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14 posts categorized "Winona"

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...


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.


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.


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.


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)


October 21, 2014

High School Football picks | Section quarterfinal edition

FELDY: Phersy gained another game on me last week. I'm pretty sure he cheated, but I'll take my lumps and move on. It should come as no shock that the 9-man games did me in. Phersy knew that would happen, which is why he made me pick three of them. I'm contemplating not putting any 9-man games on the list this week. We'll see. We'll see. 

I went 5-2 last week and am 37-12 this season. Phersy went 6-1 to improve to 35-14. We're down to just a couple weeks left, so he needs to gain some ground. Let's see if he can do it in the section quarterfinals. I say no, he won't.

This round's games to pick, lots of 4s vs. 5s:


No. 5 John Marshall (4-4) at No. 4 Century (4-4)


No. 5 Winona (1-7) at No. 4 Red Wing (2-6)


No. 5 Jordan (5-3) at No. 4 Lake City (4-4)


No. 5 Dover-Eyota (3-5) at No. 4 Chatfield (4-4)


No. 5 G-F-W (2-6) at No. 4 Zumbrota-Mazeppa (3-5)


No. 5 Southland (5-3) at No. 4 Faribault B.A. (6-2)


No. 5 Houston (3-5) at No. 4 Lanesboro (4-4)


PHERSY: Feldy might not say it, but he's worried. This would be the choke of all chokes. He's very frightened for this week's picks, as he should be. It won't be long until Team Phersy charges into the lead...


No. 5 John Marshall 34, No. 4 Century 27: Rockets riding high after huge win over West. If they let up, they'll lose. But my guess is they're getting hot at the right time.


No. 4 Red Wing 21, No. 5 Winona 0: You know it's a brutal section when the Wingers are hosting a first-


No. 4 Lake City 14, No. 5 Jordan 7: The Tigers' defense will carry them to a win. Jordan hasn't played the same competition, and that'll pay off at home for LC.


No. 4 Chatfield 21, No. 5 Dover-Eyota 14: It's not going to be easy for Chatfield, and the Gophers aren't playing great. But it's playoff time...they'll dig deep and move on.


No. 4 Zumbrota-Mazeppa 12, No. 5 G-F-W 0: These teams struggled to score points all season. Cougars faced tougher competition and they're on their home field...


No. 5 Southland 21, No. 4 Faribault B.A. 20: Upset central? Sure. FBA lost big when it faced good opponents, beat up on lesser foes. Rebels enter with confidence and pull the upset.


No. 4 Lanesboro 35, No. 5 Houston 14: This was a shutout win for Lanesboro the first time around. Houston scores, but I don't see an upset happening.


FELDY: I'll admit it. I'm worried. Worried about Phersy breaking down and bawling in the office when I win this thing for -- what? -- like the third year in a row. Let's get on with the picks.


No. 4 Century 27, No. 5 JM 25: This is more about what I saw from Century last week than it is a knock on JM. The Rockets are (obviously) playing quite well and coming off an emotional high. But Century moved the ball effectively against Mayo last week, but shot itself in the foot with turnovers and penalties. The Panthers need to clean those things up, or they won't move on. I trust they'll clean that stuff up tonight.


No. 4 Red Wing 18, No. 5 Winona 6: Won't be pretty, but the Wingers advance to play Stewartville on Saturday.


No. 5 Jordan 24, No. 4 Lake City 20: Lake City had played very well in a loss to Stewartville and a victory against Kasson-Mantorville. Then the Tigers lost by 29 to Lourdes (no shame in that; it's happened to most everyone this year) and lost to Cannon Falls last Wednesday. The Tigers will play better tonight, but I'll take the Hubmen on a late score.


No. 4 Chatfield 20, No. 5 Dover-Eyota 13: I agree with Phersy. Chatfield isn't playing well, but it has some veteran players who know what it takes to win in the postseason. D-E will put up a good fight, but the Gophs win on their home turf.


No. 4 Z-M 14, No. 5 G-F-W 11: Cougars get the home-field advantage and move on to the section semis.


No. 5 Southland 28, No. 4 Faribault B.A. 18: COME ON, PHERSY! This was gonna be my (mild) upset special! Southland's three losses came to Caledonia, Goodhue and Rushford-Peterson. If you're gonna lose three games, there's no shame in those losses. The Rebels are riding high after knocking off defending Class AA state champ Chatfield.


No. 4 Lanesboro 63, No. 5 Houston 48: I can't pick 9-man games, so why not expect a fan-pleasing shootout? Gimme the Burros by a bunch. Eeeee-awwww! (Sorry, I really do think the Burros need that sound effect at their home games, to play after they get first downs. That'd be awesome. Someone get me a video if they do that?)

