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4 posts categorized "Major Midget hockey"

September 11, 2012

Hockey | NAHL Showcase to feature 129 Minnesotans

Posted by: Feldman

The Austin Bruins begin their 2012-13 North American Hockey League season in just more than 24 hours. All 24 NAHL teams will converge on the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine for the annual junior hockey showcase.

The Bruins open their season at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday against Amarillo (Texas). Here's my Bruins/Showcase preview from today's Austin P-B print edition. By the way, Bruins coach Chris Tok had some nice things to say about former Rochester John Marshall forward Zach Johnson. Tok mentioned Johnson as one of three young forwards who have stuck out in camp so far. Tok said Johnson has done a nice job at center, opening up space for his linemates and setting them up for scoring chances.

Here's a link to the Showcase website, where you can find schedules and Internet broadcast information.

According to Let's Play Hockey, this year's Showcase will feature 129 players from Minnesota, including five from Rochester -- Johnson and Drew Anderson (Century) from the Austin Bruins; goalie Brock Kautz (Century) from the Janesville (Wis.) Jets; defenseman Rory Vesel (Lourdes) from the Bismarck Bobcats; and defenseman Alec Brandrup (Lourdes) from the Coulee Region Chill (Onalaska, Wis.). Another former standout Big Nine Conference/Section 1 forward, Eric Carlson of Albert Lea, will play for Janesville this season.

Janesville will face Austin on Saturday, the final day of the Showcase, at 7 p.m. Vesel and Brandrup both play for Central Division teams, so they'll play in and against Austin often during the regular season.

Here's a link to Let's Play Hockey's list of the 129 Minnesotans who will play in the Showcase.

The Showcase is well-attended by college coaches and scouts, and professional scouts. This year's Showcase will feature far more than just the 24 NAHL teams. There will be 36 teams from the North American Prospects Hockey League competing at the Tier I 18U major midget level and 16U midget minor levels. Eight teams from the Upper Midwest High School Elite League will play this weekend, too, as will all six 18U midget major teams from the Tier I High Performance Hockey League (Compuware, CYA, Honeybaked, Little Caesars, Mission and Team Illinois).

September 05, 2012

Local hockey | Emptying my notebook

Posted by: Feldman

Lots of hockey notes that I've let build up that we need to get to here. Now that all of our high school fall sports previews are out of the way, I can get back to some hockey stuff that I've been meaning to get to for, in some cases, months!

Here we go ...

• John Marshall boys coach Jay Ness didn't really celebrate the Fourth of July this summer. He did his celebrating a week or so later, when he spent a few days in Sault Ste Marie, Mich. Ness was there to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Lake Superior State University's 1992 NCAA Division I hockey championship. It marked the school's second national title in four years, and it would go on to win another, in 1994. Ness played on the 1994 team, as well, as a senior. He finished his four-year LSSU career with 24 goals and 38 assists for 62 points. That '92 LSSU team was coached by Jeff Jackson, now the head coach at Notre Dame. Among the star players on that team: Brian Rolston, who has played more than 1,200 games in the NHL, including 241 with the Minnesota Wild. Rolston had 46 points for the '92 Lakers championship team; Ness had 19 that year (nine goals, 10 assists).

• As things change here at the P-B, my duties are expanding to include coverage of the North American Hockey League's Austin Bruins. The coverage of our local and area high schools won't suffer; but you'll probably notice more blog posts and, if you follow me on Twitter (@PBFeldy), more tweets about the Bruins and the NAHL this season. You likely won't see many stories on the Bruins appear in the actual Rochester print edition; my coverage will be mainly for the Austin edition of the P-B (yes, we put out a separate edition each day in Austin). The stories I do write on the Bruins, I'll link to them here, because ...

• Two former Rochester high school players will be playing really close to home this season. John Marshall's Zach Johnson and former Century standout Drew Anderson have made the Austin Bruins' roster. In addition to this blog, you can keep up with the Bruins on their web site.

• Four current Rochester Lourdes players have been selected as featured players in this year's Minnesota Hockey Hub/Breakdown Sports 2012-13 High School Hockey Guide. Defensemen Karl Krecke and Griff Slightam, and forwards Jason Samuelson and Alex Funk will be the first Eagles players to be featured in the book. We'll link to the book here when it becomes available for purchase. Funk, Samuelson and Krecke begin play in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League this weekend.

A bunch of former Lourdes players are still playing and/or are in new places this fall:

• Two of the team's leading scorers from last year, forward Landon Farrell and defenseman Justin Dewitz, will play AAA midgets with Russell Stover this season.

• Former all-state defenseman Rory Vesel is back for his second season with the NAHL's Bismarck (N.D.) Bobcats. Vesel was just starting to play very well last year when he suffered a broken jaw and missed a couple of months. We'll get to watch Vesel a bunch this year, as the Bobcats are in the same division as Austin.

