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January 21, 2016

High School Hockey Today | Jan. 21, 2016 (The 'Due For A Sweep' edition)

Posted by: Feldman
 
Pop quiz: When was the last time all four Rochester hockey teams won a game in the same night?
 
Answer coming soon. I'll give you a little time to ponder it (if you want the answer NOW, it's listed right before the breakdowns of tonight's games.)
 
This could be a night where Rochester goes 4-for-4, though as we've seen this season, nothing is guaranteed.
 
Winona plays at Century, JM (undefeated in Big Nine play) plays host to Albert Lea, Lourdes plays at Dodge County and reeling Mayo plays at suddenly surging Austin. 
 
Austin is playing very well, having won three in a row and five out of six, so don't be shocked if it gives Mayo a battle. The Spartans have struggled to generate offense in the past week, but having leading scorer Anthony Oliveto back should help that issue. Oliveto returned in Mayo's 9-0 loss to red-hot Owatonna on Saturday. 'Tonna has won four consecutive Big Nine games by a combined score of 32-0. That's an impressive roll and it has the Huskies in position to pounce at the Big Nine title if JM and Northfield trip up at all.
 
Elsewhere tonight, a couple of big games to watch with Section 1 seeding implications: No. 7-ranked Lakeville North plays host to Farmington (receiving votes in state poll), and No. 20 Lakeville South plays non-section rival Prior Lake (ranked No. 18). That game doesn't directly impact the Section 1 seeding process, but it would be another good win for South when it comes time to argue for seeding position with North and Farmington.
 
North, South and Farmington will be the top three seeds in Section 1AA, in some order. JM likely will be No. 4, though Owatonna and Mayo both still have an outside shot at earning a home game. They both play JM once more, so if either wants to pass the Rockets, they'll have to beat them and hope JM loses a couple more sometime during this home stretch. I'd say Owatonna has the inside track, slightly, on Mayo right now for the No. 5 seed. The teams split their regular-season series, with Mayo winning at Owatonna by a goal and the Huskies rolling to a 9-0 win at Mayo last Saturday.
 
Century will likely be the No. 7 seed and Dodge County the No. 8 in the section playoffs, which begin exactly four weeks from today.
 
We'll break down the Section 1A and 1AA races a little more in the coming weeks, but for now, we're back to the present.
 
Quiz answer: Feb. 9, 2013. That's the last time Rochester's four boys hockey teams all won on the same night. Mayo beat Faribault 4-1, JM beat Owatonna 5-2, Century beat Mankato East 3-0, and Lourdes beat New Prague 4-1. All four Roch teams winning on the same night actually occurred twice that season; it also happened on Jan. 31.
 
Onto tonight's games...
 
ROCHESTER TEAMS
 
WINONA at CENTURY
7:30 p.m., Graham Arena IV
Records: Winona 0-13-0 Big Nine, 1-15-0 overall; Century 3-8-0, 6-11-1.
Coaches: Winona, Fran McDevitt; Century, Josh Klingfus (5th season, 59-57-10 overall)
Last meeting: Century won at Winona 7-0 on Dec. 17, for its first conference win this season. Cole Walter had an 11-save shutout.
Last game: Winona lost to Austin 6-0 on Tuesday; Century lost at Northfield 8-1 on Tuesday.
Team leaders: WIN -- Jr. D Ty Mannor 7-1--8; Jr. F Joe Brinkman 0-5--5; Jr. F Andre Russeau 2-2--4; Sr. G Matt Schoh 1-10-0, 6.38 GAA, .842 save pct. CENT -- Jr. D John Schmitz 5-7--12; Jr. D Will Zmolek 4-8--12; So. F Ben Haas 3-8--11; So. F Jon Thorvilson 5-6--11; So. G Cole Walter 6-9-1, 3.74, .882.
Notes: Century has dropped two consecutive games, but both were against the top two teams in the Big Nine, JM and Northfield. ... Century G Cole Walter has faced an average of 40 shots in his past four games. ... Winona earned its first victory of the season on Saturday, a 5-1 win at Worthington. ... The Winhawks scored five goals in their victory; in their 15 losses, they have totaled 11 goals and have been shut out nine times.
 
ALBERT LEA at JOHN MARSHALL
7:30 p.m., Rochester Rec Center
Records: Albert Lea 4-9-0 Big Nine, 5-11-0 overall; JM 9-0-0, 12-5-0.
Coaches: Albert Lea, Roy Nystrom; JM, Jay Ness (5th season, 59-58-4 overall)
Last meeting: JM won at Albert Lea, 4-3 in OT, on Jan. 22, 2015. JM's Josh Frerks scored the game-winning goal at 2:49 of OT.
Last game: Albert Lea lost to Red Wing 4-3 on Tuesday; JM beat No. 12-A St. Paul Johnson 3-1 on Saturday.
Team leaders: A.L. -- Sr. F Foster Otten 9-7--16; Sr. F Jack Pulley 6-9--15; Jr. F Austin Dulitz 4-11--15; So. F Bergen Lundak 10-2--12; Jr. G Ben Witham 4-11-0, 3.62 GAA, .872 save pct., 1 SO. JM -- Sr. F Brady Dahl 13-19--32; Sr. F Isaac Lamppa 20-10--30; Sr. D Josh Frerks 5-21--26; Sr. F Conner Lee 6-17--23; Sr. G Brady Meyers 12-5-0, 1.77, .930, 2 SO.
Notes: JM G Brady Meyers ranks in the top 10 in the state in wins (12, T-9th), GAA (1.77, T-8th) and save pct. (.930, T-9th). ... This is the only meeting of the season between these teams and is worth 4 points in the Big Nine Conference standings. ... Albert Lea has lost four in a row and five of its past six, since the start of January. ... The Tigers have scored a total of five goals in their past four games.
 
MAYO at AUSTIN
7:30 p.m., Riverside Arena
Records: Mayo 6-4-0 Big Nine, 10-8-0 overall; Austin 3-6-0, 5-7-1.
Coaches: Mayo, Lorne Grosso (49th season, 703-443-28 overall); Austin, Erik LaRock (4th season, 17-68-5).
Last meeting: Mayo beat Austin 5-3 on Jan. 22, 2015, at Graham Arena in Rochester. 
Last game: Mayo lost to Owatonna 9-0 on Saturday; Austin won at Winona, 6-0, on Tuesday.
Team leaders: MAYO -- Jr. F Anthony Oliveto 14-18--32; Sr. F Veikko Weckman 15-13--28; Sr. D Nick Norby 6-12--18; Sr. F Max Billings 12-6--18; So. G Liam Claton, 9-5-0, 3.63 GAA, .869 save pct. AUST -- Jr. F Isaac Arnold 11-9--20; Jr. D Jace Greenman 6-13--19; Jr. F Kory Potach 2-11--13; Jr. F Brayden Merritt 7-6--13; So. G Noah Bawek 4-6-1, 2.89, .874.
Notes: Austin has won five of its past six games and three in a row after an 0-6-1 start to the season. ... The Packers have won three consecutive Big Nine games. ... Freshman G Ryan Flanders earned his first career victory in the Packers 6-0 shutout at Winona on Tuesday. ...  Mayo is just 1-3-0 in its past four games. The Spartans' first-liners have combined four just four points in those games, though leading scorer Anthony Oliveto missed three of those games with an injury. ... Mayo has seven games remaining in the regular season, five of them are on the road.
 
