spent most of their respective coaching careers living between
one and three time zones apart, Minnesota’s Don Lucia and
Michigan’s Red Berenson know each other well. In the past
decade, the two men’s teams have met nearly every year (both
when Lucia was at Colorado College and since he moved to Minneapolis
in 1999), including three notable times at the Frozen Four.
they meet again at Mariucci Arena in the annual College Hockey
Showcase with the Wolverines ranked No. 1 in the nation and the
Golden Gophers at No. 3. While the reunion doesn’t make
Lucia misty-eyed or anything, he recently told INCH that his colleague
who runs that team with the funny-looking maize and blue helmets
doesn’t get the recognition he’s due for the job he’s
done in Ann Arbor.
surprised that Red has never been the national coach of the year,
but sometimes you don’t get the credit you deserve when
you’re always good,” said Lucia, whose Colorado College
team fell 3-2 in overtime to Berenson’s Michigan team in
the 1996 Frozen Four title game. “Michigan’s got great
talent and I love the way they play the game end-to-end with speed
and skill. I’ve always believed that if you can beat Michigan,
you can beat anybody.”
Lucia recalled perhaps his favorite moment from all of the games
he’s faced Michigan, saying it wasn’t either of the
times that Minnesota had to get past the Wolverines in the Frozen
Four semis en route to the NCAA title (in 2002 and 2003) but rather
a funny moment before a regular season game early in his stint
at CC. The Tigers opened the 1994-95 season in Ann Arbor, and
more that a few of Lucia’s rookies were somewhat awed by
the electric atmosphere in Yost Ice Arena. As the Tigers headed
toward the stairs and out to the ice for warm-ups, Lucia stopped
then-freshman Stewart Bodtker and offered a bit of friendly advice.
said, ‘Stewie, you might want to grab your stick and take
it with you,’” Lucia recalled with a laugh. “It
was his first game, and with the band playing and the crowd roaring,
he forgot it.”
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Cruel November in Duluth – Nearly 30 years ago,
the harsh winds of November brought tragedy to the Twin Ports
when a ship named the Edmund Fitzgerald and its crew of 29 men
was lost on Lake Superior after leaving Duluth harbor fully loaded.
November, the weather has been mild by northern Minnesota standards,
but the stormy times have been found inside the DECC instead.
The month began with the Bulldogs undefeated in their first six
games and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Since then, Scott Sandelin’s
team is 1-4-1 (with losses to lightly-regarded Vermont, Alaska
Anchorage and Brown). The most recent loss came with less than
a second to play in last Saturday’s game at the DECC, and
prompted a 45-minute players-only closed-door meeting in the UMD
the news got worse this week when sophomore defenseman Ryan Geris
called an end to his hockey career due to complications with recurrent
concussions. In the midst of it all, Sandelin has remained surprisingly
calm and forward-looking, while admitting that his team may miss
Hobey Baker winner Junior Lessard’s offense more than he
guys that we expected to make up that slack simply have to play
better,” said Sandelin before a recent practice at the DECC.
“This isn’t a six-game thing, it’s been a 12-game
thing. I pretty much felt the same way as I do now about our team
after the first six games, but nobody was questioning things because
we were winning.”
of the reasons so much was expected from the Bulldogs in the preseason
(they were the WCHA coaches’ pick to win the league title)
was the 11 seniors that Sandelin has on-roster (it was 12 before
third-string goalie Matt Klein decided to hang up the pads a month
ago). Sandelin says that his seniors are all thrust into new roles
this season, and the transition is taking some time.
year, roles change, and it takes longer for some guys to adjust
and accept the change,” he said. “And sometimes the
senior year can be tough on guys. Some want to play beyond college
and get wrapped up about things they can’t control. You’ve
got to focus on the now.”
the games looming on the Bulldogs schedule between now and the
holidays (when Sandelin will be coaching Team USA at the World
Junior Championships), focusing on the now shouldn’t be
a problem. After this weekend’s series at St. Cloud State,
the Bulldogs travel to Wisconsin for a pair, then have home series
with North Dakota and Denver.
results of that octet will go a long way toward determining whether
Bulldog fans will be smiling again on Christmas morning.
Great Weekend Getaway
Both teams could be on one-game losing streaks by
the time they meet Saturday night at the Kohl Center, but
in any case, it’ll be No. 1 versus No. 2 when Michigan
faces Wisconsin in Madison. The Badgers got some offensive
diversity in their game last weekend while sweeping Alaska
Anchorage and Wisconsin is hoping to repeat its College Hockey
Showcase performance of last year, when Bucky won a pair in
the weekend series for the first time ever. And we’re
sorry Badger fans, but we checked with our good friend Jen
at the Big Ten and the answer is no, a hockey win over the
Wolverines will not get your football team into the Rose Bowl.
