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278 posts categorized "High school sports"

October 01, 2015


PHERSY: The Pigskin Podcast returns today. Once again we're talking Vikings, Gophers and high school football. We name our players of the week and make our weekly high school football picks. Feldy has fallen way behind after a dismal effort last week. I'm now four games up in the standings ... Feldy is pressing this week!

Enjoy the show!


September 17, 2015

PIGSKIN PODCAST: Our QBs stink, Tyrod does not

PHERSY: Phersy and Feldy are back with another edition of the Pigskin Podcast.

Hey, if you like it, watch it. If not, let us know ... we are still debating if we want to do this as just a podcast or as a video segment. 

We had way more "listens" on the podcast than we did "views" of the video last week. So if you like it, watch, share, let us know. We will make a decision after this week regarding how to move forward.

Thanks all. Enjoy!


February 17, 2015

High School Hockey | Breaking down the Section 1A tournament

Posted by: Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

* * *

My apologies to Northfield for likely jinxing you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


December 29, 2014

BLOG: Kiwanis Festival previews; more on @DCWildcatsboys hockey captain @ColinSherden

Posted by: Feldman

As I begin typing this, we're less than an hour away from the opening puck drop of the 2014 Kiwanis/Home Federal boys hockey Festival. It's one of the best times of the year for local hockey fans. Three straight days of hockey, close to 12 hours each day. 

As I wrote in today's paper, it's tough to pick a favorite in either division this year.

Eau Claire Memorial, the No. 5-ranked team in Wisconsin, might seem like a favorite in the Blue Division. But, the Old Abes will have to go through Verona, the defending Wisconsin state champ; Rochester Lourdes, which ECM beat just 3-1 in the season opener last month; and Fargo South, whose only losses are to Minnesota Section 8AA power Moorhead and a one-goal setback to Grand Forks Red River, the top-ranked team in North Dakota.

As for the Gold Division (formerly the AA division), this seems like as good of a year as any for a Rochester team to win the championship. Rochester Mayo has the best record in the field (6-2-0), though Rochester John Marshall (4-6-0) enters the tournament on a two-game winning streak, with both victories against Big Nine Conference teams that had been playing well, Northfield and Rochester Century. As for Century (5-4-1), the Panthers are a talented group who have lost three times by one goal (their other loss was a two-goal set back to state-ranked Farmington). It won't be an easy path for any of those teams, though, with defending champ Northland Pines and a 4-2-0 New Richmond team also in the field. Dodge County has played well in its past two games, too.

Here are some links to more tournament preview info. that was in the P-B on Saturday:

* A list of the past Festival champions, and this year's Festival schedule

* A team-by-team preview of the Festival

* A profile story on Dodge County senior forward and team captain Colin Sherden, who suffered broken vertebrae and spine injuries during a football game nearly 16 months ago. After some tremendous surgeons at Mayo Clinic Hospital performed surgeries, Sherden was up doing homework within a week and back in the weight room within a month.

The story on Sherden and the bond he formed with Dodge County coach Eric Hofmann could've been twice as long as it ended up. I talked with both Sherden and Hofmann for about 8 minutes before we even got around to talking about his role on the hockey team and what type of player he is. 

In light of that, here are the transcripts of the interviews with Sherden and Hofmann. Enjoy the Kiwanis Festival if you make it over to Graham.

Dodge County senior F Colin Sherden:

What's it like to be back on the ice, when you thought you might never skate again?
A year and a half ago I never thought this would be possible again. But I have been blessed with a good supporting cast around me, good family, good teammates, good coaches 


