Time Is Tough Time For Top-Ranked Sioux
would welcome a few weeks of down time in the middle of the season
as a way to rest and re-charge the batteries. That’s not
the case for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, who are in the midst
of a near two-week break from college hockey games (with only
a match against the U.S. Under-18 Team on the docket). After solidifying
the top ranking in the nation with an impressive sweep at Denver,
the break hasn’t been a welcome one in Grand Forks.
been tough for us to take almost two weeks off at this point in
the season,” said Sioux coach Dean Blais. “We played
so well at Denver that we’d prefer to keep going.”
lack of hockey games, the UND campus has been abuzz with news
recently. First, a 22-year-old student named Dru
Sjodin disappeared from a local mall parking lot on Nov. 22.
Her feared abduction has prompted hundreds of community residents
and students to volunteer in the search. On Dec. 1, a convicted
sex offender in Crookston, Minn. (25 miles from Grand Forks) was
arrested and charged with kidnapping in the case. Sjodin has still
not been found and searches continue.
Dakota's Brady Murray, who holds dual citizenship, chose to
represent the U.S. at the World Junior Championship. (UND
Athletics Photographer Scott Gaddini)
hockey-related news in the community came when Sioux freshman
Brady Murray (son of Los Angeles Kings coach Andy Murray) elected
to play for Team USA in the forthcoming World Junior Championship.
Murray, who has dual citizenship, could have tried out for Team
Canada as well. Blais said that Hockey Canada doesn’t give
players at American colleges an equal opportunity to make their
just wanted to know where we stood, and Hockey Canada didn’t
return four phone calls,” said Blais. “Their team
is all major junior guys [one collegian, Michigan's Jeff Tambellini,
was named to Team Canada's upcoming camp]. Brady’s one of
the leading freshman scorers in all of college hockey, and they
apparently weren’t interested. I think that’s discrimination
against U.S. college guys.”
that because of the World Juniors, his team will be without three
key players for a series at St. Cloud State on Jan. 2-3, while
Wisconsin will be without its coach and a few key players for
the Badgers’ series at Minnesota State, Mankato, the same
the future, I think the WCHA has got to stay away from scheduling
conference games in early January,” he said. “Your
team shouldn’t get penalized for players serving their country.”
Championship will be played between Dec. 25, 2004 and Jan.
4, 2005 at North Dakota’s Ralph Engelstad Arena and the
new rink (also named Ralph Engelstad Arena) in Thief River Falls,
AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Face Behind Bucky's Bench – While some Midwesterners
prefer to spend their winters skiing in the mountains, Wisconsin
coach Mike Eaves was able to convince a guy from ski country to
spend his winter in the heart of the Midwest.
That is to
say the Wisconsin hockey team wasn’t short-staffed for very
long. The Badgers have hired assistant coach Mark LeRose to fill
in for John Hynes, who left the Wisconsin program in November
to take the head coaching position with USA Hockey’s National
Team Development Program.
the Badgers in Ann Arbor last weekend for the College Hockey Showcase,
LeRose told reporters that he jumped at the chance to work with
Eaves and Badgers assistant coach Troy Ward again. The trio had
worked together with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1999-2000
speaks our language, he knows the names of our drills, and he knows
the way we like video broken down, so he’ll fit right in,”
said Eaves, who will coach Team USA in the World Junior Championships
later this month. Eaves will leave Ward and goalie coach Bill
Howard in charge of the Badgers for four games during that time.
to Madison from Aspen, Colo., where he was working as a stockbroker
and has been the coaching director for Aspen junior hockey off
and on since 1996. He also served a stint as a coaching staff
assistant with the Penguins, where he was responsible for video
breakdown, statistical and performance reports, offensive and
defensive charting, on-ice skill development of players, as well
as system and player personnel decisions.
As a college
player, LeRose served as captain at Canisius as a senior in 1992.
