Saturday, January 31, 2009

1 Connelly is better than 2 Connolly's: Saturday Night Live Blog vs UMD

Well it's almost game time so we better get this thing started. Last night Wisconsin beat the University of Minnesota Duluth 3-1. Dolan, Davies, and Gorowsky had goals for Wisconsin while Conolly had a goal for Duluth.

So far in action around the WCHA tonight, Minnesota State is up 2-0 on Minnesota with 2 minutes left in the first period. Minnesota State also won big last night 6-2. Minnesota getting swept would be great news for Wisconsin in the race for first place in the WCHA. North Dakota helped out Wisconsin by losing last night as well. Denver held serve by besting Alaska Anchorage at home.

There are a few changes in the Badgers lineup tonight. Bendickson is a bit banged up and will be out of the lineup. He is replaced by Podge Turnbull who was a healthy scratch last night. Ryan Little was very in-effective last night so he sits tonight. He's replaced by Craig Johnson.

In the interest of keeping huge posts off the front page, I've moved the transcript of the live blog here. Feel free to leave comments here or there.

Saturday PWR Update

After a workman-like win over UMD, Wisconsin now sits tied with UMD in 16th position in the PWR. Friday's win shifted the individual comparison between the Badgers and the Bulldogs into UW's favor, but both teams have the same number of comparisons won.

(all PWR and RPI tables from USCHO)

Rk Team PWR Rk W-L-T Win % Rk RPI
1 Boston University 24 2 19-5-1 .7800 1 .5994*
2 Notre Dame 23 1 19-4-3 .7885 2 .5813
3t Vermont 20 10 14-6-4 .6667 4 .5740
3t Cornell 20 3 14-3-3 .7750 5 .5730*
3t Michigan 20 7 19-8-0 .7037 6 .5723
3t Minnesota 20 13 12-6-5 .6304 7 .5612*
7 Northeastern 18 5t 17-6-2 .7200 3 .5777
8t Miami 17 14 15-8-4 .6296 9 .5510
8t Denver 17 9 16-7-3 .6731 8 .5612
10 New Hampshire 15 18 12-8-4 .5833 10 .5477
11t Yale 13 4 14-5-1 .7250 13 .5400*
11t Princeton 13 8 14-6-0 .7000 11 .5444*
13 Boston College 12 22 11-8-4 .5652 12 .5405
14 Ohio State 11 11 16-8-3 .6481 14 .5373
15 North Dakota 10 21 15-11-3 .5690 16 .5327
16t Wisconsin 9 19 14-10-3 .5741 17 .5325
16t Minnesota-Duluth 9 17 13-8-6 .5926 15 .5355
18 St. Lawrence 7 23 13-10-2 .5600 19 .5277
19 St. Cloud State 6 24t 14-11-2 .5556 18 .5289
20 Air Force 5 5t 17-6-2 .7200 20 .5238
21t Colorado College 3 20 13-9-6 .5714 21 .5227
21t Alaska 3 24t 12-9-6 .5556 22 .5225
21t Massachusetts 3 28t 11-11-3 .5000 24 .5150
24 Dartmouth 2 15t 11-7-2 .6000 23 .5212
25 Mass.-Lowell 0 28t 12-12-0 .5000 25 .5133

For Saturday's game, a win might allow UW to win the comparison with North Dakota (especially if the Sioux drop another game to SCSU), but more importantly, it will ice down the comparison win against UMD.

While the PWR's intricacies can be confusing, the most important part of the formula is the RPI. The RPI breaks ties within individual comparisons and also breaks ties when three or more teams have won the same number of comparisons.

If you look at the above PWR standings, you'll note that the PWR rank is remarkably similar to the RPI rank. In fact, in the relevant part of the RPI (the teams under consideration for the tournament, the top 15 or so), the rank order almost exactly matches, with a few exceptions (Northeastern is underperforming compared to it's RPI, Yale is above it, and UMD is under).

Big picture, this means UW's single biggest improvement in the rankings will come from improving its RPI. UMD currently has a better RPI than UW, if only by a small margin. A win tonight is another step in the right direction for UW's RPI.

The current RPI looks like this:

Rk Team RPI Rk W-L-T Win % Rk SOS
1 Boston University .5994* 2 19-5-1 .7800 2 .5385
2 Notre Dame .5813 1 19-4-3 .7885 23 .5123
3 Northeastern .5777 5t 17-6-2 .7200 6 .5302
4 Vermont .5740 10 14-6-4 .6667 1 .5431
5 Cornell .5730* 3 14-3-3 .7750 30 .5045
6 Michigan .5723 7 19-8-0 .7037 7 .5285
7 Minnesota .5612* 13 12-6-5 .6304 3 .5378
8 Denver .5612 9 16-7-3 .6731 10 .5239
9 Miami .5510 14 15-8-4 .6296 9 .5248
10 New Hampshire .5477 18 12-8-4 .5833 4 .5359
11 Princeton .5444* 8 14-6-0 .7000 39 .4922
12 Boston College .5405 22 11-8-4 .5652 5 .5323
13 Yale .5400* 4 14-5-1 .7250 45 .4777
14 Ohio State .5373 11 16-8-3 .6481 34 .5003
15 Minnesota-Duluth .5355 17 13-8-6 .5926 19 .5165
16 North Dakota .5327 21 15-11-3 .5690 11 .5207
17 Wisconsin .5325 19 14-10-3 .5741 14 .5186
18 St. Cloud State .5289 24t 14-11-2 .5556 13 .5200
19 St. Lawrence .5277 23 13-10-2 .5600 18 .5170
20 Air Force .5238 5t 17-6-2 .7200 53 .4584
21 Colorado College .5227 20 13-9-6 .5714 28 .5065
22 Alaska .5225 24t 12-9-6 .5556 24 .5114
23 Dartmouth .5212 15t 11-7-2 .6000 36 .4949
24 Massachusetts .5150 28t 11-11-3 .5000 12 .5200
25 Mass.-Lowell .5133 28t 12-12-0 .5000 15 .5178

Earlier, I discussed the RPI's forumla. USCHO's RPI page amalgamates the OPct and OOPct factors into one "strength of schedule" component. Thus, UW's RPI displayed above (.5325) is the result of a 25% weight on the winning percentage and a 75% weight on the SOS (as USCHO has already done the math on that end).

So, improving UW's winning percentage will help increase their PWR. Also, UW's remaining opponents, including tonight's game against Duluth, should also increase the SOS factor. 4 of the 5 teams left on UW's schedule have better RPIs than UW - thus winning games will both improve the RPI and bump up UW in the WCHA standings.

Badgers 3 - Bulldogs 1

Before I link everything up for you, I have to give credit where credit is due.

First, for Tom Gorowsky's 3rd-period goal: Ma 60 tells me that after Sean Dolan's goal last night she looked at her friend Amy and said, "I think it's time for a goal from Tom Grrrrrrowsky," to which Amy replied, "That would be grrrrrrrreat!" Not to take anything away from Gorowsky or his hard work on the play, but I've gotta give some credit to Ma 60 and Amy. Thanks Ma and Amy!

Second, for the Badgers' victory: Chuck's live-blog record speaks for itself. Good work, Chuck. No one can dispute your power. But with great power comes great responsibility; continue to use your powers wisely.

I'd also like to say how happy we at the blog were to see Sean Dolan get the game-winner. Dolan's struggled a bit this season, and we were quite happy with his play last night!

And finally, I need to direct you to, where the first thing that you will see is a big picture of All-American and Hobey Baker Award Candidate Jamie McBain. Nice!

