Monday, May 9, 2011

Indefinite Hiatus

After DPlaya moved his blog HIW (which he was kind enough to let me and Chuck write for) to WSN, I started this blog after a conversation with Gandalf, and then quickly added Chuck as a contributor since we had already written together on HIW. (We later, of course, invited additional contributors). When I started this, it was as a hobby that augmented my enjoyment of following Badger Hockey, and I was able to fit this hobby into my schedule on a regular basis. Over the past year, I have faced increasing time constraints that have hampered my ability to blog, and the blog had started to feel like "work", which further decreased my inclination. Additionally, there has been conflicting views regarding the direction of the blog among the original contributors, and given that I started the blog and that it bears my name, this was of particular concern to me.

After much consideration, I have decided to put the blog on indefinite hiatus. If my time/inclination returns, perhaps I'll revisit things, but I don't want to provide any false expectations.

I would like to thank all of the contributors to the blog and all of our Loyal Readers.

Sincerely,
60

Friday, April 29, 2011

AHCA Meeting Mini-Update

Woody Wommack of NaplesNews.com was able to provide a quick mini-update of the goings on at the AHCA meetings this weekend.

Admittedly, it isn't much*, but it does confirm several of the topics we expected to come up this weekend.

Exhibit A: the rules committee discussing hits to the head. This is such a hot button topic, so you knew it had to be coming up. Given the strict way the NCAA has been enforcing other safety-related penalties (see: checking from behind), I think we can all take a safe guess where the hits-to-the-head issue might be heading.

Exhibit B: It turns out that Paul Kelly was there to talk about finding ways for club hockey teams to become self-sustaining varsity programs. I'm as shocked as you are.

* Frankly, I'm surprised to see anything come up today. It's the only published article I could find on the subject online... I suspect that we'll be able to find more on Monday, but as of right now, Mr. Wommack is all we've got. And for that, we thank him.

Commitment. Passion. Integrity.

We really are lucky to have a guy like Mark Johnson around. Let's not fool ourselves.


"He was always very transparent when he talked to people"

I know that we would like to think that that would be a given: that a coach would be honest and transparent with his employer when he's being courted by another program. But I have my doubts that it works that way very often, and I think you can tell that Alvarez speaks with such respect for Coach Johnson because he knows that Johnson treats him with that same respect.

It reminded me of something I read in a book that I highly recommend to all of you: The Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffey. It's a book about the 1980 "Miracle On Ice" olympic hockey team. It frames the story of that team around the famous medal round game against the Soviets, and it also includes many long passages telling the stories of every player on the team.

The passage about Mark Johnson (about 1/4 of the way into the book) goes on for about 13 pages, and it goes on at length about some issues that are pretty relevant in the light of Coach Johnson's courtship by Penn State. Some sporadic excerpts (emphasis added) follow. I'd like to include more, but I'd much rather not incur the wrath of a published author. Lord knows what he could have his publishing company do to a little old Blogger page if he thought I was posting too much. Here goes:

Johnson has been the Badgers' head women's coach since June 2002, a career move he neither expected nor contemplated. Six weeks after the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team lit the caultdron to open the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Johnson was passed over for the Wisconsin men's job, a position most people assumed would be his. ... But athletic director Pat Richter opted to go with Mike Eaves, Johnson's teammate on the Badgers' 1977 national championship team.

Across four decades of a charmed hockey life, Mark Johnson had always been a star. ... Rejection was something altogether new. ... This was different, personal, for the first time Mark Johnson had in effect been told, "We like the other guy better." Richter delivered the news to Johnson in Sauer's office. Later Johnson cried.

"Did it hurt? Oh yeah, it hurt," Johnson said. "But life teaches you that you have to move on, and you try to do it in a fashion that you can walk away with your head held high."

...

Johnson assured [the UW Women's Hockey] team when he took over that this was not just a stopover until he could get a men's job. Six months later, his words were put to the test. Tony Granato ... asked Johnson if he would be interested in joining his staff as an assistant. ... After a few days, Johnson called Granato, expressed his gratitude, and said no thanks.

"I don't think I would've had the courage to walk into the locker room and tell those players I was leaving," Johnson said. "I've got signs on the wall that say, 'Commitment, Passion, Integrity.' If I am going to be a good coach and people are going to listen and respect me, I have to walk the walk, as they say."

That is the man coaching our women's team. Just like with the Granato job, I would not be shocked to hear that Coach Johnson gave Penn State his ear out of respect. And, also like the Granato job, it doesn't surprise me that he would refuse it on principle. This man loves Madison, loves coaching some of the best women's hockey players the world has to offer, and he does it with Commitment, Passion, and Integrity.

There are still a lot of people who think he should be coaching our men's program instead of Coach Eaves, but I think those people should just step back and think of what a remarkable thing we have with Coach Johnson and the Women's Program. We really are lucky.

Johnson Could've Gone To Hockey Valley...

... but he didn't.


University of Wisconsin women’s hockey coach Mark Johnson officially turned down the chance to be the first men’s hockey coach at Penn State, Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez confirmed Friday.

Johnson has not commented since it was announced last Sunday the Nittany Lions hired Guy Gadowsky from Princeton.

“As I understand it, (Johnson) was offered the job,” Alvarez said after the monthly UW Athletic Board meeting.

Johnson formally interviewed for the job last week after guiding the UW women to their fourth national title in the past six years.

...

Alvarez admitted he couldn’t compete with what Penn State was able to offer a men’s coach. “You can’t keep good people from looking,” Alvarez said. “He was always very transparent when he talked to people.

“First thing I told him, ‘I cannot compete with a men’s job at Penn State financially. I can’t do that.’ We were able to make some adjustments, but not to that extent.”

Some more in a moment.

Value of returning blue lines

Toward the end of the season, I was looking ahead to next season and was a little worried about the blue line for next season. I was looking at the Badgers blue line knowing Jake Gardiner was likely to sign and Craig Johnson was going to graduate after a solid 4 seasons. It was bouncing through my head, how would the blue line look if Schultz was gone too (this was before he gave fans a big boost saying he would return), and the answer was not pretty.

Amazing what the return of a singular player does for one’s outlook. As I sat back enjoying an improved outlook on the Badger’s blueline, I wondered how does one quantify the “experience” and overall “talent” on a team’s returning blue line for the coming season? I’m not sure I’ve found the exact answer, but using collegehockeystats I compiled some stats. I’ll add this disclaimer now that I’m fully aware there are gaps in the information that follows. You can’t account for the freshman coming in and what type of impact they are going to make. Scott Mayfield could be a monster for Denver or struggle next year, while Jake McCabe as a senior in HS in age could play above expectations. You can’t account for the improvement of players and their future impact. I certainly expect Frankie Simonelli and Joe Faust to contribute a lot more next season. You also can’t account for a Kyle Klubertanz type performance where a player actually gets worse as an upperclassman. Lastly, how does one quantify the value of a dominant defensive defenseman? Game played and points scored only tell you so much about that type of player who makes an impact every night.

All that said, I think there is some good information below, and it’s the off season after all. The first thing I totaled up was the number of games played by defensemen through this past season who are projected to return to each WCHA school.

