Fade" Avoidance Tactics in Duluth
spring of 1990, Richard Marx played the DECC and opened
with his big hit "Don't Mean Nothin'." It was
an appropriate anthem at that time in the home rink of the
UMD Bulldogs, who had begun the previous hockey season on
a blistering pace which, in the end, meant nothing.
1989-90 Bulldogs, the last UMD team to sweep a series in
Minneapolis, opened the season on an 8-0-0 tear, and were
13-3-0 in early December, ranked no. 1 in the country and
battling Wisconsin for the league's top spot. But after
beating the Badgers at home in early January, the Bulldogs
collapsed, going 4-12-1 in their last 17, and finishing
fifth in the WCHA, while
Wisconsin stormed to the league and NCAA titles. To many
Bulldog fans, this is still remembered as the year of the
two seasons ago, the Bulldogs opened the season with a similar
splash. They beat Nebraska-Omaha and Michigan in the Maverick
Stampede and were ranked 15th in the country after one week,
before a 2-11-1 stretch had them gasping for air by December.
the Bulldogs and their fans seem to take a nice start to
the WCHA slate in stride, don't be surprised. While delighted
by his team's road sweep of the
defending NCAA champs last weekend, Bulldogs coach Scott
Sandelin was quick to remind reporters that a nice two-game
set in October can be meaningless in March.
probably been awhile since anybody's done this," said
Sandelin of the four points his team collected at Mariucci
Arena. "This is a tough place to get points. But we
need to keep things in perspective and keep improving. Trust
me, I'll make sure they do."
the record, the last time a visiting WCHA team swept a series
at Mariucci Arena was on Feb. 25-26, 2000, when Wisconsin
won two in Minneapolis and
clinched the MacNaughton Cup in the process.
AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Tech Engineering Goals A-Plenty –
Houghton, Mich., is one of the most scenic and most remote
towns in the college hockey world. It's been said by critics
that the Huskies fans in Houghton-Hancock are a little bit
behind the times, and take a little longer to catch on to
the latest trends. Well, if hockey is truly in a "dead
puck" era of lower scoring, that news apparently hasn't
reached Michigan Tech just yet.
their 10-1 exhibition win over Waterloo earlier this month,
the Huskies are averaging better than five goals per game.
Much of the offense comes as a result of the efforts from
Conner and junior Colin Murphy.
who hails from the Detroit suburb of Westland, Mich., is
leading the nation in scoring with nine goals and two assists
in four games. Murphy, from Fort McMurray, Alberta, is right
behind Conner on the scoring chart with six goals and four
assists. Murphy was named the league's offensive player
of the week on Oct. 20, and Conner snared the same honor
this past week.
media relations director Dave Fischer speculated that the
last time Tech had the nation's top two scorers on their
roster had to be the middle
1970s, when the Huskies were in the NCAA title game three
years in a row.
the good news. The bad news is that the offense has yet
to translate into a winning record, thanks to some suspect
defense and goaltending. Freshman goalie Bryce Luker has
started three of Tech's four games and
is 0-2-1 thus far. Junior Cam Ellsworth has worse numbers
than Luker (5.76 GAA, .806 SV%) but has recorded the team's
Bump, But No Break, For Ballard –
It was more than just a pair of home losses to Minnesota
Duluth that made it a rough weekend for Gopher fans. Things
went from bad to worse in the third period of Friday's game
when Minnesota star defenseman Keith Ballard limped off
the ice favoring his left leg.
collided with a Bulldog at center ice and hurt his left
knee in the process. "I just ran into somebody,"
said Ballard on Saturday. "I don't even know who it
was. I didn't see them coming."
from Baudette, Minn., Ballard ran the Gophers power play
on Friday and collected a pair of assists before the injury
knocked him out of the game. While it is unclear how long
he'll be out of the Gophers lineup, Ballard said that he
is not going to undergo X-rays or a MRI, and expects to
be back on the depth chart within a few weeks.
doesn't need surgery, so it's probably a short-term thing,"
said Gophers coach Don Lucia. "We've been very lucky
as a team over the last few
years in that prior to this, our key defenseman have never
watching the Gophers from the stands at Mariucci Arena as
opposed to the view from the bench or the ice, Ballard wasn't
frustrating," he said after Minnesota's 4-2 loss on
Saturday. "This is not something I want to be doing
for too long."
