday's paper).

I attempted to compile a list of every Rochester player ever drafted by an NHL team. I came up with 19(including Johnny Pohl, who, I know, is iffy at best, but he was born in Roch, so we'll add him in).

Of the 19 Rochester players who have been drafted, seven were drafted by franchises that no longer exist (two by the Atlanta Thrashers, two by the first incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets, and one each by the Hartford Whalers, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota North Stars). 

Two -- Doug Zmolek and Mark Stuart -- were drafted in Round 1. None of the remaining 12 was drafted earlier than Round 4.

Two others -- Colin Stuart and Alex Kangas -- were drafted in the exact same draft position (Round 5, No. 135 overall) by the same team (Atlanta). And, yet, two more -- Guy Gosselin and Scott Schneider -- were drafted by the old Winnipeg Jets franchise.

Finally, five of the 19 wouldn't have been drafted if, in their draft years, the draft was formatted like it is now. Currently, the draft is just seven rounds. Eric Strobel, Shjon Podein and Gosselin were all drafted in Round 8, Pohl went in Round 9 and John Johannson in Round 10.

Here's my list, please tell me if I'm missing anyone:

Guy Gosselin
Jim Johannson
John Johannson
Ross Johnson

Alex Kangas
Jeff Kruesel
Bryce Lampman
Ethan Philpott

Shjon Podein
Johnny Pohl
Scott Schneider
Eric Strobel

Colin Stuart
* Mark Stuart
Mike Stuart
Jake Taylor
Jeff Teal
Doug Wieck

* Doug Zmolek

* -- first round pick

I'll have more information about each of those 15 guys in Friday's paper, as well as a look at some of the players the Wild are likely targeting with the 10th overall pick. I'll also have a look at some of the top Minnesotans available in this draft, and a story on New Prague native and former Section 1A standout Seth Ambroz.

He left the Trojans after his freshman year, when he piled up 69 points and led them to the Section 1A semifinals, where they lost to Lourdes in OT. He has played for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL the past three seasons. He is expected to be a low first-round or high second-round pick this weekend. 

For the story on Ambroz, I talked to 1989 Rochester John Marshall graduate Mike Aikens, who was an assistant with the Lancers this year. He had lots of good things to say about Ambroz, particularly his work ethic, which was questioned by some hockey bloggers throughout the season.

The 6-feet-3, 203-pound Ambroz -- who is headed to the U of M this fall -- has been criticized by some for not having a more productive season (he had 46 points in 2010-11, after a 49-point season in 2009-10). 

But, Aikens said, Ambroz was productive in areas other than the scoresheet early in the season. He said Ambroz's physical play was a huge boost for the Lancers early on, when he wasn't scoring. Aikens said Ambroz would often have as many as 15 hits in a game (approaching Cal Clutterbuck territory) and that he didn't receive enough credit for the dirty work he did.

"He was phenomenal on the forecheck and willing to take a beating," Aikens said.

Aikens added that Ambroz does have some things to work on, that he's not NHL-ready right now. The biggest thing Ambroz needs to work on, Aikens said, is his skating. But, it's something Ambroz is aware of and "has worked really, really hard to get better at."

As for Aikens, he thoroughly enjoyed his first season back in Omaha (he spent three seasons there at the start of his coaching career) and is ready to settle there. He and his wife bought a house there and are moving their daughters (ages 5 and 7) down in about two weeks. They kept their house here in Rochester during this past season and waited to move until the school year was finished.

Aikens said he enjoys working for the Lancers organization and head coach Bliss Littler, a successful long-time junior hockey coach. Aikens moved to Omaha after coaching in the Russell Stover Midget Major program near Kansas City. He worked with fellow Rochester native Pat Ferschweiler there. Ferschweiler left prior to last season to become an assistant coach at his alma mater, Western Michigan University.

"We have two young daughters," said Aikens, whose brother, Bruce, played on the 1977 JM state championship team, "so we were looking for a place to settle down. When Omaha called, it was a no-brainer.