Colorado College: 398 games
Michigan Tech: 360
North Dakota: 327
Bemidji State: 303
UAA: 294
Duluth: 279
Nebraska Omaha: 279
Wisconsin: 270
St Cloud: 234
Denver: 229
Mankato: 219
minnesota: 148

CC , Tech, BSU and UAA appear to only losing one defenseman each. North Dakota lost a ton of experience on the blue line w/ Chay Genoway, Jake Marto and Derrick LaPoint graduating, but Ben Blood and Andrew MacWilliam bring back a lot of games played, boosting them on the list. Looking through the rosters, the number of senior defensemen for the 2011/12 season is very low, which is probably a function of all the top end talent in the league who do not make it to their senior season. Early departures to the pros or WHL just this season on the blue: Matt Donovan (DU), William Wrenn (DU), Aaron Ness (um), Justin Faulk (UMD),Dylan Olsen (UMD), Oliver Lauridsen (St Cloud) and Jake Gardiner (UW). Only Brad Hunt (BSU), Gabe Guentzel (CC), John Lee (DU) and Blood (UND) have over 100 games played, w/ Brady Lamb (Duluth) just short w/ 98. There will be a lot of young blue lines in the WCHA next season. The gophers, whose defensemen play has struggled (really which part of their team hasn’t struggled) the past few seasons doesn’t have much coming back next season. Hopefully tDon didn’t blow recruiting on early blooming players once again, while studs like Ryan McDonagh and Gardiner don the Cardinal and White.

To me, games played counts for a lot. The WCHA is a tough league and it is few and far between when a freshman defenseman burns up the league. Having upperclassmen on the ice does a lot for the success of a team’s blue line. Continuing to look at stats, I then added up the returning offense of each blue line.

Bemidji State: 27-100-127
Colorado College: 22-95-117
Wisconsin: 31-79-110
St Cloud: 14-65-79
UAA: 23-53-76
North Dakota: 10-66-76
Duluth: 18-51-69
Denver: 11-56-67
Michigan Tech: 12-54-66
Nebraska Omaha: 8-52-60
Mankato: 8-27-35
minnesota: 5-21-26

A lot of the same teams are at the top and the bottom once again, but there are exceptions. UW and St Could move up as Tech plummets. These stats can be swayed quite easily by one superstar player on a team (like Schultz), but having a superstar bolsters the overall strength of the unit. Again, points don’t tell you the value of a shut down defender. McDonagh never put up big offensive numbers, but only a fool would doubt his value to the Badgers during his three years. He was good at everything. If I had the choice between offensive star Brendan Smith and overall stud Ryan McDonagh, it would be a no brainer to take McD. Anyway, some of the big stat players returning next season Hunt (BSU) 19-67-86, Guentzel (CC) 12-56-68 and Schultz 24-45-69. These players separate their schools in a higher tier due to their success. There aren’t many players (11 total) w/ 25 points or more in their career. Mankato and minnesota don’t have much coming back.

So finally, doing some simply math, I merely took the total points returning by the total number of games played by each team’s respective blue line.

Bemidji State: 0.419 pts/game
Wisconsin: 0.407
St Cloud: 0.338
Colorado College: 0.294
Denver: 0.293
UAA: 0.259
Duluth: 0.247
North Dakota: 0.232
Nebraska Omaha: 0.215
Michigan Tech: 0.183
minnesota: 0.176
Mankato: 0.160

What I initially take out of this, is that despite not returning a ton of games played on the blue line, Wisconsin, St Cloud and Denver are returning a decent amount of offense per game. BSU returns experience and scoring. Tech returns experience, but their offense still sucks, and the gophers and land cows don’t have much going for them on offense (and not defense either really). You can draw your own conclusion though.

Being a Badger fan, I find the final stat pts/game to help my optimism. Before Schultz said he was firmly returning, I was in despair wondering who would run the PP and be out there on the top pairing, knowing that John Ramage along w/ the sophomores would have to run the blue line. I was frightened. Schultz certainly has room to grow defensively, but he is something special to have back and should only get better. Now had Justin said hello to an Anaheim Ducks contract instead (which could still happen, being a realist), the Badgers would be down to 186 games returning (11th instead of 8th) and the points would be down to 7-34-41 joining the bottom tier w/ minnesota and Mankato. That would have yielded a pts/game of 0.220, almost half of the amount w/ Schultz returning. Can you say Hobey Baker?

I also calculated the total each team lost to graduation and early departures. I’ll post them up in the near future for comparison, and later on might have to do a blue line comparison of just the Badgers over the past several years. I am interested on how the Defense of the Ages coming into 2009/10 compared to other Badger squads.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

NCAA Tourney Format Change?

Entering Phase I of "Operation: EoDS Posting More Often":

We've yet to really hear any news from the AHCA meetings in Naples, Fla. this week, but North Dakota beat writer Brad Schlossman made a post yesterday (well... technically still today) proposing what he thinks they should be discussing. It's actually an idea that was proposed last year, and was used in the 1980s:

Changing the first round of the NCAA tournament to be a best-of-three series hosted by the higher seed. The NCAA tournament format is still up in the air (there's a reason that the regional sites have only been announced through the next tournament), and this is an idea that was brought up last year.

The rationale?
  1. It offers an advantage to higher seeds in an era where parity has made almost every first round NCAA game a toss-up.
  2. It offers a way around the low attendance issues we've seen in the regionals recently, by allowing passionate local fans see their teams in action.
  3. In theory, higher attendance means more money for the NCAA and the schools.
I have to admit, this sounds great on the surface. An extra bonus goes for the notion that UND would get screwed as long as they keep their nickname issues with the NCAA alive. ("Now hosting the NCAA First Round: The University of North Dakota Fannings")

I do have a few reservations, mostly with the cost issue. Yes, there will undoubtedly be more tickets sold for the first round games. No more half-empty arenas if the host team isn't playing in the tourney. (Or half-empty arenas when the host is playing...)

But let's consider something here: There are quite a few arenas in the college hockey world. A lot of them are small and perhaps not used for a lot of other functions, but there are quite a few arenas (UW's Kohl Center among them) that are multi-purpose, have other tenants and are looking for things besides college hockey for revenue.

A place like the Kohl Center can get quite busy, there are often other functions that the Kohl Center can be used for by the time we get to mid-March. How does the NCAA intend on keeping these arenas available when they won't know for sure that they're hosting NCAA playoff games until (at most) a few weeks ahead of time? Is that a cheap proposition? How much more money can the NCAA make off of those games?

Plus, although this would open up the possibility of NCAA games in some of college hockey's largest and best arenas (Kohl Center, Mariucci, Conte Forum, Yost, etc.), but there aren't a lot of arenas in D-I hockey that seat more than 7,000 people. Quite a few of them have a max capacity of less than 5,000- so it's hard to guarantee huge attendance increases.

And lets not forget that the "super regionals" proposed would still require the NCAA to reserve the arenas for a whole weekend. Granted, they don't have to reserve four arenas for regionals, just two, but its a cost that is still there and carries all of the risks that currently exist for regional sites.

As I see it, the biggest problem with the current format of the NCAA is simply timing. As it is now, the field is announced on a Sunday morning, and the first round begins the following Friday. That's hardly enough time for people with regular jobs and a limited amount of vacation time (like me) with only a week to try to plan for a way to plan out a weekend's worth of travel to go to a regional. It's hardly impossible, but it sure is short notice. An extra week between the selection of the field and the first round would go a long way towards giving traveling fans a chance to organize themselves and make a trip.

Another benefit of an extra week? Making sure that the first round of the tourney doesn't coincide with the opening rounds of the basketball tourney. There's no sense in trying to compete with that behemoth.