February 05, 2014

Boys Hockey | Looking at potential Section 1A, 1AA matchups

Posted by: Feldman

There are still 10 days left in the boys hockey regular season, and a couple of key games remain that will impact the seeding process in both Section 1A and 1AA, but since I start thinking about this stuff the minute the Kiwanis Holiday Tournament finishes, I thought we'd try to map out some of the possible seeding scenarios.

I do this with one big asterisk: * I can't figure out how or why some Section 1 coaches vote certain ways each year (there always seems to be a vote or two cast for purely selfish or political reasons). And I haven't seen all of these teams play, so I'm going by records, stats, wins over quality opponents, etc.

Let's start with 1AA.


I started digging into stats and numbers and trends for 1AA teams, but, let's face it, this section goes through the No. 1-ranked team in the state, Lakeville North. I honestly don't know when the last time a Section 1 (A or AA) team was ranked No. 1 in the state. 

This North team is the best team to come through the section since the 2006-07 Century team that placed third at the state tournament. If I had a time machine, it wouldn't be the first thing I'd do, but I'd certainly go back, load that whole 06-07 Century team into the machine and zap it into 2013-14 to watch it play against this year's North team. I could write a whole blog post just about that fantasy matchup, and maybe I will at some point during the playoffs...

The most intriguing battle for playoff positioning in 1AA lies among three Big Nine Conference teams: Century, Mayo and Owatonna. Those three teams are fighting for the 4-5-6 seeds. There's a chance that all three of Rochester's 1AA teams -- Mayo, Century, JM -- may have to go on the road for the first round of the playoffs. I don't ever recall that happening, but we'll get to those teams in a bit. Let's start at the top:

No. 1 seed: Lakeville North. It's clear North is the No. 1 seed. It's 18-3-1 and the top-ranked team in the state. It has played three games against section opponents, outscoring them by a combined 25-2. The Panthers battled injuries early in the year and started the season 2-3-0. They haven't lost since Dec. 7, going unbeaten (18-0-1) in their last 19 games. They hold wins against No. 3 Hill-Murray and two over No. 5-ranked Burnsville. They tied No. 6 Blaine, 3-3, on Dec. 27. They've won 11 consecutive games since that tie, outscoring those 11 opponents 58-13. Their depth is their strength; they have 12 players with 11 or more points.

No. 2 seed: Farmington. The Tigers schedule isn't as difficult as Lakeville South's, but it's really hard not to give the 18-3-1 Tigers the nod for the No. 2 seed ahead of a South team that is 7-14-0. Farmington hasn't lost since Dec. 17, going 13-0-1 since. It outscores its opponents by an average of more than 3 goals per game (5.32-2.14). 

No. 3 seed: Lakeville South. The Cougars (7-14-0) get the No. 3 seed because of their 6-3 victory over Rochester Mayo. South has lost twice to North this season. South has a couple of the top players in the section, sophomore F Nick Swaney (12-28--40) and senior F Patrick Lauderdale (15-25--40).

Nos. 4, 5, 6: Owatonna, Mayo, Century. These seeds may not be clear until the final day of the regular season, Feb. 15, when Mayo and Century play for a second time this season. For Century (11-10-0) to have a shot at the No. 4 seed, it will have to beat Mayo and it might have to win its other three remaining games (at JM, vs. Albert Lea, at Mankato West). Of the three teams battling for the No. 4 seed (which means home-ice advantage in the section quarterfinals) Mayo likely controls its destiny. If the Spartans beat Owatonna (Feb. 11) and Century (Feb. 15), they should be in line for the No. 4 seed. Owatonna's next three games are against opponents with a combined 48 losses, so the Huskies should be 13-8-2 by the time they face Mayo. So, if Owatonna wins that game, it'll be 2-0 this season against Mayo and 1-1 vs. Century. That will likely be enough to give it the No. 4 seed and send all three Rochester teams in 1AA on the road for the opening round of section play.

No. 7 seed: Rochester John Marshall. The Rockets (5-15-1) are playing better than they were a month ago, but they're still struggling to finish scoring chances. That said, if the seeds play out the way I have them here, a JM at Farmington quarterfinal game would be really intriguing to watch. JM lost its season opener at Farmington by just one goal, 4-3, on Nov. 21.

No. 8 seed: Dodge County. The Wildcats (9-9-3) will, unfortunately, have their work cut out for them again in the opening round. They'll have to face Lakeville North in the opening round of the postseason.


The top two seeds in 1A are obvious, but after that, arguments can be made among two or more teams for seeds 3-13. I'd love to be a fly on the wall during the seeding meeting. 

