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February 21, 2015

High School Hockey Today | Feb. 21, 2015 (The Section Semifinal Saturday edition)

Posted by: Feldman

One of the best days of the high school hockey season is upon us, Section Semifinal Saturday at the Rochester Recreation Center. It will be a little odd this year with just one Rochester team involved, but there are still four good hockey games on tap.

It starts at 11:30 a.m. with Rochester Century against undefeated and No. 1-ranked Lakeville North. That's followed by what should be a very good one between Farmington and Lakeville South.

Both of the games in the evening session should be entertaining, too. No. 4 seed Faribault and No. 1 seed New Prague face off at 5:30 p.m., with No. 3 Northfield and No. 2 Mankato West to follow.

I've watched two playoff games over the past four days and we can only hope that Saturday's games match the same level of intensity and excitement.

Tuesday, I watched Rochester Lourdes rally from a 2-0 deficit in the final five minutes of the third period to force OT, where Tucker Chapman scored the game-winner just 39 seconds in. Two nights later, Rochester Century's Connor Davies scored the game-winning goal with 3:30 left in the third period to cap the Panthers' three-goal third period for a 4-3 win against Rochester Mayo.

Let's look at the four games we'll see at the Rec today (by the way, you can follow me on Twitter -- @PBFeldy -- for updates from all of the Section 1 games). 

* * * *

TODAY'S GAMES

SECTION 1AA

No. 5 ROCHESTER CENTURY vs. No. 1 LAKEVILLE NORTH
Rochester Rec Center, 11:30 a.m.

Records: Century 16-7-3, No. 1-ranked North 26-0-0
Head coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus (4th season, 53-45-7 overall); North, Trent Eigner (4th season, 76-37-2 overall)
Last meeting: North beat Century 12-0 on Jan. 9, 2014, at the Rochester Rec Center
Last game: North beat Dodge County 14-0 in a Section 1AA quarterfinal. Ryan Poehling had a goal and six assists; Century beat Mayo 4-3 in a section quarterfinal. Riese Zmolek had a goal and an assist and Connor Davies scored the game winner with 3:30 left.
Leaders: CENT -- Sr. F Jake Roth (19-25--44); Sr. D Riese Zmolek (20-21--41); Sr. D Ryan Sherden (7-13--20); So. F Eric St. Marie (7-11--18); Fr. G Cole Walter (9-2-1, 2.33 GAA, .890 save pct.). NORTH -- Sr. F Jack Poehling (28-36--64); Sr. F Nick Poehling (30-29--59); So. F Ryan Poehling (15-33--48); Jr. F Max Johnson (16-26--42); Sr. D Jack Sadek (6-20--26); Jr. G Ryan Edquist (23-0-0, 1.37 GAA, .939 save pct., 7 SO).

-----

* No. 3 Farmington (18-7-1) vs. No. 2 Lakeville South (15-10-1), 2 p.m.: The Tigers and Cougars have already met twice this season, with South winning both times (7-4 on Dec. 18, 4-2 on Jan. 29). ... Farmington is led by senior F Austin Martinsen (25-24--49) and junior F John Siebenaler (18-27--45), as well as senior G Gage Overby (14-6-1, 2.34 GAA, .899 save pct., 5 SO). ... South's statistical leaders are junior F Nick Swaney, a Minn.-Duluth commit (29-32--61) and senior F Nick Oelrich (19-24--43). The Cougars have two goalies who have shared time, senior Daniel Swail (9-7-1, 2.64, .893) and junior Kyle McKinney (6-3-0, 1.80, .923). ... South advanced by beating Farmington 7-0 on Thursday. Farmington advanced with a 5-2 victory against Rochester John Marshall. ... South is 8-3-0 in its past 11 games. ... Farmington is ranked No. 18 in the state. South is unranked.

* * * * * * * * *

SECTION 1A

* No. 4 Faribault (19-7-1) vs. No. 1 New Prague (18-8-0), 5:30 p.m.: These teams did not meet in the regular season. ... Faribault has played two one-goal playoff games to get here, while New Prague also won a one-goal game against No. 8 seed Rochester Lourdes on Thursday. ... New Prague is led by F Alex Gregor (28-22--50) and senior F Ben Witt (12-28--40). Trojans senior G Conner Wagner is 17-8-0 with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. ... Faribault stat leaders include F Christan Von Ruden (26-30--56) and F Tyler Becker (20-35--55). Goalies Adam Johannsen (12-4-0, 2.35, .924) and Chase Batchelder (7-3-1, 2.94, .887) have split playing time, though Johannsen has started and finished both playoff games so far.

- - - - - - - - - -

* No. 3 Northfield (15-9-2) vs. No. 2 Mankato West (18-6-2), 8 p.m.: These teams couldn't have been much more even in the regular season. They played to a 3-3 tie in their first meeting, Dec. 9 in Mankato, then West edged the Raiders 3-2 on Jan. 19 at Northfield. ... West's Christian Klemme had two goals and an assist in the victory on Jan. 19, so the Raiders will have to keep him in check today. That's easier said than done. Klemme is West's second-leading scorer (15-27--42), trailing only fellow senior F Austin Langworthy (31-20--51). ... West goalie Conor Wollenzien could be another key factor today. The senior is 17-6-2 with a 2.24 GAA and a .921 save pct. He is 11-1-1 since the beginning of January, the only loss a 5-2 setback to Red Wing. ... West, the Big Nine Conference champion, has put up an impressive record in the second half of the season, but it hasn't done so in dominant fashion. The Scarlets have found ways to win some close games, including one-goal wins against Austin, Northfield, Rochester Mayo, Albert Lea, Faribault and St. Cloud Cathedral. I haven't seen Northfield play this season, but I'm told they can play a defensive style very well, which could keep this game close throughout. West had to go to double-OT to beat Albert Lea in the section quarterfinals. Another OT game here seems quite possible.

* * * * * * * * *

AROUND THE STATE

SECTION 2AA
Semifinal, No. 3 Burnsville (14-10-2) vs. No. 2 Prior Lake (17-8-1), 3:30 p.m., Bloomington Ice Garden: A matchup of top-15 teams as No. 15 Burnsville and No. 13 Prior Lake meet for a third time this season. The Lakers won the first two matchups, but only by a combined three goals. The winner is likely looking at a section title game matchup against Edina.

SECTION 6AA
Semifinal, No. 4 Benilde-St. Margaret's (15-9-2) vs. No. 1 Eden Prairie (16-9-0), Braemar, 4 p.m.: In one of the state's toughest sections, No. 5-ranked E.P. gets No. 11-ranked B-SM in a semifinal matchup. These teams split two games during the regular season, with Benilde winning 2-1 early in the year and E.P. winning 5-0 on Feb. 3.