LOURDES at DODGE COUNTY
time, location
Records: Lourdes 4-13-0 overall; Dodge County 3-14-0.
Coaches: Lourdes, Josh Spaniol (7th season, 102-84-8 overall); Dodge County, Chris Ernest (1st season, 3-14-0)
Last meeting: Lourdes beat Dodge County 11-0 on Feb. 3, 2015, at Graham Arena in Rochester.
Last game: Lourdes lost to No. 7-A St. Paul Academy 8-1; Dodge County won at Waseca, 3-2.
Team leaders: LOU -- Jr. F Tucker Chapman 13-8--21; Jr. F Montana Streit 6-15--21; Sr. F Peter Alexander 6-10--16; Sr. F Mason Carstens 6-4--10; Jr. F Logan Olson 2-8--10; Jr. G Adam Renn . D.C.-- Sr. F Max Blaisdell 8-7--15; Sr. D Ethan Strunk 5-7--12; Sr. F Isaac Thoe 7-2--9; Sr. F Drew Kirmse 4-5--9; Fr. G Cole Kundert 3-11-0, 5.54 GAA, .843 save pct.
Notes: Dodge County's win at Waseca on Tuesday snapped a seven-game losing streak. The Wildcats had won two consecutive games prior to that losing skid. ... Five of Dodge County's losses have been by one goal. ... Lourdes has faced five of the top 10 teams in this week's Class A state poll, as well as the Nos. 2- and 5-ranked teams in Wisconsin.
 
 
AREA GAMES 
 
 Red Wing (7-3-0 Big Nine, 7-10-0 overall) at Northfield (12-1-0, 12-5-0), 7:30 p.m., Northfield Ice Arena: Northfield is on a six-game winning streak; its last loss occurred on Jan. 2 against Rochester Lourdes. ... The Raiders haven't won by less than three goals on their current winning streak. They have outscored those six opponents 46-9. ... Raiders G Ryan Bielenberg is 6-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and 2 shutouts in the past six games. ... Northfield senior F Ryan Torbenson is equally hot, recording 5 goals and 18 points during the six-game win streak. ... Northfield won at Red Wing a week ago, 3-0, outshooting the Wingers 48-27. ... Red Wing is 3-2-0 in January, on the heels of a five-game losing streak to close 2015.
 
 
SECTION 1 GAMES TO WATCH
 
 Farmington (9-6-1) at No. 7-AA Lakeville North (11-4-1), 7 p.m.: The Section 1AA and South Suburban Conference rivals meet for a second time this season. Farmington beat North 5-3 on Dec. 10. ... Defending state champion North is on a six-game winning streak. Farmington has lost three of its past five.
 
 No. 18-AA Prior Lake (11-6-0) at No. 20-Lakeville South (9-5-1), 7 p.m.: Prior Lake took it to South in the first meeting of South Suburban rivals this season, winning 7-1 at home on Dec. 10. ... P.L. has won four of its past six, losing only to No. 17 Duluth East (3-1) and No. 7 Lakeville North (3-2). ... South is among the state's hottest teams, going unbeaten in its last eight games (7-0-1) after a 2-5-0 start. ... Former Rochester JM standout Cory Checco is seventh in scoring for South with 4-8--12.
 
 
AROUND THE STATE
 
 No. 13-AA Wayzata at No. 2-AA Minnetonka (13-4-0), 7 p.m.: Tonight's premier matchup in Minnesota features a Wayzata team that has won once in its past four games (1-2-1) against Minnetonka, which has won five in a row and nine of its past 10.
 
 North Shore (13-3-0) at No. 3-A Greenway (16-3-0), 7:30 p.m.: How much fun are they having in hockey-rich Coleraine right now? Greenway is 16-3-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state. The program has made nine trips to state, including winning state titles in 1967, 68 and 92. It hasn't been to state since 2001. Greenway gets an unranked North Shore team that is quietly having a nice season (13-3-0).
 
• No. 1-N.D. Grand Forks Red River (13-0-0) at No. 11-A East Grand Forks (11-6-1), 7:30 p.m.: The top team in North Dakota travels across the Red River to face the two-time defending Minnesota Class A state champion.

January 05, 2016

High School Hockey Today | Jan. 5, 2016, The Back To Reality Edition

Lots to talk about today, so let's get right to it.
 
Time to get back into a normal routine after the hubbub of holiday tournament time.
 
First, the Minnesota Wild have launched a new initiative that is meant to be a sort of Hockey Day Minnesota 365 days a year type of deal. You can read about the new State of Hockey TV show and StateOfHockey.com here
 
Speaking of which, be sure to tune in tonight, or set your DVRs, to record Epsiode 5 of Season 1 of State Of Hockey TV. It's on Fox Sports North at approximately 9 p.m., following the Wild's game at Columbus. Tonight's episode will feature stories from Dodge County and Rochester.
 
Rochester Mayo and Rochester Century jump right into the second half of the season tonight with a rivalry game at the Rochester Rec Center. Mayo, 8-5-0, visits Century for the first matchup of the season between these teams.
 
Perhaps surprisingly, none of the three Rochester schools faced each other during last week's Kiwanis/Cambria Festival at Graham Arena. I could be wrong -- I'm sure it's happened maybe once before -- but I can't remember a Festival in the 10 years I've covered boys hockey going by without two Rochester teams meeting somewhere along the way. 
 
Anyway, Mayo and Century meet for the 52nd time tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Rec Center. Century holds a slim two-game lead in the all-time series and has won two consecutive games against Mayo, including a 4-3 win in last year's Section 1AA quarterfinals, a game that saw the Panthers score three times in the last 2:19 of the third period to rally from a 3-1 deficit.
 
One thing to keep an eye on: Will Mayo's leading scorer, junior F Anthony Oliveto, be in the lineup? He was injured (upper-body) during the second period of the fifth-place game of the Kiwanis Festival and did not return, after scoring two of his team's three goals in a 3-2 win over New Richmond (Wis.).
 
Let's take a look at tonight's games:
 
 
MAYO at CENTURY
7:30 p.m., Rochester Recreation Center
Records
: Rochester Mayo 4-2-0 Big Nine, 8-5-0 overall; Rochester Century 2-4-0, 5-7-1
Coaches: Mayo, Lorne Grosso (49th year, 701-440-28); Century, Josh Klingfus (5th year, 58-53-8)
Last meeting: Century defeated Mayo 4-3 on Feb. 19, 2015, in a Section 1AA quarterfinal playoff game at Graham Arena I. Century scored three goals in the final 2:19 of the game to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win. Connor Davies scored the game winner with exactly a minute to go.
Last game: Mayo defeated New Richmond (Wis.) 3-2 in the fifth-place game of the Kiwanis/Cambria Festival at Graham Arena on Dec. 30. Century defeated Dodge County 7-4 in the seventh-place game of the Kiwanis Festival on Dec. 30.
Team leaders: MAYO -- Jr. F Anthony Oliveto 14-18--32; Sr. F Veikko Weckman 14-11--25; Sr. D Nick Norby 3-12--15; Sr. F Max Billings 10-4--14; So. G Liam Claton 7-2-0, 2.67 GAA, .906 save pct. CENT -- Jr. D Will Zmolek 4-8--12; Jr. F John Schmitz 4-4--8; So. F Jon Thorvilson 3-5--8; Jr. F Eric St. Marie 5-3--8; So. G Cole Walter 5-5-1, 3.18 GAA, .884 save pct., 2 shutouts.
Notes: This is the 52nd matchup all-time between the teams. Century holds a slim two-game advantage in the all-time series and has won two in a row against Mayo. ... The Spartans are 7-3-0 in the last 10 meetings against the Panthers, though. ... Mayo's leading scorer, junior F Anthony Oliveto, was injured in the fifth-place game of the Kiwanis Festival on Dec. 30. He suffered an upper-body injury in the second period, after scoring his team's first two goals, and did not return. He has 16 points in the past five games. ... Century's victory against Dodge County snapped a four-game winless streak that started with a 1-1 tie on Dec. 19 against Chanhassen, the team that won the Kiwanis Festival.
 
