Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jaques named to player of the week honors

Senior Melissa Jaques was named Western Collegiate Hockey Association offensive player of the week and Fighting Sioux Club Athletes of the Week (along with Mario Lamoureux) for her performance over Bemidji State. Jaques scored two goals and an assist in Saturday's 4-3 overtime win becoming the programs all-time leading scorer. It is the first time this season she has received the award and second time in her career (Nov. 16-17, 2007 for back-to-back two-goal games against Niagara).

Sioux head into Christmas break in top-half of WCHA standings; Jaques becomes all-time points leader

With its sweep over Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe Bemidji State this past weekend, for the first time in program history the Sioux are in the top-half of the conference standings.

The Sioux did so with 2-1 and 3-2 (ot) road wins. The Sweep on the road was also the first-ever WCHA road sweep since entering the conference in 2004-05.

Here are the standings heading into the break:
WCHA Standings

The Sioux are one point behind third-place and defending national champion Minnesota Duluth and one point ahead of fifth-place St. Cloud State.

Senior Melissa Jaques was able to step up with the Sioux in a jam. She was able to find the net twice (tying goal with only 1:21 remaining and game-winner in overtime) past a Bemidji goaltender, Zuzan Tomcikiva, that was the previous weeks WCHA Defensive Player of the Week and backstopped Bemidji with 98 saves on the weekend.

In doing so, Jaques became the all-time point leader in the programs eight-year history with 68 points (34 goals, 34 assists) passing Liz Funk's 67. She only needs one goal to tie the school record of 35 goals and one assist to tie Funk's record of 35 assists. Jaques leads the Fighting Sioux in all three major scoring categories with 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points on the year.

Senior captain Casie Hanson, sophomore Stephanie Roy and freshmen Sara Dagenais and Alyssa Wiebe added goals for the Sioux against the Beavers.

Full Recaps can be found here:
Friday / Saturday

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weekly Press Conference for 12/10/08 with coach Idalski and Kelsey Fletcher

After facing the top three teams in the WCHA the past three weeks, the UND women's hockey team heads to Bemidji State this weekend. The Sioux must remain as focused and continue to play at the same high level, head coach Brian Idalski said.

"Our kids need to understand they need to continue to play at a high level," Idalski said. "And they need to understand the ramifications of this (weekend's series) down the road. We are playing for something bigger."

To view complete press conferenence click here:
Press Conference

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sioux come up just short in series against Gophers

The Sioux showed once again that they are becoming a team that nobody can overlook anymore as they had the second-ranked Gophers on the ropes going into the third period on Saturday leading 2-1. The Gophers would score four unanswered goals in the third to win 5-2 (last goal was an empty net).

On Friday, the Sioux could not take advantage of golden opportunities as they were held 0-for-12 on the power play and had four 5-on-3 opportunities in a 4-0 loss.

To view full recaps click here:
Friday / Saturday

“If you look at the NHL as a model there are genuinely a few playoff
heartaches before you ultimately win the surprise of the Stanley Cup,” head coach Brian Idalski said. “That just seems to be a natural progression for an organization. I think to a lesser extent that is what we are going through here. We have to be close and feel some of those heartaches, and go back to the drawing board and put in the work to make ourselves better. We need to be hungry to get over that hump. I believe that is happening and that we are close. I think our kids believe that now, too.”

To view full post-game press conference from coach click here: press conference

Also, if you have a premium subscription to you can watch full games which are linked along with the stories.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This weeks FletchSKO show; Weekly press conference

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- At Wednesday's weekly press conference, University of North Dakota women's hockey head coach Brian Idalski was upbeat and said the Fighting Sioux have been practicing well lately.
The results have continued to pay off. After winning a number of games at home early in the season, UND split at Minnesota Duluth last weekend.
The Fighting Sioux host Minnesota this weekend. It's a rivalry not lost on Alex Williams, whose father Brian played for UND from 1982-86 and is 12th on the all-time scoring list. She said it's a rivalry not lost on her, growing up in Eagan, Minn., in the Minneapolis area. To view this weeks press conference click here:
December 3, 2008, press conference

In this weeks episode of the FletchSKO show hosts Kelsey Fletcher and Randi Motsko breakdown some shootout celebrations with other members of the squad. To view this weeks episode click here:
Episode 5

To catch up on previous episodes click on the episode:

Episode 4

Episode 3

Episode 2

Episode 1

There will be FREE popcorn and FREE soda Friday and fans will have a chance to win one of six pairs of tickets to watch the Minnesota Wild take on former Fighting Sioux Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on December 28

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sioux split series against defending national champs

After a disappointing Saturday game where UND lost 6-2 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center against Minnesota Duluth, the Sioux bounced back with a 4-0 shutout over the defending national champions.

It was the first WCHA road series for the Sioux who needed a win to remain in a strong position to finish the season in the top half of the WCHA standings for the first time ever.

Freshman goaltender Stephanie Ney came up big in the win with her first career shutout while stoping a career high 45 saves against the Bulldogs.

