Minnesota Hockey Magazine http://minnesotahockeymag.com Minnesota's leading online hockey destination. Mon, 21 Jan 2019 19:13:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-IMG_8923-1-32x32.jpg Minnesota Hockey Magazine http://minnesotahockeymag.com 32 32 Watt’s Up? http://minnesotahockeymag.com/watts-up/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/watts-up/#respond Mon, 21 Jan 2019 19:13:49 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30791 Watt Brothers Power Morgan Park Program

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(Photo: Jim and Billy Watt, two of the greatest players to come out of Morgan Park High School, courtesy of Michigan State Athletics)

When Morgan Park Needed a Lift, it Turned up the Watts

John Gilbert chronicles the careers of the Watt brothers as they powered the Morgan Park High School hockey program in the mid-60’s.  Both brothers went on to play for Michigan State.

Article is from our December special print/digital issue on Duluth Area Hockey.

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Frozen Flashbacks http://minnesotahockeymag.com/frozen-flashbacks/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/frozen-flashbacks/#respond Fri, 18 Jan 2019 23:29:23 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30737 Hockey Day conjures up special memories for Eden Prairie alums

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Kyle Rau battles with Tampa Bay center Yanni Gourde in Minnesota’s Hockey Day Minnesota 2018 win over the Lightning. (MHM Photo / Jonny Watkins) 

Hockey Day conjures up special memories for Eden Prairie alums

Kyle Rau scored one of his many hat tricks in an Eden Prairie High School jersey during an outdoor game against Hermantown on Hockey Day Minnesota 2010. As his coach Lee Smith put it, Rau put on an offensive show that day at the outdoor rink and it wasn’t even Rau’s most memorable Hockey Day.

That came in 2012 when Rau was a freshman with the Gophers. After the Gophers dispatched Colorado College 2-1 in the afternoon, Rau’s day wasn’t done.

“My brother was playing for the Wild that night, so I rushed out of the rink and went and watched his game,” Rau said. “So that was probably my most memorable Hockey Day Minnesota.”

Indeed, older brother Chad Rau got the call for his NHL debut with the Wild that night. Fittingly, he also scored his first NHL goal in the 5-2 Wild victory over Dallas.

A few years later, Kyle made his Minnesota Wild debut on Hockey Day 2018, recording an assist in the win over Tampa Bay. Kyle’s played at the high school, college and pro levels on Hockey Day. This year, he’ll play as a center for the Iowa Wild.

Along with Kyle, current Minnesota Wild defenseman Nick Seeler was part of the Eden Prairie squad that played on Hockey Day in Hermantown nearly a decade ago. The Eagles were the defending Class 2A champions, facing a perennial Class 1A power in Hermantown under then-head coach Bruce Plante. Rau, Seeler and Smith all remember it being a great experience.

Smith, now in year No. 26 coaching Eden Prairie, acknowledged the different challenge it presented for a coach to prepare a team for such a high-profile game.

“It’s easy to get caught up in all the hype,” Smith said. “But at the end of the day, you’re still playing a game. And even though it feels like an exhibition game, when you only have 25 games, it does matter and it counts on your record. You have to be prepared to play the game.”

Nick Seeler fires away. (MHM Photo / Jonny Watkins)

Part of the preparation for Hockey Day included some outdoor practice time back home. Then-Gophers coach Don Lucia even came out to watch one of them, as he was there recruiting Kyle. The whole idea of playing a high school game outdoors is a bit of a throwback to mites or squirts days.

“Obviously playing outside with some of your best buddies, your lifelong buddies, is something that’s really cool,” Kyle said. “I think leading up to the game, you kind of soak it all in because not everyone gets to do it. Once the game starts… everything else kind of goes into the background. It’s just hockey again.”

For the game itself, Smith recalled three different parts of the game – all because of the changing weather conditions. The ice went from soft and mushy, to snowy, and slushy again as temperatures continued to drop each period.

The puck was jumping everywhere, Kyle said, who had his hat trick by the 11:42 mark of the second period.

“It was just outdoor hockey,” Seeler said, who fondly remembers putting on the face paint for the outdoor conditions, too. “It kind of brought you back to when you were a younger kid and you grew up playing on the ponds and stuff.”  

One of the other unique factors about the setup was the chicken wire along the boards instead of glass.

“So if you rim a puck and it hits there, it goes right down,” Seeler said. “You don’t want to get hit into it either.”

The Eagles won 4-3 and went on to a 20-4 season in 2009-10, falling short of the state tournament with a section-final loss to Minnetonka. But Kyle and Seeler helped the Eagles win another state title in 2011, capped with Kyle’s championship-clinching goal in triple overtime against Duluth East in a thriller.

