It's a telling sign of the current state of
hockey at Minnesota Duluth that highly-touted freshman goalie
Alex Stalock got his first career shutout last weekend,
and didn't get a win (the Bulldogs tied 0-0 at Michigan
Tech). To quote the stereotypical bluesman who croons each
summer at Duluth's Bayfront Blues Festival, "if it
wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all."
Duluth freshman goalie Alex Stalock got his
first career shutout last weekend, and didn't get
After Wednesday night's 6-4 win at Northern
Michigan, the Bulldogs head into a much-needed bye weekend
having gone 1-4-1 in their past six outings. There's currently
no word as to whether the time off will include any kind
of exorcism in the home locker room at the DECC, in hopes
of banishing the injury bug from the premises.
"We're a little snakebit right now,"
said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin before the Northern Michigan
game. "We've gotten a lot younger real quickly."
Sandelin and company are currently dealing
with injuries of varying severity to Matt McKnight, Jason
Garrison, Nick Kemp, Andrew Carroll and Ryan Geris. Garrison,
in addition to dealing with an injury, found out his mother
had passed away one night before scoring his only goal of
the season – the overtime winner versus Denver on
Oct. 27. And McKnight was feared to be lost for the season,
but after a visit to the Mayo Clinic was found to be in
better shape than originally diagnosed, and may return in
four to six weeks.
As big a concern for some has been the Bulldogs'
propensity to let games slip away in the final 20 minutes.
Minnesota Duluth was tied with Denver 2-2 in the third period
on Oct. 28 and lost 4-2. One week later a 2-1 third-period
lead over Minnesota became a 3-2 overtime loss.
"The third period has been our nemesis,"
Sandelin said, admitting his team is not where it needs
to be in terms of conditioning. "I told the guys that
we're not in good enough shape."
Sandelin brought 1985 Hobey winner Bill Watson
on staff as an assistant coach this season, and is hoping
that Watson's upbeat attitude, and knowledge of how to score
goals, will pay dividends for the young team down the road.
"Bill Watson said it best, that scoring
is an attitude you have to bring to the rink. And he scored
a lot of goals," Sandelin said, recalling playing defense
for North Dakota versus Watson in two seasons when the Bulldogs'
forward led the WCHA offensively. "His personality
is nice for the guys to have around. They love him and you
can see on the ice that he loves the game. That attitude
Before giving up hope or writing off this
team and too young and beat up to win, optimists who follow
the Bulldogs will recall the team three years ago was only
a game over .500 in December before going on a 14-game unbeaten
streak and making a trip to the Frozen Four. While working
to get his team healthier and better conditioned, Sandelin
takes solace in the fact that we haven't even reached Thanksgiving
"I'd rather go through this now when
we have 26 games left, and 20 WCHA games left, to get better,"
he said. "I love this group, we've just got to teach
them how to win."
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Feeling hungover? In Madison?:
Fans are feeling something akin to that much-publicized
post-Super Bowl hangover in Madison this season, as the
defending national champs are dealing with injuries and
a lack of consistent offense that has them below .500 and
having won just once in their last six games heading into
this weekend's series at Minnesota.
After last Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to
Denver, Badgers' coach Mike Eaves said he liked everything
about the game except for the final score. Still, budding
star forward Jack Skille remains sidelined with an elbow
injury and senior forward Ross Carlson just returned last
weekend after missing several weeks with a bum knee. That
leaves Eaves still searching for other sources of goals.
