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7 posts categorized "Kiwanis Hockey Festival"

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 06, 2014

High School Hockey Today | Saturday, Dec. 6

Posted by: Feldman

Before we get into today's games, the brackets have finally been released for this year's Kiwanis Festival.

It will again feature a 12-team varsity field, with a Gold Division (8 teams, elimination-format) and a Blue Division (4 teams, round-robin format).

Here's how the field stacks up for this year's tourney, which runs Dec. 29-31:

(Games at Graham Arena I)
Quarterfinals, Dec. 29
Dodge County vs. New Richmond (Wis.), 12:30 p.m.
Park-Cottage Grove vs. Rochester John Marshall, 3 p.m.
Northland Pines (Wis.) vs. Rochester Century, 5:30 p.m.
Ashwaubenon (Wis.) vs. Rochester Mayo, 7:45 p.m.

(Games at Graham IV)
First day, Dec. 29
Eau Claire (Wis.) Memorial vs. Verona (Wis.), 3 p.m.
Rochester Lourdes vs. Fargo (N.D.) South, 7:30 p.m.

* * * * *


No. 10-A St. Cloud Cathedral at Rochester Lourdes
2 p.m., Graham Arena I
: Cathedral 0-3-0; Lourdes 1-1-1.
Last meeting: Cathedral topped Lourdes 3-0 on Dec. 7, 2013, at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud.
Head coaches: Cathedral, Eric Johnson (11th season, 187-66-9 overall); Lourdes, Josh Spaniol (6th season, 93-53-7).
Players to watch: Senior F Matt Fritz was the Crusaders second-leading scorer last season with 44 points in 32 games. He leads the team this season with two goals. He had eight points in six postseason games last year as Cathedral placed fourth at the Class A state tournament. ... Lourdes junior F Peter Alexander had a strong sophomore season and could be one of the breakout players for the Eagles this season. He has the ability to be a scorer; he had just nine points last season, but now has a full year of varsity hockey under his belt.
Notes: Cathedral is 0-3-0 to start the season, but its losses have come against three of the best teams in the state -- No. 7 New Prague, No. 1 East Grand Forks and No. 6 Mahtomedi. ... Cathedral didn't come close to beating any of those teams, though. It lost all three by at least four goals and by a combined total of 19-5. ... Cathedral has four of its top six scorers back from last season. ... Lourdes F Mason Carstens missed Thursday's win at Mound-Westonka with an illness, but could be back in the lineup today. ... This is the home opener for Lourdes, which plays seven games in the next 17 days.

Rochester Century at Northfield
2 p.m., Northfield Ice Arena
: Century 2-0-0 Big Nine Conference, 3-1-0 overall; Northfield 1-1-0, 2-2-0.
Last meeting: This is the first meeting between the teams as Big Nine Conference foes and according to a check of Century's records, appears to be the first meeting ever between these teams in boys hockey.
Head coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus (4th season, 40-39-4 overall); Northfield, Bryce Barry (8th season, 85-101-4).
Players to watch: It's an obvious choice, but Century senior F Jake Roth is on fire early this season. He is tied for ninth in the state with 13 points through four games (including six goals) and has recorded three or more points in three of Century's four games. ... Northfield junior Erik Bartho, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, has scored in three of his team's four games. He has nearly matched his goal total from a year ago (5) already.
Notes: Century plays four of its next five games on the road. ... Nine players have already scored at least one goal for the Panthers, while an incredible 16 players have at least one point. ... Northfield has played four close games, the past two decided by one goal. ... The Trojans hold wins against Albert Lea (4-2) and Bloomington Kennedy (2-1). They lost to Rochester Mayo (3-0) and New Prague (3-2). ... Trojans goalies Ryan Bielenberg and Matthew Foss have split time equally.

Richfield at Dodge County
3 p.m., Kasson Ice Arena
: Richfield 1-2-0 overall; Dodge County 1-4-0.
Head coaches: Richfield, Mark Johnson (3rd season, 17-37-1 overall); D.C., Eric Hofmann (5th season, 37-65-6).
Notes: This is the first of three scheduled meetings between these teams this season. They'll play again on Dec. 20 at Richfield and on Jan. 10 at Kasson. ... These teams split two meetings last season; Dodge County won at home 11-7, while Richfield won at home 6-5. ... Richfield is led by a pair of players with four points each -- Maxwell Krueger (2-2--4) and Bailey Olson (1-3--4). ... Eight players have recorded at least a point for Dodge County this season. ... The Wildcats are led by Drew Kirmse (3-0--3).

