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August 28, 2015

NEW FOOTBALL PODCAST, featuring Feldy and Phersy

UPDATE: The blog software's MP3 wasn't working properly ... so there's a new link below to listen to the podcast on Spreaker. It should be good to go now, just clink the link.


PHERSY: Well, here it is ... our new football podcast.

Hang with us while we tweak the audio and get it to sound more professional ... we're both new to using this podcast equipment. Hopefully by Week 3 we'll be experts.

At any rate, the podcast is where we'll be doing the HS football picks each week this season. Unfortunately for you, you must listen to the whole thing this week to get our picks! 

We hope you enjoy. Please, tweet at us and let us know what you think.


August 04, 2015

Former JM great Jim Scheid dies at 57

Posted by: Feldman

"It's a sad day, but it goes to show life is not fair. It's tough. Rochester has lost a great person." — Former JM hockey star Bruce Aikens, on his teammate Jim Scheid


Six-hundred thirty-six words seems so insufficient to sum up someone's life. Anyone's life, but espeically the life of someone like Jim Scheid, who clearly touched more lives than he knew.

That's how many words are in this story about Scheid, the former Rochester John Marshall athletic standout, who died Monday just three days before his 58th birthday, after a long battle with cancer.

I talked to three of his friends/high school teammates about Jim, and I knew about 5 minutes into my first conversation that I was going to have way more material than I could fit into a print story.

I could have written 6,000 words, probably more.

I never had the chance to meet Jim in person. I interviewed him one time, a little more than five years ago, for a story on all of the Rochester hockey players who moved on to play at the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s and early 80s. The Badgers were playing in an NCAA Regional at The X that spring (2010) and it seemed like a good time to do the story.

I don't know why I remember this, but when I called Jim, he was traveling to a youth hockey tournament -- I'm assuming with his youngest son, Ian, who coincidentally I would come to know a little bit over this past year as he played for the Austin Bruins -- somewhere in the northern part of the state. I want to say Thief River Falls, but I could be wrong.

The point is, from all of his friends and family with whom I spoke today, that was Jim. He was always coaching, teaching, helping others -- his kids, friends' kids -- excel at the sports they love, whether it was hockey, baseball, football (Jim starred in all three at JM) or hunting or fishing (which friends say he loved just as much).

Back in late May, Scott Lecy -- Jim's linemate and teammate at JM and Wisconsin -- worked with the Rochester Park and Rec to get the warming house at Allendale Park named after Scheid. When Lecy went to visit Scheid in his home last weekend, Scheid told him with a laugh, "You know, Scott, that's nice, but I never spent much time in the warming house."

Indeed, as Lecy and Bruce Aikens and Randy Wilcox would explain to me, Scheid was the one who called everyone's house -- who remembers a childhood without cell phones?! -- to tell them to gather at the outdoor rink, no matter the temperature. And once there, when everyone else would take a break, Scheid would be the one shoveling off the rink.

Scheid was also an outstanding QB on the football team (he played on JM's 1974 state title team) and an All-State baseball player as a senior. He was inducted into the Rochester Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame in 2013.

"He was the quarterback in football, first-line center in hockey and shortstop in baseball," Wilcox said with a chuckle. "How much better can you be?"

Scheid, Lecy, Aikens and Wilcox all played on some powerhouse JM hockey teams. The Rockets went 21-3 in Scheid's senior season but lost in the section tournament. The next year, Lecy and Aikens led JM to a state championship. Three weeks later, Lecy was in Madison on his recruiting visit, where he had the chance to catch up with Scheid.

"He knew we'd have a great team that year," Lecy said of the '77 Rockets. "He was just so happy that we all got to experience that. Not just getting to state, but winning it, too."

When I've talked to players from those mid-to-late 1970s JM teams, they all echo the same sentiment: Those teams were great because of the work the players put in away from organized practice. Wilcox talked at length about Scheid using a tennis ball instead of a puck on the uneven outdoor ice at Allendale.

"If you could handle a tennis ball hopping around out there, you could definitely handle a puck," he said.

That makes it fitting that one of the lasting impressions Scheid will leave on Rochester is his name on the warming house of an outdoor rink, where everyone skating on the ice can see it.


Jim and his wife, Sandy, have three sons: Tony, Eric and Ian.

I've followed Eric's hockey career from afar; he'll be a senior playing at Penn State this fall.

Ian will play for the USHL's Fargo Force; they made him a 2nd round draft pick a couple months ago after he had an outstanding season with the NAHL's Austin Bruins. I got to know Ian a little bit while covering the team -- it was obvious he didn't care to have the spotlight placed on him, but he always answered questions with thought and never turned me down if I asked for an interview. To know what he was going through off the ice, it's pretty amazing to have watched the season he put together on it.

After meeting Ian and watching him play, I wasn't shocked that Aikens had this to say about Jim Scheid as a high school player:

"I know his parents were big influences in his life. He wasn't a really vocal guy, but was always very down to Earth. He let his actions and play speak for him."

His former teammates describe Jim as a do-it-all type of guy, one who would much rather set up his teammates for a goal than score it himself.

As Lecy and Wilcox pointed out, Scheid earned the nickname "Slip" at Wisconsin, because he was always too slippery for anyone to catch.

"He was so unselfish," Lecy said. "He was always looking to pass and not shoot. ... He was a great athlete and a great guy, and he was easy to like and look up to."

Aikens added: "Jim was a class act. He came to play every night. Fundamentally he did everything well and was a great team leader. He could really pass the puck, very unselfish. He got more joy out of winning than his own statistics. It was a joy to play with him.
"He was the QB on the football team, a great baseball player, and he did it all with class and made it look easy."

July 21, 2015

Statement from Rochester CVB on potential USHL team playing at MCC

Posted by: Feldman

The Mayo Civic Center is undergoing a massive $79 million renovation project, expected to be completed in 2017. Part of that renovation could include the addition of a refrigeration system so that ice could be installed for hockey (and, I'm guessing, touring ice shows such as Disney On Ice-type shows), in particular a possible USHL expansion franchise.

Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Brad Jones issued a statement today that indicates the process is underway to find out what types of sports and entertainment options may be feasible and successful in Rochester.

Results of the study are expected in September.

The statement reads:

“The Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau, in collaboration with a group of interested parties, is engaged in a feasibility study to determine which type of sports and entertainment may be successful and sustainable in the Rochester market.

