Thursday, December 25, 2008


Oh, to be six years old again.

Dude thinks Alexander Ovechkin is the coolest hockey player on the planet, and he was pretty happy to see this jersey in the last box he opened on Christmas morning.

Obviously, not everyone on the planet has kids, but it's an incredibly rewarding experience, especially on days like this.

I hope you all had a wonderful day.

In my world, it's all good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Me update. Things are good here. As you can see to the right, I've been quite busy at FanHouse. I'm also blogging now at College Hockey News, though I've been dormant there for like a week now. Thanks to all for their kind words and such over the last 15 days. Yes, it's been that long.

I'll effort to give you more updates on this blog as we move forward. Here's a quick couple of thoughts for now.

McHale's team stinks, too. Granted, they've played some pretty tough competition. But the Timberwolves have yet to win for Kevin McHale, and I don't think it's a coincidence. The team just isn't very good. Whether it's free throws, three-pointers, ball protection, or defense, there just seems to be at least one thing at any given time that this team is really bad at. That's what gets you to 4-19.

Well, that and losing by 20-plus points to a wretched team like the Clippers.

Gaborik is coming! It's about damn time. My update on it for FanHouse can be found here.

Honestly, the Wild have looked as bad as ever in the last five games. They're not scoring, and the defense is horrifically leaky. No, they're not giving up a ton of goals, but they are yielding way too many shots. With Gaborik returning to the lineup Wednesday, you can expect to see part-time forward Brent Burns move back to defense. Burns came to the Wild as a forward, and they made a really good defenseman out of him. He played well up front, but I look at it as akin to the Packers moving Charles Woodson to safety.

It filled up one hole, but it created another one. And in both cases, the hole created may have been more significant than the one filled.

Speaking of the Packers ... It just wasn't meant to be, I guess. The Packers won't go to the playoffs, and in the end, it might not be a bad thing. This isn't a veteran team taking their last shot together and experiencing failure. It's a young team that has its best years in front of it. That has to be encouraging for Packer fans.

This fanbase is wonderfully spoiled. The Packers have posted exactly two losing seasons since 1992, by far the best mark in the NFL.

There are two games left, and I hope the Packers are smart enough to at least use some of that time to see what can be done about gaping holes on the offensive line and some underachieving players on defense. There should be no shortage of motivation, with a chance to spoil the Chicago Bears playoff chances Monday night, followed by the currently-winless Detroit Lions. If the Lions show up at Lambeau 0-15, there's no way the Packers can afford a loss. That's the wrong kind of history.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Wait. This has happened before.

Kevin McHale is the new coach of the Timberwolves.

If anything, there is at least one piece of good news that comes out of this. As he takes over the coaching gig, McHale is giving up his front office job.

FanHouse colleague Tom Ziller points out that Wolves owner Glen Taylor seems to have an affinity for firing ineffective coaches, but he has no problem continuing to employ an ineffective club executive in McHale. Perhaps if McHale is as ineffective as a head coach as he was in the front office, this will be the last straw for his Timberwolves reign.

We can only hope.

Of course, one could argue that it would be hard to look worse as a coach than Randy Wittman did. He was always a solid assistant in Minnesota under Flip Saunders, but any coach could look good when he had Kevin Garnett to work with.

I still like the Mayo trade, but the Brandon Roy deal was a disaster, and Corey Brewer may never develop (he's out for the year with a knee injury).

Taylor and McHale will address the media this afternoon, but Taylor does make it sound like McHale is toast if he doesn't turn this around.
"There were certain goals and expectations that we had for this team at the start of the season and we have not lived up to them," Taylor said in Monday's statement, after proclaiming Wittman safe roughly two weeks ago.

"I am disappointed in our record and believe that we have more talent than our record indicates. A change had to be made and, with three-fourths of the season remaining, there is still time to make substantial progress this year. ... Kevin has assembled the players on this team and believes in their talent and skill level.

"It is my expectation that Kevin will be able to get the most out of our team and our players in his new role as head coach. He has been involved in the NBA game for almost 30 years, is a tremendous teacher and has a wealth of basketball knowledge. I am confident that our players will respond to the new voice and perspective that Kevin will provide."
Good luck, sir. Getting this team to not suck is much easier said than done.

The defense has alternated between mediocre and dreadful (they've allowed 47 percent shooting for the year, and over 100 points per game, ack), and the Wolves just don't have enough guys who can score, especially off the bench. Mike Miller is shooting well but not often enough, and Rashad McCants is shooting too much.

McHale's specialty is post play, so maybe a new voice will turn around the Wolves' defensive work and give them a more physical presence on both ends. They need it.

Believe it or not, 4-15 isn't as bad as it could be. It's McHale's job to make sure things don't get any worse.

Not helping matters: Minnesota is near the bottom of the NBA in attendance, drawing under 14,000 a game (and that number is probably inflated).


Please comment by Wednesday, and I'll consider making changes.

The 25th position is a throwaway. I had no inkling of who belonged, but I had a good feeling who didn't.

1 Oklahoma --
2 Texas --
3 Southern Cal --
4 Florida --
5 Utah --
6 Alabama --
7 Texas Tech --
8 Penn State --
9 Boise State --
10 Cincinnati --
11 Ohio State --
12 Oklahoma State --
13 TCU --
14 Brigham Young --
15 Oregon --
16 Georgia Tech --
17 Boston College --
18 Pittsburgh --
19 Georgia --
20 Missouri --
21 Michigan State --
22 Northwestern --
23 Mississippi --
24 Oregon State --
25 Buffalo --

Dropped Out:

Monday, December 01, 2008


It regrets me to inform all of you that, effective today, I am no longer employed by Midwest Communications.

The last 12 years have been fun, exciting, and without very many dull moments. I have no regrets, except that I will no long be able to work with and for many people I respect so much.

With this, my time as the "Voice of UMD men's hockey" has come to an end. I want to thank all the fans and parents and families who have supported me over the years. I also want to extend my best wishes to the players, coaches, and support staff I leave behind. It was truly an honor to work with all of them, and I will miss it a great deal. I'm sure I'll see many of you at the rink, as I intend to catch as many games as I can.

Please feel free to contact me via e-mail at Thanks again for all your support in all my radio endeavors.

I don't know what the future holds, but I embark on the future with my head held high. Happy Holidays to all of you and your families.

This will serve as my only public comment on this situation, though I will keep you posted about my future.


Sorry for the lack of posts lately.

Good news is that my post volume is likely to rise in the near future.

Bad news? Well, I don't want to get into it right now.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I wear my UMD hat proudly. I got to go to a couple UMD football home games this year when my schedule didn't conflict. I have thoroughly enjoyed being around the UMD athletic program all these years, and I'll admit my biases without apologies.

I'll also admit that I didn't think UMD stood a great chance of winning Saturday in Allendale, Michigan. Grand Valley State is the 800-pound gorilla of Division II football. They have four national championships in the last six years.

Er, make that "seven".

UMD didn't care about that tradition and reputation. They just wanted to show that the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference can field some good football teams, too.

