on the Front Range
Early in Jon
Krakauer's amazing book "Into Thin Air," about an ascent
of Mount Everest that turned tragic in March 1996, the author
details all of the nasty stuff
that happens to the human body during prolonged stays at high
attitudes. While Krakauer is generally referring to elevations
20,000 feet or higher, there seems to be some trouble for hockey
players at the 5,000 to 6,000 feet range these days.
Sterling isn't expected to return to the CC lineup until next
College and Denver find themselves significantly banged up as
they head into important weekend series. Denver, which is coming
three points at Alaska Anchorage, may be without the services
of two regular defensemen when the Pioneers host top-ranked North
Dakota this weekend. And the Tigers come off a bye week with more
problems than they had before the rest, after it was revealed
on Monday that top goalie Curtis McElhinney will miss a month
the latest challenge for CC coach Scott Owens, who's dealt with
key players out of action due to a fractured hand (Brett Sterling),
shoulder (Colin Stuart) and a lacerated spleen (Brandon Polich)
already this season.
that with nine guys that have the flu right now, and away we go,"
said Owens, who's trying to remain upbeat as his team travels
to face red-hot
Wisconsin this weekend. "With all of that, we've been able
to stay afloat with a 6-1-1 record, but we know it'll definitely
An hour or so north of Colorado Springs, near the junction of
I-25 and South University Boulevard, there's similar concern about
the health of the Pioneers with the Fighting Sioux coming to town.
Highly-touted Denver freshman defenseman Matt Carle will miss
the North Dakota series after spraining his
ankle in the Friday night tie in Anchorage. And two more defensemen,
Adrian Veiderman and Nick Larson, are questionable with a sore
knee and a sprained ankle, respectively.
not looking for excuses, because everyone's banged up," said
Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky. "We're not going to spend
a lot of time lamenting. Instead, you spend all of your time preparing
the guys that you'll have step into those positions."
As for Colorado's
higher elevation, Gwozdecky scoffs at the notion that thinner
air has anything to do with a team's health.
gone through a few injuries, and they don't seem to be at very
high altitude," he said.
For the record,
Minneapolis is 840 feet above sea level.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Great Weekend Getaway
Dakota at Denver (Fri.-Sat.)
If there's a book called "Road
Trips For Dummies" available at the Barnes & Noble
right next to Ralph Engelstad Arena, a few members of the
Sioux might be wise to grab a copy before they
head to Denver this weekend. That's not to say that the
Sioux are of lesser intelligence, it's just that they're
a little green when it comes to travel. In fact, the weekend
series in Colorado marks the only Sioux road trip between
the start of the season and New Year's Day.
There were some questions about whether North Dakota deserved
to keep the top ranking in the nation after a home loss
to St. Cloud State last weekend. A pair of wins in Denver,
versus the powerful Pioneers, would answer those questions
in no uncertain terms.
You’re There: If you can get to Denver a day early,
try to finagle tickets to Thursday's Avs-Rangers tilt at
the Pepsi Center, and start the evening with dinner at The
Denver Chop House & Brewery located in the shadow of
Coors Field in LoDo. Make sure you make a reservation, and
order the garlic mashed potatoes.
To the Denver Pioneers,
for their spirited comeback in Anchorage last weekend. As
much of the rest of the nation was in slumber, things looked
plenty bleak in the second period of Friday night's game,
with the home-standing Seawolves ahead and in command, 4-1.
All Denver did was rattle off seven unanswered goals, grabbing
a come-from-behind 4-4 tie (due in large part to Connor
James' short-handed goal in the final two minutes) and an
impressive 4-0 win on Saturday.
was a very important step for our team," said Pioneers
coach George Gwozdecky. "On Friday we didn't play that
badly, and even down 4-1, I never got the sense that the
team was ready to cash in and prepare for Saturday. Getting
that point, I think, is going to be very important."
Three points on the road look good no matter how you get
them, but this was an impressive showing for a team that
should factor into the home playoff picture.
the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves, for letting
that one slip away last weekend. Listening in via the magic
of Internet radio late last Friday night, one could've gotten
the impression that it was finally all coming together for
the pride of the Knik Arm. The Seawolves blasted out of
the gate versus Denver, scoring twice in the first 3:19.
When Ales Parez added two more in the second to open up
a 4-1 Anchorage lead, this reporter went to bed, secure
in the knowledge that the Seawolves had arrived, and could
realistically compete with the best of the WCHA this season.
But while the Lower 48 slept, bad things were happening
to the home team, to the tune of two Denver short-handed
goals which helped snatch a tie from the jaws of victory.
Let's hope coach John Hill finds a way to turn this letdown
into a source of inspiration rather than a source of disappointment.
