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273 posts categorized "High school sports"

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:

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

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

SFA RED DIVISION

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

SFA WHITE DIVISION

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

SFA BLUE DIVISION

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

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

* * * * *

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

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* 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.

SFA RED DIVISION

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

SFA WHITE DIVISION

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

SFA BLUE DIVISION

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* 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.

BIG NINE

* 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.

SFA RED

* 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.

SFA WHITE

* 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.

SFA BLUE

* 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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* 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:

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

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

SFA RED

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

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

SFA BLUE

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

SFA WHITE

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* 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!

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

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

SFA RED

* 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.

SFA BLUE

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

SFA WHITE

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* 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...

BIG NINE

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.

SFA RED

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.

SFA BLUE

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

SFA WHITE

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.

SOUTHEAST

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.

THE MATCHUPS

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.

• • •

STATE SEMIFINALS

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.

• • •

CHAMPIONSHIP

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:

LORNE GROSSO

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."

TODD HUYBER

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."

JEFF WHITNEY

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.

January 18, 2014

Thoughts, pics from Hockey Day Minnesota '14

Posted by: Feldman

If you watched the high school hockey games played at Handke Pit in Elk River on FSN today, you had a better view than I did of most of the goals in Rochester Lourdes' 4-1 loss to Cloquet-Esko-Carlton.

But, then again, who really cares about the goals. Honestly, the score, the outcome, the play of the game isn't really what the coaches, players and fans are going to remember about this day a year, five years, 10 years from now. They're sure not what I'll remember.

OK, so Lourdes' Peter Alexander will probably remember scoring his team's lone goal and Tyler Vehrenkamp will remember getting the assist. And Jack Burkel will probably remember the highlight reel saves he made through the first two periods, including a get-that-shot-outta-here glove save on a breakaway. 

Really, though, the best memories will be of stepping off the bus at 8:30 a.m., 90 minutes before game time, and stepping over to the top edge of the natural bowl that forms Handke Pit, looking down at the rink and the bleachers and the lights and cameras of Fox Sports North. 

I'm sure they talked a lot on FSN about Handke Pit -- one of the locals told me not to call it a pit; it's a stadium. He was probably around when the glacier formed it and he was quite intent on it being called a stadium. But some other, younger locals told me to go ahead and call it the pit; they were just excited to be showcased on region-wide and nationwide TV (Fox Sports 2). 

Anyhow, I'm sure they talked a lot about Handke Pit on TV (I haven't watched the game or FSN's coverage yet, though I DVR'd it all), but here are some of my thoughts:

* It was an amazing setting. FSN and the Minnesota Wild do an awesome job every year of not only finding settings that look outstanding on TV, but also are outstanding in person. Lourdes coach Josh Spaniol sent me a pic about a week ago when he drove up to Elk River and drove by it. I told him today that the pic looked awesome but nothing could do justice to seeing it in person.

* The natural bowl, formed by a glacier, was the exact right size for a full-size rink with regulation boards and very good, mostly smooth ice, bleachers on each side and one end, and a smaller rink behind the bleachers that had youth hockey games being played on it all day. Trees line three sides at the top of the bowl and Handke Elementary School is on the fourth side, the west side. 

* I checked in at the school at 9 a.m. and they funneled the media out through a back door that overlooks the entire pit. What a sight to walk out the door and see the place, with near-empty bleachers. A handful of players from each team were standing outside their locker rooms (trailers that were just big enough to hold a full team; Lourdes and C-E-C had to be out of those trailers 10 minutes after their game so Elk River and Stillwater could move in) just soaking in the atmosphere.

* One of the coolest aspects of Handke Pit was on the south side, the same side as the team benches. Up at the top of the pit was a platform for handicap seating and then about 6-7 rows of wooden bleachers built into the side of the hill. It was an awesome vantage point to watch the games from and just take in the entire area. 

* The charming little warming house was turned into the media work area. The whole building is maybe 15-20 feet wide and deep. It's made entirely out of big rocks and built into the north side hill. It also had donuts and hot chocolate, which I'm just assuming are there every day, right? Right? 

* The rink itself was very well kept. The ice was pretty smooth, though twice I noticed players nearly lose their footing while skating slowly. Both times it was right up against the boards, though, so it may have been a function of snow built up. The ice was as smooth as you could hope for outside. The puck was hopping and bouncing more than you'll see on indoor ice, but it wasn't distracting. In talking with Lourdes goalie Jack Burkel after the game, he said there were a few awkward hops and bounces that caught him off guard. I noticed one in the first period, when he left his net to play a puck along the back boards and it hit a spot on the boards and bounced straight back out in front of the net. Burkel was able to quickly get back and clear it away. 

* As for the game itself, I'd say C-E-C controlled more of the play and had more scoring opportunities. That said, they scored twice on power plays, once on an empty-netter and once after what looked like a hand pass. I'm not making excuses, just saying the teams seemed more even than 4-1 indicates. 

