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105 posts categorized "John Marshall"

March 11, 2015

High School Hockey | 2014-15 All-Area Team & POY

Posted by: Feldman

With the high school hockey season in the rearview, and after a couple days to decompress from an outstanding state tournament, it's time to put a close to the local high school season by naming our Sixth Annual Faceoff Blog All-Area Team and Player of the Year.

In what was an OK year for our local and area teams (boys hockey teams in our coverage area include the four Rochester schools, Austin, Dodge County and Red Wing), there were a number of players who jumped out as the best. In fact, our Player of the Year was probably the best player in the Big Nine Conference.

I'll make my annual disclaimer here: The All-Area Team appears only on the Faceoff Blog (not in print or on PostBulletin.com) for a number of reasons, the main one being most of our other writers don't like to do all-area teams because they often become a bigger headache than they're worth. Many times, so many kids' stats are so similar, that it's a no-win situation for us. If we put a point guard who averages 14 points and 7 assists per game on an all-area basketball team, we'll get an earful from mom of kid who averages 15 points and 6 assists.

I'm fair game, though. Rip away if you don't like the team I've put together. I picked it based on who I thought the best players in our coverage area were. Since I don't see every game played, and some teams I only saw once or twice this season, I also went on word of mouth, the things I hear from area coaches during the season. By chatting regularly with coaches, you get a pretty good idea of which players mean the most to their teams, regardless of what the stats say.

And as I've said in past years, there's nothing P.C. about the team (I don't try to balance it out or make sure that every area team is represented equally), it's just a list of who I think the best players in the area were this season.

Let's get to it.

Below you'll find an All-Area First Team, Second Team, a PUC list (Players Under Consideration; my not-so-clever way of saying "honorable mention") and a list of past Players of the Year.

FIRST TEAM

DEFENSEMEN

***PLAYER OF THE YEAR***
Riese Zmolek, senior, Rochester Century (20-21--41)
Our repeat selection as the All-Area Player of the Year, Zmolek was the fourth-leading scorer in the city, as a defenseman. He was hands-down the most versatile player I saw this year in our area. He has all the tools to compete at higher levels. He played in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League last fall, and he hit the ground running for the high school season. He finished with a career-best 41 points and capped his prep career with 103 total points, an amazing stat for a D-man, but even more astounding considering Zmolek missed half of his sophomore season with an injury.
Here's an evaluation one junior hockey scout gave me on Zmolek: "We watched him at the start of the Elite League season and thought 'I don't know, he has a ways to go.' We went back and watched him toward the end of the Elite League season and he popped. He can do it all. He should be in the USHL next season and he can play at the D-I (college) level."
Just a few days after the conclusion of his high school career, Zmolek moved over to Austin, where he'll finish the season with the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League. He was thrown right into the fire there, playing in all situations, including being sent out to kill a 5-on-3 disadvantage in the final two minutes of his second game back with the team (he played four games for the Bruins prior to the high school season).

Griff Slightam, senior, Rochester Lourdes (8-7--15)
For a second consecutive season, the skilled and big, physical d-man was hampered by injuries. Slightam missed his entire junior season due to an injury he suffered during the football season. He also missed half of his senior season because of injuries, yet put up 15 points from the blue line, and served as basically another assistant coach for the Eagles while sidelined. The fifth-year varsity player played in three state tournaments. He was at his best late in the season, recording four points in two playoff games. His two late-third period goals helped Lourdes rally to beat Mankato East in overtime of a Section 1A first-round game. He is tendered with the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League.

FORWARDS

Logan Haskins, senior, Rochester Mayo (22-25--47)
The only repeat First Team forward, Haskins led the city in scoring for a second consecutive season. 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 this season. He also had 13 multi-point games this season, playing on a line that combined for 125 points.

Jake Roth, senior, Rochester Century (19-25--44)
The runner-up for the city scoring title, Roth piled up 117 career points over four seasons on Century's varsity. That total includes 82 points over the past two seasons. Roth played mutliple roles for the Panthers. He wasn't afraid to dig in the corners and battle for the puck, and wasn't afraid to go to the front of the net and score gritty goals. He could make plays, too, as indicated by his 25 assists -- a total that matches Haskins for the most in Rochester this season.

Anthony Oliveto, sophomore, Rochester Mayo (26-17--43)
The city's goal-scoring champ finished third in points in Rochester, behind only Haskins and Roth. Just a sophomore, Oliveto already has 67 career varsity points. The big, skilled forward led Rochester with 26 goals and finished his sophomore season on a nine-game point streak. 

GOALIE

Jack Burkel, senior, Rochester Lourdes (5-18-2, 2.80 GAA, .901 save pct., 3 shutouts
The veteran goalie was far better than his record indicates. The goals-against average and save percentage tell a more accurate story. In 17 of his 25 starts, Burkel allowed three goals or less. Lourdes scored more than three goals in a game just four times all season, so Burkel had to be sharp each night out. He gave his team a chance to win nearly every game it played, including a narrow season-ending 2-1 loss to top-seeded New Prague -- the eventual section champ -- in a Section 1A quarterfinal game.

* * * * *

SECOND TEAM

DEFENSEMEN
Dakota Streit, senior, Rochester Lourdes (4-11--15): Played the "Ryan Suter" role for the Eagles, eating big chunks of ice time on a nightly basis, all while being the team's most steady defenseman on both ends of the ice.
Will Zmolek, sophomore, Rochester Century (5-12--17): By the mid-point of his first varsity season, he was as reliable as any defenseman in the Big Nine. Rarely was beaten or caught out of position. Wasn't asked to do a lot of scoring, but finished with 17 points, a good total for a young d-man.

FORWARDS
Ethan Moore, senior, Rochester Mayo (12-23--35): Had at least a point in 20 of Mayo's 26 games this season. Totaled six points in three games at the Kiwanis Festival as Mayo captured the tournament championship in late December.
Cory Checco, sophomore, Rochester JM (15-16--31): Led the Rockets in goals, assists and points in his second varsity season. Had at least one point in 21 of JM's 26 games. He'll go into his junior season with 56 career points.
Tyler Defore, sophomore, Red Wing (21-13--34): One of just four 20-goal scorers in our area, the sophomore was his team's leading scorer and finished the season strong. He had 14 points over the final eight games, including four points in a playoff win against Waseca.