SECTION 7AA
Semifinal, No. 3 Duluth East (12-10-4) vs. No. 2 Grand Rapids (14-10-2), 2 p.m., Amsoil Arena, Duluth: Grand Rapids rolled to a 5-1 win in the regular season matchup against East, but East is playing well, having lost just once in its past six games.

---

SECTION 7A
Semifinal, No. 3 Duluth Denfeld (19-7-0) vs. No. 2 Duluth Marshall (18-5-3), 8 p.m., Amsoil Arena, Duluth: In a section that features three of the top eight-ranked teams in the state, we knew we'd get a marquee matchup in the semifinals. This is it, as two intra-city rivals don't have to leave Duluth to battle for a spot in the section final, likely against perennial power Hermantown. No. 8-ranked Denfeld lost 4-2 to No. 6-ranked Marshall when the met in the regular season as Marshall scored twice in the final nine minutes.

SECTION 8A
Semifinal, No. 4 Detroit Lakes (19-5-2) vs. No. 1 East Grand Forks (21-4-0), 6 p.m., The Gardens in Warroad: Detroit Lakes has 19 victories and is ranked No. 18 in the state. Its reward for winning its first playoff game: A matchup with the defending state champion and No. 3-ranked East Grand Forks.

 

 

February 20, 2015

Junior Hockey | Bear Tracks: The weekend ahead for the Austin Bruins

Posted by: Feldman

Six weeks remain in the North American Hockey League regular season and, though the Austin Bruins have taken over first place in the Central Division, things get no easier this weekend for the Bs.

After splitting a home-and-home series with the last-place Brookings Blizzard last weekend, the Bruins have a two-game set at North Division leader Minnesota Wilderness this weekend (7:05 p.m. tonight, 7:05 p.m. Saturday, in Cloquet).

Austin's 4-1 loss at Brookings last Friday snapped the Bruins' 11-game unbeaten streak. They responded nicely on Saturday -- something they haven't always done this season -- with a 7-1 win at home against Brookings last Saturday. Bruins captain Brian Bachnak had his first NAHL hat trick in that game.

The Bruins (27-10-11) are 1-2-1 against the Wilderness (32-10-4) this season. The two regulation losses came back on Nov. 21-22 at Cloquet. The teams will meet this weekend, then again in a two-game series in Austin on March 13-14.

Aside from a home series against Aberdeen next weekend, the Bruins face only the Wilderness and Brookings the rest of the way.

A couple of links to check out before we get to this weekend's matchup breakdown:

* Bruins play-by-play man John Peterson wrote a piece this week for the Bruins' website on former Bs forward C.J. Smith, who is having a strong freshman season at UMass-Lowell. Smith is part of an Austin-to-Lowell pipeline that includes current Wild defenseman Christian Folin, as well as Lucas Kohls (also a freshman at UML this season) and Guillaume Leclerc, who is committed to Lowell and playing with Madison in the USHL this season.

* Bachnak made the NAHL Plays of the Week highlight video for his goal 9 seconds into a period on Saturday. Bachnak's highlight starts at about the 3:44 mark of this video.

On to this weekend's series...

AUSTIN BRUINS at MINNESOTA WILDERNESS
7:05 p.m. tonight, 7:05 p.m. Saturday
At Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet

Records: Austin 27-10-11, 65 points, 1st in NAHL Central Division; Wilderness 32-10-4, 68 points, 1st in NAHL North Division.
Head coaches: Austin, Chris Tok (5th season, 182-104-30 overall); Wilderness, Corey Millen (2nd season, 71-27-13 overall).
Bruins top scorers: F Trevor Boyd (19-20--39); F Alex Pettersson (7-25--32); F Tony Uglem (16-14--30); F Luke Dietsch (7-23--30); F Nico Sturm (10-19--29); D Ian Scheid (10-13--23).
Bruins goalies: Jake Kielly (15-4-6, 2.12 GAA, .906 save pct.); Evan Smith (6-1-2, 2.02, .923).
Wilderness top scorers: F Aaron Miller (11-30--41); F Darian Romanko (22-17--39); F Tyler Cline (20-17--37); D Ivan Chukarov (9-25--34); F Niklas Lehtimaki (19-13--32).
Wilderness goalies: Ryan Anderson (21-6-3, 2.20, .897); Brock Kautz (10-4-1, 2.09, .916).

TALE OF THE TAPE

Record (points): Austin 27-10-11 (65), Wilderness 32-10-4 (68)
Advantage: Wilderness

Head-to-head (points earned): Wilderness 3-0-1 (7), Austin 1-2-1 (3)
Advantage: Wilderness

Offense: Austin 3.27, Wilderness 3.48
Advantage: Wilderness

Defense: Austin 2.40, Wilderness 2.33
Advantage: Wilderness

Power play (league rank): Austin 13.8 pct. (18th); Wilderness 24.5 pct. (3)
Advantage: Wilderness

Penalty kill (league rank): Austin 89.5 pct. (1st); Wilderness 83.7 pct. (10)
Advantage: Bruins

Goaltending (save pct.): Austin .906 save pct.; Wilderness .898
Advantage: Bruins

SERIES NOTES

The Bruins can clinch a playoff spot with two victories and two Brookings losses this weekend. ... The Wilderness haven't lost in regulation, going 3-0-1 vs. the Bruins so far this season. The teams have four meetings remaining, counting tonight's game. ... Wilderness goalie Brock Kautz is a former Rochester Century standout, who is in his fifth season in the NAHL. He has played in 118 career games for Owatonna, Janesville and the Wilderness, and has a career record of 53-49-12, with six shutouts, a 2.72 GAA and a .912 save pct. ... Ryan Anderson has started every game except one in goal for Minnesota since Nov. 26. ... Tyler Cline has scored the game-winning goal in three of the past four games for the Wilderness. ... The Bruins are 9-1-3 in their past 14 games. Alex Jasiek has three game-winning goals in that span. ... Both teams are nearly unbeatable when they score first; the Bruins are 18-2-5, while the Wilderness are a remarkable 26-2-2. ... The Bruins haven't lost this season when leading after two periods. They're 20-0-5 in those games.

THE CALL

The Bruins got a wake-up call last Friday against Brookings, who snapped the Bs 11-game unbeaten streak with a 4-1 win. Austin responded on Saturday with one of their most impressive performances of the season in a 7-1 victory. Both of these teams are playing very well and both are holding slim leads atop their division standings (Austin leads Minot by three points, the Wilderness lead Fairbanks by one point). The Wilderness won twice in regulation against the Bruins the last time these teams met in Cloquet, but that was late November, when a Bruins team full of guys who were new to Austin was trying to find its identity. Austin seems to have found it: It's not a team that's going to win many games in blowouts, but it is a deep team that can feel comfortable rolling any of four lines or three defensive pairings. It also has two goalies playing very well. The Wilderness are playing quite well, too, going 8-1-1 in their past 10, and they're on their home ice. Both teams get some points this weekend. The call: Wilderness 5, Bruins 3 (en); Bruins 3, Wilderness 2 (OT).