June 12, 2012

H.S. Hockey | Some notes (and changes to Kiwanis Festival lineup)

Posted by: Feldman

Whew. That was a fun Stanley Cup Final, eh? Too bad the last game had to be the least enjoyable of all, but congrats to L.A., what a run for the Kings as a No. 8 seed. And I'm sure glad I picked them to win; it's in print and everything (but don't go back and look at my prediction, just take my word for it. Please.)

On to some local hockey stuff.

* A reminder: The Minnesota Wild Road Tour will stop in Rochester on June 25. Players Matt Kassian and Charlie Coyle will be here, as well as former player Antti Laaksonen and TV color analyst Mike Greenlay will be here. They'll stop at the Wells Fargo on 55th St. NW from 4:15-5:15 p.m. More info. on the Road Tour can be found here.

* The annual Don Lucia Model Camp began on Monday, with 108 players from around the state (and some from bordering states) divided into six teams of 18 players. Players from our area/Section 1 who are competing this year: Jared Bromberg, F, Rochester John Marshall (will be a junior this fall); Soren Colstrup, F, Owatonna (junior); Luke LIjewski, F, New Prague (junior); Ryan Jutting, F, Mankato West (senior); Andrew Scofield, F, Northfield (senior); Ryan Drazan, D, New Prague (junior); Austin Kilian, F, New Prague (junior); and Colton Schmidt, F, New Prague (junior).

For more information on the camp, including full rosters for each team, click here.

* First off, congrats to former Lakeville North goalie Charlie Lindgren, who has committed to play at St. Cloud State. The Huskies and coach Bob Motzko, an Austin native, are getting a steal. Lindgren was a pain in the side for Section 1AA teams for four years; I'm certain the Rochester teams were happy to see him graduate.

Lindgren's rise to a D-I scholarship reminds me of the path former Rochester Century standout Alex Kangas took. All of us in this part of the state realized how special Lindgren was from the time he stepped in the goal as a freshman. Two years ago, we watched him nearly single-handedly lift his team past Lakeville South in the section final, then nearly single-handedly win two consy games at the state tournament. I can't wait to see how he does in St. Cloud and the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which begins play in the 2013-14 season.

* This is pretty cool: The Ottawa Citizen newspaper recently reviewed the book "Scarlet Ice," written by Roger Dier. It's the story of the 1995 Mankato West hockey team, the issues it had on and off the ice, and more importantly, the story of its sparkplug player, John Janavaras. Just 15, Janavaras was a workhorse. He also died that year after a outbreak of bacterial meningitis swept through the school. Read the review, then check out the book. The writing is quite good in spots, not so good in others, but Dier has put a tremendous story in print.

* For college puck fans, I talked with Minnesota State, Mankato, beat writer Shane Frederick (follow him on Twitter @Puckato -- great follow) last week at the state softball tournament. I asked him how things were going so far with new Mavs head coach Mike Hastings officially on the job. He said it sounds like MSU has seen a spike in season ticket sales; the real test might be to watch the sales of single-game tickets. We know MSU can sell tickets when the Gophers, Wisconsin and North Dakota come to town. How will Hastings' presence impact the sales for games against teams like Michigan Tech or Anchorage, though? I suppose it all comes down to winning.

Frederick also said he expects that MSU assistant coaches Darren Blue and Todd Knott will be retained, at least through this season, if not longer. It would be tough for Hastings to start searching for assistant(s) now, anyway, with a short time before players report to campus. Plus, St. Cloud State is already on the hunt for a top assistant, after Steve Johnson left to join head coach Dean Blais in Omaha.


I fully admit I'm a dork, and I spend time in the middle of June digging through high school hockey schedules five months in advance of the season beginning. But as I did, I noticed a handful of teams who have been regulars at the Rochester Kiwanis Festival do not have the tourney listed on their schedules for this December.

I don't have the AA field (though I'll take a guess at most of it) yet, but I do have a tentative list of teams for the Class A field. I'll post what I know (and what I think I know) and let you formulate your opinions:

CLASS AA: Rochester Century, Rochester John Marshall, Rochester Mayo and Eau Claire Memorial all have the Festival listed on their schedules. I don't know this for certain, but I'm assuming long-time Festival attendees New Richmond (Wis.) and Fargo (N.D.) South will return. Those teams are a part of the Festival; it wouldn't be the same without them here. Eastview does not have its non-conference schedule posted as of yet, so there's a good chance the Lightning could return.