 
AREA GAMES 
 
 Faribault (2-6-0 Big Nine, 3-8-0 overall) at Red Wing (4-2-0, 4-8-0), 7:30 p.m., Prairie Island Arena: Red Wing beat Faribault 3-0 in the season opener on Nov. 21. Tyler DeFore, Spencer Kronbeck and Cam Blue scored for the Wingers in that game, and Zachariah Harding had a 15-save shutout. ... The Wingers have lost five games in a row since a 4-3-0 start. Three of their losses have come by one goal; Red Wing lost seven games by one goal last season. ... Faribault snapped a three-game losing streak on Dec. 30 with a 2-1 win against Lake of the Woods at the Roseau Holiday Tournament. ... The Falcons have scored just 18 goals in 11 games and have been shut out three times.
 
 South St. Paul (4-6-0 overall) at Dodge County (2-11-0), 7 p.m., Dodge County Ice Arena: South St. Paul has lost five of its last six after starting the season 3-1-0, including a 4-2 win against Rochester Century. ... The Packers are led by junior F Cameron Buhl, who has 12 goals and 20 points through 10 games. ... Only two other SSP players are in double digits in scoring. ... The Wildcats have dropped four consecutive games since winning back-to-back games against St. Paul Como Park and Bagley/Fosston on Dec. 17 and 18. ... Senior F Max Blaisdell leads D.C. in scoring (7-7--14).
 
 
AROUND THE STATE
 
 No. 14-AA St. Thomas Academy (7-2-3) at No. 1-AA Benilde-St. Margaret's (12-0-1), 7 p.m.: STA didn't officially drop a game at the Schwan's Cup, going 1-0-2. It is unbeaten in six consecutive games. Top-ranked BSM is the lone Class AA unbeaten left in the state and is coming off consecutive wins against No. 9 Elk River and Maple Grove.
 
 No. 18-AA Farmingon (6-3-1) at No. 7-AA Wayzata (9-4-1), 7 p.m.: Farmington, one of the favorites in Section 1AA, will test itself against one of the best teams in the state, Wayzata, which has just one win in its past four games.
 
 No. 3-A St. Cloud Apollo (11-1-0) at Brainerd (6-3-1), 7 p.m.: Highly ranked Apollo will see what it can do against one of the top teams in Section 8AA.
 
 No. 1-A Hermantown (10-1-1) at No. 11-AA Grand Rapids (8-4-1), 7:30 p.m.: Hermantown has won five in a row after suffering its lone loss, at No. 12-AA Minnetonka, on Dec. 18. 

December 28, 2015

High School Hockey Today | Dec. 28, 2015 (The Going-for-700 edition)

Posted by: Feldman

What's better? Spending all day putting toys and games together and having a little bag of important-looking parts left over while kids run and scream and make a giant mess? Or spending all day at the hockey rink watching the Kiwanis Festival? I'm not sure what's better, but I know spending all day at the Graham Arena complex will be quieter than spending all day with a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old who are overloaded with new gadgets and toys.

I kid, of course. Christmas was great; it doesn't get better than watching kids rip into their gifts and seeing their excitement. 

But the Kiwanis Festival is like a present for local hockey fans -- 12 teams, 2 rinks, 3 days. 

There are plenty of reasons to check out this year's Festival:

All four Rochester teams are there, as usual. We'll get into them in a bit. 

Why not open the tournament with perhaps the best matchup? The No. 1-ranked team in Wisconsin, Appleton United (9-0-0) will open Blue Division play today at 3 p.m. against three-time defending Festival champion Verona (Wis.). 

The Gold Division actually gets going in just more than an hour, when Dodge County faces Chanhassen in the first game of the Gold Division.

Before we talk a bit about the Rochester teams, here are some links to our tournament preview coverage:

* Here is a team-by-team look at all 12 teams in the Festival

* Notebook: A young Century team enters the Festival with growing confidence, and some tournament storylines to watch

* That No. 1 team from Wisconsin? It's led by some talented players, none moreso than senior forward Trenton Bliss, who is committed to the University of Wisconsin.

Appleton will certainly be a team to watch this week, but there are reasons to keep an eye on the Rochester schools, too.

Mayo is 6-4-0 overall and has one of the best lines -- if not the best -- in the tournament. Its top line of Veikko Weckman, Anthony Oliveto and Max Billings has combined for 58 points through 10 games. If the Spartans can find some scoring from their other lines, they'll be a threat in this tournament, and in the Big Nine Conference the rest of this season.

Another storyline to watch with Mayo: Its next victory will be No. 700 for head coach Lorne Grosso. He has more wins than any other high school hockey coach in Minnesota history and is second in career wins in the U.S. No. 700 could come as soon as this afternoon; Mayo plays Park-Cottage Grove (1-8-1) at 3 p.m.

As mentioned in the story we linked to above, Rochester Century is coming in with some confidence. It's a team with 20 sophomores and six freshmen on its combined varsity/JV roster, but it's also beginning to learn what it takes to play at the varsity level. Century is 3-1-1 in its past five after a 1-4-0 start.

Rochester John Marshall has high hopes at this year's Festival. With 15 seniors on the varsity roster, JM brings a 7-3-0 record into the tournament. The Rockets have only won the tournament once in its 22-year history (1997), a year before most players on this year's team were born. JM will have a tough first-round matchup, though, against Festival mainstay New Richmond (Wis.). The Tigers were ranked No. 9 in the Wisconsin state poll early in the season; they're 5-3-0 coming into the tournament. 

That's about it for now.

Follow me on Twitter (@PBFeldy) for updates from the Festival this week and watch PostBulletin.com and pick up the print edition for more coverage of the Festival.

Enjoy the games! We'll end this with a look around the state today.

* * * * *

AROUND THE STATE

• Schwan Cup, Gold Division: The annual holiday tournament to watch begins today at Ridder Arena and the Schwan Super Rink. It features eight teams all ranked in the top 20 in Class AA. Perhaps the most intriguing first-round matchup features the two teams that fans around the state love to hate more than any others -- No. 16 St. Thomas Academy vs. No. 7 Edina. Today's other quarterfinals: No. 14 Hill-Murray vs. No. 6 Wayzata; No. 20 Burnsville vs. No. 2 Eden Prairie; and No. 15 Centennial vs. No. 13 Minnetonka. The championship is set for 8 p.m. Wednesday.