* It was 0-0 going into the third period, which is exactly the type of game Lourdes needed it to be. They weren't going to win 6-5 or something like that. They needed a 1-0, 2-1 type of game. They had that until they took a couple of penalties and C-E-C converted on the power plays.

* We had a photographer at the event shooting pics for us; I'll post some of his professional shots when I see them later tonight, tomorrow or on Monday. For now, I'm going to post a few that I snapped on my cell phone. They're not great, but I think they give you an idea of what the Handke Pit -- or Handke Stadium -- looked like.

The first one is Montana Streit taking a faceoff at a west-end faceoff dot.

The second pic is Aaron Van Galder leading Lourdes out for the third period.

The third pic is the view of when I stepped out the back door of the Handke School for the first time.

The fourth pic is from the wooden bleachers built into the south-side hill of Handke Pit, up at the very top. What an amazing setting to watch a hockey game.

HAPPY HOCKEY DAY!!

 

MStreit

 

VanGalder

 

First_look

 

Warmups

 

January 10, 2014

Ice Time | Friday, Jan. 10

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

October 10, 2013

High School Football Picks | Week 7

FELDY: As usual, Phersy and I tried to gain some separation from one another in Week 6 by picking four games differently. As usual, nothing was settled. We both went 4-3. I'm still holding a slim two-game lead, at 29-13, while Phersy is 27-15.

Some good games on tap again this week. Phersy gets to pick first. Here are this week's games:

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

Rochester Mayo (4-2) at Winona (2-4)

SFA RED DIVISION

Lake City (3-3) at Plainview-Elgin-Millville (4-2)

Rochester Lourdes (5-1) at Kasson-Mantorville (6-0)

Byron (2-4) at La Crescent (1-5)

SFA WHITE DIVISION

Pine Island (4-2) at Zumbrota-Mazeppa (4-2)

SFA BLUE DIVISION

Rushford-Peterson (4-2) at Wabasha-Kellogg (3-3)

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

Spring Grove (6-0) at Grand Meadow (5-1)

* * * * * * * * * 

PHERSY: Yeah Feldy I went too far out on a limb last week. And it didn't pay off. I'm going to keep it short and sweet this week because I'm on the move ... gotta get down to Albert Lea for tailgating. :)

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

Rochester Mayo 21, Winona 13: Man, Winona is a juicy underdog against the banged-up Spartans. But I think they still get it done. Plus, Winona always gives Mayo trouble. But I gotta stick with Sparty.

SFA RED DIVISION

Lake City 27, Plainview-Elgin-Millville 16: Feldy, this is a sucker game. PEM with a better record and at home ... but I'm going with the team that is playing better right now.

Kasson-Mantorville 27, Rochester Lourdes 21: The Eagles have the best coach in the conference, but KM has way more talent. Their dominant offensive and defensive lines will control the game, and freshman QB Brady Berge gets better every week.

Byron 44, La Crescent 22: Byron is getting healthy. The Bears have their QB back now, and they'll roll.

SFA WHITE DIVISION

Pine Island 20, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 6: I'm loving road teams this week. Another tossup game.

SFA BLUE DIVISION

Rushford-Peterson 40, Wabasha-Kellogg 28: Am I missing something here?

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

Spring Grove 42, Grand Meadow 35: This game is going to be fun ... wish I could be there.

* * * * * * * * * 

FELDY: Lots of good ones this week, let's see if I can put a little more distance between me and Phersy.

BIG NINE
Mayo 27, Winona 20: The Winhawks have a way of playing the Spartans tough. Plus, who knows what Mayo's mindset is actually like after losing to Austin last week for the first time in nine years. It was an unexpected loss, but was it a wakeup call or a game that starts the Spartans on a tailspin?

SFA RED
P-E-M 29, Lake City 28: Yes, Lake City is playing very well right now. P-E-M hasn't given up more than 20 points in a game, though, except to an outstanding K-M team. LC's Elliot Cox will give the Bulldogs all they can handle, but P-E-M sneaks one out on its home field.

K-M 24, Lourdes 20: I went back-and-forth on this one about two dozen times. I'm still not convinced of who I should pick to win. Lourdes' defense has been outstanding this season, but K-M has been so good along the line on both sides of the ball. The KoMets big guys hide diminutive QB Brady Berge really well. How about, the team with the ball last wins. I'll go with K-M on its home field.

La Crescent 33, Byron 28: La Crescent has played pretty well against the top teams in the division. With its QB back and the team getting healthier, Byron's 'O' will put up some more points, but I'll take the Lancers in a mild upset.

SFA WHITE
Pine Island 32, Z-M 21: P.I. is 4-1 in the division with the only blemish a 6-point loss to a very good Triton team. Z-M's offense has been solid when it's had all of its top players, but I just like this P.I. team this season. Sorry in advance for the jinx, Panthers fans.

SFA BLUE
Rushford-Peterson 34, Wabasha-Kellogg 21: R-P is 4-2, W-K is 3-3. But R-P is better than that record indicates, with its two losses coming to two of the top teams in the state, Chatfield and Caledonia. The Trojans win this one by two scores.