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)

 

February 14, 2015

High School Hockey Today | Feb. 14, 2015 (The regular-season finale edition)

Posted by: Feldman

Happy Valentine's Day! Rochester hockey fans get a special treat because much love will be in the air at Graham I tonight when Rochester Century and Rochester Mayo play for the 50th time in the history of the rivalry. And after the way the first meeting between these two ended back on Jan. 6, who knows what we'll see tonight?

The end of that game looked more like a WWE-style battle royal on skates, but that's what makes the intra-city games in Rochester so much fun to watch each season: You can always count on the intensity level being cranked up a couple notches.

That said, I wonder if tonight's game will be a little more subdued. The Big Nine Conference championship has been locked up by Mankato West for a second consecutive season and I would assume that Mayo has locked up the No. 4 seed in next week's Section 1AA tournament, which means the Spartans will have a home game in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

There is a very good chance these teams could meet again Thursday in the playoff opener, so there isn't a ton for these teams to play for tonight and they certainly don't want to tip their hands with any changes to their systems or their lineups. 

Of course, once the game gets going, the players aren't thinking of those things, so I'd guess we'll see some big hits, some playmakers showing off their skills and goalies holding their teams in the game. Mayo senior G Chris Wileman has played very well this season, with a sub-3.00 GAA entering tonight's game. Century freshman Cole Walter has taken over the starting job and held down the fort, with a 7-2-1 record, a 2.26 GAA and an .891 save percentage.

One more interesting note to tonight's game: With the series tied 24-24-1, a Mayo victory would give Mayo its 7th consecutive win against Century, and it would put Mayo ahead in the all-time series against both Century and JM for the first time ever. 

Oh, did I mention IT'S ALREADY THE END OF THE REGULAR SEASON?! Holy cow, that went by way too fast. A week from today I'll be camped out with KTTC's Pat Lund in the Rec Center loft watching a full day of Section 1 semifinals (don't tell him I only sit with him because he brings the donuts). We have to get through a few more games before that, though. 

On to today's games...

TODAY'S GAMES

HUDSON (Wis.) at ROCHESTER LOURDES
2 p.m., Graham Arena I
Records: Hudson 17-6-0, Lourdes 5-17-2
Coaches: Hudson, Brooks Lockwood; Lourdes, Josh Spaniol (6th season, 97-69-8)
Last meeting: first meeting between these teams
Last game: Hudson shut out River Falls 3-0 on Thursday; Lourdes lost to Red Wing 4-3 on Thursday
Team leaders: HUDSON -- Sr. F Wyatt Dove (13-19--32); Sr. F Parker Shefveland (15-16--31); Sr. F Adam Lipps (17-10--27); So. D Chase Blackmun (9-14--23); Jr. F Carter Schuett (14-7--21); So. G Anthony Howard (12-1-0, 0.94 GAA, .926 save pct., 7 shutouts); Sr. G JJ Daulton (5-5-0, 2.03, .893, 1 SO). LOURDES -- So. F Tucker Chapman (16-6--22); Jr. F Mason Carstens (9-7--16); Sr. D Dakota Streit (3-11--14); Jr. F Peter Alexander (2-12--14); Sr. D Griff Slightam (6-5--11); Sr. G Jack Burkel (4-16-2, 2.91, .898, 3 SO). 
Notes: In its victory on Thursday, Hudson outshot River Falls 51-9. ... Hudson coach Brooks Lockwood is a Hudson native who played four seasons (2003-07) at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. ... The Raiders are on a six-game winning streak in which they've allowed a total of three goals. ... Lourdes continues to drop close ones; its loss to Red Wing was its 11th loss by one goal this season. Take out a 7-goal loss to Breck and Lourdes' other 16 losses are by a total of 21 goals. That's 11 1-goal losses and five 2-goal losses. In other words, this is a team that could sneak up on some higher seeds when the playoffs begin next week.

* * * * *

ROCHESTER JM at RED WING
3 p.m., Prairie Island Arena
Records: Rochester John Marshall 9-6-0 Big Nine, 12-12-0 overall; Red Wing 5-10-1, 7-16-1
Coaches: JM, Jay Ness (4th season, 34-40-4); Red Wing, Bob Rajanen (2nd season, 11-39-1)
Last meeting: Red Wing beat JM 7-0 on Dec. 13, 2007, at the Rochester Rec Center. 
Last game: JM lost to Mankato West 5-2 on Thursday; Red Wing beat Rochester Lourdes 4-3 on Thursday
Team leaders: JM -- So. F Cory Checco (16-14--30); Jr. F Brady Dahl (13-9--22); Jr. F Isaac Lamppa (7-11--18); Sr. F Jake Dravis (5-11--16); Sr. F Giuseppe Curry (5-9--14); Jr. D Josh Frerks (5-9--14); Jr. D Luke Ranfranz (4-9--13); Jr. G Brady Meyers (9-12-0, 3.28 GAA, .888 save pct., 1 SO). RW -- Sr. F Dylan Goggin (17-14--31); Jr. F Sam Hanson (17-13--30); So. F Tyler Defore (18-11--29); Sr. F Tristan Rehder (6-15--21); So. F Seth Cushing (5-9--14); Sr. D Dixon Irwin (0-10--10); So. F Spencer Kronbeck (7-3--10); Sr. G Adam Defore (7-16-1, 4.10, .871).
Notes: This is the only meeting of the season between the teams and is worth four points in the Big Nine standings. ... A JM victory could give the Rockets a top-four finish in the Big Nine. They're in sixth place entering today's game. ... Red Wing is 6-2-0 in its past eight games after a 1-14-1 record in its first 16 games. ... Half of the Wingers' losses have been by one goal. ... JM is 6-3-0 in its past nine games and played well in a 5-2 loss to Big Nine champ Mankato West on Thursday; the score was tied 2-2 with five minutes to play.