And UMD did just that. The Bulldogs used their dominant defense and superb preparation to upend the nation's top-ranked team 19-13 in double overtime Saturday. The win propels UMD to heights never before seen by a UMD football program. They are in the Division II national semifinals against California University of Pennsylvania. It's a game we are told will be at Malosky Stadium on the UMD campus, though that hasn't been officially announced yet.

The football team is already en route to Duluth, where it's expected that they will land within 90 minutes of faceoff here at the DECC, where the UMD men's hockey team will be playing St. Cloud State. I'm also being told the team will be introduced during one of the intermissions, which should provide a pretty loud ovation here at the DECC.

Speaking of the hockey game, here are tonight's lines.

Connolly (Mike) - Sharp - Kemp
Fulton - Connolly (Jack) - Fontaine
Carroll - Akins - Gergen
Greer - Bordson - Schmidt

Meyers - Montgomery
Oberg - Palm
Cascalenda - Huttel

Stalock - Hjelle - Reiter

Swanson - Marvin - Novak
Festler - LeBlanc - Volpei
Olson - Oslund - Borgen
Christian - Roe - Lasch

Rioux - Raboin
Lauridsen - Barta
Zabkowicz - Hepp

Weslosky - Dunn

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Maybe? Please?


Duncan - VandeVelde - Hextall
Watkins - Malone - Toews
Gregoire - Trupp - Frattin
Kozek - Lamoureux - Martens

LaPoint - Genoway
Jones - Marto
Blood - Miller

Eidsness - Walski

Connolly (Mike) - Sharp - Kemp
Fulton - Connolly (Jack) - Fontaine
Carroll - Akins - Gergen
Greer - Bordson - Schmidt

Meyers - Montgomery
Palm - Huttel
Oberg - Lamb

Stalock - Hjelle - Reiter

Friday, November 21, 2008


This isn't Saturday. And North Dakota isn't Wisconsin. They're better.

That means UMD has to be better.

Here are the lines for Game One, and to change the luck, we'll start with North Dakota.

Duncan - VandeVelde - Hextall
Kozek - Zajac - Watkins
Gregoire - Trupp - Frattin
Lamoureux - Malone - Toews

LaPoint - Genoway
Jones - Marto
Blood - Miller

Eidsness - Walski

Connolly (Mike) - Sharp - Kemp
Carroll - Connolly (Jack) - Gergen
Fulton - Akins - Fontaine
Greer - Oleksuk - Schmidt

Meyers - Montgomery
Oberg - Palm
Cascalenda - Huttel

Stalock - Hjelle - Reiter

Wednesday, November 19, 2008



If you're traveling to Duluth this weekend for the UMD-UND games, I want to make sure you arrive safely and in plenty of time for the games.

Friday night is the annual Christmas City of the North Parade in Duluth. It shuts down some roads in the Canal Park/Downtown area, and you need to be aware of where to go so you don't get stuck in traffic and miss the start of the game.

The parade begins at 6:30 near the DECC, so you'll want to wait until around 7:00 or so to arrive. By then, they should be cleared out of the DECC area.

But with that in mind, you're still going to have to get around some road closures and traffic snarls. When you head to the DECC from the west, you should follow the route pictured here.

View Larger Map

If you're coming in from the east, you'll want to do as pictured below.

View Larger Map

Hope to see you all at the DECC Friday night. Drive safely!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Three points is okay, right?

3-3 tie last night. Connolly (Mike), Oberg, and Fontaine with the goals for UMD. Connolly shot a wobbling puck top-shelf, which seems like quite the display of skill to me. Oberg's goal was a one-timer during a five-on-three, and Fontaine scored off a rebound to tie the game less than a minute after Wisconsin took the lead.

Anywhoot, here are tonight's lineups.

Connolly (Mike) - Sharp - Kemp
Connolly (Jack) - Fulton - Fontaine
Carroll - Akins - Greer
Gergen - Schmidt - Danberg

Oberg - Meyers
Cascalenda - Lamb
Kishel - Montgomery

Stalock - Hjelle - Reiter

Gorowsky - Geoffrion - Stepan
Murray - Thurber - Johnson
Mitchell - Bohmbach - Grotting
Turnbull - Bendickson - Hickey

Smith - McBain
Gardiner - Springer
McDonagh - Goloubef

Connelly (Shane) - Gudmandson

Friday, November 14, 2008


Good to be back home. Here are the lines for the first game against the BADgers.

Connolly (Mike) - Sharp - Kemp
Carroll - Connolly (Jack) - Fontaine
Greer - Akins - Grun
Gergen - Schmidt - Danberg

Oberg - Meyers
Cascalenda - Lamb
Kishel - Montgomery

Stalock - Hjelle - Reiter

Gorowsky - Geoffrion - Stepan
Murray - Thurber - Johnson
Motchell - Dolan - Bohmback
Turnbull - Bendickson - Grotting

Smith - McBain
Gardiner - Little
McDonagh - Goloubef

Connelly (Shane) - Gudmandson

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Our lineups for tonight, starting with the good guys.

Connolly (Mike) - Sharp - Kemp
Akins - Connolly (Jack) - Fontaine
Greer - Carroll - Fulton
Gergen - Schmidt - Danberg

Oberg - Meyers
Cascalenda - Huttel
Kishel - Montgomery

Stalock - Hjelle

Colborne - Bozak - Salazar
Rakhshani - Ruegsegger - Jackson
Maiani - Martin - Ostrow
Glasser - Gifford - Marcuzzi

Wiercioch - Mullen
Ryder - Nutini
Brookwell - Lee

Cheverie - Paulgaard - Guinn


Game 8: Denver 5, UMD 1

UMD goal
Michael Gergen 1 (Cody Danberg, Chad Huttel), 7:29 2nd period. Gergen flew through the neutral zone after getting a feed from Danberg, and his wrist shot trickled past Denver goalie Marc Cheverie.

Just not UMD's day. Hopefully, Saturday goes a bit better for the guys.

When the Bulldogs were playing well, they had trouble finishing in front of the Denver net. Cheverie was sharp, but he got help from UMD players missing their spots and overskating loose pucks.

Then things started going badly. Alex Stalock wasn't able to cover a loose puck in the crease that appeared to hit a teammate as he dove towards it, allowing Luke Salazar to get an easy goal. That came after Salazar put a rebound in an open net when Stalock made a save and Huttel lost a battle in front of the net.

Goals by Rhett Rakhshani and Tyler Bozak on the power play were too easy, as both players were open for backdoor goals while Stalock was on the other side of the net.

Brady Hjelle made his UMD debut in the third period, stopping all nine shots he faced. We'll see tonight if Stalock benefits from watching the third period from the bench.

Then again, none of the goals were really his fault. It's not like he has to play better. Instead, the guys in front of him do. They took pretty good care of Hjelle. If they can do the same tonight for Stalock, you can expect a different result.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Here are tonight's lines, first for the visitors.

Fulton - Connolly (Jack) - Fontaine
Connolly (Mike) - Sharp - Kemp
Carroll - Akins - Greer
Gergen - Schmidt - Danberg

Oberg - Meyers
Cascalenda - Huttel
Montgomery - Lamb

Stalock - Hjelle

Colborne - Bozak - Salazar
Rakhshani - Ruegsegger - Jackson
Maiani - Martin - Ostrow
Glasser - Gifford

Wiercioch - Mullen
Ryder - Nutini
Brookwell - Lee

Cheverie - Paulgaard - Guinn

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I feel like I practically live here.