No. 1 seed: New Prague. The No. 6-ranked Trojans are 15-4-3 with three games remaining. Their losses are to Eagan, ranked No. 18 in Class AA; Farmington, an 18-win Class AA team; Hermantown, the No. 1-ranked team in Class A; and St. Cloud Cathedal, No. 10 in Class A. The Trojans get the nod for the top seed because of their 2-1 win at Mankato West on Jan. 4.

No. 2 seed: Mankato West. It's tough to think a team that sits 20-2-0 and is unbeaten in the Big Nine right now won't get the top seed, but, to me, West's head-to-head loss to New Prague trumps the differential in number of victories. That said, West and New Prague appear to be on a collision course that ends on Feb. 26 at the Rochester Recreation Center. 

No. 3 seed: Albert Lea. The Tigers (11-7-1) are playing very good hockey right now, having won five in a row and six of their past seven. Four of those six wins are against Class AA teams (Owatonna, Rochester Century, Rochester JM and Rochester Mayo), all by at least two goals. The other two victories came against section foes Faribault and Austin. A.L. also has one of the top goalies in the section, junior Garrett Matz (11-7-1, 2.49 goals-against average, .923 save percentage).

No. 4 seed: Rochester Lourdes. Yes, the Eagles are just 5-14-1, and, yes, you need more than one hand to count the number of key players they've lost to injuries this season. But Lourdes has played a tough schedule (as usual) and it's younger players/guys who are new to varsity continue to improve. Now, can Lourdes find enough scoring to keep up with the top three seeds? That's going to be difficult. If the Eagles are going to beat some of the top teams in the section, they'll have to win close, low-scoring games. That means they'll need junior goalie Jack Burkel to steal a win or two for them in the postseason. Lourdes could make an argument for the No. 3 seed if it beats Albert Lea on Thursday.

No. 5 seed: Northfield. Northfield (9-12-1) has four losses to section opponents, but those are all to the four teams listed ahead of it here. The Raiders have played better over the past two weeks, following a six-game losing skid by winning three out of four. That one loss in the last four games was  3-2 setback to Farmington, a Class AA team that is 18-3-1.

No. 6 seed: Faribault. I'll make an argument for the 7-10-2 Falcons here, even though there are teams in the section with more wins (LeSueur-Henderson/SP has 11, La Crescent 13, but we'll get to those teams soon). I'd give Faribault the 6 seed because it has five wins against section opponents and a tie against Northfield. The Falcons four section losses have all come against teams with double-digit victory totals (two losses to Mankato West, one to Albert Lea, one to L-H/SP). The Falcons also have defeated Albert Lea once this season, which is another checkmark in their favor to get this seed.

No. 7: La Crescent. The Lancers (13-5-4) get the nod here ahead of LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter because of their victory over L-H/SP. La Crescent plays most of its game against Wisconsin opponents, so it's tough to guage exactly where it falls in this section, but aside from beating L-H/SP, its section wins are against Mankato East, Waseca and Faribault, all teams with losing records. The Lancers also tied a 3-win Winona team.

No. 8: LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter/TCU/Cleveland. The Bulldogs (11-7-2) are 4-3-0 against section opponents, including a win against Faribault. They also suffered a loss to Austin,which has just three wins. The Bulldogs are playing well over the past two weeks, going 4-1-1 in their past six games, and they won't be an easy opponent for anyone in the section.

No. 9: Mankato East. The Cougars (7-15-0) have wins over three of the four teams seeded below them.

No. 10: Red Wing. The Wingers (3-19-0) have lost to Northfield, New Prague and Lourdes. They beat Winona in a regular season game and also scored a big win earlier this season against Academy of Holy Angels. 

No. 11: Austin. The Packers (3-16-1) are 1-1-1 against the other two teams remaining, Winona and Waseca. Austin has split with Winona and tied Waseca. Austin also holds a victory over L-H/SP.

No. 12: Winona. The Winhawks (3-15-2) holds wins over Austin and Mankato East, and a tie against La Crescent.

No. 13: Waseca. The Bluejays (4-13-1) are just 1-5-1 against section opponents this season.

We'll have a much better idea a week from now of where all these teams will land. So keep a close on games the rest of this week and next week because there are still a handful of games remaining that will have an impact on these seedings.

March 16, 2012

H.S. Hockey | All-Big Nine Team announced

Posted by: Feldman

The All-Big Nine Conference boys hockey team was released on Thursday. As you'd expect, the conference champion Century Panthers led the way with six players on the team, plus four honorable mention. Big 9 runner-up Mayo has five players on the team, plus four honorable mention; JM has two players on the team and six honorable mention. 