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
Great Weekend Getaway
State, Mankato at Colorado College (Fri.-Sat.)
teams finished second and first in the league, respectively,
last year, and both have plenty of
questions to be answered before they can claim another
spot among the WCHA's elite. It's the conference opener
for both teams, with the Tigers 3-0-1 in non-conference
games, and the Mavericks at 1-2-1 so far. With the
series being played at altitude in
Colorado Springs, and the Mavs already with two losses
under their belt, the pressure is on Mankato to get
at least a split, or suffer an early setback in the
battle for respectability and league status. The hottest
Tiger is junior forward Scott Polaski. The Colorado
Springs native put up two goals and two assists last
weekend at Clarkson, and needs just two more goals
this year to eclipse his previous season-high.
You're There: This space is normally reserved for
mentioning good bars and restaurants, and there are
certainly plenty of those all along the Front Range.
But if you're in Colorado Springs this weekend, keep
in mind that it's fall and the wonders of Rocky Mountains
are beckoning. A trip to the top of Pikes Peak, through
the Garden of the Gods, or to view the
Royal Gorge Bridge, is your best bet.
fans who take their road trips seriously. Hats off
to the dozen or so members of the UMD Penalty
Box who made an event of their team's trip
to Minneapolis last
weekend. Led by the legendary
Chris Orlett, the Penalty Box members invaded
Mariucci Arena wearing camouflage combat pants and
making lots of noise as the Bulldogs got a rare road
sweep of their biggest rivals. Most impressive to
some was the $400 pre-game bar bill the group posted
at Sally's in Stadium Village before
Friday's game. One note of interest: the "UMD
Penalty Box" is the new name for the former "UMD
Dog Pound." As Orlett pointed out, every college
hockey team with a canine mascot (Bulldogs, Huskies,
Terriers, etc.) has a group of fans called the "Dog
Pound." The folks
from Duluth wanted to be different, hence the name
Golden Gopher fans in the Twin Cities.
After taking a shot at Fighting Sioux fans last week
for their lack of a sellout, it's only fair to note
the non-present fans at the 10,000-seat Mariucci Arena
last Friday. With a big in-state rival (Minnesota
Duluth) in town for the home opener, the 2003 NCAA
champs banner being raised and the Wild playing on
the road, there's no excuse for the no-shows. The
attendance for Friday's game was 9,639. Gophers ticket
manager Dan Teschke later said that the announced
number was incorrect, and that actual attendance was
over 10,000. But there were plenty of seats unoccupied
throughout the game, which earns a bench minor.
Long-time Gopher fan John Kavanagh of St. Paul, who
drove to the games in Omaha but not the ones in Minneapolis,
will serve the penalty.
After his run-in with police this summer for stealing pull
tabs from a bar in his hometown of Roseau, Minn., North
Dakota goalie Jake Brandt should be prepared to
face the wrath of opposing fans. College hockey message
boards have been crowded with fans, many of them from Minnesota
Duluth, saying they
will wear giant necklaces made out of pull tabs (picture
a Hawaiian lei made out of little pieces of cardboard) when
the Fighting Sioux come to visit this season.
Brandt and his teammates, who have taken over the top spot
in the INCH Power
Rankings, can take some solace in the fact that the
Sioux only have two road games (at Denver on Nov. 21-22)
on their schedule between now and January 2.
If you're attending this weekend's Princeton at St.
Cloud State series, and you're trying to decide
which school you or your children should attend, take a
quick look at your checkbook and consider the following:
Average yearly expenses for a student at Princeton are close
to $40,000, while that student's
counterpart at SCSU pays about $9,000 per year.
Of course, there are other notable differences between the
schools and their hockey programs. While St. Cloud State
has produced one Hobey Baker Award finalist (Mark Hartigan
in 2002), Princeton produced one Hobart Amory Hare Baker
(Class of 1914) himself. Princeton can claim the likes of
former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and one-time pro tennis
groupie Brooke Shields on its "famous alumni"
list. SCSU is the college home
of talented Fox Sports North producer Matt Hoover and KMSP
Fox 9 news anchor Jeff Passolt, a star for the Huskies in
their D-II hockey days.