The study will assist in identifying what type of facility is needed. Exploration and understanding the needs of the United States Hockey League, in addition to other sports organizations, are a component of the feasibility study.

"The results of the study are expected to be available in September. Upon completion, the outcomes will be utilized to determine if future opportunities are pursued.”

So, there we go. I guess we'll find out in roughly two months if the Civic Center is a good candidate for the USHL (and possibly other sports leagues) and vice-versa. If making the arena hockey-friendly is a possibility, that would clear -- as far as I can tell -- probably the biggest hurdle in getting the country's top junior league back in Roch.

Junior Hockey | The USHL may make a comeback in Rochester

Posted by: Feldman

Dust off those old Rochester Mustangs T-shirts and jerseys. You may need them again in a couple of years.

Or maybe not. (But it still would be cool to dust them off and wear them.)

The USHL may be on its way back to Rochester. In 2 or 3 years. Or maybe not. There is an owernship group in place and ready to bring the league back to town, if all of the details can be worked out. The team would almost certainly be an expansion team and probably would start play in the 2017-18 season.

I have not yet been able to get anyone from the United States Hockey League, the Mayo Civic Center or the ownership group, on the phone. I left messages this afternoon for USHL commissioner Bob Fallen, as well as Mayo Civic Center Executive Director Donna Drews, and two of the men who are likely heading up or heavily involved in the ownership group. I haven't heard back from any of them, but it's only been about nine hours, so let's give them a little time, eh?

Why call Drews at the MCC? Well, because, from everything I'm hearing, the owners want to place a potential franchise in downtown, which would obviously mean playing in Taylor Arena.

The problem: Taylor Arena isn't fit to hold ice right now. No refrigeration system is in place. That said, if one is going to be installed, now would be the time, with the giant renovation project already underway at the Civic Center. (Personally, I wouldn't at all mind walking across the street from the P-B a couple of dozen times a winter to watch USHL hockey). Perhaps that means the ownership group would pay for the cooling system? 

What about the Rochester Rec Center, you ask? The Rec Center is an awesome place to watch hockey. The view from the loft is the best spot in town to watch a game. However, with the growth -- both in terms of number of teams and in terms of recognition as a ultra-talented league -- of the USHL, I'd guess the league is looking to place teams in arenas that seat more than the 2,600 or so that the Rec Center can hold. But selling out the Rec Center would mean more attendance than a couple of USHL teams with roughly 3,000-seat buildings that don't sell out on a nightly basis.

Almost all of the arenas that house USHL teams seat at least 3,500, many of them seat 5,000-plus. The smallest arenas in the league are the Chicago Steel's rink, Edge Ice Arena (3,000 capacity), and the Mystique Ice Center, home of the Dubuque Fighting Saints (3,079). The Madison Capitols' Alliant Energy Center Coliseum (10,231) and the brand new Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls (10,678) are the biggest in the league.

The Mayo Civic Center's Taylor Arena lists a seating capacity of 5,200 for concerts and 7,200 for festival-seating events. At 5,200 it would be right about in the middle of the league's arenas as far as seating capacity.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Again, nothing is set in stone yet, as far as I know. From what I understand, though, it's gone beyond the "it would be cool to bring the USHL back to Roch, we should put a team together" stage. One of the potential owners even took a trip to Omaha to see the Lancers' new rink back in late May and, I'm assuming, to talk with ownership there about what all it takes to operate a franchise in the country's top junior hockey league.


Why Rochester?

Lots of reasons. Sure, detractors could point to the failure of Rochester's last USHL franchise. The Mustangs folded after the 2001-02 season, partly due to dwindling attendance, but more so, I'm told, because of ownership who had some financial issues, primarily not paying bills.

I remember at one point when I first started on the hockey beat here, probably 2005 or 2006, talking to Rochester Ice Hawks owner Doc Fatis about some of the obstacles they faced when moving their team here from LeSeuer. There was still a lot of skepticism and distrust from the business community toward junior hockey teams. The Ice Hawks have done a remarkable job of building that trust in their product on and off the ice. And if the ownership of this new USHL team would involve the people I'm told it will, there will be a built-in level of trust and familiarity within the community.

So, back to, why Rochester?

The whole Destination Medical Center plan probably helps. If the city is truly going to double in size in the next two decades, a USHL team here would go from drawing on an immediate population of 110,000 to one of more than 200,000, as well as drawing fans from surrounding communities.

As the league stands right now, there are 17 teams. Here is a look at the league's footprint. Fold it in half and Rochester would be almost right on the crease in the fold. A new team here could be placed in either conference, going east or west to play most of its games.

Fallen has said in the past that keeping travel time down as much as possible is one priority. Rochester is less than 400 miles from 12 of the 17 current USHL teams, and only 405 from another (Lincoln, Neb.). Roughly half (eight) of the league's teams are within 275 miles.

Fallen talked at length about USHL expansion during this interview with The Pipeline radio show out of Edmonton back in late May. (Here's a link to that interview; skip ahead to the 5:45 mark, then the 7:45 mark to hear him talk about what the league is looking for in an expansion market)

If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, here's some of what he had to say, while talking about the Indiana Ice re-joining the league in 2016-17:

"We're working on a couple things right now that would add potentially two additional teams for '17-'18."

"We are approached quite frequently (by) folks who are looking to get teams in the United States Hockey League. We've tried to focus on identifying the right markets that fit our business model. I'm a believer that the market has to be first in terms of having a building that's sustainable and having a lease that's right for the footprint of our league, and making sure we're not asking these young men to be on buses for 15, 16, 20 hours for road trips. We're trying to keep things into the midwest, upper midwest, just to, you know, kind of fit in to our business model."

"I really think you'll be looking at something that fits right in our geographic business model. We've been approached by a number of folks about moving east and it's such a huge market out there for hockey and yet they also have tons of Division I college, pro, and minor pro (teams). We're just concerned that the travel would be too taxing. 

"Right now, Youngstown (Ohio) is our eastern-most team. To ask kids to get on a bus and go from Sioux Falls or Sioux City to Youngstown, you're looking at a 10- 12- or 14-hour trip, so we're trying not to go much further than that right now."

Read into Fallen's comments what you will, but Rochester seems to check off a lot of boxes on the league's wish list. That said, as mentioned above, the arena -- the lack of a refrigeration system in it -- could be a sticking point that's too tough to overcome. 


