George Gwozdecky recently considered his team’s 0-6-1 home
record in conference games, and was as puzzled as anyone by the
struggles. When asked for an explanation, he was brutally honest.
know,” said Gwozdecky. “The only thing I can come
up with is that when you’re successful, it’s because
your regulars are healthy, and generally our regulars have been
healthy when we’re on the road.”
who still hold a top-10 spot in all of the national polls, are
off this weekend, and hope to use the time to try to get healthy
and ponder what went wrong last weekend. Denver was swept at the
hands of Minnesota Duluth, getting shut out 1-0 on Friday and
losing a 6-3 shootout on Saturday.
had close to a full squad both nights, but noted that several
players were inserted into the lineup despite nagging injuries
that kept them from giving a less-than-full effort.
like Gabe Gauthier, who is very important to our team, demanded
to be in the game, but he honestly couldn’t do much,”
said Gwozdecky. “Situations like that have been a challenge
An even bigger
challenge would be faced this weekend if the schedule Gods hadn’t
granted the Pioneers a weekend without games.
we had to play a game tonight, we’d have at least six regulars
out of the lineup,” said Gwozdecky on Wednesday. “So
this is turning out to be a good week to rest and get some of
our guys back.”
said he expects he team to be something closer to full strength
when the Pioneers host Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 23-24.
AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
by Addition for the Badgers? – Breaking up is hard
to do, but reuniting may have been even harder for the Wisconsin
Mike Eaves and several key players at the World Junior Championships,
the Badgers did fine, going 2-1-1 and moving into first place
in the WCHA. But when they were back to full strength last weekend,
the Badgers struggled at home versus Michigan Tech, splitting
with the Huskies and seeing their 13-game conference unbeaten
streak snapped in the process.
company returned from Finland late on a Tuesday night, and went
right back to work the next day prepping for the Tech series.
In hindsight, some have suggested that Eaves might have considered
giving himself and his just-returned players a day to get rid
of the jet lag.
Tech out-played the Badgers for two of the three periods, and
appeared to have tied the game in the third period before a controversial
call cost the Huskies a goal. Wisconsin won 4-2. On Saturday,
the Huskies were clearly the aggressor, overcoming an early 1-0
deficit on the strength of two Chris Conner goals to win 3-2.
said the recently re-stocked lineup was a hurdle that the team
struggled to overcome.
played the last four games without those extra guys, so them coming
back and having only one practice with them was a little curveball
thrown at us,” said Badgers captain Dan Boeser. “But
that’s no excuse. We had played 18 games with those guys
in the lineup, so we should know how to do it.”
home series versus Notre Dame not starting until Saturday, Eaves
wisely gave himself and his team two days off after the Tech series.
Great Weekend Getaway
Colorado College at Minnesota Duluth (Fri.-Sat.) The past two defending MacNaughton Cup champs (North
Dakota and Denver) have had to go on the road for the playoffs
the following year. With their offense suddenly MIA, the
Colorado College Tigers find themselves at risk of making
it three traveling champs in a row. CC managed just one
goal last weekend in a home series with Minnesota, and now
has to travel to face the surging Bulldogs, winners of their
last four. UMD won with defense last Friday in Denver (a
1-0 shutout) and with offense on Saturday (a 6-3 come-from-behind
effort) and may be intent on staking a serious claim to
a spot in the WCHA’s upper echelon.
You’re There: If you’re looking for a good pre-game
meal and you like your Mexican food served “Midwest
style” (which means light on the spices and heavy
on the cheese) check out Hacienda del Sol on East Superior
Street. The gorgeous backyard patio is closed for the winter,
but inside they’re serving outstanding food, margaritas
and 10 different Mexican beers. The full menu is even available
the Wisconsin Badgers, their fans, and
their band. If you can stand inside the Kohl Center, hear
the Badger band play “Varsity” as 12,000-plus
sway and sing, and not get chills, check yourself for a
pulse. While Badger hockey home games lost a great deal
of atmosphere when the program left Dane County Coliseum
for the bigger on-campus facility, there’s still something
special about a hockey trip to Madison.
ex-St. Cloud State freshman Brent Hill,
for his bizarre and ill-advised decision to leave college
for the “greener” pastures of major junior hockey.