GOALIE
Chris Wileman, senior, Rochester Mayo (16-8-1, 2.98 GAA, .871 save pct., 2 shutouts): The senior had a strong start to his season, recording a shutout in his varsity debut. He finished the season with a sub-3.00 GAA and helped Mayo earn a home playoff game.

* * * * *

PUC (Players Under Consideration)
Forwards
* Tucker Chapman, soph., Rochester Lourdes (17-7--24)
* Brady Dahl, junior, Rochester JM (14-9--23)
* Dylan Goggin, senior, Red Wing (18-15--33)
* Sam Hanson, junior, Red Wing (17-16--33)
* Nic Leisen, sophomore, Dodge County (11-14--25)

Defensemen
* Josh Frerks, junior, Rochester JM (5-9--14)
* James Johnston, senior, Rochester Mayo (7-12--19)
* Alex Ney, senior, Rochester Century (12-7--19)

Goalies
* Adam Defore, senior, Red Wing (8-18-1, 3.98 GAA, .873 save pct.)
* Brady Meyers, junior, Rochester JM (9-13-0, 3.31 GAA, .886 save pct., 1 SO)
* Cole Walter, freshman, Rochester Century (8-3-1, 2.96 GAA, .872 save pct., 1 SO)

* * * * *

FACEOFF BLOG ALL-AREA PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
* 2015: Riese Zmolek, senior, D, Rochester Century
* 2014: Riese Zmolek, junior, D, Rochester Century
* 2013: Alex Funk and Jason Samuelson, seniors, F, Rochester Lourdes
* 2012: Alex Funk, junior, F, Rochester Lourdes
* 2011: Rory Vesel, senior, D, Rochester Lourdes
* 2010: No POY (the inaugural all-area team didn't include a POY)

* * * * *

BELOWTwo All-Area First Team players battle during a Section 1AA quarterfinal game at Graham I on Feb. 19. Mayo's Logan Haskins, left, attempts to carry the puck around Century's Riese Zmolek. (Photo credit to Post-Bulletin's Scott Jacobson)

Haskins RZmolek

February 19, 2015

High School Hockey Today: The Section 1 tournaments roll on

Posted by: Feldman

After a wild opening night in the Section One, Class A boys hockey tournament, what should we expect tonight? More of the same, most likely. I sound like a broken record, but nothing that happens in the Section 1A tournament from this point on will be a surprise. Three of the five games played Tuesday were decided by a goal, one in double overtime and another in OT.

No. 4 seed Faribault avoided a major upset when it scored a power-play goal with 3:30 left in the third period to eke out a 2-1 win against No. 13 seed Austin, which won just three games all year. Austin competed well against the best teams in the section, though. The Packers played No. 2 seed Mankato West and Faribault to one-goal games this season, tied No. 6 seed Red Wing, and also played one-goal games against section opponents Winona and Waseca.

The Section 1AA tournament gets going tonight, with undefeated and No. 1-ranked Lakeville North (25-0-0) the clear-cut favorite.

The game to watch tonight in 1AA is right here in Rochester, as No. 4 seed Mayo plays host to No. 5 seed Century in the third meeting this season and 51st overall between the long-time rivals. The teams split a pair of 4-3 games during the regular season, with Century edging Mayo last Saturday in the regular-season finale. Both of those regular-season matchups were played with the intensity cranked up to 11. My guess is both teams will take that even higher tonight; if one of them doesn't, its season will be over.

That said, tonight's game will come down to which team plays smart hockey, makes the simple plays, executes its systems the best and STAYS OUT OF THE BOX. We could say that about pretty much every postseason game at any level of hockey, but it's true, stupid penalties are killers this time of year. They dang near cost Rochester Lourdes on Tuesday in a 3-2, overtime, first-round Section 1A victory against Mankato East.

So let's get to tonight's Section 1 games; I'll cover 'em all in two sentences each. Since I posted Section 1A predictions on Tuesday, I should do the same for 1AA (you'll never ever guess who I pick to win it) today. After looking at each of today's games, I'll post some more thoughts about Lourdes' dramatic win on Tuesday, then my Section 1AA predictions.

* * *

TONIGHT'S GAMES

SECTION 1AA QUARTERFINALS
All games at 7 p.m., at higher seed

* No. 8 Dodge County (7-17-0) at No. 1 Lakeville North (25-0-0), Ames Arena, Lakeville: North has 3 Mr. Hockey finalists, 5 Division I commits (so far) and the No. 1 ranking in the state. To say it's an uphill battle for D.C. is like saying "I think I'll take a little stroll to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro today."

* No. 5 Rochester Century (15-7-3) at No. 4 Rochester Mayo (16-8-1), Graham Arena I: Juding by their regular-season meetings, this should be the game of the night in 1AA. Storyline to watch: A confident senior in goal for Mayo (Chris Wileman) vs. a confident freshman in goal for Century (Cole Walter).

* No. 6 Rochester John Marshall (13-12-0) at No. 3 Farmington (17-7-1), Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena, Farmington: Farmington has ended JM's season two of the past three years, but I haven't seen the Rockets look intimidated against anyone this season. For JM to win this one, junior goalie Brady Meyers has to be lights-out and JM's scoring depth has to show through.

* No. 7 Owatonna (11-12-2) at No. 2 Lakeville South (14-10-1), Hasse Arena, Lakeville: Owatonna is playing well, going 4-1-1 in its final six regular-season games. However, the Huskies have only beaten two teams with winning records all season.

* * * * *

SECTION 1A QUARTERFINALS
All games at 7 p.m., at higher seed

* No. 8 Rochester Lourdes (6-18-2) at No. 1 New Prague (17-8-0), New Prague Community Center: Lourdes has a lot of confidence and momentum on its side after finally getting a one-goal victory, rallying from two down to beat Mankato East in Tuesday's first round. New Prague, the defending section champion, probably isn't thrilled to see Lourdes come to town for the Trojans' first playoff game this season.

* No. 5 LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter/TCU/Cleveland (19-7-0) at No. 4 Faribault (18-7-1), Faribault Ice Arena: Faribault is not playing its best hockey right now and just suffered a 4-1 loss against LH/SP/TCU/C only nine days ago. The Falcons need to find their scoring touch again and can't get into a track meet against L-H/SP and the state's top scorer, Sam Wenner.