He coached the midget, U-14 and U-10 levels in Aspen, and founded
Rocky Mountain Hockey Schools during his time in Colorado.
hired on an interim basis, and has a contract at Wisconsin that
runs through April 30, 2004. Eaves said that LeRose came on board
with the understanding that he will not be considered for the
job when the Badgers hire a full-time replacement for Hynes next
Great Weekend Getaway
at Denver (Fri.-Sat.)
more than a month ago, when the winless Badgers were struggling
to beat Quinnipiac at home, this series didn’t look
to be a battle of two nationally ranked teams. But 10 games
without a loss later, the Badgers are the hottest thing
in college hockey. Denver has rebounded nicely after the
weekend spanking at the hands of top-ranked North Dakota
a few weeks ago and looks to be a formidable foe in the
friendly confines of Magness Arena. These are two teams
that play great defense, so in an NHL-crazy market like
Denver, a pair of 1-0 games might be just what fans there
have in mind.
You’re There: About halfway between DU’s scenic
campus and downtown Denver (just off I-25 near the Alameda
exit) is a great little place called Brewery Bar II. One
city guide calls it “a decidedly downscale watering
hole,” and adds; “the bar is packed with the
mullet-and-sneaker set.” Sounds EXACTLY like our kind
of place. And if you get there at 11 am on a Saturday, you're
bound to run into the DU off-ice officials enjoying a fantastic
burrito and the restaurant's small (34 oz.) beers.
the Colorado College Tigers, for remaining
the best college hockey team in all of the 719 area code.
On Nov. 9, 1985, Air Force beat Colorado College 6-5 in
overtime at the now-demolished Broadmoor World Arena, and
the Falcons held bragging rights to all of Colorado Springs.
Air Force hasn’t seen those bragging rights since
that night. After beating the Falcons 4-2 last Friday, the
Tigers are now on a 25-0-1 tear versus their crosstown*
rivals, and lead the all-time series 52-6-2.
* We know, the anal-retentive crowd will
point out that the Air Force Academy is not technically
in Colorado Springs. It’s in a separate municipality
called “Air Force Academy, Colorado,” just like
Notre Dame is not in South Bend but in “Notre Dame,
the cable and satellite providers serving
the Upper Midwest. If you’re not seeing Victory Sports
coverage of St. Cloud State and Minnesota State, Mankato
on your TV now, don’t blame Victory. As a gesture
of goodwill (and likely in hopes of getting viewers hooked)
Victory last week announced that they were offering their
programming, for free, to any cable or satellite companies
who want to carry it, until March. Speaking on behalf of
DirecTV owners, so far we’ve seen no addition of the
channel to the lineup. Get it in gear, folks! Time’s
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
taking in the Wild-Stars game in St. Paul on Nov. 26, the Alaska
Anchorage Seawolves spent Thanksgiving in St. Cloud in
preparation for their one-point weekend with the Huskies.
The on-ice results (a loss on Friday, and a tie on Saturday) were
actually a vast improvement over what normally happens to the
Seawolves at the National Hockey Center. Saturday night’s
2-2 deadlock snapped a 10-game Seawolf losing streak in St. Cloud.
Their last non-loss there was on Nov. 22, 1997, when the teams
skated to a 0-0 tie. With the latest tie, the Seawolves “improved”
to 0-24-2 all-time in St. Cloud’s rink.
the “what’s a team gotta do?” category, we find
the Minnesota State, Mankato, Mavericks. After
struggling to score goals early this season, the Mavs finally
had everything clicking offensively last weekend at Minnesota
Duluth. Mankato managed nine goals in the two-game series,
and got hat tricks from David Backes and Jeff Marler in the process.
And for all of that effort, this was their reward: nada. Despite
all of the offensive heroics, and despite rallying back from huge
deficits both nights, the Mavs lost 8-5 and 5-4 (OT) at the DECC.
The Mavs have a weekend off to contemplate the cruelty of life
before a trip to Madison on Dec. 12-13.
