Bucking the Badgers
coach Mike Eaves isn’t the type to be concerned about the
notion that his team is peaking too early in the season. If he
was, he would have had a sleepless night last Friday in St. Cloud.
Badgers, who have now won nine of their last 10 WCHA games to
stay atop the conference standings, played as close to a perfect
game as one might ever see last Friday at St. Cloud State, blanking
the Huskies 6-0.
had quizzed Eaves about the team’s offensive balance and
defensive heroics for nearly 10 minutes before anyone even thought
to mention Bernd Bruckler’s seventh career shutout.
biggest concern about one of his best players was stamina, as
forward Jake Dowell was back in the Wisconsin lineup after skating
for Team USA at the World Juniors and enduring what Eaves called
“more than even a pro schedule” for a few weeks.
was winded, he didn’t show it, recording three assists including
an exclamation point play to set up a shorthanded goal. Dowell
started by blocking a Husky shot from the point, then fought off
an opponent for the loose puck, just amanging to shovel it ahead
to A.J. Degenhardt. Already breaking up the middle of the ice,
Degenhardt caught the puck in stride and was all alone before
he even crossed center ice, and long before he tucked the puck
low on St. Cloud State goalie Tim Boron’s glove side.
goal gave the Badgers a 4-0 lead, and the play gave Eaves plenty
of reason to heap praise on Dowell afterwards, noting that his
presence might have made a difference in the Badger Hockey Showdown
(where Wisconsin tied Yale and lost to Ferris State).
one of the things we didn’t have last week – that
strength of stick to win the battle and make the play,”
said Eaves. “Jake’s a big thick kid that doesn’t
wear out too fast. He was definitely excited to be back with his
teammates, and they’re happy to have him.”
Badgers dream of bringing the MacNaughton Cup to Madison for only
the fourth time in the program’s history, there’s
an army of red-clad hockey fans who are plenty happy to have Dowell
back in the lineup too.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Tigers battle ailments on the road to the top –
team battled Minnesota for the top spot in the national polls
last weekend in Minneapolis, Colorado College coach Scott Owens
may have felt more like a general rallying the troops inside a
MASH unit before battle. Several of his players, while battling
the Golden Gophers on the ice, were battling the flu everywhere
said it was a challenge giving between period instructions while
a few players were simultaneously winning the game and losing
if the stomach ailments weren’t enough in Sunday’s
game, sophomore forward Scott Thauwald went from scoring his seventh
goal of the season in the first period to having his season abruptly
ended in the second period. Thauwald went down in a tangle with
a Gopher player, and emerged with a torn knee ligament that will
require surgery and mean’s he’ll miss the rest of
the 2004-05 campaign.
there were some silver linings (in the form of two wins at Minnesota
and a trip to the top of the national polls) to be had among all
of the illness- and injury-related dark clouds. Owens acknowledged
that his team caught the Gophers at the right time, and had the
skill to take advantage of that timing.
no doubt that Minnesota is in a bit of a lull right now,”
said Owens after his team’s sweep gave the Gophers a three-game
losing streak. “But it’s a sign of a good team to
come in and take advantage of that.”
Great Weekend Getaway
Dakota at Colorado College (Fri.-Sat.)
This season, the Fighting Sioux are apparently
taking their cue about how to play from the winter weather
in the Red River Valley. In other words, sometimes it’s
pleasant and sometimes it’s unbearable, and you really
never know what to expect from one night to the next. The
promising thing for fans of the green and white is that
the highly-touted rookies (Zajac and Spirko, most notably)
have lived up to expectations. But inconsistency elsewhere
has doomed this team’s hopes of defending the MacNaughton
Cup. As for the high-flying Tigers, we wonder how long their
current injuries and lack of real depth will allow them
to stay atop the national polls. But they’re clicking
in all facets of the game right now, so who are we to cast
Our good friends at the nation’s hockey governing
body (we call it “USA Hockey”) tell us that
Phantom Canyon Brewing Company in downtown Colorado Springs
is the place to go for great food and beer microbrewed on-site.
web site informs us that the eatery is inside the century-old
brick building that once housed the Cheyenne Hotel. We would’ve
gone just for the beer, but if there are history credits
to be had…
like Bob Johnson was the coach in Madison the last time
we heard a friendly voice other than that of Nancy
Olson when calling the Wisconsin hockey office.
But someone new is answering the phone by saying “Badger
Hockey” this week, as Olson battles a very
serious case of pneumonia in a Madison hospital.
Thoughts and prayers are with our favorite Badger fan. Those
much-hyped late-season sellouts at the Kohl Center won’t
be the same if there’s a lone empty seat in the second
deck, right behind the home team’s net.
realize that Kris Chucko is just a freshman and that sometimes
emotions get the better of any of us. But that nasty
check from behind Chucko delivered to Brett Sterling
late in the Gophers loss to Colorado College last Sunday was
dumb, dangerous, and well-deserving of the five-minute major
and 10-minute misconduct it drew.
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
The Minnesota Department of Transportation may have to
look into building another freeway lane between Faribault, Minn.,
and Grand Forks, N.D., if the current recruiting trend
continues. The Grand Forks Herald recently reported yet another
top talent from Shattuck-St. Mary’s has committed to North
Dakota. Virg Foss reports that Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews,
16, has told Fighting Sioux coach Dave Hakstol that he’ll
wear the green and white soon. Toews follows in some impressive
footsteps, as the likes of Zach Parise, Brady Murray and Drew
Stafford have made the jump from Shattuck to the Sioux.
Forecasters tell us that St. Cloud, at -21, will be slightly
warmer than Duluth, at -23 on Friday night. The weather
in those towns is reflective of their respective college hockey
teams, which meet this weekend at the DECC. A quick look at the
numbers paints the dogfight between the Huskies and Bulldogs as
a battle to determine who’s colder. Minnesota Duluth is
3-10-3 since late October, and has not won a game in more than
a month. St. Cloud State has gone 0-6-1 since winning its first
game in December, and both teams are struggling to find offense.
Sounds like a cold weekend in Duluth.
Droughts are a common topic in southern Minnesota these days,
with the region lacking snow for their third consecutive winter.
MSU, Mankato captain Steven Johns finally put a personal
drought in the rear-view mirror last Friday, notching
a power play marker for the Mavericks, for his first goal of the
season. Johns, a senior defenseman had gone 22 games without scoring
before lighting the lamp versus North Dakota.
In the “how the heck did that happen” category, we
have to congratulate Michigan Tech for notching the upset
of the season last weekend at Denver. Huskies goalie Cam Ellsworth
had 35 saves as Tech beat the defending national champs 3-0 at
Magness Arena. Ellsworth told the Rocky Mountain News
that he was especially glad his father, who’d flown in from
Ontario, was in attendance to see his first win of the season.
Even Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky found himself marveling at
the play of the previously-woeful Huskies as times. “I found
myself watching Michigan Tech many times, at just how hard they
were playing, how smart they were playing, how intense they were
playing,” Gwozdecky told the News. Ellsworth was
almost as good the next night, giving up just one goal as Denver
Anchorage coach John Hill’s doctors have cleared him to
travel, meaning he’ll be back behind the Seawolves
bench this weekend when they visit Wisconsin. Hill, you’ll
recall, missed last weekend’s series in Duluth after a slower-than-expected
recovery from December back surgery. Seawolves assistant Jack
Kowal ran the team during the series at Minnesota Duluth, guiding
the Alaskans to a tie and a win. The interim head coaching success
capped off a big month for Kowal, who also got engaged at Christmas.