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135 posts categorized "Lourdes"

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.

February 17, 2015

High School Hockey | Breaking down the Section 1A tournament

Posted by: Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIRST ROUND

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

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

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

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

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

QUARTERFINALS

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

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

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

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

SEMIFINALS

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

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

CHAMPIONSHIP

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

* * *

My apologies to Northfield for likely jinxing you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

December 29, 2014

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

Posted by: Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

* A team-by-team preview of the Festival

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

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

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

Dodge County senior F Colin Sherden:

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

 

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

* * *

Dodge County coach Eric Hofmann

 

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

 

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.

October 10, 2014

High School Football picks | Week 7

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

This week's games:

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

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

SFA RED DIVISION

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

SFA WHITE DIVISION

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

SFA BLUE DIVISION

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

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

* * * * *

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

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

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

SFA RED DIVISION

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

SFA WHITE DIVISION

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

SFA BLUE DIVISION

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

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

* * * * * * * 

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

BIG NINE

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

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

SFA RED

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

SFA WHITE

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

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

SFA BLUE

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

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

September 26, 2014

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

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

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

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

SFA RED

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

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

SFA BLUE

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

SFA WHITE

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

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

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

**********

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

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

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

SFA RED

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

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

SFA BLUE

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

SFA WHITE

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

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE

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

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

* * * * *

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

BIG NINE

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

SFA RED

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

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

SFA BLUE

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

SFA WHITE

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

SOUTHEAST

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

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

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.

July 25, 2014

High School Hockey | 3 from Rochester make Elite League

Posted by: Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All three will be seniors this season.

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

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

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 18, 2014

Thoughts, pics from Hockey Day Minnesota '14

Posted by: Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HAPPY HOCKEY DAY!!

 

MStreit

 

VanGalder

 

First_look

 

Warmups