"The organization in Omaha is so good, from the owners on down. They treat everyone so well. We like to call it the Yankees of junior hockey, because everyone is treated so well. I feel like I can really be choosy and pick my next move. If I'm here for 10 years, or more, that would be great."

February 10, 2011

Phersy and Feldy Show, Volume II

PHERSY: Welcome back folks ... and if you're back, I guess that's a good start. Here's the second edition of the Phersy and Feldy Show.

This week we've shorten it up a bit. We talk about the upcoming Hockey Day Minnesota, the Ice Hawks' struggles and then we get into a healthy helpling of NFL talk (labor stoppage, Metrodome roof, draft, yada, yada).

So enjoy (or at least try):

 

PhersyAndFeldyShow2

 

November 02, 2010

Hockey | Mark Stuart podcast, tough news for Gophers

FELDY: First off, here's a link to today's interview with Rochester native and current Boston Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart, on 101.7 WFNX Radio in Boston. Today's topics: Playing on the road in the NHL, the play of red-hot Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, and what kind of shoes does Stuart like to wear on his size 13 feet?

Next, some bad news for Gophers hockey today. Sophomore forward Zach Budish may be done for the season after tearing the ACL in one of his knees in a moped accident. Kevin Gorg of FSN reported the news this morning on KFAN radio.

If true, it's a big blow to a Gophers offense that really clicked at Colorado College last weekend, scoring 13 goals in the two-game sweep against the Tigers. Budish was an anchor on the Gophs' second line so far this season.

October 26, 2010

Junior Hockey | Ambroz named to Jr. Select team

FELDY: A former Section 1A star has made the United States roster for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, B.C.

New Prague native and Gophers recruit Seth Ambroz is one of 22 players to make the U.S. Jr. Select Team roster, announced Monday by USA Hockey. Ambroz is one of three players on the U.S. roster who also played on the U.S. Under-18 Select Team that competed in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament earlier this year in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Forward Carson Hohmann and defenseman Brian Cooper are the others.

USA Hockey's press release can be found here.

And here is a link to the roster.

All 22 players on the roster currently play in the USHL. Ambroz plays for the Lincoln Stars.

 

October 09, 2010

Kangas makes more Gophers history; another D-1 player coming from Roch?

With his 29 saves in Friday's victory against Massachusetts, Rochester Century grad and current University of Minnesota senior goalie Alex Kangas surpassed the 2,600-save mark for his career.

A note from Gophers SID Paul Rovnak last night said that Kangas is just the third goalie in Gophers history to stop more than 2,600 shots in his U of M career.

A check of the Gophers media guide today, though, indicates Kangas is the fourth Gophers goalie to accomplish that feat. Adam Hauser (1998-2002) is by far the program's all-time saves leader, with 3,777. Kellen Briggs (2003-07) is second with 2,968, and Steve Janaszak (1975-79) is third with 2,639.

Rochester native Steve DeBus is ninth on that list, by the way, with 2,306 career saves from 1995-98.

It's another in a long line of accomplishments for Kangas at the U. He'll certainly be No. 2 on that saves list by the end of this season. And he still sits atop the lists for best single-season goals-against average (1.98) and save percentage (.930), both of which he accomplished as a freshman in 2007-08.

• • • • •

Former Rochester Lourdes standout Tyler Voigt could be the next Division I college player to come out of Rochester. A good source tells me Voigt has been offered a scholarship by the coach of a program from Atlantic Hockey, and he has drawn heavy interest from a CCHA school, though it's not certain he's been offered a scholarship from that school.

I'll try to track down Tyler in the next few days to see what he thinks his future may hold. Voigt is currently in his second season with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the North American Hockey League (Junior A, Tier II). Voigt has four goals and four assists, for eight points, through 11 games this season with Fairbanks.

