Sunday, August 31, 2008

How It's Made: hockey stuff

It's Labor Day Weekend, and not much hockey news, so I thought I'd give you some How It's Made videos -- thanks to the Off Wing Opinion and The Peerless Prognosticator for pointing these out.

hockey rink


hockey pucks


composite sticks


goalie masks


hockey skates

Badger photo of the day

(Photo from the National Parks Service.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Evening Odds & Ends

  • Uwbadgers.com has updated the men's roster to include the freshmen. Pictures are available for the freshmen, but profiles are not. Profiles for returning players have not been updated to include stats from last year. Anyway, here are the freshmen by jersey number:

    4 Springer, Eric D 5-9 186 Fr/Fr Wrightstown, Wis.
    12 Thurber, Matt F 5-9 190 Fr/Fr Beaver Dam, Wis.
    18 Murray, Jordy F 5-9 175 Fr/Fr Faribault, Minn.
    19 Gardiner, Jake D 6-2 181 Fr/Fr Minnetonka, Minn.
    20 Little, Ryan D 5-11 178 Fr/Fr Fond du Lac, Wis.
    21 Stepan, Derek F 6-0 176 Fr/Fr Hastings, Minn.
    25 Hickey, Chris F 6-1 202 Fr/Fr St. Paul, Minn.

    The only number change I see among returning players is Tom Bardis, who will wear #6 this season.
  • As mentioned yesterday, while the women's WCHA has opted to use the shootout, the men's WCHA has no current plans to do so. Bruce Brothers has a fun little article about this in the Pioneer Press.

  • I should have posted this 2 weeks ago, but I didn't see it until 2 days ago. Terry Frei has a fantastic article about Cammi Granato and her induction into the US Hockey HOF. The article also mentions Mike Richter and the other HOF inductees.

Keegan Meuer commits for 2009

In what seems to become a weekly trend, the Wisconsin hockey program has picked up another commitment. Madison native Keegan Meuer has committed to Wisconsin for the 2009-2010 season. Meuer is currently a forward for the Waterloo Black Hawks. As many of you know, Wisconsin has a great connection with Waterloo. As it stands right now, Wisconsin has 4 forwards on the Black Hawks that are scheduled to enter Wisconsin for the 2009-2010 season! (Brock Montpetit, Craig Smith, and Tyler Barnes are the other 3)

Before becoming a Black Hawk, Meuer was a forward with the Madison Memorial hockey program under legendary coach Vic Levine. There he played with Current Badger forward Pat Johnson. Early in their high school days it was Meuer who was thought to have more potential. (They were born 3 months apart) Now it looks like we'll see both in the Cardinal and White.

Chelios to play in the NHL forever...

Ok, not really, but he has re-signed w/ the Red Wings for the coming season and wants to play until he is 50.

Chelios is looking for Lord Stanley #5 this season, and should be in the right place for that to happen. While I'm not a huge fan of the Wings, no doubt that they have again assembled the top team in the NHL.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Women's WCHA adopting shootouts for the 2008-09 season

The Women's WCHA is adopting shootouts for the upcoming season, and apparently the decision among WCHA head coaches was unanimous. Here are the Badger Women's Hockey and WCHA press releases.

The new points system will apply to conference standings only and will not affect the pairwise. For pairwise purposes, games decided by a shootout will be considered ties.

Here's the points system:
Two (2) points for a win in regulation or overtime, one (1) point for each team if the game is still tied at the conclusion of the five-minute (5:00) overtime period, and one (1) additional point being awarded to the team who wins the shootout. Overtime will continue to be played similar to regulation time with five skaters and one goaltender for each team (penalties excepted).

Badgers' Head Coach Mark Johnson says:
“I think it’s great for our league to step-up and take a leadership role to experiment and try it out. It will be more exciting for fans and adds similarity to the NHL. People can leave games knowing the winner and loser rather than it ending in a tie. I think at the end of the year we can evaluate its effectiveness, especially since it will count towards league championships.”

WCHA Associate Commissioner Sara Martin says:
"As a group, our head coaches were unanimous in adopting this exciting tie-breaking procedure to determine a winner for our regular season games. Over our first nine seasons as a Division 1 league, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has continued to bring an impressive brand of women's hockey to the ice and collectively we think the adoption of the shootout will add an extra element of drama to our games for student-athletes, coaches, fans and media."
Hmmm . . . no quotes from WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod . . .

By the way, the press releases indicate that the WCHA currently has no plans to implement the shootout in the men's league.

KT living w/ Darren Pang

Apparently after a 3 day drive from British Columbia w/ his mom, Kyle Turris is settling in for Phoenix Coyotes' training camp by living w/ Darren Pang. The link has some quotes and a short video w/ young Kyle.

I made a point last April to watch all three of KT's NHL debut games. During those broadcasts Darren Pang had me a tad bit worried about how unendingly he praised KT's abilities. Now don't get me wrong, I'm really looking forward to his NHL career as well, and think he'll be a NHL All-Star in the future. Pang had me creeped out though, and that is hard to do. I think KT could have speared someone in the throat and Pang would have spun it in some positive light.

Midwest Regional @ Resch Center in 2011

It appears Wisconsin's bid for Regionals at the Kohl Center in 2010 and 2011 were denied. On the flip side, the Resch Center in Green Bay was awarded the Midwest Regional in 2011. It will be hosted by Michigan Tech.

While some might say the Kohl Center was not full enough last March, I think drawing 10,000 fans was rather impressive, especially compared to a lot of other Regionals. I think the NCAA would be foolish not to sell 10,000 tickets again at this venue in the future.

As people commented over on USCHO, St. Louis received the West Regional in 2011. While the huge NHL arenas work for the Frozen Four, that seems rather extreme for a Regional, not to mention the lack of local schools to draw for a big crowd.

Season Preview: Freshman

So far I’ve looked at all the returning Badgers in the senior, junior and sophomore classes. Now its time to tackle the freshmen, the biggest unknown on the team. When looking at this group, I ponder two main things:

1) How quickly will they adjust to the rigors of the WCHA from the level they previously played? For some it might be mid-season, for others it might take until Fall 2009 before they are adjusted. 4 of these young men spent last season (2 of them multiple seasons) in the USHL. One came directly from high school and two teammates come from Shattuck St. Mary’s, which I would consider a step above HS hockey, but below the USHL.

2) Will this group be able to make up a significant portion of the scoring that departed from last season? This may be a function of #1. Of those who moved on, they tallied 27-66-93 last season. That is a lot to make up. Most of that came from Kyle Turris and the scoring from the blue line by Davis Drewiske and Kyle Klubertanz. The returning players should also improve, but a good chunk of that lost production will be on the shoulders of the freshman.

Last season, Wisconsin had the #1 ranked class in the nation, and overall they made large contributions to the team. Kyle Turris, Ryan McDonagh and Cody Goloubef arguably met expectations last year, while Patrick Johnson and Sean Dolan exceeded them. Only Brendan Smith could be labeled a disappointment. The freshman class of 2006 (the current juniors) were highly ranked as well, yet their contributions were not on par w/ their expectations. While Jamie McBain did his part, Blake Geoffrion and Michael Davies did not, and Nigel Williams left the team after a few weekends. How will this year’s freshman do?

The freshman class of 2008 should be ranked pretty high as well, featuring 3 NHL draft picks. In 2006, forward Chris Hickey was a 7th round pick of the Minnesota Wild. This past summer, forward Derek Stepan was a 2nd round pick of the NY Rangers, while classmate Jake Gardiner was the 1st round selection of the Anaheim Ducks. Joining Stepan and Hickey at forward are Matt Thurber and Jordan Murray. Joining Gardiner on the blue line are Ryan Little and Eric Springer. There is a strong Wisconsin connection to this class. Thurber is from Beaver Dam, Little is from Fond du Lac and Springer grew up in Wrightstown.