This weekend marks the 13th annual Hockey Day Minnesota, a day with outdoor hockey and hours upon hours of coverage on Fox Sports North. It’s become a tradition that showcases different parts of Minnesota and various hockey programs. It’s been a benefit for Minnesota high school hockey and keeping it relevant, according to Kyle.

“Instead of guys wanting to go play juniors, you have guys that want to stay and play Minnesota high school with their best friends because other guys have done it,” Kyle said. “So I think it’s good for high school hockey, and Minnesota youth hockey in general, too.”

Seeler agrees, adding that it’s important to encourage kids to get into hockey if they aren’t already. Anything that can promote hockey in the state is important, Smith said.

“Hockey’s a great sport whether it’s played on a lake or on a river or in a park or in an arena,” Smith said. “When it’s played right, it’s the best sport on earth.”

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Hockey Mom Unplugged http://minnesotahockeymag.com/hockey-mom-unplugged-3/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/hockey-mom-unplugged-3/#respond Fri, 18 Jan 2019 17:45:24 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30730 Youth hockey is truly a family affair for siblings

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(Photo: Courtesy of Vineeta Sawkar Branby)

Hockey Siblings

In this edition of Hockey Mom Unplugged, Vineeta describes, to no one’s surprise, how hockey is truly a family affair and how if affects the siblings.  Great article, as always!

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Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers http://minnesotahockeymag.com/duluth-marshall-hilltoppers/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/duluth-marshall-hilltoppers/#respond Thu, 17 Jan 2019 18:00:52 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30720 Girls-Program Surging, Boys-Healing Times

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(Photo: Emily Lemker(7) celebrates a goal in last year’s Schwan Cup, Insert- Brendan Flaherty takes a leave of absence , by Tim Kolemainen / Breakdown Sports)

Girls-Program Surging, Boys-Healing Times

Duluth Marshall Girls program is looking strong in fourth year.  Matthew Davis reports.

Bill Owens leads Boys program in Brendan Flaherty’s absence.  John Gilbert reports.

Two articles about Duluth Marshall’s hockey programs from our December special print/digital issue on Duluth Area Hockey.

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Craig’s Corner – The Best Days http://minnesotahockeymag.com/craigs-corner-the-best-days/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/craigs-corner-the-best-days/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 18:00:25 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30695 50 Greatest Ideas I Stole or Plagiarized

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(Photo in article by Tim Kolemainen, Breakdown Sports)

50 Greatest Ideas I Stole or Plagiarized From Others

Craig Sarner is back writing for Minnesota Hockey Magazine.  In this version of Craig’s Corner, he recalls players and coaches from his playing days and pens some things he strongly believes in.

From our December special print/digital issue on Duluth Area Hockey.

Enjoy!

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Duluth Heritage http://minnesotahockeymag.com/youth-hockey-duluth-heritage/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/youth-hockey-duluth-heritage/#respond Tue, 15 Jan 2019 18:00:58 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30686 Essentia Heritage Center Raises Hockey Citizens

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Essentia Heritage Center Raises Hockey Citizens

John Gilbert reports on Duluth’s 10-year celebration of their EDHC operation.

From our December special print/digital issue on Duluth Area Hockey.

Enjoy!

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Looking Back: Dubnyk’s Deal http://minnesotahockeymag.com/looking-back-dubnyks-deal/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/looking-back-dubnyks-deal/#respond Tue, 15 Jan 2019 04:05:58 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30705 5-year-old trade revived a career and sparked a franchise

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(MHM Photo / Jonny Watkins)

5-year-old trade revived a career and sparked a franchise

By the time Devan Dubnyk signed a deal with Arizona prior to the 2014-15 season, he had accepted his fate in the NHL. He was going to be a backup goaltender. He recalls being grateful to even still be in the league, going 9-5-2 with a 2.72 GAA in 19 games for the Coyotes that season.

Then came Jan. 14, 2015.

The Minnesota Wild acquired Dubnyk in exchange for a third-round pick. It was a move that’s widely known as one of the best trades in franchise history. For Dubnyk, the move to Minnesota was one that he said changed his career and changed his life.

“I’ve talked about it before, it was kind of the perfect scenario coming in here,” Dubnyk said. “When I got traded here, it was just like bonus time. Every 60 minutes I got to play was a bonus.”

Once the deal was done, Dubnyk flew overnight to meet up with the Wild in Buffalo. Then he earned what teammate Zach Parise called “probably the easiest shutout of his life” with 18 saves in a 7-0 Wild victory over the Sabres, making him the first goalie in franchise history to record a shutout and win in his debut with the team. Dubnyk agreed with Parise’s sentiment, saying it wasn’t the most difficult game he’s played.

“We all took a deep breath,” Parise said. “I think things kind of turned around for us there.”