Hill bailed on the 12-7-3 Huskies to play for the woeful
Regina Pats (who were 14-26-3-2 when Hill came on board).
Apparently, no young man can resist the siren’s song
of Saskatchewan in January. As Dr. Phil might ask, “What
were you thinkin’ partner?”
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
Tech senior wing Brett Engelhardt got a lucrative kind
of revenge last Saturday in Madison. In the second period of the
Huskies' game at Wisconsin, with the Badgers
leading 1-0, Engelhardt chased Wisconsin goalie Bernd Bruckler
behind the net after a loose puck. Bruckler steered the puck away,
then applied a glove-hand slap to Engelhardt’s face, in
full view of referee Pete Friesema, earning a roughing penalty.
On the ensuing power play, Engelhardt launched a low shot from
the top of the right circle that beat Bruckler on the stick side,
tying the game.
an effort to avoid verbal abuse from North Dakota
fans, Alaska Anchorage coach John Hill didn’t
put ex-Sioux Chris Fournier in his starting lineup last Saturday
in Grand Forks, opting instead to start freshman Joe Bourne’s
line. Bourne is not used to starting, and therefore was a little
thrown off when he was on-ice for the playing of the national
anthem. The Anchorage Daily News reports that Bourne
was so nervous that he forgot to take off his helmet during the
song, and didn’t realize that he should be sans headgear
until the song was nearly over. “I realized it about, ‘Home
of the brave,’” Bourne told the paper. “By then,
it was too late to take it off. I was rattled.”
its year-long tour of the 50 states, Sports Illustrated
is featuring North Dakota this week. It should come as little
surprise that in a poll of NoDak sports fans, the Fighting
Sioux hockey squad was listed as the most popular college
team in the state, and the University of Minnesota
was listed as the most-hated college rival. The publication’s
site features an archive story about the 1987 NCAA title and
a great photo of the post-game celebration from 1997 when North
Dakota beat Boston University 6-4 in Milwaukee for the school’s
sixth national championship.
this communication-crazy world we live in, WCHA supervisor of
officials Greg Shepherd got a lesson in what it means to be "too
available" last weekend. While having a bite to eat at a
Madison watering hole after the Friday night Wisconsin-Michigan
Tech game, Shepherd's cell phone rang, displaying a Colorado
number. Thinking it might be someone from the league office, Shepherd
answered the call and got an earful from a disgruntled Colorado
College fan, upset about the officiating in Friday's
Minnesota-CC game. It turns out that Shepherd's
cell phone and pager numbers had been accidentally posted on the
WCHA's official web site. Don't bother looking. They've since
who thought Minnesota’s disastrous start
was a sign that the Gophers would go quietly this season had better
look at the standings again. Heading to a series at Minnesota
State, Mankato this weekend, Minnesota is on a 9-1-2
run and the Gophers are averaging nearly 38 shots per game in
their last dozen contests. If the Mavericks goalies aren’t
sharp from the start, this could get ugly.
Minnesota State, Mankato has struggled in the
won-loss department (the Mavericks head into their weekend series
with Minnesota on a 1-7-2 streak), the trouble can’t be
blamed on the efforts of Shane Joseph. After a sluggish start
to the season, the senior forward has assumed the on-ice leadership
role that was expected of him. Currently on a six-game scoring
streak, Joseph has taken over the team’s scoring lead and
was named to the all-tournament team at the Sheraton/Bank North
Classic a few weeks ago despite his team’s two losses. CSTV
named Joseph its student-athlete of the month for December.
defenseman Keith Ballard didn’t wear a suit and tie during
Friday’s win at Colorado College, but job
interview attire might have been appropriate. Ballard, whose NHL
rights are owned by the Colorado Avalanche, was watched very closely
by Avs’ scout Michel Goulet, who was in attendance at Colorado
Springs World Arena, and who talked with Ballard after the game.
Apparently, the extra attention was no problem for Ballard, who
scored the game-winning goal. Ballard was drafted 11th overall
by the Buffalo Sabres in 2002, but his rights were traded to Colorado
in exchange for former Badgers star Steve Reinprecht.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.