Starting w/ the blue liners, Jake Gardiner comes to Wisconsin w/ high expectations. Before the start of last season w/ Minnetonka HS, Gardiner switched from forward to defenseman. The move vaulted him up the draft board. Gardiner was considered one of the best skating blue liners, if not the best, in this summer’s NHL draft. W/ his background as a forward, he adds to Wisconsin’s list of offensive dmen, and should see time on the PP this season. Gardiner’s recent switch to the blue line is also his biggest weakness. Coach Oz will definitely have Gardiner under his wing for the next few seasons as he attempts to mold him into a solid defensive force. Gardiner is a high risk high reward player for the Badgers, who as a freshman is likely to make his share of mistakes in his own end. Fans should be patient, w/ some hard work Gardiner should be a star in the coming seasons. Stats last season: 28G, 20-28-48

Though not as heralded, Ryan Little will join Gardiner on the blue line this Fall. Little played the last few seasons for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. Last season he served as team Captain, bringing leadership to the Badgers, and was an USHL All-Star. He is solid in his own end, which on a team of offensive dmen, should earn him some playing time. He does take a lot of penalties, and needs to learn to stay out of the box. Little should be a solid four year player for Wisconsin. Stats last season: 58G, 2-11-13, -21, 100 PIM

Another USHL All-Star joining the Badgers is Eric Springer. Springer had a very successful season w/ Sioux Falls of the USHL last year. Springer was a later addition to the class. I don’t know much more about Springer, though I think based on his play during his only season in the USHL, the Badgers landed themselves a steal. Springer is another offensive defenseman, which could limit his playing time this season, but he should be here for 4 years and do some good things. Stats last season: 60G, 8-23-31, +21, 94 PIM

Headlining the talented group of incoming forwards is Derek Stepan. Stepan spent the last two seasons w/ Shattuck St. Mary’s where he was 2nd on the team in scoring (both seasons) and a huge factor in their back to back National Championships. Stepan should add some much needed offense to the team and help fill the void made by Turris’ departure. His draft stock rose throughout the season, and I remember reading that he was the most dominant player on the ice during Shattuck’s playoff run. Stats last season: 60G, 42-62-104, 16 PIM

Joining Stepan is his teammate Jordy Murray. Murray is the veteran of three seasons on Shattuck’s varsity squad and was 3rd in scoring the last two seasons. Murray’s dad Andy is the current coach of the St. Louis Blues, and his brother Brady played for North Dakota. Some pretty good hockey bloodlines. Murray is a small player, but should hopefully remind Badger fans of Ryan Lasch or Garrett Roe, both smaller forwards who have had a lot of success at St. Cloud. Last season stats: 60G, 38-57-95, 68 PIM

The Badgers also welcome one of the top forwards in the USHL from last season in Matt Thurber. Thurber won a championship of his own helping the Omaha Lancers to the Clark Cup. An All-Star last year, Thurber was near the top of many different statistical categories. He was tied for 14th in scoring, 4th in assists, 5th in +/-, and 1st in short handed goals league wide. Thurber averaged about 3 assists per goal, and should provide much needed playmaking for the Badgers. Stats last season: 58G, 14-41-55, +23, 71 PIM

Rounding out the freshman class is forward Chris Hickey. Hickey was a late addition to the class after issues arose about his draft status w/ the Wild. If he would not have entered Wisconsin, the Wild would have had to sign him, or give up his draft rights. Regardless, Hickey is a nice addition to the team. Hickey spent last season w/ Tri-City of the USHL, and before that played out his senior HS season as teammates w/ Ryan McDonagh. Not sure how much room there will be for playing time for Hickey, but he should provide Wisconsin w/ a solid two way forward. Stats last season: 55G, 15-16-31, -24, 34 PIM

The main thing w/ the freshman class is that there are a lot of unknowns. I have high hopes for all of these kids, but I don’t want to get them too high. Last year I thought Kyle Turris could have a 20-30-50 season, and when he “only” produced a 11-24-35 season, I was disappointed most of the time. Really in retrospect, a 35 point season for a WCHA rookie is pretty darn good. The switch from the BCHL is a huge jump, and while I thought KT should have buried a few more goals, his season should be considered a success.

As high draft picks, Gardiner and Stepan should produce a lot, but I think their seasons will be considered a success if they improve from day one and are markedly better by season’s end, same for their teammates. Personally, I think Matt Thurber is going to have the best season of all the frosh, and I can’t wait to see him play. He has been playing against older competition in the USHL for three years, and I think he is ready to make NHL teams wish they had drafted him this past June.

6 weeks to go until the first puck drops out in Boston and some of these question marks started producing answers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Poll

I feel like my 9th grade algebra teacher who once wrote "how cares" on the board instead of "who cares". Apparently today is my day for everyone to laugh at me. Gross error aside, let us know who you think the top frosh is going to be.

In the sophomore Dman race, Ryan McDonagh is WAY ahead right now. Perhaps there is a contingent of folks in Oakville, ON ready to take Cody Goloubef over the top before closing.

And finally, I really want to know where all these people came from to vote for Ben Grotting for the junior forward who will make the biggest impact. Didn't see that one coming.

Thanks for voting.

Tom Gilbert is Mirtle's favorite #77 from '07-'08

James Mirtle recently did a little post on jersey numbers, and he listed his top players from last season by jersey number. When he got to #77, he picked Tom Gilbert. Yay, Tom!

(Ok, it's a slow news day, and I'm easily amused.)

Being unsure of who else may have worn #77 last season, I did a little google search and found this, indicating that Tom was "in competition with" Joe Corvo (Carolina), Chris Gratton (Tampa Bay), Ryan Parent (Philadelphia), Alexei Zhitnick (Atlanta), and Jay McKee (St. Louis - Thanks Mirtle!!). Of course, I'm too lazy to verify the information or to see if anyone was missed. *shrug*

And now that I've actually taken the effort to scan the rest of the list, I must point out that Mirtle also picked the following Badgers:
#15 Dany Heatley
#28 Brian Rafalski

A couple of random items

  • Mike Eaves participated in a pro camp with a whole slew of Badger (and a few non-Badger) alumni.

  • Brian Rafalski is a nice guy and donated part of his first day with the Stanley Cup to participate in a charity fundraiser in Iola, WI. The lucky winner won half an hour with Rafalski and the Cup.

More on the Recruiting Debate: Appert, Bertagna, Eaves weigh in

Todd Milewski has a fantastic column today about the recruiting debate that has been sparked by Jordan Schmaltz's commitment. In the column, Todd highlights the problematic aspects of recruiting so young, and AHCA president and RPI head coach Seth Appert, AHCA executive director and HE commissioner Joe Bertagna, and Badgers head coach Mike Eaves weigh in on the debate. Not surprisingly, no one's really happy with the situation, but (also not surprisingly) no one has a solution, as schools have to compete with other schools and with the Canadian major junior system.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ross Carlson, Florida Everblades















(Left: Texas Wildcatters photo on the Everblades website, Right: Semifinal post-game presser at the 2006 FF, photo by Neil Ament.)

Ross Carlson
has signed with the Florida Everblades, the ECHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers of the NHL and the Albany River Rats and Rochester Americans of the AHL.

Carlson spend most of last season with the Texas Wildcatters of the ECHL. He also played some regular season and playoff games with the Houston Aeros (AHL), as well as 3 games with the Rockford Icehogs (AHL). (Did I know he played with the Icehogs? And forgot that I knew it? Because I can't imagine him playing for the Icehogs last season and me not knowing about it.)

Good luck, Ross!

Another View on the Commitment of Schmaltz

Chris over at the Western College Hockey Blog has a different take on the recent commitment of 14 year old Jordan Schmaltz. He points out that there have been several players younger than Schmaltz to commit, though most had stepped foot into high school before hand. Just how birthdays work out, he is old for his grade.

I like the following paragraph:

"Of course the fact that this is slowly becoming standard practice doesn't necessarily make it right. But before people think this is a college hockey problem, look elsewhere in the hockey world. Next April he could be presented with an opportunity to move away from home and spend the next two seasons with the US National Development Program. Next May, Schmaltz will eligible for the Ontario Hockey League draft. If he lived 200 miles west of his hometown of Verona, he could have already been selected by a Western Hockey League team(though he would have been restricted in the number of games he could have played this season). "

Sounds like the next year of his life will be rife w/ hockey decisions as well.

It will be funny at the end of all of this if he turns out to be a top draft pick and all the worrying was for nothing, but we have 4 long years to wait to see if that happens.

Monday, August 25, 2008

















(Photo link)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

McLeod and Sheppard: Portraits in Buffoonery

We've had just 2 entries in our humble little art contest. It's been awhile now, though, so I thought I'd go ahead and post them. I also have a few pictures of my own, and I hope you'll forgive my lack of photoshop abilities. (I just downloaded photoshop and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, lol, nor did I take the time learn.)

I'm hoping that perhaps some of you will be inspired to submit your own efforts. (Can't be any worse than my efforts, so you won't have to worry about the quality of your work even if you're new to photoshop.) Special thanks to HF and TH for starting things out for us!