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE
Grand Meadow 34, Spring Grove 31: I'm banking on the SuperLarks being ticked about last week's loss to Lanesboro and ready to prove they're still one of the top 10 teams in the state.

September 27, 2013

High School Football picks | Week 5

FELDY: Last week was a tricky week. Neither Phersy nor I saw Austin beating Winona or Mankato East winning for the first time in a couple of years. I still managed to pick up a game on Phersy; I'm 20-8 overall, he's 16-12. Lots of good games this week that could go either way. Here are the games to watch this week. Phersy picks first:

BIG NINE CONFERENCE
Rochester JM (3-1) at Rochester Mayo (3-1)
Albert Lea (0-4) at Rochester Century (1-3)

SFA RED
Plainview-Elgin-Millville (3-1) at Kasson-Mantorville (4-0)
Rochester Lourdes (3-1) at Byron (2-2)

SFA BLUE
Rushford-Peterson (4-0) at Chatfield (4-1)

SFA WHITE
Pine Island (3-1) at Triton (3-1)
St. Charles (1-3) at Kenyon-Wanamingo (1-3)

* * * * *

PHERSY: Yeah, this is getting tough ...

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

Rochester Mayo 28, Rochester JM 22: This will be another classic in a long line of great games between these two schools. I've put a lot of stock in the Spartans this season, and hopefully, they continue moving in the right direction after the big win over Faribault.

Albert Lea 7, Rochester Century 6: Yep, I'm calling the upset. Injuries have ravaged an already thin Panthers team, and they have WRs playing quarterback.

SFA RED

Kasson-Mantorville 35, Plainview-Elgin-Millville 28: This is the best game of the week. KM has stumbled a bit, but the KoMets have survived to remain unbeaten. They'll get another tough test this week.

Rochester Lourdes 24, Byron 13: Lourdes bounced back last week after its first loss of the season. They have enough firepower to run past a dinged-up Byron club.

SFA BLUE

Chatfield 20, Rushford-Peterson 0: The Gophers' lone loss is a one-pointer to Caledonia. They've also had three consecutive shutouts. RP has a great defense, too, but the Gophers hold on.

SFA WHITE

Triton 24, Pine Island 16: This is a tough game to pick, but I'll go with the Cobras at home.

Kenyon-Wanamingo 40, St. Charles 39: Flip a coin ... I'll go with the home team.

* * * * *

FELDY: Lots of tough choices this week. Might have to toss a coin a few times...

BIG NINE

Mayo 24, JM 20: Mayo is finding its identity, starting to figure exactly what works for it and what doesn't. Plus, its line is improving each week, which will be crucial against a strong Rockets team. JM gets LB/QB Kaeleb Stangler back this week, which will be a huge boost. He'll give Mayo problems on both sides of the ball. This game is likely to determine the No. 2 seed in the Section 1AAAAA playoffs. Mayo wins this one -- but only if it can eliminate the penalties and mental mistakes that allowed Faribault to stay in the game last week.

Century 14, Albert Lea 8: Sounds like the Panthers will have a QB healthy enough to play this week. And there's some pride involved in this one; Century doesn't want to let Albert Lea get its first win of the year on the Panthers' home field. 

SFA RED

Kasson-Mantorville 29, P-E-M 26: P-E-M is a 1-point loss to Rochester Lourdes away from being undefeated. The Bulldogs will be the KoMets' toughest test yet, but they'll pass it -- in a close one -- on their home turf.

Lourdes 24, Byron 16: What a stretch for Byron -- P-E-M, Stewartville and Lourdes in consecutive weeks. This SFA Red Division is difficult every week. The Bears get up for this rivalry game, though, and they'll give Lourdes a battle, but the Eagles' defense will hold off Byron in the end.

SFA BLUE

Chatfield 23, R-P 7: R-P is a strong team, unbeaten through four weeks, but Chatfield is borderline elite this season -- bringing a 4-1 record into the game only because of a one-point loss to Caledonia in a Zero Week game. The Gophers' defense hasn't allowed a point in September.

SFA WHITE

Pine Island 19, Triton 17: Pine Island has scored 98 points in the past three weeks; Triton has allowed 7 in that same span. Something has to give. This is as big a game as the P.I. program has had for some time. I think they'll be up for it physically and emotionally and I'll take the Panthers in what some might consider a mild upset.

St. Charles 28, Kenyon-Wanamingo 24: I flip-flopped a few times on this one, so the coin settled it: The Saints get their second win of the season, their first on the road.

September 13, 2013

High School Football Picks | Week 3

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

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

THIS WEEK'S GAMES

BIG 9 CONFERENCE
Owatonna (2-0) at Mankato West (2-0)
Winona (0-2) at Rochester Century (1-1) 

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

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

*****

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

BIG 9 CONFERENCE

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

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

SFA

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

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

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

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

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

* * *

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

BIG NINE

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

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

SFA

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

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

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

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

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