All in all, it's not a bad idea. But the positives aren't nearly as open and shut as Mr. Schlossman paints them out to be. As a fan of the team with one of the best (if not THE best) atmospheres in college hockey, I will admit that I love the notion of having more playoff hockey there... so let's see if the NCAA Tournament Committee ends up wanting to try this out.

It's a much better idea than shootouts. Let's just put it that way.

The Squid in the Room


I'm doing this without much discussion with Gandalf, 60, or the others, but I think its fair to just address the elephant squid in the room and get it out of the way.

Yes, there's a rather specific reason that Chuck is leaving the blog (for real this time: he's not Favre-ing it). And although it probably wouldn't take much digging to find out what it is, I don't see the point in discussing it here. I have no intention of airing dirty laundry out for everyone to see, so I'll just leave it as it is.

Chuck is undoubtedly going to continue to have opportunities blogging about the Badgers, and I will wish him the best of luck. For right now, we'll just treat this like UW treats any departing underclassmen. Except... well... we're nerds on computers, if that makes a difference.

There's no denying that we'll miss Chuck's connections to the recruiting world and the incredible amount of time that he put into this blog. I'm sure that a lot of you will too. In the mean time, we'll continue to talk Badger Hockey here, and hopefully continue to have fun doing it.

On Wisconsin,

EoDS

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

They say that all, good things must end

I just wanted to make a quick announcement that I will be leaving the Sixty Minutes. No Alibis. No Regrets blog effective immediately. This is a personal decision and I'll leave it at that.

Don't be confused, this is not a retirement. While I don't have any immediate blogging plans, rest assured that those who enjoy my work will be able to follow my coverage on some platform in (hopefully) the near future. For now I will continue to update my twitter account so check there for updates on my future and of course, extensive Wisconsin hockey coverage.

I want to thank the other contributors of this blog for letting me write with you over the past few years and wish you success in the future. An even bigger thank you to the hundreds of people who read this site everyday, Badger fans are the best in the country.

chuckschwartz(at)live.com
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AHCA Convention Agenda

For those curious, the agenda for this year's AHCA meetings is posted on the AHCA website.

Some of the pretty important items for UW (all times central):

Today:


  • 2:00 pm - DI Men's Commissioners Meeting

  • 4:30-5:30 pm - NCAA D1 Men's Hockey Committee Meeting

Thursday:



  • 7:00-8:30 am - Women's National Meeting

  • 8:45 - 11:00 am - Women's D1 Session: NCAA Tournament and General Issues (Rules Committee 8:45-9:15)

  • 9:00-11:00 am - D1 Men's Issues

  • 10:30 - 11:30 am - NCAA Rules Committee

  • 1:15-2:45 pm - Paul Kelly, College Hockey Inc. and D1 Commissioners

  • 2:45 - 5:00 pm - NCAA Men's D1 Session: NCAA Tournament and General Issues (Rules Committee 2:45 - 3:15)

Friday:



  • 9:10-10:00 am - NCAA Rules Session

Saturday:



  • 6:30-7:15 am - NCAA National Divisional Meetings

Sunday:



  • 6:30 - 8:00 am - Chapel Session (FCA) w/ Mark and Leslie Johnson

A lot of this might end up paling in comparison to whatever backroom discussions go on between B1g, WCHA and CCHA people, but there are sure to be some interesting things to report by next week.

Badgers Land 2013 Goalie Recruit

According to Andy Baggot from the Wisconsin State Journal the Badgers have picked up a verbal commitment from Totonto goalie Gabe Grunwald for 2013.

Grunwald is a 6'3, 185 pound netminder from the Ajax Pickering Midget Program.

His bio on the teams website: "Gabe brings a very comptitive spirit to his game and always knows how to get the job done when we need it most. Consistently strong positionally some of his best qualities lie in his agility, reflexes, speed and flexability. This young man continues to grow and impress all that have an opportunity to play with or against him."

chuckschwartz(at)live.com
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If You Offer, He Will Come

While Monday's news of Jordy Murray's early departure still stings in the hearts of many Badger fans, looking towards the future can be the distraction needed to ease the pain. Turning our attention to Murray's replacement has delivered us to two possible scenarios.

Scenario number one involves bringing in Waupaca high school senior forward Brad Navin who originally had made a verbal commitment for either the 2012 or 2013 season depending on development and departures. Scenario number two would be to offer a scholarship to Alberta Junior Hockey League forward Reed Linaker from the St. Albert Steel.

The Sixty Minutes blog caught up with Linaker on Tuesday night in hopes of clearing up the murky water that is the current forward opening on the UW roster. Linaker noted that he has not yet received an offer from the UW coaching staff but would jump at the chance to come to Wisconsin. "I'd love to be a Badger and I'd do it in a heartbeat but I guess its kind of a wait and see process."

Linaker, 5'9, 165 pound forward who was on campus late in the season fell in love with Madison on his visit, "Loved the University. It was a beautiful campus and the electricity and atmosphere was unbelievable in the arena. Was definitely better then anywhere I've been and exceeded my expectations."

As a rookie in the AJHL Linaker put up 39 points in 47 games. Last year he registered 81 points in 54 games. And this year saw him net 52 points in 34 games before a knee injury ended his season early. Linaker sounded confident he would be able to rebound from the injury. "My knee is doing well. I had a tear of the MCL an partial tear of the ACL so its been a long road. I've just begun workouts and light skating."

Ironically, Navin who will likely be brought in if the staff doesn't make an offer to Linaker is also coming off a knee injury. Navin was sidelined early in the high school season with an MCL injury and made his return to the ice a few weekends ago for the Minnesota NIT senior tournament. By all indications, Navin has made a full recovery and is at or near 100%.

Both Navin and Linaker can play center which after losing Sean Dolan and Podge Turnbull is a possible position of need for the upcoming season. No matter what direction the coaching staff goes in it looks like they have some solid options.

chuckschwartz(at)live.com
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Wednesday Morning Link Roundup

-I've been trying to do some more research to familiarize myself with recent 2011 forward recruit Joseph Labate (pictured) out of the Academy of Holy Angels in the twin cities. I came across this fantastic interview that he did with McKeens hockey. The interview gives some great insight to his game and the recruiting process. Note that the interview was done February 22nd. He doesn't even mention Wisconsin as an option in the interview but committed a mere 12 days later. Shows you how fast things can move in the recruiting world.

-As you are probably already aware the United States Hockey League completed it's "Futures Draft" last week and the only player with Wisconsin ties to be selected was Notre Dame Academy forward Jason Reynolds. The DePere, WI native was selected by the Youngstown Phantoms. The club recently put out a release detailing the players selected, this is what they had to say about Reynolds.

“Jason is the top ’95 born forward coming out of the state of Wisconsin right now,” said Koehler. “Reynolds is a true competitor and he is developing into a “coaches’ favorite”. As a sophomore - he is already the top center playing on one of the elite high school hockey teams is his state and producing well at a young age compared to other older junior and senior forwards in the state.”

