WCHA Final Five Play-In
Rookie Goalie Stands Out On Thursday
St. Cloud State 2
Kaufmann, D. Peltier
Lasch, A. Brocklehurst
Wheeler, C. Fairchild
Lasch, G. Raboin
Peltier, D. Fischer
Alex Kangas (59:50, 25 svs, 2 GA)
Jase Weslosky (59:44, 26 svs, 3 GA)
MN 9/18; SCS 8/16
Plays: MN 1-5; SCS 1-7
PAUL, Minn. — There were 78 all-WCHA ballots returned
to the league offices for tabulation and determination of
year-end awards, and 77 of them listed Colorado College's
Richard Bachman as the goaltender on the league's all-rookie
But after what he's done in the last four
games, one would like to think that the league's "other"
rookie goalie, Minnesota's Alex Kangas, got that 78th vote.
In his first trip to the college playoffs,
Kangas has turned aside 44, 27, 44 and 25 shots in four
games, and won three of them, including Thursday night's
3-2 triumph over St. Cloud State in the WCHA Final Five's
play-in game. It's been enough effort that for one night
anyway, he, not Bachman, was the rookie goalie everyone
was talking about.
"He's been solid for them down the stretch,
and he's coming up big, as you saw tonight," said St.
Cloud State's Ryan Lasch, the league's regular season scoring
champion. "He stopped us on the power play a couple
times and that gave them a lot of momentum."
The Huskies power play had been scary good,
especially late in the season, but Kangas had an answer
on Thursday, holding the Huskies to just one man-advantage
goal in seven power plays. That effort helped the Gophers
advance to a date with CC in the semifinals, and a chance
to maybe hold onto the Broadmoor Trophy they won last season.
goaltender Alex Kangas made 25 saves, including this
second-period stop of Hobey Baker Award candidate Ryan
Lasch, in Minnesota's 3-2 win over St. Cloud State in
Thursday's WCHA Final Five play-in game.
"He just looked really good and comfortable,"
said Huskies coach Bob Motzko of the opposing goalie. "He's
one of those athletes that's in the zone and feeling pretty
good. Our league is used to seeing great players and he
might be developing into that."
Perhaps Kangas' biggest play happened when
he came well outside the zone, skating far beyond the crease
to thwart a potential shorthanded breakaway by the Huskies'
John Swanson with the game tied 2-2 and the clock ticking
down in the third period. After Kangas' poke check ended
the threat, Mike Howe ended the game, scoring with 12.7
seconds left to mercifully spare Minnesota from a fourth
Asked afterward if he was indeed "in
a zone," Kangas smiled, then passed off the credit
to his teammates.
"Some people call it that," Kangas
said. "You can call it whatever you want, but I feel
good right now and the guys are playing well in the defensive
zone in front of me. So that's a big confidence booster
for me knowing I only have to make one save and they're
going to clear out the junk in front of me."
SEEN AND HEARD AT XCEL ENERGY CENTER
Hobey "snub" leaves Tigers
miffed, inspired: A murmur went up from the two
tables of Colorado College players at the WCHA's awards
dinner on Thursday afternoon when the first name on the
list of 10 Hobey finalists started with G, for Gerbe. Since
they announce the finalists in alphabetical order, that
meant that Tigers rookie goaltender Richard Bachman, who
minutes earlier had been named the league's player of the
year, did not make the cut.
"I was shocked that Bachman wasn't a
top 10 finalist," said Tigers defenseman Jack Hillen,
who was named the league's defensive player of the year.
"Maybe being a freshman hurt him, but if you talk with
him and hang around him, he's so mature. Not to take away
anything from the 10 candidates in there, because they're
all great players, but he definitely deserves to be up on
Bachman, for his part, played it cool and
talked about being in honored company with Curtis Joseph
as the last freshman goalie to be named the WCHA's top player.
"It's a great honor to be on the list
with him, so I'll just take it in and enjoy it," said
Bachman, whose parents made the trip to St. Paul and were
in attendance at the dinner. "He's an amazing goalie,
so it's a lot to live up to."
Bachman said his failure to make the Hobey
list gives him incentive to come back next season, "keep
on pushing and keep getting better." As for this season,
his teammates hope the perceived lack of respect from Hobey
voters gives the rookie a little something extra to play
for in March and April.
"I hope it lit a little fire under him
and he doesn't give up a goal the rest of the year,"
Hillen said. "It makes us want to get to the Frozen
Four and get some more exposure, because we have some unbelievable
players on our team who didn't get recognized."
Another attendance record falls:
As expected, Thursday's night's all-Minnesota battle between
the Gophers and Huskies drew a sellout crowd of 19,232,
which blew away the previous record for the Final Five's
play-in game. Last year's 4-0 Wisconsin win over Michigan
Tech drew a then-record audience of 16,449.
This season, the college ticket-buyers are
chasing a new attendance record for hockey in the X, set
just a few weeks ago. On March 7, a crowd of 19,559 was
on hand for the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament's
Rapid-Fire Tony: Minnesota's
Tony Lucia ended the marathon series with Minnesota State
by scoring in the second overtime on Sunday. Four days and
25 seconds of hockey later, Lucia scored again, notching
a goal on the opening shift Thursday to give the Gophers
a 1-0 lead at the 19:35 mark of the first period.
In the Gopher locker room after the first
period on Thursday, coach Don Lucia said his son joked that
he's never scored twice in 25 seconds before.
Minnesota had to give the MacNaughton Cup
away to Colorado College a few weeks ago, but now has a
chance to hang on to the Broadmoor Trophy, which goes to
the league's playoff champion. The Thursday night win also
means that for the second weekend in a row, the Gophers
will be playing three games in three nights, and will have
played six games in 10 days by the time this tournament
is over. St. Cloud State is all but assured of an invite
to the NCAA Tournament and will have a few extra days to
rest before heading somewhere to seek that elusive first
NCAA win in program history. "It's just a minor setback
on our road to the tournament," Lasch said of Thursday's
Jess Myers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.