Monday, July 18, 2005

2011 NCAA Frozen Four

When it was announced that the Energy Center would be the host of the 2011 Frozen Four, two things came to mind: Grant Potulny's OT goal and Tampa. When Potulny scored his goal, it was probably one of the happiest times in my life. My brother, dad, and I were finishing up dinner (which was difficult to eat given the circumstances). We had gone from despair after Hauser's bad goal to give Maine the lead to elation when Matt Koalska tied the game in the final minute. When Potulny won the game in overtime, our house went crazy. I think we were the only people in Seattle who did, though.

The other thought that came to my mind was: Why is Tampa going to host the 2012 Frozen Four. Apparently, the host team is going to be Alabama-Huntsville (a perennial hockey powerhouse). First of all, there's no competitive college hockey in the south. Second of all, the game will probably be televised by ESPN, so there is obviously not a huge market for watching the Frozen Four. My guess is that college hockey wants to showcase its sport in Tampa. That makes no sense. Have the tournament in a place that would actually be interested. Unbelievable. Is Gary Bettman running the show now?

"New NHL"

I normally only talk about the Golden Gophers, but I figured with all of the news that is coming out about the NHL rule changes, I would talk about those. First of all, has anyone else noticed that the NHL rule changes are pretty much based on college hockey rules? They're talking about removing the red line, which would take away the two-line pass rule. Thank goodness. That rule sucked, and only made the game more congested. They're also going to go back to the tag-up rule. This will speed up the game quite a bit. I'm so sick of all of the unnecessary offsides calls. Along with those other rules, there are rumors that automatic icing will be introduced. I like this idea. Fewer players will get hurt, and icing the puck will not kill off valuable seconds at the end of the game.

The main rule change that I disagree with is the fighting rule. The NHL is looking to create stiff penalties for fighting at the end of the game. This is just another rule change in a long line of fighting rule changes. I say, let the players police themselves. Isn't it a bit of a coincidence that as soon as the NHL cracked down on fighting, the number of dangerous cheap shots has increased? The best way to crack down on cheap shots is to remind players that if they give a cheap shot, they will reciece a cheap shot. A couple game suspension may not keep a player from giving a cheap shot, but a few loosened teeth probably will.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Favorite Minnesota Golden Gophers Ever?

Up until now, I've looked primarily toward the future. Talking about the potential of current players got me thinking about which were my favorite players in the past. Some of them were superstars, but some were just sentimental favorites.

One of my sentimental favorites was Dave Larson. I don't really remember much about him except the one year that he scored a couple of huge overtime goals. I don't remember the teams that he scored against, but I'll remember thinking of him as clutch.

Casey Hankinson is another one of my favorite all-time Gophers. He always seemed to be hustling. I remember a play in the third period in a game in which the Gophers were getting killed, and Casey abolutely layed out to try and block a pass in the opponent's defensive zone. I don't even think the play resulted in anything, but I'll always remember that he wouldn't give up in a game in which the outcome had already been decided.

A trio of players from recent times were also among my favorites. Troy Riddle, Matt Koalska, and Jordan Leopold were awesome to watch. Troy always seemed to be all over the ice, and playing much bigger than his small stature. It seemed like nearly every game he would get some sort of break down the ice using his speed. Koalska was among my favorites because of the fact that he was great defensively. Everyone else seemed to be getting offensive accolades, but Matt was great at playing at both ends. Don't forget his game-tying goal in the national championshp. As for Leopold, what needs to be said? It seemed like the Gopher powerplay was always poised to score when Jordan was on the ice. I don't think I've ever seen another college hockey defenseman that had that kind of knack for scoring.

My favorite Golden Gopher hockey player of all time? It would have to be Grant Potulny. The year that Potulny, Riddle, Koalska joined the team was the year that the Gopher program started to come back around. After a few down seasons, the Gophers finally started moving in the right direction. During his freshman year, Grant seemed to be getting all of the powerplay goals. In his junior year, he was injured most of the season. He came back at the end of the year and ended up scoring 15 goals in 23 games. It seemed like every time the Gophers needed a big goal, Grant was there. He led the team out of the depths and into two national championship years. He was the driving force, and that's why he's my favorite Golden Gopher of all time.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Golden Gopher Key Players?

I think that in order to have a successful season, some players are going to need to come up big. This team has the potential to be national champions only if its players play like it.

It only makes sense that Phil Kessel is the first guy mentioned in my list of key players. I can't remember the last time one player was given so much attention before appearing in a single game. Kessel is going to be a key player because the Golden Gophers need to have a more consistent offense this year. Last year, the main threats were Potulny and Irmen. While they were strong much of the season, they did go through slumps. By adding an offensive dynamo like Kessel, the Gopher offense should really start clicking. I'm sure glad we stole this guy right out of the Badgers' back yard.

