famed Winter Carnival
will be held in Houghton this weekend, and as always, ice is the
focus of the weekend revelry, with student groups working together
to create ice sculptures that are quite impressive. The other
place that ice is a part of the fun is inside MacInnes Student
Ice Arena, where a two-game college hockey series takes center
routinely bring in several prospects to visit the school, the
arena and the community during carnival weekend, hoping that Tech’s
mix of big-time college sports in a small-town, small school atmosphere
will be a winner. The Huskies were once all but unbeatable during
Winter Carnival, but like much about Tech’s hockey program,
that’s changed. The Huskies enter their home series versus
St. Cloud State with a 1-8-1 mark in their last 10 Winter Carnival
games. And with Tech assured of another lower-division WCHA finish
this season, one might think that the hockey is near-meaningless
all-too-familiar sight for Michigan Tech opponents this season:
Sophomore Chris Conner's stick raised in celebration.
much more at stake for Tech than might readily be apparent. The
question of whether there’s really hope for a hockey resurgence
in Houghton may be answered in the coming weeks, based on the
ability of sophomore forward Chris Conner to keep scoring, and
based on the ability of Tech’s athletic department to raise
On the ice, Conner’s
magic is becoming old news, in the style of a John Elway-led comeback
or a Bush Administration policy that favors a Cheney corporation.
Last Saturday’s 5-3 Husky win over Colorado College came
on the strength of two goals and an assist by Conner, as he tied
the school’s all-time mark for short-handed goals in a season
with six. Conner’s 22 goals have him tied (with North Dakota’s
Brandon Bochenski and New Hampshire’s Steve Saviano) for
tops in the nation. And according to the school, Conner currently
leads fan balloting for the Hobey.
school’s second Hobey finalist would boost recruiting, the
other big boost the school is seeking is financial in nature.
School officials announced recently that an anonymous donor will
match up to $900,000 in donations raised by the school as part
of what’s being called the “Hockey Enrichment Campaign.”
Their overall goal of the campaign, which is being coordinated
by former Tech goalie John Rockwell, is to raise $3 million in
the next 18 months.
In a more
geographically isolated community like Houghton, travel expenses
have always been higher for the Huskies, causing budget-related
decisions like the one that had the team taking a bus to a series
at St. Lawrence (816 miles away) last season. It is hoped by many
that a successful fund-raising campaign can prevent such bus trips
in the future.
Great Weekend Getaway
Dakota at Wisconsin (Fri.-Sat.) Last weekend, former Badgers coach Jeff Sauer admitted
that despite all of the hype about the “Border Battle”
between Minnesota and Wisconsin, he always considered the
Fighting Sioux to be the Badgers’ biggest rival. More
than two decades ago, these teams locked horns in the 1982
NCAA title game, won by NoDak before a crowd that was three-fourths
Wisconsin fans at the Providence Civic Center. One year
later, the Badgers cost the Sioux a NCAA playoff invite,
then won the NCAA title on North Dakota’s home rink.
This year the Sioux are on top of the college hockey heap,
while Wisconsin is 1-5-1 in their last seven. But Bucky
should be a desperate animal when these two tangle at the
You’re There: Trying to find a good bar in Madison
is like trying to find a rock with a reddish tint on Mars.
The athlete and frat crowd is partial to the Kollege Klub,
on the corner of Lake and Langdon, at the end of frat row.
They’ve got drink specials and deep fried cheese,
which are really the two necessary ingredients for a good
time anywhere. Just watch where you’re driving. A
block past the KK, Lake Street becomes a boat ramp sloping
into Lake Mendota. Even when the lake is frozen solid, you
don’t want to discover that fact the hard way.
Minnesota State, Mankato. We were all but ready
to write the Mavericks off and pencil them in for last place.
With Alaska Anchorage leading 3-1, at home, in the third
period last Friday, the Seawolves resurgence looked like
a lock. But MSU rallied for a 4-3 win after Brad Thompson
assisted to tie the game, then scored the game-winner with
38 seconds to go. No, there won’t be playoff games
at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center this season, but two
consecutive road wins have sent the message that things
might not be as bleak as they seem in Mankato.