(MHM Photo / Jeff Wegge)

It was just the beginning of a great run for the Wild with Dubnyk as the main netminder; the team went 8-1-1 in his first 10 games, including a six-game winning streak. Dubnyk went 15-2-1 with three shutouts in 19 road starts, and 27-9-2 in 39 games with a 1.78 GAA and .936 save percentage with the Wild that year. The Wild tallied 100 points in a season for the first time since 2006-07 and made it to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He won the 2015 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy and finished third in Vezina Trophy voting.

Dubnyk is 151-85-23 with 21 shutouts in 267 games since coming over to the Wild and is signed through the 2020-21 season. Having the stability in Dubnyk the past few years is always good, according to Parise.

“We were actually laughing about it the other day in the training room, the one year we had Hards (Josh Harding), (Niklas) Backstrom, John Curry, Bryz (Ilya Bryzgalov)… and Darcy (Kuemper),” Parise said. “I mean, there were five.”

The Wild relied on Backstrom and Kuemper in net before the Dubnyk trade.

As much as the trade for Dubnyk may have helped out his individual career, it’s well documented how much spark it provided for the Wild. They were, as Parise put it, “treading water” at the time.

That’s putting it mildly. The Wild went from 16-11-1 on Dec. 16, 2014 to 18-19-5 following a loss to Pittsburgh on Jan. 13, 2015, winning just twice in a 14-game span and racking up five-game and then six-game losing streaks.

The now-32-year-old, 6 foot 6 goaltender has played extremely well for the Wild and is preparing for his third trip to the NHL All-Star Game in the past four years. He entered play Jan. 14 with a 17-15-3 record, .914 save percentage and 2.62 GAA, including a 32-save shutout in Montreal a week before.

“I feel every night he’s been the backbone of our team, you know?” said rookie forward Jordan Greenway, following a 3-2 home victory over Winnipeg on Jan. 10. “We depend on him a lot, and he was great again tonight.”

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau is known for juggling his lines mid-game when things aren’t going well for one reason or another. But at least the goaltender isn’t a position he has to worry about, with Dubnyk in net most of the time or a solid backup in Stalock. Goaltender is the most valuable position in the hockey world, according to Boudreau.

 “When he’s focused and prepared and ready to go from the get-go, and he makes those first couple saves, he gets right into it,” Boudreau said.

Even with such a stellar run that followed when Dubnyk arrived under then-head coach Mike Yeo, Dubnyk said he was able to play in the moment. The crazy run they went on – with five and six-game winning streaks as part of the formula to make the playoffs – never felt crazy, Dubnyk said.

“Again, that’s kind of another part of that perfect storm… I was just excited to be starting again,” Dubnyk said.

Talking to Dubnyk, it seems like perhaps he found his confidence or love for the game again. Once he played two, three games in a row, he was back to wanting to be a starter again, he said. He came in with a “bonus-time” mindset and helped the team rattle off a couple games, which helped the Wild remember how good they were, according to Dubnyk.

“I was able to not think about the improbabilities of us going on a run and making the playoffs,” Dubnyk said. “I was just so excited to get an opportunity to be a starter again and to play well.”

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Hawk’s Pipeline http://minnesotahockeymag.com/hermantown-boys-hawks-pipeline/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/hermantown-boys-hawks-pipeline/#respond Mon, 14 Jan 2019 20:20:27 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30674 Class A Hawks Graduate to Class NCAA

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Featured photo: UMD Coach Scott Sandelin & Hermantown Players / by Jonhy Watkins & Tim Kolehmainen)

Class A Hawks Graduate to Class NCAA at UMD

John Gilbert reports on UMD’s penchant for recruiting Hermantown players…with much success.

From our December special print/digital issue on Duluth Area Hockey.

Enjoy!

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Hometown Hero http://minnesotahockeymag.com/hometown-hero/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/hometown-hero/#respond Sun, 13 Jan 2019 23:08:25 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30668 Former UMD Star Tom Kurvers - MN Wild Executive

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(Featured photo: Tom Kurvers, UMD’s 1st Hobey Baker Winner in 1984 / UMD Athletics)

Former UMD Star Tom Kurvers now in Wild Management Role

Heather Rule chronicles the rise of Tom Kurvers from UMD star to NHL executive.

From our December special print/digital issue on Duluth Area Hockey.

Just click =>HERE.

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Collision Course http://minnesotahockeymag.com/nchc-collision-course/ http://minnesotahockeymag.com/nchc-collision-course/#respond Fri, 11 Jan 2019 17:48:07 +0000 http://minnesotahockeymag.com/?p=30662 Bulldogs and Huskies Are Bound to Collide

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(Featured photo: UMD coach Scott Sandelin,  by Jonny Watkins)

Despite Divergent Paths, Bulldogs and Huskies Are Bound to Collide

MHM’s Brian Halverson outlines the eventual collision between two major forces in the NCHC.

From our December special print/digital issue on Duluth Area Hockey.

Just click =>HERE.

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