You’re There: A good friend used to be impressed by
the amazing array of pubs, restaurants, street life, shopping,
nightlife and general fun one sees walking down Madison’s
famed State Street. Then he took a trip to New Orleans and
upon returning said, “Bourbon Street at any time of
day or night makes State Street look like an outdoor concert
by the Wiggles.” Still, real hockey people still love
south-central Wisconsin’s most famed pedestrian mall,
and we’ll take a tall pilsner and a sausage at State
Street Brats over a mint julep and seafood gumbo any day.
belated recognition goes out to FSN North broadcaster
Frank Mazzocco for the Regional Emmy Award he won
a few weeks back. Frank has been covering Gopher hockey
since 1986, and his pairing for Doug Woog (with Mazzocco
playing straight man to Woog’s fun-loving antics and
insights) makes for one of the more informative and entertaining
college sports broadcasts around. Anyone who could remain
calm while seated between Woog and Tom Sagissor during a
few of those tight Minnesota-Wisconsin games clearly deserves
some kind of medal for valor, but for now, an Emmy will
have to do.
the hockey broadcasters at FSN Rocky Mountain,
for their lack of opposition research. Guys, we love your
enthusiasm and your admiration for Pioneer hockey that comes
across so clearly over the air, but would it kill you to
learn a little bit about the other team? In case anyone
on the Front Range was confused, Golden Gophers senior Jake
Fleming is not from anyplace called 'Uh-say-O', Minnesota
because no such town exists. Fleming’s hometown, Osseo,
is pronounced 'ahh-SEE-OH.' Get it right, and fans in Minnesota
promise they’ll learn how to properly pronounce 'Arapahoe.'
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
Alaska Anchorage is off for the weekend (and has to vacate Sullivan
Arena with basketball’s Great Alaska Shootout being played
there) after dropping below .500 for the first time this season
when Wisconsin left town with two wins. The Seawolves'
losses to Bucky were their first versus ranked opponents
this season. Alaska Anchorage has beaten ranked Minnesota once
and Minnesota Duluth twice this season.
still be a few months wait, but anyone dying to see hockey in
the Xcel Energy Center (what with the NHL still locked out and
all) can now purchase season tickets for the 2005 Red
Baron WCHA Final Five, to be played March 17-19. The
season seats went on sale recently and can be found via Ticketmaster
and at the Xcel box office. Any remaining single-game tickets
will go on sale March 7.
Tech sophomore defenseman Lars Helminen had a relatively
quiet first year of college hockey, recording just 10
points in 38 games. But while the Huskies have struggled as a
team this year (they’re 1-10-1 overall heading into this
weekend’s home series versus North Dakota), Helminen is
having a breakout season of sorts. He’s put together a six-game
point streak this season and has recorded 14 points in 12 games.
According to the Huskies media guide, the native of Brighton,
Mich., likes Garth Brooks, but wants to hear “Welcome to
the Jungle” in warm-ups. That’s one tune we don’t
want to hear Brooks covering.
in time for Festivus, the Minnesota State, Mankato Mavericks
pulled off some impressive feats of strength to keep
their unbeaten streak intact last weekend. The Mavs trailed Alabama-Huntsville
3-0 in the third period last Saturday in Mankato before a trio
of goals (including the tying marker by Brock Becker with 11 seconds
left in regulation) lifted them to a 3-3 tie. Since starting 0-5-1,
the Maves have taken George Contanza’s advice to “do
the opposite” and head into a weekend off on a 5-0-1 streak.
apparently feast or famine for the offense at St. Cloud
State. Prior to last weekend’s series at North
Dakota, the Huskies had posted 26 goals in their previous four
games. During a pair of games in Grand Forks, the Huskies managed
just two goals.
the College Hockey Showcase is getting the lion’s share
of attention this weekend, what with the nation’s top three
teams involved, there’s likely some good hockey
to be played in the Mountain Time Zone as well, with
surprising Boston University visiting Colorado College and Denver.
The Tigers and Terriers have a long history of appearances in
the NCAA playoffs, and both teams made it to the Frozen Four in
Milwaukee in 1997, but it might surprise some to learn that CC
and BU have not played one another in the NCAAs since 1951. Denver
fans will sadly remember that BU got to that ’97 Frozen
Four via a 4-3 overtime win versus the Pioneers at the NCAA Regional
in Worcester, Mass.
up the Red River from Grand Forks, a prominent former
Fighting Sioux played a key role in recent hockey milestones in
Winnipeg. On Nov. 6, the AHL’s Manitoba Moose played
the final pro game in Winnipeg Arena, the 50-year-old former home
of the Winnipeg Jets during their NHL and WHA days. Winnipeg native
Lee Goren, MVP of the 2000 Frozen Four for North Dakota, was credited
with the final pro penalty in the building, a minor for unsportsmanlike
conduct early in the third period. On Nov. 17, Goren had a goal
and an assist as the Moose won the first game in the new 15,000-seat
MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg.
Hockey optimists in Manitoba (as well as in North Dakota and northwestern
Minnesota) are hopeful that Winnipeg may again be home to a NHL
team when the league’s labor woes are settled.