Senior Melissa Jaques scored her seventh and eighth goals of the year on Sunday moving her closer to topping all three of the programs major scoring records in a career. Jaques needs five points to become the school’s all-time leading point scorer. Liz Funk (2002-06) currently holds the record with 67. She can also become the school’s all-time leading goal scorer. She has 30 career goals, seven shy of Stasia Bakhit’s (2002-04) school record of 35 and trails Funk’s record of 35 career assists by two.

Derek Koenen's full game recaps can be found here:
Saturday / Sunday

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

UND Sweeps OSU, Earns First National Top 10 Ranking

UND Sweeps OSU
UND's sweep of Ohio State was the first in the programs' history. The Sioux won Friday 4-2 and Saturday 5-4 on OT. Women's Hockey SID Derek Koenen's OSU Game Recaps can be found here: Friday - Saturday.

Series video highlights can be found below.

Sioux Enter Top 10
With WCHA series sweep #2 of the season over Ohio State, the Sioux gained their first ever national ranking in the programs' seven year history. The Nov. 4th poll had UND tied for 10th along with upstart Northeastern and in the Nov. 5th USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, UND was all alone in the #10 slot.

There has been a bit of a buzz since the Sioux started to 'receive votes' in both national polls this season. Brad Schlossman included a nice recap about the programs' first national ranking on the UND men's hockey blog. Derek Koenen also ran a story on What many are surprised by is how short a time it took Idalski to actually get IN the top 10. Many thought it would take years before that ever happened. Idalski acknowledged how people viewed his team's recent success when asked about being in the top 10 for the first time.

"I personally struggle with the fact that expectations were so low here that every time we come over a little hill, people get all giddy and expect me to jump for joy. I didn't come here to be 10th in the country".

UND Swept by Badgers
After a weekend off, the Sioux returned to action and faced the #1 ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin won both games 5-1 and 4-0. Derek Koenen's game recaps can be found here: Saturday -- Sunday.

Were it not for Wisconsin goaltender Jessie Vetter, the Sioux may have handed the Badgers their first two losses of the year this past weekend. Vetter, who came off a Team USA 4-Nationas Tournament gold medal shootout win over Canada, picked up right where she left off, turning away just about every chance UND had. Saturday, the Sioux out-played and out-chanced Wisconsin with several breakaways, odd-man rushes and point-blank scoring attempts. UND even managed to hit two posts as well. But Vetter was fantastic saving everything UND threw at her. And it was more of the same on Sunday. With the score tied 0-0 in the firsst period, Vetter made some HUGE saves to keep the game scoreless. Vetter's best may have come in the second period with Wisconsin up 2-0 as Steph Roy broke in alone on a breakaway. UND continued to get it's chances but did not convert. It was the first time all year the Sioux have been shutout all year.

Series video highlights can be found below.

Up next for the Sioux is a date with the defending National Champion Duluth Bulldogs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

National Polls

For the second week in a row, the UND women's hockey team finds itself receiving votes in consideration of a national top 10 ranking. The Sioux swept Union college 3-0 and 4-1 this past weekend at the Ralph. UND received 1 top 10 vote in each the and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.

Unbeaten Wisconsin still holds the top spot in the country followed by #2 Minnesota, #3 Harvard, #4 Boston College, #5 New Hampshire, #6 Dartmouth, #7 MN-Duluth, Boston University, #9 St. Lawrence and #10 Clarkson. Both Harvard and Dartmouth have yet to play an NCAA game. MSU-Mankato, who had been recieving votes, dropped out of both polls after losing a pair to MN-Duluth.

Ohio St. Preview
OSU, fresh off a sweep of Bemidji State last weeked comes to the Ralph Saturday and Sunday to take on the Sioux. Game time is set for 12:07pm each day. OSU is 4-4-0 this year sweeping Providence on the road to start the year before being swept themselves by Wisconsin and Minnesota respectively. Here's a breakdown of OSU.

OSU returns both Liana Bonanno and Deirdra Facklis. Lianna has seen a majority of the action this year recording a 4-3-0 record with a 3.30 and a .907 save %. Facklis played the 3rd period of the first game vs. Minnesota and played in game 2 of that series and lost 8-2.

OSU graduated a ton of fire power last season in Tessa Bonhomme and Lisa Chesson which leaves two very large gaping holes back on the blue line. Both combined for 71 points and were always a threat to score. OSU returns a group of 4 lead by JR. Rachel Davis and Sophomores Shannon Reilley and Teal Bishop. Newcommers include Cretin-Derham Hall graduates Kelly Wild and Brittany Carlson

Graduating 50-point scorer Erin Keys along with Mallory Peckels up front at forward doesn't bode well for OSU's offensive output. But OSU does have a highly touted recruiting class in forwards Natalie Spooner, Laura McIntosh, Melissa Feste and Kim Theut. Spooner and McIntosh were members of Canada's silver medal U-18 National Team while Feste won a MN State title as a senior at Eden Priarie HS. Theut comes from the highly regarded Little Caesars U-19 Club program in Detroit, MI. Spooner leads OSU in scoring and has been counted on to produce early and often. She has 7 goals and 3 assists for 10 points in 8 games.