• Granite City Classic (St. Cloud): Three of the top 13 teams in the Class A state poll are in this tournament: No. 13 Sartell-St. Stephen, No. 9 St. Cloud Cathedral and No. 3 St. Cloud Apollo. Cathedral and Sartell-St. Stephen meet at 7:15 p.m. today.

• Sports Authority Holiday Classic (St. Louis Park): Five teams ranked in the latest Class AA state poll are in this event, which begins today and runs through Wednesday. There are two marquee matchups in today's opening round: No. 11 Elk River/Zimmerman meets No. 9 Prior Lake at noon, and No. 10 Holy Family Catholic faces No. 3 Stillwater at 5 p.m. Other matchups today include Maple Grove vs. Moorhead (2:30 p.m.) and Benilde-St. Margaret's vs. No. 8 Lakeville North (7:30 p.m.).

• Duluth Marshall Hilltopper Holiday Tournament (Duluth): This tourney begins Tuesday and features three outstanding first-round matchups: No. 6-A Delano/Rockford vs. No. 2-A Hermantown (3:15 p.m.); Duluth Marshall vs. No. 8-WI Notre Dame (5:45 p.m.) and No. 4-AA Bemidji vs. Cloquet (8 p.m.). Roseville meets Superior (Wis.) in the tournament opener tomorrow at 1 p.m.

December 10, 2015

High School Hockey Today | Dec. 10, 2015 (The 'Welcome Back' edition)

Posted by: Feldman

We're three weeks into the high school hockey season and I'm just now getting back into the HSHT routine. Well, I suppose we have to do this more than once to call it a routine, eh? But, it's definitely past the time to get "Today" going again.

Before we get into today's games, there have already been a few highlights from our southeastern Minnesota teams in the early going:

* Rochester Mayo coach Lorne Grosso recorded his 696th career victory, moving him into 2nd on the all-time high school hockey coaching wins list in the United States. The leader is far out of reach, even if Grosso decides not to retire at the end of this season (no, not trying to plant a seed in his head; his wife, Joni, would not be happy if I tried that). Bill Belisle of Mt. St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I., has more than 970 career victories. His lead is safe until Minnesota decides to let high school teams play 50-game regular season schedules.

* Red Wing junior forward Tyler DeFore is off to a red-hot start for the 3-3-0 Wingers. DeFore has 9 goals already, which is tied for 6th in the state. He has at least one point in all of the Wingers games so far, highlighted by his 4-goal effort in a 5-4 OT win against Albert Lea. The only goal he didn't score that night? The winner in OT. That was scored by Joe Renshaw. DeFore also has one assist, giving him 10 points for the season. He was Red Wing's leading scorer with 21 goals and 34 points last season. He leads the Big Nine in scoring and is tied for third in points.

* Rochester Mayo's top line has been on fire to start the season. The 3-2-0 Spartans have received 28 points from the Veikko Weckman - Max Billings - Anthony Oliveto line. Weckman is second in the Big Nine with 7 goals and 12 points. Oliveto is tied for third in the conference with 10 points, while Billings is second on the team in goals (6). The line has accounted for 17 of Mayo's 20 goals. 

* Three players from southern Minnesota are among the top 10 in the state in goals scored. La Crescent junior Carter Schmitz is tied with Luverne's Jaxon Nelson atop the list, with 12 goals. Schmitz has two hat tricks and two other two-goal games already this season. Red Wing's DeFore is tied for sixth place in the state with 9 goals, as is Isaac Westphal of LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter. Westphal, a junior, has scored in five of the Bulldogs' six games, including a hat trick on Nov. 28 at Worthington.

Let's get into tonight's games:

ALBERT LEA at ROCHESTER MAYO
7:30 p.m., Graham Arena I
Records: Albert Lea 2-2-0 Big 9, 2-2-0 overall; Mayo 3-1-0, 3-2-0
Coaches: Albert Lea, Roy Nystrom; Mayo, Lorne Grosso
Last meeting: Albert Lea beat Mayo 9-1 on Jan. 15, 2015, at Graham Arena. Three Tigers players scored two goals each in that game.
Last game: Albert Lea lost to Red Wing 5-4 in OT on Dec. 3; Mayo beat Winona 9-1 on Dec. 3 at Graham Arena.
Team leaders: A.L. -- Soph. F Bergen Lundak (7-1--8); Soph. F Micahel Savelkoul (0-7--7); Jr. F Austin Dulitz (2-5--7); Jr. G Ben Witham (2-2-0, 3.22 GAA, .889 save pct.). MAYO -- Sr. F Veikko Weckman (7-5--12); Jr. F Anthony Oliveto (4-6--10); Sr. F Max Billings (6-0--6); Soph. G Liam Claton (2-1-0, 3.67, .863)
Notes: There likely won't be a matchup between two coaches with more combined victories than these two coaches. Grosso (696) and Nystrom (685) have combined for 1,381 career wins. They were linemates at the University of Minnesota in the 1960s and have coached against one another at their current schools for about 40 years. Grosso started at Mayo when the school opened in 1966. Nystrom spent some time coaching in North Dakota before coming to Albert Lea. ... Albert Lea is loaded with underclassmen. The top three and four of the Tigers' top five scorers are underclassmen. ... Mayo's Weckman is an exchange student from Finland. 

LOURDES at NEW PRAGUE
7:15 p.m., New Prague Community Center
Records: Lourdes 1-4-0 overall; New Prague 2-4-0.
Coaches: Lourdes, Josh Spaniol; N.P., Chris Lonke
Last meeting: Top-seeded New Prague edged eighth-seeded Lourdes 2-1 in a Section 1A playoff quarterfinal game on Feb. 19, 2015, at the N.P. Community Center. Lourdes led 1-0 early in the 2nd period, but N.P.'s Zach Davis scored twice -- including just 11 seconds after Lourdes' goal -- to lift the Trojans.
Last game: Lourdes lost at No. 6-ranked St. Cloud Cathedral 5-1 on Saturday; New Prague beat Red Wing 3-2 on Tuesday.
Team leaders: LRDS -- Jr. F Tucker Chapman (3-2--5); Jr. F Montana Streit (1-3--4); Sr. F Peter Alexander (1-2--3); Sr. F Logan Olson (0-3--3); Jr. G Adam Renn (1-3-0, 4.86 GAA, .845 save pct.). N.P. -- Sr. F Alex Gregor (7-3--10); Sr. F Zach Davis (1-8--9); Sr. F Nathan Simon (2-3--5); Sr. D Connor Pint (0-5--5); Jr. G Graydon Skok (2-3-0, 3.92, .884).
Notes: This will be the only meeting of the season between these non-conference rivals -- barring both making the Class A state tournament. New Prague, which won the past two Section 1A championships, has moved to Section 2A this season, while Lourdes remains in a balanced and competitive Section 1. ... Producing offense has been an issue for both teams so far. Lourdes averages 2.0 goals per game while New Prague averages 2.5 goals per game.

