October 15, 2003
Win Worth the Wait

By Jess Myers

 WCHA Notebook

This week's schedule
National TV Schedule

Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook
CCHA Notebook
Hockey East Notebook

Anyone who says that Alaska Anchorage went a whole year without a win is wrong. It was only 364 days. The Seawolves last previous win was on October 11, 2002, when they beat Alaska Fairbanks in Anchorage. On October 10 of this year, they finally tasted victory again.

But it probably looked like it would be a year when UAF needed just 1:17 to grab a 1-0 lead in the season opener for both teams last Friday in Fairbanks. That’s before an enthusiastic bunch of freshmen and sophomores rallied the Seawolves to a 3-2 win. Although coaches and players alike had downplayed the team’s 35-game winless streak last season, they admitted that finally winning a game was very important.

“It was certainly a burden, and we’re all relieved that it’s over,” said coach John Hill, whose opening game lineup featured eight newcomers. “I certainly felt relieved for our players.”

The Seawolves were 30 seconds from establishing a winning streak on Saturday, with a 3-2 lead over UAF in the final minute of play. But a bizarre turn of events featuring a lost faceoff, a defenseman falling down and an empty-net goal led to an improbable 5-3 Nanooks win. As stung as they were by the loss, Hill said his team was refocused by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and has had a great week of practice in preparation for this weekend’s Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage. The Seawolves open with Air Force, then face either Miami or UMass Lowell.

The most notable effort for UAA came from sophomore forward Chris Fournier, an Anchorage native who transferred home after one season at North Dakota, who had a goal and two assists over the weekend.

“I think we’re a much better skating team with a lot more stick skill than last year,” said Hill. “I won’t say Fairbanks took us lightly, but I do think that we surprised them a little bit. I think we’ll have the element of surprise on our side a lot this year.”


Praise for the Bulldogs – They’re not printing playoff tickets at Minnesota Duluth just yet (they’ll probably wait until the Bulldogs have actually won a game) but if they were, Boston College coach Jerry York would likely buy a pair.

Great Weekend Getaway
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Boston College at North Dakota (Fri.-Sat.)
For a hockey series being played before the start of the World Series, it doesn’t get much bigger than No. 3 North Dakota hosting No. 1 Boston College for a pair this weekend. J.D. Forrest will play (academic eligibility is a wonderful thing). Zach Parise might not play (getting hurt in an exhibition game is a bad way to start campaigning for the Hobey). And there’s no word as to whether there will be an all-class hockey reunion from Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, with eight former SSM skaters on the rosters. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that this is a rematch of the 2000 and 2001 NCAA title games.

Thanks to the good folks at CSTV, Friday night’s contest will be on the tube nation-wide. Strap yourself in for this pair, because the pre-game laser show won’t be the only eye-popping thing to see at the Ralph.

While you’re there: The famed Red Pepper is definitely the place to go after bartime (1 a.m. in North Dakota, and an hour later just across the Red River in Minnesota). But before the late-night munchies kick in, grab a table at the Blue Moose, on the riverfront in East Grand Forks, which looks and feels like a north woods fishing lodge inside.

Stick Salute

To Minnesota junior defenseman Judd Stevens. His name’s been forgotten or ignored while manning a blue line alongside the likes of Jordan Leopold, Paul Martin and Keith Ballard the last few seasons. But it was Stevens scoring a pair of goals for the Gophers as they rallied from a 3-0 hole with a late touchdown to beat Nebraska-Omaha 7-3 last weekend in Omaha. Paired with sophomore Peter Kennedy during the game, Stevens scored in the final minute of the second to make it 3-2 Omaha, then added the final goal of the game as Minnesota rebounded from their tournament-opening 4-0 loss to Maine.

“Judd’s a good shooter, he’s just needed to step up and play with more confidence,” said Gophers assistant coach Mike Guentzel. “It was nice to see him step up, and he’s a junior now, so you’d expect that kind of game out of him.”