* * * * *

ROCHESTER CENTURY at ROCHESTER MAYO
7:30 p.m., Graham Arena
Records: Century 10-5-1 Big Nine, 14-7-3 overall; Mayo 12-4-0, 16-7-1
Coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus; Mayo, Lorne Grosso
Last meeting: Mayo beat Century 4-3 on Jan. 6 at Graham IV. Ethan Moore scored twice for Mayo, including the game winner in the third period. 
Last game: Mayo beat Faribault 7-4 on Thursday; Century won 7-3 at Mankato East on Tuesday.
Team leaders: CENT -- Sr. F Jake Roth (19-23--42); Sr. D Riese Zmolek (17-18--35); Sr. D Alex Ney (12-7--19); Sr. F Ryan Sherden (5-13--18); So. F Eric St. Marie (7-10--17); So. D Will Zmolek (4-11--15); Fr. G Cole Walter (7-2-1, 2.26 GAA, .891 save pct., 1 SO). MAYO -- Sr. F Logan Haskins (21-24--45); So. F Anthony Oliveto (26-15--41); Sr. F Ethan Moore (11-21--32); Sr. F Austyn Renn (11-10--21); Sr. D James Johnston (6-12--18); Jr. D Nick Norby (5-11--16); Sr. G Chris Wileman (16-7-1, 2.94, .873, 2 SO).
Notes: As mentioned above, this is the 50th meeting all-time between these teams. The series is tied 24-24-1. ... Mayo hasn't led the series in more than 10 years, since the middle of the 2004-05 season. ... This is the fourth time these teams will meet on Valentine's Day; Century holds a 2-1-0 advantage in the previous three meetings. ... In the first 16 years of Century's varsity hockey existence (this is year 17), Century and Mayo have met 11 times in the postseason (Century leads 8-3-0 in playoff matchups). They could well meet again on Thursday in the Section 1AA quarterfinals.

* * * * *

AREA GAMES

* Owatonna at Austin (1 p.m., Riverside Arena): This is the only meeting of the season between these teams. ... Owatonna (10-12-2) is unbeaten in four of its past five games. ... The Huskies are 7-7-2 in the Big Nine and 10-12-2 overall. Austin is 0-16-1, 3-20-1. ... Austin has lost 10 consecutive games, five of them by one goal and three others by two goals. ... Owatonna will likely be the No. 7 seed in the Section 1AA playoffs and will likely play at Lakeville South in Thursday's quarterfinals. ... Austin will be on the road Tuesday in a Section 1A first-round playoff game. Its opponent will be determined tomorrow.

* Dodge County at Minnehaha Academy (2 p.m., Minnehaha Academy Ice Arena, Minneapolis): The Wildcats are 7-16-0 overall, Minnehaha is 15-8-1. ... Minnehaha is led by big junior forward Josh Radtke (6-1, 205), who has 19 goals and 41 points this season. ... Dodge County is led by three 20-point scorers, So. F Nic Leisen (10-13--23); Sr. F Chris Roberts (10-11--21) and Jr. F Drew Kirmse (12-8--20). ... The Wildcats will likely be the No. 8 seed in the Section 1AA tournament, which begins Thursday. They're expected to play a quarterfinal game at No. 1 seed, No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Lakeville North (24-0-0).

* * * * *

AROUND THE STATE

* No. 5-AA Eden Prairie (16-8-0) at No. 2-AA Edina (21-1-2), 3 p.m.: Edina already holds a pair of victories over E.P. (4-3 on Dec. 20, 5-0 on Jan. 29). The Hornets look for the sweep of the regular-season series today.

* No. 3-AA St. Thomas Academy (21-3-0) at No. 12-AA Holy Family Catholic (16-6-2), 7 p.m.: HFC is on a 10-game winning streak since a 5-3 loss to Delano on Jan. 6. Over the past nine games, only one team has played HFC to a one-goal game (4-3 vs. Hopkins on Feb. 5).

* No. 13-AA Minnetonka (12-11-1) at No. 20-AA Duluth East (11-10-3), 2 p.m.: East has won just once in its past five games, but that includes two ties and a one-goal loss to No. 7 Blaine, as well as a one-goal win against Lakeville South.

* No. 17-AA Moorhead (15-7-2) at No. 4-AA Hill-Murray (17-7-0), 2:30 p.m.: Moorhead has won six of its past seven, including wins over traditional Section 8 powers Warroad (5-1), Roseau (6-2), East Grand Forks (3-1) and Thief River Falls (5-4).

* No. 6-A Duluth Marshall (17-5-2) at No. 19-A St. Cloud Cathedral (13-11-0), 2:15 p.m.: Cathedral has played a tough schedule, but is just 3-7-0 in its past 10 games. It started the season 10-4-0.

* No. 18-AA Farmington (17-7-0) at No. 15-AA Burnsville (13-10-1), 3 p.m.: Burnsville beat Farmington 6-1 in their previous meeting, on Jan. 15. Burnsville scored five times in the second period that night and chased Farmington goalie Gage Overby, something that doesn't happen often to the Tigers' senior goalie, who is 13-6-0 with a 2.34 GAA and a .899 save pct.

February 13, 2015

Junior Hockey | Bear Tracks: The weekend ahead for the Austin Bruins

Posted by: Feldman

Another weekend, another key NAHL Central Division series for the Austin Bruins. A sweep this weekend will leave the Bruins just one point shy of clinching a playoff spot.

Austin is on an 8-0-3 run since Jan. 9, a run that has lifted it back into sole possession of first place for the first time since early in the season. The Bruins are coming off a very emotional weekend. They held their fifth annual Paint the Rink Pink night last Saturday, raising more than $25,000 through a jersey auction for the Hormel Institute in Austin, for breast cancer research. There were also some fireworks on the ice, as the Magicians let their frustrations out and resorted to a bit of thuggery in the third period.

There are seven weeks to go in the regular season and the Bruins play Friday-Saturday series on six of those weekends. The only hiccup in that mix is the first week of March, when the Bs play host to Brookings on Wednesday, March 4, then play at Brookings on Saturday, March 7. 

Speaking of the Blizzard, the Bruins will become very familiar with them over the remainder of the regular season. The teams will meet in eight of Austin's final 14 games. I wrote a bit about that here in this week's Junior Hockey Notebook, which ran in Thursday's P-B.

The Bruins have a chance to pull away from second-place Minot (the Bs have just a two-point lead over the Tauros, who happen to have a game in hand on the Bruins) by facing last-place Brookings eight times in the final 14 games. BUT, Brookings hasn't made life easy on Austin this season. Austin is 3-1-0 vs. the Blizzard, but that includes two OT victories. 

In other notes this week ...

* The Bruins had the Central Division Star of the Week for a third consecutive week, as forward Trevor Boyd was honored for his play in a two-game sweep of the Minnesota Magicians last weekend.

* Former Bs forward Trey Dodd has committed to play D-I hockey at Brown University. Dodd has 13 points in 21 games this season for Dubuque of the USHL. He had 17 points in 45 games last season for the Bruins, and he started this season in Austin, where he had 1 assist in nine games played.

On to this weekend's series...