Do you remember the play? (In a game against P-E-M)
It was a spread-wide, 11 follow; it was a low snap and I had my head down and got hit with a shoulder to the top of my head, pushed my head down
What was the feeling right away?
I remember getting back up to my feet and was going to call the next play, I remember thinking 'it's not that big of a deal.' Then the coaches saw I was stumbling all over the place, so they called a timeout and I walked off the field. I remember being really emotional, and I'm not sure why. Trainers came up to me immediately and did some concussion tests. At first they thought it was a neck strain. They said I had a weird gait and a slow heart rate, so they called an ambulance to the field and that's when I was taken to the E.R.
When you found out the diagnosis, what were the emotions like?
That was a scary time. I wasn't concerned with the injury itself. I wasn't as concerned right away with the injury, but just thought about not being able to play sports. I remember busting into tears ... my parents were there and were having a tough time with it, too, but it was great to have them there with me.
Being able to walk off the field, that was awesome and I tried to keep it in perspective of 'at least I'm alive and walking.' But that kind of wore off and the more I went to football games and hockey games I kept thinking 'OK, I really need this back,' so I started working out harder so I could get back.
In terms of your injury, you had a pretty rapid recovery?
I had a six-week limit for weight; I could hold 10 pounds and then add 10 pounds each week after that, so it was pretty quick. 
Now I look back at it as probably the best thing to ever happen to me. Physically, it wasn't, but it was just what you can learn about life when you go through something like that and who you have around you, who's in your corner. 
The thing I missed most was just being with the team. Playing sports is awesome, but just being around the guys is what I missed most.
What did it mean to have coach and friends come be with you in the hospital?
It meant a lot. When coach came we talked for an hour, not about hockey, but just about every-day stuff. My mom was there; she said that was one of the coolest things she's seen, just like two friends sitting and talking.
What does it mean now to have him as a coach and being back on the ice playing for him?
I've really learned ... I'm thinking about being a coach when I get older and I'm really going to try to follow the way he coaches. Just the way he cares for his players is pretty unbelievable. We've always had a good relationship, but since that injury, it's taken off. It's a friendship, but it's definitely still a coach-player relationship, too.
What does it mean to you to be a captain and have a letter on your sweater?
It means a lot, it really does. You're trying your best to get your team name out there and make sure the guys are doing what they're supposed to be doing. It really makes you accountable and responsible.
(Being a captain, it's everything...) from housekeeping things to just being the best person and teammate you can possibly be. You want to show the younger guys and even the players in the youth program what it means to be a good man and a good teammate.
What kind of coaching do you want to go into? What do you hope to take from coach Hofmann and other coaches?
Hockey and football. ... Just communication, being there for your players. (Hofmann) is all business, but at the same time, you know he's a friend to you and you can talk to him about anything. For some players and some kids, they might not have a father figure in their lives, and that's what coach is.
Are you a two-sport athlete or something in the spring, too?
Two sports, football and hockey.
How was football season this fall, especially at the start?
It was a fun year, just the chance to play was great. ... I got 10 plays as a QB last year before I got hurt, and our first scrimmage this fall was against (P-E-M). I think I got hit on the first play and that's all it took, I was back into it. After that, it was just football again. And it helped that I had played summer hockey and (had physical contact).
How about this hockey season, the way you've seen the team and program grow?
This is the year I've had the most fun. This team is really close. We all hang out together and have fun. There aren't a lot of cliques, which would be easy to have happen when you have eight different schools in one program. Our effort -- coach has talked all year about working hard and having a good attitude. That's really starting to catch on.

* * *

Dodge County coach Eric Hofmann


Colin, as a person, going through what he's been through. Did you know he had that kind of character?
I knew he had leadership qualities and that type of character prior to his injury, but the way he bounced out of it, it just goes to show how deep-rooted his character is. He was never depressed, never down, he was always trying to find the good in it and he was able to make a really good comeback.
Even when he was injured last year, he did everything he could to be a part of the team, even if it was just to put a jersey on and be around the team. He was at practices, meetings, team bonding, he started developing into a captain and the man he's turning out to be. It was impressive to see.
What do you remember about your hospital visits?
I remember taking the elevator ride up, I wasn't sure what I was going to say or how it was going to go. If he'd cry or be happy or mad, but when I got in there, his mom and dad were there, and his older brothers. As soon as I walked in he said "Hi, coach," just like normal. And here's this kid with a big mark running along his neck, you know he's been through hell. He was in good spirits. We didn't talk about sports, just talked about life. He mentioned to me once or twice how upsetting it was for him, that he couldn't play, but there was no negativity. It was a good, positive chat.
How did you hear about it?
Living in a small town, I had a flurry of text messages that night. We're a co-op of several different schools, so there were players from Byron, K-M and other places that sent me messages saying something had happened to Colin. The next day is when I really found out how severe it was. I got four or five phone calls and at that time, I reached out to Colin's mom and dad about going to see him.
How scary was it for you as a coach to know a player was going through that?
Anytime one of your players or anyone in your program goes through something like that, the first thing you think about isn't hockey, it's 'how is he going to be for the rest of his life?' It was a very scary time. 
Considering his injuries, what does it say about him just to want to come back and play again?
It speaks volume of the kind of kid he is now and the man he's becoming. It's incredible, there are so many people who would just roll over and say 'this is it,' maybe be confined to a wheelchair or walking but not playing, but with Colin, there was never any negativity. With him it was always just do whatever he could do, within limits and never pushing it, but he did all his rehab and had good spirits.
Most phenomenal about the whole thing is his first scrimmage in football this fall was against the team that he got hurt against. To overcome that mental barrier, that's incredible and inspiring.
Do you see some of that with his teammates, too, being impressed and inspired by him?
First and foremost, they're friends and they're very happy that he's OK and that he's back playing. He's one of the most respected, if not the most, in that (locker) room, by the players and the coaches, too, just because we all know what he went through. He never plays the 'poor me' card and rarely ever brings it up. 
The team had a meeting last week and he brought up and said 'we have to give full effort and work hard, have fun and have good attitudes, because you never know when it might be your last time or it could be taken from you.' 
He talked about becoming a coach. What are the qualities he possesses that will make him a good coach and leader?
He's inspiring and is a natural motivator. He has that ability to motivate the guys around him, especially now with his own experiences already as an 18-year-old. He has very good leadership qualities that are raw and that he continually works on and develops. On top of that, his priorities are straight when it comes to life, family, relationships, he really has his head on straight.
It says a lot about Colin that we've talked for 8 minutes and haven't talked about him as a player. What type of player is he on the ice; what does he bring that impresses you?
He brings those leadership qualities, intensity, energy, always gives 100 percent effort. He's been a defenseman for most of his life. We recently moved him up to forward and he's excelling at that, too. He's versatile and can adapt to different situations without ever questioning the coaches or being upset. He's had a good attitude and worked hard at becoming a good forward.
Why the move from defense to forward?
We wanted to move a younger forward back to defense, to help him develop better as he can see the plays unfold in front of him. So we thought Colin, with his size, would help add some depth to our forward group. So far it's worked out really well. 
He's a playmaker and grinder. We need a guy with good size to get in there and establish a forecheck, protect his center and his other wing, and he does a fantastic job of it. He works hard and has a good frame, he's a good guy to be down deep in the offensive zone.
Anything else to add about Colin?
Whatever Colin decides to do in life, in general, whether it's coaching or teaching or whatever, I'm very confident he'll be successful.


