was ready to write of the St. Cloud State Huskies as an early-season
flash in the pan got a little heads-up lesson last weekend. After
sprinting to an 8-0-1 start, the Huskies had struggled for a month
or more, and headed to Providence for the holidays on a 2-6-1
But the salty
air in Rhode Island apparently did wonders for Craig Dahl’s
crew, who won the Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Pot, beating Harvard
6-4 in the semis and host Providence 6-1 in the final. Goalie
Adam Coole was named the tournament’s MVP for his efforts
despite giving up a season-high four goals in the Harvard game.
In the tournament’s
title game, the Huskies fell behind 1-0 to the host Friars before
storming back with six unanswered goals, sending a message that
perhaps their hot start wasn’t a fluke. For Dahl, who had
never taken his team to a holiday tournament, the trip to Providence
was an enjoyable break from the norm.
played pretty well considering we only had about a 40-minute practice
and our pre-game skate to prepare,” he said. “Being
in a tournament was nice for a change, but it’s not something
we’re going to do every year. The guys kind of like having
some time off too.”
another great opportunity for the Huskies to assert their strength
this weekend, with top-ranked North Dakota coming to the National
the Huskies went to Grand Forks and earned a split with the Sioux.
This time around, with three key North Dakota players (Zach Parise,
Brady Murray and Drew Stafford) away at the World Juniors, opportunity
knocks again for the Huskies. But before the hockey-watching populace
in Central Minnesota gets too excited about playing a “weakened”
opponent, it should be noted that North Dakota hasn’t lost
since that November game with the Huskies.
still got the same defense, and they’ve still got (Brandon)
Bochenski, so they’ll be tough as nails,” said Dahl.
“They put up eight goals in their last game without those
AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
of Glory and Frustration in Duluth – When Bowling
Green visits the DECC this weekend, it will mark the first meetings
between the Bulldogs and Falcons since those two teams squared
off in Lake Placid in the 1984 NCAA championship game. In one
of the most memorable games in college hockey history, the underdog
Falcons rallied from a late third period deficit to tie, then
won 5-4 in the fourth overtime.
It was a shocking
unhappy end to an otherwise near-perfect season for the Bulldogs,
as the school claimed its first WCHA title, its first WCHA playoff
title, its first trip to the Frozen Four, and its first Hobey
Baker recipient (defenseman Tom Kurvers).
originally plans for a reunion of that 1983-84 Bulldog team this
weekend, but the get-together will instead be held in February
when North Dakota visits the DECC for UMD’s final regular
season home series.
games with the Fighting Sioux always conjure up memories of that
dreamy ’83-’84 season for Bulldogs fans as well. The
Sioux and Bulldogs met in March of 1984 to decide the WCHA Playoff
Championship, which was played at a neutral site somewhat by accident.
UMD had won the right to host the two-game total-goals series,
but the DECC was booked with a camping show, so the Bulldogs kindly
rejected North Dakota’s offer to play host and instead rented
the old Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. With sellout crowds on
hand, the Bulldogs won the series 12-6. UMD beat North Dakota
again a few weeks later in the Frozen Four semifinals, thereby
advancing to the school’s first and only NCAA title game
Great Weekend Getaway
North Dakota at St. Cloud State (Fri.-Sat.) The Huskies are hot and healthy (and possibly a
bit jittery from all the caffeine), having just won the
Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Pot. The Sioux are hot, but
shorthanded, with three top players away at the World Juniors.
After struggling to beat Findlay last Saturday, Sioux coach
Dean Blais noted that with two players gone from their top
line and one gone from their second line, “that’s
half of our offense that’s out of whack.” Apparently
it took less than 24 hours to get back in whack, as NoDak
spanked Wayne State in their tournament’s title game.
So the Sioux, with their “not quite full strength
but still mighty scary” offense will try to solve
the WCHA’s Comeback Player of the Year, Huskies goalie
Adam Coole. For those concerned that NoDak is primed for
a fall with all of their second half road games coming up,
two wins this weekend would send a mighty loud message.
You’re There: There are a few great post-game options
in downtown St. Cloud, and where you go will tell a lot
about what you’re into. If you like a quieter post-game
hockey talk with outstanding pizza, lots of beers on tap
and classic rock playing unobtrusively in the background,
the Green Mill is your best bet. If your tastes run more
toward noise, neon, 50 Cent, OutKast, and cute blonde (it
IS Minnesota, after all) co-eds who aren’t afraid
to sport big hair, the Rox is for you. One “brush
with fame” note: the Radisson in downtown St. Cloud
is where TV talk show host Craig Kilborn stayed last fall
when he went to training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
(We’re told that the Timberwolves play in something
called the “N-B-A” but we’re not sure
what that stands for.)
famed Subway pitchman Jared Fogle, for
his welcome message to fans attending the Subway Hockey
Classic. Fogle, who gained fame for losing 245 pounds by
eating Subway sandwiches (and nearly nothing else) for a
year, was shown on the Ralph Engelstad Arena big screen
before the start of the North Dakota-Findlay game on Saturday,
wearing a Fighting Sioux sweater, and welcoming fans to
the tournament. In the college hockey ranks, this is about
as big a celebrity endorsement of the game that you’ll
the college hockey message board writer who
recently accused INCH of plagiarizing ideas from an online
thread. Anyone who knows anything about INCH knows that
our ideas are plagiarized exclusively (with NO exceptions)
from ESPN’s Page 2 and from the folks who run the
Waibel Factor web site. To accuse us of stealing from other
sources is simply wrong and we will not stand for such lies
and rumor-mongering. If there are lies to be told and rumors
to be mongered, we’re perfectly capable and willing
to do so ourselves, thank you.