Milewski (Icehouse): Gameday (including 3 stars)
Milewski (TCT): UW grinds out victory in the third
Baggot (WSJ): Toughness, discipline carry UW past Duluth
Worgull (BN): Define supremacy
Potrykus (Milwaukee JS): Badgers recover from early slip
uwbadgers: Badgers down Bulldogs 3-1
umdbulldogs: UMD's four game winning streak comes to a halt

Reading the umdbulldogs recap, I see last night was only the 4th game this season in which the Bulldogs failed to score on the PP. Nice work, Badgers!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stalock Sucks: Friday Night Live Blog vs Duluth

Well It's almost game time and I'm here just in time. Tonight your Wisconsin Badgers take on the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

For Wisconsin, Brendan Smith is still out with a wrist injury. Eric Springer and Ryan Little form the third defensive pairing in his absence. Freshman forward Matt Thurber is also in the lineup tonight. Podge Turnbull, usually a regular, is sitting.

Game is on televison on My Network Television, and it is also being webcast on UW

In the interest of keeping huge posts off the front page, I've moved the transcript from the live blog here. Feel free to check it out and leave comments here or there. Thank you for tuning in!

It's Friday, I'm in Love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Oh, Thursday doesn't even start
It's Friday I'm in love


Gameday Links
TV: MyMadison TV / Charter MainStreet (live), WPT (tape-delay)
Radio: WIBA 1310 in Madison, ESPN 540 in MKE*, yahoosports ($4.95/mo)
Video webstream: uwbadgers (both nights)
Livestats - uwbadgers
Game blogs: Milewski (pre/post-game post), dare we hope for Chuck?

* Thanks to Scott in Milwaukee for keeping me up-to-date on Badger radio coverage there.

(Photo from uwbadgers: Badgers @ UMD, November 2008.

Andy Bohmbach-Blake Geoffrion-Tom Gorowsky
Jordy Murray-Derek Stepan-Michael Davies
John Mitchell-Aaron Bendickson-Ben Grotting
Patrick Johnson-Sean Dolan-Matt Thurber

Jake Gardiner-Jamie McBain
Ryan McDonagh-Cody Goloubef
Ryan Little-Eric Springer

Shane Connelly
Scott Gudmandson

Nice to see Thurber back in the lineup:
"He's shown us the things that we needed to see from him," UW coach Mike Eaves said. "He really competed hard. He made his presence known at practice. So that's why he's getting the nod."
Series Previews
uwbadgers: game notes
umdbulldogs: series preview, game notes

UMD likes to point to their top-ranked PP (#1 in WCHA, #3 nationally). But let's not forget that the Badgers have a pretty good PK (#2 in WCHA, #4 nationally). And you know what else? The Badgers' PP is pretty good, too. The Badgers 22.8% conversion in league games puts them 2nd in the leauge just behind Duluth's 23.6%.

And here's a fun little blurb from the Badgers' game notes about the Badgers' starting line:
Wisconsin’s line of junior Andy Bohmbach (3-3=6), junior Blake Geoffrion (3-3=6) and senior Tom Gorowsky (2-4=6) have combined for eight goals and 18 points in the last four games. Bohmbach, Geoffrion and Gorowsky each boast four-game scoring streaks.
Blake Geoffrion, by the way, won this week's shootout. The last time he won the shootout, he scored 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 points. Nice!

Milewski (Icehouse): Thurber earns spot again (includes lines and shootout results)
Milewski (TCT): UW vs. Minnesota-Duluth preview
Mason (Badger Herald): Men's hockey returns to ice against UMD
Breiner (Daily Cardinal): UW laces up skates for Minnesota-Duluth
Worgull (BN): Finding their place (premium content)

Here's a fun blurb from Milewski's preview:
Minnesota-Duluth is just 2-5-3 in true road games and 4-6-3 away from home this season. It is 9-1-3 at home, but Wisconsin is the only team that has beaten the Bulldogs at the DECC.

Oh, and if you haven't read about Duluth's Banner Raising or Stalock, Stalock, let me recommend doing so now. Also, don't forget to place your vote in the Patrick Johnson poll! As of right now, it looks like "Vladimir" is going to be our "winner".

Other Articles
Milewski (TCT): Many ways to define UW's identity
Baggot (WSJ): Johnson tries to get his edge back
Storlie (Daily Cardinal): Big man growing into scorer role
Milewski (TCT): Being better boosts Bulldogs
Paul Braun (uwbadgers blog): Speedos, a toilet seat and the Kennedy assassination
Baggot (WSJ): WCHA drops the puck once again

The Usual Suspects
CHN: Tale of the Tape
USCHO: This Week in the WCHA
INCH: Quake in Anchorage, Rust in Grand Forks; WCHA stick salute, bench minor, great getaway

* Skate with the Badgers follows the Sunday game *
* The Badgers are collecting non-perishables for the Second Harvest Food Bank at Sunday's game*

Gameday Links
TV: none
Radio: WIBA 1310 (Sat only)
Video Webstream: both games - uwbadgers
Live Stats: uwbadgers
Live blog: none (away games only)

Series Previews
uwbadgers: series preview, game notes
ohiostatebuckeyes: series preview

I'd pull out some fun blurbs from the Badger women's game notes like I did for the men, but there's just too much stuff. Holy cow, the Badger Women are impressive, aren't they?

Storlie (Daily Cardinal): Badger blueliners plan to spark Wisconsin in its series against Ohio State
Mosgaller (Badger Herald): Badgers face off vs. Ohio State at home

Other Articles
Watts (BigTen): Going for Four (Jessie Vetter article)
uwbadgers: Keseley earns WCHA defensive player of the week
Baggot (Badger Blog): A first-class experience
Baggot (Badger Blog): Traveled this road before
Breiner (Daily Cardinal): Fans still ignoring top hockey team

Considering that Keselely had previousy been a forward, it's pretty impressive that she won WCHA defensive POTW her 1st weekend on the blueline. Here's an excerpt from Jacqueline Boscacci's Women's Badger Hockey Insider:
Senior Angie Keseley from St. Louis Park, Minn., moved into defense for the WCHA road series against St. Cloud State on Jan. 23-24. In her season debut on defense she had five assists for a series high. Keseley had two assists in the series opener last Friday, a 5-1 Badger victory, and then helped complete the sweep over the Huskies by contributing three more assists in last Saturday‘s 6-3 win at St. Cloud State. Keseley also recorded a +5 plus/minus rating for the weekend.

So far this season, Keseley has produced 12 goals, 19 assists and 31 points for top-ranked Wisconsin and over her four-year collegiate career she has 47 goals, 66 assists and 113 points in 148 games which ranks her 10th in career points at UW.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The worst home loss in Oiler history?

The Oilers website calls Tuesday's 10-2 loss the worst home loss in Oilers history. Bruce at Oil Droppings, while agreeing that the loss was brutal, tells us that this isn't quite true, as the Oilers website is discounting the WHA days of the Oilers.

I thought this part of Bruce's post was pretty funny:
The Sportsnet guys told us it was the most goals the Oilers had given up in a home game since allowing 9 to Chicago last month. Consulting my Grade One arithmetic text, I discovered that 10 is actually more than 9.
For what it's worth, Bruce had to go back to 1982 (10-8 loss) and 1981 (10-4 loss) to find the last times the Oilers allowed 10 goals at home. And he had to go back to 1977 (11-1 loss) to find the Oilers' worst home loss in history.

You might be wondering how good ol' Tom Gilbert played on Tuesday. I didn't watch much of the game, but apparently while not being fantastic, he wasn't horrible. So while he may not have helped a lot (and who can blame him the way the rest of the team was playing), at least he didn't really hurt. Per Staples:
Tom Gilbert, 5. The only Oilers defenceman who didn't make a goal-causing error, and that says something. Played OK, nothing too good, nothing too bad.

Speaking of TG, BDHS was discussing who the Oilers should and shouldn't trade, and here's what he said about him:
77 - Tom Gilbert - People talk about moving Gilbert and he is actually the guy after Hemsky who I would make an untouchable. A better player than Grebeshkov, signed longterm to a nice contract and much younger then Souray and Lubo. An important part of this club through the window we are talking about and beyond. When Souray and Lubo's contracts expire he won't be thirty yet - you don't move a guy like that

National coverage of MJ's selection

These links are courtesy of Paul Capobianco's Badger Hockey Insider. (If you haven't yet signed up, I highly recommend.)