Here's the complete list, which you can also find by going to the Big 9 website and clicking the link that says "2011-12 Big 9 Boys Hockey All-Conference."


Century: F Nick Jacobs, Sr.; D, Brandon Kautz, Sr.; G, Erik Wennberg, Sr.; F, Dalton Travis, Jr.; F, Hayden Ashworth, So.; D, Riese Zmolek, Fr.
Mayo: D Steve Serratore, Sr.; G Case Hansen, Jr.; F Adam Alcott, Jr.; F, Ryan Martin, Jr.; F, Max Whitney, Jr.
John Marshall: F, Gavin Sandwick, Jr.; D, Alec McGinn, Jr.
Owatonna: F, Justin Brown; F, Soren Colstrup; F, Matt Ratzloff.
Mankato West: F, Tyler Resnar; G, Zach Fox.
Albert Lea: F, Levi Hacker; D, Auston Larson.
Winona: D, Luke Hemker.
Austin: F, Ethan Larson.
Mankato East: G, Lucas Weihe.
Faribault: None.

Century: D, Matt Sturchio; F, Blake Heroff; F, Tyler Iverson; F, Isaac St. Marie.
Mayo: D, Jack Dingle; D, Tommy Fjelsted; D, Will Holtan; F, Nolan Edwards.
JM: G, Jacob Garvey; D, Matt Broman; D, Ryan Lakin; F,  Alex Lovett; F, Hunter Heightland; F, Kyle Andrews.
Owatonna: G, Luke Ebeling; Aaron Kirsch; Robert Dietz; Tyler Yentsch; Alex Whited.
Mankato West: D, Billy Bingham; Josh Christenson.
Albert Lea: None.
Winona: F, Cameron Kelly; F, Ryan Grant.
Austin: F, Marcus Stoulil.
Mankato East: None.
Faribault: G, Cody Morsching.

February 09, 2012

High School Hockey Tonight | Feb. 9, 2012

Posted by: Feldman

All four Rochester teams are in action tonight, so I won't waste much time. Let's get right to it.


When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bud King Ice Arena, Winona.
Records: JM 8-5-0 Big Nine, 9-10-2 overall; Winona 3-10-0, 6-14-0.
Coaches: JM, Jay Ness; Winona, Fran McDevitt.
Last meeting: JM beat Winona, 11-1, at the Rochester Rec Center on Jan. 7.
Last game: JM lost at Faribault, 6-3, on Feb. 2; Winona won, 3-2, at Mankato West on Saturday.
Game notes: While Winona s 6-14 overall, it is 4-4 in its past eight games. ... The Winhawks are led by senior F Ryan Grant (9-7--16). They have just four players with 10 or more points. ... JM has scored a total of seven goals in its past five games. ... The Rockets are led in scoring by a pair of junior forwards -- Gavin Sandwick (29 points) and Hunter Heightland (24). ... The Rockets have just three regular season games remaining after tonight -- Saturday at Owatonna, Tuesday at Albert Lea and Feb. 16 vs. Austin.


When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Riverside Arena, Austin.
Records: Century 10-2-1 Big Nine, 14-5-2 overall; Austin 1-11-0, 4-17-0.
Coaches: Century, Josh Klingfus; Austin, Tim Peterson.
Last meeting: Century beat Austin, 13-0, on Dec. 18, 2010.
Last game: Century won at Albert Lea, 5-1, on Monday; Austin lost at West, 10-0, on Feb. 2.
Game notes: Austin's victories this season have against Waseca (twice), Dodge County (in OT) and Mankato East. ... The Packers have just one win in 2012. ... Junior forwards Marcus Stoulil (15-10--25) and Ethan Larson (11-11--22) are the Packers' leading scorers. ... Century junior F Dalton Travis is now fourth on the team in scoring (14-8--22), after a hat trick against Albert Lea on Monday. ... His 14 goals are a team high. ... This is the only meeting of the season between Century and Austin.


When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: All Seasons Arena, Mankato.
Records: Mayo 10-2-0 Big Nine, 13-8-0 overall; West 8-7-0, 10-11-1.
Coaches: Mayo, Lorne Grosso; West, Curtis Doell.
Last meeting: Mayo beat West, 4-2, on Dec. 8, at Graham Arena. Spartans defenseman Jack Dingle scored the winner with 3:23 to go in the game.
Last game: Mayo beat Mankato East, 7-0, on Saturday; West lost at LeSueur-Henderson/St. Peter, 4-1, on Monday.
Game notes: West has gone 4-7-0 since a 6-3-1 start. ... Mayo leads the Big Nine Conference with 24 points. The Spartans are attempting to win their first conference championship since 2002. If they win their remaining games, they will capture the championship. ... The Spartans are led by junior F Adam Alcott, a playmaker who has 7 goals to go with his 24 assists. ... West is led by Tyler Mata, a senior forward who has 24 points (8-16--24).