* No. 6 Red Wing (8-17-1) at No. 3 Northfield (14-9-2), Northfield Ice Arena: Northfield beat Red Wing twice during the regular season, both times by three goals. Guessing this one will be closer, but does Red Wing have enough energy left for another tight game after going to double-OT on Tuesday?

* No. 7 Albert Lea at No. 2 Mankato West, All Seasons Arena, Mankato: Albert Lea was the only Section 1 team that didn't have to sweat out a close first-round game on Tuesday, beating La Crescent 7-1. As for West, wouldn't it be something if, after all of the talented seniors it lost from last season, the Scarlets end up going to state this year?

* * * * *

Lourdes is playing with confidence

Some might say that, if we're being honest, Rochester Lourdes probably shouldn't be playing tonight. But that's really not the case. Sure, the Eagles got a fluke goal to start their rally late in the third period of a 3-2 overtime victory against Mankato East on Tuesday.

The Eagles outplayed East for a majority of the game, they just couldn't get anything past Cougars goalie Jack Cusey. That changed once Lourdes senior D Griff Slightam lofted a puck toward the goal from the blue line; it landed behind Cusey and went into the net to pull Lourdes within 2-1 with less than five minutes to go. Slightam scored again two minutes later to force OT, then fed Tucker Chapman seconds into OT for the game winner.

Lourdes has been through so many close games -- 11 1-goal losses, 17 losses by 2 or less -- this season that the hockey gods were bound to give them one sooner or later. The question is: Can Lourdes get another one?

The Eagles have their work cut out for them tonight, facing defending section champion and No. 1 seed New Prague.

Lourdes is playing with confidence, though. And it knows it can hang with New Prague. The teams played a pair of one-goal games in the regular season, with the Trojans winning both times (New Prague went 6-0-0 against section opponents). As always, Lourdes needs senior goalie Jack Burkel to be sharp and they'll have to have a more defense-first mindset tonight. East got behind the Eagles' defensemen a handful of times on Tuesday. My guess is Lourdes won't get away with allowing a bunch of odd-man rushes tonight.

* * * * *

Now, some Section 1AA predicitions, and I really go out on a limb here, so brace yourself...

QUARTERFINALS
Lakeville North 13, Dodge County 1: D.C. gets a late goal to spoil the shutout.
Lakeville South 9, Owatonna 3: South scores early, often to advance to semis.
Farmington 5, Rochester JM 3: Rockets push til the end before an empty-netter seals the Tigers' win.
Mayo 4, Century 3: The coin says heads; Mayo wins by the same score as the other two Mayo-Century games had this season.

SEMIFINALS
North 7, Mayo 2: What can we say? North is the best team in the state.
South 3, Farmington 2, OT: Maybe the best game of the tournament, South finds a way to beat Gage Overby and the Tigers.

CHAMPIONSHIP
North 8, South 2: North wants to send a message to the teams it'll face at state. It does that against its top rival.

December 29, 2014

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

Posted by: Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

* A team-by-team preview of the Festival

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

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

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

Dodge County senior F Colin Sherden:

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

 

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

* * *

Dodge County coach Eric Hofmann

 

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

 

December 13, 2014

High School Hockey Today | Saturday, Dec. 13

Posted by: Feldman

All four Rochester teams are in action today, with Century and Lourdes hitting the road for non-conference games, while Mayo and JM meet at the Rec Center for the 110th time in the history of the rivalry.

Lots of big games going on across the state today, too, so read all the way to the bottom.

Here's a look at today's games:

ROCHESTER TEAMS

LOURDES at ACADEMY OF HOLY ANGELS
2:30 p.m., Richfield Ice Arena
Records
: Lourdes 1-3-1 overall; Holy Angels 4-3-0.
Coaches: Lourdes, Josh Spaniol (6th season, 93-55-7); Holy Angels, Trent Palm (2nd season, 14-17-2)
Last game: Lourdes lost at No. 7-ranked New Prague, 2-1, on Thursday; Holy Angels won at Buffalo, 5-2, on Thursday.
Last meeting: Holy Angels beat Lourdes 5-2 on Dec. 14, 2013, at Graham Arena I.
Lourdes leaders: F Tucker Chapman (4-1--5); D Dakota Streit (1-1--2); F Nick Roth (0-2--2); F Peter Alexander (0-2--2); F Mason Carstens (1-1--2); G Jack Burkel (1-3-1, 1.68 GAA, .943 save pct.).
Holy Angels leaders: F Marshall Barnes (5-10--15); D Cooper Sande (4-9--13); C Joseph Sullivan (3-8--11); F Owen Larson (7-3--10); G Jake Fleming (2-1-0, 3.90, .843).
Notes: Stars head coach Trent Palm played in 127 games for Minnesota-Duluth between 2006-2011, recording 20 career points. ... Holy Angels has won two in a row after a three-game losing streak. ... The Stars' three losses are all against teams ranked in the Class AA state polls (No. 5 St. Thomas Academy, No. 14 Cretin-Derham Hall, No. 16 Holy Family Catholic). ... AHA's Barnes played in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League in the fall, as did Lourdes' Griff Slightam and goalie Jack Burkel. ... Lourdes' three losses have come by a combined four goals. ... The Eagles play host to Section 1A rival Northfield on Tuesday.

CENTURY at CHANHASSEN
3 p.m., Victoria Recreation Center
Records
: Century 4-2-0 overall; Chanhassen 2-3-1.
Coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus (4th season, 41-40-4); Chanhassen, Chris Wilson (5th season, 51-52-7).
Last game: Century beat Austin, 7-3; Chanhassen lost to No. 6-A Breck, 6-0.
Last meeting: n/a
Century leaders: F Jake Roth (7-8--15); D Riese Zmolek (7-4--11); F Sam Batterson (5-3--8); F Pat Bower (3-3--6); G Cole Walter (3-0-0, 1.33, .939); G Joey Pundt (1-2-0, 3.23, .857).
Chanhassen leaders: F Benny Bjerken (2-5--7); F Jake Bever (1-4--5); F Jake Theis (1-4--5); G Calvin Green (1-3-0, 4.63, .861).
Notes: The Storm have had 11 players score at least one goal this season. ... Chanhassen's three losses are to ranked opponents (No. 12-A Delano/Rockford; No. 10-AA Prior Lake and No. 6-A Breck). ... The Storm beat No. 19-AA Hopkins 4-2 on Nov. 29. ... Century snapped a two-game losing skid at Austin on Thursday with a 7-3 victory. ... After this game, the Panthers don't leave Rochester until a Jan. 8 game at Owatonna. ... Century has outscored its opponents by a combined 33-14. ... Three Panthers have scored five or more goals.