-As first reported on this website, Hudson forward Ryan Dau has committed to play for the Air Force Academy. Dplaya at the WSN Hockey In Wisconsin blog interviewed Dau about his decision to play at a service academy. Dau is the fourth player from this past season's Team Wisconsin squad to commit to a division 1 college program. Dau is also the fourth player to come out of the Hudson program in the past decade to division 1. (Davis Drewiske, Jake Drewiske, and Andy Bohmbach are the others)

-Minnesota picked up a goaltender recruit from the USHL in Des Moines Buccaneers netminder Michael Shibrowski. He's actually a transfer from Colorado College but decided to go back to the USHL after it became apparent that Joe Howe was going to be the guy for the Tigers. This brings up an interesting situation for the Gophers because they currently have Muskegon (USHL) goalie Joel Vienneau scheduled to come in to replace departing senior Alex Kangas.

I can't imagine Minnesota rocking three scholarship goalies next year with Kent Patterson, Shibrowski and Vienneau (they also have walk on third stringer Jake Kramer). To make things more complicated they have Green Bay Gamblers goalie Adam Wilcox committed for 2012. If I had to guess, it would be that the Gophers have pulled Vienneau's offer. He played pretty bad in the USHL this season. Should be interesting to follow.

-Internet rumors that Green Bay Gamblers head coach Eric Rud was at Michigan Tech today to interview for their head coaching opening were confirmed by
Wes Hodkiewicz from the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Michigan Tech has reportedly already been turned down by Nebraska-Omaha head coach Dean Blais and Michigan assistant Mel Pearson. UNO assistant Mike Hastings has also interviewed for the position.

-Rumors are circulating from Grand Forks that North Dakota forwards Mike Cichy and Brett Bruneteau are considering transferring. According the rumors, Cichy is looking to transfer to Western Michigan in the CCHA, and Bruneteau to Vermont in Hockey East. Neither player saw much ice time for the Sioux last season so the news isn't entirely shocking.

I'll leave you with this little gem. Video of Wisconsin superstar forward Hilary scoring the game winning goal for Team USA in OT of the gold medal game at the IIHF Women's World Championships.



chuckschwartz(at)live.com
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A Desperate Plea

Preamble

Okay. With all of that said, there's just one thing I care about. I know I'm not alone in this one, but there are certainly people who won't agree with me here. Whatever. Here goes:

Please, in the name of Badger Bob, no fucking shootouts.

I'm pretty sure that of all the things that could come out of the AHCA meetings (dramatic conference realignment, Paul Kelly performing magic tricks, UAH giving the CCHA the finger), I can handle any of it. Life will go on, and college hockey will find a way to adjust to whatever goofy nonsense that comes up. But I'd rather take George Fabian's skate grinder to my temple before I accept shootouts in the BTHC.

It's perhaps not important to articulate why I don't want shootouts. That argument has been made before. In short: it's an arbitrary way to "win" a tie game, it's like settling football ties with punt-pass-kick, yadda yadda yadda. That's all been said.

My only addition to the debate is that I don't understand what's wrong with a tie. It's not a win, but it's not a loss. When two teams play 65 minutes of hockey and it doesn't decide something, you can either keep playing hockey or you can just be a grown up and admit that maybe neither team earned the win, and they can be equals (if only for one night). It might feel weird to not have a final conclusion to the game, but you know what? I like the simple and pure logic of the tie.

And I like being able to feel like a 3 point weekend at home is good enough.

I get that there's a certain "lowest common denominator" aspect to the shootout. It's designed to be exciting to lure in the common non-hockey fan. "Hey, look at hockey! You might not like this sport because you have the attention span of a cat on Red Bull, but look at this fun gimmick!"

It's that LCD factor that makes me nervous that the BTHC actually will push for shootouts. It's the same thing that makes people think that canned music is an acceptable thing to have at sporting events. (Hint: It's not*, and I'm mildly convinced that Jump Around cursed us early on in our famed OT winless streak) There's even a little bit of an LCD factor to the fact that the BTHC will exist in major part because the B1G ADs are convinced that more people will care about Badger Hockey simply because we're playing Penn State instead of North Dakota. (This is where you roll your eyes...)

At the end of the day, I just don't want shootouts. I've hated watching the NHL award wins from tie games, and I'm holding out hope that the NCAA can come to their senses and avoid the stupid gimmick.

Screw shootouts. Who's with me?

* There are rare exceptions to my hatred of canned music, but that's another subject for another time.

A Desperate Plea: Preamble

Chuck already noted Baggot's post about the AHCA meetings starting later today. For kicks, you can check out this quick take from Todd Milewski on USCHO.

These meetings usually come and go with a lot of fanfare, but not a lot of major news. There's usually some slew of discussion about new rule ideas that are crazy, far fetched and have no prayer of being adopted (see also: a lot of the NCAA hockey competition committee meetings). But, since we're living in the post-Big Ten Hockeyocalypse, I think you can expect this year's ACHA meetings to be a lot more interesting.

Ultimately, UW's big concern is going to be settling on the BTHC details. Or, as Baggot said it, "devise strategy and policy" for the 2013-14 debut. It's such a concern that Baggot has mentioned that UW is pretty much sending the entire hockey department down there. Phil Dzick might as well go down there and start leading cheers. The only major figure that Baggot doesn't suggest will be there is Barry Alvarez, but I have a feeling that he'll find a way to be involved.

As you can imagine, there's a lot to settle. Non-conference scheduling (B1G-WCHA-CCHA agreements, perhaps?). Contingency plans in case the cream of the crop of the remaining WCHA and CCHA teams decide to form their own super-conference... or whatever other crazy plans the other four conferences have up their sleeves. Strategies for how to use BTN. Milewski even mentioned the somewhat farfetched possibility that going away from weekend series (for TV reasons) might be on the table.

But, at the end of the day, it's mostly conference rules that need to be settled on. And that's not exactly a short list of issues to deal with. To suggest that the BTHC will be all figured out this week is absurd, but you can bet that they'll get as much preliminary groundwork done as they can.

I expect to hear a lot of interesting news before everything's said and done in Naples.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Morning News and Notes

-The University of Wisconsin Men's hockey program announced it's 2010-2011 award winners at a banquet on Monday afternoon at the Kohl Center. Top honors went to Sophomore defenseman Justin Schultz who was named the Spike Carlson Most Valuable Player as voted on by his teammates.

Other award winners included: Podge Turnbull-Jim Santulli 7th Man Award (Voted on by the fans); Patrick Johnson-Fenton Kelsey Jr. Most Competitive Player; Ryan Little and Jefferson Dahl-Otto Breitenbach Most Improved Player Award; Scott Gudmandson-Ivan B. Williamson Scholastic Award and Unsung Hero Award; Michael Mersch-Dr. Joseph Coyne Memorial Award for the most consistent player; and Captain Sean Dolan-W Club Community Service Award.

-As this site first reported on Monday night, Badger forward Jordy Murray plans to forgo his final season of eligibility at Wisconsin to sign a pro contract in Switzerland. Wisconsin State Journal beat writer Andy Baggot chimed in on Tuesday morning with some quotes from Murray.

-This is for all the knuckleheads who every year want to fire Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves if he doesn't win an NCAA title. New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise was asked if he could bring in any coach for the Devils who would it be. His response (courtesy of @maxhenson)...

"Another coach that has coached in the NHL before and I had him for a few international tournaments is Mike Eaves. He is now at Wisconsin and I’ve never been so prepared to face an opponent as when I was playing for him. It may be a little different in an 82-game schedule, but he did a great job of having players understand their role on the team and got them to do that to the best of their ability."