Hockey Fan submits this picture of a clown who looks remarkably like Greg Sheppard . . . oh wait . . . I think it is . . . I'm so glad that Shep has finally found a way to truly express himself . . .

















The Hallucination sends us this highly amusing picture . . .














Shep and McLeod as Bozo and Cooky . . .

60







Cooky . . .

60












Bozo clownin' around . . .

60















Bozo leads the circus (otherwise known as the WCHA refs) . . .

(yeah, I know his head is too big, but I'm too lazy to fix it.)

60

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Badger in Slovakia - U17 Five Nations Tournament (update)

As you know, future Badger Michael Mersch is currently in Prievidza, Slovakia participating in the Five Nations Tournament with the US U17 team. The tourney runs Aug 19 - 24 and includes teams from the US, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland.

Winning 5-2 over Slovakia today, the Badgers finished the tourney with a 3-1 record. Mersch assisted on both 2nd period goals for the US, one PP and one EV. Mersch finishes the 4-game tourney with 1 goal and 3 assists.

More Bill Howard

Todd Milewski has a really nice column today that reviews Coach Howard's place in Badger Hockey History. As Todd points out, one of the most impressive aspects of Howards career is that he was able to adapt to the changes in goaltending over the years and remain highly successful.

The column also has more on Howard's decision to step down, indicating the Howard was unsatisfied with his increasingly limited coaching role, as the role was being more and more limited to just coaching the goaltenders.

U22 Game 3: CAN 4 - USA 3 (OT)

Today was the final game of the U22 Series between the US and Canada in Pierrefonds, Québec. As you know, Team USA included Badgers Erika Lawler, Meghan Duggan, and Hilary Knight, and Team Canada included Badger Brittany Haverstock.

Team USA took an early 3-0 lead, but Canada came back to win in 4-3 in overtime. Our Badgers were held off of the scoresheet. (Edit: my apologies for my initial lack of reading comprehension -- apparently I got confused b/c I was looking at a bunch of different game results at the same time, and somehow I thought Canada had the early lead.)

In the overall series, Meghan Duggan had 1 goal and 1 assist, and Erika Lawler had 2 assists.

Final Results
Game 1: USA 4 - CAN 3 (SO) : usahockey recap, hockeycanada recap
Game 2: USA 2 - CAN 7 : usahockey recap, hockeycanada recap
Game 3: USA 3 - CAN 4 (OT) : usahockey recap, hockeycanada recap


The U18 series also came to an end today. Under the leadership of Mark Johnson, Team USA won the series 2-1.

Final Results:
Game 1: USA 4 - CAN 1 : usahockey recap, hockeycanda recap
Game 2: USA 3 - CAN 2 : usahockey recap, hockeycanada recap
Game 3: USA 2 - CAN 3 (OT) : usahockey recap, hockeycanada recap

Q & A with Jordan and Mike Schmaltz

Mark Stewart with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a Q&A with Jordan Schmaltz and his dad on the JS Badgers Blog. Not much that we didn't already know, but Q&As are always interesting.

The following question/answer surprised me a bit:

Q: Did the way this whole process unfolded surprise you? What were your thoughts when UW offered you a scholarship?

A: After the season where we actually got second in nationals, I didn't think I would be committing to a college before I started high school, but I guess it happened. I was pretty surprised.

My surprise stems from the issue that it appears that the Schmaltz family was perhaps pushing the recruiting issue with the Badgers, according to Baggot's latest recruiting article.
According to Schmaltz's father, Mike, when he approached Eaves and his staff earlier this summer to gauge the level of interest in his son, he was told UW wasn't ready to make offers to 1993-born prospects.
So, Mike is taking his kid to visit campuses and approaching coaching staffs to gauge their level of interest, and the kid is surprised by what unfolds? (Ok, he's only 14, so I don't expect him to know what's going on, but his answer made it sound a bit like the offer was completely unexpected/unsolicited, which clearly isn't the case.)

In this particular interview, Mike sounds a bit more convinced about the commitment than Jordan does. Sure, Jordan says he won't change his mind about playing for the Badgers, but his answers don't really inspire confidence. I write this off as him being 14 and therefore not all that experienced or eloquent when it comes to interviewing. Besides, I like what he told Baggot earlier:
"I really liked the coaches and the campus," Jordan Schmaltz said of UW. "And I thought being in my hometown, playing for the Badgers, would be sweet."


By the way, Schmaltz's commitment has apparently grabbed the attention of Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshinski, who goes "a little" over the top in his analysis:

So many questions. The offer is non-binding for either side; why make it now? To scare off other schools that will just continue to go after him if he's the second coming of Bobby Orr? To give a 14-year-old kid a place in newspaper wire round-ups and the instant respect of his peers? Is Wisconsin going to recruit around this kid in anticipation of 2012? What if the Badgers' situation changes to the point where Schmaltz is a bad fit, or vice versa? Doesn't it get even a little uncomfortable having made this extraordinary commitment -- not to mention that increased expectations it places on the prodigy -- and then having either side potentially break it in three years?

And why do I get the feeling opponents are going to go just a little bit harder to the corners with Mr. Schmaltz?

Yeah, it's a crazy world when 14-year-olds are committing, and Baggot talks about it in his latest recruiting article. But in response to Wyshinski's above rant, all I can say is this: "Really? Are you serious?" Clearly the Badgers don't think he's the second coming of Bobby Orr, and other schools aren't going to recruit him like the 2nd coming of Bobby Orr. (Not saying he wouldn't get recruited hard, but Bobby Orr? Really?) And clearly the Badgers aren't going to recruit around Schmaltz in anticipation of 2012.

This seems to be a case of Wisconsin wanting to keep a talented local kid in Wisconsin. And with North Dakota and Notre Dame waiting in the wings, the Badgers felt they needed to take a chance early to do this. DPlaya of HIW sums this up nicely in this post on uscho:
Now, as to why UW offered Schmaltz. Number one, Eaves is trying to throw a fence around Wisconsin, to the best of his ability, and keep elite Wisconsin players here. Number two, the kid was headed to visit Notre Dame next, who has been recruiting in Wisconsin very heavily since Jeff Jackson took over. Number three, the only other 1993 birthdate recruit to have verballed to a Western school so far was offered by Notre Dame, so it wasn't unreasonable for Eaves or anyone else to believe they'd do it again. Number four, the staff believes Schmaltz will make a difference here.
In another post, DPlaya expounds on why the Badger staff were looking at Schmaltz so early:
Somebody had asked how hard UW tried to get Soley or Condon. The UW staff admitted they had not seen the acceleration of early commitments from Wisconsin high school players coming when it first started with those guys, and had to play catch up on that trend after Soley and Condon had made commitments.
So, on one hand I tend to agree with Baggot that it's crazy for a kid to commit to a college before spending a single day in high school, but on the other hand I think the Badgers' actions aren't all that unreasonable. *shrug*

Baggot chimes in...

Andy Baggot adds his thoughts on the resignation of assistant Bill Howard. He does a good job of reading between the lines w/ out actually talking to either Coach Eaves or Bill Howard. I'm sure there is more to the story, but we'll never here it. Even if Bill Howard did have issue w/ Eaves in some regard, he won't publicly say it, because he is a stand up person, who undoubtedly loves UW Hockey and always will.

8 All-Americans and 3 NHL stars (even if Jim Carey was a flash in the pan) and another NHL star in the making in Brian Elliott is an impressive resume. Actually impressive doesn't quite cover it, unmatched in hockey history would probably be better.

The best quote from the article though, "News of his decision, while not surprising, prompted one Internet poster to compare it to the jarring departure of Green Bay Packers icon Brett Favre."

Not surprising? The season is 7 weeks away and there was no indication that Howie would be stepping down immediately. How is this not surprising? Sure every fan knew he would eventually retire, but I don't think a single person heard the news yesterday and said to themselves, "well I'm not surprised by this is in the least."

Baggot also has something about UW Hockey recruiting. This is probably the best piece I've read from Baggot over the years. He really puts the struggles of NCAA Hockey recruiting (from de-commitments to early departures) into prospective, finishing things up w/ thoughts on the recruitment of ultra young Jordan Schmaltz.

Friday, August 22, 2008

U22 Game 2: CAN 7 - USA 2

Yikes.

Hockeycanada recap
Usahockey recap

On the bright side, Meghan Duggan had a PP goal in the 2nd for the US, and Erika Lawler had an assist on Duggan's goal.

Hilary Knight (USA) and Brittany Haverstock (CAN) were left off the scoresheet.