Five times in less than four seasons, UMD has made the trip to Denver. Usually, it goes pretty well for them, with last year's playoff series a notable exception.

This series ought to be thoroughly interesting. Denver, with guys like Tyler Bozak, Tyler Ruegsegger, Rhett Rakhshani, Patrick Mullen, Luke Salazar, and so on, has the top offense in the WCHA.

UMD, thanks in large part to the play of guys like MacGregor Sharp, Justin Fontaine, and the unrelated Connolly brothers (Mike and Jack), is right behind Denver on the scoring ledger.

And this might actually be an okay time to get Denver on the schedule. The Pioneers are coming off two non-wins (a home tie and a road loss) against rival Colorado College. In those games, Richard Bachman stood on his head while carrying the Tigers on his back. He stopped 84 of 88 shots, including some amazing saves during Denver's power plays.

(Denver's power play is sick. I'll get to that in a moment.)

Anyway, the Pioneers have "only" netted ten goals in their last four games (1-2-1). It hasn't stopped guys like me and UMD coach Scott Sandelin from drooling over Denver's offensive talents. We know this is a deep and highly-skilled team. We're not stupid (especially true of Sandelin).

But there might be a hole. Perhaps that confidence can be shaken a tad. Maybe it already is. Bachman did a number on this team last weekend. Alex Stalock is no slouch.

Offensively, even though there is a mini-slump going on and UMD has been playing pretty well, Denver gets a slight edge. They're able to roll three really good lines and play a fourth that will make some plays and create problems. UMD can roll their four lines, but I don't know that they are quite as explosive as Denver. Consistent? So far. But not as explosive.

Denver has more power play depth, too. I can't believe they're only hitting at 15 percent so far. Watching them click against Colorado College, I'm convinced that they're a good bounce away from catching fire. Let that happen some other time. UMD's on-again, off-again penalty kill was on again last weekend and has to stay that way.

Keys to UMD success start with solid puck possession. The Bulldogs' defensive corps has been better than expected so far. A lot of that credit goes to improvements by returnees Josh Meyers, Evan Oberg, and Trent Palm, among others, along with sophomore Mike Montgomery, a former forward who has been a real find for UMD on defense. This is an area Stalock can contribute to, but he can't do it all himself. The Bulldogs have to avoid turnovers on their half of the ice. Preferably, if they're giving the puck up, it's deep in the DU zone. Make the Pioneers go 200 feet to score.

Get pucks deep and forecheck the hell out of these guys. Make them be the ones working to get the puck out of their own zone. If you let them dictate the forecheck and pressure your defensemen, you're hanging the goaltender out to dry.

Obviously, goaltending is a huge key. Marc Cheverie's numbers are lukewarm for Denver. He's allowing almost three per game and has a save percentage around .900. Stalock is the statistically superior goalie, and outside of a rather odd two-game stretch where he wasn't seeing the puck that well, he's been really good for UMD this year. Again.

Letdown syndrome is also a key. Denver is coming off an emotional and very disappointing series against CC. The Gold Pan is important in this state, and Denver got off to a bad start. That's after they blew a two-goal lead and lost at home to Ohio State the previous weekend. If UMD can get off to a good start Friday and take advantage of their positive momentum after last week, the Bulldogs could surprise some people out there.

One thing's for certain: I don't believe they're going to surprise themselves if they have success. This a confident group of kids. Let's hope they can get on a roll.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Click here.

Please contact me if I'm missing anyone.


1 Texas Tech 9
2 Penn State --
3 Alabama --
4 Southern Cal --
5 Texas 4
6 Oklahoma 1
7 Florida 1
8 Oklahoma State --
9 Utah --
10 Boise State 1
11 TCU 1
12 Missouri 2
13 Georgia 6
14 Ohio State 1
15 Brigham Young 1
16 LSU 3
17 Ball State 3
18 Georgia Tech 6
19 North Carolina 3
20 Michigan State 1
21 Maryland 2
22 Tulsa 9
23 Northwestern 3
24 Minnesota 7
25 Florida State 7

Dropped Out: South Florida (#25).

Certainly, I'll get some flack for bumping Texas Tech to the top spot. However, in my mind their win over Texas was the most impressive by any top-five team this season. I'm putting them in the top spot, but if Alabama waxes LSU Saturday (highly possible, in my view), the Tide may roll back up there.

Penn State is a really good team, don't get me wrong. But I don't think beating Ohio State - even in Columbus - is on par with beating Texas on any field. The Longhorns were firing on all cylinders and even starting to play some defense before Tech got after them.



Game 7: UMD 5, St. Cloud State 1

UMD goals
Matt Greer 1 (Andrew Carroll, Trent Palm), 4:54 1st period. Palm took a shot from the blue line that St. Cloud State goalie Jase Weslosky stopped. The rebound was free for Carroll, who was also stopped, but Weslosky paid for not controlling the rebounds when Greer got one past him to get UMD on the board.

Nick Kemp 2 (MacGregor Sharp, Mike Connolly), 1:35 2nd period. Connolly (Mike) and Sharp did some good work to keep the puck in the offensive zone after a failed odd-man rush. Sharp fed the puck to Kemp in the right faceoff circle, and Kemp ripped a wrister past Weslosky.

Josh Meyers 3 (Evan Oberg, Jack Connolly), 13:39 2nd period (4X3 power play). Connolly (Jack) worked the puck free along the wing, and Oberg got it across the top to Meyers, who was open for a one-timer. He used Justin Fontaine as a screen, meaning all four UMD players on the ice had a hand in the goal.

Mike Connolly 3 (MacGregor Sharp, Josh Meyers), 19:06 2nd period (power play). Meyers came on off the bench after Palm broke his stick, and he fed Sharp, whose pass/shot was deflected in by Connolly (Mike).

Drew Akins 3 (Jack Connolly, Justin Fontaine), 9:21 3rd period (power play). Just good old-fashioned hard work by Akins in front of the net. He spun after getting a feed from Connolly (Jack) and jammed at the puck before he was able to tuck it inside the right post.


Wow. That might have been better than the Northern Michigan game. St. Cloud's lethal power play was almost a complete non-factor, and the Bulldogs got after Garrett Roe and Ryan Lasch to the point of frustration. Weslosky played well in goal for St. Cloud, but he didn't get a lot of help. UMD had 45 shots, many of good quality, and they put on relentless pressure at times.

The tone for the game was set early. The Huskies had good puck possession and offensive zone time over the first 90 seconds or so, but they couldn't capitalize with any quality scoring chances. UMD was able to weather whatever storm was offered, they got the early goal from Greer, and they were easily the better team for 60 minutes.

It's a virtual lock that the St. Cloud State team we see at the DECC November 29 will be better than this one was, but UMD has to feel pretty good about how they played. It's a good way to go into a tough trip to Denver this weekend.

More from Denver beginning Thursday. Hope the weather's nice.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Matt Niskanen is not a fighter.