MAYO at JOHN MARSHALL
7:30 p.m., Rochester Rec Center
Records
: Mayo 3-1-0 Big Nine, 3-2-0 overall; JM 2-1-0, 2-5-0.
Coaches: Mayo, Lorne Grosso (48th season, 680-428-27); JM, Jay Ness (4th season, 36-45-4).
Last game: Mayo lost at Albert Lea on Thursday, 2-1; JM beat Winona on Thursday, 3-1.
Last meeting: Mayo beat JM 6-3 on Jan. 25, 2014, at Graham Arena I.
Mayo leaders: F Logan Haskins (3-4--7); F Ethan Moore (3-4--7); F Anthony Oliveto (3-2--5); G Chris Wileman (3-2-0, 2.20 GAA, .899 save pct.).
JM leaders: F Cory Checco (4-7--11); F Brady Dahl (5-4--9); G Brady Meyers (2-4-0, 4.07, .884).
Notes: This is the 110th meeting all-time between the rivals. ... Mayo leads the series 55-53-1. The Spartans have won nine consecutive meetings against JM. Last season, Mayo gained the lead in the all-time series against JM for the first time ever. ... JM's last victory against Mayo came on Dec. 10, 2011, a 4-3 win at Graham Arena. ... Mayo's Haskins has all seven of his points in the past four games. ... Checco, a sophomore, is tied with Century's Riese Zmolek as the current second-leading scorer in Rochester. Checco has had at least one point in all seven games this season.

* * * * * 

AREA GAMES

Dodge County (2-5-0) at Minneapolis (3-2-0), Parade Ice Garden, 2 p.m.: Three of Dodge County's five losses have been by two goals or less, including a 3-2 setback against Faribault on Tuesday. ... Seven players are tied for the Wildcats' lead in scoring with four points each. ... Dodge County has rotated three goalies -- Mitch Sobotta, Joe Biwer and Gus Kirsch. ... Junior F Connor Fulco leads Minneapolis in goals (3), assists (6) and points (9). ... Junior Will Graves is Minneapolis' top goalie. He is 2-2-0 with a 2.68 GAA and an .815 save pct.

Mankato East (2-3-0 Big Nine, 2-4-0 overall) at Red Wing (0-4-1, 0-7-1), Prairie Island Arena, 3 p.m.: Red Wing has come oh-so-close to victory a handful of times this season, including its most recent game, a 5-5 tie against Austin on Thursday. ... Four of the Wingers' losses have been by one goal. ... Red Wing is led by the Defore brothers, sophomore F Tyler (5-3--8) and senior G Adam (0-7-1, 4.16 GAA, .877 save pct.). ... Senior F Grayson Gavin is East's leading scorer (5-6--11). He has seven points in the past three games.

* * * * *

AROUND THE STATE

* No. 1-AA Lakeville North (4-0-0) at No. 12-AA Grand Rapids (4-1-0): North has earned its top ranking, with wins at No. 18 Farmington and against No. 2 Edina. This will be yet another very difficult pre-Christmas road test for the Panthers.

* No. 4-A Mahtomedi (5-0-0) at No. 3-AA Hill-Murray (3-0-0): Something has to give in the only matchup today between unbeaten teams. Unless they tie. Then nothing gives.

* No. 13-AA Blaine (3-2-0) at No. 6-AA Elk River/Zimmerman (5-1-0): Elk River has two of the state's top goal-scorers in Reggie Lutz (11) and Jacob Jaremko (9). Jaremko is second in the state with 23 total points.

* No. 2-A Hermantown (4-2-0) at No. 8-A Thief River Falls (2-3-0): TRF is trying to bounce back from consecutive one-goal losses, to No. 6-A Breck and Class AA Bemidji. Hermantown's two losses are to ranked Class AA teams, No. 4 Wayzata and No. 19 Hopkins.

* No. 9-A Orono (0-4-0) at No. 13-A St. Cloud Cathedral (2-3-0): Orono is the only winless team ranked in the state polls. Its losses are to Class AA Stillwater, No. 2-A Hermantown, No. 3-A Duluth Marshall and 14-A Blake.

* No. 1-ND Grand Forks Red River at No. 5-A Warroad (6-1-0): Red River shut out top-ranked East Grand Forks last week. Warroad, which scored an impressive win at Grand Rapids a week ago, will have to work for win No. 7.

November 22, 2014

High School Hockey Today | Saturday, Nov. 22

Posted by: Feldman

A few notes before we look at today's games.

* Rochester Mayo got off to a strong start Thursday night, scoring a 3-0 shutout vs. Big Nine Conference newcomer Northfield at Graham Arena. Anthony Oliveto had two points (watch for him to break out even more this season) and Chris Wileman recorded a shutout in his first varsity start in goal.

* Defending Section 1AA champion Lakeville North is ranked No. 2 in the first state poll. North was the state runner-up last season to Edina, which is ranked No. 1 in the first poll. Edina received 13 first-place votes, North received 2.

* North has three players on NHL Central Scouting's Players To Watch list: F Nick Poehling and D Jack Sadek and Jack McNeely. All three were given "C" grades by Central Scouting, which means they're currently projected as 4th-to-6th round picks in next summer's NHL Draft.

* Section 1A teams New Prague (No. 8) and Mankato West (No. 13) are ranked in the first Class A poll. Rochester Lourdes is receiving votes.

* With Red Wing and Northfield joining the Big Nine Conference this season, it makes it nearly impossible for everyone in the conference to play all other teams twice. That would be a total of 22 games, leaving just three open spots for non-conference games. Most teams -- such as the Rochester schools -- are already committed to three non-conference games at holiday time.