• Former Lourdes defenseman Alec Brandrup is playing close to home, too. He's with the Coulee Region Chill of the NAHL. Coulee Region is based in Onalaska, Wis.

• Another former Eagles d-man, Pete Spratte, will be a freshman at Lake Superior State University this fall. LSSU plays in the CCHA, which will merge into the new-look WCHA after this season. That means Spratte will get to play in Mankato each season, against MSU, Mankato, and former Rochester Mayo standout Charlie Thauwald. Former La Crescent star Eriah Hayes is a senior at MSU, Mankato, this year.

• Ex-Eagles netminder Nick Heimer is a freshman again. Heimer was offered a spot recently at Hamline University and he accepted. I'm going to try to get in touch with Nick in the coming days to find out what he thinks of finally playing college hockey and just how he ended up at Hamline.

• Former Lourdes forward Tyler Voigt will return to Tufts University for his second season of Division III hockey.

• Ex-Lourdes standout F Brandon Bahnemann will be a senior at St. Thomas this year. The 2007 Lourdes grad started his college hockey career at Division I Bentley University, but transferred back closer to home and will close his college career this season.

• Mankato West grad Tyler Bruggeman, the goalie who backstopped the Austin Bruins to the NAHL Central Division championship series last spring, will play college hockey at Division III St. Scholastica in Duluth.

• Former Rochester Century goalie Brock Kautz will play in the NAHL, too, with the Janesville Jets.

• Former Century d-man Connor Faupel will play with the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League again this season. Faupel helped the team win the Turnbull Cup, the league's playoff championship, last season and advance to the Royal Bank Cup, the tournament that crowns Canada's Junior A champion.

• Century's Dalton Travis is on the Rochester Ice Hawks opening-day roster. I'm guessing he's doing a before-and-after deal, where he'll play with the Hawks until the high school season starts, then return to them after the high school season ends. I haven't confirmed that, yet, but I'd bet that's the case.

• Red Wing native Ryan Kesti is entering his third season with Northern Michigan University. Kesti lettered for the first time last year, when he had two points in 34 games.

• Byron's DJ Vold is a key returning forward for the Granite City Lumberjacks of the NA3HL. The 'Jacks won the NA3 title last year, in addition to winning the league's Central Division championship.

That's a fairly comprehensive list of area players who are playing in college, juniors or elsewhere this fall. I haven't scoured all college and junior rosters yet, so this isn't complete, but, if you know of former Rochester or area players who are competing in juniors, college or pro hockey, let me know. I'll start compiling a more comprehensive list soon.

June 23, 2011

Hockey | NHL Draft notes, Aikens settling in Omaha (UPDATED — up to 19)

FELDY: Any of our Faceoff Faithful headed up to The X for the NHL Draft this weekend? If so, you're probably as excited as me. This will be my first NHL Draft to attend and/or cover for the paper, so I'm looking forward to seeing all of that NHL brainpower in one facility.

I'll have a bunch of NHL Draft preview stuff in Friday's Post-Bulletin, so check that out (please, please, please), and I'll be up in St. Paul Friday and Saturday to cover the draft, so check out Saturday and Monday's print editions, too, for that coverage.

I'll also be posting here on the blog throughout the weekend, hopefully live from The X both days. I don't know exactly what the setup is going to be like for media or where I'll be stationed, but I'll do my best to get on here and/or Twitter (@PBFeldy).

The draft begins at 6 p.m. Friday (on Versus), for Round 1, and 10:30 a.m. Saturday (NHL Network), for Rounds 2-7.

As I was doing some research for my draft preview stuff, I found some facts that I thought Rochester hockey fans might be interested in.

(Update: I had forgotten that Scott Schneider was drafted, as well as goalie Jeff Kruesel, so my total of 14 goes up to 16. Much thanks to former JM star/coach Scott Lecy for reminding me that Schneider was drafted, as well as to Jeff Kruesel's parents for notifying me he was not on the list.)

(Update #2: So, of course, an hour after our print edition goes to press today (Friday, June 24), I get a complete list of all the Minnesotans who have ever been drafted. Turns out, there are 19 from Rochester, so I missed three in today's print edition. My apologies to those guys -- Ethan Philpott, Ross Johnson of Mayo and Doug Wieck of Mayo; I'll try to run their short bios, like I did for the other 16, in Saturday's paper).

I attempted to compile a list of every Rochester player ever drafted by an NHL team. I came up with 19(including Johnny Pohl, who, I know, is iffy at best, but he was born in Roch, so we'll add him in).

Of the 19 Rochester players who have been drafted, seven were drafted by franchises that no longer exist (two by the Atlanta Thrashers, two by the first incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets, and one each by the Hartford Whalers, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota North Stars). 

