After 20 minutes of play this weekend, the
St. Cloud State Huskies will be hoisting a trophy, guaranteed.
It's the first of three they're aiming for. And there's
one more piece of hardware they don't want to see.
Goepfert remembers how tough things were when he arrived
at St. Cloud State, and he'll leave after having helped
the program to one of its best seasons in school history.
Via last weekend's impressive home-and-home
sweep of Minnesota, the Huskies clinched the DQ Cup, which
is given annually to the WCHA's top Minnesota-based team.
The trophy will be handed to the Huskies during the first
intermission of their Friday game with North Dakota, and
if they hand the cup to Bobby Goepfert first, it will be
After a poorer-than-expected start to his
senior season, spurred in part by trouble adjusting to new
pads, Goepfert has been the team's, and perhaps the league's,
most valuable player in the second half. Last Saturday in
a 5-3 win at Minnesota, Goepfert had 39 saves despite a
flood of traffic in front of the net that made clear glances
at the puck a rarity.
"That's what that kid does. He's on a
mission at the end of his college career," said Huskies
coach Bob Motzko. "When the horn sounded I looked at
him and pointed right at him. There was nobody more fired
up in this building than him."
Goepfert practiced with the team two years
ago, but could not play in Craig Dahl's final season as
the Huskies coach, having to sit out a year after transferring
from Providence. But he says the lessons he and teammates
learned in that season, in which they finished ninth in
the WCHA, have been valuable this year.
"Most of the guys in our locker room
went through those hard times, finishing in the middle of
the pack or the bottom of the pack a few years ago,"
Goepfert said. "You grow as a team when you go through
those times. I didn't play, but I was around it, and a lot
of the guys who went through that are our heart and soul.
When we need to get something done, it's those guys who
have been through the trenches stepping up and making plays."
The Huskies entered last weekend trailing
Minnesota by seven points in the WCHA standings, and knowing
that the Gophers needed just one win to clinch the MacNaughton
Cup. After the sweep, Motzko admitted that his team wanted
nothing to do with witnessing another team's championship
"We didn't want to see the MacNaughton
Cup in our building, and after what happened (Friday) we
said we don't want to see it at all," Motzko said,
recalling his team's 5-1 win in the series opener.
WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod had flown to
Minneapolis from Denver last weekend and was prepared to
hand Minnesota the trophy if they'd won on Saturday. After
Saturday's game, Motzko glanced across the hallway at McLeod
and grinned before revealing another bit of motivation his
team had last weekend.
"Let's make Commissioner McLeod fly back
next week," Motzko said.
McLeod indeed planned on being in Minneapolis
again this weekend, prepared once again to hand the MacNaughton
Cup to the Gophers. The way things are going, that's the
only trophy St. Cloud State's sights aren't set on in the
last five weeks of the hockey season.
AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Away from the rink, a devastating
loss: It was the real-life equivalent of a star
player heading to the dressing room early in the second
period this week when the WCHA family said goodbye to a
great friend far, far too soon. After battling cancer for
nearly two years, Kelley Campion-Brill passed away on Thursday
morning at the young age of 37, surrounded by loved ones
at a Twin Cities hospice unit.
Kelley had been around a hockey rink all her
life. Her late father, Ted Brill, was a long-time youth
hockey coach in Grand Rapids, Minn., and a USA Hockey board
member. He also served as executive director of the U.S.
Hockey Hall of Fame for several years. Brother Mike played
hockey at Providence in the 1980s, and brother John skated
for Minnesota a few years later.
Kelley and WCHA referee Jon Campion were married
and had two sons, Teddy and Jack. Kelley was diagnosed with
cancer in the summer of 2005, and amazed all who knew her
with her upbeat attitude and determination in the face of
long odds. In an on-line posting shortly after Kelley's
passing, Jon summed up the admiration many of us held for
You read about people "losing their
battle with cancer". I believe Kelley won her battle.
She fought this nasty disease with courage, conviction and
dignity. She outlived all expectations. She allowed us to
kiss her more, to hold her hand more, to hug her more, to
laugh with her more, to love with her more. She was able
to read more stories to her boys. She was able to snuggle
and comfort Jack and Teddy more when they woke in the middle
of the night crying for mommy. She won this battle. What
a beautiful person.
On a personal note, Kelley and I were friends
and co-workers at a Minneapolis publishing company for more
than four years. I'll always cherish the memories of sharing
hockey stories with her around the office, and smile just
a little when I recall her attending hockey games in the
early days of her relationship with Jon. Kelley was always
easy to spot in the crowd, because when all of the fans
were watching the puck, her head was usually turned the
other way, intently watching the guy in the stripes that
she'd fallen so hard for.
I last saw Kelley nearly a year ago, and it's
no surprise that we were at a hockey game. She was moving
a little slower than before, and there were signs that she
was feeling some discomfort, but the one thing that hadn't
change was her smile. That ever-present smile is one memory
that those of us who knew Kelley will never forget.