-@thenyrangers, the official twitter account for the NHL's New York Rangers tweeted Monday afternoon that former Badgers and current NHL'ers Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh will both be taking college courses this summer in pursuit of their degrees. It's nice to see both players maturity in making the decision to keep working towards graduating.

-Although both players plan to take classes this summer, McDonagh and Stepan might not be done playing hockey for the year. Aaron Gross from New Jersey Record the is reporting that both players are considering invitations from USA Hockey to join Team USA for the World Championships. Former Badgers Jake Gardiner and Jack Skille as well as current Badger Craig Smith have already accepted invitations from USA hockey to play in the tournament.

Update: Kevin Allen from the USA Today is reporting that Stepan has accepted a spot on team USA making him the fourth player with Badger ties on the roster. No word on McDonagh.

Update #2: Allen just chimed in with another tweet saying that like Stepan, McDonagh is also joining team USA for the World Championships. That's FIVE players with Badger ties on the roster. With five players with Badger ties representing the United States at the Women's World Championships, the Badgers have had a strong presence lately with USA hockey.

-I posted yesterday on the USA Women's hockey team winning the gold medal at the World Championships but I wanted to link you to the UWBadgers.com release because they really do a phenomenal job of recapping the gold medal game and the tournament from a UW perspective. I've never been confused with Badger Women's hockey enthusiast but Knight and Decker really make me want to catch more of their games next season.

-Ryan S. Clark, the beat writer for the Fargo Force (USHL) has been a news breaking machine lately. Of note to Wisconsin hockey recruitnik's is that Vinny Saponari, the former Boston University forward has committed to Northeastern. After two season's at BU, Saponari was kicked off the team for some off ice issues. When he originally selected BU, it was believed by most that Wisconsin was the runner up for his services so many wondered if Madison would be an option this time around. But it looks like he's headed back to the land where chowder reigns supreme.

-Andy Baggot had a blog update yesterday talking about the uncertainty ahead in the college hockey landscape. The annual coaches convention in Florida that will take place this Wednesday through Sunday will provide an opportunity for many issues to be put on the table. Baggot notes that Wisconsin is sending a large contingency to Florida including both the men's and women's coaching staffs and support staffs as well as UW senior associate athletic director Sean Frazier, athletic board chair Walter Dickey and athletic board member Sheila McGuirk.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Jordy Murray gives up final year of eligibility

Sometimes in life there are opportunities that present themselves and if you don't grab them while they are there, they will pass you by forever. Such was the case with Wisconsin forward Jordy Murray who the Sixty Minutes Blog has learned will forgo his senior senior season to sign a professional contract. At this time it's not known which team Murray will sign with but that is expected to be worked out soon.

Due to a loophole possibly closing that provided Murray an opportunity to sign with a professional team in Switzerland because he started his hockey career there when his dad was a coach, Murray needed to jump at the opportunity to sign. Basically, because under the current rules he wouldn't be considered an import player (Swiss teams can only have 4 imports) he was due to make significantly more money. But it was learned recently that that loophole may close, and that wasn't a risk Murray could afford.

Murray, who notified team officials and teammates on Monday of his decision finished his career at Wisconsin with 60 points in three seasons. The former Shattuck St. Mary's star always had a deadly shot, finding the net 38 times during his tenure in Madison. An assassin on the power play, Murray was 6th in the nation in power play goals as a junior with 11.

There are times when underclassmen sign pro contracts and it doesn't make a lot of sense and you wonder if they would have been better off finishing their four years at the college level. I can't say that for Jordy. The risk if he didn't sign financially was too significant to pass up and I support his decision 100%. I wish Mr. Murray all the best in the future and hope that he has a long, healthy professional hockey career.

Photo by Melody Hasse

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Knight leads the United States to GOLD

No matter who scored in Monday afternoon's OT thriller at the IIHF Women's World Championship, multiple Badgers were coming home with gold medals. It just so happened that USA forward Hilary Knight, who still has one season of eligibility remaining at Wisconsin found the back of the net.

The United States squad who captured the gold medal featured five current or former Badgers. Knight and Brianna Decker (who has two seasons of eligibility remaining) are the current Badgers. Recent grad and Patty Kazmaier Award winner Meghan Duggan, defenseman Molly Engstrom, and goaltender Jessie Vetter all starred in the past for the Badgers.

Knight was the most impressive player in the tournament, and led all scorers with 14 points in 5 games (5 goals, 9 assists). She also tied for the tournament lead in plus/minus at a plus 11. For her efforts, Knight was named to the all tournament team by a media panel.

Decker finished the tournament second in scoring with 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) and Meghan Duggan ended up fifth with 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists). Engstrom recorded two points from the blue line and was a +9. Jessie Vetter continued her brilliance in goal with a .952 save percentage and 1.28 GAA and saved her best in the gold medal game when she stopped 51 of 53 shots.

Two other former Badgers aren't going home empty handed. Team Canada defensemen Meghan Mikkelson and Bobbi Jo Slusar, both former University of Wisconsin stars played big roles for Team Canada. Slusar finished the tournament with a couple of points and was a +4 and Mikkelson's 3 goals and +10 rating in the tournament earned her the honor of being named the tournament's best defenseman.

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Ryan Dau commits to the Air Force Academy

Another feather in the cap for Team Wisconsin.

After an in home visit late last week from Air Force head Coach Frank Serratore, the coaching staff checked in with Hudson, WI forward Ryan Dau Monday afternoon. After mulling over his full ride offer over the weekend, he felt confident in making his pledge to the Falcons hockey program.

Dau, a 6'1, 178 pound forward led his high school team in scoring with 20 goals and 21 assists for 41 points in 20 games this past season. A key member of the Team Wisconsin program, Dau registered 15 points in 21 games in the Upper Mid-West High School Elite League. Dau capped his season with the Team Wisconsin senior squad when he led TW and the entire Minnesota NIT tournament in scoring with 6 points in 3 games.

A phenomenal skater, Dau is at his best when playing higher levels of competition. He has an exceptional ability to avoid contact and has a knack for setting up teammates in the offensive zone. Known as an extremely intelligent player, Dau reports a 3.88 grade point average.

Dau's commitment to Air Force marks the fourth verbal commitment by a member of this past seasons Team Wisconsin squad. Notre Dame Academy defenseman Tim Davison and Waupaca forward Brad Navin are both locked up to head to Wisconsin and Appleton defenseman Cliff Watson has given his verbal pledge to Mark Osiecki and the Ohio State University.

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Jake McCabe World Championship Recap

















2011 Wisconsin defense recruit Jake McCabe from Eau Claire has agreed to do a correspondence piece with us while he is in
Crimmitschau, Germany representing the United States for the 2011 IIHF U18 World Championships. Jake will be updating us as the red, white, and blue chase their third straight U18 World Championship gold medal.

The Americans just wrapped up play at the World Championships. Jake was kind enough to check in after the American squad played Sweden yesterday for the gold medal. Thanks again Jake.

Jake McCabe, Team USA U18, IIHF U18 World Championships 4/25/2011
"We made history last night being the first country to win 3 Gold Medals in a row. It was an awesome game all around. The rink was sold out at a little over 5,000 which made for a great atmosphere. We came out slow in the first period but were lucky enough to go into the locker room with a 1-1 tie. In the second we still didn't quite have it and Sweden took a 3-1 lead on us which wasn't so strange because in November we were down 4-1 in the Championship game in the 4 nation tournament.