October 21, 2014

High School Football picks | Section quarterfinal edition

FELDY: Phersy gained another game on me last week. I'm pretty sure he cheated, but I'll take my lumps and move on. It should come as no shock that the 9-man games did me in. Phersy knew that would happen, which is why he made me pick three of them. I'm contemplating not putting any 9-man games on the list this week. We'll see. We'll see. 

I went 5-2 last week and am 37-12 this season. Phersy went 6-1 to improve to 35-14. We're down to just a couple weeks left, so he needs to gain some ground. Let's see if he can do it in the section quarterfinals. I say no, he won't.

This round's games to pick, lots of 4s vs. 5s:


No. 5 John Marshall (4-4) at No. 4 Century (4-4)


No. 5 Winona (1-7) at No. 4 Red Wing (2-6)


No. 5 Jordan (5-3) at No. 4 Lake City (4-4)


No. 5 Dover-Eyota (3-5) at No. 4 Chatfield (4-4)


No. 5 G-F-W (2-6) at No. 4 Zumbrota-Mazeppa (3-5)


No. 5 Southland (5-3) at No. 4 Faribault B.A. (6-2)


No. 5 Houston (3-5) at No. 4 Lanesboro (4-4)


PHERSY: Feldy might not say it, but he's worried. This would be the choke of all chokes. He's very frightened for this week's picks, as he should be. It won't be long until Team Phersy charges into the lead...


No. 5 John Marshall 34, No. 4 Century 27: Rockets riding high after huge win over West. If they let up, they'll lose. But my guess is they're getting hot at the right time.


No. 4 Red Wing 21, No. 5 Winona 0: You know it's a brutal section when the Wingers are hosting a first-


No. 4 Lake City 14, No. 5 Jordan 7: The Tigers' defense will carry them to a win. Jordan hasn't played the same competition, and that'll pay off at home for LC.


No. 4 Chatfield 21, No. 5 Dover-Eyota 14: It's not going to be easy for Chatfield, and the Gophers aren't playing great. But it's playoff time...they'll dig deep and move on.


No. 4 Zumbrota-Mazeppa 12, No. 5 G-F-W 0: These teams struggled to score points all season. Cougars faced tougher competition and they're on their home field...


No. 5 Southland 21, No. 4 Faribault B.A. 20: Upset central? Sure. FBA lost big when it faced good opponents, beat up on lesser foes. Rebels enter with confidence and pull the upset.


No. 4 Lanesboro 35, No. 5 Houston 14: This was a shutout win for Lanesboro the first time around. Houston scores, but I don't see an upset happening.


FELDY: I'll admit it. I'm worried. Worried about Phersy breaking down and bawling in the office when I win this thing for -- what? -- like the third year in a row. Let's get on with the picks.


No. 4 Century 27, No. 5 JM 25: This is more about what I saw from Century last week than it is a knock on JM. The Rockets are (obviously) playing quite well and coming off an emotional high. But Century moved the ball effectively against Mayo last week, but shot itself in the foot with turnovers and penalties. The Panthers need to clean those things up, or they won't move on. I trust they'll clean that stuff up tonight.


No. 4 Red Wing 18, No. 5 Winona 6: Won't be pretty, but the Wingers advance to play Stewartville on Saturday.


No. 5 Jordan 24, No. 4 Lake City 20: Lake City had played very well in a loss to Stewartville and a victory against Kasson-Mantorville. Then the Tigers lost by 29 to Lourdes (no shame in that; it's happened to most everyone this year) and lost to Cannon Falls last Wednesday. The Tigers will play better tonight, but I'll take the Hubmen on a late score.


