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4 posts categorized "WCHA"

May 21, 2012

College Hockey | Spratte commits to Lake Superior State

Posted by: Feldman

Pete Spratte is proof of just how far hard work and perseverance can take a hockey player.

Don't get me wrong, Spratte is a talented defenseman, but it's probably safe to say that his work ethic is what has made him a Division I college hockey player.

On Monday morning, Spratte, a 2009 Rochester Lourdes graduate, committed to play for Lake Superior State University, beginning this fall.

Spratte played the past three seasons for the Fairbanks (Alaska) Ice Dogs of the Junior A, Tier II North American Hockey League. The Ice Dogs won the Robertson Cup (the NAHL national championship) in 2011, and advanced to the final four of the Robertson Cup tournament this past season.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound defenseman/forward had his best season as an Ice Dog this year. He tallied five goals and 15 assists for 20 points in 58 regular season games, then added a goal and two assists in 10 postseason games.

For his three-year Ice Dogs career, Spratte had 10-38—48 in 172 games, mostly as a defenseman.

He played defense at Lourdes, first under head coach Bob Haskins, then under coach Aaron Gill.

Spratte is entering a great situation at LSSU. The Lakers went 18-17-5 last season, losing to Central Collegiate Hockey Association postseason champion Western Michigan in a second-round playoff series.

The Lakers will play in the CCHA for one more season, then join the revamped WCHA in 2013-14. That was a big draw for Spratte, who will get to play plenty of games closer to home, with schools such as MSU Mankato and Bemdiji State remaining in the WCHA.

I talked to Pete a few minutes ago; as you might imagine, he's pretty excited and anxious to get up to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. (about 350 miles north of Detroit), to start training and getting ready for the season.

He said he wouldn't have made it to this level without all of the coaches he's had along the way, citing Haskins, Gill, Josh Spaniol, Todd Lampman (and his son, Bryce, who has played professionally), P.J. Lepler, Steve Forliti, and John Notermann.

I'll have more at PostBulletin.com later tonight and in the P-B print edition on Tuesday.

March 18, 2012

College Hockey | Kirby for Hobey, tournament notes

Posted by: Feldman

We haven't had much time to talk college hockey on here this season, thanks to a 12-pound 3-month-old who clearly doesn't think I should work at home, and a 5-year-old with a much more active social life than me or Mrs. Feldy.

But, with the high school season having wrapped up, we can talk some college hockey now and through the national tournament. Let's get right to it:

* Huge news came Friday for former Austin High standout defenseman Tim Kirby, who was named one of the top 10 Hobey Baker finalists this week. Kirby, a senior at Air Force, is the third Falcons player to be honored as a top-10 finalist since 2007 (Eric Ehn, 2007; Jacques Lamoureux, 2009). Kirby, of course, is coached by former Rochester Mustangs head coach (and quote machine) Frank Serratore

KIrby has 12 goals and 27 points in 36 games. His 12 goals are third-most by a defenseman in the country. He ranks ninth in school history in points by a defenseman (87) and holds the AFA record for most career games played (152). He's never missed a game in his four seasons.

The top-10 list will be cut down to three names (the Hobey Hat Trick finalists) on March 29. The Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced on April 6 in Tampa, Fla., the day before the national championship game. You can find bios of all 10 finalists here.

Kirby had an assist on the game-winning goal Saturday as AFA topped Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology, 4-0, in the Atlantic Hockey championship game. That victory gives the Falcons an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, which begins Friday. It appears that the Falcons will likely be sent to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., where they will face top-ranked and No. 1 overall seed Boston College.

* There's a good chance that Western Michigan ends up in the West Regional, at the Xcel Energy Center, as the No. 4 seed in that region. The Broncos beat Michigan for the CCHA postseason championship on Saturday, earning an automatic bid into the national tourney.

The Broncos are coached by longtime NHL coach Andy Murray, and Rochester native Pat Ferschweiler is an assistant coach for WMU.

* We could have a meeting of two former Rochester Mayo players out east as USCHO.com is projecting Maine and Minnesota-Duluth to meet in the first round. Defenseman Bill Norman, a 2011 Mayo grad, is a freshman at Maine, though he hasn't played in a game this season. UMD's head equipment manager is 1997 Mayo grad Chris Garner, who is in his fourth season with the Bulldogs.

* The Gophers are in the tournament for the first time since Alex Kangas was a freshman (2007-08), and as the site host, they're locked into playing in the West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday-Sunday, most likely as the region's No. 2 seed. By the time you're reading this, we'll probably know the other teams who have been slotted into that regional (the tournament selection show will air at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU), but it sounds like there's a good chance that North Dakota will end up back at The X for a second consecutive weekend.

Either North Dakota or Michigan is expected to the be the No. 1 seed in the West Regional. The question that the selection committee faces, though, is this: Do they hold up what's referred to as "bracket integrity" (send the No. 1 seeds as close to their homes as possible?) or do they consider attendance issues? If it's the latter, then Michigan will come to The X and UND will head to Green Bay and the Midwest Regional.

