November 3, 2004
Play it Again in the WCHA

By Jess Myers

 WCHA Notebook

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AHA/CHA Notebook
Hockey East Notebook

The higher altitudes of Colorado might have WCHA officials seeing double, at least on questionable goals this season. The league received permission from the NCAA to experiment with video review of goals, and has replay systems set up at the home arenas for Denver and Colorado College.

But after two controversial calls on potential goals last weekend in arenas other than those in Colorado, there’s a growing call among coaches that the experiment should be expanded to all 10 WCHA rinks.

League commissioner Bruce McLeod was in Minneapolis last Saturday to witness the Gophers’ overtime winner versus Minnesota State, Mankato. A pass that hit the skate of Minnesota’s Kris Chucko and went over the goal line was allowed to stand when the officials ruled that Chucko didn’t intentionally direct the puck into the net.

One night earlier, in Madison, the defending national champs from Denver didn’t get the call when a Luke Fulghum shot appeared to cross the goal line, but was not seen by officials or the goal judge. Had it counted, the Pioneers would have taken a lead into the third period. Instead, they lost 6-3.

Pioneers skipper George Gwozdecky is a big replay backer, and not just due to what happened to his team in the past week.

“Eleven years ago when I was a rookie coach in the WCHA, I proposed instant replay at the first league coaches’ meeting I attended and got no support from the other coaches or the league office at the time,” Gwozdecky told INCH. “It’s great that today the NCAA has given the WCHA an opportunity to use this tool. Its helped get a few important decisions correct already.”

McLeod acknowledged that the support for a league-wide replay system is there.

“I would absolutely like to see that system in all of our buildings, and I think if you took a poll, a lot of other guys would like to see it too,” he said. “We’re very happy with it so far.”

Gwozdecky’s team benefited greatly from video replay in last year’s NCAA title game, when Maine’s only shot that got past Denver goalie Adam Berkhoel was ruled “no goal” when replays showed a Black Bear skate in the crease. The coach said that already this season, he’s seen four goals in dispute in other arenas that do not have replay. While admitting that there would be a cost factor involved with getting cameras and monitors in all 10 buildings, Gwozdecky said that the league should get it done.

“I think the referees want it, and need it,” he said. “The game is so fast, and pucks are shot so fast, that it would help get things right.”


Still Seeking Answers in Mankato – With perhaps the toughest first three weekends of any team in the nation on its schedule, it’s not too surprising to see Minnesota State, Mankato still winless after series versus North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota. While it’s way to early for the Mavericks to give up on the season, there are signs that the 0-5-1 start is wearing on team members.

After Saturday’s overtime loss in Minneapolis, Mavs coach Troy Jutting said he’s got little to fault about his team’s effort thus far.

“Save for about 10 minutes in Duluth, we’ve played our butts off all season,” said Jutting. “We’ve got some kids that can make plays, but we’ve been snakebit a little bit.”

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Wisconsin at Minnesota
A month into the season, fans of both Bucky and Goldy can report that the kids are all right. This series should determine which team’s kids are more all right than the other’s. Badgers rookie Joe Pavelski has been turning heads with his offense, while the Gophers have won three in a row thanks to key contributions from a slew of fast freshmen. With that matchup seemingly even, will it be a veteran goalie (“Bernd Brückler, please meet your party in the blue goal crease”) that makes the difference?

While You’re There: While some people will tell you that the best post-game gatherings take place in the Mariucci Arena suites, there’s great conversation and a great slice of pie to be had just down the street at Campus Pizza. Tucked into this cozy eatery after a game, it’s not uncommon to see the likes of the Lucia family, Gopher athletic director Joel Maturi, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, INCH columnist and coaching legend Jeff Sauer, and other notables in the college hockey world.