No. 4 Chatfield 20, No. 5 Dover-Eyota 13: I agree with Phersy. Chatfield isn't playing well, but it has some veteran players who know what it takes to win in the postseason. D-E will put up a good fight, but the Gophs win on their home turf.


No. 4 Z-M 14, No. 5 G-F-W 11: Cougars get the home-field advantage and move on to the section semis.


No. 5 Southland 28, No. 4 Faribault B.A. 18: COME ON, PHERSY! This was gonna be my (mild) upset special! Southland's three losses came to Caledonia, Goodhue and Rushford-Peterson. If you're gonna lose three games, there's no shame in those losses. The Rebels are riding high after knocking off defending Class AA state champ Chatfield.


No. 4 Lanesboro 63, No. 5 Houston 48: I can't pick 9-man games, so why not expect a fan-pleasing shootout? Gimme the Burros by a bunch. Eeeee-awwww! (Sorry, I really do think the Burros need that sound effect at their home games, to play after they get first downs. That'd be awesome. Someone get me a video if they do that?)

October 10, 2014

High School Football picks | Week 7

FELDY: After last week, I think Phesy is waving the white flag. He is French, after all (he's not, and no offense meant to our readers in France). Let's get going with Week 7 games. I went 6-1 last week to improve to 35-7. Phersy went 4-3, in his defense, trying to make up some ground, but now sits at 28-14. Maybe he better go all 7 different than me over the next couple weeks.

This week's games:


* Rochester John Marshall (3-3) at Owatonna (4-2)
* Northfield (5-1) at Rochester Century (4-2)


* Lourdes (6-0) at Lake City (4-2)


* Triton (5-1) at Lewiston-Altura (4-2)
* Dover-Eyota (2-4) at Zumbrota-Mazeppa (2-4)


* Goodhue (5-1) at Chatfield (4-2)


* Spring Grove (5-1) at Lanesboro (4-2)

* * * * *

PHERSY: I stink anyway, so no research, no wise thoughts, just picks...


* Rochester John Marshall 21, Owatonna 14: Rockets need this win badly.
* Northfield 37, Rochester Century 21: Northfield is the second-best team in the conference.


* Lourdes 35, Lake City 34: Closer than most think, but Eagles still win a big one on the road.


* Triton 27, Lewiston-Altura 20: Good game, Cobras steal a road W.
* Dover-Eyota 20, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 12: Sticking with the road theme.


* Chatfield 29, Goodhue 2: I don't usually bet against the Wildcats, but when I do, it's against a good wrestling school.


* Spring Grove 41, Lanesboro 34: Nine-man ... who knows.

* * * * * * * 

FELDY: This can never be easy, so I'm sure I'll lose 3-4 games this week, even if I pick the same as Phersy.


* JM 31, Owatonna 20: JM's a better team than its 3-3 record shows. Think about it: This team is 4 points away from being 5-1, if it flips 1-point losses to Mayo and Northfield.

* Century 33, Northfield 31: Call it an upset if you want. Northfield is a good football team, but so is Century, and Century has flown under the radar all year, even after beating JM. Time for the Panthers to stand up and be recognized.


* Lourdes 38, Lake City 28: I agree with Phersy, Lake City will keep this one close and it'll be one of the best 4-3 teams in the state afterward.


* L-A 24, Triton 20: The Cards are ticked after their first division loss last week and they bounce back with a quality victory against the snakes.

* D-E 24, Z-M 10: The Cougars have really struggled to score this year. That continues this week, and D-E gets its third win of the season.


* Chatfield 28, Goodhue 17: What a brutal way for Goodhue to end its season: at Chatfield, then home for Caledonia. Chatfield has lost twice this year and won't let it happen again in the regular season


* Spring Grove 63, Lanesboro 56: As Phersy said, we have no clue how to pick 9-man games. That's a credit to those teams in a balanced SEC, who believe they can win on any given week. Spring Grove put up 98 last week against G-E, so I'll take them to win this week in a defensive battle.

September 26, 2014

Feldy and Phersy's High School Football picks | Week 5

FELDY: Last week wasn't a very shining moment for either of us, Phersy, but especially you. We both were way off the mark on Austin against Faribault and we both thought JM would win a competitive game against Century. Turns out, Century had no inkling of letting it be close. I went 5-2 and am 23-5; Phersy went 3-4 and is now 20-8. Let's put last week in the past and move on to this week's games:


* Rochester Mayo (3-1) at Faribault (2-2)


* Plainview-Elgin-Millville (3-1) at Rochester Lourdes (4-0)

* Stewartville (4-0) at Lake City (3-1)


* Caledonia (5-0) at Chatfield (3-1)


* Kenyon-Wanamingo (1-3) at Dover-Eyota (1-3)


* Grand Meadow (4-0) at Lanesboro (3-1)

* Spring Grove (3-1) at Mabel-Canton (3-2)


PHERSY: Feldy, after another awful week, I need to try something new. So I'm gonna rip through these picks, no research, just first team that comes to mind...I have to break this slump!


