In Wisconsin’s series-opening 4-3 win
at Minnesota last Friday, Badgers goaltender Brian Elliott
had his worst game of the season from a goals-against standpoint.
Wisconsin held a comfortable 4-1 lead with 10 minutes to
play before a pair of late Gopher goals and a few timely
penalties made the final minutes interesting. It was the
first time this season that Elliott had surrendered more
than two goals in a game, but earned his team two points
“That’s a fair trade,” Elliott
said afterward. “I’m more worried about the
undefeated streak we’ve got going than about individual
One night later Elliott put up the fifth shutout
of his career (and his second this season) in a 4-0 win
as Wisconsin blanked Minnesota on the Gophers' home rink
for the first time since 1970. That left the Badgers' unbeaten
streak at 14 games (12-0-2) heading into this weekend’s
home games with Michigan Tech. With snow falling and frigid
temperatures outside Mariucci Arena, leave it to Badgers
coach Mike Eaves to make a surfing reference about his team’s
current hot streak.
“It’s a little bit like riding
a big wave,” Eaves said. “We’re trying
to stay on top of this wave as long as we can. And if it
ends, we’ll try to find another wave.”
For Minnesota, which lost a pair of home games
to archrival Wisconsin for the first time since Jeff Sauer’s
Badgers clinched the MacNaughton Cup at Mariucci Arena in
2000, things went badly from the opening seconds. On the
first shift of the series, Wisconsin forward Adam Burish
blocked a shot by Minnesota defenseman Chris Harrington.
When Harrington stumbled, Burish picked up the loose puck
and keyed a 2-on-1 break that ended with Burish feeding
Robbie Earl for a tap-in goal just 27 seconds into the game.
“I don’t know if he recovered
tonight from that,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia
about Harrington, a senior defenseman who has struggled
at times for the past two seasons. “You’ve got
to be able to put that behind you and move on.”
The wins were especially sweet for Badgers
like Burish (from Madison) and Joe Pavelski (from Plover)
who grew up playing hockey in America’s Dairyland.
Much of the talk leading up to the series centered on Madison
native Phil Kessel and his decision to play at Minnesota.
Lucia started Kessel at center for the series opener –
a move that might have invigorated a few Badgers as much
as it did the sellout crowd.
“They decided to spotlight (Kessel)
in the starting lineups, and it’s not always easy
to be in the spotlight,” said Pavelski. “When
they said ‘from Madison, Wisconsin’ and the
place erupted, Burish and I were over there smiling, saying,
‘Don’t forget about us, OK.’”
By the time the game was over and Pavelski
had notched his team-leading ninth and tenth goals, we’re
sure there was an army of red-clad fans dreaming of a WCHA
title and NCAA tournament trips to Green Bay and Milwaukee
who won’t forget about the local kid who stayed at
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Great Weekend Getaway
at North Dakota (Fri-Sat) According to Sports Illustrated, NHL scouts
can’t wait for the USA-Canada game at the World
Junior Championships (Dec. 31 in Vancouver) to see
Phil Kessel go head-to-head against Jonathan Toews.
Well, they can see the same match-up 22 days earlier,
in a nicer rink, this weekend when Minnesota visits
North Dakota to renew the “other” Border
Battle. And the hot rumor has it that the sports book
at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas has set the over/under
number on “total deceased gophers cleaned off
the ice” at seven. Place your bets.
While You’re There: With barely
two weeks left until the wrapping paper flies, there
are fun shopping options to be had on both sides of
the Red River of the North where it runs between downtown
Grand Forks and the Minnesota neighbors in East Grand
Forks. On the east/Gopher side, the 60,000-square
foot Cabela’s store (210 DeMers Ave. NW) is
an attraction in its own right, with huge aquariums
and trophy animals in realistic re-creations of nature.
Over on the west/Sioux side of the Red is the famed
Widman’s Candy Company (106 South Third Street)
which specializes in chocolate covered potato chips.
