February 3, 2005
Bulldogs Battle Back

By Jess Myers

WCHA Notebook

UMD's Isaac Reichmuth earned his first win in more than a month when the Bulldogs beat Minnesota last weekend.

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Last Saturday, deep in the bowels of Mariucci Arena, there was a sight that Minnesota Duluth fans have seen far too little of since November. Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin was recapping the game while surrounded by reporters. And he was smiling.

The Bulldog faithful aren’t buying NCAA playoff tickets (or even WCHA home playoff tickets) just yet. But the team so burdened by high expectations has shown flashes of a return to respectability in the past two weeks, after a November and December so disappointing that some might insist the records be stricken from the team’s media guide in future years.

While the low-key Sandelin wasn’t making any bold proclamations about his team being back in the race for anything after winning and tying at Colorado College and splitting at Minnesota, his counterpart in the home locker room sounded more convinced.

“In the last few weeks, they’ve found their team again,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “Maybe they’re back to where everybody thought they’d be.”

The win at Minnesota moved the Bulldogs into a tie with North Dakota for fifth place in the WCHA. As Minnesota Duluth was the coaches’ pick to win the league title, they’re still technically a long way from where “everybody thought they’d be.” But for one night anyway, the Bulldogs dominated Minnesota in both ends of the ice to beat their arch-rivals. After winning five of six meetings with Minnesota last year to advance to the Frozen Four, the win at Mariucci gave some Bulldogs a happy sense of déjà vu.

“Today I thought we played more like we did last year,” said senior defenseman Tim Hambly. “North Dakota has two games in hand on us, but to know we’re in the top five, at least for now, is a big thing mentally.”

Perhaps the biggest mental boost for the Bulldogs came between the pipes, where junior Issac Reichmuth, the goaltending architect of that trip to Boston last April, got his first win in more than a month. Reichmuth’s struggles had mirrored the team’s slide from the top ranking in the nation in late October to below .500 in late January, and Sandelin had given Josh Johnson the previous four starts in goal. But the coach had a hunch that it was time for Reichmuth to shine.

“I just felt it was the right time to put him in there, and he responded,” said Sandelin. “He made the saves he had to make and gave us a chance to win.”

With the nightmares of mid-season seemingly over, a month to play in the regular season, and some help needed if the Bulldogs are going to have home playoff games for the third playoffs in a row, that’s all they and their fans seem to be hopeful of – a chance to win.


Celebrating Minnesota’s other 1980 hockey miracle:
New York State seemed to be the place for hockey miracles in early 1980. Everyone knows about Team USA skating home from Lake Placid wearing gold medals, but hockey fans in southern Minnesota fondly recall another example of puck paradise from about that place and time.

On Saturday between periods of Minnesota State, Mankato’s game with Colorado College at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center, the Mavericks will honor the 25th anniversary of MSU’s 1980 NCAA Division II title. More than 20 former players and coaches are expected to be on hand for the event.

In March of 1980, the Mavs traveled to Elmira, New York, and defeated Elmira College 5-2 to claim the school’s first and only NCAA hockey title.

In those, the early days of ESPN, when the fledgling network was scrambling for programming, the MSU-Elmira title tilt was even shown on national TV (tape delayed) as Mavericks coach Don Brose bested Elmira coach Barry Smith for the win. While Brose stayed in Mankato, guiding the Mavs into the D-I ranks and the WCHA before retiring in 1999, Smith went on to NHL success as the top assistant for the Detroit Red Wings.

MSU goalie Steve Carroll stopped 44 of 46 shots in the title game, earning MVP honors one year before he was the school’s first (and only) Hobey finalist in 1981. Carroll will be on hand Saturday in more than one capacity, as the former Twin Cities sportscaster provides color commentary on local TV broadcasts of Mavs’ home games.

Great Weekend Getaway
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Minnesota at Wisconsin (Fri.-Sat.)
Take away the Border Battle hype and the rivalries between these teams in other sports and the 10 NCAA hockey titles between them and the natural sports rivalry (Vikings-Packers, anyone?) between fans in these two states and the fact that more than 30,000 tickets have been sold for this two-game set, and you’re left with two teams seemingly headed in different directions. The Badgers have won six in a row and are in the thick of the race for the MacNaughton Cup, while the Gophers are on a 3-6-0 run, and have fallen from first in the nation to fourth in the conference in nary a month. Two wins this weekend and Bucky can permanently put Goldy in the rear-view mirror.

