Suspension Overshadow DU Win
2, North Dakota 1 OT
Stastny, M. Carle
Philippe Lamoreux, 60:42, 30 saves, 2 GA
Glenn Fisher, 60:42, 29 saves, 1 GA
ND 6/12; DU 6/12
Plays: ND 1-5; DU 1-5
PAUL – In the most controversial moment of the WCHA
Final Five seminfinals, Denver’s Geoff Paukovich leveled
North Dakota’s Robbie Bina with a second period check,
sending Bina into the boards and eventually to the hospital.
Paukovich received a two minute penalty for boarding on
the play. After the game, he was assessed 60 minutes more.
an hour after the game, won 2-1 by the Pioneers in overtime,
the WCHA released a statement saying that the league’s
tournament committee had reviewed the play, and had given
Paukovich a one-game suspension for checking Bina from behind.
The committee is made up of St. Cloud State athletic director
Morris Kurtz, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, Michigan Tech
athletic director Rick Yeo and North Dakota faculty rep
Phil Harmeson, who excused himself from the decision-making
process. Kurtz, McLeod and Yeo watched videotape of the
play along with WCHA officials supervisor Greg Shepherd
after the game, then announced the suspension.
While league officials offered no comment on the decision,
Yeo told INCH that it was clearly a suspension-worthy infraction.
“We looked at the tape and it was pretty obvious that
it was a hit from behind with intent to injure,” Yeo
Denver coach George Gwozdecky, who has been battling a cold
for better than a week, opted to watch the Friday night
game from his hotel room, but Pioneers assistant coach Seth
Appert said the team had learned of the suspension shortly
before it was released to the media.
“Plays happen fast on the ice, but we know Geoff and
we know there was no malicious intent on the play,”
said Appert. “There was a delayed penalty call, and
there was about to be a whistle, so I think one player might
have let up while the other didn’t. But we’re
a part of the league and we understand their decision. The
biggest thing is we’re all thinking about Robbie Bina
wishing the best for him.”
Late Friday, INCH learned Bina, who was taken off the ice
on a stretcher, broke a vertebra. The injury is considered
to be potentially career threatening. Bina was able to speak
and move his extremities after the hit and was transported
to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he was x-rayed and
underwent a MRI.
Sioux coach Dave Hakstol, though obviously upset after the
game, chose his words carefully when recalling his conversation
with referee Don Adam.
“They said they felt they had made the right call,”
said Hakstol of the initial two-minute boarding penalty.
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore. We’ve
got a kid in the hospital.”
College 3, Minnesota 0
Hillen, C. McElhinney
Justin Johnson, 60:00, 19 saves, 3 GA
Curtis McElhinney, 60:00, 32 saves, 0 GA
MN 8/16; CC 8/16
Plays: MN 0-5; CC 2-5
RAISED ABOUT HIRSCH AFTER STRANGE
team officials were equal parts concerned and tight-lipped
after leading scorer Tyler Hirsch put on a strange display
after his team’s 3-0 loss to Colorado College. After
the teams shook hands and left the ice, with fans filing
out of the building, Hirsch stayed at center ice, in full
uniform, and asked for a puck.
an on-ice official handed him a puck, Hirsch asked rink
maintenance men to shut the Zamboni doors, then did something
akin to an empty-net penalty shot. Hirsch skated from center
ice toward the empty net, fired a slap shot from between
the circles (it went in) then barreled full speed into the
goal, knocking the net against the end boards and landing
with a hard crash.
Hirsch then skated back to center ice, left his stick on
the red line, and skated off the ice, with Gopher assistant
coaches waving for him to get off the rink.
Asked if he could explain what Hirsch had done and why he
had done it after the game, Minnesota coach Don Lucia answered,
“That was bizarre,” said Lucia. “Let’s
just leave it at that.”
Asked if Hirsch had been hurt while crashing into the boards,
Lucia responded, “Not physically.”
Several reporters asked to speak with Hirsch, but were denied
access to the Minnesota locker room by the team.
“We’re not going to make him available,”
said Minnesota team spokesman Kevin Kurtt. “He’s
obviously dealing with some issues, so the coaches have
asked that you respect his privacy for now.”
No word as to whether Hirsch will be in the Minnesota lineup
INCH's Three Stars of the Night
Curtis McElhinney, Colorado College
Stopping all 32 shots he faced for his ninth career
shutout was one thing, but never letting the pro-Gopher
crowd of 17,000-plus never get rolling was probably
2. Gabe Gauthier, Denver
The Pioneers’ offensive sparkplug scored both
of his team’s goals and had a third waved off.
He said the first goal was nothing special. And the
second goal, that put the Pioneers in the title game?
“That one was very special,” he said.
1. Brett Sterling, Colorado College
The nation’s leading goal scorer is widely regarded
as the second-best player - after WCHA most valuable
player Marty Sertich - on the Colorado College hockey
team. That wasn't readily apparent on Friday night,
after Sterling scored twice and added an assist.