Los Angeles Times
USA Today
Associated Press
Globe and Mail
Colorado Springs Gazette
Google search of Mark Johnson Olympic articles

Also, UW Assistant AD Justin Doherty has a nice piece on USA Hockey choice in on the mark

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Around the WCHA Jan 30 & 31

WCHA pts are at a premium right now, and its only going to get more intense down the stretch. Denver had a chance to take a big leap forward last weekend in the standings, but barely moved ahead of the field. The Denver/North Dakota series included a funny moment when Gwoz was ejected by Todd Anderson for arguing an obvious call, and then made a little scene on the ice. Bad officiating is the one constant in the WCHA; something even hated rivals can agree on. Last week's results:

Duluth swept Mankato
St. Cloud went to the Springs (CC) and returned w/ 3 pts
Michigan Tech and UAA tied twice
Denver salvaged one point from North Dakota

While Denver remains on top the WCHA, 8th place is only 8 pts behind them right now. A rough breakdown:

1 - Denver - 18 games - 24 pts
2 - North Dakota - 18 games - 23 pts
3 - Wisconsin - 18 games - 22 pts
4 - minnesota - 16 games - 21 pts
4 - CC - 20 games - 21 pts
6 - Duluth - 18 games - 19 pts
7 - St. Cloud - 18 games - 17 pts
8 - Mankato - 20 games - 16 pts
9 - UAA - 18 games - 14 pts
10 - Tech - 20 games - 7 pts

The MacNaughton is still anyone's Cup to win, and home ice is far, far from decided. Mankato and CC are in the worst position w/ 2 extra games played and kinda spiraling down the tubes lately. Thanks to the Western College Hockey Blog for posting this article from They give a breakdown of what every teams chances are at the MacNaughton and home ice. Wisconsin is given a 9% chance at 1st, but 79% chance at home ice.

This week's games will fill in some more pieces of the puzzle. I'm sure there will be a surprise somewhere.

Duluth @ Wisconsin - Badgers SWEEP
North Dakota @ St. Cloud - both teams are playing well, I say split
minnesota home & home w/ Mankato - home teams each win
UAA @ Denver - Denver takes three points

Mike Valley leaves volunteer position

Wow, this really stinks. Apparently the NCAA frowned upon Mike Valley volunteering for the Badgers and running his own goaltending camps at the same time. So, in order to be able to run his camps, he had to leave his volunteer position. I'm pretty disappointed by this, as I liked Mike Valley a lot. He did some really nice work with Brian Elliott in the offseason, and I thought he was a pretty good choice to fill the position vacated by Bill Howard.

It appears the position will be vacant for the rest of the season. Connelly and Gudmandson have the option of returning to the previous working relationship with Valley in which they paid for the coaching, but they have opted not to do so.

Apparently the goaltending coaching duties will be split up among the rest of the coaching staff. And Connelly and Gudmandson will themselves and each other. I don't see how anything good can come of this.

No word yet on who (if anyone) might fill the position next year.

Ugh. I'm a Sad Badger.

Robert Morris, Niagara admitted to Atlantic Hockey

The first step to Bemidji State joining the WCHA happened a few weeks ago when the WCHA unanimously voted to accept applications for admittance. They cleared another small hurdle today when Atlantic Hockey accepted Niagara and Robert Morris, two members of the CHA conference that also houses Bemidji and Alabama-Huntsville.

With Niagara and Robert Morris moving to Atlantic Hockey, I don't think there is any possible way that the WCHA turns their backs on Bemidji and lets the program die. I'm not going to go into details on why they need to, because you know all the reasons, but things are starting to come together to save that awful thing they called the CHA.

One issue is obviously what Alabama-Huntsville is going to do. Geographically they aren't a great fit anywhere. Two names that have been brought up the most to move to the WCHA are UNO and Air Force. Both teams have gone on the record stating they will NOT be applying for membership in the WCHA. The next possible team, and most likely, is Northern Michigan. I truly believe that they will apply to re-join the WCHA, and Huntsville will apply for membership to be the 12th team in the CCHA. Is it the best option? I'm not sure, but at this point it seems like the most likely to happen.

Who's really behind the mask?

Is Stalock really Stalock?

For the better part of the last three seasons, Alex Stalock has backstopped the Duluth Bulldogs. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, this was to less than stellar results: 9th and 8th place finishes in the WCHA standings. His WCHA stats tell the tale (overall stats were not used due to the copious amount of non-conference cupcakes on Duluth’s schedule).

2006/07: 3-12-2, 3.16 GAA, 0.889 Save % - 13th & 14th in the WCHA respectively (NHL starter Brian Elliott was 1st in both GAA and Save %)

2007/08: 9-14-5, 2.49 GAA, 0.912 Save % - both 9th in the WCHA

Fast forward to this season, Duluth is currently in 6th place in the WCHA after a sweep of Mankato and is knocking on CC’s backdoor looking to jump into the top 5. Through all of this, somehow, someway, Alex Stalock is leading the WCHA is both GAA (2.34) and Save % (0.920).

Something here doesn’t add up so the 60 Minutes, No Alibis, No Regrets Blog sent our crack team of researchers and investigators to Duluth to get to the real scoop on the transformation of Alex Stalock, from a great big sieve to a sieve w/ better stats. I think you’ll be surprised by what we found: the person behind the mask (literally) is no longer Alex Stalock.

While the # and name remain the same, the person underneath this jersey is a different person entirely. Who is this person? A former Russian pro hockey goalie, who to protect his identity will be referred to as “Vladimir”. The picture to the left shows a Russian goalie, could this be “Vladimir”?

Realizing that his team was going no where w/ Alex Stalock in net, Duluth Men’s Coach Scott Sandelin had to do something, to not only make a run for the MacNaughton Cup, but to save his own job. Coach Sandelin reached out to Russia in his time of need, not unlike others in his athletic department.

The model for this decision began w/ the Duluth’s Women’s team, properly called the Duluth Foreign Legion (DFL). The DFL has the highest concentration of European players of any team in the WCHA. For the record, we don’t consider Canadians foreign players. Instead of giving scholarships to worthy North American women, the DFL reaches across the ocean. Last season, DFL coach Shannon Miller brought in a formerly compensated Russian hockey player named Iya Gavrilova. The NCAA slapped the DFL’s hand for the obvious infraction, but since its not football or basketball, didn’t really do anything about it. A light went on in Scott Sandelin’s head and he accessed the following equation:

Shannon Miller + previously paid Russian player = Cheating

Cheating + NCAA’s blind eye = National Championship

“Vladimir’s” background in Russia was a prefect fit to step in and pretend to be someone else. Before becoming a professional hockey player, “Vladimir” was a child actor. His most famous role was that of a child w/ an extra limb who grew up near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in a show roughly translated into English as Communism is Great! The show was a hit throughout Russia (for the hundreds of people who had TVs to watch it) and “Vladimir” became a star.

A school administrator who supports his coaches breaking NCAA rules had the following to say, “’Vlad’s’ acting ability is paramount to him playing the role of Alex Stalock. What other goalie does such asinine things as wandering way out of his net, or swinging his stick at opponents and taking roughing penalties after the whistle. ‘Vladimir’ captures all of this perfectly, otherwise how would we be able to pull this off?”

The entire situation had been kept a secret to anyone not associated w/ the team until this point. Why expose the story now? Plain and simple, the NCAA did nothing to the DFL who should have forfeiting any games that Iya Gavrilova played in and been barred from post season play. Why wouldn’t the same happen to the Men’s team. A tainted season w/ a tainted championship isn’t so bad is it?