Ryan Potulny and Danny Irmen are going to be key players as well. They are going to need to provide leadership, as well as offense. Potulny needs to play a full season this year. Last year, he was unbelievable during the first half, but tailed off during the second half. Irmen ended up being the Golden Gophers' best player last year in my opinion. He had his struggles, but he showed up every night with a physical presence, even if his offense was having an off night. If these two guys can get it going, then that will take a lot of pressure off of Phil Kessel and vice versa.

Chris Harrington is also going to be a key player. I've already talked about this a ton, so I won't go over it again. He has a ton of potential, and if he's consistent, the power play is going to be something special.

Whether its going to be Kellen Briggs or Jeff Frazee, the starting goalie is going to be a key player. Briggs was unbelievable at the beginning of last season. He tailed off toward the middle, and with the exception of the loss in the semifinal, he started to pick up his play at the end of the season. The team in front of the goalie is better this year, so there will be less pressure on the goalie. I've seen Gopher teams win despite their goaltenders before (remember Adam Hauser?), but I don't think this Golden Gopher team will have to worry about that. There is enough talent between the pipes to have the best goaltending in the league. Of course, that all relies upon consistency.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Key Position?

Last year the Gophers surprised everyone by being as strong of a team as they were. They were not expected to do well because of all of the youngsters on the team. The offense, led by Ryan Potulny and Danny Irmen, was strong most of the season. Kellen Briggs proved that he could be relied upon night after night. Sure, he struggled midway through the season, but there were times that he showed flashes of brilliance.

I think that the key position for the 2005-2006 Minnesota Gophers is going to be defense. Don't get me wrong, the freshmen came in and did a very admirable job, but I never felt comfortable with the defense last season. They didn't have quite the offensive punch that Jordan Leopold, Paul Martin, and Keith Ballard brought to the ice. With those guys, the power play always seemed to be potent. Hagemo, Goligoski, and Peltier came in last year and provided quite a bit of offense for the Gophers, but it wasn't consistent. The power play lacked punch. Breaking out of our own zone was at times a harrowing experience. The defensive lapses at times were unbelievable.

I think that the Gophers are going to be dominant this year because of there defense, rather than in spite of it. I expect more out of Goligoski, Hagemo, and Peltier. These guys are going to be great. Just add a little bit of size and experience.

If the key to the team is defense, the key to the defense is Chris Harrington. I've mentioned that I think tha the is the most overrated player on the ice. That's because I expect so much out of him. He has the ability to play like Ballard and Martin. He just needs to start playing smart. Stop taking stupid penalties, and start hustling a bit more on the defensive end. I think that Harrington is going to have a great senior year, and finally live up to his potential.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

John Hill as new Golden Gopher Assistant Coach

I think that the naming of John Hill as an assistant coach was a great move. He has already worked with Don Lucia and has already been an assistant coach for the Gophers. He is already familiar with the Golden Gopher system, and will bring head coaching experience. I also like the fact that he is no longer with the Seawolves. I realize that the Seawolves were by no means a powerhouse under Hill, but for some reason they were always able to give the Gophers a run for their money. Hopefully, without Hill, the Seawolves will go back to their old pushover ways.

2005-2006 Golden Gopher Hockey Captains

The announced captains for the 2005-2006 Golden Gopher hockey team are Danny Irmen, Chris Harrington, and Gino Guyer.

Some people may not agree with what I say here, but I need to get it off my chest. I think Chris Harrington is probably the most overrated player on the team. He takes too many dumb penalties, his defense at times seems just plain lazy, and his offense has not been making up for it. Don't get me wrong, I think Harrington has a ton of potential, and I don't know what kind of leader he is off the ice, but I don't think that he deserves to be a captain.

Gino Guyer is one of my favorite players. He always seems to come through in the clutch. I can remember a bunch of times over the last couple of years that he has come through with a big goal for his Gopher teammates. I think Guyer will make a good captain for the Gophers if only for the fact that he comes alive when his team needs him. He seems to be a smart player, and I think he is a good choice as an assistant captain.

There is no question in my mind that Danny Irmen should be the captain of the 2005-2006 Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey team. This guy goes 110% all the time. There were times last year when he was the only player on the ice. He hits, he scores, he hustles. That is what Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey is all about.

With the exception of Harrington the captain choices are very good. I think the rationale behind Harrington's being a captain is that he is the only defenseman that has enough experience. I think the coaches wanted at least one captain to be a defenseman, so Harrington got the nod. He showed so much potential a couple of years ago. I hope that he proves me wrong, and becomes a great team leader.

Introduction

I'm creating this blog for a class at the University of Washington. I've followed the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for about 13 years now. When the winter months come, Golden Gopher hockey reigns supreme in my house. I live in Seattle, and one of the reasons that we have satellite is to watch Gopher hockey. I'm creating this blog to discuss both the good and bad parts of Golden Gopher hockey. I welcome responses to my posts.