Alaska Anchorage fans. We understand why
you left last season. A no-win WCHA season would be a little
tough for any of us to sit through, especially when the
natural wonders of the Last Frontier are beckoning. But,
to quote the Beatles, it’s time to “get back
to where you once belonged.” The resurgence of the
Seawolves is the best story in the league this year, and
having 2,000 empty seats for a Saturday night home win (versus
MSU, Mankato, which the WCHA has designated as the Seawolves’
“arch-rival”) is a disappointment. Heck, they’re
even offering a free shuttle to games now. Get out there!
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
most touching review of the new movie “Miracle” that
we’ve heard so far comes from long-time Gopher hockey secretary
Patti Bjorklund. While critics and hockey fans are raving about
Kurt Russell’s outstanding portrayal of Olympic coach Herb
Brooks, Patti (who has been with the Gopher program since 1980)
said it best after viewing the film: “The ending was really
tough, because Russell did such a perfect job, it was like saying
goodbye to Herbie again.”
members of the Denver hockey team attended class last weekend,
but the student-athletes got lessons in physics and meteorology
anyway during their trip to North Dakota. According to Denver
Post writer Mike Chambers, Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky
gave his players a demonstration about the effects of extreme
cold weather on the North Dakota prairie before Friday’s
game. With the actual air temperature (not wind chill) hovering
near -40, Gwozdecky tossed a glass full of water into the air.
Most of the water evaporated before hitting the ground. Friday’s
overnight low temperature in Grand Forks was -43, which was the
coldest temp ever recorded in the city.
retired from coaching minor league hockey, former Minnesota tough
guy Scott Bell is working with fellow ex-Gophers Kevin Hartzell
and Doug Woog to better organize a Gopher hockey alumni group.
Bell and Woog said that in addition to organizing reunion events,
they hope to establish a scholarship fund and a business network
to hope players find jobs when their playing days are done. “Gopher
hockey is something special, and former players are a real family
in Minnesota,” said Bell. “We should do more things
like a family.”
getting swept at Minnesota last weekend, Wisconsin has now been
beaten by the Gophers in eight consecutive road games. But the
pair of defeats actually gave Wisconsin nine consecutive losses
at Mariucci Arena. Although Badger fans would surely like to forget
it, the Gophers’ home rink was the site of top-ranked Wisconsin’s
4-1 loss to Boston College in the 2001 NCAA playoffs.
should come as no surprise to learn that WCHA players dominated
the recently-named 25th Anniversary Team from the United States
Hockey League. Current Minnesota players Keith Ballard and Thomas
Vanek made the list, along with Bob Mason (Minnesota Duluth),
Gary Suter (Wisconsin), Brian Rafalski (Wisconsin), Scott Swanson
(Colorado College), Greg Johnson (North Dakota), Jason Blake (North
Dakota) and Peter Sejna (Colorado College).
got to give this weekend when red-hot Minnesota Duluth visits
Minnesota State, Mankato. The Bulldogs own the nation’s
longest current winning streak, having reeled off eight consecutive
victories (Nine, if you count beating the Latvian National Team.
We don’t.). But UMD has never played well in Mankato, sporting
a 1-4-1 record in the Mavs’ building. If the Bulldogs are
serious about catching North Dakota for the WCHA lead (the Sioux
have a three-point lead, but still must play two games in Duluth),
a pair of wins this weekend are going to be a requirement.
to St. Cloud State alum Joe Motzko for recently making his NHL
debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Motzko, who had a solid
college career and was not drafted by a NHL team, was in the lineup
and got 10 shifts at Phoenix last Monday as the Jackets and Coyotes
skated to a 3-3 tie. Afterwards, Motzko told Kevin Allenspach
of the St. Cloud Times that the game had fulfilled a
life-long dream. “I can die a happy man now, no matter what
happens,” Motzko told the paper. “This is what you
always dream of. I don't even know how it can get any better.”
last Friday’s Gopher Blueline Club meeting, Don Lucia asked
former Gopher and Badger coaches Doug Woog and Jeff Sauer to stand
for a round of applause. While the pair were standing, Lucia turned
to current Badgers coach Mike Eaves and said, “Mike, in
10 or 15 years, that’s what we’re going to look like.”
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.