JOHN MARSHALL at WINONA
6:30 p.m., Bud King Ice Arena
Records: JM 2-0-0 Big Nine, 2-1-0 overall; Winona 0-2-0, 0-3-0
Coaches: JM, Jay Ness; Winona, Fran McDevitt
Last meeting: JM won at Winona 5-0 on Jan. 27, 2015
Last game: JM lost at Spring Lake 3-2 in OT on Saturday; Winona lost 4-1 at Owatonna on Tuesday
Team leaders: JM -- Sr. F Brady Dahl (3-4--7); Sr. F Isaac Lamppa (3-2--5); So. F Xander Lamppa (2-1--3); Sr. F Conner Lee (1-2--3); Sr. D Josh Frerks (1-2--3); Sr. G Brady Meyers (2-1-0, 2.27 GAA, .929 save pct.). WIN -- Jr. F Joe Brinkman (0-3--3); Jr. F Andre Russeau (2-1--3); Sr. G Matt Schoh (0-3-0, 7.12 GAA, .855 save pct.).
Notes: Just three games into its season, JM has had 14 players record at least one point. ... Meyers has allowed just seven goals through three games. ... JM averages 4.3 goals per game and allows 2.3. ... Winona averages 1.7 goals per game and allows 6.3. ... JM has 15 seniors listed on its varsity roster.

* * * * *

AREA GAMES 

* Red Wing at Austin (7:30 p.m., Riverside Arena): Red Wing is 3-1-0 Big Nine, 3-3-0 overall; Austin is 0-2-0, 0-3-1. ... The Wingers are led by junior F Tyler DeFore, who has the sixth-most goals in the state (9). He has 10 total points this season. ... Sophomore Zachariah Harding has played every minute in goal this season for the Wingers. He is 3-3-0 with a 3.15 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage. The latter stat is fourth-best in the Big Nine and he is one of two goalies in the conference to record a shutout this season. ... Austin has played four close games this season. The Packers tied La Crescent, lost to Faribault by one goal and LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter by two. ... Austin is searching for scoring. It has scored a total of four goals in its three losses.

* * * * *

AROUND THE STATE

* No. 8-AA Lakeville North (1-1-0) at No. 20-AA Farmington (2-2-1), 7:30 p.m.: In a matchup that will go a long way to determining the top seed in the Section 1AA playoffs, North goes on the road for a second consecutive game. Defending state champ North lost its opener to Stillwater, but bounced back with a big 10-1 win at Shakopee on Saturday. Farmington will provide a stiffer test.

No. 4-AA Blaine (4-0-0) at No. 16-AA Centennial, 7 p.m.: Blaine opens Northwest Suburban Conference-North Division play by putting its unbeaten record on the line in Circle Pines. Centennial's only loss came against No. 6 Edina, 4-1, on Dec. 3. 

* No. 2-A Breck (5-0-0) at No. 7-AA Wayzata (4-2-0), 7 p.m.: Breck's offense has been nearly unstoppable, putting up 32 goals through five games. Its defense has been shaky, though, allowing seven goals to No. 9-A Delano/Rockford in a 9-7 win, and four goals to Totino-Grace in a 7-4 win. Wayzata's two losses have come against a pair of state powers from up north, No. 1-A Hermantown and No. 3-AA Duluth East.

* Lakeville South (0-1-0) at No. 14-AA Prior Lake (2-1-0), 7 p.m.: South is playing for just a second time this season, and the first time since a tragic car accident resulted in the deaths of two South students late last week. That accident caused South's game against Rochester Mayo last Saturday to be postponed. 

No. 15-A Duluth Denfeld (4-2-0) at No. 1-A Hermantown (3-0-1), 7:30 p.m.: The top-ranked Hawks are coming off a 4-4 tie against unranked Hopkins. Hermantown rallied for two third-period goals in that game to force OT. 

October 09, 2015

Bear Tracks | A Robby Cup rematch

Posted by: Feldman

Feels like yesterday we were sitting in Riverside Arena in Austin, watching the longest game in North American Hockey League history. But that 4-overtime marathon in Game 1 of last year's Robertson Cup Finals doesn't mean much to a majority of the players who will be on the Riverside ice tonight.

For the first time since the Minnesota Wilderness swept the Austin Bruins in the best-of-3 2015 Robertson Cup Finals, the teams will meet, at 7:05 tonight in Austin and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in Cloquet. 

So much is new on both sides: The entire coaching staff and all but four players for Austin weren't around back in May for the team's second consecutive appearance in the Finals. The Wilderness have a slight edge in returning players, with six guys back who were on their Robby Cup roster, and, of course, head coach Corey Millen is also back.

One thing hasn't changed for Austin under first-year head coach Kyle Grabowski and assistants Keenan Kelly and Brad Clayton: The Bs enter this series in a tie for first place in the NAHL Central Division. Austin (5-3-0, 10 points) is tied with Minot (4-1-2, 10 points) after the Bruins swept a home-and-home against division rival Brookings last weekend.

The Wilderness are 4-3-1 overall, but 4-1-1 since dropping their first two games of the season. 

Here's a look at this weekend's series:

AUSTIN BRUINS vs./at MINNESOTA WILDERNESS

When, where: 7:05 p.m. tonight, Riverside Arena, Austin; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet

Records: Wilderness 4-3-1 (9 points; 3rd, Midwest Division); Austin 5-3-0 (10 points; T-1st, Central Division)

Recent history: This weekend's games are the first two of four between the teams this season. They'll play again at Austin on Dec. 18 and at Cloquet on Jan. 7. ... The Wilderness swept the Bruins, 2-0, in the NAHL Robertson Cup Finals last season. The Wilderness were 5-2-3 against the Bruins in 2014-15; Austin was 5-4-1.

Coaches: Wilderness, Corey Millen (3rd season, 92-37-16 overall); Austin, Kyle Grabowski (1st season, 5-3-0).

Wilderness scoring leaders: F Jacob Hamacher, 5-7, 156 (2-5--7); F Tyler Cline, 5-9, 180 (2-5--7); F Koby Bender, 6-1, 196 (4-2--6); D Tyler Vold, 5-10, 167 (1-5--6).

Wilderness goalie leaders: Chase Munroe, 6-4, 216 (4-1-1, 2.00, .921); Dyllan Lubbesmeyer 5-11, 177 (0-2-0, 4.62, .809).

Bruins scoring leaders: F Jade Miller, 5-9, 180 (7-3--10); F Justin Misiak, 5-10, 170 (3-6--9); F Gilbert Gabor, 6-4, 220 (1-7--8); F Dawson DiPietro, 5-11, 170 (3-3--6).

Bruins goalie leaders: Kris Carlson, 6-2, 180 (3-1-0, 2.50, .919); Austin Smith, 6-2, 170 (2-1-0, 2.01, .909, 1 SO).

Weekend notes: Bruins goalie Kris Carlson is the reigning NAHL Central Division Star of the Week. He started and played all of both games against Brookings, stopping a total of 51 of 55 shots he faced. He made 24 saves in a 4-1 win Friday, then followed with 27 saves in a 6-3 win on Saturday in the Bs home opener. ... Bruins forward Dawson DiPietro had a goal in both games last weekend, including the game winner on Friday, and has five points in his past three games. ... Bs defenseman Will Riedell recorded his first multi-point game with Austin, notching two assists in Saturday's win. ... F Justin Misiak is second on the team in scoring, with nine points. He had a goal and two assists in Saturday's victory. ... Wilderness goalie Chase Munroe hasn't allowed more than two goals in any of his last six appearances. ... Forwards Koby Bender (4-2--6) and Ryan Bloom (4-1--5) are the only Wilderness players with more than two goals this season.  Thirteen players have scored at least once for Minnesota.