Most parents and fans took the news of “Vladimir” in stride, its nothing new on the North Shore. There were a few who weren’t so happy about the news though. One of those people was a fan of Brady Hjelle, a freshman goalie at Duluth and current backup to “Vladimir”. “When I found out it all finally made sense. Brady is a pretty good goalie and the Alex Stalock I’ve watched the previous two seasons is a complete disaster. I figured Brady would get some PT this season mabye even start, but what are you going to do against a Russian? I knew the Cold War ending was going to screw someone over.”

Coach Sandelin’s offer wasn’t immediately accepted by “Vladimir”, but as winter set in (in August) he was glad that he made the trip. W/ a heavy accent he told us, “Duluth is much like Siberia. Very cold, dumpy buildings. I feel at home.”

The San Jose Sharks who previously drafted Alex Stalock would not comment on the record, but off the record were relieved by Duluth’s decision so they wouldn’t have to break the bad news to the kid in the future.

In the end Coach Sandelin was left to create his own equation for success this season. Ufortunately for him, some parts didn’t fall in place like they did for the DFL.

Scott Sandelin + illegal Russian goalie = cheating

Cheating + utter lack of talent = road trip for the 1st round of the WCHA playoffs

For all the hard work and planning, it appears another sad ending is coming Duluth’s way to end this season.

The story does not end there though; what happened to the real Alex Stalock?

No one in the athletic department was willing to tell us what happened to him. All they would say is that he is still involved w/ the team, but in a non-competitive manner. One official went as far to say, “…he’s not even good enough to be a walk-on goalie…”

This wasn’t a good enough answer so our staff dug deeper and eventually found the answer. Alex Stalock is now the man behind the bulldog mascot at hockey games. The picture to the left shows the real Alex Stalock in the guise of the mascot Chump the bulldog. He is holding a child who is obviously frightened.

His fall from the ranks of a WCHA starter to the man behind a mascot has been tough, and he was not willing to provide comment. The pangs of sadness hit their peak during games when the student section chants “Stalock, Stalock!” not knowing he is no longer the man behind the mask. If one looks really close, they can see a big fuzzy mascot tear roll down Chump’s cheek.

More Mark Johnson . . .

I'm pretty excited about Mark Johnson being named head coach of the Women's US Olympic team. In addition to the articles linked yesterday, I have a few more links for you:

Milewski (Icehouse): How the team heard
Baggot (WSJ): Special journey ahead for Johnson
Donohue (Badger Herald): Johnson named coach of 2010 Games

And lookie, the news even made!
Former Devil Mark Johnson tapped to coach US Women's Olympic team in 2010

One of the most interesting parts of yesterday's press conference was listening to Natalie Darwitz talk about how excited she was that Johnson was named. And you could tell that she really was excited. I thought that was pretty cool.

Gandalf was listening to the radio yesterday, and he tells me that if Hilary Knight and Meghan Duggan make the team, they'll miss the whole season next year but won't lose any eligibility. Which is what I would have expected; I just hadn't thought about it until he mentioned it to me.

With having the Blaine Residency all this year for post-collegiate players, and with having all of the collegiate and post-collegiate players in Blaine all next year, USA Hockey seems pretty committed to having a good showing in the Olympic Games.

It's all in the announcement and various articles, but I thought I'd go ahead and list what Mark Johnson and Team USA will be up to leading up to the Olympics.

April 4-12, 2009: IIHF World Women's Championship (Hameenlinna, Fin)
August: Olympic tryouts (Blaine, MN)
Aug 31 - Sept 6, 2009: National Women's Invitational Tournament
Nov 2-8, 2009: Four Nations Cup (Fin)
Sept 25, 2009 - Feb 4, 2010: Qwest Tour

I've heard that the preliminary roster for the April WW roster usually comes out in the end of January or the beginning of February, with the final roster being set 3 to 4 weeks later. So I'd expect that we'll hear about the prelimiary roster soon.

The National Women's Invitational Tournament is a test event for the Olympic games.

The Qwest Tour includes games against Team Canada and Finland, WCHA/HE/ECAC All-Star teams, and 3 WCHA teams -- including the Badgers in January 2009 (date TBA).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wisconsin Recruiting: Lapic Squared?

It's been said that 2 is always better than 1. In the case of the Lapic brothers, Tyler (senior) and Darren (sophomore), that statement couldn't seem so true.

Tyler, already committed to Wisconsin is the one who gets all the publicity. Darren? To outsiders, he's just been know as Tyler's little brother. That's about to change.

Due to another great New Prague sophomore, Seth Ambroz, deciding to play this season in United States Hockey League, Darren has been provided an opportunity to play on the Trojans top line with his brother and another D-1 prospect, senior Schyler Adams. "Little Lapic" has done little to disappoint this season. He's put up a line of 7-13-20 in 16 games so far this season. The Lapic-Lapic-Adams line has drawn praise from Minnesota hockey circles. Minnesota Sports has the line listed as the 7th best in the state of Minnesota. They had this to say about the super soph, "Darren is the younger brother of Tyler and has taken on a distributor’s role on this top line, with a team-high seven assists already. He did score 14 goals last year and was the fourth-highest scorer."

Obviously the Wisconsin coaching staff is fully aware of Darren's talent and there is no doubt that they are keeping an eye on him. Many NHL teams have been around to watch Tyler play, and don't think for a second they haven't taken notice in Darren. While having a brother at a school doesn't always guarantee landing the little brother, (see: Gardiner, Max) I have a feeling that the Lapic situation will work out for the Cardinal and White.

Wisconsin Hockey: Littles and Lapics.

A few Tuesday afternoon links

  • Yesterday's Ottawa Citizen had a fantastic article about Brian Elliott and his journey to get to where his is today; it's a must-read. The Ottawa Citizen also evaluated Sens players at the all-star break, and here's what they had to say about Els:
    Brian Elliott, 3-1-1, 2.18, .924: It's tough to think that a ninth-round draft choice can spin some magic in the NHL, but maybe Elliott can. He has certainly played well so far, he played well in Binghamton and he was an outstanding college goalie at Wisconsin, winning the NCAA championship in 2006. So it doesn't look as if he's a fluke. If he demonstrates he can play well consistently, Ottawa might find the goalie it lost through the misadventures of Ray Emery.
  • Last week the Ottawa Citizen had an article on Dany Heatley that I didn't stumble on until today. Here's what Heater said going into the all-star break:

    "I think I've felt a little better with the puck lately," he said. "That's the way it goes. Some people get on you when it's not going in the net, and you just got to understand sometimes it doesn't go in, sometimes you don't get a bounce here or there, and that's how it was going there for a little while. It's nice that it's going in again."

  • The Worcester Telegram & Gazette has a nice article about Don Granato and his return to Worcester for last night's AHL All-Star Game. Granato, of course, was head coach of the PlanetUSA All-Star team. Prior to his diagnosis with Hodgkins lymphoma, Granato was head coach of the Worcester Ice Cats.
  • Todd also has an article about how Brendan Smith has been handling being injured. Smith won't play this weekend, and he may or may not be back next weekend. The article also mentions the benefit of last week's bye for younger players, including Derek Stepan and Jordy Murray.
  • The Badger Herald has an article that talks about some of the same things. In regards to the bye week, Mike Eaves responded as follows:
    “Today we came in, had a workout this morning to get rid of some of those cobwebs physically,” Eaves said in his weekly press conference Monday. “Hopefully we’ll be mentally fresh to come back on the ice and be productive. … History tells us that sometimes it takes a period [to shake the rust off.] You may look sluggish for a period. When we come out of that period tied, one up or one down, we’re going to know we’re in pretty good shape.”
    Well, I sure hope the boys are ready to go this weekend; I'm not sure that they can afford the luxury of shaking rust off during the game. Andy Bohmbach told the blog that the team's goal is to get to DC and win the title. Well, if that's their goal, and if they're going to drop 2 games to Northern and give away a game to CC (not to mention dropping all those games at the beginning of the season), they can't really afford to drop points to UMD because they're rusty. But you know, from what I recall, the Badgers didn't look all that rusty in the opening Showdown game after being off for several weeks, so they should be able to come back from 1 week off just fine.

