It's Sit and Wait Time for the Badgers
If any Wisconsin Badger hockey players are
seen strolling Bascom Hill or down by the Memorial Union
this weekend and Tom Petty is blasting from their iPods,
don't be surprised. The Badgers' regular season slate concluded
last Saturday with still much to be determined. For Mike
Eaves and his charges, the waiting is the hardest part.
"It's out of our control, so we sit and
watch now," Eaves said shortly after the Badgers lost
3-2 at St. Cloud State last Saturday. A win or a tie by
Wisconsin would've clinched home ice. Instead, both Minnesota
State and St. Cloud State can now overtake the Badgers by
winning this weekend.
Ryan Lasch and St. Cloud State have their eyes on
North Dakota this weekend, while the Wisconsin Badgers
will have their eyes on the scoreboards during an
Minnesota State was 2-1-1 versus the Badgers
in the regular season, and needs only a tie at home versus
Michigan Tech this weekend to finish ahead of Wisconsin
in the playoff seedings. The Mavericks' coach is among many
amazed at all there is to play for in the final regular
"All eight games are extremely important
this weekend," said Troy Jutting. "There's a lot
of stuff still on the table."
Colorado College, North Dakota and Denver
have all clinched home ice, but there's a trophy to be won,
which will be decided this weekend as well. The Tigers have
a two-point lead in the final standings and need a split
with Denver in their home-and-home series to clinch at least
a share of the title. But the Tigers' home loss to Minnesota
State last Saturday left the door open a bit for the Fighting
Sioux. If Colorado College loses a game this weekend, North
Dakota can get its hands on the MacNaughton Cup by sweeping
St. Cloud State.
But it's not like Bob Motzko's team is lacking
stuff to play for either. The Huskies need at least one
win this weekend to move ahead of Wisconsin and be assured
of home ice in round one. And thanks to a bewildering computer
ranking that currently shows eight of the WCHA's 10 teams
in the hunt for the NCAA playoffs, even teams that are assured
of a playoff road trip are fighting for the right to still
be skating on the last weekend of March.
"We've just kind of hung around and had
a couple of good weeks, and that's all it takes," said
Minnesota coach Don Lucia, whose team hosts Minnesota Duluth
this weekend. After an ugly 1-4-4 run in January and February,
the Gophers are 2-0-2 in their last four. The change in
fortunes began a few weeks ago when Lucia convinced his
team that their playoffs, in effect, started on Feb. 22
and an all-out effort was needed in the final three weekends
if the 2007-08 campaign was to be salvaged.
"Until that point, we didn't seem to
have a sense of urgency all season. We were happy just to
get something out of a weekend, even if it was just a tie,"
Lucia said. "Now we're finally scoring some goals."
Minnesota has 14 goals in its last four games, after scoring
just 15 goals in that tough nine-game stretch last month.
Of course, just because you're not playing
this weekend doesn't mean you're not gearing up for the
playoffs. For a team with designs on making noise in the
WCHA tournament and the NCAA tournament, a weekend or rest
and preparation might work well for a team like Wisconsin.
The Badgers' coach assured reporters that his team won't
be idle in their bye weekend.
"First we'll sit down as a staff and
see where we are physically," Eaves said. "We'll
do a myriad of things as far as walk-throughs, and intense
days and game days and competitive days, so it'll be a bunch
Then, they'll sit down for some scoreboard-watching,
and the fun will really begin.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Injury bug arrives in Grand Forks:
March came in like a lion for North Dakota, which suffered
a pair of significant injuries while extending its unbeaten
streak and moving within striking distance of the WCHA's
regular season title.
The Sioux will be without rookie forward Evan
Trupp and sophomore defenseman Chay Genoway this weekend
when they face St. Cloud State, and for an as-yet-to-be-determined
amount of time beyond that.
As was first reported by Brad Schlossman in
the Grand Forks Herald, Trupp fractured a bone
in his leg during the second period of Saturday's 2-0 win
at Minnesota Duluth. Genoway sustained an arm injury during
the opening period of Sunday's 2-1 overtime win versus the
School officials wouldn't elaborate on the
nature or severity of either player's injury, and offered
no timetable for when they might return. Genoway entered
the Minnesota Duluth series leading the WCHA in points per
game among defensemen. He was hurt just 71 seconds into
the Sunday game after being checked from behind by the Bulldogs'
Michael Gergen, who played with Genoway at Shattuck-St.
Mary's. Gergen was tossed from the game for the hit.
Trupp, who leads all Sioux rookies offensively,
was injured in the Saturday game when his leg got tangled
with a Bulldog.