* Rochester Mayo 28, Faribault 14: Spartans get back on track.


* Plainview-Elgin-Millville 27, Rochester Lourdes 26: Going with road warriors this week?

* Stewartville 47, Lake City 22: Lake City is solid, but Stewartville is elite.


* Caledonia 24, Chatfield 7: Caledonia is balanced and the Warriors will be back on top again this year.


* Kenyon-Wanamingo 25, Dover-Eyota 21: All road teams, all night long.


* Grand Meadow 33, Lanesboro 21: Best team in the state takes this one.

* Spring Grove 35, Mabel-Canton 28: This should be a good one!

* * * * *

FELDY: Let's see if I can put some more separation between me and Phersy...


Mayo 33, Faribault 21: If the Spartans are the team they expected to be at the start of the season, and the team they still believe they can be, they come out and take it to the Falcons in Faribault.


Lourdes 28, PEM 24: I like Phersy's pick here, but coach Kesler won't let Lourdes relax with its No. 1 ranking. The Eagles will have a big bullseye on their backs (as if they already didn't) the rest of the way.

Stewartville 38, Lake City 21: No one has been able to slow Stewie's offense yet. As well as Lake City has played, Stewartville is as tough a test as they'll face all year.


Caledonia 34, Chatfield 19: Caledonia has had this game marked on its calendar for almost a year. 


Dover-Eyota 20, Kenyon-Wanamingo 17: I don't think I've picked a K-W game correctly all season. Maybe I'll start this week.


Grand Meadow 36, Lanesboro 23: Sticking with the defending state champion Larks.

Spring Grove 22, Mabel-Canton 20: I'll take the Lions with a late score to win on the road.

July 25, 2014

High School Hockey | 3 from Rochester make Elite League

Posted by: Feldman

Thinking back to late February and the high school hockey playoffs, about the time I was putting together the All-Area Boys Hockey Team for last season, I kept thinking about what it would be like to see Riese Zmolek of Rochester Century and Griff Slightam of Rochester Lourdes on the ice together as a defensive pairing.

Slightam missed the entire hockey season last year with an injury, but as soon as he started his recovery, he had his eyes set to this winter, to November and the start of his senior season.

Still, what a pairing that would be. Zmolek can do just about anything the Panthers need him to do -- rush the puck up the ice, skate through traffic to create a shot or space for a teammate, handle the puck, run point on the power play or play down low. Slightam is a guy who can play a physical game and provide offensive punch at the same time. Seeing those two together would make any coach pretty happy.

We just might get to see that combo this fall, as Slightam, Zmolek and Lourdes goalie Jack Burkel have all been named to Team Northeast for the Upper Midwest High School Elite League.

Rochester Mayo's Logan Haskins and Dodge County's Tanner Dufault both made a tryout roster, but did not advance.

Here are all the rosters for the Elite League; these were released a week ago today.

Zmolek, Burkel and Slightam are all very worthy of their selections.

Zmolek had 38 points (12-26--38) in 26 games last season for Century, which finished 12-13-1. He was among the Panthers' go-to players, putting up at least one point in 21 of his 26 games.

Burkel went 7-15-1 on a 7-19-1 Lourdes team that was hit hard by injuries and lost in the Section 1A semifinals. He had a 3.53 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage, facing an average of 31.26 shots per game.

Slightam missed all of his junior season, after putting up 22 points in 30 games as a sophomore. He had a tremendous postseason run that year, collecting five points, including three goals, in six postseason games.

All three will be seniors this season.

A somewhat interesting side note, the other goalie on Team Northeast is Eagan's Andrew Lindgren. He's the younger brother of St. Cloud State goalie Charlie Lindgren, who starred in high school at Lakeville North and was a thorn in the side of Rochester's public school teams during the Section 1AA playoffs for four years.

Training camp for the Elite League begins in just more than a month, Aug. 29-30, in Blaine.

March 05, 2014

Boys hockey | The Tourney: Breaking down the Class A field

Posted by: Feldman

Everyone is off of work and school the rest of the week, right? After all, it's holiday time, so call in sick today. And Thursday. And Friday. And Saturday, if you work Saturdays. And turn on channel 6.2 or 386 if you have Charter cable, pop some popcorn, get some peanuts, make a pizza or, if you're me, go grab some Chipotle and get settled into the recliner by 11:17 (I believe that's the time that the first game will actually begin) and become a high school hockey zombie for four days.

It's the best time of the year, The Tourney, the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.

(According to the P-B's Paul Christian, The Tourney will also air locally on channels 10 and 13).

It all gets going today with the Class A state quarterfinals. We won't have an extensive preview in our print edition since we don't have an area team in the tournament. So I'll do one here for both classes.

Just a reminder that, for an eighth consecutive year, the tournament is seeded. The top 5 teams were seeded, the remaining three placed in the bracket by random draw.

No more wasting time, let's get to the Class A tourney.