No. 16-A ROGERS at No. 9-A LOURDES
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Graham Arena I.
Records: Rogers 15-5-1; Lourdes 15-7-0.
Coaches: Lourdes, Josh Spaniol.
Last meeting: Lourdes won at Rogers, 4-1, on Feb. 15, 2011. Senior D Rory Vesel had a hat trick for the Eagles.
Last game: Rogers won at Proctor, 7-1, on Saturday; Lourdes won at then-No. 9 Blake, 6-2, on Tuesday.
Game notes: Rogers is 9-0-1 in its past 10 games. It hasn't lost since Jan. 3, a 6-5 overtime loss at Shjon Podein-coached St. Louis Park. ... Rogers plays in the Mississippi 8 Conference and Section 5, Class A, in the postseason. ... It has four players with 30 or more points, led by senior forwards Neal Smith (17-23--40) and Zach Hnath (18-20--38). ... Two senior goalies share time for the Royals. Robby Vukelich is 9-3-0, with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Keaton Mumm is 6-2-1, with a 2.34 GAA and a .916 save pct. ... Lourdes' top line of Jason Samuelson, Landon Farrell and Alex Funk have combined for 28 points in the past four games. ... Eagles' senior D Justin Dewitz has seven points in that span and is on a six-game points streak.

January 24, 2012

High School Hockey | Breaking down the Big 9 race

Posted by: Feldman

While the boys hockey regular season is two-thirds complete, most Big Nine Conference teams are only halfway through their conference schedules. Still, to me, it's not too early to break down the race for the conference crown.

I know, teams are ultimately judged on what they do once the Section 1 tournament starts, but let's not discount the significance of the bragging rights, the banner and the great memories that come with winning a conference championship.

Austin and Mankato East are officially eliminated from winning the conference; Winona and Faribault are on the verge of elimination.

Mayo, Owatonna, Century, John Marshall and Albert Lea all still have realistic hopes of winning the Big Nine; Mankato West can still be considered a contender, too, though they'll need a little more help than others to win the conference.

So, here's where the contenders for the Big Nine title stand with about three weeks to go in the regular season:

Currently: 8-1-0 Big Nine, first place, 18 points
Conference loss: John Marshall 
Points remaining to play for: 16
Total possible points: 34
Notes: Mayo has the best-case scenario on its side. The Spartans get to use the cliche, they "control their own destiny." Indeed, if they win out, they win the Big Nine. They're the only one-loss team left, though they still have games left against four of the other five teams with hopes of winning the conference. The Spartans have avenged their only conference loss twice, beating JM at the Kiwanis Festival and again last Saturday.

Currently: 7-3-1, second place, 17 points
Conference losses: Albert Lea, Century, Mayo.
Conference tie: Century
Points remaining to play for: 12
Total possible points: 29
Notes: The Huskies hold one-goal wins against JM and Mankato West, a tie and a one-goal loss against Century, and a one-goal loss against Mayo. In other words, they're a couple of bounces away from leading the conference right now. ... If the Huskies are going to capture the Big Nine crown, they'll have to be road warriors. They have road games remaining against Albert Lea, Mayo and Mankato West.

Currently: 7-4-0, T-3rd place, 16 points
Conference losses: West, Century, Owatonna, Mayo
Points remaining to play for: 12
Total possible points: 28
Notes: JM holds victories against two of the Big Nine teams it lost to -- Mayo and Century. The Rockets can avenge their other two conference losses, with games against West (Thursday) and at Owatonna (Feb. 11) still to come. ... JM plays four of its final six conference games on the road.

Currently: 7-3-0, T-3rd place, 16 points
Conference losses: Mayo, Century, JM
Points remaining to play for: 14
Total possible points: 30
Notes: The Tigers will have to find some consistency if they hope to challenge for the conference title into the final week. They had a five-game winning streak early in the season (Dec. 6-Dec. 20), but have not won two games in a row since then. 

Currently: 7-2-1, 5th place, 15 points
Conference losses: JM, Mayo
Conference tie: Owatonna
Points remaining to play for: 16
Total possible points: 31
Notes: Along with Mayo, Century has the most remaining points to play for. The Panthers have been battling some injury issues, particularly on defense, but it appears as though they may be getting healthy in time for the stretch run and the postseason. They also have two four-point games remaining -- at Austin and at Mankato East. Four of Century's six remaining conference games are on the road.