AUSTIN vs. BROOKINGS
at Larson Ice Arena, 7:15 p.m. tonight; Riverside Arena, 7:05 p.m. Saturday

Records: Austin 26-9-11, 63 points, 1st in Central Division; Brookings 15-20-8, 38 points, 5th in Central Division.
Head coaches: Austin, Chris Tok (5th season, 181-103-30 overall); Brookings, Dan Daikawa (1st season, 15-20-8 overall).
Bruins top scorers: F Trevor Boyd (19-18--37); F Alex Pettersson (7-25--32); F Tony Uglem (16-14--30); F Luke Dietsch (7-23--30); F Nico Sturm (10-18--28); D Ian Scheid (10-12--22); D Cory Dunn (3-19--22).
Bruins goalies: Jake Kielly (14-4-6, 2.20 GAA, .904 save pct.); Evan Smith (6-0-2, 1.71, .934).
Blizzard top scorers: F Beau Michaud (14-29--43); F Zach Glienke (16-18--34); F Nate Colwell (7-20--27); F Blake Kelley (9-13--22); D Ben Campbell (5-16--21); F Joe Anderson (11-9--20). 
Blizzard goalies: Ryan Kubic (7-7-5, 2.37 GAA, .915 save pct.); Eric Hancock (7-10-3, 3.01, .895).

TALE OF THE TAPE
Record (Points): Austin 26-9-11 (63), Brookings 15-20-8 (38). 
Advantage: Bruins.

Head to head (Points earned): Austin 3-1-0 (6), Brookings 1-1-2 (4). 
Advantage: Bruins.

Offense: Austin 3.24; Brookings 2.65. 
Advantage: Bruins.

Defense: Austin 2.39; Brookings 3.21. 
Advantage: Bruins.

Power play (league rank): Austin 14.2 percent (17); Brookings 20.8 (9). 
Advantage: Blizzard.

Penalty kill (league rank): Austin 89.6 percent (1); Brookings 78.2 percent (20). 
Advantage: Bruins.

Goaltending (save pct.): Austin .907; Brookings .889. 
Advantage: Bruins.

SERIES NOTES
The Bruins are on their longest unbeaten streak of the season, going 8-0-3 in their past 11 games. With a sweep this weekend, Austin will be one point away from clinching a playoff spot. ... The Bruins are tied with Midwest Division-leading Janesville for the fewest regulation losses in the NAHL this season, with nine. Austin also has the most shootout/overtime losses, 11. ... The last time Austin lost a game in regulation was on Jan. 3 at home against Brookings. ... The Bruins have played 16 overtime games this season. ... While Brookings is in last place in the division, it is very much alive for a playoff spot. The Blizzard trail Aberdeen by just four points for the fourth spot in the division standings. The top four in the division make the postseason.

THE CALL
The Blizzard are no pushover for being a last-place team. They're still battling hard for a playoff spot and there's a reasonable chance they could end up facing Austin in the first round of the Central Division postseason. Brookings added some scoring punch last week through a pair of trades. They acquired D Ben Campbell (5-16--21) from Kenai River and F Blake Kelley (9-13--22) from Coulee Region. But Austin is playing like a typical Bruins team this time of year; it's really tough to score on, tough get good chances against and difficult to beat. The Bs are strong in goal, solid at D and they're rolling four lines, any one of which can be relied upon. I wasn't sure where this Bruins team would end up, with all the new faces at the start of the season. They're starting to play like they'll challenge for another Central Division postseason title. The call: Austin 3-2, Austin 5-2.

February 10, 2015

High School Hockey Today | Feb. 10, 2015

Posted by: Feldman

A week from today we'll be previewing the first-round games of the Section 1A boys hockey tournament. Doesn't feel like it should be tourney time already, but it is upon us. 

I'd like to be a fly on the wall in the 1A seeding meeting; New Prague, Faribault, Mankato West ... not much separates teams in this section. Should make for a good tourney!

As for the Big Nine Conference title, West and Faribault are the only teams that still have a chance to win it. West has 35 points, Faribault 30. West's 3-2 victory against Faribault on Saturday gave the Scarlets the leg up in the race for the conference title.

We're down to three scenarios:

1. West clinches the conference title with a win in its final conference game of the season, at Rochester JM on Thursday. 

2. West clinches the title if Faribault loses one of its two remaining conference games -- Thursday at Rochester Mayo or Saturday at home against Northfield.

3. Faribault can only win the Big Nine if it beats both Mayo and Northfield AND West loses at JM on Thursday.

All right, on to today's games...

TONIGHT'S GAMES

ROCHESTER LOURDES at ALBERT LEA
7:30 p.m., Albert Lea City Arena
Records: Lourdes 5-15-2 overall, Albert Lea 8-14-0.
Coaches: Lourdes, Josh Spaniol; Albert Lea, Roy Nystrom
Last meeting: Lourdes beat Albert Lea 3-2 on Feb. 6, 2014, at Graham Arena in Rochester. Tucker Chapman had a goal and two assists for Lourdes.
Last game: Lourdes lost 3-2 to No. 17 New Prague on Saturday; Albert Lea lost at Owatonna 2-1 on Saturday
Team leaders: LOU -- So. F Tucker Chapman (16-6--22); Jr. F Mason Carstens (9-7--16); Jr. F Peter Alexander (2-12--14); Sr. D Dakota Streit (3-9--12); Sr. G Jack Burkel (4-14-2, 2.80 GAA, .904 save pct.). A.L. -- Sr. F Alex Claassen (15-14--29); Jr. F Jack Pulley (6-12--18); Jr. F Lucas Hacker (8-4--12); Sr. G Garrett Matz (7-14-0, 2.82, .914).
Notes: This game is a big one for both teams as it will impact where they are seeded in the Section 1A tournament, which begins next week. ... Albert Lea is on a 7-game losing streak after starting the season 8-7-0. All seven of the losses on the current streak have been by one goal. ... Lourdes has also had its share of one-goal losses, with nine of its 15 losses coming by a goal. ... The Eagles are likely without injured forwards Peter Alexander and Montana Streit for the rest of the season. ... Burkel topped 500 saves for the season in the Eagles' loss to New Prague on Saturday. He has 517 saves this season.

* * * * *

ROCHESTER CENTURY at MANKATO EAST
7:30 p.m., All Seasons Arena, Mankato
Records
Coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus; East, Adam Fries
Last meeting: Century beat East 7-0 on Nov. 26, 2013, at All Seasons Arena. Hayden Ashworth had a hat trick for Century.
Last game: Century tied Owatonna 3-3 on Monday; East beat Austin 4-3 on Saturday.
Team leaders: CENT -- Sr. F Jake Roth 18-20--38; Sr. D Riese Zmolek 16-18--34; Sr. D Alex Ney (11-7--18); So. F Eric St. Marie (7-10--17); Fr. G Cole Walter (7-2-1, 2.26 GAA, .891 save pct.). EAST -- Sr. F Grayson Gavin (41-28--69); Jr. F Judd Schulz (21-42--63); So. F Hunter Johnson (8-15--23); Sr. D Brandon Adams (8-14--22); Fr. G Jack Cusey (9-10-0, 3.29, .884, 5 shutouts).
Notes: This is the only meeting of the season between these teams; it's worth four points in the conference standings. ... Century's Zmolek needs four points to reach 100 for his high school career. ... East's Gavin leads the Big Nine Conference in goals (41) and points (69). ... Schulz leads the conference in assists (42) and is second in points (63). ... Century is unbeaten in its past five games (4-0-1) with a tie and three one-goal victories.

