coaches say that you can’t win a conference title in November,
but you can certainly lose one then. The point to be made for
teams with an eye on a championship is that October and November
are the months for saving up points in the standings, while February
and March are the months when those points you’ve banked
early on come in handy.
Last Friday, after defending national champion Denver finished
surrendering an embarrassing eight goals in a loss at Minnesota
State, Mankato, Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky glanced back a
few months, to the wins his team had collected in November and
December. By saving up points back then, the always even-keeled
Gwozdecky said that an otherwise tough loss in late February is
an ailment from which his team can more easily recover.
“We’re not in a position where all of a sudden we
have to scramble,” said the coach. “We worked very
hard early in the season to put ourselves in a position where
we can absorb this kind of game and move on.”
Denver needed less than 24 hours to effectively move on, beating
the Mavericks in the Saturday night rematch to move into a tie
atop the WCHA standings with arch-rival Colorado College. That
deadlock sets up one of the more interesting meetings between
the Pioneers and Tigers in the generations-long history of their
The teams meet Thursday night in Colorado Springs and Friday night
in Denver. A split, and they share the league title. If someone
gets three (or four) points, they take the MacNaughton Cup home
for the summer.
Gwozdecky, whose team won the Cup in 2002, said that the Pioneers
haven’t put a conference crown on their “must have”
list for the season.
“As a team, we never set out to accomplish any one goal,”
the coach said, noting that in 2002-03, his team set out to repeat
as conference titlists and win the NCAA title, and instead had
one of their more disappointing seasons during Gwozdecky’s
decade-plus in Denver.
Colorado College last won the Cup in 2003, and a sweep this weekend
would give the Tigers their fifth conference title in the past
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Work to do in the Classroom, With a Caveat: St. Cloud
Times reporter Kevin Allensbach did thorough work this
week, reporting on the NCAA-issued findings that places St. Cloud
State’s hockey team last in the league academically. As
was reported in the Times, school and team officials
note that they have work to do in the classroom, but their rating
may have been negatively affected by early departures from the
As Allenspach reported, the Academic Progress Rate report, which
details academic eligibility, retention and graduation of student
athletes for Division I sports, revealed St. Cloud State had one
of the lowest scores among men’s hockey teams in the country.
“We’re aware of the situation and, when you have young
people leave your program, it puts you in a precarious situation,”
St. Cloud State athletic director Morris Kurtz told the Times.
“At the same time, we have no concern that we’ll be
above 925 next year. The reason for letting it out this year is
so programs can take corrective measures if need be.”
Great Weekend Getaway
at Minnesota Duluth
(Fri.-Sat.) Two teams with a lot at stake will face off this
weekend, and desperate time may mean desperate measures
for both. The once-hot Badgers are 1-4-2 in their last seven
and need a win to clinch third place in the WCHA standings.
The Bulldogs are a long way from fulfilling their lofty
preseason expectations but still have visions of running
the table and sneaking into the NCAAs. The results of this
series will go a long way toward prolonging, or killing,
both teams’ dreams.
who has listened to a Wisconsin hockey TV broadcast in the
past year or two knows that sometimes transitions from player
to broadcaster can be awkward. Not so for ex-Gopher
Darby Hendrickson, who debuted this week doing
color on the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament broadcasts.
Hendrickson has provided some great insight into on-ice
tactics and the barely-describable feeling of playing in
the nation’s premier prep sports event. While we hope
to see Darby and all of his NHL brethren back on the ice
soon, his work in the pressbox has been a treat.
folks at Fox Sports Rocky Mountain made the bewildering
determination that viewers in Colorado (and dish owners throughout
the country) would rather watch Pac-10 basketball than see
DU and CC battle on Thursday night. So much for the concept
of “regional interest,” eh, fellas?
men’s score comes just a year after the team had a school-record
10 players earn WCHA All-Academic honors. Allenspach noted that
St. Cloud State had a 3.08 team grade-point average in the fall
of 2004, the third consecutive semester the team had attained
a 3.0 or better, coach Craig Dahl said.
“What’s hurting us is we had one player turn pro and
another leave early to go play major junior,” Dahl told
the paper. “Something’s going to have to change in
the way this is accounted for.”
Some of the Huskies’ best students aren't part of the score
because they are walk-ons. Dahl told Allenspach he will reward
those players in the future with at least some scholarship money
so their grades will count in the APR.
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
• Alaska Anchorage goaltender John DeCaro
upheld his reputation as the hardest-working man in the WCHA
last weekend, stopping 50 shots in the Seawolves 2-2 home tie
with Michigan Tech. In doing so, DeCaro became the first Seawolf
to have three 50-save games in his career. Amazingly, DeCaro set
the school record in less than three weeks, after he recorded
back-to-back 50-plus save performances at Minnesota on Feb. 11-12.
DeCaro also accomplished a feat that nobody else had done for
better than a month. DeCaro’s 1-0 shutout of Tech last Saturday
snapped Colin Murphy’s 12-game scoring streak.
all of the team’s forwards seemingly either banged up, in
a scoring drought, or both, maybe North Dakota will look
to the blueliners to provide the offense in the playoffs.
The Sioux took a step in that direction in last Saturday’s
4-2 win over Wisconsin, as defensemen scored three of the team’s
four goals. Rearguards Nick Fuher, Matt Jones and Matt Greene
scored goals for coach Dave Hakstol as the Sioux recorded their
first win over a ranked opponent since early November.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.