I mean, if you don't believe me, just watch the video. Courtesy of the wonderful

I've seen more pronounced beatings before. Gutsy of Shane Hnidy - he of 33 career regular-season fights - to go after the 20-something second-year player who has never thought.

While Jack Edwards' "pretty little boy" line was completely uncalled for, it was also kind of funny. I guess you can be the judge. Edwards sucks, so it's not terribly surprising, but he's also the Bruins' announcer, so he's paid to be biased.

I just think rooting for "Sheriff Shane" to go after an unsuspecting kid is a bit over-the-top. On the bright side, it looked like Hnidy really enjoyed himself.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Game 6: UMD 1, Alaska-Anchorage 1

UMD goal
Justin Fontaine 5 (Drew Akins, Jack Connolly) 10:29 1st period (5X3 power play). Remember the third goal from Friday? Yeah, very similar play. Nice setup by Akins across the goalmouth to a wide-open Fontaine.

Sorry this took so long.

Blah. Not a ton happening here. UMD hit a few pipes late in the game, and was probably left lamenting some back luck for the weekend. I mean, it's not often that a team has a tying goal (probably incorrectly) disallowed in one game, then clangs two goals off the pipe in the next game.

Oh, well. These are points UMD is going to have a hard time "recouping". After all, the expectation was for more than one out of the weekend, and this very tough ten-game stretch coming up is going to make point accumulation tough enough.

Saturday should be quite interesting at the XCel Energy Center. The Bulldogs need points, and St. Cloud State is 0-2 in the WCHA, so they obviously need them, too. With how both teams' penalty kills have struggled, and how good their power plays are, it's not tough to figure out what the keys to the game will be.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


UMD fields the following lineup as they attempt to get their first WCHA win of the season at Alaska-Anchorage:

Carroll - Akins - Greer
Connolly (Mike) - Sharp - Kemp
Fulton - Connolly (Jack) - Fontaine
Danberg - Bordson - Gergen

Oberg - Meyers
Kishel - Palm
Cascalenda - Montgomery

Stalock - Hjelle

For UAA:
Lunden - Bales - Clark
Grant - Crowder - Moir
Haddad - Parkinson - Wiles
Carlson - Tuton - Smith

Lafranchise - Robinson
Lovdahl - Vidmar
Hunt - Backstrom

Olthuis - Christianson


Former UMD defenseman Jason Garrison, who left school after last season to turn pro, has been called up by the Florida Panthers.

He was playing for the Panthers' AHL affiliate in Rochester (NY).

Garrison is in the lineup for the Panthers tonight in St. Louis.

More on that, plus lines and chatter from Anchorage, later. Assuming this wireless holds up. Grrr...


(Ignore the soccer ball. I think this is kind of funny.)

Game 5: Alaska-Anchorage 4, UMD 4*

UMD goals
MacGregor Sharp 5 (Mike Connolly 5, Nick Kemp 2), 2:00 2nd period. Kemp dropped a great feed to Sharp in the left circle, and he blasted a one-time past Jon Olthuis to get UMD on the board.

Justin Fontaine 3 (Evan Oberg 5, Josh Meyers 2), 17:23 2nd period (PP). Oberg and Meyers held the puck along the blue line, and Meyer's one-time pass was tipped in by Fontaine at the left post.

Justin Fontaine 4 (Drew Akins 1, Evan Oberg 6), 3:09 3rd period (PP). Oberg threaded a pass down low to Akins, who back-handed a wonderful feed across the goalmouth to Fontaine, who was open at the left post for a picturesque backdoor goal.

Trent Palm 1 (MacGregor Sharp 4, Michael Gergen 3), 9:55 3rd period (PP). Sharp had the puck on the right wing, and he got it to the top of the umbrella to Palm, who one-timed a great shot inside the left post. It was disallowed because the officials made a poor call.

Yes, I'm bitter about the disallowed goal.

Replay shows Connolly (Mike) at the left post, but not in the crease. Even if he did make contact with Olthuis, he has every right to be near the net as long as he stays out of the crease.

And I hate that coaches can sometimes get their way on these reviews by whining enough. Don Adam and Timm Walsh had no inclination to review the play until right before they dropped the puck to resume action after the goal. Only then did they decide to review the previous play.

I'd love to know more about this mysterious crease violation. I mean, "man in the crease" is a worthwhile, well-intentioned rule. But how do you call it when there weren't any offensive players actually in the crease?

It stinks. But UMD will deal with it. After all, they made this a difficult night by allowing four goals on UAA's first seven shots.

(This isn't to blame Alex Stalock for it. He had virtually no shot on most of the four.)

They still have to clean up the penalty kill, and they have to show up with a more consistent 60-minute effort Saturday. I'm confident this will happen.

I'm also confident that they will respond well to having a bad break go against them. History indicates they will. This is a resilient group.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Mike Connolly-MacGregor Sharp-Nick Kemp
Andrew Carroll-Drew Akins-Matt Greer
Michael Gergen-Jack Connolly-Justin Fontaine
Kyle Schmidt-Rob Bordson-Jordan Fulton

Evan Oberg-Josh Meyers
Trent Palm-Mike Montgomery
Jay Cascalenda-Brady Lamb

Alex Stalock - Brady Hjelle

Cody Danberg and Scott Kishel are the extras for UMD. Danberg is dinged up, while Kishel is a healthy scratch.

UAA goes with the following:

Lunden - Bales - Clark
Grant - Crowder - Moir
Haddad - Parkinson - Wiles
Selby - Tuton - Smith

Lafranchise - Robinson
Lovdahl - Vidmar
Hunt - Backstrom

Olthuis - Christianson

I have Jeremy Smith listed as a defenseman, but he's playing up front tonight because of a couple departures and some injury issues UAA is dealing with.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


So, you know that there's no such thing as a Seawolf, right?

Because there isn't.

I'm not making fun of them. You can call your team whatever you want.

Actually, I give them credit for not using something lame that starts with the letter "A", like Aeros or Avalanche or whatever.

So UMD plays the Seawolves. I have a few thoughts.

First off, UMD needs to use their speed on the big sheet. Sullivan Arena is Olympic-size, and instead of skating circles around teams, UAA has bigger players who - while they can move - aren't as fast as the Bulldogs. I expect UMD to have an advantage in team speed, much like they did in Marquette on the big sheet. In that game, they scored an early goal and were dominant on the penalty kill, playing a great 60-minute game.

The Bulldogs have a dynamic top line, led by the play of sophomore Justin Fontaine. He's already got seven points, more than half his total as a freshman. The ice time he got last year is really paying off right now, as is his increased confidence. You put skill like senior Michael Gergen and freshman Jack Connolly, and you have a dangerous combination.

When they're not on the ice, look out for the line of freshman Mike Connolly and seniors MacGregor Sharp and Nick Kemp. The three combined for the game-winner against Western Michigan Saturday, and both Connolly (Mike) and Sharp are off to great starts. Kemp is playing better, but the results aren't showing up on the scoresheet yet. Sharp and Connolly (Mike) are playing great together, and Sharp is finding the net much more effectively than last year. Talking to him Wednesday, he mentions how he's "getting bounces" this year, but you know what they say about good players making their own bounces. Sharpie's worked too hard for me to just pass off his improved play on some dumb luck.