Two -- Doug Zmolek and Mark Stuart -- were drafted in Round 1. None of the remaining 12 was drafted earlier than Round 4.

Two others -- Colin Stuart and Alex Kangas -- were drafted in the exact same draft position (Round 5, No. 135 overall) by the same team (Atlanta). And, yet, two more -- Guy Gosselin and Scott Schneider -- were drafted by the old Winnipeg Jets franchise.

Finally, five of the 19 wouldn't have been drafted if, in their draft years, the draft was formatted like it is now. Currently, the draft is just seven rounds. Eric Strobel, Shjon Podein and Gosselin were all drafted in Round 8, Pohl went in Round 9 and John Johannson in Round 10.

Here's my list, please tell me if I'm missing anyone:

Guy Gosselin
Jim Johannson
John Johannson
Ross Johnson

Alex Kangas
Jeff Kruesel
Bryce Lampman
Ethan Philpott

Shjon Podein
Johnny Pohl
Scott Schneider
Eric Strobel

Colin Stuart
* Mark Stuart
Mike Stuart
Jake Taylor
Jeff Teal
Doug Wieck

* Doug Zmolek

* -- first round pick

I'll have more information about each of those 15 guys in Friday's paper, as well as a look at some of the players the Wild are likely targeting with the 10th overall pick. I'll also have a look at some of the top Minnesotans available in this draft, and a story on New Prague native and former Section 1A standout Seth Ambroz.

He left the Trojans after his freshman year, when he piled up 69 points and led them to the Section 1A semifinals, where they lost to Lourdes in OT. He has played for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL the past three seasons. He is expected to be a low first-round or high second-round pick this weekend. 

For the story on Ambroz, I talked to 1989 Rochester John Marshall graduate Mike Aikens, who was an assistant with the Lancers this year. He had lots of good things to say about Ambroz, particularly his work ethic, which was questioned by some hockey bloggers throughout the season.

The 6-feet-3, 203-pound Ambroz -- who is headed to the U of M this fall -- has been criticized by some for not having a more productive season (he had 46 points in 2010-11, after a 49-point season in 2009-10). 

But, Aikens said, Ambroz was productive in areas other than the scoresheet early in the season. He said Ambroz's physical play was a huge boost for the Lancers early on, when he wasn't scoring. Aikens said Ambroz would often have as many as 15 hits in a game (approaching Cal Clutterbuck territory) and that he didn't receive enough credit for the dirty work he did.

"He was phenomenal on the forecheck and willing to take a beating," Aikens said.

Aikens added that Ambroz does have some things to work on, that he's not NHL-ready right now. The biggest thing Ambroz needs to work on, Aikens said, is his skating. But, it's something Ambroz is aware of and "has worked really, really hard to get better at."

As for Aikens, he thoroughly enjoyed his first season back in Omaha (he spent three seasons there at the start of his coaching career) and is ready to settle there. He and his wife bought a house there and are moving their daughters (ages 5 and 7) down in about two weeks. They kept their house here in Rochester during this past season and waited to move until the school year was finished.

Aikens said he enjoys working for the Lancers organization and head coach Bliss Littler, a successful long-time junior hockey coach. Aikens moved to Omaha after coaching in the Russell Stover Midget Major program near Kansas City. He worked with fellow Rochester native Pat Ferschweiler there. Ferschweiler left prior to last season to become an assistant coach at his alma mater, Western Michigan University.

"We have two young daughters," said Aikens, whose brother, Bruce, played on the 1977 JM state championship team, "so we were looking for a place to settle down. When Omaha called, it was a no-brainer.

"The organization in Omaha is so good, from the owners on down. They treat everyone so well. We like to call it the Yankees of junior hockey, because everyone is treated so well. I feel like I can really be choosy and pick my next move. If I'm here for 10 years, or more, that would be great."

November 16, 2010

Section 1 players off to strong start in Midget Majors

FELDY: Four former Section 1 players are off to strong starts while playing for the Russell Stover U18 Midget Major team of the Tier I Elite League. Russell Stover is based out of Olathe, Kan.

All four have played in all 15 games, including a pair of former Rochester Century standouts, defenseman Connor Faupel and forward Drew Anderson.

In fact, Anderson is tied for fourth on the team in scoring (4-7--11), and has one power-play goal. Faupel has two goals and three assists for five points.

Former New Prague star forward Darren Lapic also has five points through 15 games, while former Faribault defenseman Brandon Parker is the team's top-scoring defenseman with 2-7--9.

Parker's loss is perhaps the biggest of the four to his former high school team, because he would have been just a junior for the Falcons this season. Anderson, Faupel and Lapic, all '92 birthdates, would have been seniors.

That said, the combined losses of Faupel, Anderson and goalie Brock Kautz (to Owatonna of the NAHL) definitely deplete Century's lineup.