--------

NAHL CENTRAL DIVISION STANDINGS

TEAM ... W-L-OTL ... Pts.
Austin ... 5-3-0 ... 10
Minot ... 4-1-2 ... 10
Aberdeen ... 4-2-0 ... 8
Brookings ... 4-4-0 ... 8
Bismarck ... 2-5-0 ... 4
Mn Magicians ... 2-4-0 ... 4

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

Every week, we'll spotlight a former Bruin or Bruins who have gone on to play at the college or pro level. This week's Blast is:

CODY DIXON, D, 2012-13

With the Bs: Dixon was traded to the Bruins early in the 2012-13 season from the Springfield Jr. Blues and he became Austin's top offensive defensman. Dixon finished his season with 16-28--44 in 64 total NAHL games, including six games with Springfield and eight playoff games with the Bs.

Where is he now?: The Hales Corner, Wis., native turned 23 on Sept. 30. He spent the 2013-14 season with NCAA Division III University of Massachusetts-Boston, where scored five goals and had eight total points. He transferred closer to home last season, to Concorida University-Wisconsin, also a D-3 school. CUW is in Mequon, a northern suburb of Milwaukee. He played in 25 games for CUW last season and recorded 14 points, the fifth-most by a defenseman in team history. He'll be a junior for the Falcons this winter and wears No. 63.

October 08, 2015

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: Welcome to the NA3HL

PHERSY: Hey yo ... we are back at it. I caught up with Rochester Ice Hawks head coach Nick Fatis this week for our first Phersy and Fatis Show of the 2015-16 season. It's the Ice Hawks' first season in the NA3HL ... they haven't found success in the win column yet, but Fatis said this young team already is making tremendous strides in the right direction.

The Ice Hawks hit the road this weekend for a three-game set at Chicago. They return home next weekend ... and hopefully that game will be at the newly renovated Rochester Recreation Center.

We are now uploading this podcast on Spreaker. You can download the Spreaker app on your phone free of charge and have easy access to the show every week. Enjoy!! And go Hawks!

 

September 26, 2015

Former Austin Bruins assistant settling in with USHL's Sioux City

Posted by: Feldman

There was a point in June when even Jamie Huffman started to wonder if he'd have a job in hockey this fall. 

Turns out the stress and wait was 100 percent worth it.

Huffman has moved up in the hockey world and has settled into a groove now as the assistant GM and director of scouting with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL.

Huffman excelled at scouring and scouting in his four years as the top assistant to Chris Tok in Austin. I never posed it this way to them, but -- in the simplest terms -- it often felt like Huffman built the teams and Tok coached them into champions. Now, that's not a fair way to pose things, because both coaches excelled at scouting, recruiting and coaching. They helped their players mature on and off the ice. 

But Huffman quickly realized he has an eye for talent, a talent for scouting and recruiting. And if you talk to scouts throughout junior hockey and college hockey, they'll tell you no one outworks Huffman.

So when he resigned from his post with the Bruins back in May -- just a week before Tok was fired as the team's head coach -- many of us assumed they'd both land on their feet. They did. Tok is out of hockey this year, giving himself and his family a break from the long hours that comes with the job.

Huffman officially began his first season with Sioux City on Sept. 1. A few days later, his phone rang while he was on the ice working with players and the Musketeers' coaching staff. It was a California area code. 

"They called while we were on the ice and said 'are you interested?'" 

It took Huffman less than a second to answer. In addtion to his new gig with the Musketeers, Huffman is also now a part-time scout for the NHL's Anaheim Ducks. And his duties are right up his alley, scouting the USHL, NAHL and Minnesota high school hockey.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Huffman said by phone a couple weeks ago from Sioux City. "That's the side of the game I, for some reason, developed a skill for. I never meant for that to be, but over time as I've gotten better and better, it's become a lot of fun. It's a challenge when you're going after the same player everyone else is."

It's also a challenge to find the guys who other teams don't necessarily want or notice, which is becoming more and more difficult to do these days, when very few players go unseen or unnoticed. 

"I'm a competitor," he said. "Tok always called me 'Mad Dog.' I'll try to outwork everyone."

Huffman will be based out of his hometown of Des Moines, where much of his family still lives. But, like always, he'll be on the road almost non-stop.

Perhaps the biggest change for Huffman, going from the NAHL to the USHL, is that nearly every player on a USHL roster has committed to a Division I college or is being heavily recruited by Division I schools. Many of the players are draft-eligible and are being scouted by NHL teams. In Austin, it was always the coaches' goal to move players on to Division I schools, but usually it was three or four guys a year who jumped to that level. 

"I don't think I'll have to change the way I look at players, but I'll definitely have to be more detailed," said Huffman, who has been in Blaine all week scouting the NAHL Showcase -- and scouring it for hidden gems. "Now (for the Ducks) I might have to go to a game just to watch one guy."

Sioux City has 10 players on its roster who are already D-I commits. And they're headed to the big-time schools -- Michigan, Providence, Denver, Minnesota, North Dakota.

The Musketeers also had a familiar face in the locker room for Huffman to connect with -- former Bruins forward Josh Wilkins is on the Musketeers roster this season.

There's no doubt Huffman is excited for his new opportunities. When he was getting in the later stages of the interviewing process with the Ducks, I asked him to let me know when he heard back from them. Shortly after he got off the phone with Ducks management, I received a text that didn't have any words, just a picture:

Ducks logo

September 18, 2015

Junior Hockey | Bear Tracks: A player-by-player look at the 2015-16 Austin Bruins

Here's a player-by-player look at the 2015-16 Austin Bruins ... well, at least their roster to start the season. Lots of roster changes are common early in the season, especially for a new coaching staff that is trying to fine-tune its roster exactly the way it wants it.
 
Here's a player-by-player look at the Bs -- who open their season, the first under head coach Kyle Grabowski, in less than an hour:
 
 
FORWARDS
 
 Logan Haskins, 5-8, 160 (Rochester): Haskins led Rochester in scoring for a second consecutive season as a high school senior last winter. The diminutive, slick-skating playmaker finished his three-year varsity career with 116 points and he put up at least one point in 23 of Mayo's 26 games last season. He also had 13 multi-point games last season, playing on a line that combined for 125 points. Put up 15 points in 14 games for the Rochester Ice Hawks, playing before and after the high school season.
 
 Miro Lehtimaki, 6-3, 210 (Kiukainen, Finland): The big 18-year-old played two games for the Amarillo Bulls of the NAHL last season after putting up 20 goals and 33 points, as well as 62 penalty minutes, in 56 games for the Iowa AAA U18 Elite team. 
 
10  A.J. Rupert, 5-11, 170 (North Oaks, Minn.): The 20-year-old former Mounds View High School standout brings two years of junior hockey experience to the Bruins. He put up 41 points over his final two high school seasons, finishing his prep career in 2013. He played the past two seasons for the Minnesota Iron Rangers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League, recording 29 goals and 60 points in 94 games. 
 
12  Andrew Bellant, 5-10, 185 (Linden, Mich.): Bellant played last season with the Michigan Warriors 18U team of the National Junior Prospects Hockey League. The 18-year-old put up good numbers for Michigan, recording 23 goals and 41 points, as well as 116 penalty minutes, in just 20 games. He played 28 games the previous season for the Flint Jr. Generals of the NA3HL.
 