11 a.m. — No. 2 Hermantown (22-4-2) vs. Luverne (27-0-1)

Overview: This is an intriguing matchup to open The Tourney. Everyone is picking Hermantown, and rightfully so. The Hawks are at state for a fifth consecutive season. They finished as the state runner-up in each of the past four, including a bitter 5-4 loss to St. Thomas Academy last year in which the Hawks held leads of 3-1 and 4-2, only to lose on a power play goal (after an awful sequence of bad calls and no calls, including an STA player not being called for a hold while having a Hawks player in a headlock) with 6.1 seconds to go. STA isn't in The Tourney this year, though, after moving up to Class AA and losing in the Section 3 tournament. Luverne is making its state-tournament debut. It is the last unbeaten team in the state, though the No. 17-ranked Cardinals have played just one team ranked in the top 20 — No. 20 Bloomington Kennedy (a 3-1 Luverne win on Dec. 28). Hermantown is ranked No. 2 in the state.

Hermantown leaders: Jr. F Ryan Kero (21-28—49); Jr. F Nate Pionk (22-26—48); Sr. F Scott Wasbotten (23-23—46); Sr. F Kori Ochs (15-17—32); So. F Cole Koepke (18-13—31); Sr. G Jace Thomas (10-1-2, 1.55 GAA, .926 save pct.); Sr. G Adam Smith (12-3-0, 2.50, .901).

Luverne leaders: So. F Chaz Smedsrud (38-49—87); Sr. F Logan Norman (22-49—71); 8th F Jaxon Nelson (30-40—70); Jr. D Toby Sengvongxay (20-32—52); Sr. G Kendall Meyer (21-0-1, 1.16 GAA, .949 save pct.); Jr. G Connor Crabtree (6-0-0, 1.26, .896)

Notes: You may notice Hermantown players all have the name "TIM" stickered onto their helmets. It's in honor of Tim Ellingson, an outdoor rink manager for many years, who died on Jan. 2 while skating at an outdoor rink. One of the Hermantown players found him. ... The Hawks have scored five shorthanded goals this season. ... Gunnar Olson set Luverne's career points record this season. ... Jaxon Nelson has more than 70 points as an eighth-grader.

The pick: Give me the experienced team that has a chip on its shoulder after last year's state title game. Hermantown won't overlook anyone in The Tourney: HERMANTOWN 5, LUVERNE 1.

• • •

1 p.m. — No. 3 New Prague (21-4-3) vs. Chisago Lakes Area (20-8-0)

Overview: New Prague is in the state tournament for the first time, finally breaking through in the Section 1A championship game after some close, heartbreaking losses in the section semifinals and final in recent seasons. Junior goalie Conner Wagner stood on his head for much of the Trojans' 3-2 victory against Mankato West in the Section 1A title game. At one point, New Prague led 2-0 but was being outshot 22-8. Wagner showed the poise necessary to win at state. His teammates will have to provide the offense. Chisago Lakes is at state for a second time, but the first time since 1995. Chisago Lakes was the top seed in the Section 5, Class A tournament. It beat Princeton 5-4 in the section final, scoring three times in the third period to win. Blake Lizotte scored with 2:09 to go in the third for the winning goal.

New Prague leaders: Sr. F Augie Isaacson (23-30--53); Sr. F Seth Kriha (11-35--46); So. F Alex Gregor (19-22--41); Sr. F Austin Kilian (21-12--33); Jr. G Conner Wagner (21-4-3, 2.28 GAA, .903 save pct.).

Chisago Lakes leaders: Sr. F Brandon Gillespie (25-26--51); So. F Blake Lizotte (14-34--48); Sr. F Trevor Lushanko (23-24--47); So. F Landon Lushanko (10-18--28); Sr. F Ryan Chambers (13-15--28); Jr. G Jacob Dubose (13-6-0, 1.95 GAA, .916 save pct.); Jr. G Bryce Thompson (7-2-0, 2.34, .906).

Notes: New Prague is ranked No. 6 in the state. Chisago Lakes is unranked. ... Chisago Lakes allowed just eight power play goals all season. ... Chisago Lakes went 14-0-0 at home this season, 5-8-0 on the road and 1-3-0 on neutral ice. ... New Prague is one of three teams in the Class A tournament that has not been shut out this season. Hermantown and Luverne are the others. ... New Prague assistant coach Nick Bowe played for Austin in the 2001 Class AA state tournament. ... The Trojans 21 wins are a single-season school record.

The pick: While New Prague's skaters didn't always look poised and calm during the Section 1A title game victory against Mankato West, their goalie did. This team will go as Wagner goes at state, and that's into the semifinals: NEW PRAGUE 4, CHISAGO LAKES 3.