Be well, Kelley. Your hockey family misses
Late storm has travelers changing
on the fly: After WCHA fans in many areas suffered
through a mostly brown Christmas, snow pounded the Upper
Midwest on the first day of March, and the predictions of
blizzard conditions caused at least two teams to change
Instead of flying on Thursday, Wisconsin,
which plays at Minnesota Duluth this weekend, hopped on
a northbound bus late Wednesday night and arrived in the
Twin Ports in the wee hours of Thursday morning. After the
Badgers had to spend almost an entire extra day in Houghton
last weekend due to snow, they apparently weren't going
to risk a long wait at an airport again.
Michigan Tech, which visits Minnesota, also
hopped on a bus late Wednesday, leaving Houghton around
9 p.m. that night and getting as far as the Holiday Inn
in Eau Claire, Wis., by early Thursday morning. After a
few hours with America's Host, the Huskies made it to Mariucci
Arena by Thursday afternoon and should face no further delays
in their quest for home ice.
The one team that seemed unfazed by the weather
was North Dakota, which kept its regular schedule and arrived
in St. Cloud by bus Thursday evening despite blizzard and
whiteout conditions gripping much of Minnesota. Apparently,
snow and blowing snow is not a huge deal for bus drivers
who have earned their stripes braving the roads of the Red
Great Weekend Getaway
Dakota at St. Cloud State
Anyone who can't get a ticket to either of the games
at the National Hockey Center this weekend should
wait two weeks and there will likely be about 13,000
more seats available. These two are clearly the hottest
teams in the conference if not the nation, and seemed
destined to meet again at the WCHA Final Five in St.
Paul. NoDak is 11-2-3 since the holidays and after
a disastrous first half has played up it its enormous
potential. The Huskies can still win the WCHA regular
season title outright with a sweep this weekend and
a pair of Gopher losses.
While You're There: For those of
us who like a good bite to eat and a laid-back atmosphere
with our adult beverages, there's a nice oasis from
the loud music of downtown St. Cloud to be had just
across the river. How long has the Ace Bar (423 E
Saint Germain Street) been the place to go in St.
Cloud? When you're at the rink, check out the decades-old
Huskies jersey on display under glass, and note the
Ace Bar sponsorship patch on the shoulder. Great stuff.
For 37 seasons
(all but two of them as an unpaid volunteer), Thomas
"Dukes" Knutson has been a fixture
in the DECC pressbox, serving as the official scorer
for Bulldog hockey games. It all ends this weekend,
as Dukes is retiring from his teaching job and moving
to Florida at the end of the school year. To this
man of great faith and friendship, for his service
to the college game, we say do us a favor Dukes, and
on the last goal this weekend, put yourself down for
the second assist. You've earned it.
great to have home playoff spots and trophies still
up for grabs this weekend, it's disappointing that
two teams (Minnesota State and Alaska Anchorage) will
be idle while the other eight play games this weekend.
How about the WCHA schedule-makers ensuring
that all 10 teams are playing conference games on
the final weekend of the season next year?
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Two WCHA players, St. Cloud State
forward Nate Raduns and Denver goaltender Glenn Fisher,
are among 10 finalists for the first Lowe's Senior CLASS
Award. The new trophy, which is sponsored by the home improvement
giant, is designed to honor a senior player that excels
in "classroom, character and community," in addition
to performance in the hockey rink during this season. The
winner will be determined by a vote of fans, coaches and
the media, and will be announced at the Frozen Four.
• Even if Michigan Tech doesn't make
its first Frozen Four trip since 1981 this season, the Huskies
will be sending at least one player to St. Louis. Senior
defenseman Lars Helminen has been selected to participate
in the Pontiac Skills Challenge, which will be held April
6 at the Scottrade Center. Tech's Nick Anderson skated in
the inaugural Skills Challenge last April in Milwaukee.
• While the Badger hockey team got to
Duluth in spite of the weather, the snow means the FSN Wisconsin
broadcast crew will have a much different look for the broadcasts
of this weekend's games versus Minnesota Duluth. Paul Braun
and Tom Sagissor were unable to make the trip, so FSN will
pick up a feed from WDIO-TV in Duluth, with Steve Jezerski
and former Bulldog Kraig Karakas calling the action.
• In the "baby steps" department,
Alaska Anchorage is idle this weekend and is therefore guaranteed
of finishing in the WCHA cellar for the second year in a
row. But with 12 overall wins and eight WCHA wins, the Seawolves
doubled their 2005-06 victory total in both categories.
• Past glories will be celebrated on
Saturday night in Colorado Springs when a dozen members
of the 1956-57 Colorado College team will be on hand. Fifty
years ago, the Tigers beat Michigan 13-6 in the NCAA title
game, played at Broadmoor World Arena.
• Minnesota State is off this weekend,
but will head onto the road for the playoffs on a 7-3-3
streak after last weekend's home sweep of Colorado College.
The Mavericks were a hit at the home box office this season,
drawing an average of 3,860 to 18 home games – the
second-best attendance figure in school history.
• Last Friday's
5-1 setback at St. Cloud State marked the first time Minnesota
sophomore goaltender Jeff Frazee has ever lost a road game.
He's now 9-1-2 all-time while wearing the maroon sweater.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.
Jess Myers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.