Other markets of interest

Fallen addressed the question of adding teams out east, and his comments seem to indicate that markets such as Buffalo, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh would not be in the running for a USHL team, though the league will hold a preseason mini-showcase in Pittsburgh this fall (Sept. 18-19), with four teams playing games there over two days. Perhaps that's intended more for young players to see what the USHL is all about.

Even if the league intends to add two more teams for the '17-'18 season, there are other markets that could be very attractive.

Where else could the league expand? I have a few ideas, let me know if I'm missing some obvious places in the Midwest or if you think I'm off-base on these. I'm just spitballing:

* Kansas City. K.C. has been mentioned often when NHL expansion or relocation talks come up, though it always seems to get shuffled aside in favor of Seattle, Las Vegas, Quebec City, etc. It has been home to pro teams in the past and is currently the home of the Kansas City Jr. Mavs program (formerly Russell Stover). K.C. also is a very easy drive to the USHL's teams in Iowa and Nebraska.

* Dayton, Ohio. Dayton would make a lot of sense in a possible division with Youngstown, the Michigan teams and even the Indiana Ice when they return in 2016-17. Hara Arena isn't shiny and new, but it seats 5,500, which falls right in line with what the USHL is looking for. The community has had pro hockey teams in the past, including the Dayton Gems of the CHL and the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL. The Bombers stuck around for about a dozen years, which could mean the USHL would find some success there.

* Eau Claire, Wis. I don't know what their arenas hold, seating-wise, but Eau Claire is a big enough city (roughly 65,000-70,000 population) and it pumps out some really talented high school players on a yearly basis, with Memorial High School always competing for trips to state and titles. Again, I don't know what Hobbs Ice Center holds, as far as seating capacity, perhaps it's not big enough, but Eau Claire would be another strong geographical fit.


That's all I have for now. I'll keep efforting the major players in this deal and be back with more when I can get some confirmations of what the conversations to date have consisted of.

June 10, 2015

Junior Hockey | A look at the Austin Bruins draft class

Posted by: Feldman

The Austin Bruins' new coaching staff did a solid job of putting together its first draft class on Tuesday. Coupled with nine tenders who have already signed to play with the Bruins, Austin's first-year head coach Kyle Grabowski has a versatile group to work with come September.

Of course, we don't know who or how many of the draft picks and/or tenders will come to Austin, but if any of those 21 guys choose to play in the NAHL, the Bruins hold their rights. Keep in mind that NAHL teams often take flyers on players who could or likely will make a USHL (Tier I) team, or a team in a Canadian junior league. If things don't pan out in that league, the NAHL team then holds their rights at Tier II. 

So don't expect all 12 draft picks to be on the Bs roster in September. And don't be shocked if they're not all there at the Bruins tryout camp next month in Somerset, Wis. (July 7-10). 

Here's a look at the Bs 12 draft picks:

ROUND 1, No. 20 overall
Vince Marinaro, F, Des Moines (USHL) (3-11-97, 18-y-o) 5-10, 160: Marinaro split last season between Coulee Region of the NAHL and Des Moines of the USHL. He started the season with the Chill, recording 2-4--6 in 22 games, then put up 2 assists in 25 games with Des Moines. He had a goal and two assists in four games against the Bruins last season. He played for Team Illinois program from Bantam through U18 levels. In 2013-14, had 11-17--28 in 28 games with Team Illinois U18. Put up 8-5--13 in 26 games for Team Illinois U16 Midget in 2012-13. He is a native of Algonquin, Ill.
ROUND 2, No. 43 overall
Mason Anderson, D, Waterloo (USHL) (2-23-95, 20-y-o) 6-2, 174: Played 50 games in the USHL last season, the first 30 with Madison and the last 20 with Waterloo. Put up 1-5--6 in Madison and 0-1--1 in Waterloo. Listed at 6-2, 174 pounds. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska. A '95 birthdate, will turn 21 next February. In 2013-14, played for Drumheller of the AJHL and Weyburn of the SJHL. Prior to that, played Bantam and Midgets for the Alaska Wolves U14, 14AAA and 16AAA programs. Also played for the Alaska Acaes Midget 18AAA team.
ROUND 3, No. 48 overall
IAN BECK, D, Milwaukee Jr. Admirals (TIEHL U18) (4-5-98, 17-y-o) 6-4, 200: Beck played for the Jr. Admirals and had 3-13--16 in 49 games this season. He is just 17 years old, will not turn 18 until next April. Bruins received this pick in a trade with the Minnesota Magicians. Beck is a Chicago native.
ROUND 3, No. 65 overall
A.J. Drobot, F, New Jersey Rockets (EHL) (4-14-98, 17-y-o) 5-8, 176: Played one game for Sioux Falls in the USHL this past season. Put up 11-18--29 in 35 games for the Rockets in 2014-15. Was a big scorer for the Rockets' U19 Midget team in 2013-14, putting up 43-22--65 in 52 games. Is a University of Maine commit. From Churchville, Pa.
ROUND 4, No. 87 overall
Frankie Sullivan, D, Springfield Pics (USPHL) (2-29-96, 19-y-o) 6-0, 187: Played for four different teams in the USPHL last season, finishing with Springfield for the final 23 games. Totaled 6-8--14 in 48 games. Prior to that, played high school hockey at Westminster Prep in Connecticut. A native of Fairfield, Conn.
ROUND 5, No. 109 overall
Kyle Madore, G, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U18 (Tier I U18 Elite) (2-10-97, 18-y-o) 6-2, 165: Was 11-5-0, 2.54, .906 with Penguins Tier I Midget last season. Went 3-0 in the playoffs, with a 1.32 GAA and a .940 save pct. Brother, Rob, played goalie at the University of Vermont from 2008-12 and has played professionally in the ECHL since then. He played this season for the Cincinnati Cyclones. Another older brother, Matt, played for New Mexico in the NAHL in the 2010-11 season. Athletic ability runs in the family. Former Minnesota Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey is their cousin.
ROUND 6, No. 126 overall
Logan Haskins, F, Rochester Mayo (MN-HS) (1997) 5-9, 155: Haskins led the city in scoring for a second consecutive season last season as a senior. The diminutive, slick-skating playmaker finished his three-year varsity career with 116 points and he put up at least one point in 23 of Mayo's 26 games this season. He also had 13 multi-point games this season, playing on a line that combined for 125 points.