The Bulldogs need to tighten up the penalty kill. UAA's power play comes in hot, and UMD can't just rely on Alex Stalock to shut it down. Stalock is coming off a poor game, which usually means good things, and this time he's coming off a poor game that UMD actually won. That's been a rarity in his time here.

I don't do predictions, but a good weekend is important for the Bulldogs. They have St. Cloud State at the XCel Energy Center next Saturday, followed by series against Denver (road), Wisconsin and North Dakota (home), a home game against St. Cloud State (Thanksgiving weekend), and a trip to Colorado College. Even a top-five team is going to struggle to get more than 12 points out of that 10-game stretch.

Finally, let me take a crack at projecting lines. I hate doing this, but I'm in Anchorage, cold, bored, and tired. Cut me some slack.

Gergen - Connolly (Jack) - Fontaine
Carroll - Akins - Fulton
Connolly (Mike) - Sharp - Kemp
Danberg - Bordson - Schmidt

Meyers - Montgomery
Oberg - Palm
Cascalenda - Lamb

Stalock - Hjelle

This is just a guess, based on what we've seen and what has worked for UMD. I'm not sure if Matt Greer will be able to play Friday, and I'm guessing that the Lamb/Kishel rotation will be back in effect as long as everyone stays healthy.


I should have done this two weeks ago.

Please save this link if you're looking to keep up with former UMD players currently in pro hockey.

I will do my best to update this every other week or so. Please understand this may be an ambitious goal.


It snowed this morning.

Not much, just enough to annoy.

It's actually one of the trips I enjoy most, but there are caveats.

1. It's a really, really, really long flight (just under six hours takeoff to touchdown).
2. I have more downtime on this trip than any other, because we leave Wednesday from Duluth and it gives me all day Thursday to adjust to the time change and putz around.
3. It's the farthest away from the family, and it's the longest time away. We don't return to Duluth until Sunday night.

Luckily, my niece lives up here, and she'll take me to lunch later today. Will probably go to some messing around shops and such here.

As for the hockey, I'll get you a preview later, unless I really haven't done well adjusting to the time change and I fall asleep. I think this is going to be a huge barometer for this UMD team, and it's an extremely important weekend from a "get some points" standpoint because of what is to come.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


If you haven't heard, KFAN radio personality and unabashed Gopher fan Jeff Dubay is in a bit of hot water.

"Puffy", as he's known to legions of loyal listeners to the "PA and Dubay Show" on a statewide network, was arrested last Wednesday. He is expected to face a felony drug possession charge.
Dubay was arrested on suspicion of a fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, which is a felony. Dubay could end up in a pretrial diversion program, meaning the matter would stand to be dismissed after 12 months without any criminal conviction on his record provided he complies with the conditions the court imposes.
Obviously, this is more of a personal note, but one I feel is necessary.

While I've never been a big fan of the show, I do listen to PA and Dubay when I can (which admittedly isn't often). It's not so much for any reason other than the fact that Dubay is so obviously in love with Gopher hockey. Yes, it's Gopher hockey, but it's also hockey.

I'm a big believer in the sport of college hockey, and so is Dubay. While his analysis isn't always spot-on because of his biases, the same could be said for so many of us involved in the game. And with such a shortage of people willing to talk about college hockey on the radio, we'll miss Dubay as long as he's gone. In this case, I'll take the "sometimes-misdirected passion" over the total apathy that serves as my alternative.

Furthermore, if this is a sign of a more serious problem for Jeff Dubay the man, I can do nothing but wish him well. No matter the circumstances, I do look forward to Jeff Dubay showing up in Duluth the next time the Gophers are in town to lose games to UMD (how about a playoff series in March?!!?).

Plus he still owes me a tour of the KFAN facility in the Cities (though I doubt he remembers this debt).


When you next hear from me, I'll be a bit further north and west than usual.

Anchorage, to be exact.

I mean, it just seems like we got back from a road trip, and we're going on another one.


Should be arriving in Anchorage around 11pm Central time, which would equate to 8pm Alaska time. Can't wait to see how angry my body gets at me for this one.

Monday, October 20, 2008


One man took the high road, wished his old team well, and appeared to mean every word of it.

The other publicly took the high road, talked about wanting them to do well, and proceeded to knife them in the back.

Kevin Hench of makes the seemingly inconceivable comparison between Ned Yost and Brett Favre.
If Favre needs a road map from Wisconsin to that elusive high road he should take a look at the way Ned Yost handled his firing from the Brewers with 12 games to play despite being tied for the wild card.

"If anybody thinks that I've got sour grapes or I don't want this club to succeed, they're crazy," said Yost. "I'll be rooting them on every inch of the way and I hope they can win that wild card and go deep, deep into the playoffs and win the World Series."

Gee, you mean Yost didn't call up Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and give him the Brewers' signals?

Yost took his separation from the Brewers like a man. Favre has taken his separation from the Packers like a spiteful, petulant child.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Ever since FOX's Jay Glazer reported that Favre spilled the beans to the Detroit Lions in a lame attempt at sabotage, I've wrestled with a few feelings on the topic.

For starters, I'm fully cognizant of the fact that this doesn't breach any NFL rules. I'm not sure that alone means anything, but anyone suggesting a Brett Favre fine or suspension are off the mark.

In many ways, this is much more meaningful than a fine or suspension.

This is about image. Legacy. Perception among the classiest, most loyal fans in sports.

When Favre was traded, CBS stations in Wisconsin were inundated with calls from fans who wanted to see the Jets play. Most of them are carrying upwards of eight Jets games this season. Even though he left the Packers, the circumstances of his departure were less than ideal, and the Packers had their own season to play, fans still wanted to watch Brett Favre play for the Jets.

Perhaps Favre has miscalculated the fans' loyalty towards him.

They're not jumping ship in droves. They're still filling Lambeau Field. They're buying Aaron Rodgers jerseys. They're making signs about Aaron Rodgers. They're cheering for Aaron Rodgers. They're smacking his helmet when he does a Lambeau Leap.

Meanwhile, Favre is inexplicably trying to sabotage his former team.

And he's failing.

I mean, if you're going to give the dirt to the Lions, you'd think the Lions could at least stay within three touchdowns, right?

(There has been speculation that he may have also given tips to Seattle, coached by former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren, and Minnesota (duh). So I'll just mention here that the Packers won those games, too. Maybe Favre kinda sucks at this "giving out secrets" thing. Or maybe Mike McCarthy smelled out the plot and changed the questions that Favre was answering.)

Meanwhile, the Brewers lost to the Phillies in the National League Division Series, but it wasn't because of espionage or dirty tactics by Yost. Instead, it was because they weren't good enough.

In reality, that's the reason Yost was fired, even though he didn't help himself by being uptight with the players and media, and not understanding that the media is a vehicle to communicate with the people who actually buy tickets to watch your team play.

Maybe it's killing Favre that we're almost halfway through the season, and Rodgers has better numbers.