The eighth team in the AA field could be Richfield. The Spartans at one point had "Rochester tournament" listed on their schedule, but it noted "vs. Rochester Century" ... that has been removed from their schedule as of now. They only have 22 games listed -- three short of the 25 allowed by MSHSL rules -- so perhaps they're seeking a different tourney, or are waiting to confirm a spot in the Kiwanis? 

Prior Lake -- a team I was really hoping would return this year -- is out. The Lakers have the Schwan's Cup Silver Division listed on their schedule.

CLASS A: Here's the way the Class A field shakes out, tentatively, I'm told. Looks like long-time tourney participant Albert Lea is out, as are St. Michael-Albertville and Northfield, both of which were in it last year. Albert Lea is scheduled to play in Simley's tournament, in Inver Grove Heights.

The Kiwanis Class A tournament appears to include the following: Lourdes (defending champ), Dodge County, New Ulm (2010 champ), Ashwaubenon (Wis.), Verona (Wis.), WSFLG (Wis.), Northland Pines (Wis.) and Kansas City.

That would mean half the field has turned over. Lourdes (defending champ), Ashwaubenon (4th place last year), New Ulm (6th) and Dodge County (8th) are back; the other four teams are new.

Verona could be a nice addition; it went 22-1 in the regular season last year and qualified for the state tournament, where it lost in the semifinals to eventual state champion Notre Dame Academy.

That's all I know for now; I'll pass on more about the tournament as I find out.

December 29, 2011

Kiwanis Festival, Day 1

Posted by: Feldman

Day 1 of the 2011 Kiwanis Festival is in the books, with a couple of close games and a few that weren't close.

We saw 78 total goals scored; 48 in the four games in the Class A bracket, 30 in the Class AA bracket. I didn't see all 78 go in, but it feels like it (and, no, that's not a complaint. I'll suck it up and take 10 hours of watching hockey if I have to).

As we expected might be the case, Rochester Mayo and Eau Claire Memorial put on the game of the day. I, and most everybody at Graham I, thought we were headed for a shootout in the second game of the day, but ECM's Mike Kapla scored with 38.7 seconds to go in OT to send the Old Abes (don't ask me, I don't know what an Old Abe is, either) to the semifinals.

Some links to the stories that will appear in today's paper (and if you're heading out to the Festival, you can pick up a complementary copy of the P-B at the Graham Arena complex):

* Class AA roundup This turned into a short feature-type story on Kapla, Memorial's junior defenseman who was selected by Sioux City in last spring's USHL Draft. Kapla also played in the Upper Midwest Elite League this fall. One note that I couldn't fit in the story: Kapla's dad is a Minnesota native and the family has had season tickets to the Gophers hockey games for years. Kapla said his dream is to play D-I college hockey for the U of M.

* Class A roundup I led the Class A roundup with Lourdes, which did something quite impressive tonight. I've never seen 17 players get on the scoresheet, but the Eagles managed that against Richfield, in a 12-2 win. They had 17 players record at least one point each. That's probably some sort of Kiwanis Festival record, but I don't have deep enough archives to check, so let's go with it as a record. Lourdes was able to get its third and fourth lines a lot of ice time and those guys produced tonight, as did all of the team's defensemen. It was an impressive showing that I'll get into in more detail one day this weekend or next week.

Some Faceoff Blog awards from Day 1:

* Game of the Day: Eau Claire Memorial 2, Mayo 1. If I had more space to write about this game in print, Mayo goalie Case Hansen would have received a lot more ink. He was tremendous, stopping 35 shots and keeping Mayo in the game when it struggled to get anything going offensively in the first two periods. Hansen, a junior, is staking his claim to that starting spot. Senior Michael DeBusman has played well, but Hansen has been really good in his past couple of starts. The few rebounds that Hansen didn't control on Wednesday were cleared by his defensemen. The game-winning goal that Kapla scored was just a good shot. Kapla and Charley Grasskamp worked a nice give-and-go and Kapla ripped a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle that beat Hansen to the short side. It was fitting that a good goal ended a really good game.

* Goalie of the day: Case Hansen, Mayo. See above. Hansen was outstanding in the Spartans' loss.