AND HEARD AT THE X
Former Minnesota Duluth and Michigan Tech coach Mike Sertich,
while watching the North Dakota-Denver game with his daughter
and granddaughter, reflected on the win-win situation he’s
in with one of his recruits (Colin Murphy) and one of his
nephews (Marty Sertich) among the 10 finalists for the Hobey.
Having coached three previous Hobey winners while at UMD,
Sertich said he sees the makings of a solid Hobey candidate
“There are a lot of similarities to the other guys
I coached, character probably being the top one,”
said Sertich. “With all of the adversity a player
like him has gone through, the character evolves. In the
end, that’s what the Hobey is all about.”
Still, Sertich said if he had to root for one of the two
to get the award, family would come first.
“I’d probably pick Marty,” he said. “I’ve
known him longest.”
Chad Hommes of Andover, Minn., must have felt like he won
the lottery just by walking in the rink on Friday. Hommes
was selected as the one-millionth fan in the 17-year history
of the Final Five when he passed through the arena turnstile,
and was showered with prizes. Hommes will receive a trip
to the 2006 Frozen Four in Milwaukee, a ticket package for
the 2006 Final Five in St. Paul, and was handed a sweater
from each of the five teams participating this year. Hommes
said the honor was overwhelming.
• Colorado College’s shutout of Minnesota marked
the first time in nearly two full seasons that the Gophers
had been held scoreless. Minnesota last got shut out on
Oct. 10, 2003 by Maine in the Maverick Stampede in Omaha.
Friday was also a rare Xcel Energy Center loss for the Gophers.
They’re now 11-4 all time in the building.
• Former St. Cloud State star Brett Hedican and Minnesota
Duluth’s 1994 Hobey winner Chris Marinucci dropped
the ceremonial first puck before the game and answered questions
from reporters afterwards. Hedican’s wife, 1992 Olympic
figure skating gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, was on hand
as well. Sadly, nobody got the chance to ask Hedican who
is the best skater in the family. We’re sure he’s
never heard that question before.
win was the 400th of Denver coach George Gwozdecky’s
career behind the bench. The 2-1 overtime triumph versus
North Dakota gave him 250 wins at DU added to 150 more at
Miami (Ohio) and Wisconsin-River Falls. Gwozdecky was typically
low-key about the milestone afterwards. “It’s
just a number,” he said. “I don’t know
if it’s any more important than number 9 or number
199 or number 399. It just tells me I’m getting old.”
Although Gwozdecky admitted that he’d like to achieve
one coaching victory milestone before the end of the 2004-05
season. “I’d like to celebrate win number 405
before the end of the season,” he said. “That
would be pretty special.”
tip of the hat is due to the folks who play hockey on the
Left Coast. When the WCHA’s post-season awards were
announced, three of the league’s top six forwards
hailed from the Los Angeles area, and all three Californians
have made their presence felt in the tournament thus far.
Wisconsin’s Robbie Earl (from Los Angeles) scored
on a highlight film-worthy play on Thursday, Denver’s
Gabe Gauthier (Buena Park) scored both of his team’s
goals in the Pioneers 2-1 Friday win, and Colorado College’s
Brett Sterling (Pasadena) scored two of his teams goals
on Friday evening.
Nature did ticket sales no favors on Friday, as the Twin
Cities were pelted by a day-long snowstorm. There’s
a generations-old legend in Minnesota that the metro area
always gets a blizzard during the state high school basketball
tournament. Sure enough, with the preps dribbling at Target
Center in Minneapolis, the white stuff showed up en masse
mentioned this before – several times – but
what’s the deal with Colorado schools and their lack
of bands? Somewhere within sight of the Rockies, we’re
almost positive one could find a few trumpets, maybe a trombone,
and a drum or two. And while we like to hear Metallica and
Linkin Park blasted over a good sound system as much as
anyone, would it kill our friends from DU to bring along
folks to play their school song one of these years? Of course,
that rule doesn’t apply for CC, which has no school
night’s championship game tickets should note that
the contest starts at 6:37 Mountain Standard Time, as the
league’s two Front Rangers will square off for the
Broadmoor Trophy. While what will happen on the ice will
be interesting for sure, what will happen in the skies above
Nebraska later on might make for a better story.
The Tigers and Pioneers shared a charter flight from Colorado
Springs to the Twin Cities on Wednesday, and will share
the same plane back to Denver late Saturday night. That
means that roughly 90 minutes after battling each other
for the WCHA playoff title (the de-facto tie breaker after
the teams split the regular season crown) one of those narrow
airplane aisles is all that will separate the combatants
for the trip back to Colorado.
“The flight home will probably be a little bit more
interesting than on the way out, but at least they have
two sides to the plane,” said Brett Sterling.
In the third place game, both Minnesota and North Dakota
will likely try to stay healthy above all. There’s
a chance that the border rivals could meet again in the
West Regional in Minneapolis next weekend, so don’t
look for either Don Lucia or Dave Hakstol to give away too