March 20, 2004
Same Old Story: Potulny Lights Up St. Paul

Minnesota 5,
North Dakota 4
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

1-MN Danny Irmen (13) PP
10:39 G. Guyer, C. Harrington
2-ND Drew Stafford (11) PP
16:57 Z. Parise
Second Period
2-MN Jon Waibel (5) EV
4:09 P. Kennedy
2-ND Brandon Bochenski (25) EV
8:50 Z. Parise, A. Schneider
3-ND Zach Parise (22) EV
16:47 N. Fuher, B. Bochenski
Third Period
3-MN Thomas Vanek (24) EV
2:08 Unassisted
4-MN Troy Riddle (23) EV
4.48 C. Harrington, M. Koalska
5-ND Brandon Bochenski (26) SH
9:18 Z. Parise, M. Smaby
5-MN Grant Potulny (15) EV
13:58 D. Irmen
MN: Kellen Briggs, 60:00, 35 saves, 4 GA
ND: Jake Brandt, 57:36, 32 saves, 5GA
Penalties: MN 10/20; ND 9/18
Power Plays: MN 1-4; ND 1-5
Attendance: 19,306
All-Tournament Team

G: Kellen Briggs, Minnesota (MVP)
D: Keith Ballard, Minnesota
D: Matt Jones, North Dakota
F: Brandon Bochenski, North Dakota
F: Danny Irmen, Minnesota
F: Zach Parise, North Dakota

By Jess Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Stop us if you've heard this one before.

With a huge crowd of Minnesota partisans on hand at the Xcel Energy Center, Grant Potulny scores the
winning goal and the Gophers skate off with a trophy. Save for the fact that Jesse Ventura's not the governor of Minnesota anymore, it's like 2002 all over again.

Potulny's game-winner on Saturday won't be featured on many "prettiest goals" highlight films. This time he came from behind the net and poked the puck
"wraparound style" into a tiny gap between the post and North Dakota goalie Jake Brandt's left skate. But
it was just as effective as his overtime tally that won the NCAA title for Minnesota in St. Paul two years ago.

"This has got to be number two," said Potulny, when asked about his favorite moments on the Xcel ice sheet. "Part of it is being at home in front of these fans, but the smaller rink also helps my game."

Thanks to their 5-4 victory over the Sioux on Saturday, Minnesota has the momentum and should get a top seed in the suddenly-realistic quest for a NCAA

For Potulny, the trophy and the banner his efforts earned on Saturday were less important than getting one last win in his adopted home state.

"These four years have been such a ride that it would've been tough to go out in my last game in Minnesota with a loss," he said. "Among the seniors,
(Jon) Waibel, (Troy) Riddle and I all scored tonight, so for the seniors, it definitely meant a lot to win the last time we put on these jerseys in Minnesota."

And for a kid who grew up in Grand Forks watching a certain team in green and white, getting that last "home" win versus the Fighting Sioux was an especially sweet icing on the WCHA cake.

"It's always a little special for me against these guys," he said. "I watched them so much growing up, and a lot of their players are from Grand Forks, so
they grew up three doors down from me, and I've played with and against them since I learned to skate."

Minnesota Duluth 4,
Alaska Anchorage 2
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

1-AA Curtis Glencross (21) EV
12:14 B. Arcand-Kootenay, K. Reiter
Second Period
1-MD Evan Schwabe (17) PP
9:30 M. Peluso, J. Lessard
2-MD Junior Lessard PP
13:12 B. Geisler, M. Peluso
3-MD Luke Stauffacher (16) SH
19:14 B. Hammond, S. Czech
Third Period
4-MD Bryan McGregor (4) EV
10:13 J. Miskovich
2-AA Vladimir Novak (4) EV
19:42 M. Smith, J. Johnson
AA: Kevin Reiter, 60:00, 36 saves, 4 GA
MD: Josh Johnson, 60:00, 25 saves, 2 GA
Penalties: AA 3/6; MD 4/8
Power Plays: AA 0-4; MD 2-3
Attendance: 14,910


After one period of the Final Five third place game on Saturday, Minnesota Duluth was outshooting Alaska
Anchorage by a huge margin, but was trailing 1-0 and lacking for scoring punch. Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin couldn't help but glance into the crowd at the Xcel Energy Center where once and (hopefully) future Bulldog stars Tim Hambly, Tyler Brosz and Tim Stalpeton were sitting during the game, all nursing
various injuries.