So, the Big Nine has decided to use a big/small model for its scheduling. In other words, the "big" schools (Century, JM, Mayo, Northfield, Owatonna, Winona) in the conference will play each other twice and will play the small schools (Austin, Albert Lea, Mankato East, Mankato West, Faribault, Red Wing) once each. Some teams wanted to play a "big" vs. "small" matchup twice (such as Mayo and Albert Lea).

I'm told that record-keeping will be fairly simple, it'll pretty much be as it was in the past: If two conference teams play each other twice, both games will be worth two points in the standings (one for a tie). If teams only play each other once, those games will be worth four points in the standings (two for a tie).

The obvious exception to this is if two conference opponents meet in a holiday tournament, those games would not count toward the conference standings. So, for example, if Century and JM meet in the Kiwanis tournament, it will be a non-conference game.

Got it? There'll be a quiz later. Or you can just watch the P-B as the season rolls along for the standings.

Now, let's get to today's games...

ROCHESTER TEAMS TODAY

BLOOMINGTON KENNEDY at ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL
3 p.m., Rochester Recreation Center
Records: Kennedy (0-0-0; was 13-12-2 last season); JM (0-1-0 overall)
Last meeting: N/A
Head coaches: Kennedy, Dave Dillon (6th season, 36-93-3); JM, Jay Ness (4th season, 34-41-4).
Leading scorers: Kennedy (top returning scorers), Jr. F Jory McWilliams (14-10--24); Sr. F Conor Jensen (10-8--18); Sr. F Jake Roers (6-7--13). JM, So. F Cory Checco (1-0--1); Jr. F Conner Lee (0-1--1); So. F Aaron Macken (0-1--1).
Goalies: Kennedy, no top returner (senior David Johnson played almost every minute last season). JM, Jr. Brady Meyers (0-1-0, 5.00 GAA, .898 save pct.).
Notes: Kennedy lost its top three scorers to graduation. ... The Eagles went 8-2-1 in their last 11 games last season, with a six-game winning streak that included a 2-1 victory against rival Bloomington Jefferson. ... Kennedy nearly pulled off an upset in the Section 2A semifinals, falling 2-1 to 2nd-seeded Orono in overtime. ... The Rockets lost their season opener to Farmington, a team that advanced to the Section 1AA title game last year. ... Following today's game, JM plays six of its next eight games against Big Nine Conference opponents.

ROCHESTER CENTURY at DODGE COUNTY
7 p.m., Kasson Ice Arena
Records: Century (0-0-0; 12-13-1 last season); Dodge County (0-1-0 overall)
Last meeting: Century beat Dodge County 6-2 on Feb. 22, 2007, in a Section 1AA quarterfinal.
Head coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus (4th season, 37-38-4); Dodge County, Eric Hofmann (5th season, 36-62-6).
Leading scorers: Century (top returning scorers), Sr. D Riese Zmolek (12-26--38); Sr. F Jake Roth (17-18--35); Sr. F/D Ryan Sherden (3-9--12); Sr. F Sam Batterson (5-7--12). Dodge County (top returning scorers) So. F Nic Leisen (9-8--17); Sr. D Kevin Claussen (4-8--12); Sr. F Chris Roberts (3-9--12); Sr. F Kylo Courteau (5-6--11).
Goalies: Century (top returners), Sr. Joey Pundt (12-11-1, 3.62 GAA, .872 save pct.). Dodge County (top returners), Sr. Mitch Sobotta (6-9-3, 4.04, .882); Sr. Joey Biwer (2-4-0, 4.39, .859).
Notes: Century has 18 seniors on the roster. ... Zmolek played in the Upper Midwest Elite League this fall. ... According to a search of the P-B archives, these teams haven't played in close to eight years. The last time they played, Century won a Section 1AA quarterfinal game in Feb. of 2007. Century went on to finish third in the state that season. ... Dodge County lost its season opener 2-0 at St. Paul Como Park on Thursday. Biwer played very well in that game, allowing two goals on 27 shots.


AREA TEAMS TODAY

WINONA at AUSTIN
1:30 p.m., Riverside Arena
Records: Winona 0-1-0; Austin 0-1-0
Notes: Both teams lost their season openers on Thursday. Austin lost 4-1 to LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter. Winona lost 4-3 against La Crescent. ... Austin's lone goal in its loss was a short-handed tally by Dan Larson. Jace Greenman got the assist. ... The Packers struggled to score last season. They scored four goals -- their season high -- twice, including in a 5-4 overtime loss to Faribault in a Section 1A first-round game. ... Winona had six players record a point in Thursday's loss to La Crescent. ... Goalie Cassidy Cyert was solid, making 35 saves in the loss. ... These teams meet again on Jan. 15 in Winona.

FARIBAULT at RED WING
3 p.m., Prairie Island Arena
Records: Faribault (0-0-0; 12-12-2 last season); Red Wing (0-0-0; 4-23-0 last season).
Notes: This is the season opener for both teams and Red Wing's first game as a member of the Big Nine Conference. ... The Falcons have two of their top three scorers back, Sr. F Christian Von Ruden (29-20--49) and Sr. F Tyler Becker (7-20--27). ... Faribault also has both of its goalies back who played last season, Sr. Chase Batchelder (6-5-1, 4.03 GAA, .878 save pct.) and Jr. Adam Johannsen (5-6-1, 3.62, .908). ... The Wingers top returning scorers are Sr. F Dylan Goggin (7-13--20) and Sr. F Tristan Rehder (9-5--14). Sr. G Adam Defore (4-22-0, .856 save pct.) also returns.


AROUND THE STATE

* No. 16-AA Burnsville at No. 4-AA Hill-Murray, 7:30 p.m.: The season opener for both teams. Burnsville finished 19-7-1 last season and lost to Bloomington Jefferson in the Section 2AA semifinals. Hill-Murray was 24-4-0 last season and the top seed in Section 4AA; it lost to third-seeded Stillwater in the Section 4AA final.

* No. 15-A Delano/Rockford at No. 12-A Blake, 4 p.m.: This is the season opener for both teams and a rematch of a Section 2A quarterfinal playoff game from last spring, which D/R won 5-2.