From the NCAA's point of view, the Gophers will carry the West Regional, attendance-wise. Sending UND to St. Paul would guarantee a sellout crowd, but it might also guarantee a a lot of empty seats in the Resch Center in Green Bay (with Michigan, Ferris State, Denver and Cornell the likely teams to land in that region).

Either way, if the Gophers get past their first game (quite possibly against Boston U.), they'll be staring down a big rival in the regional final -- UND or Michigan.

March 17, 2011

College Hockey | Rambling on about the WCHA

FELDY: Sitting at the Xcel Center last week during the state high school tournament, I was thinking back to this time of year three years ago, when Rochester Century grad Alex Kangas led the University of Minnesota to the WCHA Final Five championship game.

Kangas was named tournament MVP and set the school single season record for goals against average (1.98) after taking over for a slumping Jeff Frazee. The following week, Kangas and the Gophers went out east and lost to Boston College in an NCAA tournament first round game.

That was 2008. The Gophers haven't been back to the national tournament since. They've even missed the WCHA Final Five two consecutive years. But we all know about the issues the Gophers have, starting with the AD and trickling on down. So let's look at the teams who still have a chance to win the Broadmoor Trophy this weekend.

For a moment, back to the 2008 Final Five, when Kangas pretty much single-handedly lifted the Gophers to the title game. That was only three years ago, but how would fans have reacted at that time if they'd have been told: in 2011, Anchorage and Bemidji State will be in the Final Five, but Minnesota and Wisconsin will not.

Bemidji State?! In the WCHA Final Five?! In the words of Vincent Lombardi, WHAT THE H*** IS GOIN ON OUT HERE?

That's what we'll see today, though, when the puck drops for one of the best college hockey tournaments in the country. Bemidji State against Minnesota-Duluth. And the WCHA should be thanking its lucky stars now that BSU is in the league and in the FInal Five.

With no Wisconsin, no Minnesota and a matchup tonight featuring Colorado College and Alaska-Anchorage -- wait, what? How in the world did Anchorage get to the Final Five?! -- the Xcel Center might feel more like the girls state hockey tournament than a big-time college tourney.

What this weekend will do, I think, is show the WCHA that there's no need to keep this tournament at the Xcel Center once the Gophers and Sconnies depart for the Big Ten Hockey Conference (and for anyone who doesn't think that's coming in the near future, go ahead and keep believing that). Even if NoDak, Duluth, Bemidji, Mankato, St. Cloud and Omaha qualify for the Final Five every year (of course, the Final Five will actually go back to FIVE teams once Minny and Sconnie depart), I'm not sure The X would be packed.

Maybe it's time for the WCHA to start moving its premier event around. Play it in Denver one year, for the Colorado schools. Play it in Grand Forks the next year (11,000-capacity arena), play it at The X or Mariucci the next year.

Those worries can wait until after the season, so back to this year's tournament.

It's actually refreshing to see Bemidji and Anchorage come to The X. It's nice to see some different teams, with players who appreciate the fact that they're there (as long as it doesn't come at the expense of NoDak, of course!). And even as a Sioux fan, it would be awesome to see Bemidji or UAA make a three-day run to a tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

I'm ready to kick back and leave the TV on FSN for most of the rest of the day. I'll be up at the Final Five tomorrow and Saturday. The lone Rochester connection I can see among the six teams there, is UMD equipment manager Chris Garner, a former Mayo player. I'm going to try to catch up with him, to see how his recovery from MDS (pre-leukemia).

February 01, 2011

Archibald commits to Omaha

FELDY: Brainerd senior forward Josh Archibald, who would have been the MVP of the Kiwanis/Think Bank Festival in December at Graham Arena, if such an award existed, has verbally committed to play college hockey at one of the WCHA's newest schools, Nebraska-Omaha.

This article at mnhockeyhub.com says Archibald intends to begin his college career next season, which is a bit of a surprise considering he told more than one media outlet in December (including me, during the Kiwanis Festival) that he would be better off playing a year of junior hockey before jumping to college. Perhaps the ability to play right away (for a team that could well contend for a conference title next season) enticed him.

It's hard to argue with his decision. UNO has clearly fit right in in the WCHA and head coach Dean Blais can work wonders with a college hockey team. Plus, Archibald already is a terrific skater and has a D-I caliber shot. He'll probably need to live in the weight room between now and next fall, but he has all the qualities needed to be a good college hockey player.

Archibald also visited Bemidji State and North Dakota, where his father and Brainerd's current head coach, Jim, played.

Josh Archibald is seventh in the state in scoring (21-34--55) and fourth in assists (34). He is the second good recruit out of Minnesota to land with UNO in the past week. Eden Prairie defenseman Nick Seeler also committed to the Mavericks.