What to Expect:
Look for UND's speed up front to test OSU's young defense and put the pressure on. Senior forward Melissa Jaques has been on fire as of late. UND is ranked 7th in the nation in offensive scoring with 3.38 goals per game to OSU's 26th overall ranking at 2.28 goals per game. As always, special teams will be key and OSU leads the nation in penalties averaging just over 8 minor penalties a game. UND's power play will have to produce. UND's penalty kill has been strong thus far and continues to get better with an 87% effectiveness. Both teams are young and playing freshman in key roles. UND has a more balanced scoring attack and overall depth up front at forward. It should be a great tilt!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sioux Back On Track, Sweep Union

Behind another 4-point weekend from Senior Asst. Captain Melissa Jaques, the UND women's hockey team swept Union College 3-0 and 4-1. It was the first ever meeting between the two programs. Friday, Marie-Michelle Poireier scored her 2nd goal of the year, Melissa Jaques potted her 4th and 5th goals of the season and goaltender Brittany Kirkham stopped 9 shots. UND fired 44 of their own on Union netminder Lundy Day enroute to their 4th win of the season.

On Saturday it was Jaques assisting on Sara Dagenais' 4th and 5th goals of the year while Alyssa Wiebe and Marie-Michelle Poireier each added a goal and an assist to help UND to a 4-1 win. UND finished the game out-shooting Union 42-16. The game was scoreless well into the 2nd period until Wiebe got UND on the board first with a great wrist shot from the mid-slot off a pass from Poirier streaking down the left-wing. Union's Jackei Koettritz would tie it up on the power play with a top-shelf bullet passed UND goaltender Stephanie Ney. Poirier would give UND the lead for good with a power play goal of her own 1:23 into the 3rd period off a nifty feed from sophomore Stephanie Roy. Dagenais would add 2 goals of her own scoring an even-strength goal at 6:53 and adding one on the power play with 17:53 remaining.

A Program First
By virtue of their second series sweep this past weekend over Union College, the UND women's hockey team accomplished something it hasn't done since 2005-2006. Win at least 5 games in a season. UND's record after 8 games thus far is 5-2-1 and is off to it's best start in program history. UND could very well be 8-0 had it not been for 1-goal loss to Maine and an overtime loss and tie to MSU-Mankato. UND certainly played well enough to win all three of those games.

Union Game Notes
Junior goaltender Brittany Kirkham recorded her 1st shutout of the season and 6th of her career.

Melissa Jaques has 15 points in 8 games. Jaques is 7 points shy of her point toal from last year of 22.

UND was short staffed this weekend and down to 3 lines plus an extra forward and 6 defenseman. Injuries to Junior Ashley Paulson, Sophomore Nikki Hebert and Freshman Kelsey Ketcher kept them out of action.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

National Attention

For the first time in program history, the UND women's hockey team is receiving votes in two separate media polls. On Monday, the October 20th NCAA D-I Women's Top 10 poll had UND receiving 1 vote. Out of the 15 voters on the committee, 12 of whom are coaches, someone ranked UND at #10. And for those who are wondering, NO, Coach Idalski is NOT on the committee. On October 21st, the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine Women's D-I Poll had UND receiving 2 votes in consideration of a top 10 ranking.

Surprised? UND tied and had a shootout loss last Friday and a loss in OT to MSU-Mankato on Saturday. Obviously both close games and should have been won
outright by UND. St. Cloud grabbed 4 points from Duluth with a tie and shootout win on Friday and a 3-2 win on Saturday which defintely helped UND's cause.

It may not seem like a big deal to most, but to the team, coaching staff, the University as well as the UND hockey community it's a HUGE deal. This kind of recognition was expected when the program first began 7 years ago.
To say the lack of success was disheartening during the first five years would be an understatement. Success on the national stage is what hockey fans in Grand Forks expect. The news of last weeks' top 10 polls circulated so much so that congratulatory e-mails and phone calls came from those within faculty and athletic departments at UND as well as fans who have seen the program since its inception. There is a nice little buzz going on about the success of this team and where they are headed. Idalski definitely has them on the right track.

Brad Schlossman, who writes for the GF Herald and author of the 'University of North Dakota Hockey' blog wrote a nice peice last Monday in recognition of the women's team getting votes. Click the link and scroll down to 'Sioux women are receiving votes'.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sioux Tie Friday, Lose Heartbreaker Saturday

The Sioux came within twelve seconds of taking three points from last weekends' series vs. MSU-Mankato. Friday night, the Sioux and Mankato skated to a 2-2 overtime tie. The Sioux earned 1 point while Mankato earned a point for the tie and an extra point by winning the newly instituted shootout format in five rounds. On Saturday, Nina Tikkinen's overtime goal at the 2:46 mark capped an almost improbable comeback win for the Mavericks as they found themselves down 4-2 with under five minutes remaining to play in regulation. After a questionable penalty on UND's Margot Miller for checking, the Maverick's Kayla Buganski scored an extra attacker power play goal to send the game into overtime with only 12 seconds remaining.