Or maybe he's just an immature jerk who can't stand that fact that Ted Thompson is running the show in Green Bay.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Game 4: UMD 6, Western Michigan 5 (OT)

UMD goals
Jack Connolly 1 (Michael Gergen, Justin Fontaine), 13:37 1st period. Fontaine threw the puck high in the air out of the UMD zone. Gergen used his speed to get past the defense and beat them to the loose puck in the UMD zone. His shot was stopped by WMU goalie Jerry Kuhn, but Connolly (Jack) followed him up and stuffed the rebound in for his first collegiate goal.

Evan Oberg 1 (Justin Fontaine), :45 3rd period (5X3 power play). With UMD down two goals and up two men, Fontaine fed a puck from the left wing to Oberg in the high slot. Oberg's one-timer got home for his first career goal at the DECC.

Andrew Carroll 1 (Evan Oberg, Cody Danberg), 5:05 3rd period (shorthanded). This one rivals the goal by Connolly (Mike) from Friday as the best of the season so far. Danberg blocked a puck to center ice. Carroll ran it down and started a two-on-one with Oberg, who came flying down the left side. Carroll fed Oberg, who got it back to Carroll in front for a tip-in. Great goal.

Mike Connolly 2 (MacGregor Sharp, Jordan Fulton), 8:23 3rd period (power play). Connolly got a feed from Sharp on the right wing, skated into the right circle, and shot it in off a WMU defenseman in front. Went right through Kuhn's legs.

Jordan Fulton 2 (Andrew Carroll), 18:30 3rd period. Carroll outworked the Western Michigan forwards along the left boards near the WMU bench. He kept the puck in the WMU zone, skated into the left circle, and fed Fulton in the slot. Fulton ripped a one-timer past Kuhn.

MacGregor Sharp 4 (Evan Oberg), 2:33 overtime. Oberg intercepted a clearing attempt at the blue line and shot it towards Sharp, who was open near the goalmouth and tipped it past Kuhn to set off a raucous celebration along the glass in the WMU zone.

Entertaining. Fun. Dramatic. Not good for the ticker. Not good for the voice.

It was a great night at the DECC. That game had everything, including some great offensive plays (the individual effort by Patrick Galivan of WMU for the game-tying goal late in regulation was a beauty, as was the UMD shortie that earlier had tied the game 3-3). It also had the Alex Stalock gaffe that led to the first game-tying goal by Western Michigan.

(For those who don't follow UMD closely, but may know of Stalock's tendency to wander, it's worth noting that this is the second goal directly attributable to a Stalock turnover in his UMD career. So while Stalock is always good at getting on people's nerves with his willingness to skate anywhere he wants to get a shot at the puck, it hasn't been problematic for UMD. Hopefully, this is just a blip on the radar.)

At 3-0-1, UMD is certainly off to a good start. However, the challenging WCHA schedule is about to begin. Getting points in Anchorage next weekend is a must, as UMD follows that with the XCel game against St. Cloud, a road trip to Denver, and a home series against a Wisconsin team that won't suck defensively forever.

(On Wisconsin, yes they're 0-4 and yes they've allowed 23 goals in those four games. But they have great talent on defense, and it is going to come around eventually.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Greetings from the DECC. Hopefully, this one isn't as nail-biting as that Wisconsin-Denver game was last night.

By the way, the heavily-hyped, seemingly-impenetrable Wisconsin defense has now allowed 16 goals in three games. They're 0-3. I can't believe it, either.

Carroll - Akins - Fulton
M Connolly - Sharp - Kemp
Gergen - J Connolly - Fontaine
Danberg - Bordson - Grun

Oberg - Meyers
Cascalenda - Huttel
Kishel - Palm

Stalock - Hjelle - Reiter

Weaver - R Watson - Slater
Katz - Nagorsen - Paeth
C Watson - Clackson - Squires
Roehl - Galivan - Isley

Collins - Silver
Frank - Kavaya
Connauton - Ludwig

Kuhn - Gill


Game 3: UMD 5, Western Michigan 2

UMD goals
Justin Fontaine 1 (Jack Connolly 1, Michael Gergen 2), 1:45 1st. Connolly (Jack) won the faceoff to Gergen in the WMU zone. After he got the puck back, Connolly (Jack) skated toward the area behind the net and fed a quick drop pass to Fontaine, who had a pretty easy shot at the net. It was a sign of things to come from those with the last name Connolly.

Justin Fontaine 2 (Mike Connolly 4, Jack Connolly 2), 18:00 1st (power play). A Connolly (Mike) shot created a scramble in front of the net, as WMU goalie Riley Gill couldn't control the puck. Eventually, Fontaine got a hold of the puck and jammed it in the net. A lengthy review by referees Todd Anderson and Brad Shepherd confirmed the original ruling.

Mike Connolly 1 (MacGregor Sharp 1), 5:18 2nd. Sharp established the offensive zone and gave a great feed to Connolly (Mike), springing him behind the defense. Connolly put a sick move on Gill and stuffed the puck into the open net. Goal of the year so far for UMD.

Josh Meyers 2 (Jack Connolly 3, Justin Fontaine 3), 2:54 3rd (power play). Connolly (Jack) found Meyers high in the right circle. Meyers made no mistake with a one-timer, beating Gill to give UMD a three-goal lead.

Nick Kemp 1 (Andrew Carroll 1, MacGregor Sharp 2), 18:54 3rd (empty net). Kemp came down the right side and shot the puck into the open net from the blue line.


Not a virtuoso performance, but it'll work. The Connollys both impressed, making great plays with the puck and always finding ways to get involved in the play. Sharp and Fontaine had strong games, and much credit should be given to veterans Kemp and Carroll, who were big factors in UMD's ability to hold the lead late in the game. Alex Stalock was good in net, making a couple huge saves when the Broncos were within a goal or two.

UMD does have to work on their consistency. There were a couple of letdowns, especially in the third period, and they can't afford to let that happen. WMU was a last-place team in the CCHA last year, but they lost a gaggle of one-goal and overtime games. They worked their tails off for most of the game last night, and they'll come at UMD tonight with a similarly relentless effort. To get the sweep, UMD must maintain their focus and intensity for much closer to 60 minutes.

Friday, October 17, 2008


UMD lines
Carroll - Akins - Fulton
Mike Connolly - Sharp - Kemp
Gergen - Jack Connolly - Fontaine
Danberg - Bordson - Schmidt

Meyers - Montgomery
Oberg - Palm
Cascalenda - Lamb

Stalock - Hjelle - Reiter

WMU lines
Weaver - Watson - Slater
Katz - Nagorsen - Paeth
Roehl - Campbell - Galivan
Watson - Clackson - Squires

Frank - Kavaya
Collins - Silver
Connauton - Ludwig

Gill - Kuhn

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Game 2: UMD 5, Northern Michigan 0

UMD Goals

Sharp 2 (M. Connolly 2, Montgomery 1), 2:17 1st period. Sharp took the puck down the middle with Nick Kemp on the right wing. Instead of passing, Sharp picked the top right corner and beat NMU goalie Brian Stewart with a quick wrist shot.

