If you talk
to Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves, don’t bother to ask him how
much those back-to-back losses to Minnesota in November hurt,
or which of the Badgers’ games thus far has meant the most
in earning the team the number two ranking in the nation's polls
(No. 3 in the INCH Power Rankings). Eaves, who stresses focusing
on the present and the future with his players, might not recall
any of what’s come before.
Saturday’s home game with Minnesota Duluth as an example.
The Badgers had been out-played on Friday but came away with a
3-2 win. After 40 minutes on Saturday, the story was much the
same inside the Kohl Center, with the Bulldogs dominating play,
and the Badgers clinging to a 2-2 tie.
In the home
team’s dressing room, Eaves chose not to focus on what had
happened in the first two periods, and didn’t offer advice
on new breakout patterns or defensive schemes. Instead, he reminded
his players of author Eckhart Tolle’s words in the popular
motivational book The Power of Now.
When 20 more
minutes had elapsed off the game clock, the Badgers stood as 3-2
winners again, with four WCHA points earned despite their coach
admitting that the third period on Saturday was the only time
they out-played the Duluthians all weekend.
were living in the past instead of living in the moment,”
Eaves said. “In that last period, we learned a lesson about
being in the moment and letting the past go. By doing that, we
were able to put some hay in the barn for ourselves, which is
going to be important at the end of the year.”
team success thus far comes from a lineup that seems firmly focused
on the future as well. All-league goalie Bernd Brückler is
the only senior playing regularly, while sophomores Jake Dowell
and Robbie Earl, along with freshman Joe Pavelski, are providing
the bulk of the team’s offense.
no secret that the WCHA front office likes it when its two biggest
hockey programs, Minnesota and Wisconsin, are in the running for
the league title. In that sense, the 2004-05 season may be shaping
up to be a league-hierarchy dream, with the Badgers and Golden
Gophers hold down the top two poll spots in the nation. With the
Badgers clearly the favorite in their next 10 games (series at
Minnesota State, Mankato, at St. Cloud State, vs. Alaska Anchorage,
at Notre Dame and holiday tournament games versus Yale and either
Ferris State or Clarkson) it’s conceivable that the Badgers
could be on a 13-game win streak when the Gophers come to Madison
in early February.
If that happens,
don’t bother to ask Eaves if he’s hoping to avenge
the two losses in Minneapolis in November. With the future firmly
on his mind, he might not remember back that far.
AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Woes Easy to Pinpoint – To understand why Minnesota
Duluth has gone from being the favorite for the WCHA title to
battling to stay in the hunt for home ice in less than half the
season, one needed to only watch the first 20 minutes of the Bulldogs’
3-2 loss in Madison last weekend.
At the 12:40
mark of UMD’s 16th game of the campaign, Bulldogs senior
forward T.J. Caig, who was expected to be one of the team’s
consistent sources of offense, scored his first goal of the season.
And with :00.6 remaining in that same first period, the Bulldogs
saw their only lead of the weekend disappear after an ill-advised
personnel move led to a Badgers goal.
With the period’s
final seconds ticking away, the Bulldog players decided to change
lines for some reason, springing Wisconsin’s Robbie Earl
and Adam Burish on a 2-on-1 break. Earl carried the puck into
the Bulldog zone and was thwarted by the Bulldogs defense, but
the puck squirted to Burish who slapped it past UMD goalie Issac
Reichmuth to tie the game at 2-2. Wisconsin won 3-2 on Earl’s
third period goals, dropping the Bulldogs to 5-5-1 in conference
was a bad line change, and just a bad goal,” said Bulldogs
coach Scott Sandelin afterwards. “You’ve got to have
some clock awareness, and that wasn’t a good decision.”
lack of offense is hurting the Bulldogs' chances to stay in the
upper half of the WCHA. While they averaged better than four goals
per game last year with Hobey Baker winner Junior Lessard leading
the way, no adequate replacement for Lessard has yet come forward.
Senior Evan Schwabe is the only Bulldog averaging better than
a point per game, and the team is averaging just 2.2 goals per
outing on their current 2-7-1 skid.
features betray frustration, Sandelin says that optimism still
rules on his team, and they’re focused on what’s gone
well so far.
played three good games and probably should have won all three,
but we lost two of them,” he said after the second Wisconsin
loss. “We just have to keep building on the good things
and get ready for North Dakota.”