"Tonight we had 100 points sitting in the stands," said Sandelin. "That's a pretty big blow."

Things got better for the Bulldogs in the second period, and then things got much worse. Three minutes after scoring his nation-leading 28th goal to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead, WCHA player of the year Junior Lessard took a clean check from the Seawolves' Brandon Segal along the end boards behind the Anchorage net and twisted something in his left leg. Lessard collapsed face first on the ice, tried to lift
himself, then collapsed again. He was helped off the ice and into the dressing room.

"It wasn't a good sight," said Sandelin. "It left a pretty big pit in my stomach watching him come off the ice."

Lessard was walking with a limp in street clothes in the dressing room afterward the game.

"Initially it looked not as serious, and hopefully that will be the case," said Sandelin. "In any case, it's a sad thing. We'll just have to evaluate his status when we get home."


• One of the prettier goals of the tournament was the second one scored by Evan Schwabe in the Bulldogs' 7-4 loss to Minnesota on Friday. Picking up a loose puck at the blue line, Schwabe came in alone on Gophers goalie Kellen Briggs, deked a high shot, then slipped a low shot past Briggs on the stick side.

"That move even faked me out," said Alaska Anchorage defenseman
Spence Gilchrist, "and I was sitting up in section 210."

• Another goal that had people buzzing was Alaska Anchorage's first tally versus UMD on Saturday. Battling Bulldog defenseman Ryan Swanson into the offensive zone, Seawolves forward Curtis Glencross looked like he was going to drive to the net. Instead, Glencross pulled up just inside the blue line and unleased a rising slap shot that was denting the back of the net before Bulldogs goalie Josh Johnson could blink.

"He pulled up, stopped, and let a rocket go," said Seawolves coach John Hill. "All his goals are nothing but fury and power. But I'm surprised he didn't blow it five feet over the net, because that's what he usually does."

• Having faced the WCHA's top two regular season teams on successive days this weekend, Hill said he likes North Dakota's chances to get to the Frozen
Four, and has some creeping doubts about whether Minnesota Duluth is realistically bound for Boston.

"North Dakota is stronger physically, but Duluth has more depth with their forward lines," Hill said. "My concern about Duluth is that (goalie Issac Reichmuth) is is probably not on top of his game right now. But if they're healthy and Reichmuth can get back to where he was, they could go far too."

• Fox Sports North analyst and former Gopher coach Doug Woog, lists each team's "Keys To The Game" on screen before the first puck is dropped. On Saturday, one of Woog's keys for the Gophers was to "Take Away Jordan Parise's Eyes." While generating traffic in front of the opponent's goalie is always a good idea, Jordan Parise spent the title game on the Sioux bench,
so taking away his eyes would've involved a lot of standing around near the red line.

• Hill showed that even in his team's emotional last game of the season, he wasn't afraid to remind his players who's boss. Seawolves' fourth-line center
Martin Stuchlik, a junior, took two second-period penalties versus Minnesota Duluth, and the Bulldogs scored on both power plays. Stuchlik watched the last 20 minutes of his team's season from the tunnel behind the team bench, wearing a sharp-looking suit and tie.

"He'd reached his quota of penalties for the day," said Hill afterwards.

• With the WCHA's all-time biggest crowd (19,306) on hand Saturday night and an electric atmosphere throughout the title game, Lucia said that the
audiences in Boston will have work to do to match the Xcel for excitement.

"What a great tournament," Lucia exclaimed. "These fans made it fun, and they certainly got their money's worth. I've been in four Frozen Fours now, and those don't get any better than this."