Coach's speech in the locker room was pretty special, it was one of those that sent chills down your spine. To sum it up he told us our ups and downs over the past 2 years and what we've been through and to go out there and come back in this locker room and not regret anything. We came out flying in the third and made it a 3-2 game and we all knew we had it in us. We tied it up with about 3 minutes left in the game to send it into overtime.

In overtime we controlled the play after the Swedes took a penalty. After the penalty expired Murph (Connor Murphy) had a shot from the top of the left circle and put it bardown to send us off the bench and to listen to our anthem at the end of the game. It was a feeling you can't describe and after the 2 years with the boys it was a perfect ending. "
Editors Note: I think this goes without saying but we can't thank Jake enough for taking time out of his busy schedule write these recaps for us. I thought he did a fantastic job and came away very impressed. It will be exiting to watch his development the next four years.

Jake McCabe Update #1
Jake McCabe Update #2
Jake McCabe Update #3
Jake McCabe Update #4
Jake McCabe Update #5
Jake McCabe Update #6
Jake McCabe Update #7

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Monday Morning Link Roundup

-Arguably the greatest American born defenseman in the history of the game is finally being honored by his Alma mater, the University Of Wisconsin. It was announced over the weekend that former Badger great Chris Chelios has been included in the 2011 class that will head into the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.

Chelios, who was born in Chicago played parts of 26 seasons in the National Hockey League. He was an 11 time NHL All-Star and won the Stanley Cup 3 different times. Chelios won the Norris trophy as the NHL's best defenseman three times in his career. Chelios was also a member of four United States Olympic teams, captaining the team three times.

The future Hall of Famer played two seasons in Madison and was an elite blueliner from day one. Chelios put up back to back 40+ point seasons in for the Badgers registering 49 points as a freshman and 48 as a sophomore before signing a contract with the Montreal Canadiens who drafted him 40th overall in the 1981 draft.

-North Dakota forward Brett Hextal who most had presumed would sign a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes finally made it official on Friday. It looks like UND is only waiting to hear back from senior to be Jason Gregoire at this point. Hextal is the first UND early departure this offseason and the WCHA's 7th. Remarkably, Hextal is only the second forward early departure so far.

-As you're already aware, future Badgers Nic Kerdiles and Jake McCabe won the gold medal Sunday for the USA U18 squad. This is just a reminder to stop by Chris Peters "The United States of Hockey" blog who has been absolutely fantastic in covering the entire tournament.

-Penn State has officially put out a release on their hire of Princeton coach Guy Gadowski for Men's hockey coaching opening. Gadowski is an interesting choice considering many had assumed that Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin and Wisconsin Women's coach Mark Johnson were the front runners for the position.

-Some former Badgers have recently seen their NHL first round series come to an end. Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers saw their season come to a close at the hands of the Washington Capitals. Anaheim's Brad Winchester also was eliminated today by Ryan Suter, Blake Geoffrion and the Nashville Predators.

-USA Today writer Kevin Allen has released his top 15 American NHL draft prospects. Wisconsin forward recruit Joseph LaBate from the Academy of Holy Angels checks in at #15. Allen notes that with LaBate's upside, he could be selected anywhere from late first round to the end of the second.

-The United States Women's World Championship team has absolutely dominated their competition so far in Switzerland. The ladies will take on Canada in the gold medal game Monday at 1:00 PM CST. Badgers continue to impress in the tournament. Wisconsin junior to be Brianna Decker had 4 points in the USA's semi-final win over Russia. Hilary Knight (12 pts) and Decker (11 pts) who both will return to the Badgers next season are the top two leading scorers in the tournament.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mark Johnson staying in Madison

When the architect of arguably the most successful program in the Wisconsin athletic department (certainly over the past 10 years) starts to flirt with leaving the school for another position, many start to search for the panic button. Take a rest Badger fans, Mark Johnson is coming back.

World renowned hockey analyst Bob McKenzie from TSN in Canada is reporting that Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky, not Johnson will be named the inaugural head coach at Penn State. The Nitany Lions will start varsity D-1 competition as an independent for the 2012 hockey season before joining up with Michigan, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan Sate, and Wisconsin to form the new Big 10 hockey conference for the 2013 season.

The concern set in when Wisconsin State Journal beat writer Andy Baggot first reported a few months ago that Penn State asked permission to speak with Johnson after Badgers season was completed. The conclusion of the season saw Mark Johnson and the Badgers capture their fourth National Championship in school history, all on Johnson's watch.

After multiple reports of Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin being the front runner for the Penn State position surfaced last week, Baggot reported on Friday that not only did Johnson interview for the job, but that he was possibly at the top of their list of candidates.

With the news that Johnson won't be taking the job at Penn State, Wisconsin fans can look ahead at the possibilities next season. While losing Patt Kaz winner Meghan Duggan and fellow seniors Mallory Deluce, Kelly Nash, Geena Prough, Ann Dronen, Maria Evans and Carla Pentimone will no doubt hurt, the Badgers will be the favorites to repeat. They will return two of the best forwards in the country with Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker and also rock solid netminder Alex Rigsby. Oh yeah...and that guy behind the bench certainly has a little magic in him as well...

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Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

USA Wins Third Straight U18 GOLD Medal

Congratulations to future Badgers Jake McCabe (2011 recruit) and Nic Kerdiles (2012 recruit) on winning the GOLD for the United States at the IIHF U18 World Championships in Germany. It's Team USA's third straight gold medal at the U18's.

McCabe, USA U18's to play for GOLD

2011 Wisconsin defense recruit Jake McCabe from Eau Claire has agreed to do a correspondence piece with us while he is in Crimmitschau, Germany representing the United States for the 2011 IIHF U18 World Championships. Jake will be updating us as the red, white, and blue chase their third straight U18 World Championship gold medal.

The Americans are on the verge of their third gold in three years after a thirlling OT semi-final. Jake was kind enough to check in after the American squad played Canada yesterday. Thanks again Jake.

Jake McCabe, Team USA U18, IIHF U18 World Championships 4/19/2011

"Last night we had our semi-final game against Canada. It definitely was the most nervous I have ever been for a game. We came out a little sloppy in the first and put them on a 5 on 3 early in the game and they scored on it. We tied it up later in the period to go into the locker room with the game at 1-1. We had a much better period in the second and controlled the game to put us up 2-1 going into the third.

We continued to play well in the third as we scored 2 shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill. We got a little complacent and started running around in our own zone. We took too many penalties and they took advantage of it coming back to tie it up. Coach was really calm on the bench telling us to relax and I think that really helped all of us.

Overtime was a bit scary when they had a backdoor pass go through Gibby's (John Gibson) legs and out the otherside and it went back and forth a little bit and then (Tyler) Biggs took it down the right side and put it low blocker post and in to win it for us. It wasn't exactly how we drew it up but it was a great win for us. We have Sweden today for the Gold and were excited for it and ready to go. "

Team USA's Next Game: Gold Medal Game, Sunday 11:30 AM vs Sweden

Editors Note: Remember to check back often for updates from Jake. Also, FastHockey.com will be web casting all of Team USA's games while they are in Germany (for a small fee). Also, remember that McCabe isn't the only future Badger on the squad, 2012 forward recruit Nic Kerdiles is also on the roster.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Johnson Interviews for Penn State Job

One of the greatest fears for Wisconsin Women's hockey fans is becoming dangerously close to reality. Andy Baggot is reporting that UW Women's head coach Mark Johnson was in Happy Valley this past week to interview for the head coaching opening for Penn State Men's hockey program which is set to start varsity competition for the 2012-2013 season.