Sharp 3 (M. Connolly 3, Kemp 1), 12:57 2nd period. Connolly brought the puck into the NMU zone, skated into the right circle, took advantage of some time and space, and found Sharp coming down the slot for an easy backdoor goal.

Akins 1 (Fontaine 1, Meyers 1), 5:03 3rd period (PP - EAG). As UMD was about to get a five-on-three, Fontaine found Akins open in front of the net.

Fulton 1 (Cascalenda 1), 8:11 3rd period. Fulton took a pass from Cascalenda in the neutral zone, came down the middle, and ripped a shot past Stewart.

Akins 2 (Fontaine 2, Oberg 2), 14:03 3rd period. Similar play to the first Akins goal. This one came at the end of a UMD power play, and was technically an even strength goal even though the offensive zone still showed a manpower advantage for UMD. It was Fontaine to Akins over the middle once again to close out the scoring.


A nearly-perfect effort. 60 minutes of solid play by UMD on both ends of the rink. We again saw a pretty good forecheck that bottled the Wildcats up at times. The Bulldogs were very good on the penalty kill in this game. NMU had a couple of rather long five-on-threes, and UMD kept a good pocket around Alex Stalock. Sticks got into passing lanes to break up feeds to open players (when you're two men short, you're going to give up some open people, so it's key to find the passing lanes and disrupt the rhythm).

This was a team shutout. Stalock had a couple nice saves during NMU power plays, but nothing that made you gasp. It was very reminiscent of the 1-0 win at UMass-Lowell last year in that regard. Stalock didn't have to stand on his head, but he was clearly seeing the puck very well.

A good start to the season. We saw a good mix of experienced players stepping up and finishing plays and young guys making plays. Hard to complain about anything we saw.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


UMD lines

Carroll - Akins - Fulton
Gergen - J Connolly - Fontaine
M Connolly - Sharp - Kemp
Oleksuk - Bordson - Schmidt

Oberg - Meyers
Kishel - Palm
Montgomery - Cascalenda

Stalock - Hjelle

NMU lines

Cherniwchan - Brown - Sirota
Kaunisto - Butcher - Fox
Smith - Olver - Hanson
Florek - Kosinski - Gron

Miller - Dorich
Gustafsson - Cosgrove
Lindemulder - Spady

Stewart - Hartigan


Game 1: UMD 2, Lake Superior State 2

UMD goals

Sharp 1 (M. Connolly), 9:17 2nd period (PP). Connolly (Mike) stole the puck near the LSSU blue line, skated in and took a shot. The LSSU goalie made the save, but left a big rebound to his right that Sharp stuffed in from a bad angle.

Meyers 1 (Oberg), 2:17 3rd period (PP 5X3). After a Connolly (Jack) faceoff win, Oberg and Meyers played catch for a few seconds before Meyers ripped a wrist shot from the right point that eluded Inglis.


It wasn't a crisp performance by UMD, but it wasn't terrible, either. Kind of looked like a season opener, with both teams struggling to move the puck at times.

The Lakers were victimized by forechecking pressure from both Connollys, who looked really strong in that area. The Bulldogs forced LSSU to pass the puck up the ice instead of carrying it, and it make them really uncomfortable for a time.

Stalock recovered from a slow start to play well, but outside of a couple flurries in the third period, he wasn't tested much overall. Lots of long shots with little traffic, as if the Lakers thought they could get more goals like their second one, which was a long shot with little traffic (the kind Stalock will stop 499 times out of 500, in all likelihood).

The penalty kill started horribly but played very well in the last two periods. The best scoring chance on LSSU's power plays in those periods was probably a UMD rush.

Offensively, UMD struggled. They had a lot of chances, but Connolly (Jack) whiffed on a couple chances close-in, and they just missed on a couple of passes. I expect to see more crisp play out of the top lines tonight, as they did look like they were developing some better chemistry as the game wore on.

Northern Michigan, the opponent tonight, scored five goals on 11 shots against Michigan Tech last night. Tech goalie Rob Nolan stopped four of nine shots (!) before getting the hook.

So NMU, outshot 30-11 on the night, has some goaltending. The question is how are they going to handle not scoring on every shot? Methinks Stalock will be sharp from the start, and that will make things tough on the Wildcats.

I'm already in Marquette, having driven over after the game last night. I look forward to not being at this hotel anymore, as the entire sixth floor reeks of cigarette smoke. No idea where it came from, since the wing is entirely "non-smoking". Good thing I'm not allergic.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Lines for UMD tonight against Lake Superior State

Andrew Carroll - Drew Akins - Matt Greer
Kyle Schmidt - Jack Connolly - Justin Fontaine
Jordan Fulton - MacGregor Sharp - Nick Kemp
Cody Danberg - Rob Bordson - Mike Connolly

Josh Meyers - Mike Montgomery
Evan Oberg - Trent Palm
Jay Cascalenda - Brady Lamb

Alex Stalock - Brady Hjelle

Lake Superior State goes with this:
Troy Schwab - Brad Cooper - Nathan Perkovich
Will Acton - Rick Schofield - Zac MacVoy
Dan Barczuk - Pat Aubry - Chad Nehring
John Scrymgeour - Fred Cassiani - Josh Sim

Tyson Hobbins - Matt Cowie
Simon Gysbers - Kyle Haines
Steven Kaunisto - Steven Oleksy

Pat Inglis - Brian Mahoney-Wilson

Thursday, October 09, 2008


As the professional hockey season gets underway, I have compiled a list of former UMD players (and some other local names) currently playing professional hockey.

Please note that this list is not final, and there is still research to be done to find guys who may be playing in Europe.

If you know of the professional whereabouts of any former UMD player that isn't on this list, please e-mail me at the above address.

Also, if you know of any other local players who are still playing somewhere, I'd love to know about it.

Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks
Matt Niskanen, Dallas Stars
Craig Weller, Minnesota Wild

Jason Garrison, Rochester Americans
Junior Lessard, Chicago Wolves
Issac Reichmuth, Grand Rapids Griffins
Jay Rosehill, Norfolk Admirals
Tim Hambly, Rockford Ice Hogs

Mike Curry, Alaska Aces
Travis Gawryletz, Elmira Jackals
Matt McKnight, Las Vegas Wranglers
Jon Francisco, Ontario Reign
Josh Johnson, South Carolina Stingrays
Neil Petruic, Stockton Thunder
Bryan McGregor, Johnstown Chiefs

Brett Hammond, Colorado Eagles
Jay Hardwick, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees

Luke Stauffacher, Muskegon Lumberjacks

Andy Sertich (Greenway), Bridgeport Sound Tigers, AHL
Clay Wilson (Cloquet/Esko/Carlton), Syracuse Crunch, AHL
Gino Guyer (Greenway), Phoenix RoadRunners, ECHL
Tom Sawatske (Duluth native), Phoenix RoadRunners, ECHL
B.J. Radovich (Hermantown/UWS), Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, CHL


Hey, I can see Canada from here.

Does that mean I can run for Vice President?

Hello from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where UMD opens another hockey season Friday night.

We (Kevin Pates of the DNT and Rink and Run travels with me on the driving trips) arrived here around 6:15pm Eastern time. 420 or so miles from my home in Proctor, and very, very close to Canada.