October 21, 2014

High School Football picks | Section quarterfinal edition

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

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

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

SECTION 1AAAAA

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

SECTION 1AAAA

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

SECTION 1AAA

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

SECTION 1AA

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

SECTION 2AA

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

SECTION 1A

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

SECTION 1 9-MAN

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

**********

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

SECTION 1AAAAA

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

SECTION 1AAAA

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

SECTION 1AAA

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

SECTION 1AA

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

SECTION 2AA

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

SECTION 1A

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

SECTION 1 9-MAN

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

**********

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

SECTION 1AAAAA

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

SECTION 1AAAA

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

SECTION 1AAA

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

SECTION 1AA

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

SECTION 2AA

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

SECTION 1A

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

SECTION 1 9-MAN

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

October 10, 2014

High School Football picks | Week 7

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

This week's games:

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 12, 2014

Feldy and Phersy's High School Football picks | Week 3

FELDY: Our luck is bound to change, but Phersy and I are both off to pretty good starts. Phersy cheated last week and picked up a game on me. He went 7-0 last week, while I was 6-1. That leaves Phersy at 13-1 and Feldy at 12-2 through two weeks. Maybe we'll get some separation this week, though I doubt it. We always seem to end up tied somehow.

Phersy picks first this week. Here are this week's games:

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* Rochester John Marshall (1-1) at Austin (1-1)

* Rochester Century (1-1) at Red Wing (1-1)

SFA RED

* Plainview-Elgin-Millville (2-0) at Lake City (2-0)

* Kasson-Mantorville (1-1) at Rochester Lourdes (2-0)

SFA WHITE

* Pine Island (1-1) at Kenyon-Wanamingo (1-1)

* St. Charles (0-2) at Zumbrota-Mazeppa (0-2)

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Grand Meadow (2-0) at Mabel-Canton (2-1)

* * * * * * * * * * 

 PHERSY: Feldy, this is a lead I will never relinquish...

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

* Rochester John Marshall 36, Austin 35: Ugh, I knew you were gonna put this game up there Feldy. Austin has a great offense, led by Brandon Edgar and Nate Conner. But the defense is struggling. And injuries could slow that defense even worse. I think the athletes at JM's skill positions will win out. Barely.

* Rochester Century 21, Red Wing 6: The Panthers will control the line of scrimmage and win against the Wingers, who are coming off an impressive win last week.

SFA RED

* Plainview-Elgin-Millville 20, Lake City 8: This is one of my favorite games of the week. But I think PEM is very solid this year and will push Stewartville in the Red.

* Kasson-Mantorville 20, Rochester Lourdes 18: Interesting game. K-M will look to bounce back after last week's thrashing. Another fantastic game in the Red.

SFA WHITE

* Kenyon-Wanamingo 21, Pine Island 19: Love this game too ... I guess I love em all this week. Pine Island will be looking to bounce back, but K-W is hittin its stride. Both solid clubs

* St. Charles 7, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 6: This was my toughest pick ... and I am 100 percent certain Feldy will just pick the opposite of me here.

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Grand Meadow 29, Mabel-Canton 22: I think this will be a better game than people think. But I'll still go with GM.

* * * * * * * * * *

FELDY: Not really sure how to pick a lot of these games. Might leave it up to my 2-year-old; she usually does better than me anyway.

BIG NINE

* Rochester JM 28, Austin 26: This was my toughest decision of the week. I flip-flopped more than those pretty white sandals Phersy wears around the office in the summer time. In the end, I'll take JM's defense and its ability to produce big plays. Plus, it's Week 3 under a new coaching staff in a new system. The Rockets should be getting comfortable. This game is big for both teams in terms of section playoff seeding, too, so some urgency should be involved on both sides.

* Rochester Century 30, Red Wing 14: If the Panthers can hang onto the ball like they did last week (after some turnover issues in Week 1), they should win this one handily and improve to 2-1.

SFA RED

* P-E-M 18, Lake City 15: Just when I thought I couldn't struggle any more with a pick this week than the JM/Austin game, here comes this one. Lake City has played a pair of close games, and they'll keep this one tight, too, but I'll take P-E-M with a late score to win on the road.

* Lourdes 23, K-M 20: What's with all these early-season showdowns in the Red? This seems like it should be a last-week-of-the-season game. It's a coin toss to me. I'll take Lourdes, making K-M probably the best two-loss team in the state.

SFA WHITE

* Kenyon-Wanamingo 28, Pine Island 23: Another tough one to pick. K-W played a good Lake City team tough in the season opener and I think the Knights are playing with a lot of confidence. 

* Zumbrota-Mazeppa 16, St. Charles 14: Yep, I was going the opposite of Phersy here. Both of these teams should be motivated to get their first 'W' of the season. Z-M has had a tough opening to its schedule, playing road games powerful Stewartville and Lewiston-Altura. The Cougars' offense has to be itching to score. 

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

* Grand Meadow 38, Mabel-Canton 31: Sadly, I agree with Phersy on this one. (Sad that I agree with him, not sad that it'll be a good game). It'll be a closer game than some expect, but I'll stick with the defending state champs until someone proves they're better.

February 05, 2014

Boys Hockey | Looking at potential Section 1A, 1AA matchups

Posted by: Feldman

There are still 10 days left in the boys hockey regular season, and a couple of key games remain that will impact the seeding process in both Section 1A and 1AA, but since I start thinking about this stuff the minute the Kiwanis Holiday Tournament finishes, I thought we'd try to map out some of the possible seeding scenarios.

I do this with one big asterisk: * I can't figure out how or why some Section 1 coaches vote certain ways each year (there always seems to be a vote or two cast for purely selfish or political reasons). And I haven't seen all of these teams play, so I'm going by records, stats, wins over quality opponents, etc.

Let's start with 1AA.

SECTION 1AA

I started digging into stats and numbers and trends for 1AA teams, but, let's face it, this section goes through the No. 1-ranked team in the state, Lakeville North. I honestly don't know when the last time a Section 1 (A or AA) team was ranked No. 1 in the state. 

This North team is the best team to come through the section since the 2006-07 Century team that placed third at the state tournament. If I had a time machine, it wouldn't be the first thing I'd do, but I'd certainly go back, load that whole 06-07 Century team into the machine and zap it into 2013-14 to watch it play against this year's North team. I could write a whole blog post just about that fantasy matchup, and maybe I will at some point during the playoffs...