Cities-based author Ross Bernstein, who wore the Goldy Gopher
suit as the Minnesota hockey mascot for two seasons,
is out with a new book about former Gophers and St. Cloud
State coach Herb Brooks. Bernstein, who was working with
Brooks on a number of projects at the time of the coach’s
death last August, has compiled memories from dozens of colleagues,
friends and players who knew Brooks during his time as a player
and coach in college hockey, the NHL and the Olympics. The book
is entitled “Remembering Herbie: Celebrating the Life &
Times of Hockey Legend Herb Brooks.” Bernstein has pledged
some of the proceeds from sales of the book to the newly-created
Herb Brooks Foundation. It’s available at www.bernsteinbooks.com.
lesson in supply and demand for all of you economics majors at
North Dakota: A group out of New Jersey is on
eBay selling off the game-worn sweaters from the Oilers vs. Canadiens
legends game at the Heritage Classic in Edmonton a few weeks ago.
While the sweater worn by Wayne Gretzky was going for $22,000
or better by mid-week, the white Canadiens sweater worn by former
Fighting Sioux star Craig Ludwig could be had for $500.
seen a dramatic cooling trend in Houghton since the start of November.
After scoring 12 goals in his first seven games, Michigan
Tech sophomore Chris Conner has now been held without
a point in five straight games. In what may be a sign that scoring
is down, Conner still leads the nation in goals despite the three-week
dry spell. Previously, he had never gone more than three games
without a point.
WCHA’s 4-0 showing in the College Hockey Showcase marked
the first time in the 11-year history of the tournament that the
western league has gone undefeated. By contrast, the CCHA had
gone 4-0 three times previously, most recently in 2000. And for
the small school conspiracy theorists scared that college’s
hockey’s Big Ten teams could abandon the CCHA and WCHA in
favor of a Big Ten hockey conference someday, former Minnesota
coach Doug Woog added some fuel to that fire over the weekend.
Between periods of one of the games he was calling for Fox Sports
North, Woog noted that if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, the conference
would have six hockey-playing schools, which, under conference
rules, is the number of teams required for the Big Ten to sanction
a conference championship.
to Capital Times sports editor (and former Badger
hockey beat writer) Adam Mertz and his wife Amy, who welcomed
their first child into the world the night before Thanksgiving.
Delaney Mertz arrived in Madison on Nov. 26 weighing 4 lbs, 8
oz. Mom and baby are both home and doing well, although there’s
no word on whether the nursery is decorated with any skating Bucky
Blount of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a nice story
on Thanksgiving Day about what has to be the largest
family fan network in college hockey. Minnesota Duluth
senior captain Beau Geisler hails from a family of 11 children,
which is something akin to the Brady Bunch times two. Beau’s
birth mother, Ruthie, died of leukemia in 1991, just days after
giving birth to her seventh child. Ten months later, Beau’s
father, Tom, married Gwen LeDoux, who had been widowed with two
children of her own. Together, Tom and Gwen have had two more
children, stopping just one child shy of an even dozen. Want to
treat the Geisler-LeDoux clan to a fun night watching big brother
at the rink? Imagine calling Ticketmaster and saying, “I
need 12 on the blue line for Bulldogs-Gophers.”
St. Cloud State fans thought they were hearing
strange voices at the National Hockey Center last Friday, it wasn’t
just the after-effects of eating too many yams. Nick “Knuckles”
Rasmussen filled in behind the microphone of the rink’s
p.a. system for one game, while regular men’s hockey p.a.
voice Chuck Claussen was out of town for the holiday. Rasmussen,
who announces SCSU women’s hockey, volleyball and other
sports, normally works on the men’s hockey stats crew in
the pressbox. Claussen, renowned for his signature call when the
home team hits the ice (“Yeessss… Yeeeessss…
Here… are… your… HUSKIEEEEEEES! HUSKIEEEEEEES!”)
was back in the saddle for the Saturday game.
to former Minnesota star, U.S. Olympian and Minnesota
North Star player and general manager Lou Nanne, a member of the
International Ice Hockey Federation's 2004 Hall of Fame induction