Great Weekend Getaway
What's the color of bad blood? Is it bright red, or
is it a dark red that almost looks maroon? We may
find out this weekend when the red-clad Wisconsin
Badgers visit the Minnesota Golden Gophers before
Mariucci Arena's ocean of maroon seats. Each team
won twice in the other's building last season, and
Wisconsin shut out the Gophers in the WCHA playoffs,
then won the big prize in Milwaukee. The only thing
missing is Madison native and ex-Gopher Phil Kessel,
who was a fun little sidebar to this series for one
While You're There: This weekend's
rare Saturday-Sunday format gives fans a chance to
see bonus small-college hockey on Friday night. We
suggest a trip to Augsburg Arena in Minneapolis (at
23rd and Riverside) to catch the MIAC battle between
the Augsburg Auggies and St. Mary's Cardinals. There
are great Davanni's hoagies and pizzas to be had across
the street. Sadly, they don't offer a discount if
you can tell them what an Auggie is. (The school's
mascot is a baby eagle).
mater will offer 2006 Hobey winner Matt Carle his
own form of stick salute this Friday after Carle and
his new San Jose Sharks teammates visit Denver for
the first time this season. The Pioneers will
honor Carle for his Hobey (the school's first)
during the first intermission of Friday's game with
Michigan Tech. Carle is the Sharks' top rookie scorer
We commend St. Cloud State for earning
a split with powerful Minnesota last weekend —
a feat that included rallying from two goals down
in the Gophers' home rink on Friday. But here's the
stat that concerns us: in 10 minutes of overtime versus
Minnesota, the Huskies had zero shots
on goal. In the final 25 minutes on Saturday, when
a 3-1 Husky lead became a 3-3 tie, St. Cloud State
had five shots total. Against a team like Minnesota,
where the goaltending may the only Achilles' heel,
ya gotta throw the biscuit on net a little more, eh?
"It varies from game to game," said
the coach when asked for offensive bright spots. "That's
part of being young, trying to find consistency."
Heading to high-scoring Minnesota's building
might be scary for a team without Brian Elliott in goal,
but Eaves said that playing against their arch-rivals seems
to bring out the best in his Badgers. After the weekend
in Minneapolis, the Badgers have games with Michigan and
Michigan State coming up, and WCHA series at North Dakota,
at Denver and home with Minnesota looming – not exactly
a cakewalk for a team looking to get back above .500. But
don't bother asking Eaves about the road ahead. His current
focus is more short-term.
"We're so focused on the next game that
we've barely taken a look at the schedule ahead," he
said. "The energy is there for the next game, and that's
what matters to us right now."
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• A glance at the national goaltending
stats gives a clear indication of why Michigan Tech is off
to a nice start at 6-3-1. Netminders Michael-Lee Teslak
and Rob Nolan each have a 1.57 goals-against average and
are second and third in the country, respectively, in that
category. Tech also has the second-stingiest scoring defense
in the nation thus far, trailing equally-surprising Notre
• With all of the talk about the freshmen
and sophomores in the North Dakota lineup, senior captain
Chris Porter is quietly having a career year for the Fighting
Sioux. Porter heads into the series at Alaska Anchorage
having score the game-winning or game-tying goal in three
consecutive games and is on six-game point streak, his career
• Looking for free hockey? Minnesota
Duluth and St. Cloud State are the places to be this season.
Five of the Bulldogs first 10 games went to overtime, while
the Huskies have played an extra period in four of their
last eight games. St. Cloud State tied 2-2 at North Dakota
on Nov. 4, then tied both games of a home-and-home series
with Minnesota last weekend, marking the first time in the
Huskies' 21 seasons as a D-I program that they've had three
• Youth may hold the key if Minnesota
State is to snap its winless streak versus Colorado College
this weekend in Colorado Springs. The Mavericks are 0-7-1
in their last eight meetings with the Tigers, but are getting
a point-per-game output from freshman forward Jerad Stewart
over the past few weeks. Stewart scored his first career
power play goal last Friday versus Alaska Anchorage, snapping
a streak in which the Mavs had gone 0-for-23 on the power
• Call this the "Sterling/Sertich
Syndrome":After 10 games last season, Colorado College
was 9-1-0 and had scored 40 goals. This season the Tigers
are 5-4-1 after 10 games and have scored 28 goals.
• Alaska Anchorage went 0-for-9 on the
power play during last weekend's split at Minnesota State,
marking the first time this season that the Seawolves have
gone an entire weekend without a man-advantage goal.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report