December 27, 2007
Dodge Holiday Classic

Mariucci Arena • Minneapolis, Minn.

Holiday Tournament Preview


Saturday, Dec. 29
Boston College vs. Air Force, 5:07 p.m.
RIT at Minnesota, 8:07 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 30
Air Force/BC vs. RIT, 5:07 p.m.
Air Force/BC vs. Minnesota, 8:07 p.m.

(All times Eastern)

TV: Fox Sports Net North will carry Minnesota's games live.


Minnesota looked all but unstoppable at this time a year ago, beating Alabama-Huntsville and Ferris State to win the Dodge Classic and improve to 17-1-3 at the time. Ferris State and UMass opened the tournament with a 1-1 tie, which was “won” by the Bulldogs in a shootout. The host Gophers peppered Chargers goalie Marc Narduzzi with 48 shots in the second game, getting three past him in a 3-1 win. The Chargers rebounded with a 5-2 win in the third place game, while Minnesota did what the host team is supposed to do, and won its own show with a 5-2 triumph over the Bulldogs in the final. Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who had a goal and two assists in the title game, was named the tournament MVP.


In the first period of last year’s semifinal game with Alabama-Huntsville, with his team leading 2-0, Minnesota forward Tyler Hirsch was whistled for tripping. We didn’t know it at the time, but that notation on the score sheet would be the last evidence we’d see of Hirsch in a Gopher uniform. Despite being one of the team’s leading scorers at the time, Hirsch was out of the lineup for the tournament’s title game and was dismissed from the team shortly thereafter.

The last time the Eagles played in this tournament made for some great hockey in 2002 when the defending national champion Gophers (en route to their second title in a row) got an overtime goal from Troy Riddle to overcome a 39-save performance by Matti Kaltiainen and win the title game.


Air Force senior forward Eric Ehn apparently hasn’t let all the hype of being the first Falcon to gain Hobey finalist status go to his head. In his final season of college hockey, Ehn leads Atlantic Hockey with 21 points thus far, as the Falcons are leading the conference. The biggest question, one would think, for the Falcons is the potential for the first-round matchup with Boston College being a bit of a “look ahead” game, what with a good chance for a rematch with Minnesota in the title game. In case your memory banks automatically get erased after seven months, that was Ehn and the Falcons putting the fear of God into Minnesota last March in the NCAA tournament opener. Air Force led 3-1 with 10 minutes to play before a Minnesota rally abruptly ended the Falcon’ season


There’s a dearth of good news in Minneapolis these days, what with the cold, the snow, and the Vikings’ playing their way out of what looked like a sure playoff spot just a week or so ago. And then we have the Gophers, who were ready to pass out candy canes and open gifts secure in the knowledge that they were over .500, were coming off a big win at North Dakota, and were about to get Mike Carman back in uniform. That was before Garth Snow played the role of the “Grinch Who Stole Okposo,” and suddenly more and more Twin Cities clinics are treating college hockey fans for cases of seasonal affective disorder. We see no reason that Minnesota won’t get past upstart RIT in the opener, but it makes sense to pick the revenge-minded Falcons to reach the title game and beat a confidence-challenged Minnesota team on its own rink Sunday night.

— Jess Myers