* Player of the day: Hayden Ashworth, Century. The speedy sophomore was all over the ice for the Panthers. He had a hand in all six of their goals in a 6-3 victory against New Richmond. Ashworth had a hat trick and three assists. He scored twice in the first period, when Century built a 3-0 lead, then scored an empty-netter in the third to seal the victory.

* Play of the day: ECM's game-winning goal in OT. It's late (early, actually) and this is the one play that keeps coming to mind when I try to think of the best goal I saw today (yesterday, actually). The give-and-go between Grasskamp and Kapla was worked nicely, in crunch time of a well-played game. ... Lourdes' junior Jason Samuelson's goal on a powerful slapshot also comes to mind because it caught me off guard. I can't remember seeing Samuelson wind up with a big slap shot like that before. He put some zip on it; it'd be fun to see that more often.

Hey, let's go back to the rink in, say, 8 hours. Who's with me? C'mon, you must have some sick days to use up before year's end, right? Push the paperwork aside and come to Graham Arena. I'm particularly looking forward to the two Class AA semifinals. Memorial and Prior Lake (4:45 p.m.) are both stocked with big, bruising guys. That should be a physical, hard-hitting contest. They'll be followed by Fargo South and Century (7 p.m.), who will meet for the fifth time in the past six years. That's also always an intense matchup. Get your seats early.

December 28, 2011

It's Tourney Time!

Posted by: Feldman

So, we're a little more than 12 hours away from the first puck drop of the Kiwanis Festival. It's always a fun time of year for me — three straight days of nothing but hockey. And sometimes I actually call this work (don't tell the bosses I said that, please).

If you can't be at all of the Festival games, I'll provide as many updates as I can via Twitter (@PBFeldy), then I'll try to recap the tourney each night here on the blog. I'll probably miss the opening game in each bracket today, because of a doctor appointment for Baby Feldy that has to happen today, but I'm hoping to be to the rink by the time the puck drops for the Eau Claire Memorial vs. Mayo game, at 3:15 p.m.

Games start at 12:30 p.m., with Albert Lea facing Dodge County in the Class A bracket opener at Graham Arena IV. Over at Graham I, play in the Class AA bracket begins at 1 p.m. with two South Suburban Conference rivals facing off, Prior Lake vs. Eastview.

As for tourney preview stuff ... well, you want links? I'll give you links, mainly because I don't feel like re-typing all this stuff!

Tuesday's P-B featured a story on Century senior captain Blake Heroff, who has battled through some pretty nasty injuries the past couple years. He's finally healthy and enjoying his senior season. He's a heart-and-soul type of guy on a Century team whose expectations seem to grow with each game.

Also on Tuesday, I had capsule profiles of all 16 teams in the Kiwanis Festival, as well as a tournament schedule and three players to watch in each bracket.

In today's (Wednesday's) paper, I'll have a story on Rochester Mayo coach Lorne Grosso, who is itching to get back to the rink on a full-time basis after having quadruple bypass surgery on Nov. 28.

Here are the links to all of the pre-tournament coverage:

Grosso recovering well from quadruple bypass surgery

Healthy Heroff leads Century

Class A bracket team profiles

Class AA bracket team profiles

November 30, 2011

High School Hockey | Kiwanis Festival pairings

Posted by: Feldman

The brackets are set for the 2011 Kiwanis Hockey Festival, Dec. 28-30 at the Graham Arena complex in Rochester. 

The only change in the lineup of teams from what I was given a few weeks back, is in the Class A bracket, where Ashwaubenon, Wis., has replaced Sioux Falls, S.D. Ashwaubenon is a nice addition. The Jaguars were 19-4 last season and had two players score more than 50 points. They opened this season on Nov. 22, with a 3-2, OT loss, to Appleton United. The only downside I can see to this is that Ashwaubenon is about 3 miles from Green Bay. :-)

If you're already looking for players to keep an eye on during the Festival, how about Jaguars' senior forward Filip Chlupac. He's listed at 6-feet-1, 220 pounds. And, by the way, he had 52 points last season. Nice.

Ashwabenon is the third Wisconsin team in the Kiwanis field this year, joining mainstay New Richmond and Eau Claire Memorial, which was a first-time entrant last year. Memorial is currently ranked No. 4 in the state.