Currently: 6-5-0, 6th place, 12 points
Conference losses: Albert Lea, Mayo, Century (x2), Owatonna.
Points remaining: 14
Total possible points: 26
Notes: The Scarlets need to win out and get a lot of help; they need Mayo to lose at least three more times, and need the other teams in front of them to lose at least once. West has games remaining against JM, Albert Lea, Mayo and Owatonna. Five of the Scarlets' final eight games are at home, including their last three.

January 19, 2012

High School Hockey Tonight | Jan. 19, 2012

Posted by: Feldman

Two Rochester teams are in action tonight; both with a chance to pull into a tie for first place in the Big Nine. JM can do so with a victory; Mayo can do so with a victory and a JM victory. JM could gain some big-time confidence with a win tonight. More importantly, the Rockets hope to find some offense against one of the better teams in the conference.

As for Mayo, coach Lorne Grosso will make his first road trip of the season, to Winona. His stress level shouldn't get too high. This is a game Mayo should win handily, but, you never know, right? Here's a look at tonight's games:

: 7:30 p.m., tonight
Where: Rochester Recreation Center
Records: Albert Lea 7-2-0 Big Nine, 9-6-1 overall; 
Coaches: A.L., Roy Nystrom; JM, Jay Ness.
Last meeting: Albert Lea beat JM, 7-4, at the Rochester Rec Center on Dec. 7, 2010, in the teams' only meeting last season. 
Last game: Albert Lea beat Austin, 10-0, on Tuesday; JM beat Austin, 10-0, on Saturday.
Game notes: Albert Lea's win Tuesday gave it sole possession of first place in the Big Nine Conference. The Tigers could maintain that lead with a victory tonight. ... A JM victory would leave it tied with A.L. atop the conference standings; Mayo would also join them if it wins at Winona. ... JM's leading scorer, junior F Gavin Sandwick, has 11 points in the past three games (3-8--11). ... Senior F Levi Hacker leads the Tigers in scoring (16-16--32). He has nine points in the past three games. ... These teams are scheduled to meet again on Feb. 14 at Albert Lea.

: 7:30 p.m., tonight.
Where: Bud King Ice Arena, Winona.
Records: Mayo 6-1-0 Big Nine, 9-5-0 overall; Winona 1-6-0, 2-10-1.
Coaches: Mayo, Lorne Grosso; Winona, Fran McDevitt.
Last meeting: Mayo beat Winona, 7-1, on Feb. 5, 2011, at Graham Arena. Derek McMasters had a hat trick and an assist for the Spartans.
Last game: Mayo beat Century, 3-1, on Saturday; Winona beat Austin, 5-0, on Jan. 12.
Game notes: Winona's win against Austin was its first conference victory of the season. ... These teams are scheduled to meet again on Feb. 18, in the final game of the regular season. ... The Winhawks' leading scorer is junior F Ryan Grant (4-5--9). ... Mayo hasn't lost a conference game in more than a month (a 4-3 loss to Rochester JM on Dec. 10).

January 06, 2012

High School Hockey | Thursday Night Playback (Century-JM; 'brawl' in Winona)

Posted by: Feldman

It's been nearly a month since Rochester Century lost a boys hockey game. The Panthers can thank their defense for playing a huge part in their 6-0-1 streak since losing to Rochester John Marshall on Dec. 13.

The Panthers avenged that loss on Thursday night, beating JM 4-1 in a game that wasn't very pretty at times. Some of that "ugliness" was due to the emphasis both teams have placed on playing good defense first.

Here's the game story from today's P-B.

Some other thoughts from Thursday's game:

* Century and JM each had just eight shots through two periods. Century was limited by JM's defense in the neutral zone. The Panthers had no time or space between the blue lines to move the puck in the opening two periods. JM was able to get the puck into Century's end, and maintain possession in stretches, but the Rockets couldn't generate scoring chances. I didn't keep track, but I'd guess Century players blocked 10 or more shots through two periods.

* Both goalies -- JM's Jacob Garvey and Century's Erik Wennberg -- played well for a majority of the game, though both allowed a goal in the third period that they'd like to have back. Even so, it was good to see Garvey back in goal after missing the entire Kiwanis Festival last week with an injury. And Wennberg was again praised by coach Josh Klingfus for preserving the Panthers' 1-0 lead through two periods. 

* Wennberg's shutout streak was snapped at 171:24 -- more than 10 periods of playing time -- when Alec McGinn scored at 6:34 of the third period to pull JM within 3-1. The goal was the first allowed by Wennberg since the second period of a Kiwanis Festival semifinal game against Fargo South on Dec. 29.

* After two periods, Century held a 1-0 lead. If that score had held up as the final score, Wennberg would have had three consecutive shutouts in which Century had scored a total of two goals. Of course, that became moot when the teams combined for four goals in the final 12 minutes of the game.

