January 6, 2005
Missing Coaches

By Jess Myers

WCHA Notebook

Scott Sandelin returns to the Bulldogs bench this weekend after coaching Team USA in the World Junior Championship.

National TV Schedule
This week's schedule

Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook

At this rate, college hockey fans in Duluth may go months without seeing two head coaches behind the respective benches in a game.

It started weeks ago, when Scott Sandelin’s departure to coach Team USA at the World Junior Championships forced Bulldogs assistant coach Steve Rohlik to take a turn as acting head coach for UMD’s homes series with Denver.

The Bulldogs are back in action, with Sandelin behind the bench, only to face another stand-in skipper when Alaska Anchorage comes to town. Seawolves head coach John Hill is having a slower-than-expected recovery from December back surgery, and will not make the trip to Duluth. Assistant coach Jack Kowal will run the show and fellow assistant Keith Morris will slide into the co-pilot’s seat, at least for the coming weekend.

Hill’s hurting back follows a trend that has Seawolves fans pessimistic about a second-half surge. Anchorage Daily News beat writer Doyle Woody reports that in the first half of the season, the team has already had nine players miss a total of 58 games, and even after nearly a month off they aren’t fully healed.

And the Seawolves head to Duluth with their roster one man lighter than it was the last time they took to the ice. Shortly after the Seawolves 7-2 loss versus Colorado College on Dec. 11, Hill dismissed sophomore Brett Arcand-Kootenay and from the team. Arcand-Kootenay had missed four games at the start of the season after suffering a broken jaw in a preseason fight with a teammate, and had been suspended by Hill for previous violations of team rules. It was reported that he refused to meet with his teammates after the CC loss, prompting Hill’s move to part ways with the forward.


Ralph Impresses the World – More than three years after it opened, the $100 million home of the Fighting Sioux is still drawing raves. The thousands of Canadian visitors who traveled to Grand Forks for the World Juniors seemed right at home, filling the building throughout the tournament. And the visiting press seemed even more impressed.

After his first tour of the place, USA Today hockey guru Kevin Allen marveled at the Ralph’s massive weight room, joking that the 10,000-square-foot workout facility alone should merit a NCAA investigation into unfair recruiting practices.

“When I look at this place, I wonder how North Dakota doesn’t win the NCAA title every year,” said Allen.

Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

Colorado College at Minnesota (Sat.-Sun.)
The top-ranked Golden Gophers are on a one-game losing streak after dropping the opener of the new rink at Boston University, while the second-ranked Tigers are coming off a win at the Ohio Hockey Classic in Columbus. Of course, both teams are hopeful of winning another college hockey tournament in Columbus before the season ends. For now, they’ll have to settle for their second regular season meeting in barely a month, and the Tigers will become the latest visitors to try to end Minnesota’s impressive home winning streak, which is quickly approaching one calendar year.

While You’re There: In order to accommodate basketball, the Gophers and Tigers play at 4 p.m. on Saturday, meaning that if you hurry after the game, you can catch a decent college-high school doubleheader. At 7:30, Bloomington Ice Garden plays host to what used to be the best intra-suburb rivalry in Minnesota. Perennial power Bloomington Jefferson (currently ranked fourth among the state’s high-enrollment schools) faces once-proud Bloomington Kennedy, which has become the clear underdog in this decades-old rivalry. Still, when the Jaguars and the Eagles get together, you can throw out the record books.

Stick Salute

To everyone involved in the World Junior Championship, from the coaches and the fans to the organizers and the volunteers, we tip our hats to you for putting on a great show. We give a special nod to Scott Sandelin for his candor and frankness in assessing his team’s strengths and weaknesses to the assembled media. If, a few years down the road, the IIHF is willing to forget about that nasty freezing rain/blowing snow/dangerous wind chills combo that Mother Nature served up and return the tournament to Grand Forks, we wouldn’t be surprised.

Bench Minor

Yes, we normally focus on the college game, and no, we never thought we’d miss 1-1 ties this much, but we’ve got to take a moment to holler at the NHL owners and players for their continuing labor woes. Folks, it’s now January and you’re both still rich. Let’s get this crap settled pronto, so we don’t have to conduct the NHL draft with teams picking in alphabetical order. Like the Capitals don’t have enough troubles already.

And speaking of the Ralph, the most entertaining note of warning we found on the building’s official web site was this gem: “Live or dead animal mascots (badgers, gophers, etc.) are not allowed inside Ralph Engelstad Arena. Anyone caught with such items will be removed from the facility.”

We’re glad that they specified exactly which varieties of dead animals they’d be shocked (SHOCKED!) to see anyone sneak into the building.


• Trend-watchers in Mankato must wonder if the new year doesn’t mean it’s time for another upward streak for the Mavericks. Thus far in the 2004-05 season, the Mavericks have had a 0-5-1 streak to start the season, a 7-1-1 streak to claw back to respectability, and enter 2005 on a 0-4-1 run. Over the holidays, Troy Jutting’s club finished third at the Ohio Hockey Classic, falling to host Ohio State in the opener before a 3-3 tie, and a win in the ensuing shootout, with Miami (Ohio).

St. Cloud State didn’t bring a trophy back from the Huskies’ southern tour to the Florida College Classic (they fell to Boston College in double overtime during the title game) but may have served notice to WCHA rivals that they’ll be a factor in the league’s race for home ice. The Huskies officially had a tie and a loss in Florida, but beat Maine in a shootout (after a 1-1 deadlock) and had broadcasters raving about the play of sophomore goalie Tim Boron. The Winnipeg native posted a .958 save percentage during the tournament, allowing only three goals in more than 140 minutes between the pipes.

• We’d like to wish a big “welcome back” to our friend Erich Bacher, Denver’s hockey sports information director. Bacher has been out of action for better than a month dealing with complications from appendicitis that had him making repeated stays in a Denver hospital. Bacher, who turned in one of the more impressive performances at the INCH get-together in Boston last April, is one of the great friends of college hockey, and his pressbox presence has been missed.

• As seems to happen more and more often about this time of year, Badger hockey is the hot ticket in Madison. Wisconsin has already sold out two of its remaining games well in advance, and the Badgers are within striking distance of breaking their NCAA record for highest average attendance over a full season. Wisconsin set the record in the Kohl Center’s first year, 1998-99, averaging 12,153 in the 15,237-seat building.

• Perhaps the funniest “kick ‘em when they’re down” line we heard over the holiday break came from a noted NHL scout who we wouldn’t dream of naming. Our friend said that Michigan Tech head man Jamie Russell deserves to be named the WCHA’s coach of the year, since so far he’s the only coach who’s found a way to slow down Chris Conner. Ouch.

• The nominating process for 2005 Vote for Hobey has begun. Head over to hobeybaker.com to show your support for your favorite players.

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

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