Patrick Johnson Owns (insert name) vs Duluth

Only 10 games left in the regular season for the Badgers, and its time for everyone to step up their play to lock up home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs, and maybe even make a push for the MacNaughton Cup. Following a week off, everyone should be ready to go and that includes Patrick Johnson, who should be back to 100% and ready to own some Bulldogs.

In November, Wisconsin traveled to Duluth for a series where they gained 3 big points and gave Duluth their only home loss so far this season. The fan’s vote that week was for Alex Stalock to be owned and Patrick did not disappoint, sneaking the first goal of the weekend past the big sieve.

Wisconsin remains 3rd in the WCHA standings while Duluth is 6th, though Duluth is currently ahead of Wisconsin in the one ranking that really matters: the Pairwise. They are currently #13, Wisconsin is #16. A sweep by Wisconsin should turn this comparison for good.

Options #1 – Justin Fontaine, he leads the Bulldogs in scoring w/ 12-22-34. INCH is talking this kid up as a possibility for the Hobey Baker because apparently he has been a force on the Duluth PP. Duluth has the best PP in the WCHA, Wisconsin has a stout core of PKers who have done great since the horrible start to the season; something has to give. Instead of the Hobey Baker, he can get an award called Owned, and Patrick is the presenter.

Option #2 – Josh Meyers, he leads all Bulldog blueliners w/ 7-12-19. I’m sure there are some Duluth fans who think he is the top dman in the WCHA; I guess they never heard of All-American Candidate Jamie McBain. There is another name Duluth fans will know after this weekend: Patrick Johnson.

Option #3 – Cousins Connolly, Mike and Jack are 4th and 5th in scoring for Duluth respectively, and actually they aren’t related. I suppose this is impressive for a pair of freshmen. Before their heads get too big they need to be put in their place; paging Patrick Johnson.

Option #4 – Alex Stalock, he’s already been owned but I couldn’t help including him once again. Anyone who swings their goalie stick at opponents and punches someone below the belt (ask Blake Geoffrion about that) deserved to be owned. How many other goalies have 4 minor penalties this season? Hey Badgers, how about you put a dozen goals past this clown this weekend so everyone gets some ice cream?

60 Minutes. No Alibis. No Regrets. 60,000th visitor

When 60 approached me to be a member of this blog, I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. Some of you may remember a blog that I had started a few years back, (hockey thoughts) that had mild success, that I simply couldn't keep up with due to full time school and full time work. At the urging of DPlaya, I joined up and contributed to his Hockey in Wisconsin blog in my free time. After Dplaya went corporate, 60 did some behind the scenes work, throwing together Gandalf, myself, and more recently blockski, and it has transcended this blog into what it is today.

At 8:26 this morning, the 60 Minutes. No Alibis. No Regrets blog got it's 60,000th visitor. (From Escanaba, Michigan) I felt that since the Wisconsin men's program has 6 National championships, this would be a good time to bring it up. We're now averaging almost 300 visitors per day. While this may not seem like a ton, it's not bad considering we started the blog a mere 10 months ago. Sometime in the next day or 2, we will reach 100,000 page views.

You may like the blog, you may thing it sucks, it really doesn't matter to me. Thank you all for reading because although I don't post a ton, when I do it's a great release for me and I appreciate you willing to take the time to read it. Thanks to 60, Gandalf, and Blockski for the great work you do, and to continued success.

Wisconsin Hockey: Growing exponentially

Mark Johnson officially named Olympic head coach

We already knew about this yesterday, but now it's official; USA Hockey has named Mark Johnson as the Head Coach of the US Women's Olympic team.
"We're extremely happy to have Mark lead our team throughout the next year," said Michele Amidon, USA Hockey's director of women's hockey. "Through coaching within our U.S. women's national program for the past three years and guiding Wisconsin to record-breaking success, Mark has shown a great ability to connect with the players and lead teams to victory."
The press conference starts shortly on, and of course it'll be archived if you can't catch it live.

Other links:
Milewski (TCT): 30 years later, Johnson will go for Olympic gold again
uwbadgers: Johnson named 2010 Olympic coach
uwbadgers: Cornell and Koch to lead UW women's hockey for 2009-10
Potrykus (Milwaukee JS blog): Johnson eager to lead US women on hockey's biggest stage
Worgull (BN): The Golden Touch
Milewski (Icehouse): How the team heard

Aaron Bendickson

(Photo by MJ Fleming)

I didn't pay much attention to Aaron Bendickson his freshman season. But he caught my eye right off the bat last season in Dayton at the Lefty McFadden, and I've really enjoyed watching him play ever since. So I was really happy to see him recently score his 1st 2 goals of the season.

After recording just 1 assist in his 1st 17 games this season, Bendickson has 3 points (2G, 1A) in his last 3 games.

Last week, Tyler Mason of the Badger Herald had a nice article about Bendickson and his current linemates, John Mitchell and Ben Grotting.

“I think with the success has come confidence,” Eaves said of Bendickson. “That’s a big thing for any athlete, and it’s no different for [Aaron]. I think the confidence has allowed him to stay on top of his game and be more consistent with that high level of play.”

In moving up to the third line, the smaller, quicker Bendickson has brought an element not seen in Mitchell or Grotting’s games.

“What Aaron’s brought is when we get the puck in, he’s able to shift in and out of small areas,” Grotting said. “He’s really good with the puck. He’s able to find us in the offensive zone, and John’s able to put the puck in the net. We’ve been having a lot of success.”

I hope to see Bendickson score a few more goals this weekend.

Tom Gilbert

Admittedly, I haven't been following Tom Gilbert very closely this season. Over the past 2 weeks I've tried to catch up a bit, and today I have some more catch-up material.
  • Apparently the defensive pairings were switched up in November. After starting the season paired with Denis Grebeshkov, Gilbert is now paired with Sheldon Souray. And according to Mudcrutch, Souray-Gilbert have been playing the toughest minutes, facing the toughest competition.
  • Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal has a nice article praising the Oilers' D-corps, including Gilbert.
    "You're never really comfortable playing against the Oilers because of this (blue-line strength), even when leading by three goals, you're three shifts from being tied. It's a little unnerving," said Hitchcock.
    "If you don't have defencemen who can get the puck up the ice, you spend so much time in your end, and when you do get it as a forward, it's around the boards or off the boards into the neutral zone and the forwards have to come back so hard to get the puck," said Oilers assistant coach Charlie Huddy. "You need defencemen who can get the puck to forwards with some speed, one or two tape-to-tape passes and that's how your create offence."

    "Every time Gibby (Gilbert) touches the puck now he's making a play, and Lubomir was a handful all night for Columbus; he was flying out there. Sheldon's played great all year," added Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

    "Mac (MacTavish) wants us to be as much of an offensive threat as the forwards ... that's all six of our D-men," said Gilbert. "It's tough to defend when you have defencemen coming late into plays and we get lots of shots from the back end, too."
  • Oilertown posted player report cards for the half-way point in the season (41 games).
    Tom Gilbert: B+
    Gilbert is going to hit near 40 points this season, and considering he's the third best point-producer from the back-end, that's quite impressive. I thought he got off to a little bit of a tough start, but he's closed up his game since joining Souray. His contract is pretty massive, but I think he'll be every bit worth it for the duration of it. He's a really solid defenceman.
  • I didn't realize this until last night, but Bruce at Oil Droppings has been grading players' game performances periodically during the season. Here's what he had to say about Gilbert:
    Oilers 5 - Capitals 2 (1/13/09)
    Tom Gilbert - 5: Recovered from a horrid first period to make a solid contribution down the stretch. Had a horrendous giveaway 20 seconds in where Roli saved his bacon, made another bad pass right to Semin minutes later.

    Flames 6 - Oilers 4 (12/31/08)
    Tom Gilbert - 6: Had a far more effective game than his regular partner Souray, contributing an assist on a second-unit powerplay goal and another on Cole's meaningless late tally. Wasn't on for a Calgary goal in his 17:21.