UND Women's Hockey SID Derek Koenen's game recaps can be found here:
Friday - Saturday

Mankato Game Notes

Friday night's shootout was the first this year for the Sioux in WCHA play. UND Senior defenseman Susi Felner scored the lone shootout goal as she came in skating across the crease from right to left and pulled Altman to one side. Once Altman went down, Felner buried the puck high tying the shootout score 1-1.

Senior Forward Melissa Jaques continues her great play as she notched her second four-point weekend with an assist on Friday and 2 goals and 1 assist on Saturday. Jaques is 3-8-11 in 6 games. She is already at the half-way point 6 games into the season of her point total from last year of 22. Jaques is currently tied for 4th nationally in scoring and leads the country in assists.

With her tie on Friday, Junior goaltender Brittany Kirkham continues her steady play. Her record now stands at 1-1-1 with a .926 SAV % and a 1.97 GAA.

Freshman forward and former Notre Dame Hound Alyssa Weibe scored 2 goals on the weekend. Her tally Friday was off a great wrist shot high to the glove side. Saturday's goal was more of a bank-shot from the right half-wall as she threw the puck to the net. Altman was unable to handle it cleanly and the puck trickled in behind her.

UND's penalty kill continues to impress as they killed off 11 of 12 MSU-Mankato power plays last weekend. Opponents are 1 for 26 vs. UND's power play the last 4 games.

Up next, UND hosts Union for the first time in program history Friday at 7:07pm and on Saturday at 4:07pm.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kirkham Earns Pair of Awards

Junior goalie Brittany Kirkham was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for her 32 save performance vs. St. Cloud last weekend. The Fighting Sioux Club also recognized the Ottawa, Ontario native as their 'Athlete of the Week'. With the win, Kirkham improves to a 2.03 GAA and a .922 save percentage on the year.

Up Next: MSU-Mankato
This weekend UND plays host to MSU-Mankato at the Ralph Friday October 17th & Saturday October 18th. Game times are set for 7:07pm and 2:07pm. The last time these two teams met they combined for 176 minutes in penalties in the infamous 'YouTube game'. As always it should be an interesting weekend with Mankato.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How Sweep It Is!

There's always a weekend or two during the hockey season that coaches tend to look forward to for one reason or another. A weekend where there is a little bit more at stake than just beating your opponent and gaining two points in the standings. May be it's the chance to beat your arch-rival or avenge a heart-breaking loss. Well, the weekend of October 10 & 11 2008 vs. St. Cloud State University happened to be one of those weekends for coach Brian Idalski and the Fighting Sioux Women's Hockey Team. There's a connection between Idalski to the Husky program as he spent one year as an assistant coach under current St. Cloud boss Jeff Giessen during the 2006-2007. In Idalski's first year behind the bench for the Sioux in 2007-2008, he went 0-2-2 vs. St. Cloud. Two close losses and 2 well earned ties. So it would be easy to see where the extra motivation may have come from for this past weekends' WCHA opening series sweep for the Sioux. But this past weekend was not just about a former assistant coach trying to beat his old boss for the first time or a team trying to avenge two close losses from last year. This series was about something more, something you can't quantify. This weekends' sweep was about one thing - earning RESPECT.

Friday night it was Brittany Kirkam's 32 saves and Sophomore Marie-Michelle Poirier's first collegiate goal with 9:50 left in the 3rd period that gave the Sioux a hard fought 2-1 win. The Sioux penalty kill was outstanding shutting out a Husky powerplay that went 0-6 on the night. The Sioux played much of the second period short-handed as they were whistled for four strait penalties and killed off two separate five-on-three attempts. None better than UND's last penalty kill to end the game. Poirier was whistled off for checking with only 1:19 remaining and St. Cloud pulled their goalie for a six on four advantage. UND used thier penalty kill to build momentum and late in the second period UND Senior winger Randi Motsko netted her third goal of the year on the power play with only :25 seconds remaining in the period. UND wasn't without its offensive chances though. UND had several prime scoring oppportunities in the first and second periods but St. Cloud's goalie Ashley Nixon turned away thirteen of the fourteen Sioux shots she faced through two periods. Poirier's game winner came off a great feed from linemate Alyssa Wiebe down low in front of the net on a nice two on one play. Poirier one-timmed a cross-crease pass from Wiebe to put the Sioux up 2-1 for good.