* * * * *

NORTHFIELD at ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL
7:30 p.m., Rochester Recreation Center
Records: Northfield 9-6-2 Big Nine, 13-7-2 overall; Rochester JM 8-5-0, 11-11-0.
Coaches: Northfield, Mike Luckcraft; JM, Jay Ness
Last meeting: JM won at Northfield 2-1 on Dec. 18. Luke Ranfranz scored a short-handed goal in the second period that held up as the game winner. Brandon Ratzloff also scored for the Rockets.
Last game: JM lost at Rochester Mayo, 5-1, last Thursday; Northfield beat Owatonna 3-1 on Thursday.
Team leaders: NFLD -- Jr. F Ryan Torbenson (13-12--25); Sr. F Cole Dornbusch (10-6--16); Jr. F Lucas Halvorson (6-10--16); Soph. G Ryan Bielenberg (7-4-1, 1.99 GAA, .921 save pct.); Jr. G Matthew Foss (6-3-1, 2.48, .913). JM -- Soph. F Cory Checco (12-16--28); Jr. F Brady Dahl (13-8--21); Jr. F Isaac Lamppa (6-11--17); Sr. F Jake Dravis (5-10--15); Jr. G Brady Meyers (9-11-0, 3.24, .889).
Notes: The Rockets have lost two consecutive games on the heels of a five-game winning streak. ... JM could jump from sixth place to fourth in the conference standings with a victory. ... Northfield has won five of its past six games, its only loss in that stretch a 3-2 setback against Rochester Century on Jan. 29. ... Northfield averages 2.73 goals per game and allows 2.27. JM averages 2.91 goals per game and allows 3.23.

* * * * *

AREA GAMES
* Becker/Big Lake at Dodge County (7:30 p.m., Dodge Co. Ice Arena, Kasson):
Dodge County (6-15-0) is coming off a 6-3 victory against North Branch on Saturday, which snapped a five-game losing streak. ... B/BL (5-19-0) has lost two in a row and six of its past seven. ... B/BL's leading scorer is Sr. F Taylor Giving (8-23--31). ... Dodge County is led by Soph. F Nic Leisen (10-11--21). ... This is the final home game of the season for the Wildcats.

* * * * *

AROUND THE STATE

* No. 8-AA Wayzata (10-11-2) at No. 10-AA Benilde-St. Margaret's (13-8-2), 7 p.m.: Wayzata is just 2-5-0 in its past seven games and is a top-10 team despite its losing record, but its five most recent losses came against No. 2 Edina (twice), No. 5 Eden Prairie, No. 13 Minnetonka and No. 20 Grand Rapids.

* No. 13-A St. Cloud Cathedral (12-10-0) at Mankato West (15-6-2), 5:30 p.m.: Teams with their sights set on reaching the Class A state tournament meet in a late-season showdown in Mankato. West is just 1-4-1 in non-conference play this season. 

* No. 15-A Orono (14-8-1) at No. 9-A Delano/Rockford (19-4-0), 7 p.m.: Delano is 11-1-0 in its past 12 games, including a 4-1 victory last Thursday against defending Section 1A champion New Prague. D/R has scored 24 goals in its past four games.

* No. 3-A East Grand Forks (19-4-0) at No. 10-A Thief River Falls (12-11-0), 7:30 p.m.: A key late-season Section 8A matchup takes place at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in TRF. EGF is led by Mr. Hockey finalist Dixon Bowen, a senior forward (21-29--50).

February 05, 2015

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: Breaking bad edition

PHERSY: The Phersy and Fatis Show returns today with the Ice Hawks in the middle of a four-game skid. The Ice Hawks will try to get things going back in the right direction this weekend with road games at the Steele County Blades (Friday) and the Hudson Crusaders (Sunday).

Enjoy the show, and let us know what we can do better or what you'd like to hear more of on the Phersy and Fatis Show.

PhersyAndFatisShow020515


High School Hockey Today | Feb. 5, 2015

Posted by: Feldman

Before we get into tonight's boys games, how about a shout-out (do kids still say that? Just pretend and tell me they do) to the Century girls hockey team for upsetting JM/Lourdes 4-3 in OT in the Section 1AA quarterfinals last night.

JM/L had a nice season, sharing the Big 9 title with Red Wing and sticking in the Class AA state poll for much of the season. 

Century won when Maddie Leqve scored on a shot from the point 2 minutes into OT. In other Section 1AA quarterfinals, Lakeville North beat Owatonna 3-0, Dodge County beat Farmington 6-0, and Lakeville South beat Rochester Mayo 11-0.

Saturday's section semifinals feature No. 4 seed Dodge County at No. 1 Lakeville South, and No. 6 Century at No. 2 Lakeville North.

* * * * *

On the boys side, is there a big game going on in town tonight? Oh, yeah, that one at Graham Arena. Something about two Rochester teams playing each other for the 111th time. Rochester John Marshall and Rochester Mayo will meet for the second time this season, tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Graham I. 

A special note for this game: Mayo players will wear pink ribbons and use pink stick tape as they are dedicating tonight's game to Marisa Martin, the youngest daughter of Mayo coach Lorne Grosso and his wife, Joan. Marisa has been battling breast cancer since last spring. Proceeds from tonight's chuck-a-puck contest will be donated to Marisa and her family, and there will be a big benefit/silent auction at Wicked Moose on Sunday from 1-5 p.m. I'll have more in Friday's paper (plus a separate blog post about it), but there will be lots of great stuff to bid on (including tickets to a Wild game donated by Lorne's cousin, Lou Nanne, and signed jerseys by NHLers Ron Francis and Zach Parise), so bring your checkbooks on Sunday and support a great family! ... Oh, also, Joan Grosso informed me of one more item local hockey fans might love to bid on: A gourmet Italian dinner with Shjon and Sherry Podein, cooked by Lorne Grosso! (I'm told he's actually a great cook; he won't just go to the store and get some frozen lasagna).

Back to tonight's game ...

JM had been playing quite well, winning five consecutive games until falling 6-1 to St. Paul Academy -- the No. 7-ranked team in Class A -- last Saturday. Mayo has been a little more up-and-down in recent weeks. The Spartans beat a gritty Mankato East team on Tuesday, but as coach Lorne Grosso put it when we spoke yesterday, "East taught (Mayo) a good lesson about working hard for an entire game."