As a head coach for the Badgers he has led the program to four national championships (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011). Johnson has been named the WCHA coach of the year five times and the AHCA Division 1 coach of the year four times.

It's not certain whether or not if offered the position at Penn State if Johnson would accept the job. On top of obviously spending a large chunk of his life living in Madison, he also has two daughters who are still in the k-12 system in Madison. Johnson told Baggot, "I'm in limbo right now."

It's also not clear if Johnson is the top candidate at Penn State. Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin, who won the NCAA Men's title with the Bulldogs this season was in Happy Valley late this week to interview. Many have speculated that he is the top candidate for the job. College Hockey News on Friday reported that Penn State will announce their new head coach on Monday.

According to Baggot's report, Barry Alvarez and the UW athletic department will pony up to make Johnson the highest paid women's hockey coach in the country and tell him, "that we want to keep him, that we don't want him to leave, that we appreciate him." Alvarez did note that there is no way they can get into a bidding war with the Nittany Lions for a men's job at Penn State.

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Kerdiles talks about match up vs Canada

2012 Wisconsin recruit Nic Kerdiles sits down briefly and talks about Team USA's match up with Canada in the semi-finals at the IIHF U18 World Championships which is coming up on Saturday. PS...how sick does that rink look with the trees in the background? Absolutely beautiful.

Friday Morning Link Central

-No surprise former Badger Joe Pavelski is once again having himself a big NHL Playoffs with 3 goals in 4 games. More impressive then that is the respect the polish prince has been receiving off the ice.

Pavelski has been nominated as the Sharks representative by the local hockey writers for the Bill Masterton Memorial Award which is given annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

Monday, The Big Pavelski was nominated by his own teammates for The King Clancy Trophy which is an annual award given to the player in the league that best exemplifies leadership qualities both on-and off-the-ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.

The link I included above lists his vast array of charitable moments which include: Contributing a large portion of the cost of the street hockey court at Franklin Elementary School; Serving as the team spokesperson for “Hockey For Huggies,” which helped collect over 19,000 diapers for families in need through direct and monetary donation; And participated in “Favorite Things” Basket Auction which raised money for the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. He also runs an annual golf tournament in Stevens Point (June 24th) with all proceeds going to benefit local youth hockey leagues in the area.

-The Wisconsin Men's Hockey facebook page has a couple of updated pictures from the site where the new LaBahn arena will sit when completed. LaBahn arena is the future game arena for the UW Women's hockey team and will also serve as a practice facility for the men's program. Construction is expected to be completed in time for the fall of 2012.

-It looks like Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Shuchuk wasn't in Canada this week only for recruiting but for the College Hockey Inc. summit in Edmonton and Vancouver. College Hockey Inc. is a group headed by former NHLPA head man Paul Kelly in an effort to keep the best players in North America playing college hockey. Kelly and College Hockey Inc. have been holding "summit's" in larger metropolitan areas of Canada to help inform potential Canadian NCAA players on the postivies of the college game.

-Looks like Michigan Tech took a swing at Michigan assistant coach Mel Pearson and whiffed. If the rumors are true they have been turned down by Pearson and Nebraska-Omaha head man Dean Blais. The latest reprorts out of Houghton are that they are interested in Omaha assistant Mike Hastings who also assisted Don Lucia at Minnesota.

-There is a lot of realignment talk right now with the formation of the Big 10 hockey conference and what that is going to mean for everyone else. The latest rumors involve North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College and Nebraska-Omaha out of the WCHA joining Miami and Notre Dame to form a new conference. It sounds like a lot of this is just message board talk that leaked into the main stream media. I'll believe it when I see it.

-Haven't heard about any more WCHA early departures this week but a number of players have either announced or implied their intentions to return to school. Denver Post beat writer Mike Chambers indicates star freshman forward Jason Zucker will return for the Pioneers. With Drew Shore already making his intentions of staying known, that could be a scary lineup once again.

-Out in North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald writer Brad Elliott Schlossman notes that Dany Kristo, Ben Blood, and Aaron Dell all have announced their intentions to return to school. The Fighting Sioux are still waiting to hear from junior forwards Jason Gregoire and Brett Hextall.

-The other big opening of interest to Wisconsin college hockey fans is the Penn State job that UW Women's coach Mark Johnson has been linked to. Jess Myers from Inside College Hockey tweeted today that Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin is in Happy Valley to interview for the position. Sandelin's wife is a Penn State alumni, they met while he was playing minor league hockey in Hershey.

-Team Canada beat Germany at the U18 World Championships setting up a US/Canada semi-final match up on Saturday. Future Badgers Jake McCabe (2011) and Nic Kerdiles (2012) are prominent members of the United States squad that is 4-0 so far in the tournament.

-The United States Women's hockey team competing in the Women's World Championships over in Switzerland have also advanced to the semi-finals. Badgers are playing big roles for the red, white and blue squad. Hilary Knight (4g, 7a), Meghan Duggan (4g, 3a), and Brianna Decker (2g, 5a) are Team USA's top 3 scorers and also the top 3 scorers in the tournament. Jessie Vetter stopped 16 of 17 shots in her only game played and Molly Engstrom has 2 assists. USA will play the winner of Switzerland and Russia on Saturday.

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Wisconsin Playoff Statistics


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

USHL Futures Draft Results

Tuesday morning the United States Hockey League, the premier junior hockey league in the states completed it's annual futures draft. This years draft consisted of selecting only players that were born in 1995. The Waterloo Black Hawks who owned the #1 pick selected Taylor Cammarata, a forward from Plymouth, MN who plays at Shattuck St. Mary's.

Only one player from the state of Wisconsin was selected on Tuesday and it was Jason Reynolds from DePere. The Notre Dame Academy forward was selected by the Youngstown Phantoms in the fifth round, #63 overall.

Reynolds, a junior to be with Notre Dame Academy registered 44 points in 28 games this season for the Tritons. Reynolds did some of his best work in the playoffs, recording 6 points in 5 games including a goal in the state semi-finals, a game that Notre Dame would eventually lose to Middleton.

The 5'11, 165 pound forward also participated with the Team Wisconsin minor squad this season. Reynolds recorded 8 points in 12 league games for Team Wisconsin.

One of the biggest omissions on Tuesday was Hudson defenseman Travis Wood. There have been strong indications that Wood, who plays his high school hockey at Hill Murray in the twin cities is planning on eventually making the move to the Ontario Hockey League, giving up his college eligibility. USHL squads must feel the same way because that's the only reason that Wood could have been passed over.

Two players from the 1995 birth class from the state of Wisconsin who are already spoken for in the USHL are Hudson defenseman Ian McCoshen and Sun Prairie defenseman Will Butcher. McCoshen already made the move to the United States Hockey League last season as a high school sophomore with the Waterloo Black Hawks. Butcher has already accepted a spot with next seasons USA NTDP U-17 squad. Both are expected to be premium targets for the Badgers.

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Team USA cruises into U18 semi-finals

2011 Wisconsin defense recruit Jake McCabe from Eau Claire has agreed to do a correspondence piece with us while he is in Crimmitschau, Germany representing the United States for the 2011 IIHF U18 World Championships. Jake will be updating us as the red, white, and blue chase their third straight U18 World Championship gold medal.