Round 7, No. 141 overall
Nick Wilson, F, Michigan Nationals U18 (ECEL) (Birthdate, Ht., Wt. N/A)

Wilson skated for the Michigan Nationals last year in the Midget Major division of junior hockey, where the team competed against HPHL, T1EHL and East Coast Elite League (ECEL) teams. The 18-year-old from Bartlett, Ill., was teammates with current Bruins tender Brendan VanSweden on the Nationals and could be teammates again in Austin next year.

Round 8, No. 153 overall
Nigel Nelson, F, Chicago Young Americans U16 (HPHL) (1-17-98, 17-y-o) 6-1, 170
Nelson had a strong final season in the U16 division of the HPHL last year for the Chicago Young Americans. The Crystal Lake, Ill., native tallied 13 points (7-6--13) in 25 games and turned 17 in January. Nelson is listed as a 6’1 forward and would finish high school in Austin if he makes the Bruins roster. Before playing for CYA, he played for Team Illinois’ AAA bantam team.

Round 9, No. 164 overall
Ezra Hall, F, Winnipeg Blues (MJHL) (4-9-96, 19-y-o) 6-5, 201
Hall is the only member of the Bruins’ 30-player protected roster from Canada, as he hails from Winnipeg. The 19-year-old defenseman played for the Winnipeg Blues in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) last year, where he had 26 points (12-14--26) in 53 games. Hall’s size could be a huge factor on the Bruins’ blue line.



Round 10, No. 174 overall
Jacob Paganelli, F, Shattuck St. Mary's Prep (3-28-97, 18-y-o) 5-11, 170
Paganelli, from Verona, N.J., has committed to play for Division I Princeton University in his home state, beginning with the 2016-17 season. He could add a big scoring punch to the Bruins if he doesn’t play in the USHL next year. Paganelli finished with 59 points (24-35--59) in 54 games last season at Shattuck.

Round 11, No. 184 overall
Johnny Pesek, D, Soo Indians 18U (Midget Major) (10-28-98, 16-y-o) 5-10, 150Pesek is the youngest of the 12 Bruins draft picks but has a very high ceiling with four years of junior eligibility remaining. The defenseman from Lake Forest, Ill., won’t turn 17 until October, and spent last season playing AAA midget majors for the Soo Indians 18U team. Pesek finished with 47 points (18-29--47) in 59 games for the Indians and also had the opportunity to play in two USHL games for the Green Bay Gamblers alongside former Bruins Sam Kauppila and Jason Pawloski.

June 02, 2015

Junior hockey: The Austin Bruins officially announce new coaching staff

Posted by: Feldman

As we reported in this story on Friday, and as has been rumored for more than two months, the Austin Bruins have named Kyle Grabowski as the second head coach/GM in franchise history. He takes over for Chris Tok, who was fired two weeks ago after five seasons, 203 wins, three division titles and consecutive trips to the Robertson Cup the past two seasons.

Here's the full release from Bruins media relations coordinator John Peterson, minus one line that included his phone number. :)

The release also notes the hiring of assistants Keenan Kelly and Brad Clayton.

The NAHL Draft is a week from today and Bruins tryout camp is set for July 7-10. Three months from now, players will be reporting to Riverside Arena for the start of another season.

The Austin Bruins are ready to usher in a new era and finalized its coaching staff Monday for the 2015-16 season.

Kyle Grabowski was named the second Head Coach in franchise history Friday, and will be joined by Keenan Kelly and Brad Clayton on the Bruins bench.

As a staff we’re really excited,” said Grabowski. “There is such a good following for the team in Austin. The community shows so much support and obviously [the Bruins have] had a lot of success.”

Grabowki grew up in Oakdale, MN where he played goalie for Tartan High School, before manning the crease at Marion University from 2003-07. His coaching career began in 2010 as an assistant for the Idaho Junior Steelheads of the Western States Hockey League (WSHL).

After spending three years as an assistant, Grabowski was named Head Coach and General Manager of the Steelheads in 2013-14, where he led Idaho to a 39-5-2 record and a runner-up finish for the Tier III National Championship.

Grabowski made the jump to the NAHL last year where he was the assistant coach of the Brookings Blizzard, working alongside Head Coach Dan Daikawa.

I learned the league last year working with [Daikawa] in Brookings, like working through trades and tenders. He was a great resource and I thank him a lot for what he’s done.”

Kelly will be the Bruins’ new assistant coach and he and Grabowski have worked together before. When Grabowski started with Idaho in 2010-11, Kelly was in his second year on staff. The Boise, ID native went to Northern Michigan University the following year where he has been a student assistant the past four seasons.

Keenan and I have known each other a long time and I’m excited to coach with him again,” said Grabowski. “It’s good to work with people you trust.”

Monday the Bruins announced that Brad Clayton will be the third member of the Austin coaching staff, joining the team as an assistant coach and Director of Player Personnel. Clayton spent the past four seasons as head scout for the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, and the past three as the Director of Scouting for the Janesville Jets. He also scouted for the Silver Cup winning Granite City Lumberjacks of the NA3HL the last three years.

Now the work begins, as June figures to be a pivotal month for recruiting.

The biggest challenge is preparing for the draft and recruiting this summer,” said Grabowski. “June will be a crazy month and we have a lot of work to do.”

The new bench boss has already reached out to players from the 2014-15 Bruins team that still have junior hockey eligibility and has contacted all ten of Austin’s tenders, who he believes can contribute next year and says are excited to come to Austin.

Austin’s new coaching staff will step into an organization that has been among the NAHL’s elite the past three years, and Grabowski excited for the opportunity to build on that success.

[Tok] and [Huffman] did a fantastic job here, but I expect us to have success and we will have to put our own stamp on things. I want our team to play hard, physical hockey and be the hardest team to play against.”

May 19, 2015

BLOG | Bruins need to act soon on coaching decision

Posted by: Feldman

We'll put a wrap on the 2014-15 Austin Bruins season here on the blog tomorrow, but...

As was first reported here last night, Austin Bruins assistant coach Jamie Huffman has indeed resigned. 

Here's the story from today's P-B, with comments from Huffman and head coach Chris Tok, who is still in place and will continue his duties until told otherwise from Bruins ownership.

The Bruins owners, Craig Patrick and Mike Cooper, issued a brief statement today:

Bruins assistant coach Jamie Huffman will not return to Austin next season.

Prior to the beginning of the 2014-15-season coach Huff told Bruins ownership that he would likely not be back for the 2015-16 season. Several weeks ago Huff confirmed that he would not be back and asked that we not announce his departure until the end of the season. We respected his wishes and did not announce that he was leaving until today. 