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
Anchorage has yet another weekend off to savor the sweep
of Colorado College on Dec. 12-13, and doesn’t
play again until visiting North Dakota on Jan. 9-10. For the Seawolves,
the sweep was their first since the days of the Bill Clinton White
House. On Feb. 22-23, 2000, Alaska Anchorage won a pair of one-goal
games from the Tigers and had not swept a two-game WCHA series
less than a year away from WCHA hockey’s Florida debut.
St. Cloud State has signed on to join Boston
College, Maine and Cornell in the 2004 Everblades College Classic.
It will mark the first time a WCHA team has played in the event,
held each December at TECO Arena near Fort Myers.
in the Twin Cities (where college hockey is roughly seventh on
the sports scene radar) for many years, one can forget what life
is like in a town where college pucks are first and foremost in
the minds of sports fans. I got a refreshing reminder of how much
college hockey means to people in North Dakota early
Sunday morning while waiting in line at the Red Pepper in Grand
Forks, and hearing countless people recount the details of that
night’s North Dakota-Findlay tilt. Unlike Minneapolis, Denver
or Boston, where one might be met with blank stares at the mention
of the Sioux and the Oilers, it’s nice to spend a little
time in a place where mentioning “the game” automatically
means college hockey to most people.
Minnesota and Boston University get together,
as they do this weekend in Minneapolis, one is always reminded
of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, the roster of which featured
five Terriers and eight Gophers. In the forthcoming Disney movie
about the Miracle On Ice, much is made of the hatred between players
from BU and Minnesota, and how Herb Brooks was able to channel
that rage, direct it at himself, and use it to produce a positive
effort on the ice. Things are different today, as it’s been
eight years since the last truly meaningful game between these
teams (BU beat the Gophers 7-3 in the 1995 Frozen Four semis en
route to the Terriers’ most recent NCAA title). Perhaps
more significant is that the BU roster features three Minnesotans,
so a little of the East-West rivalry has apparently disappearing.
With that said, don’t think beating Jack Parker wouldn’t
mean a great deal to Don Lucia, and vice-versa.
College assistant coach Norm Bazin is not out of the
woods, health-wise, but he is at least out of the hospital. Bazin
was recently discharged from the Spokane medical facility where
he’d been since his serious car accident on Nov. 20 and
returned to Colorado. While family members are still tight-lipped
about the specifics of his condition, Bazin’s relocation
to Colorado Springs is clearly a positive sign, and an answer
to many prayers.
some see the start of something good in Jamie Russell’s
first few months at Michigan Tech, others aren’t
as convinced that there’s future success in the cards for
the Huskies. One long-time college hockey observer, speaking on
the condition of anonymity, recently told INCH he believes that
the geographical hurdles are too significant for Russell to consistently
lure top-level talent to Houghton, and that the Huskies will remain
perennial also-rans in the WCHA. While the pessimist will note
that Tech’s 0-2 showing at this season’s Great Lakes
Invitational makes it 23 years since the Huskies last won the
tournament, the optimist can point to a player like Chris Conner.
The sophomore star, who hails from a Detroit suburb, was actively
recruited by other Michigan schools closer to his home, but chose
Tech for the school’s top-notch engineering program and
has been one of the WCHA’s most exciting players during
his season and a half in Houghton.
State, Mankato played in a holiday tournament for the
first time since becoming a WCHA team in 1999, but after their
experience at the Sheraton/Banknorth Classic, the Mavs might not
be looking to return to Vermont anytime soon. MSU went 0-2 in
Burlington, and is surrendering more than five goals per game
on average during their current 1-7-1 streak. That’s not
a good sign for anyone hoping to attend playoff games in Mankato
it comes to performing well in your own tournament, Denver’s
success stands in stark contrast to Michigan
Tech’s struggles. The Pioneers won the Wells Fargo
Denver Cup last weekend, giving them 10 titles in the 12 years
the tournament has been played. DU is now 20-3-1 all-time in Denver
that hype last May about the prospects for D-I
hockey at the University of South Dakota? Two months after
publicly announcing that he was exploring the addition of hockey
at the school, USD’s then-athletic director, Dr. Kelly Higgins,
quietly stepped down citing “personal reasons.” Now
a reliable source with knowledge of the North Central Conference
(the football, basketball and baseball home of South Dakota, along
with St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota
Duluth and Minnesota State, Mankato) tells INCH that Higgins may
have been forced out at USD, and one of the biggest reasons for
the shake-up may have been because football and basketball interests
at the school were outraged at the prospect of adding big-time
hockey (which was sure to sap attention and resources from other
sports). In November, USD hired Joel Nielsen away from Colorado
College to be the school’s new athletic director. Despite
Nielsen’s background at a D-I hockey school, don’t
expect anymore puck talk out of USD anytime soon.
school-record 15-game unbeaten streak came to a sudden halt last
Sunday in the championship game of the Badger Hockey Showdown,
via a penalty-filled 3-1 loss to Ferris State. Wisconsin drew
crowds of 10,000-plus for both games of the tournament, which
was held at the Kohl Center in Madison for the first time. The
tournament’s first 14 years were played at the Bradley Center
in Milwaukee, but the crowd size had dwindled nearly every year.
Last season’s final game in Milwaukee barely drew 7,000,
leading most to believe the shift to Madison will be permanent.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.