On Saturday, freshman goalie Stephanie Ney got her second win of the season as she turned aside 38 St. Cloud shots while Freshman Margot Miller provided the go-ahead goal with 10:18 remaining to put the Sioux up 3-2 and earn the series sweep. The Sioux came out flying and went up 2-0 early in the first period on goals by Sophmore defenseman Kelly Lewis on the powerplay and Alyssa Wiebe, her first collegiate goal, a nice tip in off a Cassandra Flannagan shot. St. Cloud would score a short-handed goal with just 3 seconds remaining in the first period off a breakaway by Katie Kemmerer to make it 2-1. In the second, St. Cloud's Caitlin Hogan beat Ney high to the glove side to tie the score at 2. It would stay tied at two until Margo Miller popped in her second goal of the season and first game-winner to give the Sioux a 3-2 lead with just over ten-minutes remaining. The Sioux penalty kill was outstanding again denying all 8 St. Cloud powerplays.

Backed by two very solid goaltending performances, a stifling penalty kill and timely scoring, the Fighting Sioux Women's Hockey Team improved to 3-1-0. True it's early in the year. But for a program that won only four games last year, earning a 3-1 record four games into the season and sweeping a quality WCHA opponent in St. Cloud should put other WCHA teams on notice. More than four points was won this weekend. This team won a little bit of respect in that process. Last years' St. Cloud team hosted a WCHA playoff series. They lost little to graduation and returned 8 of their top 10 scorers. Did they expect just to walk in, grab four points and go? I bet Coach Idalski was glad to beat his former boss, anyone would in that situation, right?. But I have a feeling he's more proud of his team gaining the respect of a worthy opponent and others in the WCHA.

St. Cloud Game Notes
If there was any doubt left in UND Freshman forward Margot Miller's mind as to whether or not she made the right choice to come to UND, I'm sure scoring the winning goal Saturday to help sweep St. Cloud wiped any of those doubts away. St. Cloud and UND were the final two schools Miller considered during the recruting process. Her high school coach at Shattuck St. Mary's was Gordie Stafford, father of former UND standout Drew Stafford. I wonder which direction he pushed her in? Interestingly enough, Husky Asst. Coach Jennifer Kranz, coached at Shattuck under coach Stafford before moving on to St. Cloud. Chalk one up for the Sioux on winning that recruiting battle.

Interesting UND hockey fact... you have to go back to the 2003-2004 season to find a weekend where the UND women's team won 2 games and the UND men's team lost two. The UND Men's team lost Febuary 6 and 7 to Wisconsin 4-3 and 5-2. The Women's team beat Bemidji State Friday night Febuary 6, 5-1 and again on Sunday Febuary 8, 5-3 in a home and home series.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sioux Split With Maine

After a 3-2 loss Friday night, the Fighting Sioux women's hockey team came out Saturday and pumped 53 shots on Senior University of Maine goaltender Genvieve Turgeon, en route to a convincing 7-3 win. 7 different players scored for the Sioux providing a well balanced attack. Leading the charge was Senior Assistant Captain Melissa Jaques who had 1 assist Friday and 1 goal and 3 assists Saturday for a 5 point weekend. Freshmen forward Sara Dagenais notched her first collegiate goal Friday only to follow up on Saturday scoring 1 goal and adding 2 assists for a 4 point weekend. Senior Assistant Captain Randi Motsko scored 2 goals in Saturdays' win. Freshmen goaltender Stephanie Ney recorded her first collegiate win Saturday with a 16 save performance.

To lose a game when you dominate your opponent is a tough pill to swallow. Friday night the Sioux took a heavy dose of Genvieve Turgeon and her stellar 46 save performance allowed Maine to steal the first game of the 2-game series with a 3-2 win. UND dominated play allowing only 9 shots on net during 5 on 5 play. Sophomore Defenseman Kelly Lewis scored her first of the season on the powerplay in the second period cutting Maine's lead to 2-1. Maine would go up 3-1 with a powerplay goal of their own about 7 minutes later. In the 3rd period with just under two minutes remaining, Sara Dagenais cut the lead to 3-2 off of a great 2 on 1 play with linemate Melissa Jaques. This would set the stage for a furious finish. However, Turgeon was at her best when it counted most. With a 6 on 4 man advantage, UND Freshmen forward Margot Miller was left scratching her head after 3 point-blank scoring attempts all stopped by Turgeon. The best of which came when Miller picked up a loose puck off a faceoff in Maine's defensive zone and ripped a low-hard wrist shot labled for the lower right corner only to have Turgeon flash her pad to make the save through heavy traffic in front.

Saturday, UND controled play from start to finish just as it had Friday. Only this time, UND's offensive attack was just too much for Maine or Turgeon to handle. UND had a 41-13 shot advantage after 2 periods and a 5-2 lead. All lines seemed to be clicking and getting their chances. The Miller-Jaques-Dagenais line combo was dominating; they combined for 8 points and some highlight reel goals. The Motsko-Williams-Hanson combo wasn't too shabby either, combining for 3 goals and 1 assist. So what was the difference? The biggest adjustment from Friday was they made life miserable for Turgeon with a lot of net-front traffic and screens which took her out of her rythem and ability to see shot cleanly.