So, who knows what will happen tonight. Mayo has won nine consecutive meetings against JM and, last season, took the lead in the all-time series for the first time ever. Will JM snap Mayo's streak tonight? I've seen the Rockets when they're at their best and they're a good team. Will Mayo snap back and play its best tonight? 

This game will have some big implications as far as home-ice advantage in the first round of the Section 1AA playoffs. There's a good chance that two Rochester teams will meet each other in the section quarterfinals -- Mayo, JM and Century should be seeded 4, 5, and 6, though it's still to be determined what order they'll fall into those seeds. That means two will face each other and one will go to Farmington for a quarterfinal game. 

A Mayo win tonight will go a long way toward the Spartans getting that No. 4 seed. Ditto for JM. Mayo still also has to face Century one more time and there is a chance that all of the Rochester teams could go 1-1 vs. each other this season. Tonight's outcome will clear up a little more just how the teams will likely be seeded.

But, y'know, this is a rivalry game, and the guys in the red and black sweaters, as well as the guys in the green and gold sweaters, need no more motivation than the bragging rights that go to tonight's winner.

It's a light load of games tonight, so let's take a look at them:

TONIGHT'S GAMES

ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL at ROCHESTER MAYO
7:30 p.m., Graham Arena I
Records: JM 8-4-0 Big Nine, 11-10-0 overall; Mayo 10-4-0, 14-7-1.
Coaches: JM, Jay Ness; Mayo, Lorne Grosso.
Last meeting: Mayo defeated JM 6-2 on Dec. 13, 2014, at the Rec Center. Anthony Oliveto had two goals and an assist, and JT Rein had two goals for Mayo. Jake Dravis and Aaron Macken scored for JM.
Last game: Mayo beat Mankato East 7-5 on Tuesday; JM lost at St. Paul Academy 6-1 on Saturday.
Team leaders: JM -- So. F Cory Checco (12-16--28); Jr. F Brady Dahl (13-8--21); Jr. F Isaac Lamppa (6-11-17); Sr. F Jake Dravis (5-9--14); Jr. D Josh Frerks (4-8--12); Jr. G Brady Meyers (9-10-0, 3.15 GAA, .894). MAYO -- Sr. F Logan Haskins (16-23--39); So. F Anthony Oliveto (25-14--39); Sr. F Ethan Moore (10-19--29); Sr. F Austyn Renn (9-10--19); Jr. D Nick Norby (5-10--15); Sr. G Chris Wileman (14-7-1, 2.98, .870).
Notes: This is the 111th meeting between the teams all-time. Mayo leads the all-time series 56-53-1. ... Mayo has won nine consecutive meetings with JM. ... Mayo was 9-2-0 in November and December, and 5-5-1 since. ... Oliveto and Haskins are tied for the lead in scoring among Rochester players, both with 39 points. ... JM's Checco is on a seven-game point streak. ... JM has shut out its past two conference opponents. ... The Rockets' last victory against Mayo was on Dec. 10, 2011. 

* * * * * 

AUSTIN at ROCHESTER CENTURY
7:30 p.m., Rochester Recreation Center
Records: Austin 0-13-1 Big Nine Conference, 3-17-1 overall; Century 8-5-0, 11-7-2
Coaches: Austin, Erik LaRock; Century, Josh Klingfus
Last meeting: Century beat Austin 7-3 on Dec. 9, 2014, at Riverside Arena in Austin. Century defensemen Riese Zmolek and Alex Ney scored twice each.
Last game: Austin lost to Red Wing 6-4 on Saturday; Century won at Albert Lea 4-3 on Saturday.
Team leaders: AUST -- Jr. F Dan Bolingberg (11-6--17); Jr. F Kenny Ree (6-10--16); Soph. F Isaac Arnold (7-7--14); Sr. G Jacob Johnson (2-16-1, 4.26 GAA, .861 save pct.). CENT -- Sr. F Jake Roth (16-15--31); Sr. D Riese Zmolek (14-15--29); Sr. D/F Ryan Sherden (4-12--16); Sr. D Alex Ney (10-5--15); Fr. G Cole Walter (6-2-0, 2.25, .891).
Notes: Roth topped the 100-career point mark a couple weeks ago; Zmolek is on the verge of reaching 100 career points. He has 91 entering tonight's game. ... Century has won two consecutive games and six of its past nine. ... Austin is on a seven-game losing streak, but four of those losses came by one goal and two others by two goals. ... Included in the Packers' seven-game losing streak are one-goal losses against the top two teams in the Big Nine, Mankato West (2-1 on Jan. 10) and Faribault (5-4 on Jan. 17).

* * * * * 

AROUND THE STATE

* No. 2-AA Edina (18-1-2) at No. 8-AA Wayzata (10-9-2), 7 p.m.: These state powers will meet for a third time this season; Edina has a win and a tie in their first two matchups. Edina's Garrett Wait had a hat trick in the most recent meeting, a 6-3 Hornets win on Jan. 17 at Edina.

* No. 1-AA Lakeville North (21-0-0) at No. 12 Prior Lake (14-6-1), 7 p.m.: North beat South Suburban Conference rival Prior Lake 7-4 in their previous matchup, on Jan. 8, in Lakeville. Brothers Jack and Nick Poehling -- named as Mr. Hockey finalists today -- combined for four goals seven points in that game.

* No. 17-A New Prague (14-7-0) at No. 9-A Delano/Rockford (18-4-0), 7 p.m.: New Prague, the defending Section 1A champ, is just 4-3-0 in its past seven games and is coming off an 8-1 loss to Holy Family Catholic. The Trojans lost to Delano in their first matchup this season, 7-1, on Jan. 13 at New Prague.

* No. 5-AA Eden Prairie (14-8-0) at No. 13-AA Minnetonka (11-9-1), 7 p.m.: Eden Prairie has won four of its past five and is coming off a convincing 5-0 shutout against No. 10-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret's on Tuesday.

* Hopkins (12-8-1) at No. 14-AA Holy Family Catholic (13-6-2), 7 p.m.: These teams are in a loaded Section 6AA, and despite the talent that each team possesses, this game is likely a battle for home-ice advantage in the first round of the postseason.

* Duluth East (10-9-3) at No. 7-AA Blaine (15-5-1), 7 p.m.: The perennial Section 7AA power East is down a bit this season, but it has lost just once in its past seven games, a stretch that includes a 1-1 tie against No. 6-AA Elk River.

February 03, 2015

High School Hockey Today | Feb. 3, 2015

Posted by: Feldman

It's hard to believe, but Section 1A hockey playoffs start two weeks from TODAY. Girls hockey playoffs begin TOMORROW. What the ... ? Where did the season go? We love the playoffs, but that also means the season is close to coming to an end, which we do not love. I think the MSHSL should make the hockey season about 7 months long, play maybe 50 games? :)

It's a relatively light schedule of boys games in the area tonight, so we'll get to those games here quickly.