Bus of a Different Color for the Huskies – With
their team still on a high after their upset of top-ranked North
Dakota last weekend and their star rising fast in the national
polls, the St. Cloud State Huskies apparently know not to judge
a bus by its color. (Sure, you're thinking that last sentence
makes no sense. Read it again, then read on, and you'll understand.)
normally travel throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota
and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in a pretty sweet ride. Their
regular team bus, operated by Voigts Motorcoach of St. Cloud,
is black and red with big Huskies logos on the sides and all of
the bells and whistles on the inside. All was well for the boys
on the bus until the team traveled to Minnesota Duluth a few weeks
back and driver Lenny Moen noticed an ominous-looking warning
light ("Track Steering") on the dashboard.
team was never in any danger, Lenny sent the bus in to be serviced
as soon as the Huskies returned from their sweep in Duluth, just
to be on the safe side. The red bus was still in the shop when
the time came for the team to head to Grand Forks for their date
with the Sioux, so Lenny picked out his favorite bus, a white
number, and drove the Huskies to Dakota Territory and back in
an unfamiliar vehicle.
bus is better is a matter of some debate. For those of you scoring
at home, the Huskies are 2-0 in the red bus and 1-1 in the white
bus this season. Lenny still likes the white bus, as it's the
one he normally drives and he knows how it handles. Some claim
that the white bus also has better seats, bigger TVs and cup holders,
unlike the red model. But Craig Dahl still likes the red coach
better. Why? We think it has something to do with those giant
recruiting billboards for Dahl's team painted on the sides.
off questions related to bus color this week, saying that the
bus switch was never mentioned by players to and from Grand Forks.
red one has better seats, but I have more important things to
worry about than the color of the bus," said Dahl, noting
that top goalie Adam Coole, who suffered a groin pull at North
Dakota, will miss the team's trip to Rensselaer this weekend.
case, the Huskies don't have another bus trip on their schedule
until February (when they travel to Michigan Tech), so it's likely
that Coole, and their red bus, will both be off the injured reserve
list by then.
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
into this weekend's showdown in Madison, the Badgers are
winless in their last seven games versus Colorado College
(0-5-2), but Bucky's not about to be scared by a little seven-game
winless streak. Especially not after last weekend, when Wisconsin
snapped a similar seven-game winless streak versus archrival Minnesota.
The Badgers' 4-3 win on Saturday night (thanks to rookie Adam
Burish's short-handed goal with 6:01 to play) was coach Mike Eaves'
first victory over the Gophers. Wisconsin had last beaten Minnesota
on Jan. 11, 2002 – an 8-3 drubbing in Madison in the first
game after Jeff Sauer announced his impending retirement.
and you might have missed the Michigan Tech power play
last Saturday in Mankato. The Huskies had the man-advantage for
just 14 seconds in their 6-3 loss to the Mavs (compared to 10:06
of power play time for MSU). The bad news snowballed when the
Huskies high-powered line of Chris Conner, Taggart Desmet and
Colin Murphy was held without a point for the weekend.
"They were still getting scoring chances, but Mankato did
a nice job of shadowing that line all weekend," said Tech
coach Jamie Russell. "That's something those guys are going
to have to get used to. They're not a secret any more, they're
elite players in college hockey, so a little more attention from
the opponent is natural."
And if Tech fans are looking to rebound this weekend, Minneapolis
might be a bad place to look. The Huskies are winless in their
last 16 games versus Minnesota (0-14-2) and last beat the Gophers
on Jan. 31, 1998. That was two Tech coaches ago.
to Minnesota Duluth senior defenseman Jay Hardwick,
who will play in his 100th game for the Bulldogs on Friday when
they visit Union. Hardwick was one of Scott Sandelin's first recruits
when he took over the UMD program in 2000 and, apparently, comes
from some solid hockey bloodlines. Jay's sister, Maureen, was
the leading scorer for the University of St. Thomas (a D-III school
in St. Paul) women's team last season as a freshman, and is atop
the team's leader board again this year after three games. Their
younger brother, Kyle, helped lead Warroad (Minn.) High School
to a state championship last season as a sophomore and is being
quietly yet actively recruited by a number of WCHA schools.
of small colleges in St. Paul, tiny Concordia University is hosting
the NCAA North Central Division II Volleyball Regional this week,
and the Golden Bears are the top seed in the tournament with a
28-3 record. One of their better players is a 5-9 freshman
outside hitter named Jessica Lucia (pictured at right
in blue uniform). Her father is a hockey coach at another Twin
apparently a time of famine or feast in Mankato.
Last Friday, the Mavericks skated to a 0-0 tie with Michigan Tech,
marking the first scoreless deadlock in the MSU hockey program's
history. (By contrast, Alaska Anchorage seemed to record a 0-0
tie about once a month during the Dean Talafous days.) On Saturday,
the Mavericks offense finally found its legs, scoring a season-high
six goals to get three of four points on the weekend.
you hear the theme music from "Shaft" (the classic 1970s
blaxploitation TV show, not that crappy movie remake from a few
years ago) blasting from the Gophers locker room this weekend,
don't be surprised. Isaac Hayes' soul classic was the
No. 1 song in the nation about this time in 1971, when
the Gophers last started a season this slowly. The '71-'72 squad
was 2-8-0 after 10 games, compared to this season's 2-7-1 mark.
Gopher fans should hope that history doesn't repeat itself. That
'71-'72 squad finished 8-24-0, and
dead last in the WCHA. Along those lines, only one team in the
nation (American International at 0-9-1) has more losses than
the Gophers right now.