Wisconsin is 7-6-1 all-time against Minnesota
State, Mankato. But it looks as if the Mavericks
will get a golden opportunity to even the score in January.
The Badgers visit Mankato on Jan. 2-3, when Badgers' coach
Mike Eaves, along with defensmen Ryan Suter and Jeff Likens
and assistant coach John Hynes, will still be at the World
Junior Championships in Finland. Other WCHA players named
to the team are Denver defenseman Matt Carle, Colorado College
defenseman Mark Stuart, Tigers forward Brett Sterling and
North Dakota forward Zach Parise. The trip will be a father-son
affair for Eaves and Stuart. Mike's son Patrick, of Boston
College fame, has also been named to the squad, and Stuart's
father, Dr. Mike Stuart, has been named the team physician.
The WCHA playoff championship claimed by Minnesota
last March was the school's first since 1996 and the first
of Don Lucia's coaching career. But when the Gophers won
the NCAA title a few weeks later, the league playoff crown
lost a little bit of luster. So when the Gophers unveiled
their most recent NCAA
championship banner last weekend at Mariucci Arena, there
were balloons, streamers, speeches and much fanfare.
And at the other end of the rink, there was a blank space
where the banner proclaiming "2003 WCHA Playoff Champions"
should go. Team officials have said that there was no oversight,
and the WCHA banner (which costs $1,000) has been ordered.
It will be raised to the rafters sometime in the coming
weeks, without ceremony or fanfare.
Don't be surprised if the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves
work on their scuffling skills and watch "Groundhog
Day" for inspiration en route to Duluth for
this weekend's series with the Bulldogs. The last time the
Seawolves won a WCHA road game was on Groundhog
Day 2002, when they held off Wisconsin 3-2 at the Kohl Center.
After a post-game brawl that night, the teams combined for
an impressive 174 minutes in penalties and six game disqualifications.
After viewing INCH's list of the great now-defunct
eateries in the college hockey world, Wisconsin's
long-time team manager Rob Malnory emailed to note an obvious
omission. Malnory – who has kept Bucky well equipped
and ensured they're housed and fed on the road since the
days when Badger Bob Johnson was the coach in Madison –
was shocked to see INCH's crack staff (two of whom once
lived in Duluth) forgot to mention the Chinese Lantern,
which was a Twin Ports fixture until a fire destroyed the
restaurant nearly a decade ago. As well as hosting the UMD
Blueline Club luncheon every Friday before a home series,
the Lantern was a favorite pre-game meal stop for visiting
teams. Whenever a road team won at the DECC, it might have
been due to the month's supply of protein they got from
the Lantern's teriyaki prime rib, which sometimes came sliced
two inches thick. INCH regrets the omission, and the fact
that the Chinese Lantern is no more.
According to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,
there might be a goaltenders battle emerging in Pioneerland
(which, incidentally, was the
least-crowded part of Disneyland when we visited there during
the 1999 Frozen Four). While Wade Dubielewicz was the clear
no. 1 goalie for the Pioneers the past
three years, current senior Adam Berkhoel has been
close to being a co-no. 1 in that time. With Dubielewicz
now toiling in the New York Islanders' system, Berkhoel
has taken over the top slot. But lanky freshman Glenn Fischer,
an Edmonton native who has been drafted by the Oilers, is
waiting in the wings and may see more starts in the near
future. Berkhoel is 3-0-0 for the Pioneers with impressive
numbers (1.33 GAA, .953 SV%). Fischer has started one game
and is undefeated in his college career after beating Northeastern
6-3 in Denver.
People at the University of Minnesota Duluth
can be touchy about their school's name. While they like
being called "Minnesota Duluth" or "UMD,"
many at the school bristle when they're referred to as just
"Duluth." They make a fair point in asking, how
often do you hear UCLA called "Los Angeles" or
UNLV called "Vegas?"
the release of this week's USA Today/American Hockey Magazine
national college hockey poll was likely greeted with a mixture
of anger and
delight at UMD. The Bulldogs moved into the nation's top
10, but in the initial version of the official poll release
put out by USA Hockey, the no. 10 team in the nation was
listed as "Minnesota State University - Duluth."
So would that be MSUD then?