I'm also working on a breakdown of how and why teams should be seeded in the Section 1A and 1AA boys tournaments. The 1AA tournament is pretty cut-and-dried, at least at the top. Section 1A is a big jumble and you can argue for some teams to be seeded in a four- or five-spot range. It's going to make for some really compelling quarterfinal matchups. How would you like to be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in Section 1A and see Rochester Lourdes roll into your rink for a quarterfinal game? Yikes. DON'T TAKE THAT THE WRONG WAY: That's not saying Lourdes is going to upset a top seed, but, still, if you're a No. 1 seed, Lourdes probably isn't the team you want to start your postseason against.

Anyhow, I hope to have that breakdown of Section 1A and 1AA up here tonight or tomorrow.

On to tonight's games...

TONIGHT'S GAMES

DODGE COUNTY at ROCHESTER LOURDES
7 p.m., Graham Arena
Records: Dodge County 5-14-0 overall, Lourdes 4-14-2
Coaches: Dodge County, Eric Hofmann; Lourdes, Josh Spaniol
Last meeting: Lourdes beat Dodge County 6-1 on Dec. 28, 2010, in a quarterfinal game of the Kiwanis Festival at Graham Arena. Jason Samuelson had five goals for Lourdes; Tanner Keller scored for Dodge County.
Last game: Dodge County lost to Windom Area, 4-2, on Saturday; Lourdes beat Blake 2-0 on Saturday. Jack Burkel had a 27-save shutout and Logan Olson scored the game-winning goal.
Team leaders: DODGE CO. -- So. F Nic Leisen (10-10--20); Jr. F Drew Kirmse (10-7--17); Sr. F Chris Roberts (6-9--15); Sr. G Joe Biwer (3-7-0, 4.02 GAA, .852 save pct.); Sr. G Mitch Sobotta (1-7-0, 4.02, .874). LOURDES -- So. F Tucker Chapman (13-4--17); Jr. F Peter Alexander (2-12--14); Jr. F Mason Carstens (6-4--10); Sr. D Dakota Streit (2-7--9); Sr. G Jack Burkel (3-13-2, 2.84, .903). 
Notes: Lourdes plays four of its final five games at home and could greatly improve its positioning in the Section 1A tournament seeding process. It plays three more games against section opponents, Saturday vs. New Prague, Feb. 10 at Albert Lea and Feb. 12 vs. Red Wing. ... Burkel is 15 saves away from 500 this season. ... Burkel's shutout vs. Blake on Saturday was his third of the season. ... Dodge County is attempting to snap a four-game losing streak. ... Leisen, just a sophomore, has four power-play goals and one game-winning goal this season. 

• • •

MANKATO EAST at ROCHESTER MAYO
7:30 p.m., Graham Arena
Records: East 6-6-0 Big Nine, 11-10-0 overall; Mayo 9-4-0, 13-7-1.
Coaches: East, Adam Fries; Mayo, Lorne Grosso
Last meeting: Mayo beat East, 8-0, on Feb. 3, 2014, at Graham Arena. Austyn Renn had a hat trick and an assist for Mayo.
Last game: East lost at LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter, 6-3, on Jan. 27; Mayo lost at Mankato West, 3-2, on Saturday.
Team leaders: EAST -- Sr. F Grayson Gavin (37-24--61); Jr. F Judd Schulz (18-39--57); So. F Hunter Johnson (8-14--22); Sr. D Brandon Adams (6-12--18); G Jack Cusey (9-8-0, 3.04 GAA, .894 save pct.). MAYO -- So. F Anthony Oliveto (25-11--36); Sr. F Logan Haskins (14-21--35); Sr. F Ethan Moore (10-18--28); Sr. F Austyn Renn (8-10--18); Sr. G Chris Wileman (13-7-1, 2.89, .874).
Notes: East is seeking its first season above .500 since 2005-06, when it finished 15-14-1 and advanced to the Class A state tournament. ... East's Gavin leads the Big Nine Conference in goals (37) and points (61). He is tied for third in the state in goals and fifth in the state in points. ... Schulz is ranked ninth in the state in total points. ... This game is worth four points in the Big Nine standings. Mayo needs a victory to keep its slim hopes of a conference title alive. ... Mayo's Oliveto (36 points) and Haskins (35) rank seventh and eighth, respectively, in total points in the conference.

• • •

AREA GAMES

• RED WING at OWATONNA (7:30 p.m., Four Seasons Centre): The Wingers (4-9-1, 5-15-1) and Huskies (5-6-1, 7-11-1) are separated by just two points in the Big Nine Conference standings. Owatonna is in eighth place, Red Wing ninth. ... Wingers senior F and leading scorer Dylan Goggin is on a roll. He has 12 points in the past five games. ... Senior G Adam Defore is 4-1-0 in his past five starts. ... Red Wing is 4-1-0 in its past five games after a 1-14-1 start to the season. ... Owatonna has a busy end to the regular season. It is scheduled to play six games in the next 11 days. ... The Huskies are led by junior F Noah Scheid (8-11--19).

• • •

AROUND THE STATE

No. 3-AA St. Thomas Academy (18-2-0) at No. 3-A Mahtomedi (18-2-2), 7:30 p.m.: STA has just two losses this season, both by one goal (4-3 vs. No. 10 Benilde-SM and 3-2 vs. No. 4 Hill-Murray). 

No. 5-AA Eden Prairie (13-8-0) at No. 10-AA Benilde-St. Margaret's (12-7-2), 7 p.m.: B-SM has won seven of its past eight games, its lone loss in that span a 5-2 setback against No. 7-ranked Blaine.

No. 2-A East Grand Forks (18-3-0) at No. 17-AA Moorhead (12-7-2), 7:30 p.m.: EGF, the defending Class A state champ, hasn't lost in 2015. It's on a 9-game winning streak, including a 3-0 shutout against Warroad on Saturday.

No. 15-AA Holy Family Catholic (12-6-2) at No. 17-A New Prague (14-6-0), 7:15 p.m.: Defending Section 1A champion New Prague is 6-2-0 in its past eight games. It will likely be the top seed in the section tournament, which begins in two weeks. It is 5-0-0 against section opponents with just one game left against a section opponent (Saturday at Rochester Lourdes).

No. 11-A Fergus Falls (15-4-3) at No. 18-A Sartell-St. Stephen (13-5-2), 7:15 p.m.: The 11th-ranked Otters have lost just once in their past 10 games. ... Fergus Falls has three shutouts in its past five games. ... S-SS leading goalie Taylor Marthaler is 9-1-0 with a 1.40 GAA and a .917 save pct., and three shutouts.