In the three years that Huff has been the main recruiter for the Bruins he has been responsible for bringing in the talent that has brought us so much success.

The Austin Bruins organization wishes coach Huffman the best in all of his future endeavors.

Read into that what you will. It says nothing about Tok, who, as far as I can gather, has not been told if he'll be back or when or if he'll be let go. What I can tell you is that the relationship between the coaches and owners has been strained for some time, beyond just this season. That's pretty obvious, though, eh?

What we also know is that, if this team intends to be successful next season, it needs to make some decisions and make them fast. 

The NAHL Draft is 20 days away. Summer tryout camps need to be organized and operated; on a list of team tryout camps on the NAHL website, the Bruins are the only team in the league not on the list. Dates for a final team tryout/veteran camp need to be put in stone sooner than later. The Bruins still have two tenders available to fill. That also means they have a half-dozen players signed to tenders, including Rochester Lourdes defenseman Griff Slightam, and I'm positive those players would very much like to know who their coach(es) will be.

If, in fact, there is going to be a coaching change in Austin, a new staff will have to scramble to make sure the current tenders are going to come to Austin (they can't play for any other team in the NAHL, but they're not bound to play in the league) and they need to get tryout camps going; they're behind every other team in the league in that regard.

On top of that, Tok will have little time to look for a coaching job, if he decides to stay in coaching.

The longer this drags out, the worse it is for the product that will be on the ice this fall. Attendance at Riverside this season dipped below the 1,000-per-game average for the first time since the team's inaugural season. It was a drop of 226 fans per game in the regular season (from 1,215 to 989) compared to last season. Over the course of 28 regular-season home games (not 30, because two of every team's "home" games are held at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, in September), that's more than 6,300 less fans. That's a lot of ticket revenue and concession stand revenue lost.


2010-11: 756
2011-12: 1,021
2012-13: 1,220
2013-14: 1,215
2014-15: 989

If the head coach -- whether it's Tok or someone new -- has little time to put together a team (kids are going to have 21 other NAHL tryouts to choose from, as well as USHL tryouts and some Tier III tryouts, such as the NA3HL), the team will be playing catch-up to the rest of the division. That's not an easy task, as we saw this season. Minot is improving every year. Bismarck had a "down" year and won't stay that way long. Aberdeen and Brookings gave the Bruins tough games every time they met, despite the S.D. teams not being as deep or talented.

Expectations have been set high in Austin. If the Bruins fall to the bottom of the division, what happens to attendance? Aberdeen finished fourth in the division standings this season, yet led the division in attendance at 1,419 fans per game. Will Riverside see that many if the Bruins are a sub-.500 team?

The point of this is, if the coaching situation isn't solved quickly, the on-ice product will suffer and the fans will, too.


Here are some more comments from Jamie Huffman and Chris Tok about Huffman's time with the Bruins and his departure:


"I'll miss the kids and I'll miss (Tok), too. He's really good at what he does and he gave me an opportunity I'll never forget. I'm most proud of those banners we hung. No one can ever -- ever -- take those away from us."

"I try to work hard and work with good people like (Tok) and I'm smart enough to know that I have to work even harder to keep up with them."

"It puts a smile on my face, even in the middle of a game, to look down by our locker room and see all those (former players) standing there. The bond we have ... we spend so much time together with them and hopefully have earned their respect."


"Jamie excels at numerous things, like getting more out of the players, the little things in practice. When they're doing drills, just the little things, telling them to go faster or push themselves more ... just the energy he brought to the rink every single day. He could be a gruff individual, but the players loved him."

"The name he's built for himself in recruiting and the resume he's built, it's all because he does his due diligence. He turned over every single rock on every single player to make sure he got the kids that were right for us."

"His favorite quote to recruits was always 'do your homework.' He meant do your homework on Chris Tok, ask other people. He would sell kids on our team, our program, but he wanted them to do their due diligence too. 
"When players come here, they know we are pretty demanding. Our players know what they're getting into when they come here. I've read and heard player say that it sinks in and they appreciate it more once they're gone."

"Jamie put a lot of time in with the players. He was a huge part of that bridge between the players, the captains, and me."


May 15, 2015

BLOG | Rochester's Zmolek has been key to Bruins playoff push, history of Robertson Cup

Posted by: Feldman

Since I'm settled into my press row seat at Riverside Arena with 85 minutes 'til puck drop, why not do one more blog before the Robertson Cup Finals begin?

Rochester Century standout defenseman Riese Zmolek played in four games for the Austin Bruins back in November, prior to the start of the high school season. When Century's season ended in the Section 1AA semifinals, Zmolek rejoined the Bs two days later. 

I've avoided writing much about him as a B for two reasons: 1) I wrote a lot about him -- deservedly so -- in his stellar high school career, and 2) I wanted to let him settle in with the Bruins and not write about him just because he's from Rochester.

He's definitely settled in and is a valuable member of the Bs defensive corps. They use him in every situation and full confidence in him. I talked with Bs coach Chris Tok before last weekend's national semifinals about Zmolek. Here's what he had to say about how Riese has adjusted to the NAHL.


Zmolek, 18, is one of three Bruins players who were selected in the USHL Draft a couple weeks ago, being picked in the second round by the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. Defenseman Ian Scheid (Fargo) also went in the second round, and forward Nico Sturm (Tri-City) went in the 5th round.

"Riese can really bring something to a (USHL) hockey team and help them win and get into championships," Tok said. "They (USHL coaches) are looking for guys who win. Riese is here and he's won."

Tok said Zmolek has made his own name in hockey circles. Sure, everyone knows who his dad is (Doug, a veteran of 467 NHL games and a former first-round draft pick of the Minnesota North Stars), but Riese is in Austin because of his ability, not his name.

From the first time Riese played in a game with the Bs back in November, the coaching staff loved the way he always went full speed. If he made a mistake, he was doing it at full speed. There was no hesitation to his game. As Tok put it to me back in November, coaches love working with guys who play with some decisiveness. They can work to correct mistakes guys make while playing all-out. 

"Riese is probalby never going to get away from his last name," Tok said, "but he's a competitor just like his old man was and that's why he's here, not because of his dad, but because he's a competitor. He does things hard and he's decisive. You can't have a high school kid come in to this level and be soft. He has been a really good addition to our team and will make a good jump to the USHL."