We'll have plenty more on the Festival as it draws near. For now, here are the pairings. So mark your calendars. And practice your fake cough/stuffy nose voice so you can skip out of work to watch some hockey. (click on "CLASS AA" or "CLASS A" to take you to the actual brackets)

Wednesday, Dec. 28
(second team listed is the home team)

1 p.m. -- Prior Lake vs. Eastview
3:15 p.m. -- Eau Claire Memorial vs. Rochester Mayo 
5:30 p.m. -- Fargo (N.D.) South vs. Rochester John Marshall
7:45 p.m. -- New Richmond vs. Rochester Century 
Thursday, Dec. 29
Consolation games at 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.; semifinals at 4:45 and 7 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 30
Games at Noon (7th place), 2:15 p.m. (3rd place), 4:30 p.m. (5th place) and 7 p.m. (championship)

Wednesday, Dec. 28
(second team listed is the home team)
12:30 p.m. -- Albert Lea vs. Dodge County
2:45 p.m. -- St. Michael-Albertville vs. New Ulm
5 p.m. -- Ashwaubenon vs. Northfield
7:15 p.m. --  Richfield vs. Rochester Lourdes
Thursday, Dec. 29
Consolation games at Noon and 2:15 p.m.; Semifinals at 4:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 30
Games at 11:30 a.m. (7th place); 2 p.m. (3rd place); 4:15 p.m. (5th place); and 6:30 p.m. (championship). 

As always, there is a JV bracket for the teams in the Class AA tournament. You can find that bracket here.

October 27, 2011

H.S. Hockey | Changes made to Kiwanis field; should bigger changes come?

Posted by: Feldman

I know football playoffs are in full swing, but we're exactly 18 days away from the opening of boys high school hockey practice, so I'm starting to think ahead already. OK, I started to think ahead to hockey season weeks, er, months ago.

A couple of quick things today -- first, a list; second, a question for high school hockey fans in the area.

Here is the list of teams competing in this year's Kiwanis Hockey Festival at the Graham Arena Complex, the week between Christmas and New Year's. A couple of noticeable changes jump out at me. First, two-time defending Class AA bracket champion Brainerd is not in the field this year. Second, it has been replaced in the AA bracket by Eau Claire Memorial, which was the runner-up in the Class A bracket last season. Defending Class A tournament champ New Ulm is back. Here are both fields, though the teams are listed in no particular order, as I haven't seen a bracket yet:

Class AA -- Century, JM, Mayo, Fargo (ND) South, Prior Lake, Eastview, Eau Claire (Wis) Memorial, New Richmond.

Class A -- Lourdes, Dodge County, Albert Lea, Northfield, St. Michael-Albertville, New Ulm, Richfield, Sioux Falls (S.D.).

Now, this leads me to my big question for area hockey fans: Is it time the Kiwanis tournament cut down to eight teams?

I know there's no easy answer to this one. There are pros and cons to keeping two divisions or cutting down to one, and, believe me, I'm well aware of the politics that are involved should they cut down to an eight-team tournament, meaning all four Rochester teams would have the possibility of facing one another. 

I also don't have knowledge of the financial aspect of dropping to eight teams; in other words, would the local Kiwanis chapter earn less money to donate to local charities if it eliminated eight teams, thus eliminating the ticket revenue from those teams' fans?

On the flip side, it's eight less teams to house for three nights, 12 less games to pay officials for and one less rink to rent for three days (they could still have a JV tournament, just run it in Graham IV, where the Class A field now plays).

The upside to cutting to eight teams? For one, you'd have a Rochester team in every game on opening day, and the field would stronger. There are teams that make playing in this tournament a tradition -- Fargo South, New Richmond (which has even brought its band often in previous years), Albert Lea. And Eau Claire Memorial was a very nice addition to the Class A field last year; it's too bad there's no potential rematch this year with them and Lourdes, or them and New Ulm.

Staying at 16 teams, with an A and a AA bracket, preserves tradition and gives local hockey fans a chance to see some teams they wouldn't otherwise see during the season. Personally, it's one of my favorite times of the year, spending three days at Graham, bouncing back and forth from rink to rink. And it's a well-run tournament; the organizers have it down-pat. It's a lot of work to keep 16 teams (actually 24, when you count the JV tourney), officials and volunteers organized for three days.

Anyhow, Rochester-area hockey fans, I want your thoughts on this. Feel free to post them here on the blog or e-mail me ( I won't print or post your name or any comments you send, if you don't want me to. I'm just curious as to how local hockey fans feel.