* Century pulled into a three-way tie for first place in the Big Nine with Albert Lea and Mayo. JM is in fourth, two points behind those three teams.

* * *


It's clear that the paralyzing injury suffered by Benilde-St. Maragaret's hockey player Jack Jablonski last week has opened eyes throughout the hockey community in Minnesota and around the country. Jablonski was checked from behind into the boards head-first by two players during a JV game. He underwent surgery on Wednesday, after which doctors said it's "very unlikely" he'll ever have the use of his hands and won't be able to walk or skate again.

(Here's a link to the CaringBridge page set up for Jablonski. And if you would like to see more tributes, links to articles, etc., go to Twitter and search "#Jabs")

The hit that injured Jablonski is obviously on the minds of players throughout the state. Last night, in the Owatonna at Winona game, a similar hit sparked a fight that caused 10 players to be tossed from the game.

Owatonna's Matt Ritter checked Winona's Ryan Grant into the boards from behind during the second period. Grant got up and went after Ritter, tackling him to the ice. At that point, all 10 players on the ice skated over to where Ritter and Grant were scrapping and began a fight that lasted a couple of minutes, according to a report on

"Being hit in the back [just as Jablonski was] caused that reaction by Ryan," Winona coach Fran McDevitt told "He's too good a kid to react that way."

Grant was not injured by the check and none of the players who were thrown out were injured.

Again, this raises the question: How do we prevent these types of hits?

I wrote in Thursday's P-B that maybe a two- or three-game suspension is warranted for players who are called for checking from behind. I've had three people since then respond the same way: You can't do that because kids will be scared to check, and it will take checking out of the game.

Nobody wants that, but if the punishment for a check from behind isn't more severe, how do kids learn how big of a problem it can cause? Coaches can tell kids over and over and over about the dangers of hitting from behind, but most coaches I know have always done that, so what will it take for those words to actually sink in with players?

The bottom line is that it's a player's responsibility to know the difference between a clean hit and one that is against the rules. If it means a player might have to sit out a couple of games as a consequence, and if it means players become a little less physical (or they have to think before delivering a check), isn't that better than having one more kid suffer an injury like Jablonski's? 

I've also read in more than one place that now isn't the time to talk about ways to change the game or eliminate the bad hits. I'd say it's the perfect time to talk about those things.

I get it. Hockey, just as football, is an extremely physical sport, often with violent collisions. Maybe there are better ways to curb the illegal hits than by suspending offending players for two or three games. But, in time, Jablonski's story will fade from the front of everyone's minds. That's why now is the ideal time to get everyone's ideas out there about how to make the sport safer. 

December 23, 2011

High School Hockey | Thursday Night Playback

Posted by: Feldman

Rochester's boys hockey teams are going into the holiday break on a high note.

JM ended its pre-Christmas schedule on Tuesday with a victory against Faribault. On Thursday, Century, Lourdes and Mayo all won their final games ahead of next week's Kiwanis/Think Bank Festival at Graham Arena.

Mayo's win was an impressive one, a 6-2 victory against rival Albert Lea. Lourdes bounced back from a loss to Holy Family Catholic on Tuesday by beating Providence Academy on the road, 7-3, tonight. And Century rolled over Winona, 11-0.

Quick thoughts on each of Thursday's games (click on the score to link to the story on the P-B website):

Mayo 6, Albert Lea 2: Mayo heads into the Kiwanis Festival next week with a 6-2-0 overall record. The Spartans are tied for first place in the Big Nine and playing with a lot of confidence right now. They've played well at both ends of the ice, with the offense winning the puck possession battles in recent games. And how is this for a state: Dating back to last season (Jan. 15 to be specific), Mayo is 14-3-2 in its last 19 regular season games.The Spartans have two goalies playing well right now, and they're getting contributions from throughout their lineup. Their matchup against Eau Claire Memorial could be the best game of the first round next Wednesday at the Kiwanis Festival.

Lourdes 7, Providence Academy 3: On the surface, this may not look like the most impressive victory (Providence Aacademy is 1-9 this year, while playing a pretty tough schedule). But, when you consider Lourdes entered this game having lost three out of four games, and the Eagles got down 3-0 early in the second period, it has to help their confidence to put on a big comeback effort, on the road. Juniors Jason Samuelson (4 goals) and Alex Funk (4 goals) had nice offensive games, as usual. And sophomore goalie Kyle Lawler got the victory in his first varsity start.