To fans in the aptly-nicknamed State of Hockey for snapping up tickets this weekend and setting attendance records during four of the five games. Sure, 19,000-plus in the building for each of the Gophers games was to be expected, but 12,000 for the play-in game and 14,000 for the third place game (with nothing on the line for either team) was above and beyond the call of duty. The multitudes of butts in seats this weekend made for a great atmosphere for all five games.

To Alaska Anchorage, for showing class, grit and sportsmanship in the school's first Final Five appearance. The Seawolves won one and played well in the other two, and would be a welcome addition to the
tournament in the future. In summing up UAA's first trip to St. Paul, we're reminded of Time magazine's assessment of Minnesota Twins fans in 1987, who managed to celebrate a World Series title without burning down the city. "When Minnesota finally won something, they knew how," wrote Time. Ditto for the Seawolves. Come back anytime, and bring your band.

To WCHA officials for inviting Dan Brooks, son of the late Herb Brooks, to do the ceremonial puck drop before the title game. Dan's dad coached the Gophers vs. the Sioux in one of the more memorable games in NCAA history, as Minnesota beat North Dakota 4-3 in Detroit for the 1979 national championship. It was nice to have the younger Brooks, a former Denver Pioneer himself, on hand.

At what is supposed to be a neutral site, the merchandise stands were selling several items with the WCHA logo, along with a few items bearing the Gopher "M." No other school's team-specific merchandise was available in the building. So much for neutrality.

To the makers of composite hockey sticks. These things have got to be the greatest money-making scam in sporting goods history. They cost $180 each and, from what we can tell, they last for about two shifts. The Xcel ice was littered with three of them just in the first 10 minutes alone on Saturday night. Gophers freshman Danny Irmen reportedly broke six of them in one game this season. Here's a deliciously retro idea for stick materials: wood. It literally grows on trees. Try it sometime.

To the "nameless committee" that picks the WCHA's all-tournament team. No disrespect to Minnesota goalie Kellen Briggs, who backstopped the Gophers to a pair of wins. He's one of the best rookie goalies in college hockey, and broke Minnesota's school record for most wins by a freshman goalie (24) on Saturday. But the fact is that he gave up eight goals in two games, and was hardly deserving of making the all-tourney team (Alaska Anchorage goalie Chris King had more than 80 saves in his two games).

When Briggs was named the tournament's MVP, most with an unbiased eye were baffled by the choice. Even Briggs himself found the choice strange. "I don't know if my parents and family were voting on that or what," joked Briggs
after the game. "A lot of other guys on my team deserved it more than me."

According to WCHA officials, the team is picked by an unnamed group, and
not even league p.r. director Doug Spencer knows exactly who is doing the voting. "We've never had any controversy before," said Spencer. "I guess you could argue with the choice, but they saw Briggs win two good games this year." Briggs was an interesting choice, to say the least.


North Dakota is likely to take their No. 1 national ranking to Colorado Springs next weekend as the top seed in the West Regional. Despite bowing out of the WCHA Playoffs in the opening round, Denver will surely join the Sioux there, and will be the de facto home team.

The only question on Saturday was about ice sheet size. Colorado College's rink has a big ice sheet, which the Gophers are used to and the Sioux are not. But it's realistic that North Dakota's road to Boston will feature Olympic-sized ice, while the Gophers (whose home rink is 100x200) will play on the NHL-size sheet in Grand Rapids.

"Olympic size ice doesn't bother us," said Dean Blais. "We've played very well there and we skate and move the puck as well as anyone, so we'll be fine."

His best goal-scorer offered a little different opinion.

"We definitely like to play on a smaller rink because of our big defensemen, but at this time of year, you've got to be ready to play anywhere," said Brandon Bochenski.

Minnesota should be the top seed in the Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids, while Minnesota Duluth is widely expected to get a second or third seed in
Albany or Grand Rapids.

"The biggest question I have is are they going to keep us and Duluth in the same regional," said Lucia, who is 1-4 versus the Bulldogs this season and would probably not be too pumped to see them again before Boston.

Barring anything unforseen, Wisconsin will be the WCHA's fifth team in the tournament, and will likely head to Albany or Manchester as a third seed.

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