August 19, 2010

Lakeville's Skjei, Apple Valley's Michaelson making tour of WCHA schools

FELDY: Two of the top high school juniors from Minnesota who have yet to commit to colleges are apparently both looking at a lot of the top WCHA programs (well, if we still consider the Gophers one of the top WCHA programs).

Star Tribune Gophers beat writer Roman Augustoviz notes that Apple Valley's A.J. Michaelson and former Lakeville North standout Brady Skjei are both considering the Gophers, among several other WCHA programs.

Michaelson has visited Minnesota and North Dakota, according to the report, with visits remaining to Bemidji State and MSU, Mankato.

Skjei is leaving North this fall to join the U.S. National Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. He has visited Minnesota, North Dakota, Minn.-Duluth and Wisconsin, but has not yet made a decision.

August 08, 2010

Points system coming for Gophers hockey season ticket holders

FELDY: This was posted on the Gophers website on Saturday; the university will soon begin reallocating season ticket seating locations for men's hockey and men's basketball season ticket holders.

The changes will begin in the 2012-13 season. The athletic department was apparently happy with how the point system worked for football ticket holders that they've decided to carry it over to other sports. I don't know the exact categories you can receive points for, but I believe it has to do with how long you've had your tickets, points for being an alum, etc.

I guess the biggest point to note here is that, if you have season tickets for men's hockey or men's basketball, there's little chance you'll be able to keep the same seats you currently have. The last line from the Gophers' press release: Both Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena will be completely reseated, with the selection order for season ticket holders based upon specific Gopher Points totals. All season ticket holders will be required to participate in the seat selection process in 2012.

August 05, 2010

College Hockey | Gophers release 2010-11 roster

FELDY: I'm only two days behind on this one, but Gophers coach Don Lucia has released the team's roster for the upcoming season. The 27-man roster features 17 returning players and 10 incoming freshmen. 

Here's a link to the full roster.

Rochester Century grad Alex Kangas is one of seven seniors on the team. That experience, combined with the talented incoming class SHOULD mean better things than a seventh place finish for this year's Gophers. I say should because, well, who honestly thought the Gophers were a seventh-place team in the WCHA going into last season?

I'm sure Lucia's hope is that he doesn't have to rely heavily on those 10 newcomers, but guys like Justin Holl and Mark Alt on defense, and Nick Bjugstad and Erik Haula up front might be too good to keep off the ice.

As for Kangas, he's again listed at 6-2, 190 pounds. All three of the rostered goalies are the same as a year ago -- Kangas and juniors Kent Patterson and Jake Kremer. 

A couple of notes from Kangas' bio:

* I said this last season, but the Gophers struggles were not Kangas' fault. Obviously, no one expects him to play as lights-out as he did his freshmen season, when he set multiple school records. But Kangas had a solid season last year, a season that was good enough for the Gophers to go deeper in the postseason than they did. He just didn't always receive the support he needed. He was second in the WCHA with a .917 save percentage against conference opponents and fourth with a fourth with a 2.46 goals-against average.

* He knows his way around the WCHA and he is, hands-down, the Gophers go-to guy in net. Last year he became the third goalie in program history to play in 100 career games.

* He was very good in the final two games of the playoff series at North Dakota, even though the Gophers won just one of those two games and lost the series, 2-1. He stopped 87 of 96 shots in the series, including 41 in a 4-2 Game 2 victory. He also earned his first career point in that game when he assisted on an empty-net goal in the closing seconds.

The Gophers open their season Oct. 3 at Mariucci Arena with an exhibition game against the University of British Columbia. The regular season begins the following weekend with a two-game home series against Massachusetts.

The Gophs need to make hay before Christmastime. They play their first six games (and 10 of their first 14) at home. Eight of their final 14 regular season games are on the road, and at difficult places to play -- North Dakota (Jan. 14-15), Minn.-Duluth (Feb. 4-5), Wisconsin (Feb. 18-19) and Bemidji St. (March 4-5). Sandwiched between those road series are home series against Anchorage, Denver and Michigan Tech.