    Senators 3 - Oilers 2 (12/30/08)
    Tom Gilbert - 7: An effective night with 4 shots, 2 blocks, +1 and a Corsi of +10. Landed a couple of beauty body checks in the first, neither of which seemed to register with the RTSS counter for whatever reason. When Gilbert does decide to step up as a surprise tactic he can be an effective hitter.

    Oilers 7 - Blue Jackets 2 (11/18/08)
    Tom Gilbert – 8: Probably played his best game of the season, a goal, a helper, +3, and 3 blocked shots. Looked composed with the puck when under pressure, a trademark of Tom’s A game, and broke the puck out of his end well.

    It's a bit misleading, I think, that Gilbert's game grades here declined from 11/18 to 1/13, as the general consensus seems to be that he has improved his play over the course of the season. I think we need to remember that there's a lot of data missing here, as Bruce only graded a handful of the Oilers' 46 GP, so we can't really draw trends from it. (Regardless, it's nice to see that Bruce has never given Gilbert anything lower than a 5.) Also, Bruce only graded one game from the 2nd half of the season in which Gilbert is 1-5-6, +3 in 5 games. I'll be interested in seeing future grades.
The Oil return from the All-Star break tonight by taking on the Sabres in Edmonton at 8PM CST. Perhaps I'll do a better job following them from here-on. (I'll at least try.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

GB Gamblers/Tri-City Storm Scouting Report

Last friday night, I made my way to GB for the Gamblers game against Tri-City. Tri-City is not a good team, and the Gamblers dominated the whole night. It was watching a Gamblers game last season, just in reverse. I was joined by buckyville's own DoorCountyBadger, but I didn't let his Door County Bias get in the way.

Jefferson Dahl (2010 forward recruit from Eau Claire) was in the lineup and had a goal and an assist late in the 1st period as GB scored twice w/ in 20 seconds or so. I don't have much to add to my previous scouting report from around Thanksgiving. He looked good on the PP, and spent some time camped in front of the net, always a good sign. Another season in the USHL will do well for his strength IMO.

Sean Little (2010 forwrd recruit from Fondy) was ever so close to notching his first USHL point on the 4th line friday night. He had a great feed to a teammate that was stopped, had a perfect tip that the goalie was in the exact position to defend (luck on that one) and hit the pipe later in the game. He looked much improved from when I last saw him. He also took a puck off his helmet, which didn't phase him.

I made a point of watching David Donnellan on Tri-City a defenseman who Chuck pointed out has garnered interest from UW. It was tough though, his team spent so much time in their end. He looked like a strong skater who moved the puck well on top. He was out there on the PP.

Following sweep, Duluth raises banner to celebrate

Duluth has many banners hanging in the rafters to remember old glories that will likely never return to the shores of Lake Superior.
Over the weekend the Duluth Bulldogs hosted and promptly swept the Mankato Land Cows. Under a new fan stimulus plan by the administration, following any home successes the team raises a banner to celebrate. As the freshly minted banner was raised, the student section chanted “BANNER, BANNER!” in the same lame manner that they chant “STALOCK, STALOCK!” during games.

Regarding the new stimulus plan, one school administration official had the following to say, “We understand that most teams raise banners for significant accomplishments like NCAA or WCHA Championships. Do you see that happening in Duluth anytime soon? The school doesn’t, so we need something to boost moral, and there hasn’t been much to do that since the 2004 Frozen Four anomaly. We are proud of our WCHA titles and NCAA success during the 83/84 and 84/85 seasons, but that was a long time ago. Back then the DUMP {the proper name for the DECC} wasn’t such a joke.”

Worried about student welfare, a local climatologist added, “I think these banners are a good idea. Right now the only thing students have to look forward to is the eight weeks total of spring, summer and fall every year in Duluth. Well and the fact they can go to the youth center downtown and not worry about handguns.”

The spokesman for the company who creates the banners chimed in, “This is all very bizarre to us, but they pay us on time so what the hell, eh? Originally they wanted banners for each goal and assist throughout the game. We pointed out the obvious problem of not knowing who would score to have the proper banner created. They were planning on stopping the games straight away, but someone thankfully squashed that plan.”

Not to be left out, a janitor at the DUMP included his thoughts on the banners, “Whatever anyone else tells you, none of it’s the truth. The real reason for the extra banners is the asbestos raining down from the ceiling. Some scientist figured it all out and we’d be shut down w/ out the banners. You’ve been inside, I mean look at this place, what a ****ing DUMP!”

The Mankato fans and players were not impressed. One fan that made the long winter trek to the North Shore just shock their head. “I understand raising these banners, I’m going to have to contact our admin about doing the same thing, but without everyone cheering Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, it just didn’t feel right.”

Duluth fans on the other hand were happy, though they admitted to being easily amused living in a frozen wasteland. Hearing that Wisconsin was interested in the story of the banner raisings someone yelled, “How many Hobey Baker winners does your school have?! That is right, none; we have ****in Brett Hull too!” Our correspondent had no reasonable reply to such stupidity.

Duluth does not raise banners for success on the road, and that is a good thing since they won’t be finding any when they travel to Madison to visit the Wisconsin Badgers this weekend.

Breaking News: Mark Johnson to coach USA Women Olympic Team

I just heard this from Brian Posick on 1310 WIBA here in Madison, that while its not 100% official, word is that Mark Johnson will be named the coach of the 2010 USA Women's Olympic Hockey Team.

Assuming this is true, this is a HUGE accomplishment for Coach Johnson and well deserved based on his success on the national and NCAA levels.

Once confirmation is available and articles start rolling in, the post will be edited.

EDIT: I'm sure there will be more articles after the official announcement is made later today (12:30 CST, will be live streamed), but here's what we have so far:

Milewski (Icehouse): Reading between the lines
TCT: UW's Johnson in line for Olympic coaching job
Baggot (WSJ): Johnson will coach Olympic team
NBC 15: UW's Johnson reportedly to coach USA in 2010 Olympics
WKOW 27: UW coach Mark Johnson to be named US Women's Olympic Head Coach

Dany Heatley competes at the NHL All Star Game

Over the weekend former Badger legend Dany Heatley competed in the 2009 NHL All Star Game that took place in historic Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

It marked the third time that Heatley took the ice in an NHL All Star Game, (2003, 2007 were the others) and the fourth time that he had been selected to attend. (He missed 2008 with a shoulder injury)

What would an NHL All Star game be without at least 1 goal by Heater? Dany tied the game up at 9-9, 2:17 into the third period. Heatley now has 8 career All Star game points. (6-2-8)

Heatley won the 2003 All Star game MVP when he recorded a remarkable (and record tying) 4 goals. Forever quotable Jeremy Roenick had this to say about the youngster, "Twenty-two years old? You're not supposed to be able to pull moves like that at 22. My goodness."

Dany is currently leading a surprisingly bad Senators team in scoring with 43 points in 44 games. There have even been trade rumors surrounding members of the potent "CASH" line of Heatley, Daniel Alfredson, and Jason Spezza.

The Senators hit the ice for the first time since the break Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devil in what will be a premier match up in terms of former WCHA players. The University of Wisconsin will be represented by Heatley and freshly named starting goaltender Brian Elliott. They also feature North Dakota defenseman Brian Lee. Lee will be facing former North Dakota standouts Travis Zajac and Zach Parise (2009 Eastern Conference All Star) who are having great years for the New Jersey Devils.

(Photos by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hockey Canada's National Women's Team January Camp

Hockey Canada is holding a training camp for the National Women's Team this week (Jan 25-30) in Red Deer, AB. Included on the camp roster are Badgers Carla MacLeod, Meaghan Mikkelson, and Bobbi Jo Slusar. The announcement notes that the training camp is one of the steps leading up to the 2009 IIHF World Women's Championship (Apr 4-12 in Hameenlinna, Finland).