The most intriguing battle for playoff positioning in 1AA lies among three Big Nine Conference teams: Century, Mayo and Owatonna. Those three teams are fighting for the 4-5-6 seeds. There's a chance that all three of Rochester's 1AA teams -- Mayo, Century, JM -- may have to go on the road for the first round of the playoffs. I don't ever recall that happening, but we'll get to those teams in a bit. Let's start at the top:

No. 1 seed: Lakeville North. It's clear North is the No. 1 seed. It's 18-3-1 and the top-ranked team in the state. It has played three games against section opponents, outscoring them by a combined 25-2. The Panthers battled injuries early in the year and started the season 2-3-0. They haven't lost since Dec. 7, going unbeaten (18-0-1) in their last 19 games. They hold wins against No. 3 Hill-Murray and two over No. 5-ranked Burnsville. They tied No. 6 Blaine, 3-3, on Dec. 27. They've won 11 consecutive games since that tie, outscoring those 11 opponents 58-13. Their depth is their strength; they have 12 players with 11 or more points.

No. 2 seed: Farmington. The Tigers schedule isn't as difficult as Lakeville South's, but it's really hard not to give the 18-3-1 Tigers the nod for the No. 2 seed ahead of a South team that is 7-14-0. Farmington hasn't lost since Dec. 17, going 13-0-1 since. It outscores its opponents by an average of more than 3 goals per game (5.32-2.14). 

No. 3 seed: Lakeville South. The Cougars (7-14-0) get the No. 3 seed because of their 6-3 victory over Rochester Mayo. South has lost twice to North this season. South has a couple of the top players in the section, sophomore F Nick Swaney (12-28--40) and senior F Patrick Lauderdale (15-25--40).

Nos. 4, 5, 6: Owatonna, Mayo, Century. These seeds may not be clear until the final day of the regular season, Feb. 15, when Mayo and Century play for a second time this season. For Century (11-10-0) to have a shot at the No. 4 seed, it will have to beat Mayo and it might have to win its other three remaining games (at JM, vs. Albert Lea, at Mankato West). Of the three teams battling for the No. 4 seed (which means home-ice advantage in the section quarterfinals) Mayo likely controls its destiny. If the Spartans beat Owatonna (Feb. 11) and Century (Feb. 15), they should be in line for the No. 4 seed. Owatonna's next three games are against opponents with a combined 48 losses, so the Huskies should be 13-8-2 by the time they face Mayo. So, if Owatonna wins that game, it'll be 2-0 this season against Mayo and 1-1 vs. Century. That will likely be enough to give it the No. 4 seed and send all three Rochester teams in 1AA on the road for the opening round of section play.

No. 7 seed: Rochester John Marshall. The Rockets (5-15-1) are playing better than they were a month ago, but they're still struggling to finish scoring chances. That said, if the seeds play out the way I have them here, a JM at Farmington quarterfinal game would be really intriguing to watch. JM lost its season opener at Farmington by just one goal, 4-3, on Nov. 21.

No. 8 seed: Dodge County. The Wildcats (9-9-3) will, unfortunately, have their work cut out for them again in the opening round. They'll have to face Lakeville North in the opening round of the postseason.


SECTION 1A

The top two seeds in 1A are obvious, but after that, arguments can be made among two or more teams for seeds 3-13. I'd love to be a fly on the wall during the seeding meeting. 

No. 1 seed: New Prague. The No. 6-ranked Trojans are 15-4-3 with three games remaining. Their losses are to Eagan, ranked No. 18 in Class AA; Farmington, an 18-win Class AA team; Hermantown, the No. 1-ranked team in Class A; and St. Cloud Cathedal, No. 10 in Class A. The Trojans get the nod for the top seed because of their 2-1 win at Mankato West on Jan. 4.

No. 2 seed: Mankato West. It's tough to think a team that sits 20-2-0 and is unbeaten in the Big Nine right now won't get the top seed, but, to me, West's head-to-head loss to New Prague trumps the differential in number of victories. That said, West and New Prague appear to be on a collision course that ends on Feb. 26 at the Rochester Recreation Center. 

No. 3 seed: Albert Lea. The Tigers (11-7-1) are playing very good hockey right now, having won five in a row and six of their past seven. Four of those six wins are against Class AA teams (Owatonna, Rochester Century, Rochester JM and Rochester Mayo), all by at least two goals. The other two victories came against section foes Faribault and Austin. A.L. also has one of the top goalies in the section, junior Garrett Matz (11-7-1, 2.49 goals-against average, .923 save percentage).

No. 4 seed: Rochester Lourdes. Yes, the Eagles are just 5-14-1, and, yes, you need more than one hand to count the number of key players they've lost to injuries this season. But Lourdes has played a tough schedule (as usual) and it's younger players/guys who are new to varsity continue to improve. Now, can Lourdes find enough scoring to keep up with the top three seeds? That's going to be difficult. If the Eagles are going to beat some of the top teams in the section, they'll have to win close, low-scoring games. That means they'll need junior goalie Jack Burkel to steal a win or two for them in the postseason. Lourdes could make an argument for the No. 3 seed if it beats Albert Lea on Thursday.

No. 5 seed: Northfield. Northfield (9-12-1) has four losses to section opponents, but those are all to the four teams listed ahead of it here. The Raiders have played better over the past two weeks, following a six-game losing skid by winning three out of four. That one loss in the last four games was  3-2 setback to Farmington, a Class AA team that is 18-3-1.

No. 6 seed: Faribault. I'll make an argument for the 7-10-2 Falcons here, even though there are teams in the section with more wins (LeSueur-Henderson/SP has 11, La Crescent 13, but we'll get to those teams soon). I'd give Faribault the 6 seed because it has five wins against section opponents and a tie against Northfield. The Falcons four section losses have all come against teams with double-digit victory totals (two losses to Mankato West, one to Albert Lea, one to L-H/SP). The Falcons also have defeated Albert Lea once this season, which is another checkmark in their favor to get this seed.

No. 7: La Crescent. The Lancers (13-5-4) get the nod here ahead of LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter because of their victory over L-H/SP. La Crescent plays most of its game against Wisconsin opponents, so it's tough to guage exactly where it falls in this section, but aside from beating L-H/SP, its section wins are against Mankato East, Waseca and Faribault, all teams with losing records. The Lancers also tied a 3-win Winona team.