The final game of the series is tomorrow at 8:30 AM CDT


In the better news department . . . the US U18 team defeated Canada 3-2 this evening. As mentioned previously, no Badgers on the roster, but Mark Johnson is the head coach.

Hockeycanada recap

Usahockey recap

A Badger in Slovakia - U17 Five Nations Tournament (update)

As mentioned yesterday, future Badger Michael Mersch is currently in Prievidza, Slovakia participating in the Five Nations Tournament with the US U17 team. The tourney runs Aug 19 - 24 and includes teams from the US, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland.

After winning their first two games of the tournament, Team USA lost 3-0 today to the Czech Republic. Ouch.

Team USA faces Slovakia tomorrow at 11:30 AM CDT in their final game of the tourney.

Coach Howard steps down as Assistant Coach

After 36 years and 6 National Championships w/ the Wisconsin Badgers mentoring goaltenders, Coach Bill Howard has stepped down as assistant coach. From the article, it sounds like Howie is not done coaching, he is just going in a different direction.

Much like Brett Favre ending his Packer career, this was going to happen one day. I didn't expect it to be so sudden. It will be interesting to see what happens from here, especially w/ the season only 7 weeks away.

Best of luck to Coach Howard in all future endeavors!


Edited to add: Todd has an article that includes statements from both Coach Howard and Coach Eaves.

Season Preview: Sophomores

So far I’ve covered the seniors and the juniors, now its time to take a look at the most diverse class: the sophomores. The sophomores are almost completely intact from last year w/ the exception of Kyle Turris’ departure to the Phoenix Coyotes. This group’s performance this season will be important to the overall success of the Badgers, especially the Dmen. Those Dmen make up the heart of the experience on the blue line and include Ryan McDonagh, Cody Goloubef, Brendan Smith and Craig Johnson. At forward, Patrick Johnson, Sean Dolan and Podge Turnbull return, while Scott Gudmandson returns between the pipes to back-up Shane Connelly. 60min pointed out that Tom Bardis will be a sophomore, I still don’t know anymore about him than I did last week.

Let’s take a step back before we move forward. In comparison between the freshman class of 2006 (the juniors) and that of 2007 (the sophomores), I think the highly touted class of 2007 far exceeded what was accomplished by the 2006 class, which was rather touted as well. I think the numbers themselves would tell this tale, but just the performances I remember from both seasons, the current sophomores were a bigger factor in the team every night than the freshman in 06/07.

During the 06/07 season the only freshman who really impacted the team was Jamie McBain. Others played a role throughout the season (Davies, Bendickson, Grottting), but Blake Geoffrion really underperformed based on expectations.

On the flip side, several members of the class of 2007 over preformed based on expectations especially Ratty Johnson and Dolan. McDonagh definitely cleared the bar set for him, while Goloubef did the same in the 2nd half of the season. Turnbull and Smith were disappointments to varying degrees.

One player I didn’t mention was Gudmandson. The sample size of his games was too small to really gauge his success last season. Listening to the radio during road weekends, Coach Howard is pretty high on Gudmandson and it sounds like his progression through the system is moving along well. While I expect Gudmandson to play in a few more contests this season, Connelly is still the starter and Gudmandson will be waiting for his chance, which he’ll definitely get in 08/09.

As mentioned earlier, Ratty Johnson, Dolan and Turnbull return as forwards. Ratty had a good summer when he was unexpectedly drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 7th round of the NHL Entry Draft. This speaks volumes for Ratty’s season. Ratty is likely never going to be a scoring force for the Badgers, which was part of the legend of his father Mark Johnson, but Ratty is already creating his own niche in the minds and hearts of Badger fans. Though small in stature, he plays like a giant, not backing down from anyone in his conquest to “own” all of his opponents in the WCHA.

Dolan’s performance last season was even more of a surprise than Johnson, at least to me. Dolan and C. Johnson were the last two members added to the class after early departures. I figured Dolan was going to be in street clothes most of the season, instead he anchored the “grind” line, which was by far the most consistent line on the team. Turnbull started the season w/ Turris and Ben Street, but quickly was moved back to the 4th line where he spent most of the season. Turnbull was a good scorer in the USHL and his freshman season was definitely an adjustment to the higher level of play.

In this small group of forwards, Wisconsin has a strong trio of what could be 4 year players. I expect small increases in production from all three of these young men this season. The potential is there for them to be among the top scorers as a juniors/seniors. If Geoffrion departs for the pros following this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ratty Johnson wear the Captain’s C the following 2 seasons.

Last week in reviewing the juniors, I discussed the importance of the junior forwards production to the success of the Badgers. This week the 2nd key to the success of Wisconsin’s season is the play of the sophomore blue liners. With McBain as the only upperclassmen on the blue line, the sophomores are going to have to play beyond their age and experience. The headliners for this group are a trio of high draft picks. Out of them McDonagh and Goloubef have already proven themselves capable of handling the rigors of WCHA play. McD was strong all season, and should return to the top pairing w/ McB, where they will arguably be the best in the NCAA. McD returns as our top PK guy, though I doubt he’ll see a lot of PP time due to our depth of offensive Dmen. Overall, McD is in a close race w/ McB for the best defensemen on the team.

Goloubef had a strong second half, which really bolstered his draft stock. I expect much of the same from him this season. His offensive numbers from last season don’t really touch on how talented he is in that facet of his game. He was stuck behind McB, Smith, Klubertanz and Drewskie on the PP depth chart for most of last season. I think his role on the PP will be expanded this season (he’ll probably get a lot of PK time too), and might be paired w/ Smith in some capacity.

Smith returns from a rather up and down freshman year. He started the year off well, playing a role in Wisconsin’s initial offensive outburst, but honestly went down hill from that point. Half way through the season Smith suffered a back injury which kept him out of action until the NCAA Regional where Eaves tried him at wing against North Dakota. Smith seemed to get down on himself following poor play, which he needs to snap out of. I would also argue that pairing him w/ Klubertanz was a mistake. Everything I read points me to believe Smith is working hard to improve his defensive game. Overall he is too talented of a player to not improve and impact the team in a positive way this season. Unlike McD and Goloubef, Smith is a big question mark coming into this season.

Lastly is walk-on C. Johnson. Johnson didn’t see any action until the WJC’s, and in a limited role I thought he played pretty well. Johnson never played special teams and in most games sat the bench in the 3rd period. He certainly wasn’t flashy, but he did a good job in his end of the ice. Johnson’s impact on the team will again be minimal this season, but if he continues to progress and grow under the tutelage of Coach Osiecki, he will be an important member of the team in his upperclassman seasons. It is likely that Johnson will be the only Dman from this class to see his senior year, and his experience and leadership will be important in the future.

I hope you pick up on how important the sophomore Dmen will be this season for the Badgers. McD will be expected to log a ton of minutes at EV and PK, Goloubef a lot of minutes at EV and PP, and some at PK, and Smith a lot of minutes at EV and PP. Outside of McB (who will log a ton of minutes in all facets), these will be the go to blue liners. When things need to get done there aren’t seniors to look to for help, they are going to have to do it themselves. While I feel strongly McD and Goloubef will do there job, I need to see Smith play well in both ends before I’ll be confident in him. Very similar to the group of junior forwards, if this group doesn’t bring their best every night, it could be a long season. Check out the new poll question to vote for which of these blue liners will have the biggest impact.

Overall I think the sophomore class is the most important on this team moving forward. The blue line has to be manned correctly for the team to succeed and that rests on their shoulders. Ratty Johnson and Dolan both play significant roles on the team in their own way, and this needs to continue. While Gudmandson’s effect on the Badgers won’t be felt unless Connelly is injured or benched, Wisconsin could have another All-American on their hands in 08/09 in net.

Next week, these previews wrap up w/ the freshman. While Jake Gardiner and Derek Stepan are high draft picks who are expected to contribute out of the gate, their teammates will be looking to hit the ice hard and make an impact.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Replacing "Patrick Who?" in 2009

With Patrick Who's defection to DU, DPlaya on HIW is speculating on the Badger's options to fill "his spot" in the lineup for the 2009-10 season. In addition to the option of having Chase Drake come in a year early, he mentions Wisconsites Ross Henry and Zac Fulton, as well as Taylor Kuypers, David Donnellan, and CJ Ludwig.

Nick Pryor and Justin Schultz are the 2 defenseman currently slated to enter in the 2009-10 season.