HF's prospects updates

A number of Badgers are included in Hockey's Futures latest round of prospects updates.

Red Wings 2008-09 NCAA prospects update

Brendan Smith, D – University of Wisconsin

6’2, 174lbs
Acquired: 1st round, 27th overall, 2007

The Red Wings surprised many when they took Smith 27th overall in the 2007 draft. While he was project to go in a later round, Smith fits the mold of many other Red Wings defensemen as a small but very mobile player. In his rookie season at the University of Wisconsin he was able to tally 12 points in 22 games played. He has been praised for all aspects of his offensive game including his smooth skating, outlet passing and ability to quarterback the power play. Smith’s defensive game has always been the question.

This season Smith has surpassed his rookie season totals and has 18 points in 21 games. Additionally, he is playing a more sound defensive game and has developed a better sense of when to pinch and how to position himself on the ice. If Smith can continue his progress in the college ranks, then he could certainly pan out as a first or second pairing defenseman.

Canadiens 2008-09 NCAA prospects

Patrick Johnson, F (7th round, 206th overall, 2008) -- University of Wisconsin

The sophomore winger has played a solid role for the Badgers to date, although a knee injury suffered during the team's first game back following a three-week holiday break may prove to be a setback for the young forward.

The slight winger, who measures just 5'9 and 155 pounds, has scored two goals and three assists in his second season with the club. These numbers represent a drop in production from his 2007-08 totals of eight goals and 13 assists in 40 games. However, he has helped the club earn a 16th overall ranking behind a 12-9-3 overall record so far. Their 9-5-2 record finds them in second place, three points behind WCHA-leading Denver.

Ryan McDonagh, D (1st round, 12th overall, 2007) -- University of Wisconsin

McDonagh has rapidly played his way to the top of the Canadiens' prospect pool. He's been a rock on the Badgers' blueline and was a physical force during the U.S.' fifth-place performance at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

The 6'1, 203-pound blueliner has logged major minutes as a sophomore with the 17th ranked Badgers, and has scored four goals and added five assists from the back end. These numbers are comparable to his 2007-08 totals of five goals and 12 points in 40 games. McDonagh's also played more of a physical presence in his 20 games at the collegiate level this season, earning 37 minutes.

The two-way blueliner was a presence at the World Juniors, adding three assists to the cause, while finishing with a team-leading plus-five rating in Team USA's six games. The fact that he only registered two shots in those games was more of a reflection of the defensive role he was asked to play at the tournament.

Kings 2008-09 AHL prospects update


Veterans of the AHL, Joe Piskula and Drew Bagnall, have logged a lot of ice time playing the roles of defensive defensemen. Piskula has been slowed by injury while Bagnall is the lone defenseman to appear in every game for Manchester. Bagnall has emerged as more of a physical defenseman this season and has been the stalwart against the opposition around the net. Piskula continues to provide sound positional defense and solid skating to keep the opposing forwards at bay. While his potential for the NHL has largely leveled off, he has a steadying influence on the blueline in Manchester, not dissimilar to what Joe Rullier provided the Monarchs for years, but not as physical.

Rounding out the group of seven are Alec Martinez, Andrew Campbell and Josh Kidd, Davis Drewiske, each playing in their first full season of professional hockey. Martinez is the more mobile defenseman of the group, but has been slow to adjust to the AHL. One of the better offensive-minded defensemen in college hockey last season, Martinez needs work on aspects of his offensive game to retain his reputation. If he can begin to find the back of the net with a little more regularity, the Monarchs might be set offensively from their blueline with the combination of Martinez and Voinov.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday evening news & notes

  • Gandalf just mentioned today's WSJ article about All-American Candidate Jamie McBain, but I don't think that either of us yet mentioned the uwbadgers feature about him. So I thought I'd better do so now: Speaking softly and carrying a big stick.
  • Lowetide looks at the performance of the Oilers' D, including Tom Gilbert:
    Gilbert P: 46gp, 4-8-12 (.250) A:46gp, 3-21-24 (.522)

    My theory with Gilbert is that he would be forced into a more defensive role and that the lack of PP time would hurt his numbers. He has in fact exceeded my full-season prediction at the AS break and is once again having a career year offensively. This year's 5x5/60 (1.23) is the best on the club (D) and his -5.0 Corsi comes against the toughs and with average help. Last season's numbers in those categories (0.98 and -5.2) got him a very nice contract and he is delivering on the promise this season. His GF/GA ON this season (35-32) is a slight improvement (65-67) over one season ago. Tom Gilbert has more than covered my bet and is delivering a quality season in a very tough role.
  • Worgull has a piece (premium content) about the Badgers position in the standings and their upcoming schedule. Derek Stepan comments on the Badgers' recent loss to CC, and Cody Goloubef comments on the remaining schedule.
    “It’s bitter pill to swallow and live with for two weeks,” center Derek Stepan said. “I would like to get back into the swing of things. We played well on Friday but we kind of let things slip up a little bit on Saturday. We’re going to do a lot of practice, learn from our mistakes and we’ve got to get better.”

    “It’s big to get some rests,” defenseman Cody Goloubef said. “We know these games coming up are big. I think it helps, the timing is nice and we’re here to win.”

Joe Pavelski Charity Golf Tournament & Cookout

(Joe Pavelski during the Badgers' NCAA playoff game v. Bemidji at the Resch Center on March 25, 2006. Photo by Neil Ament.)

As I mentioned the other day, Joe Pavelski is having a charity golf outing this summer to benefit Portage County Youth on Ice and the Joe Pavelski Scholarship Fund. The event will be held Friday, June 26 at 2PM at the Stevens Point Country Club. The golf tournament will include hole contests on each hole and awards for the champion foursome. Joe will be playing the same hole the whole day so that everyone will get a chance to play with him. In addition to the golf tournament, there will be a cookout, raffle, and silent auction. Also, Badger alums and current NHLers will be in attendance.

You can register for the golf tournament as a team or as an individual. You can also register for the cookout/reception only. For more details and to register, click here!

Women Sweep, tied for 1st w/ gophers

The Badger Women are back on top of the standings due to their sweep on the road at St. Cloud, and some help from the Foreign Legion of Duluth who beat minnesota friday night. The Badgers are tied w/ the gophers w/ 36 points w/ 8 games left for both teams. They meet in the Twin Cities Feb 7 & 8 for the series that should decide the WCHA. Duluth is quite a ways back in 3rd place.

As for the Badger's weekend series:

On friday night they won 5-1 over the Huskies behind two Carolyne Prevost goals. Also scoring for the Badgers were Hilary Knight, Brooke Ammerman and Malory Deluce.

To complete the sweep, the Badger Women won a 6-3 decision on saturday afternoon. National goal scoring leader Hilary Knight had a pair of goals, and was joined by Erika Lawler, Anne Dronen, Meghan Duggan and Rachel Bible (who is the first blue liner to score in some time). Angie Keseley added a playmaker (3 assists) to help the team to victory.

TCT covered both games as well: friday and saturday.

The Women return home next weekend for a series w/ Ohio State. It's a saturday/sunday series, so stop out before the Men's game and Super Bowl respectively.

Sunday news from the WSJ

The Wisconsin State Journal had a couple of good articles to pass along today.

First, All-American Candidate Jamie McBain, is he Hobey Baker worthy? My answer is that he should definately have his name thrown into the hat at this point. He is arguably the best defenseman in the NCAA's this season. He is 3rd in the WCHA is scoring (overall not just blue liners), 1st in the nation in defensemen scoring, and leads the Badgers w/ 5-23-28. He has lead the Badger blue liners in each of his first two seasons.

At the start of the season, I was going to have a McBain for Hobey campaign, but 60 didn't want me to jinx him. Supposedly I jinxed Kyle Turris last season from winning the Hobey...