• • •

6 p.m. — No. 1 East Grand Forks (25-2-1) vs. Orono (19-8-1)

Overview: East Grand Forks, the No. 1-ranked team in the state, is at state for a second consecutive season and a ninth time in school history. The Green Wave have never won a state title. EGF is the favorite for a reason; they have talented players up and down the lineup and most of them played at state last year, when EGF placed fourth. EGF has outscored its opponents 117-33 this season and has allowed just one short-handed goal all year. Orono is at state for the first time since 2007 and the eighth time in school history. Orono is ranked No. 11 in the state; it upset No. 4-ranked Breck in the Section 2A championship game, 2-1, to advance to state, though Breck outshot Orono 47-20. The Spartans gave up a total of four goals in three section tournament victories.

EGF leaders: Jr. F Reed Corbid (16-26--42); Jr. F Dixon Bowen (17-20--37); So. F Grant Loven (14-21--35); So. F Tanner Tweten (15-13--28); Sr. F Brandon Loven (14-11--25); Jr. Josh Weber (20-1-1, 1.22 GAA, .922 save pct.); Jr. Garrett Lieberg (5-1-0, 1.00, .898).

Orono leaders: Jr. F Joey Luedtke (12-22--34); Sr. D Jacob Flemmer (14-17--31); Sr. F Sam Challgren (6-18--24); So. F David McCuskey (11-9--20); Jr. G Jon Flakne (18-7-1, 1.95 GAA, .918); Sr. G Grant Mathiason (1-1-0, 2.50, .898).

Notes: EGF senior defenseman Eddie Eades' sister, Erika, played in the girls hockey state tournament two weeks ago, when EGF finished second. ... The Eades' dad, Cary, is the head coach of the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL. ... The Green Wave have eight players with 22 or more points. ... Orono is 20 miles west of Minneapolis. ... Orono head coach Kasey Yoder played for Duluth Marshall in the 2001 state tournament, the first one held at the Xcel Energy Center.

The pick: East Grand Forks has been ranked No. 1 in the state for some time now for a reason. The Green Wave are the total package and they've been here before, so they know how to deal with the pressure: EGF 4, ORONO 1.

• • •

8 p.m. — No. 4 St. Cloud Cathedral (20-7-1) vs. No. 5 Totino-Grace (17-10-1)

Overview: The only two private schools to make the 16 team field at The Tourney meet in the opening round, so anti-private school fans will be down to just one after the opening day. T-G last won a state title in 2002 and last appeared at state in 2005. The Eagles went just 4-3-0 in their final seven regular season games with lopsided losses to Hermantown (6-1) and Wayzata (9-0). T-G is used to playing under pressure, though. It came back from down 4-2 to beat Mahtomedi 5-4 in OT in the Section 4A championship. Cathedral is at state for the sixth time and the first since 2009. The Crusaders lost to the tournament's top two seeds during the regular season, East Grand Forks (3-1) and Hermantown (6-0), tied Orono and beat No. 3 seed New Prague (5-4, OT) and Totino-Grace (5-4). 

Cathedral leaders: Sr. F Will Hammer (23-30--53); Jr. F Matt Fritz (15-23--38); Sr. D Daniel Bailey (7-31--38); So. F Logan Neu (18-17--35); Jr. Zach Fritz (19-7-1, 2.17 GAA, .916 save pct.)

T-G leaders: Sr. F Nick Tandeski (15-16--31); Sr. F Kai Barber (19-11--30); Sr. F Brandon Hilliard (7-17--24); Jr. D Jason Krych (6-17--23); Jr. F Blake Vagle (7-16--23); Sr. G Dominic Wippler (15-8-1, 2.55 GAA, .904 save pct.); Jr. G Jack Lux (2-2-0, 3.38, .862).

Notes: Cathedral is No. 10 in the state, Totino-Grace is No. 8. ... Cathedral has produced some talented players in recent seasons. Former Gophers and current Washington Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt played at Cathedral. So did U.S. Olympian Anne Schleper. ... Hammer has 172 career points, a Cathedral program record. ... T-G only has two players -- Tandeski and Barber -- with more than 10 goals. 

The pick: This one's a coin flip and I think the last game of the day is the best game of the day: CATHEDRAL 3, TOTINO-GRACE 2, OT.

• • •


The picks: As much as I'd love to see a Section 1 team in the state championship, Hermantown just appears to be a team on a mission. It blew out three good programs -- International Falls, Duluth Denfeld and Duluth Marshall -- in the Section 7 tournament by a combined score of 21-3: HERMANTOWN 5, NEW PRAGUE 2.

East Grand Forks' depth shines through in the other semifinal. The Green Wave are a poised group, having had to go to double-OT to beat Warroad in the Section 8A championship game last week. Goalie Josh Weber played an incredible game that night, and he'll do it again Friday afternoon at The X: EAST GRAND FORKS 4, ST. CLOUD CATHEDRAL 1.