The picture is of the International Bridge here, which costs anywhere from $3 to $5 to cross, depending on what you're driving. It becomes Interstate 75 shortly after you have crossed into the US (or I-75 ends shortly before you cross into Canada). It looks like a really, really long bridge, and not one that I'd care to cross, though I'd love to visit Canada for five minutes just to say I did.

As for the hockey this weekend, it's the second annual (?) Superior Cup, which features the three Division I schools in upper Michigan along with UMD. Last year, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan made the trips to play UMD and Michigan Tech, and the favor is returned this year. The coaches involved seem interested in keeping this thing going, but they speak of wanting a sponsor to help pay the bills for the travel (especially this trip from Duluth to Sault Ste. Marie).

It should be a good season-opening test for UMD, facing teams that improved after slow starts last year. Since Lake State started slower, they had a bigger hill to climb. Like UMD, they struggled to score goals last year. Unlike UMD, the Lakers struggled defensively, allowing a CCHA-worst 101 goals.

Northern Michigan is getting serious love from the preseason voters after a third-place finish in the CCHA Tournament. Only their rough first nine games kept them from making the NCAA Tournament. After all, nothing kills a 10-5-1 finish better than a 1-8 start.

With that in mind, UMD has their hands full. LSSU is a young team determined to start better. NMU is an experienced team determined to start better.

And UMD needs a good start, too, because they finished 2007-2008 with a whimper, and they have a run of St. Cloud State (St. Paul)/at Denver/Wisconsin/North Dakota/St. Cloud State/at Colorado College after a WCHA opening series at Alaska-Anchorage.

Monday, October 06, 2008


1 Alabama --
2 Oklahoma --
3 Missouri --
4 LSU --
5 Texas --
6 Penn State --
7 Brigham Young --
8 Southern Cal 4
9 Texas Tech --
10 Georgia --
11 Florida --
12 Ohio State 1
13 Utah 2
14 Boise State 2
15 Vanderbilt 4
16 Michigan State 1
17 Northwestern 4
18 Kansas --
19 Virginia Tech 5
20 Pittsburgh 6
21 Auburn 7
22 Oklahoma State 3
23 South Florida 15
24 Tulsa 2
25 Ball State 1

Dropped Out: Connecticut (#20), Wisconsin (#22), Fresno State (#23).

I flipped Auburn a few spots up from Monday's ballot. I think I was too harsh on a pretty good team.

The rest of it is pretty much as it was on Monday, only it looks better now.

Congrats to Brian on getting the CBS deal. This should be good for everyone.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Via PFT comes this lovely piece of video.

Maybe ESPN doesn't believe in camera cues. More likely, Emmitt Smith just gets so into the music that he forgets what he's doing, while simultaneously not realizing that he's, you know, on live television.

And, no, I don't want to know who owes Emmitt sex. I'm pretty sure it's not anyone I know, and that's all that matters.

Monday, September 29, 2008


I'm not really surprised at this, but Vikings head coach Brad Childress is apparently starting to do the "dead man walking" routine.

Something about a 1-3 start by a team that was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender. The Vikings have three games before their bye week, and they're only likely to be favored in one of them (home vs. Detroit, in which Childress himself could play quarterback and probably lead a win).

Via PFT comes this gem from Childress. At Monday's weekly press conference, Childress was asked to explain the inexplicable. He was queried as to what the bloody hell he was thinking when he punted to Tennessee in the final two minutes of a 30-17 game. His team was down two scores, out of timeouts, and did I mention they were down two scores?
When asked about his decision to punt on 4th-and-13 late in Sunday’s game, Childress said, “Based on the way we were playing defense, I thought we’d have a chance to get it back.”

There were two minutes left. The Vikings were out of timeouts. How the hell were they going to get the ball back? Was Childress hoping that Tennessee would put Joe Pisarchik in at quarterback?

I decided not to believe that Childress was stupid enough to say that. Yes, the quote came from a KFAN story, and KFAN is the radio partner for the Vikings. So, yeah, it's hard to imagine that they would even unintentionally misquote Childress and make him look like such a boob. But that had to be what happened. No way an NFL head coach who makes millions of dollars is this dense. Right?

Nope. They got it right.
Q: What went into your thought to punt the ball when you were behind late in the game?

A: (It was) basically the way we were playing defense. I thought we’d get a chance to get (the ball) back.
I'm left even more dumbfounded than the media in the Cities must be right about now. I mean, there has to be one assistant coach on this team who can think, right? How could none of them have gotten into Childress' headset and reminded him that the team was out of timeouts and wouldn't get the ball back.

Or maybe Childress surrendered and didn't want anyone to think it went down like that.

Either way, the guy is an absolute moron and unfit for office.

Just think, if Zygi had let him get on that plane in 2006, he's probably the head coach of the Packers.

Thanks again, Zygi.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

SCREW 1982

I've been sitting here for the better part of an hour, trying to think of something intelligent to write about the end of the baseball season.

(Insert joke about "Bruce writing intelligently" here. I know you want to.)

While I could roll out some lame analysis of how the Brewers made the playoffs, or how the Mets choked on the playoffs, that would just be a waste of time and not interesting for me or you.

This is pure emotion for me. I've been a Brewer fan longer than the Brewers have been available on local radio or television. I used to follow the team via boxscores in the local paper. I had nothing else to use. The internet, cable, satellite, and all our current wonderful technology didn't exist in my world. It was the local TV stations, radio, and the newspaper.

As the 1987 heartbreak wore off, and the 1992 pennant race left the boys just short of the postseason, the Brewers sunk into an abyss of sucktitude. They never got close to a winning season as Phil Garner finished up his tenure. Davey Lopes and Jerry Royster were disasters. Ned Yost got them just short of where they needed to be.

Today, all that went away. The 1982 season DVD is no longer a dream.

The Milwaukee Brewers are back in the playoffs.

They did it two weeks after firing their manager, and they did it two-and-a-half months after trading for a near 300-pound left-handed pitcher who is pitching for a new contract, but not acting like it.

No, instead, CC Sabathia is pitching for a championship. He's taken the ball three times in nine days, and won twice (should have won a third, were it not for the defense and offense failing him in Cincinnati). He's going to take the ball on three days' rest again Thursday in Philadelphia, and there's no questioning his ability to shut the Phillies down.

He might not get serious consideration for the National League Cy Young (Tim Lincecum, Brandon Webb) or MVP (Albert Pujols) awards. But he should. Sabathia (11-2, sub-2.00 ERA, 10 complete games on the season) is the best pitcher in the game. He oughta be recognized as such.

The Brewers exorcised the ghosts of 1982 on Sunday. For their fans, the euphoria could last months, even if the team doesn't win a championship. Milwaukee is an underrated baseball town (the team drew over 3 million fans), and this team is a hoot to watch. If chemistry matters in the playoffs, they'll do well, because they genuinely enjoy each other's company.

And if having the best pitcher (Sabathia) and best hitter (Ryan Braun) in a series matters for anything, Philadelphia doesn't stand a chance.

It's been 26 years. Cut us some slack if we seem a bit loopy these next few days.