A Badger in Slovakia - U17 Five Nations Tournament

Future Badger Michael Mersch is currently in Prievidza, Slovakia participating in the Five Nations Tournament with the US U17 team. The tourney runs Aug 19 - 24 and includes teams from the US, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland.

On August 17, Team USA lost 3-2 to Slovakia in a pre-tourney exhibition game.

On August 20, Team USA won their opening match of the tournament, defeating Switzerland 5-2. Michael Mersch had an assist on Team USA's first goal (PP).

Today, Team USA defeated Germany 3-2. Michael Mersch scored Team USA's first goal, also a PP goal, "
tapp[ing] the puck past German goalie Sebastian Kinader after receiving a nifty back-door pass from Bill Arnold (Needham, Mass) at 1:03 to stake the U.S. to an early lead."

Next up:
Aug 22 (8 AM CDT) - the Czech Republic
Aug 23 (11:30 AM CDT) - Slovakia

Hartmeyer Arena renovations

If you were wondering what Badger Alumni Gary Shuchuk was doing these days, he is the executive director of Madison Ice, Inc. Madison Ice manages Hartmeyer Arena on Madison's north side which is currently going through a renovation.

I happened upon Gary's career stats and he was still playing pro hockey in 2004 in the AHL.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

U22 Game 1: US 4 - CAN 3 (SO)

Erika Lawler and Meghan Duggan each had an assist as Team USA defeated Team Canada 4-3 in a shootout tonight. Scoring 3 PP goals and outshooting Canada 23-7 in the first period, Team USA ended the 1st period with a 3-0 lead. Canada scored 2 goals in the 2nd and another in the 3rd to tie things up before Team USA prevailed in the shootout.

Hockeycanada recap
Usahockey recap
TCT (just a short mention, but it's nice to see local media coverage)


Also, in the U18 game earlier today, Team USA (coached by Mark Johnson) defeated Canada 4-1.

HockeyCanada recap
Usahockey recap

Hockey News ranks WCHA logos

Well something absurd has occurred in the form in Hockey News' WCHA logo rankings.

Wisconsin's "W" finished 5th, the ranking itself doesn't matter its the logos ahead of UW that I have an issue w/.

I'll give the Sioux a pass at #4 despite the racist mascot, but coming in in 3rd is the purple cow from Mankato? Are you serious? A purple cow?

Even more absurd are the seawolves of UAA at #2. I can understand this ranking if the Hockey News felt sorry for the lowly seawolves; they are never going to see how ice in the WCHA playoffs so why not give them a reason to feel good about their program, I mean logo, for a week.

The most of absurd of all is the "M" of the dung rodents of minnesota at #1. So taking a prefectly good "M" and ruining it by smearing a ditry baby diaper across it for coloring is highly rewarded?

Badger Women's 2008-09 schedule

Uwbadgers.com still doesn't have a women's schedule posted yet, but uscho has the following schedule posted. Looks like it matches up with the schedule that sunprairie had put together.

There are a few dates without game times listed, and there area few discrepancies from the composite schedule posted on uwbadgers.com. The composite schedule has been updated since I lasted posted, but my money is still on the uscho schedule. I've included the info from the composite schedule in red.

Fri 09/26/2008 Quinnipiac (nc) 7:05 CT
Sat 09/27/2008 Quinnipiac (nc) 7:05 CT
Fri 10/03/2008 Syracuse (nc) 7:05 CT
Sat 10/04/2008 Syracuse (nc) 12:07 CT
Fri 10/10/2008 @ Ohio State 7:05 ET
Sat 10/11/2008 @ Ohio State 7:05 ET
Fri 10/17/2008 @ Bemidji State 7:05 CT
Sat 10/18/2008 vs Bemidji State 6:05 CT (1)
Fri 10/24/2008 Minnesota 2:05 CT
Sun 10/26/2008 Minnesota 2:05 CT
Fri 10/31/2008 Minnesota-Duluth 7:05 CT 2:07 CT
Sat 11/01/2008 Minnesota-Duluth 7:05 CT 2:00 CT
Sat 11/15/2008 @ North Dakota 2:05 CT
Sun 11/16/2008 @ North Dakota 2:05 CT
Fri 11/21/2008 vs New Hampshire (nc) 7:00 ET (2)
Sat 11/22/2008 vs New Hampshire (nc) 2:00 ET (2)
Fri 11/28/2008 Minnesota State 2:07 CT
Sat 11/29/2008 Minnesota State Sun 11/29 2:07 CT
Fri 12/05/2008 St. Cloud State 2:05 CT
Sat 12/06/2008 St. Cloud State 2:05 CT
Fri 01/09/2009 @ Minnesota-Duluth 7:05 CT
Sat 01/10/2009 @ Minnesota-Duluth 7:05 CT
Sat 01/17/2009 North Dakota 2:05 CT Fri 1/16
Sun 01/18/2009 North Dakota 2:05 CT Sat 1/16
Fri 01/23/2009 @ St. Cloud State 7:05 CT
Sat 01/24/2009 @ St. Cloud State 2:05 CT
Sat 01/31/2009 Ohio State 2:05 CT
Sun 02/01/2009 Ohio State 1:05 CT 12:07
Sat 02/07/2009 @ Minnesota 2:05 CT 7:00
Sun 02/08/2009 @ Minnesota 2:05 CT
Fri 02/13/2009 @ Minnesota State 7:05 CT
Sat 02/14/2009 @ Minnesota State 3:05 CT
Fri 02/20/2009 Bemidji State 2:07
Sat 02/21/2009 Bemidji State 2:07

(1) - US Hockey Hall of Fame Game (Eveleth, MN)
(2) - Ft. Myers, FL

More Jordan Schmaltz

Milewski and Baggot have more on the Jordan Schmaltz, the 1st NCAA commit for 2012, and I've included a few fun quotes.

Milewski (The IceHouse): Yes, he's 14

Milewski (TCT): Badgers get verbal commitment from 14-year-old
Mike Schmaltz said he's not concerned that his son was recruited too early. "He's been to quite a few different colleges, and he's been lucky to take a tour of hockey across the U.S. and Canada," he said. "He's probably not your typical 14-, almost 15-year-old kid."

Chicago Mission coach Mike McPartlin called Schmaltz "an extraordinary player." "On the ice you immediately notice what a smooth, strong skater he is, but it's his hockey IQ and his phenomenal passing skills that ultimately set him apart," McPartlin said on the team's Web site. "And although he's definitely gifted athletically, there's a lot more to him than just that. Jordy also has that burning passion to compete and be the best. All these qualities make him one of those rare players who makes the players around him better."


Baggot (WSJ): 14-year-old commits to Badgers

"I believe the special thing about Jordy is he sees what others don't see," said Mission coach Chuck Linkenheld, who will work with Schmaltz on the Midget Minor squad in 2008-09. "He's patient, he's creative and he's not afraid to make a mistake."

"I really liked the coaches and the campus," Jordan Schmaltz said of UW. "And I thought being in my hometown, playing for the Badgers, would be sweet."


Also, in his Select 15 report, Chris at WCH describes Schmaltz as "one of the better defensemen of the tournament" in his "other notables" list.


Overall, it sounds like he has good skating ability, passing ability, vision, and hockey sense. It's hard to project how a 14-year-old will progress, and recruiting a kid so young has the potential to backfire, but right now he sounds like a pretty good pick-up for the Badgers. Anyway, welcome to the Badgers, Jordan.

INCH's A to Z: John Mitchell

Well, it's just INCH, but their preseason A to Z profiles are better than nothing. This year, they've picked the intriguing John Mitchell.

Mitchell struggled his first season with the Badgers, but he showed great improvement his sophomore season. Standing 6-5, it's not surprising that he has a really long reach, yet I'm always impressed by just how long his reach is. And as INCH mentions, he has a timely scoring touch. INCH also mentions that Mitchell has added 20 lbs to his frame since his arrival in Madison and hopes to add another 10 lbs. Here's hoping that, with the additional weight, Mitchell starts to use his size a bit more on the ice.

Mitchell's size and improved play last season garnered him some interest from NHL teams. He participated in the Wild's Prospects Camp, and a crazy reporter called him a big-framed wrecking ball.

Badger Women to play in the first Women's US Hockey HOF Game

Kudos to US Hockey Hall of Fame. This organization has sponsored men's HOF games for over 30 years, and now they are adding a women's HOF game. The Badgers are honored to be part of the inaugural event.

Wisconsin and Bemidji meet in a WCHA conference series on Oct 17 and 18, with the latter game being played at 6pm CT in Eveleth, MN as the Women's US Hockey Hall of Fame Game. (The Oct 17 game will be @ Bemidji at 7 pm CT.)