14  Jan Stefka 6-3, 185 (Krelov-Bruchotin, Czech Republic): The powerful left-shot forward comes to the Bruins for his first season of play in North America. He spent the past four seasons playing at the U16, U18 and U20 levels for the HC Olomouc program in the Czech Republic. The 18-year-old had 16 goals and 31 points in 25 games at the U18 level last season, and he played in 11 games for the U20 team, putting up one goal and four points.
 
17  Jade Miller 5-9, 180 (Minto, N.D.): The 20-year-old was a key player last season for a Bruins team that reached the Robertson Cup Finals for a second consecutive year. Miller had nine goals and 20 points in 60 total games last season. ... Wore No. 27 last season, changed to No. 17 this year. ... Came on strong at the end of last season, recording seven points in the final five regular-season games as the Bruins pushed to win the NAHL Central Division.
 
18  Jason Koehn 6-0, 180 (Grand Rapids): The 17-year-old had seven goals and 10 assists over the past two seasons while playing high school hockey in Grand Rapids. Koehn is one of five 1998-born players on the Bruins roster. 
 
19  Justin Misiak 5-10, 170 (St. Clair Shores, Mich.): The 19-year-old left-shot forward played three games in the NAHL for the Amarillo (Texas) Bulls last season. He spent the majority of the past two seasons playing in the U18 High Performance Hockey League for the Little Caesars U18 team. Misiak had 26 goals and 51 points in 53 total games over two seasons.
 
21  Gilbert Gabor 6-4, 220 (Stockholm, Sweden): The big 20-year-old continues on the Bruins' tradition of bringing in strong, experienced Swedish players (past Swedes to play for the team include Christian Folin, Alex Pettersson and Jacob Kullberg. Played for the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL, a Canadian Major Junior league, in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Played for four different teams in Sweden last year, totaling nine goals and 21 points in 44 games.
 
22  Travis Kothenbeutel 5-10, 165 (Sauk Rapids, Minn.): Spent a majority of last season with the Granite City Lumberjacks of the North American Tier 3 Hockey League. Totaled 21-31--52 in 50 games for Granite City. Scored the game-winning goal in the Silver Cup Finals, lifting the Lumberjacks to the Tier III national championship. ... Was on the Bruins roster for the entire NAHL postseason, but didn't appear in a game. Played in eight regular-season games for the Bruins, recording two goals and three assists.
 
24  Evan Cholak 5-8, 160 (Kenosha, Wis.): The young (17-year-old) left-shot forward is in his first season in the NAHL after averaging close to a point per game last season. He put up 23 points in 26 games for the Chicago Mission U18 team in the High Performance U18 Hockey League. Prior to that, he spent two seasons with the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U16 club in the Tier I U16 Elite League. 
 
25  Zach Kennedy 6-1, 200 (Eagle River, Wis.): The 19-year-old forward is in his second season with the Bruins. Kennedy had 20 points in 56 games last season, including playing in eight playoff games. He had a plus-11 plus/minus rating and 94 penalty minutes. He was also among the team leaders with four game-winning goals.
 
26  Austin Rueschhoff 6-6, 210 (Wentzville, Mo.): The big power forward who turned 18 last week played in 26 NAHL games last season with three different teams. He stuck with the Richfield-based Minnesota Magicians for a majority of his NAHL time, playing 22 games and scoring five goals. He played for the St. Louis Selects U16 team in the North American Prospects Hockey League from 2012-2014. He scored 17 goals and had 43 points in 43 games over two seasons for St. Louis.
 
27  AJ Drobot 5-8, 175 (Churchville, Pa.): The Bruins' third-round draft pick in June's NAHL Draft is just 17 years old and is already committed to the University of Maine. Played one game for Sioux Falls in the USHL last season. Put up 11-18--29 in 35 games for the EHL's New Jersey Rockets in 2014-15. Was a big scorer for the Rockets' U19 Midget team in 2013-14, putting up 43-22--65 in 52 games. One of six Bruins draft picks on their roster.
 
28  Nigel Nelson 6-3, 215 (Chicago): Another of the Bruins' big, strong forwards, the 17-year-old was the team's eighth-round pick in June's NAHL draft. He played the past two seasons for the Chicago Young Americans U16, recording eight goals and 15 points, as well as 40 penalty minutes, in 35 games. He played for the Team Illinois Bantam team in 2012-13, recording six points in 23 games.
 
-----
 
DEFENSEMEN
 
 Derek Olmschenk 6-5, 225 (Lino Lakes, Minn.): One of two returning defensemen from last year's Robertson Cup Finals team. The 20-year-old recorded eight points (4-7--11) last season, and 28 penalty minutes in 55 total games. He appeared in 10 playoff games. He played high school hockey at Cretin-Derham Hall, where he recorded 11-35--46 in his three-year varsity career.
 
4  Griff Slightam 5-10, 195 (Rochester): The 19-year-old tendered with the Bruins during last season after a five-year high school career at Rochester Lourdes. He was on three state tournament teams at Lourdes, including playing at state as an eighth-grader. Battled through some injuries as a senior, but recorded eight goals and 15 points. Finished his varsity career with 57 points. 
 
6  Johnny Pesek 6-1, 185 (Lake Forest, Ill.): The Bruins' 11th-round draft pick in June is just 16 years old (he turns 17 on Oct. 28). He played in two games last season for the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers and one game for the Soo Eagles of the NAHL. Pesek had a big season for the Soo Indians U18 AAA midget team last year, scoring 18 goals and finishing with 47 points in 59 games. He also had 70 penalty minutes. 
 
7  Austin Hingtgen 6-1, 190 (Williston, N.D.): The 20-year-old blue-liner played in 28 games for the NAHL's Wichita Falls Wildcats last season, finishing with three points and 56 penalty minutes. Played the prior two seasons for Lake Forest (Ill.) Academy of the Midwest Prep Hockey League, where he recorded 11 points in 26 games over two years. Spent the 2011-12 season with the Omaha Lancers AAA U16 team.
 
11  Paul O'Connor 5-11, 175 (St. Peters, Mo.): The 19-year-old is entering his third NAHL season, having spent the past two playing for the Richfield-based Minnesota Magicians. O'Connor played in 55 games, and recorded eight points and 50 penalty minutes over two seasons with the Magicians. Played in a total of 50 games for Cedar Rapids of the USHL over the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. 
 
16  Zackary Taylor 5-9, 165 (Mahtomedi, Minn.): The 18-year-old helped Mahtomedi High School go 26-3-2 last season and place third in the Minnesota Class A state tournament. Had 26 points as a senior last season and finished his three-year varsity career with 41 total points and 72 penalty minutes. 
 
20  Nicklas Wilson 6-0, 185 (Dewitt, Mich.): The 18-year-old blue-liner was the Bruins' seventh-round pick in June's NAHL Draft. Played last season for the Michigan Nationals U18 midget team of the High Performance Hockey League. 
 
23  Dalton Gally 6-4, 215 (New Braunfels, Texas): The big blue-liner played for the Omaha AAA program last season. He played six games for the Omaha AAA High Performance Hockey League team, recording one assist. He also played 15 games for the Omaha AAA U16 team, collecting a goal and four assists. He also played in four games in the USHL for Des Moines. 
 
-----
 
GOALIES
 
   Austin Smith 6-2, 170 (Orland Park, Ill.): Smith, 18, enters his first season in the NAHL after playing for the Chicago Mission U18 program in the High Performance Hockey League last season. He played in 12 games, and had a 2.24 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. He spent the 2013-14 season with the Chicago Young Americans team of the HPHL U16 league, where his numbers were very good (2.01, .926). 
 