The Americans have now completed pool play going 4-0 and will be playing for a medal of some sort no matter what. Jake was kind enough to check in after the American squad played Germany yesterday. Thanks again Jake.

Editors Note: 2012 Wisconsin recruit Nic Kerdiles had an assist in the Germany game, his second point of the tournament.

Jake McCabe, Team USA U18, IIHF U18 World Championships 4/19/2011


"We finished off pool play with a 7-3 win over Germany tonight. The crowd was great, it felt almost more like a soccer game with all the chanting, drums, and flag waving. It was one of the best atmospheres we've played in.

We can spend the day with our families tomorrow which will be nice, a lot of us are heading to Dresden to check it out there. We have 3 days off until the semi's on Saturday. Canada lost to Sweden today so Sweden took first place in that pool which means Canada plays Germany in the Quarterfinals to play us. Our goal over the next few days is to keep our edge and stay focused for our semifinal game. "

Team USA's Next Game: Semi-Finals, Saturday vs TBD

Editors Note: Remember to check back often for updates from Jake. Also, FastHockey.com will be web casting all of Team USA's games while they are in Germany (for a small fee). Also, remember that McCabe isn't the only future Badger on the squad, 2012 forward recruit Nic Kerdiles is also on the roster.

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Captains?

I have no idea when Eaves will name Captains for next season, but was pondering this today and wanted to see what readers opinions were on the topic.

I think if Craig Smith returns (I believe him, but I want to see him in October on the ice), he’ll take over as Captain, after wearing an “A” his sophomore year. Craig has grown a lot since arriving in Madison. Last season, he had that foolish run in w/ the goal during the North Dakota series which showed frustration and stupidity, but following that really cleaned up his act. He led the Badgers on the scoreboard too, putting up a team high 19 goals, and was second in points. The last time Eaves named a Madison native Captain, something special happened, maybe it can again.

As for Alternate Captains, I have some thoughts on several players.

Justin Schultz: His return to Madison for a junior year makes him an early Hobey Baker favorite after being a finalist this year. Reading a Baggot article from the last month, Justin stated he wanted to more of a leader, and w/ almost no senior class (Eric Springer and Jordy Murray if he stays) he will be the go to guy on the blue line. Seems like a good fit as Justin will have to step up and follow in the line of Gilbert, Drewiske, McBain, McDonagh and Gardiner in leading the team’s blue line corp.

Jordy Murray: If Jordy returns next season, he would be a solid choice. He would be the only senior who has been a regular in the lineup his entire Badger career. Beyond experience, he is one of the hardest workers in Cardinal and White, setting a great example for the swelling group of underclassmen.

John Ramage: One could argue that John’s improvement was slow last season, but he was a contributor every night, and has two years of experience in the World Juniors. Only a handful of players have more experience as a Badger, and John will need to take his game to the next level next season.

Ryan Little: This is my outside the box nominee. While he’ll be in his 4th season as Badger, Ryan is only a junior. He is a hardnosed forward convert who I thought did a good job w/ regularity last season, and should be the first piece in putting together a new “grind” line whose job is making the opponent’s life miserable. In the USHL, Ryan captained the Green Bay Gamblers, so leadership is old hat for him.

Others: Of the future sophomore class, I think Tyler Barnes and Jefferson Dahl are future captains of the Badgers, but next season I think there are more experienced options. Derek Lee, being a junior, is another option, but compared to the other upperclassmen, he would be my 5th choice.

What do you think? If I was coach Eaves, I would give Craig Smith the “C” and give an “A” to both Justin Schultz and Jordy Murray. If Jordy leaves for Switzerland, I would choose Ryan Little, I think the team needs some grit leading the way.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New recruit on the horizon?

With Justin Schultz and Craig Smith emphatically announcing their intentions to return to the Wisconsin hockey team next season, the only question mark remaining this off-season is the status of senior to be Jordy Murray.

Andy Baggot updated us last week with Murray's situation. If you're not aware, he started playing hockey in Switzerland when his father was coaching over there. Under the current rules, Murray doesn't have to be classified as an import player (Swiss pro teams can only have 4), so he's due to make substantially more money this way. But the rules are possibly changing and if they take away this loophole, he stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if he doesn't sign soon.

Speculation has already begun about possible replacements for Murray's roster spot should he make the move to professional hockey. Currently Waupaca senior Brad Navin is the only committed player who could be brought in but it's likely the coaching staff would prefer he play at least one full season in the USHL if not two. The Badgers don't NEED to bring in another player if Murray leaves as they will still have 15 forwards but freeing up Murray's scholarship money allows UW head coach Mike Eaves the flexibility to add a premier offensive threat.

Baggot identified a potential player that fits that description in St. Albert Steel (Alberta Junior Hockey League) forward Reed Linaker. Baggot notes that Linaker was in Madison on campus for a visit last month. To add more fuel to the fire, Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Shuchuk is currently in Canada recruiting and tweeted today that he's in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta which just so happens to be the same hometown of Mr. Linaker.

Linaker who saw his third season in the AJHL come to an early end when he tore his MCL has put up impressive numbers for St. Albert. As a rookie Linaker put up 39 points in 47 games. Last year he registered 81 points in 54 games. And this year saw him net 52 points in 34 games before the MCL injury.

The 19 year old 5'9, 165 pound forward can return to junior hockey next season so it's possible that even if Murray returns to the Badgers they may still pursue him for the 2012 season. 2012 will see the Badgers lose Murray to graduation, and most likely Craig Smith as an early departure. They bring elite forward recruits Nic Kerdiles from the USA NTDP and Morgan Zulinick from Salmon Arm in the BCHL as well as possibly Corbin McGuire and Brad Navin.

Stay tuned...

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Team USA 3-0 at U18 World Championships

2011 Wisconsin defense recruit Jake McCabe from Eau Claire has agreed to do a correspondence piece with us while he is in Crimmitschau, Germany representing the United States for the 2011 IIHF U18 World Championships. Jake will be updating us as the red, white, and blue chase their third straight U18 World Championship gold medal.

The Americans are now three games into the tournament and are playing some really good hockey. Jake was kind enough to check in after the American squad played Russia yesterday in an absolute thriller. Thanks again Jake.

Jake McCabe, Team USA U18, IIHF U18 World Championships 4/18/2011

"We had a huge win against Russia yesterday. Going into the game we knew it'd be a good match up and we were up 2-0 after the first period. After the second it was 3-1 and we were outplaying them. We took our foot off the gas in the 3rd and let them back into the game and they tied it up with about 5 minutes remaining.

The place was packed so it was a great atmosphere to play in. With about 20 seconds left to play we had a draw in their zone and lined up with a triangle set. Rocco (Grimaldi) won it clean to (Reid) Boucher and he put it bardown to put us up 4-3. The place went nuts and we held them off with the extra attacker and listened to our anthem as the flag was raised. The fans started chanting USA and it was our high point so far in the tournament.

It was by far the best we've played and we need to continue it throughout the tournament. We play Germany tomorrow to go 4-0 in the prelims and to get a bye into the Semi's. "

Team USA's Next Game: Sunday vs Russia 12:30 PM CST

Editors Note: Remember to check back often for updates from Jake. Also, FastHockey.com will be web casting all of Team USA's games while they are in Germany (for a small fee). Also, remember that McCabe isn't the only future Badger on the squad, 2012 forward recruit Nic Kerdiles is also on the roster.

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