In the men's HOF game on Oct 11, Denver will host Notre Dame. On Oct 10 in Denver, the US Hockey HOF will induct it's latest members, including Badger Mike Richter and Cammi "should've been a Badger" Granato. Cammi, who likely would've played for the Badgers if they'd had a team at that time, is the 1st women's player to be inducted to the HOF.

Wrapping up the US U20 evaluation camp

I was unable to previously post the final results from the US U20 evaluation camp, but better late than never, right?

Sat, Aug 8 was not a good day for the US teams.

Team White was defeated 7-3 by Sweden. Ryan McDonagh had 2 of Team White's 3 goals, with a PP goal and a SH goal in the 3rd period. Jake Gardiner was moved to Team White for this game but was held off the scoresheet.
Ryan McDonagh (Arden Hills, Minn.) got Team USA on the scoreboard at 5:04 of the third period when he poked the puck in after a battle at the front of the net. Just over a minute later, McDonagh took the puck up the left side of the ice with a defender on him and slid the puck past Swedish goalie Mark Owuya for a shorthanded goal to bring the United States within three.
Team Blue was defeated by Finland 5-4 in overtime. Jake Gardiner was held off the scoresheet.


Sun, Aug 9 was much better for the US teams. Team White defeated Finland 5-2, and Team Blue defeated Sweden 5-4 in a shootout. I expect that McDonagh played once again for Team White, but I'm unsure on which team Gardiner played. Regardless, both Badgers were held off the scoresheet.


Here are complete results for the series, as well as final player statistics. The NJEC homepage also has links to video, photos, Shawn Roarke's NHL.com coverage, and Carly Peters blog.

You can also find our previous U20 evaluation camp posts here.


This is pure speculation, but based on McDonagh's play in the Aug 8 game and Roarke's comments (quoted below) regarding the Badgers, I'm guessing that McDonagh will make the U20 Select Team and that Gardiner will miss the cut.

As for McDonagh and Gardiner, the pride of Wisconsin, I’ll do my best to update you. I mentioned McDonagh earlier and raved about his penalty killing. He has been great in that area as Team White has been highly undisciplined in the first few games. He makes sound coverage decisions and has shown great closing speed. Those traits also contribute to his own-zone coverage at even strength. Coach Ron Rolston has regularly used McDonagh and Kevin Shattenkirk as his shuit-down pairing in the first two games.

Jake Gardiner has been less visible so far for Team Blue, but that is because he has been given less of an opportunity. He is playing far fewer minutes and not seeing as much specialty time. I guess I would have to say I have not noticed him much in the first two games, but that is not always a bad thing for defensemen. He has been solid, if not spectacular. I hope that gives you your Badger fix.

US-CAN U22/U18 series begin today

(Team USA U22 team, photo from usahockey.com, Team Canada U22 team, photo from hockeycanada.com)

The U22 and U18 series begin today, featuring a number of Badgers.

U22
Team Canada and Team USA will faceoff tonight at 6 pm CDT, Friday at 6 pm CDT, and Saturday at 8:30 am CDT in Pierrefonds, Québec.

The US U22 roster was previously released and includes Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, and Erika Lawler. The US U22 team, of course, participated in the National Festival (departing on the 18th for Pierrefonds), and you can find Festival game notes and player stats here.

Team Canada just recently released its U22 roster. Incoming freshman Brittany Haverstock is the only Badger on the team, with Mallory Deluce, Jasmine Giles, and Carolyne Prévost not making the cut. Scroll to page 18 for Brittany's Team Canada profile.

Below is the practice and game schedules for the U22 series.

Monday, August 18
12:45 p.m. Canada – practice

Tuesday, August 19
10:00 a.m. Canada – practice
12:00 p.m. USA – practice

Wednesday, August 20
9:00 a.m. Canada – practice
10:00 a.m. USA – practice
7:00 p.m. Canada U22 vs. USA U22

Thursday, August 21
12:00 p.m. USA – practice
2:00 p.m. Canada – practice

Friday, August 22
9:00 a.m. USA – practice
10:00 a.m. Canada – practice
7:00 p.m. Canada U22 vs. USA U22

Saturday, August 23
9:30 a.m. Canada U22 vs. USA U22


U18
Team Canada and Team USA will faceoff tonight at 6 pm CDT, Friday at 6 pm CDT, and Saturday at 9 am CDT in Lake Placid, NY.

No Badgers on the U18 team for either country, but Mark Johnson is the head coach of the US U18 team.

One player of interest on Team Canada is defenseman Kayleigh Fratkin, a possible UW recruit.


LINKS
Hockeycanada U22 home page, game results
Usahockey U22 event home page
Hockeycanada U18 home page, game results
Usahockey U18 event home page, game results

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jordan Schmaltz commits

Per the Chicago Mission's website (and a heads-up by an alert reader), defenseman Jordan Schmaltz has verballed to the Badgers. Looks like the earliest he'd be here is 2012. Can't say I know much about him -- I'm hoping that Chuck and/or Gandalf, or DPlaya on HIW, will have something to say.

U 16's Schmaltz Accepts Full Scholarship to Wisconsin

Jordan Schmaltz, the talented defenseman who will be patrolling the blue line for the Chicago Mission U 16 team this season, and who helped anchor the Mission '93 National Championship runners-up squad, has accepted a full scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. Schmaltz is entering his freshman year in high school, and has been commuting from Wisconsin to play for the Mission for the past three seasons.

"Jordy is not only an extraordinary player, but also an outstanding young man from a wonderful family," said his coach of the past two season Mike McPartlin. "On the ice you immediately notice what a smooth, strong skater he is, but it's his hockey IQ and his phenomenal passing skills that ultimately set him apart. And although he's definitely gifted athletically, there's a lot more to him than just that. Jordy also has that burning passion to compete and be the best. All these qualities make him one of those rare players who makes the players around him better."

Schmaltz is the third Mission under-aged player to receive a full scholarship offer in the past 6 months. '93 USNDPT bound defenseman Rob Russo and '92 forward T.J. Tynan, who will both skate for the Mission Midget Major team this year, accepted offers from the University of Notre Dame.

"The Mission organization is extremely proud of Jordan's achievement," said Director of Hockey Operations Chico Adrahtas. "It is especially gratifying to see this pay off for his entire family, who have sacrificed greatly with the challenge of an incredibly long commute. We're so proud to have been able to provide an environment that would allow for him to have his talents recognized and developed."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Recruit Recap: Chase Drake

This summer I plan to do a recap of every current committed recruit. While I have been slacking on this so far this summer, I still plan to try to get every recruit done in the next few months (or so). The first recruit that we profiled was forward Tyler Barnes from Burnsville. We've also covered goaltender Aaron Crandall who is from Lakeville, MN and played for Green Bay last season. (He got traded to Des Monies in the off-season) The most recent profile was forward Jefferson Dahl, 2008 Wisconsin Mr. Hockey award winner from state champion Eau Claire Memorial who will play for Green Bay next season. Today we preview Chase Drake from Mosinee, Wisconsin who will be a teammate of Dahl's in Green Bay for the upcoming 2008-2009 season.


Name: Chase Drake
Position: Defense
2008 Team: Mosinee High School (WI)
2009 Team: Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Commit date: 5/8/2008
Season entering Wisconsin: 2010
Height/Weight/Birth year: 6'2/170/1989

Last Seasons Stats

Games: 23
Goals: 12
Assists: 18
Points: 30

Chase Drake is an interesting prospect for Wisconsin for because playing in Mosinee, not many people have gotten to see him play and he hasn't had a ton of publicity. But don't let that fool you, he very much deserves to be a Badger. The best part about it for Wisconsin, is that he will get 2 full solid seasons with Green Bay in the USHL before entering Wisconsin.

Drake had an outstanding prep career with Mosinee. In his senior season he turned Mosinee into a State Tournament qualifier for the first time since 1992, and earned himself a nomination for the Wisconsin Mr. Hockey award. (Won by fellow Badger recruit Jefferson Dahl from Eau Claire Memorial) Mosinee went 19-4 and had a perfect 12-0 conference record en route to the Lumberjack title.