As far using Zmolek in all situations, assistant coach Jamie Huffman runs the defensemen during games. He generally determines which pairings are put on the ice, with Tok, of course, holding veto power.

"Huff runs the D and has a lot of confidence in (Zmolek)," Tok said. "I can tell you that I have not walked down to that end of the bench and said 'hey, don't play him.' He's here to play. We didn't have him come after his high school season, or before, just to sit on the bench.
"When he came the first time (in November), he saw more power-play time. When he came back, we had some chemistry going on the power play and he hasn't seen as much time there.
"A couple things that make him so good defensively late in games is, he's hard on pucks, when he gets his stick in there it's heavy and he does something good with it. He's getting it out of the zone and not just flipping it softly. He protects the front of the net really well, knocks people down, and he's not afraid to block shots. If you do those things, it makes you a valuable asset."

Zmolek didn't have any points in 12 regular-season games, but has three points in 11 playoff games, including his first NAHL goal, which he scored in a 4-3 series-clinching Game 3 victory against the Aberdeen Wings in the first round of the divisional playoffs. 

Zmolek was somewhat of a free-wheeler at Century. That's not to say he was out of control, but because of his skating and puck-handling ability, he had the green light to go end-to-end, become a fourth forward whenever he chose.

The Bruins coaches have encouraged their offensive-minded d-men (specifically Zmolek and Ian Scheid) to use their skills and creativity, but to choose the proper spots to do so.

"We've talked to him a couple times, not necessarily backing him off, but about making the times he (jumps into the play), doing it more intelligently," Tok said. "We talk a lot about risk/reward. We want all our D to go, we want them all to jump, but ... a lot of them come in and, the thing we talk about a lot is, you don't have to do it all by yourself.
"We have no problem with you guys going, but beating guys 1-on-1 or trying to go through three or four guys, that's not what we're looking for, or what we expect you to do. But, by all means, go. You have instincts, use them. We're not throwing the reins and saying 'you have to stay back and play D and that's all we want you to do.' He has the creativity to go, it's just make sure you're doing it together."



To be honest, I had no idea until today what the Robertson Cup's origin is or why it's named as such.

My P-B colleague Donny Henn called it the "Frederick Cup" on a radio show a week or so ago. I like the ring of that, too, but we decided to just stick with the NAHL Championship Series for most of that show. 

That got me thinking, though, what's the origin of the Robertson Cup? I'm guessing a lot of players, and maybe some coaches, in the NAHL don't know either. 

The Robertson Cup is the trophy (good pic of it here) awarded to the NAHL playoff champion, which also is the USA Hockey Junior A, Tier II national champion. 

The Cup was brought into play for the NAHL champion in 1976 and was named the Robertson Cup in the 1980s, named after Chuck Robertson, a pioneer of junior hockey with the NAHL and in Michigan. Robertson was the owner of the Paddock Pools Saints (Estero, Mich.), who won the Cup seven consecutive seasons from 1976-83.

This weekend, a Minnesota team will win it for the first time in its 39-year history.

Either the Austin Bruins or Minnesota Wilderness will add their name this weekend to this list of past Robertson Cup champions:

2014 Fairbanks Ice Dogs
2013 Amarillo Bulls
2012 Texas Tornado
2011 Fairbanks Ice Dogs
2010 Bismarck Bobcats
2009 St. Louis Bandits
2008 St. Louis Bandits
2007 St. Louis Bandits
2006 Texas Tornado
2005 Texas Tornado
2004 Texas Tornado
2003 Pittsburgh Forge
2002 Compuware Ambassadors
2001 Texas Tornado
2000 Danville Wings
1999 Compuware Ambassadors
1998 Compuware Ambassadors
1997 Springfield Jr. Blues
1996 Springfield Jr. Blues
1995 Compuware Ambassadors
1994 Compuware Ambassadors
1993 Kalamazoo Jr. K Wings
1992 Compuware Ambassadors
1991 Kalamazoo Jr. K Wings
1990 Compuware Ambassadors
1989 Compuware Ambassadors
1988 Compuware Ambassadors
1987 Compuware Ambassadors
1986 Compuware Ambassadors
1985 St. Clair Falcons
1984 St. Clair Falcons
1983 Paddock Pools
1982 Paddock Pools
1981 Paddock Pools
1980 Paddock Pools
1979 Paddock Pools
1978 Paddock Pools
1977 Paddock Pools
1976 Little Caesars

Bear Tracks | Breaking down the Robertson Cup Finals

Posted by: Feldman

AUSTIN -- On Jan. 2, the Austin Bruins loaded up and bussed to Brookings, S.D., for what seemed like just another regular season game in the North American Hockey League. 