• • •


The pick: It's really hard for me to pick against East Grand Forks, thanks to both my heart (I grew up right across the Red River in Grand Forks) and my head (the Green Wave have great depth and maybe 4-5 D-1 players), BUT, this Hermantown team feels like it's not going to be stopped. If I can't get their bitter, crushing loss in last year's state title game out of my head, I can't imagine how the Hawks have felt for the past 360 days. After four straight years as the runner-up, Hermantown gets to bring home a state championship trophy for the second time in school history, and first since 2007: HERMANTOWN 5, EAST GRAND FORKS 3 (empty-net goal).

March 04, 2014

Boys hockey | Grosso to enter MHCA Hall of Fame

Posted by: Feldman

This is my eighth year of covering boys hockey for The Post-Bulletin. At the end of my first season, 2006-07, I asked Mayo coach Lorne Grosso if he planned to retire after the season. He laughed and said, "after I tell my wife, you'll be the first to know."

I told him that day that I wouldn't ask him again if he planned to retire. I kept my word for about seven years. I figured I'm allowed a one-day grace period when I'm writing a story about a still-active coach going into a Hall of Fame.

Grosso will be honored on Thursday, between sessions at the Class AA state tournament, by being one of five coaches in the Class of 2014 for the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame.

Here's a link to the article that will appear in Wednesday's Post-Bulletin.

I talked to Grosso, Mayo assistant coach Todd Huyber and Mayo acitivites director Jeff Whitney, who also served as an assistant to Grosso for many years. Grosso will be inducted along with two of his former college teammates at the University of Minnesota, Albert Lea coach Roy Nystrom and former Mound coach Pat Furlong.

Here are some of comments from Grosso, Huyber and Whitney didn't make it into the article:


On what being inducted into the MHCA HoF means to him:

"I think back on all the coaches I've known for so long. When I first started, I wondered if I would be able to do some of the things they were doing (in terms of longevity and success). We all spend a lot of time working with kids because we enjoy it, and we get to know so many coaches. To be with this group is very meaningful to me."

On what he's enjoyed about coaching:

"One of the most fun parts of coaching, for me, is being involved with all the great coaches you meet. You want to beat them and they want to beat you, but you can still go home feeling good."


On Grosso's longevity:

"No. 1, coaching is teaching and he was a teacher, so that helps. He realizes that all kids are different when it comes to their personalities. He's so even-keeled all the time."

On Grosso's calm demeanor and competitive spirit:

"He definitely has that competitive fire. He gets that across at certain times during the year. He gets it across at certain times when he needs to. He doesn't wear kids out with that stuff all the time because it can get old with kids and start going in one ear and out the other."


On Grosso being inducted along with former teammates:

"It's special to him to go in with some friends. I know how important the comaraderie of coaching is to him. He's very well-liked and respected."

On what Grosso enjoys most about coaching:

"I think what he drives home to the kids is doing things with class, working hard, being a good teammate ... so many of those life lessons. Because of the way he coaches, the kids enjoy what they're doing and they're successful. That's probably why he doesn't need to talk about (his wins)."

• • •

Here is the bio on Grosso from the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association:

With 677 career wins at the end of the 2013-14 regular season, Rochester Mayo head coach Lorne Grosso, who has been the school’s head coach for 47 years, is the winningest coach in Minnesota boys high school hockey history, having passed the legendary Willard Ikola for the state’s top spot during the 2010-11 season.

A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Grosso grew up playing with the likes of Lou Nanne and Phil and Tony Esposito before coming to Minnesota to play for the Gophers and John Mariucci. While at Minnesota, Grosso was paired on a line with fellow 2014 Hall of Fame inductee Roy Nystrom, of Albert Lea, whom he coaches against and leads by seven career coaching victories.

Although he has been successful at winning hockey games, Grosso’s approach, at times, is philosophical.

“At times, I have more fun losing than winning because I see that the kids are playing up to their ability,” Grosso said. “If we play our best and happen to lose, I am fine with that.”

As the years have passed by and the wins piled up, Grosso has noticed the game change but his fundamentals of coaching have stayed the same.

“The equipment is better, the kids are bigger, and the game is faster,” he noted. “But you try
to teach them the same things that will make them successful. You try to get them to improve and develop. As far as the coaching aspect, it’s pretty much the same game.”

Grosso attended St. Basil’s Novitiate for the priesthood before moving on to the University of Minnesota, from where he graduated in 1966. He took over as the head hockey coach at Mayo upon his graduation and taught Latin and Italian at the school from 1966-99. In 1999, he accepted a position at Rochester Lourdes, teaching religion along with Latin and Italian before retiring in 2007.

In 2009, Grosso was inducted into the Rochester Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame and, last year, the American Hockey Coaches Association honored him with its Mariucci Award, a national award for a high school hockey coach.

Grosso and his wife, Joannie, are the parents of three children; daughters Laura and Marisa, and son Jim; have seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren. When not coaching, he enjoys playing the guitar and piano, walking the couple’s two dogs, cutting fire wood and travelling to Italy and Florida. He also sang and played guitar at mass for 22 years, has been a hospital visitor for St. John’s Catholic Church, brings communion to the homebound and serves as a Eucharistic minister.