No. 8: LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter/TCU/Cleveland. The Bulldogs (11-7-2) are 4-3-0 against section opponents, including a win against Faribault. They also suffered a loss to Austin,which has just three wins. The Bulldogs are playing well over the past two weeks, going 4-1-1 in their past six games, and they won't be an easy opponent for anyone in the section.

No. 9: Mankato East. The Cougars (7-15-0) have wins over three of the four teams seeded below them.

No. 10: Red Wing. The Wingers (3-19-0) have lost to Northfield, New Prague and Lourdes. They beat Winona in a regular season game and also scored a big win earlier this season against Academy of Holy Angels. 

No. 11: Austin. The Packers (3-16-1) are 1-1-1 against the other two teams remaining, Winona and Waseca. Austin has split with Winona and tied Waseca. Austin also holds a victory over L-H/SP.

No. 12: Winona. The Winhawks (3-15-2) holds wins over Austin and Mankato East, and a tie against La Crescent.

No. 13: Waseca. The Bluejays (4-13-1) are just 1-5-1 against section opponents this season.

We'll have a much better idea a week from now of where all these teams will land. So keep a close on games the rest of this week and next week because there are still a handful of games remaining that will have an impact on these seedings.

January 27, 2014

Boys Hockey: JM-Mayo Round 3, A look at the Section 1AA playoff race

Posted by: Feldman

We're just more than 24 hours past the third meeting of the season between Rochester Mayo and Rochester John Marshall and things are beginning to clear up a bit in both the chase for the Big Nine Conference championship and seeding in the Section 1AA playoffs.

Mayo's 6-3 victory against JM on Saturday gave it a sweep of the three-game season series, barring another matchup in the playoffs, which is a reasonable possibility, depending upon how both teams fare over the next three weeks as the regular season draws to a close.

Two things stick out to me in a big-picture view after Saturday's game:

No. 1, John Marshall is a much-improved team from the last time it met Mayo, on Dec. 28 in the seventh-place game of the Kiwanis Festival. Mayo beat JM by a combined total of 16-3 in their first two meetings this season. Mayo may have won Saturday's game by three goals, but it felt more like a one-goal game.

JM was much more competitive on both ends of the ice. I thought Rockets senior forward Sam Broman was the best player on the ice, for either team, for most of the game. He scored two goals, hit the crossbar twice and just made things happen when he had the puck and even when he didn't. He made a huge play at a tipping point in the game. With JM down 3-0 and time running down in the second period, Broman beat a Mayo defender into the Spartans zone, cut hard to the net and got off a high backhand shot before Mayo goalie Eric Gibson could get a poke-check.

That goal pulled JM within 3-1 after two and brought some life back to the Rockets bench. They struck for two more in the first four minutes of the third to tie the score and they had Mayo reeling. JM's skaters did a tremendous job of taking away space from Mayo's speedy forwards, something that killed the Rockets in the first two games against Mayo this season.

JM dictated play for a good portion of the third, until it took a couple of penalties in the final five minutes and Mayo cashed in with power-play goals from Tommy Hanson and Logan Haskins.

The Rockets are getting better, without question. If they continue to improve, particularly in getting the puck to the net on the power play, they'll be a tough out in the section playoffs.

No. 2, I really, really want to see how good this Mayo team can be if it plays its hardest and its best for 51 minutes. The Spartans completely controlled the game in stretches, holding the puck in JM's zone for minutes at a time. Mayo's power play was off-kilter early on, but they scored on three of their last four power-play chances and finished the game 3-for-6 on the power play.

It hurt the Spartans somewhat that two of their top six forwards are out with injuries, Matt Rogers and Nick Newman. With those two guys back in the lineup, Mayo instantly has three solid lines that they can roll against the top teams in the conference and section. The Max Billings-Anthony Oliveto-Austyn Renn line can score and play defense. They played with a lot of confidence for most of last night's game. Jordan Korte also looks like a top-six forward, while Justin Rein also looked comfortable playing a lot of minutes.

Along with the top line of Tommy Hanson, Logan Haskins and Justyn Sweet, potentially Mayo is looking at 11 solid forwards that could take the ice at almost any time. That kind of depth is invaluable at playoff time.

Spartans senior goalie Eric Gibson appears to have seized the starting job. His numbers continue to get better and better, too, with his goals-against average settling down below 3.00.

As for the Mayo-JM rivalry, Mayo now holds a 55-53-1 lead in the all-time series. It has won eight in a row against JM and nine of the past 10. The longest winning streak in the rivalry is 14 in a row by Mayo from 1996-97 through 2001-02. The teams have played 101 times in the regular season and are tied 50-50-1 in those games. Also, for stat junkies, Mayo has outscored JM 364-341 in their 109 games.

As for the Section 1AA playoffs, a lot will clear up after Tuesday's Mayo at Lakeville South game.

It's clear that Lakeville North will be the No. 1 seed. I won't call it a Miracle On Ice situation, but it will take a monumental effort for any other Section 1AA team to knock North off. Whether it's South, Farmington, Mayo, Century, whoever, they'll have to play the game of their lives to beat North, ranked No. 3 in the state in the most recent AP state poll.

A South victory against Mayo on Tuesday will leave it and Farmington to claim the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds. Farmington already has victories over Mayo, Century, Owatonna and John Marshall.

A Mayo victory at South on Tuesday will muddy the seeding process a bit.

Farmington is 15-3-1 right now. The Tigers have a realistic shot at finishing the regular season with 19 or 20 victories. Lakeville South is 6-12-0 right now and will likely finish with 8 or 9 victories. It's tough to vote South ahead of Farmington.

So if Mayo beats South and can manage to beat Century and Owatonna down the stretch, the Spartans should be the No. 3 seed. That would also mean South and Century would likely be the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in some order. That would mean there would be no shot of another all-Lakeville section final.

Whew. (and by "whew" I mean "whew" as in, that was a lot of scenarios to ramble through, and I hope I didn't put you to sleep; not "whew" as in, "whew" we won't have to see another all-Lakeville section final.)

In other words, everything is clear as mud, but that mud will start to dilute quite a bit after Tuesday's game in Lakeville.