All in all it was a strong weekend for the Sioux. The freshmen got some very valuable ice time, 11 different players recorded points and they dominated a team for two full games. The loss Friday was a good lesson to learn early on in the year considering so many new faces on the team. The Sioux showed Saturday they can bounce back... and in a big way. That is not always easy to do when you are on the road.

Next up for the Sioux is St. Cloud State at the Ralph.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sioux Beat Manitoba 2-1

Alyssa Weibe's power-play goal with 6 seconds left in the 1st period proved to be the game winner as the Sioux beat the University of Manitoba 2-1 in their exhibition game Saturday afternoon at the Ralph Engelstad Olympic Arena. Senior forward, Melissa Jaques, scored first for the Sioux at 8:55 of the first period off of a nice give-and-go exchange with Senior Defensemen Susanne Fellner. Jacques ripped a slapshot to the lower right corner of the net as she was moving laterally across the high-slot area. Jaques' goal came just seconds after a Manitoba powerplay had expired.

The Sioux dominated much of the game out-shooting Manitoba 25-15 and spent most of the game in Manitoba's half of the ice. Manitoba wasn't able to muster much in the way of offense but did make things interesting late in the 3rd. While on a 2-man advantage, Manitoba pulled within 1 scoring a powerplay goal with 30 seconds remaining.

Idalski played all 4 lines and 7 D regularly. Britt Kirkham got the start and Freshmen Stephanie Ney came on in releif with just under 4 minutes remaining in the 2nd period. Games like these are prefect for getting everyone playing time and to see who can make a play.

The odd game time of 12:07pm and location of the game in the Olympic Arena was due to the Carrie Underwood concert at the Ralph later that evening. Unfortunately Carrie did not sing the Canadian and American National Anthems prior to the game.

The Sioux travel to Alfond Arena to play the University of Maine Friday at 6pm and Saturday at 1pm. It will be a short week for the Sioux as they leave Wednesday afternoon after practice to head to Orono, Maine.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Votes Are In

The WCHA held it's annual pre-season fall meetings last week in Minneapolis. Head Coaches voted Duluth to repeat and win the WCHA for '08-'09. Here's a breakdown of how the voting went, coaches could not vote for their own teams.

2008 - 2009 WCHA pre-season rankings poll - 1st place votes in parentheses
1. Minnesota Duluth (5) - 47 points
2. Minnesota (2) - 41 points
t-2. Wisconsin (2) - 41 points
4. Ohio State University - 29 points
5. St. Cloud State University - 27 points
6. MSU - Mankato - 18 points
7. North Dakota - 14 points
8. Bemidji State University - 7 points

It's clear most of the head coaches don't expect UND to do much this year. In fact, head coaches haven't differed from their 7th place ranking from a year ago. The low expectation suits coach Idalski and his team just fine I am sure.

Teams across the WCHA underestimated UND last season but had reason to do so with a
0-27-1 WCHA record in '06-'07. UND was shutout 14 times, lost 21 games by 3 goals or more and had 8 one-goal games. In '07-'08 UND had 4 WCHA win's along with 4 ties to earn 12 WCHA points. UND was shut out only 4 times. All of this accomplished with a younger and more inexperienced lineup. Idalski was basically "given" his first recruiting class in '07-'08 with the exception of Stephanie Roy who committed to UND in the late spring under Idaksi's watch. UND had 21 games decided by 2 goal or less and 17 of those decided by 1-goal or less. 9 of those games were wins or ties. Looks like there was a little bit of coaching going on over there at the Ralph last year eh?

UND didn't graduate a single senior last season and has 10 new players (5 F's, 3 D's and 2 G's) who all will be expected to contribute. Now, here's where things get interesting. There are some big name teams that graduated a lot of offense & goal tending from last season. Here's how it looks in terms of the number of total points (goals+assists), goals scored and notable goalie statistics WCHA teams graduated.

1. Ohio State - 152 points / 61 goals (5th place reg. season WCHA)
2. Minnesota - 140 points / 62 goals (2nd place reg. season WCHA)
3. MSU-Mankato - 71 Points / 30 goals (6th place reg. season WCHA)
4. Wisconsin - 58 points / 26 goals (3rd place reg. season WCHA)
5. St. Cloud - 42 points / 11 goals (4th place reg. season WCHA)
6. Duluth - 21 points / 16 goals (1st place reg. season WCHA)
7. Bemidji - 20 points / 7 goals (8th place reg. season WCHA)
8. UND - 0 points / 0 goals (7th place reg. season WCHA)

1. St. Cloud - 28 games played, 2.57 GAA, .911 SV %
2. MSU-Mankato - 33 games played, 2.72 GAA, .904 SV %
3. Bemidji - 34 games played, 2.99 GAA, .917 SV %

Granted all teams are bringing in excellent recruiting classes. You can't help but think when you graduate 50% or more of your offense and play in a league where goal scoring is at a premium, that teams are going through a bit of an adjustment. Just how big we'll have to wait and see.