All-American & Hobey Baker Candidate McBain is a difference maker for the Badgers, and this has to stand out making him an "MVP" type candidate. If he wasn't out there on the blue line this season, well I don't know what to tell you, but I don't think the Badgers would be 3rd in the WCHA, nor would the PP be remotely as good. He runs that PP like Peyton Manning runs the Colts, and when he is on his game on the PP the team rides right w/ him.

Go here and cast your fan vote for Jamie McBain for Hobey Baker. Its only 1%, but as Badger fans we should be able to make a difference.

Second, big props need to go out to Carol Marshall who has been doing outstanding things behind the scenes for hockey in the Madison area (and beyond) for decades. She even repairs the socks of the Wisconsin Men's hockey team and has been doing so for a long time. Carol and her husband Jack helped found the Blue Line club in the 60s, and have been season ticket holders way back to when the team played at Hartmeyer arena.

Hats off to Carol for all her hardwork over the years to the sport of hockey!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It looks like it's official . . . and other alumni news

  • I should have posted this Thursday. Or Friday at the very least. But hey, better late than never, right? With Brian Elliott starting the last 5 games for the Sens, it appeared he just might be their number 1 goaltender. Looks like that's official now, with Martin Gerber being placed on waivers on Thursday. The Sens' website has a really nice feature on Elliott right now, too.
    "(Elliott) has made some real big saves at crucial times in games," said Hartsburg. "He's given us the saves and given us the chance in games to get something out of it. Before, there were goals going in at the wrong times. I think what Brian has done for us is when the game is on the line, he's been very good for us."

    Added defenceman Brendan Bell, "He is just that calm, steady guy in net and I think if we're going to turn this around, we're going to need that."
  • Jake Dowell scored his second goal of the season last night in Rockford's 6-2 win over Iowa.
    In the third, Dowell pushed the score to 5-2 with a short-handed breakaway goal at 7:12 with a helper from Jimmy Sharrow. Both of Dowell's goals in 2008-09 have come on the penalty kill.
    Dowell also had an assist and finished +2.
    Bertram started the scoring as he picked up a feed from Dowell in front of the net and put it past David LeNeveu at 11:37 in the first period to give the IceHogs the advantage.
  • Paul Capobianco has a number of alumni updates. He notes that Ryan Suter, Rene Bourque, and Brad Winchester are all having career seasons in terms of points production. He also notes the success that Dany Heatley and Brian Rafalski are having this year. Good stuff; thanks Paul!
  • In his 2nd game back with Hartford, Matt Ford recorded another assist. (He also had an assist in his 1st game back). Hartford lost 3-2 to Lowell.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Matt Ford named ECHL All-Star MVP

Matt Ford was named MVP of Wednesday's ECHL All-Star Game. He had 3 goals and 1 assist, and he probably should've had at least 1 more goal. Based on this game and his stats in Charlotte, I think it was a wise decision to recall him to Hartford . . .

Save the date . . . June 26, 2009

Looks like Badger alums Joe Pavelski and Dan Plante are organizing a charity golf outing for Joe in his hometown of Plover, WI this summer to benefit youth hockey. No details yet, but the date has been set for June 26, and it sounds like Badger alums and current NHLers will be participating. What fun! We'll keep you posted when more information is available . . .

It's Friday, I'm in Love

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love
Gameday Links
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Other Articles
Storlie (Daily Cardinal): Badgers face culture-shock to chase dreams
uwbadgers: Jakiel named WCHA defensive player of the week
McMahon (usahockey): Hard work gives Knight a scoring surge

I'm horrified to realize I didn't post this earlier:
With the sweep over North Dakota this past weekend, Jessie Vetter set a new Wisconsin career record for goaltending victories with her 76th and 77th, surpassing the mark of 75 set by Jackie MacMillan between 1999-2003.

Congratulations, Jessie!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

1st Star Zengerle on his commitment

Todd Milewski @ TCT (who does any outstanding job covering the Badgers BTW) talked w/ 1st Star Zengerle (formerly known as Mark Zengerle) this week.

Todd brings up the original Defecticon (Patrick Wiercioch) who left his commitment at the curb to play at Denver this season. For all the idiots out there (yeah talking to you minnesota fans) Eaves didn't push Wiercioch out like you love to believe. Could we have another situation here?

As has been discussed several times already, Tom Gorowsky is the only senior who will be 100% for sure graduating this season. Ben Street will very likely get a medical redshirt. Coming in next season are Tyler Barnes, Keegan Meuer, Craig Smith and Derek Lee. I think Blake Geoffrion and John Mitchell are as good as gone, but that remains to be seen. We already have 16 forwards even if we lose 3, we still have 17 next season. Is there room for 1st Star Zengerle, BCHL Superstar?

In a phone conversation earlier this week, Zengerle said he feels like he could play college next season, and he's heard talk about players ditching a verbal commitment to go elsewhere earlier. But, the way he tells it, one won't connect to the other with him.

"I've made my commitment," Zengerle said.

This is a bold statement for him to make, and while I really hope he can come in next season, if he can't I hope he sticks to his word. I've already taken a liking to this kid. If I remember correctly 1st Star made a visit to only Wisconsin and made up his mind he wanted to come here, and then proceeded to lay waste to his BCHL compeition.

Recruit Update: USHL Part II

Time for the 2nd part of this update featuring all of the non-Waterloo Black Hawk recruits.

Gavin Hartzog is in his first season in the USHL w/ the Fargo Force. He's a big kid standing 6'3" 215 lbs. He was a 2009 or 2010 recruit, and right now that is looking like 2010. Probably best for his development in the long run.

Gavin had an assist on New Year's Eve, but hasn't cracked the scoresheet since. In 8 games since the Holidays, he is 0-1-1, -3, w/ 11 PIM.

Overall on the season, in 28 games he is 3-4-7, -4, w/ 23 PIM. His team currently sits 3rd in the Western Division w/ 33 pts, which is impressive since they are an expansion team this season.

Sean Little is currently playing w/ the Green Bay Gamblers, and will join his brother Ryan in Madison in 2010. He battled an injury earlier in the season.

Sean has not cracked the scoresheet yet this season and in 18 games is -2, w/ 56 PIM. He racked up 22 of those minutes last weekend against Chicago.

Maybe tomorrow night will be his night to get his first USHL point, since I'll be there to watch the Gamblers take on Tri-City.

Joining Sean in GB is 2008 Mr. Hockey Jefferson Dahl. He is also part of a large group of forwards coming in 2010.

Since Christmas, Jefferson has been pretty quiet, in 7 games he is 1-1-2, +3, w/ 2 PIM. He lone goal during that stretch came in a 8-4 win last saturday over Indiana.

Overall has is having a pretty good rookie season in 29 games he is 9-6-15, +5, 8 PIM, 3 PP goals and shooting 16.4%. He's tied for 5th on the team in goals and PP goals, while keeping it clean tied for the fewest PIM on the team.

The Gamblers are tied for 1st in the East Division w/ 46 points, which is a huge improvement over their last place league finish a year ago.

Aaron Crandall should be arriving in Madison next season to join the Badgers and back up Scott Gudmandson.

To start the season, he was traded from GB to Des Moines, from a good team, to the 2nd worst in the league. Des Moines is in last in the East Division w/ 15 points.

In his three starts in January, Aaron is 0-3 w/ roughly a 6 GGA and 83.5% save %. Overall on the season, he is 5-10-1 w/ 4.85 GAA and 85.8 % saving rate. I'm cringing just typing that.

Chase Drake is actually wearing the wrong jersey in that picture. Right before the season started he was traded from GB to Sioux City. It is currently planned for Chase to join the Badgers in 2010.

Chase has not cracked the scoresheet yet in his USHL career. In 7 games since the break, he is E w/ 6 PIM. The highlight was a +4 game last friday against Tri-City.

On the season, Chase is 0-0-0, -1 w/ 19 PIM.

His team is currently in 5th in the Western Division w/ 27 pts, but only 5 pts out of 4th place, right in the playoff hunt.