30  Jacob Berger 5-11, 165 (Minnetonka, Minn.): Played three seasons of varsity hockey for the Minnetonka Skippers, one of the standout programs in Minnesota Class AA hockey. Went 22-20-2 in 44 starts in his high school career. Was 7-8-2 as a senior with a 2.80 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage. Led the Skippers to within one win of the state tournament last season, recording 21 saves in a heartbreaking 2-1 OT loss against Eden Prairie in the Section 6AA final. 
 
31  Kyle Madore 6-1, 170 (Venetia, Pa.)The 18-year-old Madore was Austin's fifth-round draft pick this summer. He was 11-5-0 with a 2.54 GAA and .906 save percentage with the Pittsburgh Penguins Tier I Midget team last season. Went 3-0 in the playoffs, with a 1.32 GAA and a .940 save pct. Brother, Rob, played goalie at the University of Vermont from 2008-12.
 

August 04, 2015

Former JM great Jim Scheid dies at 57

Posted by: Feldman

"It's a sad day, but it goes to show life is not fair. It's tough. Rochester has lost a great person." — Former JM hockey star Bruce Aikens, on his teammate Jim Scheid

-----

Six-hundred thirty-six words seems so insufficient to sum up someone's life. Anyone's life, but espeically the life of someone like Jim Scheid, who clearly touched more lives than he knew.

That's how many words are in this story about Scheid, the former Rochester John Marshall athletic standout, who died Monday just three days before his 58th birthday, after a long battle with cancer.

I talked to three of his friends/high school teammates about Jim, and I knew about 5 minutes into my first conversation that I was going to have way more material than I could fit into a print story.

I could have written 6,000 words, probably more.

I never had the chance to meet Jim in person. I interviewed him one time, a little more than five years ago, for a story on all of the Rochester hockey players who moved on to play at the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s and early 80s. The Badgers were playing in an NCAA Regional at The X that spring (2010) and it seemed like a good time to do the story.

I don't know why I remember this, but when I called Jim, he was traveling to a youth hockey tournament -- I'm assuming with his youngest son, Ian, who coincidentally I would come to know a little bit over this past year as he played for the Austin Bruins -- somewhere in the northern part of the state. I want to say Thief River Falls, but I could be wrong.

The point is, from all of his friends and family with whom I spoke today, that was Jim. He was always coaching, teaching, helping others -- his kids, friends' kids -- excel at the sports they love, whether it was hockey, baseball, football (Jim starred in all three at JM) or hunting or fishing (which friends say he loved just as much).

Back in late May, Scott Lecy -- Jim's linemate and teammate at JM and Wisconsin -- worked with the Rochester Park and Rec to get the warming house at Allendale Park named after Scheid. When Lecy went to visit Scheid in his home last weekend, Scheid told him with a laugh, "You know, Scott, that's nice, but I never spent much time in the warming house."

Indeed, as Lecy and Bruce Aikens and Randy Wilcox would explain to me, Scheid was the one who called everyone's house -- who remembers a childhood without cell phones?! -- to tell them to gather at the outdoor rink, no matter the temperature. And once there, when everyone else would take a break, Scheid would be the one shoveling off the rink.

Scheid was also an outstanding QB on the football team (he played on JM's 1974 state title team) and an All-State baseball player as a senior. He was inducted into the Rochester Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame in 2013.

"He was the quarterback in football, first-line center in hockey and shortstop in baseball," Wilcox said with a chuckle. "How much better can you be?"

Scheid, Lecy, Aikens and Wilcox all played on some powerhouse JM hockey teams. The Rockets went 21-3 in Scheid's senior season but lost in the section tournament. The next year, Lecy and Aikens led JM to a state championship. Three weeks later, Lecy was in Madison on his recruiting visit, where he had the chance to catch up with Scheid.

"He knew we'd have a great team that year," Lecy said of the '77 Rockets. "He was just so happy that we all got to experience that. Not just getting to state, but winning it, too."

When I've talked to players from those mid-to-late 1970s JM teams, they all echo the same sentiment: Those teams were great because of the work the players put in away from organized practice. Wilcox talked at length about Scheid using a tennis ball instead of a puck on the uneven outdoor ice at Allendale.

"If you could handle a tennis ball hopping around out there, you could definitely handle a puck," he said.

That makes it fitting that one of the lasting impressions Scheid will leave on Rochester is his name on the warming house of an outdoor rink, where everyone skating on the ice can see it.

---

Jim and his wife, Sandy, have three sons: Tony, Eric and Ian.

I've followed Eric's hockey career from afar; he'll be a senior playing at Penn State this fall.

Ian will play for the USHL's Fargo Force; they made him a 2nd round draft pick a couple months ago after he had an outstanding season with the NAHL's Austin Bruins. I got to know Ian a little bit while covering the team -- it was obvious he didn't care to have the spotlight placed on him, but he always answered questions with thought and never turned me down if I asked for an interview. To know what he was going through off the ice, it's pretty amazing to have watched the season he put together on it.

After meeting Ian and watching him play, I wasn't shocked that Aikens had this to say about Jim Scheid as a high school player:

"I know his parents were big influences in his life. He wasn't a really vocal guy, but was always very down to Earth. He let his actions and play speak for him."

His former teammates describe Jim as a do-it-all type of guy, one who would much rather set up his teammates for a goal than score it himself.

As Lecy and Wilcox pointed out, Scheid earned the nickname "Slip" at Wisconsin, because he was always too slippery for anyone to catch.

"He was so unselfish," Lecy said. "He was always looking to pass and not shoot. ... He was a great athlete and a great guy, and he was easy to like and look up to."

Aikens added: "Jim was a class act. He came to play every night. Fundamentally he did everything well and was a great team leader. He could really pass the puck, very unselfish. He got more joy out of winning than his own statistics. It was a joy to play with him.
"He was the QB on the football team, a great baseball player, and he did it all with class and made it look easy."

July 21, 2015

Statement from Rochester CVB on potential USHL team playing at MCC

Posted by: Feldman

The Mayo Civic Center is undergoing a massive $79 million renovation project, expected to be completed in 2017. Part of that renovation could include the addition of a refrigeration system so that ice could be installed for hockey (and, I'm guessing, touring ice shows such as Disney On Ice-type shows), in particular a possible USHL expansion franchise.

Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Brad Jones issued a statement today that indicates the process is underway to find out what types of sports and entertainment options may be feasible and successful in Rochester.

Results of the study are expected in September.

The statement reads:

“The Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau, in collaboration with a group of interested parties, is engaged in a feasibility study to determine which type of sports and entertainment may be successful and sustainable in the Rochester market.

The study will assist in identifying what type of facility is needed. Exploration and understanding the needs of the United States Hockey League, in addition to other sports organizations, are a component of the feasibility study.

"The results of the study are expected to be available in September. Upon completion, the outcomes will be utilized to determine if future opportunities are pursued.”

So, there we go. I guess we'll find out in roughly two months if the Civic Center is a good candidate for the USHL (and possibly other sports leagues) and vice-versa. If making the arena hockey-friendly is a possibility, that would clear -- as far as I can tell -- probably the biggest hurdle in getting the country's top junior league back in Roch.