Don’t worry about the calories – you’ll
shiver them off..
knows, sometimes being home for the holidays is more
trouble than it’s worth. So after a weekend
when WCHA road teams went 7-2-1, congratulations are
due to Alaska Anchorage and Denver (who
will meet this weekend at Magness Arena) as the only
WCHA teams to win on home ice last weekend. The Pioneers
continued a trend, beating archrival Colorado College
5-1, while new Seawolves coach Dave Shyiak got his
second league win, 2-1 over St. Cloud State, behind
34 Nathan Lawson saves.
after a WCHA referee had his nose broken by an errant
puck, the idea of referees wearing eye shields was
floated, and promptly dismissed by the powers that
be with the league. Just a few days later, in the
waning minutes of Wisconsin’s 4-0 shutout of
Minnesota last Saturday, referee Scott Zelkin
collapsed to the ice with a bloodied face
after being struck inadvertently by Gopher Kris Chucko’s
stick. What’s it going to take before officials
take some measures to protect themselves?
A year removed from his stint as coach of
Team USA at the World Junior Championships, Minnesota Duluth
coach Scott Sandelin admits paying more attention to the
player selection process this year. With that attention
comes optimism about the fate of the Americans not only
at this season’s tournament in Vancouver, but in future
years as well.
“They’re going to be very good,”
says Sandelin of the squad picked by Northern Michigan coach
Walt Kyle. “They’ve clearly got opportunities
to win gold medals not only this year but in the next few
As for Sandelin’s current team, there
are opportunities to be had as well as the Bulldogs travel
to Colorado College. After mustering just two wins in their
first 10 games, UMD is on a 4-1-1 run heading to the home
of the Tigers, where they’re 3-0-1 in their last two
visits. Despite an overtime win and tie last weekend at
Minnesota State, Mankato, Sandelin says a better effort
will be needed in Colorado Springs.
“We didn’t play very well defensively
last weekend and if we try to do that against Colorado College
we’ll get hammered,” Sandelin said. “We’re
not going to be in the lead very often playing that way.
We’ve got to get better away from the puck.”
After being plagued by inconsistency in goal
much of last season, Sandelin is liking what he sees in
the rotation of senior Issac Reichmuth and junior Josh Johnson.
“Both of them played last weekend and
both played very well,” Sandelin said, noting Reichmuth’s
15 first period saves on Saturday in Mankato. “He
kept us in it in a period when we were just pathetic. It’s
been healthy for us to have some competition at that position.”
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• After a
blazing 9-1-0 start which had the Tigers ranked No. 1 in
the nation for a time, Colorado College is a pedestrian
3-4-1 in its last eight games. But with his next two victories,
Tigers coach Scott Owens will make a permanent mark in the
school’s record books. Since taking over the CC program
at the start of the 1999-2000 season, Owens has 165 wins,
and with one more will tie Don Lucia and Jeff Sauer as the
all-time leader in coaching victories for the Tigers. Lucia
won 166 games in six seasons at CC, while Sauer won 166
games in his 11 seasons behind the Tigers’ bench.
• The notion
that more shots on goal is the way to get more shots in
goal isn’t working out for Michigan Tech lately. In
Saturday’s 8-2 home loss to North Dakota, the Huskies
fired a season-high 44 shots at Jordan Parise. It was their
highest shot total since they had 52 last February at Alaska
Anchorage – in a game that ended in a 2-2 tie. Apparently
there’s something to that “quality vs. quantity”
night’s 3-2 home loss to Notre Dame extended a run
of frustration that Minnesota State, Mankato has had versus
the Irish. Notre Dame is now 5-1-0 all-time against MSU
and 3-0-0 in Mankato, with the Mavs’ lone win coming
in the 1996-97 season at the Joyce Center. Die-hard MSU
fans will recall a pair of shorthanded goals by Tyler Deis
lifted the Mavs to a 4-3 road win over the Irish that night.
• Konrad Reeder’s
natural hat trick in the first period of St. Cloud State’s
5-0 win at Alaska Anchorage last Friday was the biggest
20-minute outburst by a Husky in nearly four years. On Feb.
15, 2002, Mark Hartigan scored four of his team’s
seven second period goals in a 7-4 Husky win over the Seawolves
in St. Cloud.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report.