USA Today / USA Hockey Women's Top 10 Poll
The first pre-season USA Today / USA Hockey Women's poll came out earlier this week with Minnesota-Duluth, Wisconsin and Minnesota all holding the top 3 spots respectively in that order. Looks like the other coaches and sports writers across the nation feel the same as they do in the WCHA as Duluth had 19 first-place votes. Ohio State was in the 'also receiving votes' category with 2.

Academic Spotlight - UND's Nationally Ranked
Entrepreneurship Program
When you hear the term 'national rankings' in conjunction with UND, thoughts of the Men's Hockey team, Football or Women's Basketball come to mind right? The feeling you get as a fan who's team just made it to yet another 'Frozen Four' makes you feel pretty darn good doesn't it? Makes you want to brag a bit to your buddy that's a fan of that "other school" down in the Twin-Cities at work?

Outside the upper mid-west, people know of UND primarily because of its sports programs. Just ask the folks out east who live near Boston College.
Yet little fan-fare or recognition is given to a particular institutions' academic programs' with in the sports community. It's not real sexy stuff for sports writers to promote I guess. Many who know UND as a sports powerhouse have no clue as to how great a school - academically - UND really is. So how great is it?

Well for starters, UND can lay claim to the 13th nationally ranked Business/
Entrepreneurship school in the country. That is #13 out of 2,300 schools that were evaluated in a recent survey conducted by Entrepreneurship Magazine. (Just as a heads up, that other school in the 'Twin-Cities' received an honorable mention as did Harvard University... i.e. they didn't make the final cut. And BC didn't even make the list). A little research tells us Entrepreneurship is a growing field of study and very popular with the fortune 500 crowd when looking at resumes from recent graduates. It seems the traditional business school teaching/program model isn't cutting it anymore. UND's program is a hands on, practice-what-you-preach environment. Not only do students crack the books, but they interact and rub shoulders with local and national business leaders. Relationships with resources such as local and national entities like the Center for Innovation, the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and the Dakota Venture Group to make the experience for a student majoring in entrepreneurship invaluable.

So the next time you hear the term 'national rankings' in the same sentence as UND, you just might wonder where the
Business/Entrepreneurship program is ranked at.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

1st Annual Team Retreat Weekend

Roughing it - Team Tough
The Sioux women's hockey team spent last weekend camping at the Turtle Lake Campground as part of their 1st annual retreat weekend. Coach Idalski & company spent the better part of two days with limited to no cell phone reception and no access to the internet or television. It was a weekend where the team could focus on just one thing, being a team. Players were divided by cabin and each was responsible for cooking a specific meal. Word is Sara Dagenais' Sheppards Pie was a huge hit. Each cabin competed against one another in the first annual 'Sioux Olympics'. Events included the Egg-Toss, Two-Man one-legged race and team building sessions.

In addition to team bonding, Spencer Wood, President of the Icebox Athlete, was on hand to help coach players on mental skills training tecniques and mental toughness strategies. Spencer Wood is an internationally renowned speaker and dynamic trainer of athletes and coaches in the areas of cutting-edge Mental Skills & Toughness Training; and Athletic Speed, Agility, & Quickness. Said Spencer about his experience with the team... "I had a great time and I found your ladies to have one of the best attitudes I have encountered this year. They were polite, receptive and very humble".The team will have it's first 'mental' test Sept. 27th vs. Univ. of Manitoba.

Practice Makes Perfect
The Sioux Women's hockey team takes the ice tomorrow for their first practice of the year. Officially under NCAA guidelines, the first 'official' practice date for D-I women's hockey programs is Saturday, September 20th. However, a provision in the NCAA rulebook allows coaches to work on the ice with their teams up to 2 hours per week on the ice after September 15th and before Sept. 20th.

Let the Games Begin
Saturday, September 27th the Sioux will play an exhibition game vs. the University of Manitoba at 12:07pm in the Olympic Rink of the Ralph. Last season the Sioux beat the Univ. of Manitoba 3-1 in coach Idalski's Fighting Sioux coaching debut. This is the only exhibition game before the Sioux head out on the road for a pair of games to begin NCAA play Oct. 3-4 vs. the University of Maine. The Sioux has one other exhibition game scheduled this season vs. the Team USA Select Team October 19th at 2:07pm at Schwan's Super Rink in Blaine, MN.

'Wild' Week at the Ralph
The Minnesota Wild will make Ralph Engelstad Arena 'home' as they being training camp on Saturday, September 20th thru Sept. 23rd. Modifications to the Xcel Energy Center for the Republican National Convention promted the shift from Minneapolis to Grand Forks. This will mark the first time the Wild have held training camp outside the state of Minnesota. The Wild's training camp roster includes two familiar names in Roseau, MN native and former Sioux forward Bryan Lundbohm (1998-2001) as well as Fargo native and Grand Forks Red River star Danny Irmen. Practices will be closed to the public with the exception of Sunday, September 21st. Sundays practices are free and go begin at 10am, doors to the Ralph open at 9:30am.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dagfinrud leads Norway One Step Closer to Vancouver

UND red-shirt freshman goaltender Jorid Dagfinrud lead the Norwegian Women's National Team to a 3-0 record in a pre-olympic qualification tournament in Maribor, Slovenia September 3-5. Dagfinrud posted an impressive .66 GAA while allowing just one goal on 23 shots in 3 games. Norway downed Great Britain 3-1, Autria 1-0 and host Slovenia 15-1 to advance to the Final Olympic Qualification Tournament set for November 6-9 in Shanghai, China. Norway is in Group D and faces China, Japan and the Czech Republic as they look to qualify for the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010.