Stick Salute

It takes a big man to admit a mistake and ask for forgiveness. UMD uber-fan Chris Orlett is a big man, in many ways. After Orlett and some disappointed (and drunk) Bulldog fans took last weekend’s loss and tie to Vermont a little too hard (serenading the home team with chants of “OVER-RATED” at one point last Saturday), Orlett took responsibility for the derisive behavior, which he said clearly crossed a line. This week Orlett went as far as to write a letter to the Duluth newspaper apologizing to the team and the other fans in attendance, and asking for forgiveness. While we can’t condone unruly and unloyal behavior, we applaud Orlett and his mates for having the candor to stand up and admit their error.

Bench Minor

College campuses are generally havens for free speech, but that’s not the case if you want to talk to a guy who wears stripes and uses a whistle. This reporter was rebuffed in an attempt to speak directly to WCHA referee Scott Zelkin last Saturday, when seeking a comment from the official on what he saw and why he called what he called at the controversial end of Minnesota’s overtime win over Minnesota State, Mankato. While WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd was good enough to offer an explanation (media is only allowed to direct questions to Shepherd, in accordance with current league policy), officials should be able to answer for themselves.

One Maverick meeting expectations thus far is sophomore forward David Backes, who leads the team offensively and scored three of the team’s four goals in the two-game series at Minnesota. After the Saturday loss, Backes emerged from the visitors’ dressing room with a smile, and said that he feels the team’s efforts need to be rewarded, and soon.

“We know we’ve been playing hard and putting our hearts on the line,” he said. “Now we just need to put it that extra three inches past the goalie. The good feeling from playing well isn’t going to last much longer. We need a win.

The Mavericks face Bemidji State at home this weekend without the services of senior forward Adam Gerlach, who is expected to miss several weeks after undergoing hernia surgery.


• Special thanks to Bob Gilreath at Michigan Tech for passing along an interesting tidbit about one notable collegiate hockey debut. Midway through the second period of last Saturday’s Huskies home loss to Alaska Anchorage, Tech freshman goalie Kevin Hachey came on in relief of starter Bryce Luker. It took Hachey longer to record his first collegiate save than it did for the diminutive (he’s listed at 5-foot-6, 155 pounds) Californian to collect his first collegiate assist. At 14:49 of the second, Hachey was credited with a helper on Chris Conner’s first goal of the season. It wasn’t until 17:50 of the period that Hachey finally made a save, denying Seawolves wing Chris Tarkir’s point-blank shot.

• While we’re still bewildered about the 200 unsold tickets North Dakota had a few weeks ago versus Minnesota, we’re even more disappointed in our friends on the East Coast. A few Sioux fans who attended last Friday’s game at Boston College reported more than 1,000 empty seats for this meeting of national hockey powers. While some have theorized that the hype surrounding the Red Sox title kept some Boston sports fans at home, another more controversial scenario has the opening of pheasant hunting season in Massachusetts cutting into the BC hockey crowds.

• Beat writer Kevin Allenspach of the St. Cloud Times notes that the 17 goals St. Cloud State scored last weekend in beating Princeton and Yale were the most ever scored by the Huskies in consecutive games. No word about whether the on-ice success has SCSU athletic department officials considering applying for membership to the ECACHL or the Ivy League.

• It was a nice start to the comeback by Alaska Anchorage sophomore forward Brett Arcand-Kootenay last weekend at Michigan Tech. Arcand-Kootenay, you’ll recall, missed the first few weeks of the season after suffering a broken jaw as a result of a fight with teammate Lee Green in September. Versus the Huskies last Saturday, Arcand-Kootenay had a pair of goals, including the game-winner.

• Friday’s game between North Dakota and Colorado College in Grand Forks marks the 200th all-time on-ice meeting between the Tigers and Fighting Sioux. While North Dakota holds a commanding 123-67-9 lead in the series, which began on Feb. 10, 1948 in Colorado Springs, the Tigers have held the more recent advantage. CC is 5-1-2 in its last eight meetings with the Sioux.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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