Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Chay Genoway Injured for Sioux

With UMD having the weekend off, attention turned to other college hockey Friday night.

Got to watch a stirring battle between Notre Dame and Miami on CBS College Sports. That led into a newsworthy North Dakota-Colorado College game.

Unfortunately for North Dakota fans, it wasn't newsworthy for any good reason. Instead, it was newsworthy because one of college hockey's best players and ambassadors was injured, and it didn't look good.

North Dakota captain Chay Genoway went down in the second period in Colorado Springs, had to be helped off the ice, and did not return to the game.

Afterward, UND coach Dave Hakstol provided a say-nothing update on his best player.

“I don’t know what it is,” Hakstol told the Grand Forks Herald. “Obviously, everybody saw him go off the ice and what it appeared to be, but I don’t know.”

(Not blaming Hakstol for a vanilla answer here. For starters, they probably don't know anything for certain, because I don't believe they have a full compliment of medical equipment at the World Arena. And even if they did know, it's best to not say anything until you have a chance to prepare yourself for questions. Hakstol didn't have that opportunity, being that he had just been coaching his team in a game.)

I don't want to say that Hakstol's comment confirms my pessimistic suspicion, but it doesn't make me feel any better about what I saw.

What I saw was this:

Early in the second period, Genoway was behind the UND net playing the puck when he was checked by Colorado College's Tyler Johnson. The hit was clean, as Johnson simply rubbed Genoway into the boards. It wasn't a vicious hit, a hit to the head, or a hit from behind. It wasn't interference, boarding, charging, high-sticking, contact to the head, or anything else against the rules. It was a perfectly clean and legal hit.

However, when Genoway fell to the ice, his left leg appeared to get caught under him. It was hard to tell if this was because he caught a rut in the ice, or because his leg was up against the boards and couldn't move. When Genoway hit the ice, he didn't look like he hit his head, unlike what the commentators on television speculated.

On the replay, the camera went as close to Genoway's face as it could, and it told a grim story. It's said that athletes often know what's wrong when they get hurt, even before they're fully examined. If Genoway's face was any indicator, he knew, and it's not good.

North Dakota played like they were shell-shocked for most of the second period, as a 2-0 hole turned into 4-0. Jason Gregoire tried to bring them back, scoring twice in the third, including a three-on-five goal that was a thing of beauty.

(It was one of the best three-on-five kills I've seen in a long time. North Dakota flat out-worked Colorado College for almost two minutes, and had this sequence happened in the second period, it could have been a major turning point in a Sioux comeback. It was a clinic in how to disrupt the predictable passing sequences that plague so many five-on-threes. Unfortunately for them, they didn't leave themselves enough time, and Mario Lamoureux ruined much of it by taking a major penalty.)

Genoway has been ruled out for Saturday's rematch. If that's the worst that happens, the Sioux should consider themselves fortunate. A long-term absence could be disastrous for a team that -- while it's deep on defense -- doesn't have a ton of game-breakers like Genoway. Any college team that loses a valuable player like Genoway is going to be hurting, no matter their overall depth.


UMD is off, as they prepare to host Minnesota next weekend at Amsoil Arena. With any luck, the Bulldogs will have senior Kyle Schmidt back in the lineup on Friday. He's resumed skating, and his recovery from a broken hand is on schedule.

If he is able to return, the dilemma becomes where to put him in the lineup. The line of Justin Fontaine, Travis Oleksuk, and J.T. Brown accounted for ten points and a plus-11 in the series at Michigan Tech. You're not breaking them up at this point.

Putting Schmidt on a line with Dan DeLisle and Keegan Flaherty, and moving Mike Seidel with Jake Hendrickson and Joe Basaraba, could be the least "disruptive" move available. I don't know that we'll see Schmidt paired with the Connollys, even though his speed and nose around the net add an interesting dynamic to that group. David Grun has played well there, and having the space afforded to you by Mike and Jack on your line seems to have allowed Grun to showcase playmaking ability that so few people probably knew existed. His setup for Jack Connolly's first goal in the Friday game at Tech was a thing of beauty, and he had a couple other great passes for scoring chances in that series.


Michigan Tech is now winless in 21 after a 4-2 loss to Wisconsin. At least they scored, ending their goalless drought at 228:08 on an Alex MacLeod goal 41 seconds into Friday's second period.

Minnesota won again, beating road-weary Alaska-Anchorage 5-1. The Seawolves played at Denver last weekend, got swept, and then traveled to the Twin Cities instead of going home. They do this at least once per season, but it still has to really suck.

St. Cloud State's winning streak ended at six, but they're now unbeaten in seven after a 3-3 tie against Minnesota State. Since sweeping Minnesota in December, the Mavericks have played seven WCHA games. They've been decided -- in order -- by one, two, zero, one, one, one, and zero goals. The Mavericks have a record of 0-5-2 in that span. I'm just sayin'.

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