Bench Minor

To Fox Sports Net. College hockey as a national television product has made huge leaps forward this season. But for those of us who follow the game, and who are often at rinks on Friday and Saturday nights, a little live hockey on TV at the bar afterwards, or on TV at home when we return from the arena, would be nice. Until there’s a Fox Sports Net Alaska (to go along with the 412 other regional Fox Sports Net networks they have) showing UAA and UAF games, we’re out of luck. Hey Rupert, you’ve got the dough to get this done. What ‘ya waiting for?

York’s team beat UMD 5-1 to win the now-defunct Silverado Shootout holiday tournament in Duluth in December 2001, when the Bulldogs were struggling under second-year coach Scott Sandelin. Last weekend, UMD rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie BC in the opener of the Icebreaker in East Lansing (the Eagles got the win via a shootout). York was impressed with how far Sandelin’s brought the team in two years.

“Duluth was excellent,” said York, after the Bulldogs got third-period goals from Brett Hammond and Junior Lessard. “They will finish in the top four in the WCHA.”

A Shot At Redemption In St. Cloud – St. Cloud State and Wisconsin will play the WCHA’s first conference games of the season this weekend in St. Cloud. There is much cloudiness surrounding the fortunes of the Huskies, especially regarding who will score and who will provide consistent play between the pipes.

Sophomore Jason Montgomery (3-7-4 in 15 starts last season) will get the nod on Friday versus the Badgers. If he struggles, Huskies coach Craig Dahl has an intriguing backup option in junior Adam Coole. If facing the Badgers gives Coole the jitters, it’s understandable.

Coole, you may recall, was a high school star at Duluth East, and tried to be a hometown boy making good at UMD. But Coole’s time as a Bulldog was a disaster. He was 5-22-4 over two seasons with a save percentage well under .900. The low moment (in fact, the last moment) of his UMD career came on March 2, 2002, at the Kohl Center, when Coole started and played all of 1:59, allowing three goals on four shots. UMD coach Scott Sandelin, in a controversial move, cut the former hometown hero from the team, and Coole transferred to SCSU.

A good showing against Wisconsin this weekend would more than likely have Coole thinking about redemption when the Huskies travel to UMD on Nov. 7-8.


• Nice season opener for Wisconsin senior defenseman Dan Boeser. After a junior year mixed with illness and injury, and 42-game streak without a goal, Boeser got the overtime winner in the opener of the Maverick Stampede in Omaha. The goal allowed Wisconsin to beat host Nebraska-Omaha 4-3, but Maine was too much for Bucky in the title game, winning 6-2.

• Sure, his name is a combination of a Canadian college and a bad Ted Danson vehicle, but MSU-Mankato sophomore Brock Becker has them expecting good things in southern Minnesota. As the Mavericks search high and low for offense to fill the Grant Stevenson void, Becker’s name has been bandied about a little. Mav fans hope his two-goal, two-assist performance in a 9-1 exhibition win over St. Clair College is a sign of what to expect.

• It’s (finally) time to pay the piper for Michigan Tech junior defenseman Clay Wilson. The native of Sturgeon Lake, Minn., will sit out the Huskies' game at Northern Michigan on Friday, serving a one-game suspension for a game disqualification he received on March 15 after a tussle with Minnesota’s Matt DeMarchi. Both players were ejected from the Huskies’ season-ending 5-2 loss to the Gophers.

• Holding a late lead versus Colorado College might not mean much this year. Of the 10 goals the Tigers scored in a pair of exhibition wins last weekend, six of them came in the third period. Maybe the effects of that thin mountain air really hit visiting goalies late in the game.

• A sweep of visiting Northeastern this weekend would give Denver coach George Gwozdecky 200 wins at the helm of the Pioneers. His DU record, after nine-plus seasons at the school, stands at 198-140-26 with one WCHA regular season title and two WCHA playoff titles to his credit in that span.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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