While You’re There: Stroll the length of State Street from the Capitol to the UW campus and you may be tempted to visit a bar or two. Or all of them. That’s just what some friendly Gopher fans have planned for Saturday, and they’ve passed along an open-ended invitation for all college hockey fans (although they admit preferential treatment will be given to those in maroon and gold) to join in. Our friend Thomps (look for a friendly round face atop a Gopher throwback sweater) is rounding up the troops at 1 p.m. at the Great Dane. From there, the parade will try to visit the Paradise Lounge, the State Bar and Grill, the Silver Dollar Tavern, Paul’s Club, the Plaza Tavern & Grill, the Irish Pub, Gophers, Angelic Brewing Company, Mondays, Buffalo Wild Wings, The Pub, State Street Brats (ranked by Sports Illustrated this week as one of the top 25 sports bars in the nation), City Bar and the Kollege Klub before heading to the Kohl Center. Good luck to all, and remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Stick Salute

With Denver and Alaska Anchorage in overtime last Saturday, referee Todd Anderson used the video replay available at Magness Arena to review a play from earlier in the extra session to determine that a Jeff Drummond shot had crossed the goal line and the Pioneers had won. Yes, it was a lousy way for the Seawolves to lose, but we’ll never argue against using all available means to get the call right, and we’ll tip our hat to a ref with the courage to do so.

Bench Minor
If you see Minnesota’s even-strength offense pictured on a milk carton soon, don’t be surprised. A big part of the Gophers’ recent tumble is due to a disappearance of offensive consistency. Minnesota managed just 14 even-strength shots in last Saturday’s 3-2 home loss to Minnesota Duluth, – the Gophs' fifth home loss in six games. It just wouldn’t seem right come NCAA playoff time if Mariucci Arena was the regional every other team hoped to get sent to.


• Following on heels of the wildly successful Cold War game at Spartan Stadium between Michigan and Michigan State in 2001, the whole “college hockey in football stadiums” trend my be moving one league west soon. Our friend Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press recently reported that officials from the Metrodome are negotiating to host a game between Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth tentatively scheduled for February 2007, while the folks at Lambeau Field in Green Bay have met with University of Wisconsin officials about having the Badgers play an outdoor game sometime in the future as well.

• We’re still a few days away from the official start of Michigan Tech’s famed Winter Carnival (first held in 1922), but MTU students have been hard at work for weeks on the event’s renowned snow sculptures. Of course, the REAL fun will take place at MacInnes Student Ice Arena when the Huskies entertain MSU, Mankato on Feb. 11 and 12, but the fun for most students comes in designing, constructing and sculpting the mounds of snow seen throughout Houghton. The theme for the 2005 carnival is “A Frozen Commotion from the Depths of the Ocean” and web cams set up around campus give visitors to the carnival’s official web site a live look at snow sculpting (and co-rec broomball) in progress at all hours of day and night. Don’t these kids ever study anymore?

Don’t fault the Colorado College Tigers if they get lost between the hotel and the rink this weekend prior to their series at MSU, Mankato. The Tigers, who hold a 5-3-0 all time mark in Mankato, have not visited the Mavericks rink since December of 2002. Incidentally, the Tigers were 6-1-1 in December and 6-1-1 again in January, but will be unable to duplicate the feat in February. The Tigers only play six games this month.

• The Gophers’ 1-5-0 streak in recent home games has gotten a lot of publicity, but they’re not the only team from Minnesota that’s having trouble while wearing the white sweaters. St. Cloud State’s sweep of Sacred Heart last weekend at the National Hockey Center snapped the Huskies seven-game home losing skid. Craig Dahl’s crew last won a WCHA home game on Nov. 26, beating Minnesota Duluth 4-2. A home loss by the Huskies on Feb. 18 vs. MSU, Mankato, and the they can make it a full three months without showing the home fans what a WCHA win looks like.

• While there likely weren’t a lot a Fighting Sioux fans feeling happy on the way out of Ralph Engelstad Arena last Friday, after the home team rallied for a 3-3 tie with Bemidji State, the come-from-behind deadlock had a few notable positives for the optimistic North Dakota fan. The tie snapped a three-game losing streak (the team’s longest of the season) and when the Sioux came back after trailing 3-1 at the start of the third, it marked the first time this season that North Dakota has avoided a loss when trailing after 40 minutes.

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

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