Pre-Olympic Qualification Notes
UND Defenseman Sussanne Felner will also play for a chance to go to Vancouver. She will play for Team Germany in the Group C Final Olympic Qualification Tournament held in Bad Tolz, Germany
and face Kazakhstan, France and Slovakia Nov. 6-9.

Bemidji State University forward Eva Schwarzler played for Team Austria.

Norway's Women's National Team is coached by NHL and International coaching veteran George Kingston. Kingston was the first Head Coach of the San Jose Sharks and had stints as an Assistant Coach with the Clagary Flames, Minnesota North Stars, Atlanta Thrashers and Florida Panthers. He also won a Gold Medal as Head Coach of Team Canada (Men) at the 1994 World Championships. He was then hired to coach the German Men's National Team and did so from 1994-1998. Kingston currently lives in Norway and serves as both Assistant Coach of Norway's Men's National Team and Head Coach of Norway's Women's National Team.

Friday, August 29, 2008

WCHA to add NHL style shootout format to league play

It's official - shootouts will be part of the 2008-2009 WCHA season. (You can click on the link for full WCHA press release) Much has been debated about this subject amongst the coaching circles since the idea was batted around at the AHCA (American Hockey Coaches Association) Convention this past April in Naples, FL. The WCHA won't be the first women's NCAA D-I conference to implement a shootout format. It will be, however, the first Women's D-I conference to have shootout results count in league standings. College Hockey America (CHA) tinkered with a shootout format last year which had no bearing on league standings and was as used more from a promotional / fan-experience perspective. The Women's WCHA announcement comes on the heals of the CCHA's recent decision to re-introduce a shootout format which will have bearing on final league standings. I say 're-introduce' because in the mid-90's, Hockey East (Men) used a shootout format.

So what does this mean for the Women's WCHA? For starters it means every game will have a winner with the integrity of the NCAA selection process intact. What is lost, is the "Good Tie". After a 60 minutes of regulation and a 5 minute overtime tie, you have to follow it up with a shootout win to have it mean something. Lose the shootout and your opponent gains 1 point more than you. In the WCHA last season UND and St. Cloud had 4 ties followed by Wisconsin and OSU with 3, Minnesota, Mankato and Bemidji each with 2. MN-Duluth had 0. For the Sioux that could have meant possible wins against OSU, St. Cloud twice and Mankato.

On the men's side, the WCHA has no imediate plans to implement a shootout format. I'm sure curious eyes will be watching the CCHA and how well received the shootout format is this year before making any decision. Time will tell... UND's first WCHA game is Oct. 9 & 10 vs. St. Cloud at the Ralph.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Welcome to Let'sGoSioux!

Hello and welcome to the 'Official' blog of the University of North Dakota Women's Hockey Program - Let'sGoSioux! We are delighted you chose to stop and check us out. We are confident you will like what you read.

You can expect weekly updates on all matters relating the UND Women's Hockey, the WCHA and women's college hockey in general. So, let's get started!

New season set to start
The 2008 - 2009 season unofficially begins tomorrow with the first day of class. Officially, in the eyes of the NCAA, things won't get underway until September 20th which is the first official NCAA D-I practice date in women's ice hockey. It has been quite an active off-season for the Sioux. Around two-thirds of the team stayed on campus this summer to take classes and participate in on and off-ice captains' practices. This included returners as well as incoming freshmen.

New in town
At press-time, 10 new players will join the Sioux this year. 4 countries, 6 Canadian provinces and 4 US states will be represented. Quite a geographical change from in years past. Also new to the program is Kevin Vaughan, Director of Women's Hockey Operations. Kevin was the Asst. equipment manager for the Men's and Women's Hockey Programs at St. Cloud Stat
e University.

USA vs. CANADA U-18 and U-22 Series
The USA Under-18 Select Team went 2-1 vs. its archrival Canada this past weekend in Lake Placid, NY. The Under-18 Select Team won the first two games of the three game series 4-1 and 3-2 before losing 3-2 (ot) in game three. The USA Under-22 Select Team won it's first game 3-2 in a shootout before losing its next two, 7-2 and 4-3 (ot). That series was held in Pierrefonds, Quebec.

Two of UND's incoming recruits, defensemen Ashley Holmes (USA U-18 Select Team) and Alyssa Weibe (CANADA U-18 Team) played against one another in last summer's U-18 Select Series. Holmes received player-of-the-game honors in the first game of the series.