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.