As a player, Chase is definitely looking for the best way to get the puck to the net whenever it's in his teams possession. He gave this self description of the way he plays in an interview I did with him in May when he committed. "
Some of my strengths are my puck handling ability, my vision on the ice, my shot, and my mobility on the ice. I try to be a smart player on the ice and I try to help out my team whenever possible." In the only game I've personally ever seen him play, (State Tournament 2008 quarterfinal game) he was magnificent. While Mosinee lost the game, he was clearly head and shoulders above the competition. Mosinee got down big at one point but Drake helped lead a charge to get them close and actually almost scored from the face off circles on the far end of the ice when he sent a laser towards the net at the buzzer in a last ditch effort to save his team.

As I said earlier, the best thing for Wisconsin, is that Drake gets to spend 2 seasons in Green Bay learning the ropes of playing at a higher level. He will also get to spend 2 seasons with fellow recruit Jefferson Dahl who will also be entering in 2010. (Both could come sooner with early departures) Drake needs to focus on the defensive side of his game while he's in Green Bay more then anything. No one is more critical of Drake then himself. In the interview I linked above, he had this to say about things he needs to work on, "I'm a little undersized (weight wise), so that’s a big thing I'm looking forward to work on in Green Bay. Another thing is one on one situations in the D-zone since we run a man to man D-zone. I also need to work a little more on my gap control because at times I respect players too much (especially in the USHL) and I tend to give them more room which is the worst thing a D can do since their job is to take away time and space."

Drake got a preview of the USHL at the end of last season when he played 10 games with the Green Bay Gamblers. In an article about his commitment, Drake had this to say to Capital Times reporter Todd Milewski, "It was definitely a major step up from high school right to the USHL," he said. "I went and watched a game, and it didn't look like it would be too big of a step, but once you get on the ice with those guys, the speed and the strength is just so much more superior than high school. It was difficult, but it was a good challenge for me and I had a good time trying to keep up with the challenge."

Drake also got some great experience playing in the Midwest Elite High School League with Team Wisconsin last fall. So far that team has had 5 players off the roster commit to D-1 programs already. (Jeff Costello (committed to Notre Dame), Seth Soley (committed to Michigan Tech), Ted Behrend (committed to Colorado College), and Nate Condon (committed to Minnesota)) Here is what Chase had to say about the experience of playing with and against such great competition, "I had a great experience playing that team and it really helped me come into the high school season at my highest performing peak which was nice for me because I didn't have to work as hard at my fundamentals so I could concentrate more on little things that I was doing wrong, which I thought helped me throughout the year. But playing with those guys were great. We all had great team chemistry and we came together and played great against some of the best teams and players in the nation which made it exciting every weekend."

For a while it looked like there was a very good chance Drake would be drafted in the 2008 NHL Draft. In the final rankings by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, he was ranked as the 136th best North American prospect. Adding in the Europeans, it meant that he was going to be on the bubble of being drafted. As it turns out, he didn't go in the draft but it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for him. This Wausau Daily Herald article has some good quotes from Drake on his attitude post draft. "I am pretty disappointed," Drake said, "but it will happen next year. It's also a positive thing. Next year, I can get bigger and get higher up on the draft board and go high." It sounds like he has the right attitude about the situation and will only use it as fuel to get that much better in the off season.

I can't wait until Drake is ready to be a Badger and 'don the Cardinal and White threads. I have little doubt with 2 seasons in the USHL with Green Bay that he should be more then ready to step into the Wisconsin lineup and have an immediate impact offensively and defensively. People are starting to realize that with the changing game, puck moving defensemen are becoming very, very valuable and thats exactly what Drake is. Wisconsin is in good hands.


Tyler Barnes recap

Aaron Crandall recap
Jefferson Dahl recap

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Badger Hockey Roundup

Dplaya has been busy lately over on HIW finding some articles and updates on recruits and players from all over the place. In case anyone reading this doesn't regularly happen over there (you really should BTW), I thought I'd post some of it here. Dplaya I'll have to buy you a beer before or after a game this season, prehaps both, for my blatant copying.

Derek Lee was at the Tampa Bay Lightning's prospect camp this summer. Derek wasn't drafted but was invited to show off his skills. The camp was held in Victoria, BC, right in his backyard, since he is a member of the Victoria Grizzles. Derek is still draft eligible for 2 more seasons, and he should be joining the Badgers next Fall. He is small player like a Garrett Roe, but like Roe he is a playmaker and exactly what this team could use more of.

Nick Licari has moved on to the exciting world of work as an accountant. He passed the CPA exams too, good for him, at least someone can pass them unlike another person I know.

Over on Baggot's Badger Blog, The Hockey News' has a list of the top 10 prospects by NHL franchise. A whole cast of Badgers on there:

"Of those playing for the Badgers this season, sophomore defenseman Ryan McDonagh is No. 1 with Montreal; freshman defenseman Jake Gardiner is No. 2 with Anaheim; junior defenseman Jamie McBain is fourth with Carolina; sophomore defenseman Brendan Smith is No. 4 with Detroit; sophomore defenseman Cody Goloubef is sixth with Columbus; and freshman center Derek Stepan is No. 7 with the New York Rangers.

Of those former UW players who have turned pro, winger Jack Skille is No. 1 with Chicago; center Kyle Turris is No. 1 with Phoenix; goaltender Brian Elliott is No. 3 with Ottawa; winger Robbie Earl is No. 5 with Toronto; and defenseman Nigel Williams is No. 7 with Colorado."

A couple #1's not too bad a showing. In addition they rank the top 50 players in the NHL and Dany Heatley (10th) and Brian Rafalski (27th) deservedly make the cut.

Something else Dplaya points out, which I had noticed awhile back, is that the BCHL is starting very soon, like exhibition games are this week. I wish BCHL games were readily accessible to watch, I would like to see Justin Schultz and Derek Lee play before they get to Madison next summer.

Speaking of Justin Schultz, here is a nice audio clip by Anaheim's director of scouting, about young Justin. Sounds like Eaves & company are bringing in another top talent.

Lastly, YouTube has a Gamblers' commerical from last season featuring freshman to be Ryan Little.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

CCHA goes to Shootout

Not WCHA news, but important enough to post none the less, the CCHA has decided to incorporate a 3 man NHL style shootout into their league games this season following OT to decide victors.

This doesn't effect Wisconsin directly since any of the 5 potential games vs the CCHA this season will be at the Kohl Center. Regardless in non-conference games non-CCHA schools have to agree to this setup before hand.

I don't have a link, but I think the WCHA is on record saying they are going w/ what they had last season, which I'm happy enough w/. I personally don't like the shootout for the following reasons.

1) Shootout losses receiving a point and the winner two points change the points handed out per game. I am not remotely in favor of one game being worth 2 and others 3. It works in the NHL (kinda expect that 70% of the teams are above .500 at season's end) where 82 games count toward the standings, in the WCHA there are only 28 games. For example, if St. Cloud would have 4 SOL giving them 4 additional points in the standings for "losing" while Duluth only had 1 SOL, and St. Cloud finished ahead of Duluth in the standings by one point because of receiving points in the "3" point games, this does not seem right. The WCHA standings are too close for this type of occurrance. Also changing regulation and OT wins to 3 points just jacks up the standings.

2) No doubt a shootout is fun to watch, everyone was on their feet for the Colgate one last year, but prehaps the answer is making OT more exciting. Why is it currently only 5 minutes long? I like the 4 on 4 aspect, but lengthening OT to 10 minutes would give teams more time to settle in. 5 minute, you blink and the OT session is over. If OT was longer prehaps the refs wouldn't swallow their whistles either.

3) Speaking of the Colgate game, if the WCHA ever does go to a shootout format, Coach Eaves should learn to roll out skaters who actually give us a chance to win. Sure the game was non-con but we still wanted to win didn't we? Rolling out Kyle Klubertanz instead of say Sean Dolan (or insert any forward here) was a joke, and for how exciting that shootout was, Wisconsin's attempts were horrible.

4) I don't have any issues w/ a game of hockey ending as a tie. If two teams battle it out for 60+ minutes and the score is tied, so be it. I remember when college football had ties. In the early 90's the Badgers (who had sucked for how long before Barry turned things around) tied Ohio State. At the time that was a big deal, then a few seasons later someone got the idea to eliminate them and add the horrible OT format college football has now. While the shootout is better than that joke, if ties have been good enough for all these decades why is it such a big deal now?

I know a lot of people like the shootout and don't like ties. Nubeetle and I have briefly discussed this before, but this is my 2 cents on the subject.

Friday, August 15, 2008

And the Winner is . . . CHASE DRAKE

Voting is over, and it looks like you've chosen Chase Drake to be Gandalf's new favorite recruit. Congratulations, Chase!