Great Weekend Getaway
Dakota at Minnesota Duluth
(Fri.-Sat.) History tells us that teams with more than five conference
losses have rarely won the MacNaughton Cup. Heading into this
weekend’s battle of the league’s top two teams
from last season, both the Bulldogs and the Fighting Sioux
have five losses in league play already, meaning that by 10
p.m. CST on Saturday, one or both teams could effectively
be out of the race for the WCHA title. It would be a wonder
to see these teams playing for second place with more than
a dozen shopping days left before Christmas.
You’re There: There’s a certain national pizza
chain that advertises using low-fat cheese and leaner meats
on its pies, to cut down on the grease. Thankfully, that
trend has never caught on a Twin Ports institution Sammy’s
Pizza. Noticing how the heat of the ovens makes each individual
slice of pepperoni curl into a little bowl to hold in that
sweet orange pizza grease is nearly as enjoyable as eating
their top-notch pies. And when a guy who’s seen as
many rinks and post-game eateries as Jeff Sauer tells us
that Sammy’s has the best pizza in the college hockey
world, we listen.
promotion in Mankato this weekend, where
fans are invited to bring stuffed toys for sick kids and
chuck them onto the ice of the Midwest Wireless Civic Center
after the first period of Friday’s game with Wisconsin.
Fans participating in the Teddy Bear Toss will receive a
free ticket to an upcoming Mavericks game (excluding their
wildly popular series with Minnesota) while school officials
will collect all of the toys and have MSU student-athletes
distribute them to young patients at Immanuel St. Joseph’s
Hospital in Mankato during the holiday season. Badger fans
who want to get in on the act are encouraged to bring stuffed
story from last week: A Bulldog fans calls the Dish
Network customer service line to ask if the UMD-Wisconsin
games will be televised. The customer service professional,
seemingly bewildered by the question, ask what sport. Upon
hearing the reply, “college hockey,” the Dish
Network employee replies, “I thought they cancelled
hockey for the season.” Expect to see a satisfied
DirecTV customer watching the Bulldogs sometime soon.
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
Minnesota will be looking to extend an impressive
school record on Saturday when the Gophers host St. Cloud
State. Since dropping a 4-2 decision to North
Dakota last January23, the Gophers have won 17 consecutive
games at Mariucci Arena. With that building serving as the site
of the NCAA West Regional this year, Gopher fans are starting
to like their chances of a third Frozen Four trip in four years.
diversity among the scorers has apparently been one key to Colorado
College’s success thus far, as evidenced by their
scoresheet from last weekend. Trailing Minnesota 1-0
on Friday, the Tigers’ tying and winning goals were assisted
by Brett Sterling of Pasadena, Calif. In the final period, the
Tigers went coast-to-coast for some insurance when Brooklyn native
James Brannigan, a freshman, scored his first collegiate goal.
No word as to whether both men root for the Dodgers.
St. Cloud State defenseman Casey Borer is turning
down an all-expenses-paid trip to Florida in order to spend a
few December weeks in sunny North Dakota. Borer, a sophomore,
is just the fourth Husky to be named to a
spot on the U.S. team for the World Junior Championships (the
first three were Matt Cullen, Josh DeWolf and Mark Parrish) and
in competing for his country in Grand Forks, will miss St. Cloud
State’s trip to Fort Myers for the Everblades College Classic.
some teams complain about the rigors of traveling to Alaska, it’s
North Dakota that’s apparently the tough
place to play for the Alaskans. Last Saturday’s 2-1 win
by Alaska Anchorage in Grand Forks was just the
second victory the Seawolves have ever recorded in the home of
the Fighting Sioux. But while the Seawolves have won only two
of their 24 games ever played in the Peace Garden State, they
are a respectable 2-4-2 all-time in the new Ralph Engelstad Arena.
coach George Gwozdecky has apparently reminded his players
of the old hockey strategy that a shot on goal is never a bad
play. The Pioneers sent 94 shots at the Michigan Tech
net during a sweep of the Huskies last weekend, marking their
second 90-shot series of the season. Prior to this year, Denver
had not recorded 90 shots on goal in a weekend series since 1997.
weekend’s reunion of the “Run DMC” line in Houghton
produced some impressive numbers, but nothing in the way of a
cure for Michigan Tech’s team ills. The
trio of Taggart Desmet, Colin Murphy and Chris Conner hadn’t
played together since last season, when they accounted for 40
percent of the team’s points. Huskies coach Jamie Russell
put the three together again for their series with Denver,
and the unit tallied five of the team’s six points. Despite
that offense, the Huskies lost twice, falling to a dismal 1-13-1
in their first 14 conference games. An impressive second-half
rally will be needed if the Huskies are to escape the WCHA cellar.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.