December 28, 2006
Dodge Holiday Classic

Mariucci Arena • Minneapolis, Minn.

Holiday Tournament Preview


Friday, December 29
Ferris State vs. UMass, 5:07 p.m.
Alabama-Huntsville at Minnesota, 8:07 p.m.

Saturday, December 30
Alabama-Huntsville vs. Ferris State/UMass, 5:07 p.m.
Ferris State/UMass at Minnesota, 8:07 p.m.

(All times Eastern)

On TV: Fox Sports Net North will carry Minnesota's Saturday night game live.


UMass-Lowell was all about offense, but the RiverHawks' defense must have missed the plane to Minneapolis. Blaise McDonald's club scored nine and surrendered nine, getting to the title game with a 5-4 win over Canisus in the opener, and falling to Minnesota one night later by an identical score. The host Golden Gophers had no trouble with Union in an 8-0 first round win, but the Dutchmen rebounded for a 2-0 blanking of Canisus in the third place game. Union goalie Kris Mayotte needed to stop just 12 Golden Griffin shots for the fourth of his five shutouts last season. UMass-Lowell forward Bobby Robins was the only non-Gopher named to the all-tournament team.


If you're a Ferris State fan, there's a noteworthy pattern of wins and losses as the Bulldogs make their third appearance in this tournament. In 1992 they scored a dozen goals to win the Classic, beating Minnesota 6-4 in the opener and getting past St. Lawrence by the same score in the title game. In 2001 the Bulldogs went 0-2 in Minneapolis, falling to the Gophers 3-2 in the opener and finishing fourth with a 6-3 loss to Western Michigan. And in March 2003, the Bulldogs went 1-1 in Mariucci Arena, beating North Dakota 5-2 and falling to Minnesota 7-4 in the school's first and only NCAA tournament appearance.


Tyler Hirsch has had a hot and cold senior season thus far, putting up an impressive 22 points in 14 games, while missing significant ice time due to coach-mandated suspensions. But with some hard work this weekend, he could enter the Dodge Classic history books. Hirsch has three goals and five assists in his previous Classic games, and needs five points to become the tournament's all-time leading scorer. That mark is held by former Gopher and current Toronto Maple Leaf John Pohl, who had a dozen points in four seasons of the Classic.

The tournament opener features a pair of teams desperate for a win, as the Minutemen have cooled off considerably since a 6-1-1 start, while the Bulldogs have just one win since Oct. 20. And if you like to see goals and hear repeated renditions of “Minnesota Rouser” you might want to be in attendance on Friday. Minnesota's offense is still scary (even without the three forwards who are wearing red, white and blue in Sweden) and with Alabama-Huntsville's less-than-stellar defense (the Chargers have surrendered seven or more goals in five games this season) there's potential for lopsidedness in game two.


UMass looks like the more-talented team in the opener and should become the second consecutive team from the Bay State to advance to this tournament's title game. The Friday evening game shouldn't be close, and we expect Minnesota to improve to 15-0 in this tournament under Don Lucia. We'll pick Ferris to rebound and claim third place on Saturday, while the host Golden Gophers will do what they do seemingly every year at about this time, and win their eighth Dodge Classic title in a row. Although don't be surprised to see Minutemen goalie Jon Quick make a strong bid for a stop on the all-tourney team with a valiant, albeit unsuccessful, effort.

— Jess Myers