Two nights earlier, the Bruins had been beaten soundly on their home ice by the Coulee Region Chill, a 4-1 defeat that dampened the New Year's Eve celebration in A-town. 
But on Jan. 2, Evan Smith made 19 saves and -- fittingly -- Luke Dietsch and Trevor Boyd scored in a shootout to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory against the Blizzard. 
That started a second-half run where the Bruins went 21-3-3 and passed Minot to win the Central Division championship and lock up home-ice advantage through the first two rounds of the NAHL postseason.
Somehow, a team that went through a 6-8-6 stretch in October and November -- and looked out of sync and disjointed on the ice -- came together and put together as dramatic a turnaround as you'll see.
And in less than six hours, they'll play host to Game 1 of the Robertson Cup Finals.
The Bruins will face another team, the Minnesota Wilderness, that at times this season looked like a long shot to make it out of their division playoffs. The Wilderness were down 2-0 in a best-of-five first-round series against Coulee Region. They rallied to win, then they swept defending national champion Fairbanks 3-0 in the Midwest Division Finals, THEN they swept the NAHL's best regular-season team, Janesville, in the national semifinals.
That has set up an all-State of Hockey Robertson Cup. One team will hoist it, either after Saturday's Game 2 or Sunday's if-necessary Game 3.
But Game 1 is what's on tap tonight.
For the final time this season, let's break down this weekend's series:
• Bruins second-year forward Luke Dietsch has battled ups and downs on and off the ice this season. He went through the Bs tough stretch early in the season, and just as the team was starting to turn things around, he found his father, Mark, had been diagnosed with cancer. Click on the link to read my story from Thursday's P-B.
Here is my preview, also from Thursday's P-B, of the Robertson Cup Finals.
Here is my feature story from today's P-B on Wilderness goalie Brock Kautz, who played one season at Rochester Century, as a sophomore in 2009-10, with his brothers, Brandon and Cory, before leaving for the NAHL. This is Brock's fifth season in the league.
• My blog post from yesterday is here, which notes how Bruins coach Chris Tok went about choosing his starting goalie for the decisive Game 3 of the Robertson Cup semis, as well as a note about the great plays Alex Jasiek and Nico Sturm made on the game-winning goal against Lone Star.
Jeff Papas, the radio play-by-play voice of Minnesota-Duluth football, wrote a story on the Wilderness for the Cloquet Pine Journal, looking back on their national semifinal victory against Janesville and looking ahead to this weekend's series in Austin.
Jamey Malcomb of the Duluth News-Tribune also wrote about Kautz and his struggles with an injury this season in this preview of the Robbie Cup.
Best 2 out of 3
At Riverside Arena, Austin
Today: Wilderness at Austin, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Wilderness at Austin, 7:05 p.m.
x-Sunday: Wilderness at Austin, 5:30 p.m.
x--if necessary 
Records: Minnesota 39-15-6 reg. season, 47-17-6 overall; Austin 38-11-11 reg. season, 46-14-11 overall.
Path to the Robby Cup semisMINNESOTA -- defeated Coulee Region 3-2 in Midwest Division semifinals; defeated Fairbanks 3-0 in Midwest Division Finals; won at Janesville 2-0 in Robertson Cup semifinals. AUSTIN -- defeated Aberdeen 3-0 in Central Division semifinals; defeated Minot 3-2 in Central Division finals; won at Lone Star 2-1 in Robertson Cup semifinals.
Head coachesMINNESOTA -- Corey Millen (2nd season, 84-31-15); AUSTIN -- Chris Tok (5th season, 203-107-29).
Wilderness' leading scorers (reg. season/overall): F 22-Darian Romanko (31-30--61 / 38-41--79); F 15-Aaron Miller (21-39--60 / 24-49--73); F 26-Tyler Cline (23-22--45 / 28-29--57); D 13-Ivan Chukarov (12-31--43 / 12-37--49); F 19-Michael Covach (15-27--42 / 19-30--49); F 25-Niklas Lehtimaki (20-14--34 / 24-18--42).
Wilderness' goalies (reg. season/playoffs): 30-Ryan Anderson (24-7-5, 2.37, .890 / 0-1, 3.09, .846); 1-Brock Kautz (14-8-1, 2.33, .906 / 8-1, 1.85, .931).
Bruins leading scorers (reg. season/overall): F Trevor Boyd (26-24--50/30-31--61); F Alex Pettersson (11-32--43/15-39--54); F Nico Sturm (11-30--41/18-36--54); F Luke Dietsch (9-28--37/14-31--45); D Ian Scheid (12-23--35/14-29--43); F Tony Uglem (22-17--39/23-19--42).
Bruins goalies (reg. season/playoffs): Jake Kielly (20-5-6, 2.12 GAA, .906 save pct./4-3, 1.97, .912); Evan Smith (12-1-2, 1.73, .923/4-0, 2.70, .894).
Records (reg. season/playoffs): Minnesota 39-15-6, 8-2 (47-17-6 overall); Austin 38-11-11, 8-3-0 (46-14-11 overall).
Advantage: Bruins
Head-to-head: Austin 5-2-1, Wilderness 3-2-3.
Advantage: Bruins
Offense: Minnesota 251 goals in 70 games (3.59/game); Austin 250 goals in 71 games (3.52/game).
Advantage: Wilderness
Defense: Minnesota 173 goals allowed in 70 games (2.47/game); Austin 162 goals allowed in 71 games (2.28/game).
Advantage: Bruins
Power play (NAHL rank)Minnesota -- reg. season 59-246 (23.98 pct., 2nd in NAHL); postseason 9-30 (30.0 pct., 5th in NAHL); overall 68-276 (24.6 pct.). Austin -- reg. season 38-268 (14.18 pct., 19th in NAHL); postseason 10-25 (40.0 pct., 1st in NAHL); total 48-293 (16.4 pct.).
Advantage: Wilderness
Penalty kill (NAHL rank)Minnesota -- reg. season 203-249 (81.5 pct., 15th in NAHL); playoffs 32-33 (96.97 pct., 2nd in NAHL); overall 235-282 (83.3 pct.). Austin -- reg. season 248-275 (90.18 pct., 1st in NAHL); playoffs 32-38 (84.21 pct., 9th in NAHL); total 280-313 (89.5 pct.).
Advantage: Bruins
Goaltending (save pct.)Minnesota -- reg. season .890; playoffs .919; overall .895. Austin -- reg. season .907, playoffs .900, overall .906.
Advantage: Bruins
The stats breakdown points toward the Bruins winning. Having watched these teams, logic points toward a toss-up series, just like last weekend's national semifinals.
The Bs and Wilderness were evenly matched during the regular season, with four of their eight meetings going to overtime or a shootout. When the Wilderness swept the Bs in Cloquet in November, Austin was struggling. When the Bs swept the Wilderness at Riverside in mid-March, the Wilderness were struggling. 
In the words of Red Wing High School girls hockey coach Scott Haley, this time of year your team's "big knockers gotta knock." (And, yes, I'm going to use that quote over and over and over as long as I write about hockey ... the media hopes Haley never leaves. He's a quote machine).
Those top guns from each team were the ones who did most of the scoring in the regular season meetings.
Austin's leading scorer Trevor Boyd averaged a point per game against the Wilderness this season (5-3--8), while forwards Alex Pettersson and Nico Sturm both had six points (both had 0-6--6).
Gophers commit Darian Romanko (3-3--6), Bemidji State commit Aaron Miller (3-3--6) and defenseman Janis Jaks (0-6--6) shared the scoring lead for the Wilderness against the Bruins this season. Jaks is the lone surprise of the group, as he had just 13 points in the regular season, nearly half of them coming in eight games against Austin.
In other words, when the top lines are on the ice, don't take your eyes off the game. 
I've been trying to filibuster here, hoping this gets me to 7:05 and I wouldn't have to  give a prediction. But I can't write for five more hours, so here goes...
The Wilderness have been red-hot, winning eight in a row. I think they stretch that streak to nine tonight, considering the talent they have and the fact that Austin hasn't been very good in series-opening games on its home ice the past two years. BUT, this Bruins team has been proving doubters wrong all season. It hasn't always been pretty, but they keep finding ways to win.
The last team to appear in back-to-back Robbie Cup Finals was the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in 2010 and 2011. The Ice Dogs lost to Bismarck in 2010 then won it in '11. I think the Bs match that trend this weekend.
The call: Austin in 3 (Game 1: Minnesota 4, Austin 2; Game 2: Austin 5, Minnesota 3; Game 3: Austin 4, Minnesota 3, OT).