We'll have to wait and see if Gandalf takes your suggestion, as he previously refused to tell me anything until voting was over, and he has caller-ID so he doesn't have to take my calls . . . ;-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Season Preview: Juniors

Last week, I previewed the senior class of the Men’s Hockey team, now it’s on to the juniors. With the changing landscape of College Hockey, having a large junior class is a huge bonus for any program looking to compete for a National Championship. With the best players leaving after their freshman and sophomore years, upperclassmen are at a premium. Wisconsin is fortunate to have 8 juniors suiting up in 08/09.

Of the 8 juniors, 7 of those young men are forwards, including Aaron Bendickson, Andy Bohmbach, Ben Grotting, John Mitchell, Blake Geoffrion, Michael Davies and Tom Bardis. I’m not actually sure if Bardis is considered a junior or a sophomore. Since he transferred and sat out a year, I’m not sure if that counted against his eligibility or not, but regardless I’m counting him as a junior for this discussion. Zach Bearson was part of this class until the recent announcement that he is no longer part of the team. The sole upperclassman blue liner is Jamie McBain.

Of all the offseason news, McBain’s return to Wisconsin was the biggest. As last season ended, I felt that if McB returned to Wisconsin’s lineup for 08/09 that the Badgers would be legitimate contenders for large trophies come next March/April. As an individual player, he is that important. Had McB left to join the Carolina Hurricanes organization, the Badgers would have been left w/ a huge lack of experience at defensemen. As it stands, McB is the only upperclassman on the blue line, and while not a captain, his leadership and experience will hold sway throughout the season.

McB was part of Wisconsin’s best pairing last season w/ Ryan McDonagh. Despite their youth, they gave the team the most consistent performance every night, shift to shift. Assuming that pairing remains the same to start this season, Wisconsin will arguably have the best pairing in all of College Hockey. For those who attended the Regional, McB’s play was nothing short of spectacular, especially on the PP, and when that carries over to this season, he will be a force to be reckoned w/.

As important as McB’s play will be to Wisconsin’s success this season, the large group of junior forwards is the first of two keys to Wisconsin’s 7th National Championship. Of the 7 returning players, 5 played in almost every game last season including Geoffrion, Davies, Bendickson, Grotting and Mitchell. When Josh Engel returned to the blue line, Bohmbach filled in the last forward spot during most of the 2nd half. Bardis practiced with the team all season, but sat out due to his transfer from St. Lawrence.

Geoffrion highlights this group. He made leaps and bounds during his sophomore season. On top of high expectations for this season, Geoffrion will serve as Co-Captain w/ Ben Street. Similar to McB, Geoffrion’s return to Madison was not set in stone due to his status as a Nashville Predators draft pick in 2006, but fans are happy to have him back. Goeffrion plays on the PP and PK, can score goals, work in the corner for the puck, and knock someone on their ass. Despite the departure of line mate Kyle Turris, Geoffrion’s point production should continue to rise, as he makes more things happen himself.

The most improved player on the team in 07/08 was Mitchell. Along w/ Grotting, they formed two-thirds of the most consistent line (centered by Sean Dolan) the Badgers had last season. Mitchell showed some scoring touch and due to his improvement and size, even had a few NHL teams calling on him. More will be expected of Mitchell this season, though I hope the coaching staff does not break up that line, since they worked together well and should be able to carry a little more of a scoring role this season.

Another player who definitely needs to step up his game in 08/09 is Davies. He is slowly developing into a consistent two way player, though his play in his own end is sometimes suspect. There is no doubt that Davies can score goals and should be a fixture on the PP this season. How much additional scoring burden can Davies fill? Will Davies take his game to the next level? A lot of questions surround Davies, and hopefully Coach Eaves doesn’t have to banish him to street clothes for a night to motivate him this season.

Grotting and Bendickson played in every game a year ago, and I expect that to continue this season. While Grotting isn’t going to provide Wisconsin w/ a lot of offense, he is an energy player who gets his job done. If he plays w/ Mitchell and Dolan again this season, that trio should continue to do good things that don’t show up on the score sheet, but often impact the outcome of the contest. Bendickson on the other hand is a player who I think is ready to make a dent in the offensive production of the Badgers. I first noticed Bendickson’s play during the second half of 06/07. He hustled every shift and that continued during 07/08. Bendy spent most of 07/08 on the 4th line, which limited his scoring chances, and he was a solid contributor on the PK. Somehow, someway, Bendy will take his game to another level this season.

Rounding out the junior forwards are Andy Bohmbach and Tom Bardis. W/ the strong incoming group of freshman forwards, both will likely be fighting for playing time this season. I don’t really know enough about Bardis to comment further, but what I saw from Bohmbach during late 07/08 impressed me. If he continues that this season he should see a lot of ice time. Similar to Grotting, he is not a scorer, but provides a “checking” line player who does some of the hard work that makes a team succeed.

I think in any class of players this big there are going to be surprises. For instance last season, as a sophomore Mitchell’s improvement was a huge surprise. As freshman, the play of Dolan and Patrick Johnson were not what I was expecting from them, they far exceeded it. How will it be this season? As I stated earlier, the play of the junior forwards is the first key to Wisconsin’s success this season. The Badgers lacked upperclassmen scoring from the forward position last season, w/ the exception of Street. These young men have been through 2 WCHA seasons, they know what to expect. While the sophomores and freshmen will contribute, if the junior class doesn’t show the way and put some goals up on the scoreboard, it could be another long season on offense.

Next week the attention turns to the veterans of one WCHA season, the sophomores. The other key to Wisconsin’s season will be discussed as this classes group of highly touted defensemen move into the spotlight.

New Poll ?

I'm still finishing my preview of the junior class, but we needed a new poll question. Who do you think of the junior forwards will have the biggest impact in 2008/2009? I excluded Blake Geoffrion because I think he would win if I included him and I also think he is going to dominate this season.

As for the polls that recently ended, the majority of voters think the Women are going to win NC #3. They should definately be in the running.

As for my new favorite recruit, Derek Lee was once way out ahead, and then all of a sudden Chase Drake vaulted to the lead w/ everyone else in the dust. Folks from Mosinee must have found this sight and started voting.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Red Wings pipeline includes Smith

NHL.com has a nice piece about the great job the Red Wings do restocking their pipeline of players during the past decade. This pipeline includes Brendan Smith, who was their 1st round selection in 2007 draft. A quote from GM Ken Holland:

"Growing up he was a winger and he converted to defense, so you know he can skate and handle the puck," Holland said. "He's still learning what to do in his own zone, but we like his natural skills like skating ability, ability to join the rush, hockey sense and his hands. He's got to get physically stronger. His dad is a big man and we're hoping he can grow into his body."

Smith has a lot to prove this year. While he played well on offense last season before injury, his defense (especially being a Dman) has a long way to improve. His classmates McD and Goloubef have passed him by based on their play last season, Brendan has some catching up to do which should be strong motivation. I have no doubt that Brendan will one day man the blue line in the NHL, and hopefully he can start showing us more glimpses of putting it all together this season.

Predictions for Tom Gilbert

Last season I started watching the NHL again (great decision on my part) and watched Tom Gilbert craft his way to an outstanding rookie season for the Edmonton Oilers.

Tom enters his 2nd NHL campaign armed w/ a season of hard fought experience.

The Lowetide blog does an outstanding job of covering the Oilers and today was his prediction on Tom Gilbert's 2008/2009 season.

GL to Tom this season!

Captain's Practices move to the Kohl

Todd at TCT reports that the Men's team has begun Captain's Practices over in the Kohl Center. One can almost smell it in the air, the season is right around the corner. These practices were previously held at Cap Ice in Middleton. I made it over there in July one monday, and will have more on that another time.

That same article mentions that former Badger Nigel Williams signed an entry level contract w/ the Colorado Avalanche. I have more to say on Nigel another time too.

Lastly, it was previously reported on this blog and HIW that Zach Bearson will not be returning to the team, Todd just confirms this. Not much to add since it was discussed previously, best of luck to Zach in the future.

Mike Richter elected to U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Former Wisconsin goaltender Mike Richter has been named as one of four members of the 2008 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class. The other 3 members of the class are Brett Hull, Brian Leetch, and Cami Granato, who has multiple Badger ties herself. This has to be by far the most impressive class of players ever to lace up skates for the red, white, and blue.

I don't have a lot of time to give my thoughts on the subject right now, hopefully Gandalf and 60 will have some more options later.

Thanks BurbankBadger for the scoop.