Davies clicking for Badgers:
No matter who and where they play in the playoffs, the Badgers'
opponents will likely spend practice time working on ways
to slow down Michael Davies. A sophomore forward from suburban
St. Louis, Davies will enter the postseason having notched
seven points in his past five games.
"The thing about Michael is he's putting
two and two together. He's not the biggest guy but he can
play physical and put his body on a guy, create a turnover
and create a scoring chance by running into somebody,"
said Badgers coach Mike Eaves of Davies' newfound offense.
"I think he sees that correlation now. Before he was
an all-offensive guy. He cheated on the offensive side.
Now he works hard by the puck actually finding him more
In last Saturday's 3-2 loss at St. Cloud State,
Davies gave the Badgers a 2-1 lead without really getting
a shot on goal. Setting up on the goal line to the left
of the net, Davies tried a centering pass to the hashmarks,
only to see the puck deflect off a Huskies defenseman and
into the net.
"That's a goal-scorer's goal," Eaves
said. "Those pucks go in for guys like that."
Great Weekend Getaway
Cloud State at North Dakota
(Fri.-Sat.) There are no more important four points on
the line than those available when St. Cloud State
visits North Dakota this weekend. The Huskies need
a win to secure home ice for the WCHA playoffs. The
red-hot Sioux (14-0-1 since a loss at St. Cloud State
on Jan. 4) need a sweep and some help from Denver
to claim the MacNaughton Cup.
While You're There: There are abundant
wonders in the Peace Garden State, but when we're
in the home of the Fighting Sioux, it's fun to cross
to the east side of the Red River for wildlife and
wings. First, check out the massive Cabela's store
in downtown East Grand Forks – home to 60,000
square feet of wild animal displays and every kind
of outdoor gear imaginable. After that adventure,
stop by the Blue Moose for good food and a cold beverage
surrounded by an interesting mix of knotty pine and
section at the National Hockey Center was once renowned,
and vilified, as a den of harsh words. So it was refreshing
to visit the finest rink in Stearns County last weekend
and hear enthusiastic support for the Huskies without
the ear-burning profanity. Good work Husky fans, and
let this be a lesson to your contemporaries in places
we were too harsh, or at least premature, in saying
that the January series between Minnesota and Minnesota
Duluth at the DECC set offensive hockey back a decade.
We should have reserved that judgment until after
Denver and Michigan Tech combined to score four times
over two games last weekend in Houghton. Say what
you will about great goaltending and defense, but
we do like to see that pretty red light illuminated
every now and then.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Congrats to Denver senior goaltender
Peter Mannino, after he put his name in the school record
books last weekend. Mannino's 21-save shutout of Michigan
Tech last Friday was the 14th blanking of his college career,
which moved Mannino past Gerry Powers into the top spot
on the school's all-time list.
• Alaska Anchorage is another team that's
off this weekend. The Seawolves are assured of finishing
10th in the WCHA for the third consecutive season and will
travel to either Colorado College or North Dakota for the
opening round of the playoffs. The team's struggles seem
to be limited to conference play, after Dave Shyiak and
company went 4-0-2 in non-conference games this season.
Shyiak is 10-4-4 outside the WCHA in his three seasons as
the Seawolves' coach.
• It wasn't a big surprise to see Colorado
College hold Minnesota State scoreless in eight power play
attempts last weekend. The Tigers' penalty kill unit is
leading the WCHA and the nation, having killed 91 percent
of their penalties, and having scored 10 shorties. Two points
this weekend would give the Tigers their sixth WCHA title
since the 1993-94 season.
• One thing lost when the WCHA went
to an unbalanced schedule a few years ago was the yearly
trip to Minneapolis for many Minnesota Duluth fans. The
Bulldogs' visit to Mariucci Arena this weekend will be their
first in more than two years. But there may be a few extra
Duluthians in attendance at the college games, with many
Twin Ports residents already in the Twin Cities for hockey.
Duluth Marshall is playing in the renowned Minnesota State
High School Hockey Tournament this weekend at the Xcel Energy
Center in St. Paul. The top-ranked Hilltoppers are seeking
their first state title after finishing second in the previous
• A lesson seems to have been learned
by WCHA coaches after the melee in the handshake line between
Minnesota and North Dakota in early February. When a fracas
broke out at the end of last Saturday's Wisconsin-St. Cloud
State, the coaches separated their teams, acknowledged each
other, then sent the teams off the ice without shaking hands.
That's a blow against tradition and sportsmanship, but a
positive move for common sense.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Jess Myers can be reached