May 14, 2015

Countdown to the Robertson Cup

Posted by: Feldman

As I begin to type, we are exactly 31 hours from the first drop of a puck in the 2015 Robertson Cup Finals.

If you had told me back in September that not only would the Austin Bruins be playing in the Robbie Cup again, but that they'd be playing host to it -- and against the Minnesota Wilderness, a second-year franchise in the NAHL -- I'd have said, "sure, and the Vikings are going to win the Super Bowl this year."

We know how it worked out for the Vikings, but the Bs and Wilderness still control their fate. 

We'll have plenty of time to look back on how far Austin has come this season after the finals, but their second straight appearance in the Cup Finals is a testament to the players buying into what the coaches have asked them to do. 

The same goes for the Wilderness. They lost one of the best goalies in the league last season, Kasimir Kaskisuo, to D-I Minnesota-Duluth, yet here they are, coming to Riverside Arena to play for a national championship. And they've replaced Kaskisuo nicely, with former Rochester Century goalie Brock Kautz playing like the veteran he is. He has won eight consecutive starts in this postseason and is playing with a world of confidence.

Speaking of Kautz, I'll have a story on him in Friday's P-B. I see it's already made its way to our website, so here's a link to it.

Today, I have a short preview of the series in the P-B.

Also, I have a profile on Bruins second-year forward Luke Dietsch, who has battled through ups and downs on and off the ice this season, including his father being diagnosed with cancer early this year. Dietsch is one of five Bruins players who played in last year's Robertson Cup Finals, which the Bruins lost 2-0 at Fairbanks.

I'll do the Tale of the Tape and make a prediction on the blog tomorrow. 


I have no idea who will start in goal for the Bruins in Friday's Game 1. I don't know if the Bs coaching staff even knows. My guess would be Evan Smith, who saved the Bs season in OT of Game 3 against Lone Star on Sunday when he stopped Brahmas forward Pat Egan on a clean breakaway. It looked like a penalty shot, Egan was so wide open behind the Austin D. But Smith shot out his pad to make the save. A few minutes later, Alex Pettersson scored to send the Bs back to the Robbie Cup Finals.

I'd guess Smith gets the nod in Game 1 because that's the way things have gone in the second half of the season. If Smith or Jake Kielly win a game and play well, they have started the next one. When one of them has struggled, the other one has started the next game. It's made for good competition and motivation for both of them. 

After Sunday's game, I asked Bs coach Chris Tok why he went with Smith in Game 3, after Kielly had won Game 1 with a tremendous performance, then allowed just one five-on-five goal in a 3-1 Game 2 loss.

"Evan, he played, there was one goal maybe a little suspect, but in the third period and OT, he competed and battled, made huge saves. It's great the competition we have between the two. Being able to play a different goalie in a third game in three days, it helped. It was a factor. Evan stayed focused and sharp.
"That was primary reason Evan played. I can't look at Jake and say (the Game 2 loss) was his fault. We're not saying that at all. It goes back to a gut decision; as soon as we lost (Game 2), I was thinking 'OK, it's Evan's turn' ... he hasn't done anything to take himself out of the opportunity to start. It was a lot of pressure on him, giving up the first goal of the game, then the second one to put us down 2-1. You start wondering if you made right decision, but that's what we have to do. It's not anything against Jake, he was fantastic in Game 1 and solid in Game 2."
Before we completely move on to the Cup Finals, let's wrap up the semifinals, and Austin's 2-1 series win at Lone Star.
It's easy to focus on Alex Pettersson's game-winning OT goal when watching this video, but it took two heads-up plays just to give Pettersson and chance to shoot the puck.
First, it was Alex Jasiek using his speed to catch a Brahmas defenseman from behind and strip the puck away, which happens about 4 seconds into the clip. Bs forward Nico Sturm saw the turnover happen before the Brahmas defender who was trailing him and was able to stop and turn first, getting a step on that defender. That Brahmas player closed fast on Sturm and cross-checked him to the ice. Sturm still managed to get a good backhand pass off to -- well, he didn't know who he was passing to -- Pettersson, who then fired a perfect shot to beat Brahmas goalie Jake Kupsky cleanly. 
"Nico said he did," Tok said when asked if Sturm saw Pettersson open. "He said he didn't know exactly where (Pettersson) was, but he said he knew somebody was over that way. He used some good common sense too and realized that if him and Jasiek were outside the dot on this side of the ice, we should have somebody in the middle of the rink.
"Watching the video, Nico made a heck of a play, getting cross-checked down to the ice, going to his stomach and being able to make that long of a backhand pass right on the tape. That's a heck of a play."


One unique aspect of this series is that the teams played eight times during the regular season. It's rare for many NAHL teams to play an out-of-division opponent more than a couple of times during a season. Generally, teams meeting at the Robertson Cup either haven't met that season, or have only met once or twice.

There are no secrets with the Wilderness and Bruins, except maybe the status of injured Bs Tony Uglem and Brian Bachnak, both of whom were skating during practice Wednesday. I expect Bachnak will play and I wouldn't be surprised to see Uglem -- who hasn't played since Game 2 of the first round because of an upper-body injury -- give it a go, though I haven't been told yes or no on either.

But back to the series. I had a question over Twitter yesterday, asking which Wilderness players do Bs fans need to watch out for. So I went back through the eight games these teams played this season and tallied the individual scoring stats from those games.

The answers are about what you'd expect.

Bruins' leading scorer Trevor Boyd has eight points (five goals, three assists) against the Wilderness this season, the most goals and points of any player when these teams have met this season. Tony Uglem has four goals against the Wilderness and Brian Bachnak has three.

Wilderness forward Darian Romanko, a Gophers commit, is one of three players with six points against the Bruins in their eight regular-season meetings. Aaron Miller, a Bemidji State commit, and defenseman Janis Jaks also have six points each against Austin. 

That's it for now. We'll have more here tomorrow, in the hours leading up to Game 1.