Century 11, Winona 0: The Panthers got a chance to get extended playing time for a bunch of players tonight, who don't normally get it. And they had 10 players get on the scoresheet, including senior captain Blake Heroff, who was finally rewarded for his exemplary work this year with a goal and an assist. Those were Heroff's first two points of the season. Check Tuesday's P-B for a story on Heroff, along with previews of all the teams in the Kiwanis Festival. Century did what it needed to do on Thursday against a team that it is clearly better than. The Panthers led 6-0 after one and didn't give the Winhawks any reason to think they were in the game.

That's it for tonight. I'm off for a couple of days, but I'm working at getting the Kiwanis preview stuff finished up, to print in Tuesday's paper. I'll post some news and notes about the tournament here on the blog either this weekend or early next week.

Until then, Merry Christmas!


December 02, 2011

High School Hockey | Thursday Night Playback

Posted by: Feldman

Thursday night treated Rochester high school hockey teams much better than Tuesday. Mayo, Century and JM went a combined 0-2-1 on Tuesday night. Thursday, Lourdes, JM and Century combined to go 3-0-0. They won by a combined 18 goals and a combined score of 21-3.

Here are links to the stories (click on the scores to take you to the P-B stories):

Lourdes 8, Red Wing 0: The No. 5-ranked Eagles were fast out of the gate and never let the Wingers have much hope. Lourdes led 4-0 after one. Red Wing put a bit of a flurry together in the first six minutes of the second, but Lourdes popped in a couple quick goals after that, and it was over at that point. Lourdes just had too much speed for the Wingers, up and down the lineup. As Wingers coach Mike Belisle said, "Speed kills."

It was a very good performance by Lourdes, a great way to start the season. The good news for the coaching staff is that there are still things to work on. The Eagles were 1-for-5 on the power play and struggled early to keep the puck in the zone with a man advantage. Red Wing also missed a couple of chances that faster teams might capitalize on.

But that's being nitpicky after an 8-0 win. One thing that I can't remember if I put in my game story was a comment about the play of junior forward Ben Weir. He played a very strong, aggressive game in both ends. He was more physical than I remember him being a year ago. That line -- with Ryan Nicolay centering Weir and Connor Nellans -- was really good throughout the night. I believe it ended up with only two points (a goal and an assist from Nicolay), but they did a great job of keeping the Wingers top line neutralized.


JM 7, Bloomington Kennedy 1: Five Rockets had three points each as they earned their first win of the season, and the first under new head coach Jay Ness. 

Ness had good things to say about JM's lineup, up and down, from starting goalie Jimmy Casazza earning his first win of the year, to the strong play of the entire defensive group (limiting Kennedy to 19 shots).

As far as the offensive outburst, Ness was very pleased with the Rockets' balance. Yes, five guys had three points (Alex McGinn, Nick Paulson, Hunter Heightland, Alex Lovett and Jared Bromberg), but a total of eight players got on the scoresheet.

JM plays host to St. Paul Johnson on Saturday and I'm just guessing here, but I'd imagine we'll see junior Jacob Garvey back in goal for the Rockets. Again, just guessing, but I'd suspect Garvey and Casazza will rotate until one of them really siezes the job. If they both continue to perform at a high level, that's a bonus for the Rockets. One of the things Ness told me prior to the season was, a team cannot get through a season with just one goalie. It looks like the Rockets might have two to choose from. 


Century 6, Farmington 2: Like JM, Century earned its first victory of the season and the first under new head coach Josh Klingfus

The Panthers veterans really stepped up tonight and produced. Nick Jacobs, a senior co-captain, had four points. Brandon Kautz, another senior co-captain, had three assists. For a second consecutive game, forwards Isaac St. Marie and Dalton Travis had two goals each. Sophomore Hayden Ashworth netted his first varsity goal, and freshman Jake Roth had an assist (as did junior D Matt Sturchio).

Century peppered the Tigers net, outshooting Farmington 43-21. 

It was a nice bounce-back win for Century, after facing two very good opponents (No. 16 White Bear Lake and defending section champ Lakeville North) to start the season.

Century now has a week to prepare for its Big Nine Conference opener, next Thursday against Faribault at the Rec Center.


AROUND THE AREA: Either Mankato East has improved defensively, or Mankato West really did lose a majority of its talent from a year ago. West beat East by a score of just 4-0 on Thursday. ... In a matchup of Section 1A teams, Northfield proved it's a team to watch. The Trojans went to Albert Lea City Arena -- not an easy place to play -- and thumped the Tigers, 7-2. Tyler Grave had a hat trick for Northfield. ... Skyler Grossell and Ryan Grant each had two goals and an assist for Winona in a 5-0 win against La Crosse Logan. Winona will take a 2-0-0 record into its Big Nine Conference opener against Mankato West on Saturday.